Hope Katz Gibbs

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The Washington Post

Fast Forward: Educational Software Now A Tough Game [The Washington Post]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Fast Forward / The Washington Post
Business section

LAST WEDNESDAY, HUMONGOUS ENTERTAMENT SHIPPED the fifth installment of its Freddi Fish series, “Freddi Fish 5: The Case of the Creature of Coral Cove.” It’s the latest in a stream of $20 games featuring well-known, market-tested characters. The next day, the company held a meeting in a suburban Seattle hotel, where 82 employees found out they would lose their jobs. Humongous’ parent corporation, French video game publisher Infogrames, had decided it was “refocusing its efforts” away from Humongous’ more established franchises, such as Blue’s Clues, Spy Fox, Putt-Putt and Pajama Sam—as well as Freddi the little yellow guppy. “Rather than putting out new [character] titles every few months, we’ll be more opportunistic about it and do a better job at exploiting what we have already produced,” said spokeswoman Nancy Bushkin.

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Fast Forward: AOL, Love it or leave it [The Washington Post]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Fast Forward / Business section
The Washington Post

MY FRIEND JOHN TOLD ME a few weeks ago that he had just signed up for America Online. I was not too supportive: “Don’t you know most people hate AOL?” Yes, he knew. In fact, he really wanted broadband cable access-but his cable company wasn’t going to connect his neighborhood for another three months. “I had about a dozen of those 100-hours-free disks from AOL piling up in my desk drawer,” he explained. “While I am waiting for broadband, I figured I’d try one. It’s free, after all. How bad can it be?”

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Fast Forward: Hardware Reviews [The Washington Post]

Hope has been a regular software / hardware reviewer for Fast Forward in the Business section of The Washington Post. Starting in 1996, she wrote dozens of reviews about newfangled PCs, cell phones, and educational software programs. Here are two hardware reviews: EMACHINES ETOWER 466ID, and the SPRINT PCS.

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Fast Forward: MSN Explores a New Look [The Washington Post]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Fast Forward / Business section
The Washington Post
Nov. 10, 2000

MICROSOFT’S NEW SOFTWARE HAS A BUG—a colorful butterfly that’s been fluttering across TV screens as part of a $1 billion campaign to promote MSN Explorer, the new front end for the company’s Windows-based online service. This butterfly icon also appears throughout the new program, Microsoft’s attempt to compete with America Online’s all-in-one software. Microsoft reports that more than 1.5 million customers have downloaded the free program since its Oct. 26 release. I wasn’t in that group.

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Fast Forward: Can Distance Learning Go the Distance? [The Washington Post]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Fast Forward / The Washington Post
Internet Safety for Kids
January 1998

WHEN DOROTHY HENNESSEY GETS HOME from her job at the Department of Defense, she does what most mothers of three do. She makes sure the kids-ages 4, 8 and 12-are playing quietly or doing their homework, straightens up the house a little and starts to cook dinner. Twice a week, though, Hennessey, 33, does what many other parents only dream of: She saunters up to her bedroom, puts on her pajamas and turns on her computer to log on to the online course she’s taking to get her MBA through Strayer College. Classes meet online Tuesday and Thursday from 6:15 p.m. to 10 p.m. Hennessey simply logs on to the school’s Web page , heads for her class’s page and fires up a special program. The instructor delivers a brief lecture in voice and text, reviews assigned chapters and students respond by typing comments on their keyboards. Often, the class will break into small cyber-groups, working in chat rooms to discuss the issue at hand. Hennessey says she finds this approach to be much more interactive—and a more effective way of learning—than courses she’s taken on campus.

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Fast Forward: Thinking Outside the Blocks [The Washington Post]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Fast Forward / The Washington Post
May 14, 1999

WHILE TECHNOLOGY OFTEN GETS pegged as the bad guy, it can also just as quickly be praised as the solution. Consider how, in the wake of the Littleton, CO shooters’ use of the Web, parents are looking something, anything, to check what their kids up to online. The answer, it would seem, is a filtering program to blocks kids from violent, sexually explicit or other objectionable sites. There are plenty to choose from, including NetNanny, CyberPatrol, SurfWatch, Edmark’s KidDesk Internet Safe, CyberCop or America Online’s built-in filtering system. They all basically work the same way: If a kid tries to get into a site that is off limits, either according to program’s guidelines or custom filters added by parents—the program blocks access to it. Try to circumvent that, and you are logged off and have to reboot the computer until you enter a secret password (which parents have keyed in and, hopefully, then hidden).

