...dedicated to...hmmm, we're still figuring that one out...
Freewares on Educators' News
December 30, 2001
This page is a simple "cut and paste" of all of the freewares mentioned on Educators' News over the last nine months.
Dave Hirsch has released Test Timer 2.0 (0.9 MB) for Mac OS X. Test Timer is designed to assist in proctoring timed exams that involve moving from lab station to station at fixed intervals. In Dave's words, it's "essentially a repeating alarm clock, with optional subsidiary alarms." Version 1.1 also remains available for Classic Mac OS users from the Test Timer site. Both versions are freewares. (12/28/01)
Travis East has released version 1.1.1 of his freeware fraction calculator, FractionCalc. Fractioncalc is available in several versions: Mac OS X (495K); PowerMac (412K); 68K Mac (285K); and Windows (346K). (12/21/01)
Power On Software is giving away Action Menus 1.0.3 for a limited time. It's the one part of Power On's Action Utilities I don't regularly use, as it just blows me away with too many menu modifiers! When I was testing it a year or so ago, however, I found it to be a stable addition that many might find helpful. When I was messing around with OS X last week, I was amazed to see that Power On's Action Files worked quite well under the Classic environment in OS X 10.1. (12/12/01)
Travis East has released an update to his freeware Geometry application that "calculates volume and area of common geometric figures." Geometry 2.5 adds "Right Triangle Formulas" and "Midpoint Formula" and is available in a variety of versions for different operating systems: DOS (24K); Windows (554K); Power Mac (618K); 68K Mac (498K); and OS X (697K). (12/7/01)
Blufire Software has released version 1.1 of their freeware math game GridX. Players race the clock trying to fill a 1-100 number grid by applying any combination of the four basic operations to three numbers displayed. The numbers change with each solve. It's easy at first, but becomes challenging as grid numbers get used. It's also a lot of fun! GridX is available in Carbon (731K) and PPC (620K) versions for Macintosh only. (12/3/01)
Northsoft Productions has released an update to their (currently) freeware gradebook, NP Grade for Macintosh. The Northsoft site also advises that versions beyond 2.0 will require a $20 shareware fee. NP Grade 1.5 is available for download in Classic (3.3 MB) and OS X (5.6 MB) versions. (11/28/01)
AWS's freeware Weatherbug has been updated to version 3.0 to include XP compatibility. (11/19/01)
Marc Weil has updated his Mac freeware gradebook, NP Grade, to version 1.5. Improvements include unlimited numbers of students and various new exports and bug fixes. NP Grade is available for both Mac Classic (3.1 MB system 8.6 and later) and OS X (5.1 MB). (11/7/01)
The Mac freeware calculator for PowerBooks and iBooks, nCalc, has been updated to version 1.2.2. Note: At this writing, links were down. (11/7/01)
Gary Smith has released a new math freeware for Macintosh, Going to School (287K). Gary wrote that he's used the application for four or five years with his 7th and 8th graders for graph-interpretation. He notes that "the learning curve for the program is rather steep," but the kids enjoy it once they get the hang of it. I played with Gary's new release for a few minutes yesterday and found that it indeed took a few minutes to figure out, but liked it enough that I'll add it to the folder of Polymath Love Software on each of my classroom machines. Gary now offers 26 excellent math freewares for download on his Free Programs page. He also has an order page for his entire collection of 250+ math programs on CD. (11/5/01)
Rachel Robbins has updated her Pixel Mountain Desktop Pictures site with five new, outstanding photos. All pictures on the site are by Rachel and are free to use as computer desktop (wallpaper) pictures. Rachel also says she will be adding five new pictures a week for the next few weeks. (11/5/01)
Tables 3.1 is a nice freeware math fact program by Georges Charitat that includes record keeping and reward functions. The interface seems a bit quirky, due to the mixing of some French and English words, but the application works well and is offered for the full spectrum of Mac OS's, with a carbon version for OS X and a fat version for PPC and 68K. (10/22/01)
I had reason last week to dust off a Macintosh utility I hadn't used in over a year. I was burning a CD for a friend in North Carolina. She's helping a private school make use of some older Macs and asked if I could send a large group of documents that might aid in keeping the various old Macs up to snuff. Just having the files and folders show up on the CD is rather drab, so I decided to jazz it up a bit with an icon based graphic.
