Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Evernote - no, don't note Wild Republic*

Have I mentioned Foxmarks before? I have, right. So today it is the turn of Evernote. A nice way of making notes from webpages and happily forgetting them thereafter. That is, if you are a copious note maker like me. Friends from college (if they are reading at all; likely they are going - ah the advantage of the net -being able to tune out this irritating person!) will remember that. So, today, when vague remembrances in the terra not-so-firma of my mind leaned towards some recipe seen somewhere with brinjal but no oil, I searched all my books where it could possibly be. Then I checked my recipe notebooks. Especially the phone diary, stray scraps of papers on the fridge and backs of envelopes gathered for throwing away. And, finally, long past dinnertime, I remembered! Evernote! A couple of clicks, and I have the recipe, its photo, and the link to the original. A great resource, Evernote, but like all new toys, it had had its days in the sun. Not its fault I am sure. But I am also babbling. Oh dear, I have been reading The Enchanted Castle again, so any faint stirrings of attempts to inject humour into the proceedings may kindly be attributed to that tome. Ahem, returning to Evernote, try it if you haven't already. Its rather nice to be able to clip just one little piece of information that you want rather than copy pasting and then not reading that word document ever, or worse, bookmarking and forgetting why you did so and where. See, its all the same - I lose things all over the place, but still, you, I am sure, are better, by far. Right?

Incidentally, that recipe - it is Mark Bittman's 'cold eggplant salad with sesame dressing'. Very simple, and different, and has no oil, and is tasty. Try!

Wild Republic is a brand of K&M International, Ohio. Founded in 1979 by Gopala B. Pillai, this toy company states that is mission is to "to educate the younger generation about the beauty and wonders of our animal kingdom in a fun and creative manner". Their toys are designed to be as near natural as it is possible for toys to be. But the reason I was going to talk about them was their series of stuffed birds - Audobon birds. These cute stuffed toys produce real bird calls recorded mostly at the Cornell university if I recall correctly, or the Audobon institute, when squeezed. Till sometime back, you could check the entire range of birds online - they featured the real bird, the toy bird, and the birdsong, along with details about the bird's habitat, call and other habits. It was a great introduction to the world of birds for young kids. But, when I checked up today, I found that the site has been totally redesigned and all you get are simple images of the stuffed toys, and not too good at that. To say that I am disappointed is rather an understatement.

Oh well, on with the show!

The kids only section promises more than it delivers somehow. Perhaps it is the slightly flat, not so cute nature of the graphics (not as much as the toys anyway). Or maybe simply the absence of enough games. But I have a feeling that they are building on it, and will likely be introducing more.

The games section has a couple of puzzles, and one game where the child will click and drag names under photos of five stuffed toys. The paint section has five images to colour. Routine stuff. I guess by this time I have become something of a connoisseur in kiddie games, and nothing but the 'excellent' satisfies! Maybe someone should employ me as their resident critic if not a contributor! (Nindak nearey rakhiye etc. etc.)

The other finding, other than the disappointing one that is, was this animation movie - Stripes is a hero. A large one, and a nice idea for storyline, but the execution was, once again, less than perfect. The animation had a slightly puppet-ish quality to it, some visuals were repeated (kids catch that very quickly!), and once again, the characters not too cute or original either.

A webcam, a link to find zoos, and e-postcard makes up the rest of this section. If the birds had still been there, I would have given this site three stars, meaning worth checking out. As it is, check it out on a rainy day, or if you are planing to buy a product and looking up anyway. I have the birds and I can recommend those for sure! (The only problem is that their battery runs out after 4000 squeezes and you'd have to open the seams and 'unstuff' the bird to replace it.)

URL for the kids section - http://www.wildrepublic.com/kids.html

P.S. The site takes a little while to load up, being all animated. You can safely skip the intro :)

P.P.S. Nindak nearey rakhiye is the beginning of a hindi couplet which essentially means that you should keep a critic very close, for who else will give you the kind of feedback that will make you grow?

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