Saturday, November 6, 2010

Review Crew update: Math DVDs

In September I had the opportunity to review two math DVDs -- a pre-algebra from Math Tutor DVD and another for the TI-84 calculator. You can review the review I did of the pre-algebra DVD here.

Unfortunately, at that time in the school year and our family life, I didn't have a chance to watch the TI-84 DVD.  I did watch it in early October, but (sheepishly looking down at the ground) I forgot to write up my impressions of that product.

My impressions:  We're not at a place in our home education where we are using graphing calculators, but if I was, this DVD would be fantastic!   I am the type of person who reads instruction books that come with our products, but occasionally I run across an instruction pamplet with which I get bogged down with the details.   Computer and calculator manuals might fall into this category.  The DVD actually has a computer-generated calculator keyboard on half the screen, and the data screen on the other.  You can actually see what keys are being touched!  Of course, watching a DVD means you can replay and review steps that you might've missed!

Crew Review: Collectorz Book Collector Pro

I love the idea of a keeping my homeschool library cataloged on my laptop. For the past few years,  I have used a computer lesson planning software program  which required me to log the resources we were using. This was somewhat helpful, but there were some things I didn't like about it that prevented me from loading everything into the database.

 I was pleased to be offered the chance to review Collectorz  book library software (they have software for music, comic, game and DVDs as well).

And then I was overwhelmed.  However, the more I spent time with the software, the more I liked it and could really see the benefit of it's features.

The product. There is so much you can do with this software! Click here to view features. Real libro-philes will love that you can enter literary elements into your book entries -- character, plot elements.  A generic field is also available to enter your own notes.

Here's a screenshot for adding books.  You can enter ISBN numbers, or chose to enter by title/author.  After entering these fields, you click the "Search All" button, and it will populate your fields with online data about your books (a lot of the data comes from  Then click "add selected" and the books are added to your collection:

Here's a screenshot of editing a book you've entered. You can customize the field titles:

Collectorz has two versions to consider.  Their Pro version ($49.95) and Standard ($29.95).  They also sell three types of bar code scanners.  There are package deals as well.  The Pro edition give you the ability to make cool pie charts and track books you've loaned out. You can click here  for a comparison chart of the two versions.

My Experience.  For my purposes, I want to be able to group our books not only by subject, but also learning level -- grammar, logic/ dialectic and rhetoric, and also by curriculum (Tapestry of Graces, Sonlight, My Father's World).  Collectorz makes it easy to create new labels, search by those labels, and even change or delete unnecessary categories.

I loved that you can keep track of books on your wish list, as well as books you've loaned out!  In the past, I've loaned out curriculum to friends and forgotten where I put the handwritten list that she and I made to keep us accountable.  Yea!  No paper list needed here!

One of the features I really want us to download our list of homeschool resources to my iphone.  There are many times I'm looking at used books (or library book sales) and wondering if I need a certain book for our history curriculum.  While Collectorz does have an iphone interface, the app is an additional fee ($10 at that).  Also, at this time, Collectorz does not interface with iphone's ability to be used as a bar code scanner.  This is unfortunate, as I really don't want to have to purchase an additional piece of equipment.  Happily, there are many Collectorz users who want the same features I do, so perhaps in the future!

You can visit TOS's Review Crew for more information from other reviewers.

FCC note:  I was given a trial version of Collectorz Pro for this review in exchange for my honest opinion about this product.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Month of Gratitude: Nov. 2nd

I'm grateful to live in a country where I can cast a secret ballot. I'm grateful to live in a country anyone can run for political office.  I'm grateful to live in a country where I have a choice when I vote.

In 1985 when I was a senior in high school, I had the opportunity to visit the then Soviet Union.  It was a life-changing trip and I learned much that has stuck with me to this day.  One thing I'll always be grateful for is freedom, and for those who have defended my freedom -- now and in the past -- with the ultimate sacrifice.

Thanks to Life in the Craft Lane for the free button!  

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Month of Gratitude

I can't believe it is already November, and time to make the Operation Christmas Child boxes, think about holiday shopping and turkey dinners and all the rest that is part of the end of the year. Thanks to my long-time online friend Tess, I'm reminded of all that I'm grateful for and will write about it all this month.

Tonight, I'm grateful for modern medicine and online "been there done that" mommies who are willing to share their experiences.  We've had a busy week and it is so comforting and helpful when others slide up next to you and offer to listen.