My two year old copy of Erick Tejkowski's freeware Iconmacher still worked well. A newer version, Iconmacher 1.5.4 (1.3 MB), is available from Purple E Software. While you need to have your graphic sized properly before making the icon spread, Iconmacher's simple interface makes the job pretty easy.
The cat graphic isn't mine. It came from a collection somewhere along the line. Perturbed Pussycat Productions (PPP, get it?) is a label I used for several years for materials I wrote or collected on the net to be distributed at my school. It was, of course, an allusion to Point-to-Point Protocol, which most of us use to connect to the internet. When shareware was a dirty word to a previous administrator at my school, Perturbed Pussycat Productions disks were a humorous underground attempt at a bit of constructive rebellion. (10/22/01)
Matthew Fahrenbac has released Unscrambler 2.0 (319K) for Mac OS X. While Matt's Read Me files states, "There's not a whole lot to this app - just enter a bunch of letters and it will give you a bunch of words :)," just unscrambling words for some dyslexic kids is monumental task. I just wish there were a 68K version of Unscrambler that I could use on my students' take-home Macs. (10/19/01)
Matthew Monroe has updated his freeware Molecular Weight Calculator for Windows to version 6.0.4. The full download of the program (1.8 MB) "contains a Windows Installer MSI file to install and register each of the required files." The MWC home page also has smaller download links for those who only need the application. (10/15/01)
Travis East has updated his freeware Geometry application. Geometry was "designed for math teachers to easily calculate the volume and surface area of common geometric figures." Version 2.4.4 corrects a problem with the rectangular prism, triangular prism, and rectangular pyramid and changes the rectangular pyramid fields to include only the height and side. Geometry is available in a variety of versions for different operating systems: DOS (24K); Windows (549K); Power Mac (611K); 68K Mac (491K); and OS X (689K). (10/8/01)
StimpSoft has updated their freeware periodic table application, Smell-O-Mints. Version 1.3 (Carbon [1 MB], Classic [1012K]) fixes some "Mac OS X menu issues. Element icons are now of a higher contrast to help identify which element is highlighted. Sounds [have been] added." Smell-O-Mints works on Power Macs with system 8.6 through Mac OS X. (10/4/01)
Son of Weather Grok has also received an update for Mac OS X (10.1) that fixes "issues with Mac OS X 10.1" and adds "other minor tweaks for [the] PPC version." While Son of Weather Grok only functions on Power Macs, (Carbon (1.2 MB), Classic (1012K), version 3.6.9 of Weather Grok, which still functions on 68K Macs, is also available. Both use your internet connection to pull down the current weather statistics from the NOAA station(s) of your choice. (10/4/01)
LuckyMe Software has released Mom's Calendar b3.0.2 (564K). Mom's Calendar creates a 640x480 pixel printable calendar to which users may add notations. Having watched folks at school labor to create respectable looking calendars in various spreadsheet programs, I suspect this freeware may find a home on many classroom Macs. (9/27/01)
Arbor Scientific has posted a set of transparency masters for use when explaining the concept of color subtraction as related to color printers or photography. Brief instructions are posted and the download (195K) is free. (9/22/01)
Andy Pritchard has released version 2.3 of Etchelon Macdoodle as freeware. Designed for children between 3 and 12 years of age, Macdoodle (1.0 MB) contains 78 pictures to be colored and 260 picture suggestions to be completed and colored. (9/17/01)
One "must have" utility when dealing with lots of different models of Macs is GURU (GUide to Ram Upgrades). GURU 2.9 (545K) covers all Mac RAM and VRAM requirements and specifications through the early G4's. If for no other reason, "The GURU FAQ...or... Mrs. Marciniak wins a Saw Horse," makes for some interesting and entertaining reading. (9/13/01)
The old Gauge Utilities have now been rolled into one application, Gauge Pro 1.1 (75K). Gauge Pro reveals a host of information about your Macintosh, including the CPU type, version, speed, and temperature. It also tells the system bus speed and cache size. (9/13/01)
SpellTools 1.3.3 (1821K) is an outstanding freeware offering. It is basically a freeware spellchecker, but also enables the Mac's text-to-speech capability (if installed) in most programs, can clean up text from emails, and do case changes. Author Craig Marciniak has regained the rights to SpellTools and has released the SpellTools 1.4 upgrade (144K), which works with System 9. Craig is planning to re-release this excellent utility as a shareware. (9/13/01)