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Fast Forward: Software to Block the Hardcore [The Washington Post]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Fast Forward / The Washington Post
Kids and Computers: Porn-Free
April 25, 1997

LAST WEEKEND, MY HUSBAND AND I set out to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies a few weekends ago. But when I opened the package of brown sugar, I found it hard as a quarry. I’d once read about a quick way to soften brown sugar, but couldn’t remember how. So I logged onto the Internet and fed the words “brown sugar” into a search engine. I found a lot more than I bargained for—and depending on your disposition, much of it wasn’t sweet. Yahoo! Suggested: “Brown Sugar Shack—instant access to XXX sex images of nude adult black and brown females;” and “Sexy Brown Sugar—erotic and hardcore pictures of beautiful black women.” I clicked on both links (so sue me). On my screen were vivid photos of naked women posed on stacks of pillows. OK, there were dots over their private parts, and a warning did pop up stating that anyone under 18 should click no further. But please. It didn’t ask for my driver’s license.

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Fast Forward: Screen Your Children Well [The Washington Post]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Fast Forward / The Washington Post
Internet Safety for Kids
May 1996

RICKY, 13, WAS ON AN ONLINE SMUT HUNT. Fortunately, it was just an experiment for the adolescent from Gaithersburg, MD wasn’t the type to sneak around in search of trouble—online or otherwise. But, the honor student was willing to test the waters—supervised, of course. His task: to find sordid material on the Internet. “X-rated stuff?” he asked, looking to his Uncle Mike for permission. Mike nodded. Seated in front of a supped-up Power Mac the pair began their search. Admittedly, neither had a clue where to start their prowl, so they turned to a printed directory: Random House’s NetGuide. In the Contents section, under Lifestyles, Leisure and Travel, was a section labeled Sex.

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Fast Forward: Kidz Online [The Washington Post]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Fast Forward / The Washington Post
Kids and Computers
March 1996

THE KIDS ARE NOT SMILING. Sharon Cruver wants to take pictures at the Silver Spring Boys & Girls Club, but the eight assembled teens are stone-faced. Luckily Cruver, the mother of Sharon teenage twins, is familiar with the routine. “The pictures will help you create your own home pages,” she cajoles. “We’ll post your photo on the computer, and beside it you write your name, e-mail address and a little about yourself so other kids can get to know you.” The idea of being seen by their peers seems to loosen the kids up, and they start to grin. Cruver quickly snaps the shots. But she’s taken on a much bigger challenge than generating smiles-she’s tackling the task of “leveling the high-tech playing field” by helping poor kids learn about computers and online technology. Her main weapon is Kidz Online, a free, closely monitored electronic playground she and her family launched in 1994.

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Travel: Skyline Overdrive [The Washington Post]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Travel / The Washington Post
Oct. 5, 1997

WERE YOU ONE OF THE 310,204 car that took Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park last October? Was that you, waiting for a parking space in a scenic overlook drumming your fingers on the dashboard your best view being the window sticker of the car in front of you? You swore you’d never again attempt a Sunday drive in-the autumn. But what if you could see the fall foliage without the rest of the work force? Your best choice is to stick with Skyline Drive. Nothing beats the views and easy hiking from the magnificent ridge-top road-but take it on a weekday. Second choice is to stick with Skyline Drive but leave home at the crack of dawn to beat the crowds. If neither of those choices suits you, we recommend a 270-mile loop that provides a fine day of country driving, front-row seats to nature’s kaleidoscope and little chance of gridlock. The route actually crosses Skyline Drive twice but won’t stick you in a queue. Instead, it sweeps down the winding roads of the George Washington National Forest toward Luray. Along the way, you can wave to the cows, stop by roadside apple stands, visit country stores and tour a winery. We’ve also suggested four other less-traveled country drives, two in Maryland and two in Virginia. Now don’t get us wrong. We love Skyline Drive. It’s just that road-surface-wise, supply and demand tend to fall out of whack during the month of October.

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Travel: Parting Shots [The Washington Post]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Travel / The Washington Post
September 7, 1997

TRAVEL IS A WAY OF LIFE for Jim Hanney, manager of international security for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. About 20 times a year he heads to some of the world’s most exotic-and often most infection-ridden-places. So Hanney needs to stay on top of the immunizations needed to protect him from common international diseases-yellow fever, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever, rabies and meningitis. Without the immunizations, Hanney could be denied entry to some countries, placed in quarantine and forced to receive the vaccine at the border station. Like most travelers, he opts to get the shots stateside. But like an increasing number of travelers, he’s turning not to his general practitioner but to a growing breed of travel medicine specialists. His preference is an Alexandria clinic called SmartTravel, founded in April by registered nurses Jane Johnson and Donna Shipley. “In addition to giving the necessary vaccines, we give travelers all the information they need about water purification, food safety, insect repellent and other things that will keep them healthy when they are abroad,” says Johnson.

