Around the World from Your Desktop

Software That Takes You Places

Are your kids ready to travel from their desks? Whatever shape your children’s journeys take, here are some software titles to guide and support them as they go.

Carmen Sandiego Series, Broderbund, Windows 95/98/ME/2000, XP; ages 8 to 14; $19.99.

Always at the top of any reviewer’s list when it comes to building geography skills is Broderbund’s timeless Carmen Sandiego adventure series. The titles – which include Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, Where in the U.S.A. is Carmen Sandiego? and Carmen Sandiego’s Great Chase Through Time – are must-haves for the would-be world traveler or student of world cultures and history. In each of these titles, children uncover clues using deductive reasoning skills as they travel and build a lifelong knowledge of geography, history and world cultures.

Chemicus, Tivola, Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000, XP and MAC; ages 12 and up; $19.99;1-800-898-1438.

What if your older children are ready to take on a new adventure to a place not on any map, not even on the earthly globe? Perhaps Chemicus is a land your traveler will want to explore. This virtual world of science requires players to search and explore the amazing city of Chemicus, where sacred power and scientific knowledge from the beginning of time is under guard.

In this engaging scientific journey through hours of visually stunning 3-D images, players learn strategy as they test their logical thinking skills. Within the story, players make use of a sacred amulet that turns out to be the ticket to travelling between a host of alluring worlds. But they also use scientific experiments to get closer to each new goal. In this journey, facts are the resource players need to succeed. It’s a quest to discover the truth, learn the elements, explore science and gain knowledge in an effort to achieve peace – a noble mission woven into a wild ride.

• iHateSpam, Sunbelt Software; requires Microsoft Outloook, (2000/2002/XP) or Outlook Express (5 or 6); WIN 98, ME, NT, XP; all ages; $29.95;, 1-888-688-8457.

Through e-mail, children can correspond with penpals around the world. But parents often worry about the safety of letting kids explore when so much unsolicited mail pours into mailboxes every day. This new release is a welcome management tool for parents who want to eliminate spam from their children’s e-mail accounts – and from their own. Incredibly easy to use, the software is designed to eliminate annoying junk mail, including pornography, endless special sales pitches, medication banners and all the spam that interferes with the efficiency and enjoyment of your e-mail.

Once you install the program, your incoming e-mail is automatically analyzed according to iHateSpam’s criteria to determine whether or not a message is spam. Suspicious e-mails are “quarantined” if you should want to review them later. The program also allows users to establish lists of friends from whom messages are always welcome while others are blocked.

And the frosting? Users can spoof the spammers by setting up the program to automatically generate a “not a valid e-mail address” to the sender. At last, a way to free children up to write to the world and get sweet revenge against pornographers and those who clutter our mailboxes!

Clifford Musical Memory Games, Scholastic; Windows 95/98/2000/ME/XP and MAC; ages 4 to 6; $19.99;, 1-800-545-7677.

Little kids can visit Birdwell Island, home of Clifford the Big Red Dog, and take a musical journey with this title. After a storm breaks the radio tower, players must make instruments, learn new songs, create their own music and join Clifford’s band in order to bring music back to the island. Counting, addition, subtraction, pattern recognition, listening and memory skills are all reinforced through this title’s 19 activities.

I Spy Challenger, Scholastic; for Game Boy Advance; all ages; $29.99;, 1-800-545-7677.

Doing some real-life travelling? Looking for something intelligent to put on your child’s Game Boy Advance?

At last, one of the country’s most popular software titles has been adapted to this portable toy so that children can solve riddles and find hidden objects when on the go in the same way they have been engaged in this game on their home computer. The program offers more than 100 levels and 36 challenging I Spy riddles. The I Spy CD-ROMs have won more than 50 prestigious software awards and this new Game Boy version maintains that same level of prize-winning quality. With the same superior visual and graphic quality of the I Spy series, this is a “game” that genuinely provides learning value as well.