Tristan Harris has released Bibliographer 1.0 for Macintosh. Bibliographer makes creating a bibliography in proper MLA format a breeze. It includes support for book, encyclopedia, URL, magazine, personal interview, radio-TV, speech, and video entries. Bibliographer presents a simple entry form for each entry type with examples available and then automatically creates the information into the proper bibiography entry. (9/8/01)
Soporific Software has updated Life to version 3.0. From the Read Me file: "Life a small application which displays a simulation of cells which live & die by simple rules." Soporific packages their small freeware apps as one download for OS 9 (384K) or OS X (504K) which includes BinCalc 2.1, Calculator 2.0, Calendar 2.0, Life 3.0, Slideshow 2.0, Ticker 1.0, InfoEdit 2.0, and some documentation and patterns for the apps. (9/7/01)
Over the weekend, I had upgraded an older Mac from System 7.5.3 to System 7.6.1, but somewhere along the line, the Control Strip control panel and modules didn't get installed. Rather than repeat the install with a custom installation of the items, I simply opened the installation tome with TomeViewer and expanded the necessary items to the desired locations.
TomeViewer allows you to pull just one or more items from an installation tome without doing a complete or custom installation. The standard tome display shows the item, along with its type and creator codes, compressed and expanded size, and its version number.
From its "Read Me" file: "TomeViewer is brought to you by the Apple Installer engineers with a lot of help from the moonlighting SCM guy and at the prodding of DTS."
Obviously, TomeViewer is for use with Mac OS classic installers, but wouldn't it be nice if something approaching the same ease of use might become available at some point for Mac OS X (shhh, or even Windows).
While poking around the Kids Domain What's New page this week, I noticed their review of Robot Builder. Described as "a high tech version of Mr. Potato Head," this one may not be the answer to all educational woes, but it sure is cute. Robot Builder, from ZimZom.com, is available for online play, or for download in both Macintosh (632K) and Windows (1 MB) versions. (8/28/01)
If you have some old Apple III software you'd like to use on a Mac, Black Cat Systems has updated their free beta Apple III emulator, Sara (152K), to version 0.4.0. The Sara web page carries the following disclaimer and invitation for input about the software:
Gary Smith of PolyMath Love Software has released two more math freewares appropriate for middle school students. Tanker Rescue Squad (365K) is an engaging game that requires the effective use of measurement of angles to rescue a disabled tanker. Also released Friday was Angle Fireworks (270K). All of Gary's freewares are available for download on his samples page. I really like many of the offerings there, as these are apps that Gary uses in his classroom every day. (8/20/01)
Travis East has released an update to his freeware Geometry application. Version 2.4.2 corrects a problem with slope calculations, along with some added features. As usual, it is available in a variety of versions for different operating systems: DOS; Windows; Power Mac; 68K Mac; and OS X. (8/10/01)
I must have blinked and missed it, but Son of Weather Grok (Mac only) went to version 4.0.1 (1.2 MB) on Sunday...after I'd written the Monday posting about the version 4.0 update. StimpSoft's John Schilling writes, "Version 4.0.1 update fixes a potentially serious issue where deleting an item from the station list would cause a crash. Very, very sorry about the quick update, but that bug was a biggie." Wow! Isn't it something when a guy writes good software, gives it away for free, and then apologizes for a quick bug update! Thanks, John! (8/7/01)
John Schnittker was kind enough to send along the url to the online VocabuMonkey game site. I'd not come across this one. If you have good eyes, you can tell that I also missed a question or two along the way. The site takes a minute or two to load, but seems well thought out and executed. There's also a brief, but helpful, overview page available. (8/6/01)
Scott Schuyler wrote today about an interesting site he found that led him to an interesting piece of software:
Hot Potatoes is available for download for both Macintosh and Windows. Thanks, Scott! (7/31/01)
Several years ago I had the kids in my class working very hard on their name, address, phone number, and signature. I made up a number of printable worksheets in ClarisWorks for each child to practice signing a number of items. Finding images of major bank cards was easy, but what I couldn't find was a good paycheck or personal check image. The idea was for each child to receive a paycheck personalized to them, and for them to pay out from their account using personal checks. Not finding what I wanted, I just made my own.