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Travel: Many Happy (Tax) Returns [The Washington Post]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Travel / The Washington Post
May 29, 1998

ACCORDING TO THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, 70 percent of U.S. households will get a tax refund this year. Federal checks average $1,302 each; among D.C., Maryland and Virginia householders, “state” refunds average $402. What will people do with these windfalls? Spend ‘em. Says IRS spokesman Domenic LaPonzina: “From everything we have seen, the majority of people who get a refund spend the money” rather than, say, saving or investing it or paying bills. And many people, he says, spend it on travel. In fact, LaPonzina himself plans to use his ’98 refund to take his 19-year-old daughter to Italy this summer. If you’re expecting state or federal refunds, here are some travel ideas to consider.

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Travel: Road Tip! [The Washington Post]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Craig Stoltz, editor
Travel / The Washington Post
July 5, 1998

This summer, at least one time, you are certain to spend an extended period belted into a glass-and-metal envelope barreling down the road at 60 mph, perhaps surrounded by people you love, perhaps by people who annoy you, or if your luck is particularly bad, by people who love to annoy you. You will be headed someplace where you hope to have a fine time. To avoid being slightly impatient, uncomfortable and bored, abide by our readers’ favorite road-tested tips for car travel. They have driven many miles many times and, native geniuses that they are, have concocted some novel ways to deal with the inconveniences, problems and hazards of traveling by car. So check that passenger-side mirror, adjust your lumbar support and get a big or travel mug of your favorite road beverage. We’re going for a ride.

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Travel: Kidding Around [The Washington Post]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Travel / The Washington Post
May 31, 1998

Luckily for us, many readers of The Washington Post Travel section have reproduced. More lucky still, over the months many of them have sent us their favorite tips and tricks for managing travel with their offspring. Many are versions of the obvious tips we all know too well: When traveling with kids ifs even more important dm usual to be organized (a few tipsters sent elaborate descriptions of to-pack lists, maintained on computer, that “age” with the kids’ evolving travel needs); that pre-readers can be usefully, even guiltlessly, diverted with audiotapes and kid-size headphones; that, for infants especially, what you do and don’t remember to slip into the schlepbag can break or make your trip. And yes, we know you were wondering. the tip-stream carries plenty of evidence that the Ziploc Fanatics have spawned, ensuring the survival of yet another generation of people who prefer to pack everything, from cotton swabs to entire swimwear ensembles, in the tidy plastic enclosures. Assuming you’ve managed the basics of organization and planning, we offer the following tips, which represent the more novel and most potentially useful, tips our parent-travelers have sent along.

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Book World: Digital Dads and Microchip Moms [The Washington Post]

Book Review by Hope Katz Gibbs
Book World / The Washington Post
Education Review

THE PLUGGED-IN PARENT
What You Should Know About Kids and Computers
By Steve Bennett
Times Books / Paperback / 187 pages / $15

I’ve long been a fan of Steve Bennett’s 1991 book, 365 TV-Free Activities. It sits dog-eared and well worn on the “good mommy” section of my bookshelf. I like it for its simplicity, its ideas (making a Bug Motel is a favorite), and its basic premise—that good parenting means extracting your kids from the grip of Barney and interacting with them. So I had high hopes for Bennett’s newest book, “The Plugged-In Parent,” and fortunately I wasn’t disappointed. The book is engaging from its first page, where Bennett introduces himself not only as a computer expert who has authored 55 books on computing, parenting, environment and business, but a parent. Bennett is one of us. Even with all his professional / technological expertise, he too grapples with the effects of the digital age on his kids.

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Cyber Holiday Cards Get a New Gloss [Fast Forward / The Washington Post]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
The Washington Post
Fast Forward / Business
December 2006

There was once something special about the effort that went into making a holiday card featuring a snapshot of the family in front of a snowman or the kiddies dressed in their seasonal best.

Then big box retailers and specialty stores with a presence on the Internet — from Target and Costco to Ritz Camera — let everybody in on the tradition. They enabled us to shoot a holiday picture with our digital camera, upload it to the Web and start sending custom cards in a flash.

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Handheld Lets Kids Leap Into Learning [Fast Forward / The Washington Post]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Special to The Washington Post
Fast Forward, Business
June 6, 2004

What if, instead of aggressive action games or Hollywood-produced tie-in titles, a handheld offered some sort of educational value?

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Can Distance Learning Go the Distance? [Fast Forward, The Washington Post]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Special to The Washington Post
Fast Forward, Business

When Dorothy Hennessey gets home from her job at the Department of Defense, she does what most mothers of three do. She makes sure the kids – ages 4, 8 and 12 – are playing quietly or doing their homework, straightens up the house a little and starts to cook dinner.

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More The Washington Post Articles


"I get by with a little help from my friends," says Hope, who gives special thanks to:

• MICHAEL GIBBS, website illustration and design: www.michaelgibbs.com
• MAX KUKOY, website development: www.maxwebworks.com
• STEVE BARRETT, portrait of Hope on Bio page: www.stevebarrettphotography.com

Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.

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