Just Get to the Point(er)

Wednesday, 28 November 2007 18:46 by JRBenning

Oh my, it's been over a month since our last blog entry.  Today, I thought I'd take you behind the scenes to look at one of our lab projects, known as Peanut Butter Pointer (or PBPointer for short). 

This particular product has been in the pipeline for some time, do to our insistence on only releasing products when they are ready.  We are still working out some kinks, but overall we're very happy with how this product is shaping up. 

It all started when we noticed two toddlers fighting for control of an "edutainment" program known as Putt-Putt Travels Through Time.  Of course sharing is not something quickly mastered by kids... 

1 computer + 2 children = disaster2

So, we started thinking about how we could facilitate the sharing of this program (and others).  We knew that, by default, Microsoft Windows makes all pointing devices drive the single pointer on screen.  Fighting over the same pointer (which we call the Pointer Polka), causes confusion and just doesn’t work well for adults, let alone children.  We obviously needed a new solution. 


Here is the criteria we came up with:

  • Each child to have their own on-screen pointer. 
  • The pointers should take on the characteristics of whatever pointer scheme you have selected in your Windows Appearance settings.
  • All pointers should be able to move simultaneously and interact with windows normally (e.g. pointer one becomes a hand over a hyperlink, while pointer two becomes a double arrow when over a window border).
  • All mice should play well with each other (when one mouse is dragging something, the others are unable to click)
  • The application should work in both Windows and Windows games.

So, where are we today?  We’re close.  In fact, we hope to have PBPointer available in January. 

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The Power of the Press (for Kids!)

Friday, 26 October 2007 03:28 by JRBenning

Did we overlook an important feature or were we just diligently protecting your inkjet cartridges from a frontal assault? Well, we’ll never say… But, thanks to popular request, our latest release of Peanut Butter PC (v2.2.1) now features printing from the Peanut Butter Browser. The privilege is set at the child level, so you can decide who should and who should not have access to your printer.

By default, the printing functionality is turned off, so if you don’t want the feature when upgrading (get the patch here) do nothing. But, if you would like one or more children to have access to the printer, simply open the Settings Window, select the Kids tab, highlight a child and click [Kid Options…].

Because Peanut Butter Browser takes many of its queues from your Internet Explorer settings, you can go there to change the browser’s behavior (e.g. whether or not to print background colors and images).

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Name Brand Software at Bargain Prices

Monday, 1 October 2007 13:56 by JRBenning

Here at Peanut Butter Software, we are always buying the latest children’s software for compatibility testing with our products. In our travels we’ve found quality software in the most unlikely places. Namely, “off-price” retails like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. Most people think of these stores as resellers of clothing and house goods that department stores couldn’t sell. But, they also have a great selection of children’s toys, books and, of course, software.

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Need to Motivate Your Preschooler?

Thursday, 20 September 2007 14:40 by JRBenning

You've probably heard your share of ideas to get your youngsters motivated to do their chores.  My personal favorite is the jar of marbles.  When your child does his or her chores they get some marbles.  When the jar is full, they can cash them in for a reward.  This method is great for reinforcing good behavior (and you can deduct marbles bad behavior). 

Today we have a software version of the same idea.  It is a lot more exciting then the jar and probably less likely to produce neighborhood marble thieves.  The program is called My Reward Board and is available as a 15-day Free Trial from http://www.myrewardboard.com  It runs on a Windows PC and features a task chart, a goal monitor, an allowance piggy bank, a demerit dart board, and a few jokes and puzzles.

It does require as much attention from the parents as it does the children (meaning you will do a lot of entering and approving information).  But hey, if that's all it takes to keep them motivated... I'm game.

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Copy Your Kid's CDs onto the Hard Drive

Tuesday, 11 September 2007 07:23 by JRBenning

It seems like the majority of children’s software these days requires the CD in the drive in order to run. It’s an effective copy protection tool, but also a huge pain in the bum. Sure preschoolers can handle CD-ROM’s… but have you seen what they can do to them?

The solution is known as drive emulation. Basically, you take a part of your hard drive and make it act like a CD-ROM. There are many tools available. Today, we will look at one of the more popular titles… Alcohol 52% (and yes, it’s okay for minors).

Alcohol 52% is the little brother of Alcohol 120% and is offered in both a free and paid version. The free version requires you to install the Protection Database Search Toolbar. This is not adware, spyware or any other devious underhand thing. It provides you with access to a protection database to see what protection is used on a game along with the ability to search the Internet for information. If you don’t want another browser toolbar, there is the option to uninstall it at http://www.alcohol-toolbar.com/

The free version allows for 6 simultaneous virtual CD-ROM drives (probably more than enough) and the paid version supports 31. It’s not hard to use, but definitely not for Luddites.

To download the free version, go to http://www.free-downloads.net/programs/Alcohol_52__Free_Edition

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Welcome

Friday, 31 August 2007 04:13 by JRBenning

We are introducing this blog as a reference for all parents, teachers, grandparents, child-care workers and any other advocate for young children. 
Our goal is to bring you the latest news in technology, educational programs, games and fun activities to help your toddlers.
Stay tuned as our first blog should be published next week.

Best regards,

J.R. Benning

President/Founder
Peanut Butter Software

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