I obviously couldn't resist poking a bit of fun at our community in the process. (Do you remember Bachman-Turner Overdrive's Takin' Care of Business?)
Completely editable versions of both the personal check (10K) and the paycheck (13K) in the AppleWorks 5 format are available for download. The paycheck requires several fonts: Helvetica; Script; and Arrus BT. The personal check just uses Helvetica, but takes a bit of work to make succeeding check numbers. I made a template with succeeding check numbers and pasted the name, address, etc. in the appropriate slot. It turned out to be a great activity which I need to repeat in the classroom this year.
Both checks are also listed with some other freewares on the MATH DITTOS 2 and Educators' News Freebies directory index. (7/26/01)
I knocked off a little early Friday afternoon, figuring I had pretty well covered the day's educational news and new software releases. Little did I know that Gary Smith would release his second freeware release in one day late in the afternoon! Anyway, PolyMath Love Software offers Stock Market (305K) as another in their series of excellent math freewares for middle school students. (7/23/01)
Gary Smith of PolyMath Love Software has cranked out yet another math freeware. Bag Riddles (154K) supplies hints, one at a time, in achieving a solution to either "simple" or tough math riddles. The riddle "I have 12 blocks hidden in a bag," appears as shown below. As with Gary's Pizza Party Puzzles (289K), this application appears destined for some collaborative learning in my classroom. Linear System Beams (293K) has also been updated to version 1.1 this week. All of the PolyMath Love Software freeware titles are available on Gary's Free Programs page. (7/20/01)
ScubaRaven's Reef has released a freeware marine clip art (375K) package that might prove useful for either science or elementary teachers. Note that the file is zipped (for Windows users). Mac users may need to manually decompress the archive using StuffIt Expander (2.2 MB). (7/2/01)
Just as I was ready to put my browser to bed for the day, I did a final check of Version Tracker and found, lo and behold, Harry Hooie Creations anAtlas (2.2 MB). This nifty freeware contains an adequate basic database of geographic locations and can tap any number of internet resources. From the Read Me file, anAtlas allows one to:
I didn't check all of these functions, but I did map our city and used anAtlas to link to the weather and the terra server. I would have checked more, but I got lost playing around with the terra server!
I had trouble pulling down anAtlas 1.5.3 from the link above and ended up downloading the file in the larger, BinHex format (3.0 MB). It took a while, but it was worth the wait. And...I've had my freeware fix for the day:-). (6/28/01)
Micromat's TechTool 1.2.1 morphed yesterday into TechTool Lite 3.0.1. (What happened to 3.0?) Don't try to fit the new version on a floppy disk, however, as it has swelled on my hard drive from 804K to 2.5 MB. The extra heft is due to a flurry of new features, including the ability to test PRAM, change file type and creator codes, the ability to list, save, and print information about the files on the drive, a floppy drive test and cleaning tool, and system file, finder, and other tests. Of course, it still does a good job of zapping the PRAM and rebuilding the desktop of a Mac. And...it's still freeeeeeee! (6/22/01)
I've been working on a column for next week about educational freewares and gussied up one of my old ones. One of the items that originally was part of the registered (paid :-) version MATH DITTOS 2: Fact Controlled MULTIPLICATION for Special Learners was a set of small flashcard masters. Each master contained a set of 18 facts including each fact and its inverse. When cut into sets, the cards were only about 2"x3," thereby giving the set an almost 50-50 chance of making it home in a pocket!
Several years ago, I split off the flashcard masters and released them as a freeware PDF document. ZDNet loved them, but then, they usually love any and all freewares. Come to think of it, so do I. Anyway, I cleaned up the original version a bit and posted the new version. Download Mac (414K), Win (551K). (6/8/01)
Travis East, author of Geometry, has come up with another dandy freeware math application. FractionCalc (PPC-410K) is a freeware fraction calculator that can add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions and mixed numbers. It also reduces the answers to lowest terms. FractionCalc is available for both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. In an email yesterday, Travis echoed what almost every freeware and shareware author writes: "If you have any ways that you think that the software can be improved, let me know." (6/6/01)
Bare Bones Software has released version 6.1 of their freeware text editor, BBEdit (4.2 MB). Now Mac OS X native, it also will run with System 7.5.5 or better on any Power Mac with at least 1 MB of free RAM. Beyond all of the advanced features listed on the BBEdit Lite page, BBEdit Lite provides an easy way to open text files beyond Simple Text's file size limit. A note of caution, however, is indicated. You may find that after using the lite version, you'll be irresistibly drawn to its big brother, BBEdit. (6/1/01)
Gary Smith of PolyMath Love Software has posted the freeware application Area Puzzles (473K). Designed for grade 5-8 students, Area Puzzles presents the challenge of filling in a grid to match the numerical area values on the grid. Area Puzzles will work with System 7.1 or greater and works on both monochrome and color monitors.
Gary's download page lists a wealth of other freeware math applications. One that I will be trying this week is Adding Three Fractions (306K). Students may select ruler or regular fraction problems. Changing to equivalent fractions is required but assisted. The application will also construct a practice worksheet of similar problems as worked in the application. (5/14/01)
Since this week is really light on education related posts, let me repost something from a previous column. Many shareware authors seem to have gone MIA -- ones where shareware payments mailed come back as undeliverable or email addresses are dead. Web searches only turn up postings of the old sharewares without any way to contact the author. Along those lines, I've been describing Samuel Davidoff's Math Flash Bash, one of my all time favorite fact drill applications, as a "virtual freeware" (attempts at contact or payment unsuccessful) for some time. It drills any combination of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts in a quick, enjoyable way. Flash Bash offers a choice of operations and has various controls for what facts are presented and how many facts in a set.
All of that changed with a pleasant email exchange with Sam last November in which he asked that I announce that Flash Bash truly is freeware to the Mac community. Sam currently is being held captive by the Windows and UNIX world without a Mac to his name and cannot upload a new release of Flash Bash to Info-Mac, etc. from his current box. Be advised, however, that his dandy little math fact drill program is free to use and still works well with many Macs and even on the latest system software (including OS 9.1 and the Classic environment of the OS X).
Actually, Sam is a busy, busy law student who took the time to track me down and ask that I let folks know he'd love for them to use his application free of charge. For now, you can download The Math Flash Bash 2.2 (78K) from this site.
Thanks, Sam! (4/27/01)
If QuickTime doesn't quench your thirst for freeware downloads, try Freggie Heads, by Peter J. Baird. Freggie Heads (306K) allows one to add facial features to a tomato, carrot, banana, or pear. Sounds silly, doesn't it, but it really is cute. I suspect some of the youngsters in my classroom will be charmed by it tomorrow morning. 4/24/01)
Well, there it is. Unless I missed some, that's all the freewares I've posted since the inception of Educators' News.
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