"Christians And The Internet" newsletter CATI, Vol. 3, No. 12: November 9, 2002 _______________________________________________________________ TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. CHRISTIAN HOME & SCHOOL: "PROTECTING YOUR FAMILY ONLINE" 2. HOW MUCH MONEY CAN YOU SAVE ON THE WEB? YOU'D BE SURPRISED! 3. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: INFORMATION ON CATI NEWSLETTER _______________________________________________________________ The latest revision of this issue of "CATI" can be accessed online at http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati75.htm. The Web page edition makes it especially easy to visit the links. Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is Copyright (C) 2002 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved. See the end of this issue for more information on "CATI." _______________________________________________________________ 1. CHRISTIAN HOME & SCHOOL: "PROTECTING YOUR FAMILY ONLINE" The September 2002 issue of Christian Home & School magazine contained an article I wrote entitled "Protecting Your Family Online." Christian Home & School: "Protecting Your Family Online" by Barry Traver http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-09/internet.shtml In it you'll find hints on how to safeguard your household when browsing the Web, using search engines, enjoying chat rooms, and receiving e-mail. Links to further resources are also provided. Since the original publication of the article, the address for the "Kids Search Engines" page at SearchEngineWatch has changed. Here's the new address: SearchEngineWatch: Kids Search Engines http://www.searchenginewatch.com/links/kids.html Another article I wrote in which you may be interested was published in the March/April 2002 issue of Christian Home & School: Christian Home & School: "Rich Resources on the Web" by Barry Traver http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-03/internet.shtml In that article I stated that "ZDNet’s SearchIQ provides a list of over two dozen kid-safe search engines," but I am afraid that such is no longer the case. In fact, ZDNet's SearchIQ seems to have been replaced by CNET's Search.com, which does not seem to allow parents to turn on any filter to make searches more "family-friendly" (such as Google offers with its SafeSearch option). One more article I wrote of possible interest to you was published in the March/April 2001 issue of Christian Home & School: Christian Home & School: "An annotated list of Christian and general Web sites for kids" by Barry Traver http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2001-03/internet.shtml Since the Web is ever-changing, some of the sites mentioned now have different Web addresses: Disney Surf Swell Island http://disney.go.com/surfswell/index.html Looney Tunes Teach the Internet http://www.warnerbros.com/ltti/homepage.html Tukids http://exp.tukids.tucows.com/ In addition, About Kids seems to have been replaced by About Teens, and Berit's Best Sites for Children seems to no longer be in existence <sigh>. Fortunately, however, most of the "rich resources" I recommended are alive and well and have not moved. Some of you may not be familiar with Christian Home & School magazine. Here's how it describes itself on its home page: "Christian Home & School is published six times per year by Christian Schools International in order to promote and explain the concept of Christian Education while encouraging Christian parents in their daily walk as disciples of Jesus, and helping them to improve their parenting skills as a form of discipleship." http://www.csionline.org/chs/ Yes, the magazine is especially intended for parents who have their children enrolled in a member school of the following organization: Christian Schools International (Reformed) http://www.csionline.org/ The magazine is, however, one that contains articles that should be of value to all Christian parents, whether their children be Christian schooled, home schooled, or, for that matter, public schooled. Here are some examples of recent articles that were published in Christian Home & School: "Back-to-School Supplies" by Sonya VanderVeen Feddema http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-09/feature.shtml "The Battle" by Andrea Wieringa http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-05/feature.shtml "A Gift for the Sheppards: A Christmas Story" by David P. Koning http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2001-12/feature.shtml "Gratitude Deficit Disorder" by Kristen Witt http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2001-10/feature.shtml "Growing Up Fast" by Ida Rose Heckard http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-01/feature.shtml "Kids Who Yearn to Learn" by Alan Bandstra http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-10/feature.shtml "Question-Friendly Families" by Sonya VanderVeen Feddema http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2000-12/feature.shtml "Right Brain, Left Brain" by Linda Riggs Mayfield http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2001-09/feature.shtml "We’re Late" by Candy Arrington http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-03/feature.shtml And here are the film reviews published by Christian Home & School in the past two years: A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2001-09/film.shtml Atlantis: The Lost Empire http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2001-09/film.shtml Cats & Dogs http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2001-09/film.shtml The Emperor's New Clothes http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-09/film.shtml Finding Forrester http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2001-03/film.shtml Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-01/film.shtml Hearts in Atlantis http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2001-12/film.shtml Hey Arnold! The Movie http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-09/film.shtml I Am Sam http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-03/film.shtml Ice Age http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-05/film.shtml Like Mike http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-09/film.shtml Lilo & Stitch http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-09/film.shtml The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-01/film.shtml Max Keeble's Big Move http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2001-12/film.shtml My Big Fat Greek Wedding http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-10/film.shtml O http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2001-10/film.shtml Pay It Forwardr http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2000-12/film.shtml The Princess Diaries http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2001-10/film.shtml Shrek http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2001-09/film.shtml Snow Dogs http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-03/film.shtml Spy Kids http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2001-10/film.shtml Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-10/film.shtml Taliesin Jones http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-05/film.shtml Thirteen Days http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2001-03/film.shtml By the way, what you have here is not an authoritative list of films recommended for Christians, but comments on significant films by various individual Christian reviewers. Not all movies are enthusiastically endorsed (in fact, some may not be appropriate for children or some teenagers), but here is a resource where you can read the thoughts of an intelligent Christian who has seen the film. You may or may not agree with the conclusions of the reviewer. It is up to you to use your intelligence to draw your own conclusions as you read the comments of the reviewer. My wife Sharon and I happen to be film buffs (the time and attention some devote to sports, we devote to movies), and we find it helpful to consider the opinions of different critics when deciding what is worth seeing. One especially helpful resource we have found is this: Rotten Tomatoes http://www.rottentomatoes.com/ You can't just "go by the numbers" (most of the film critics do not use Christian criteria in their assessments), but at this site you have access often to hundreds of reviews of the same movie, and you'll find much helpful information on the film. (You may also find a film critic who thinks the same way you do most of the time!) You may consider movies a waste of time (or worse), and that's fine. You may spend as much time watching films as we spend watching sports (which is no time at all). But Christian Home & School contains other things besides film reviews: you will also find book reviews, editorials, comments on television, and more material that may be helpful to parents in bringing up their children. The Web site makes available only selected articles and columns to give you an idea of what Christian Home & School has to offer. If you like what you read on the Web, you may want to subscribe to the magazine: Christian Home & School: Subscription Information http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/subscription_form.html Whether or not you subscribe, I hope that you will take advantage of being able to read these articles on their Web site: Christian Home & School: "Protecting Your Family Online" by Barry Traver http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-09/internet.shtml Christian Home & School: "Rich Resources on the Web" by Barry Traver http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2002-03/internet.shtml Christian Home & School: "An annotated list of Christian and general Web sites for kids" by Barry Traver http://www.gospelcom.net/csi/chs/2001-03/internet.shtml Enjoy! _______________________________________________________________ 2. HOW MUCH MONEY CAN YOU SAVE ON THE WEB? YOU'D BE SURPRISED! Or maybe you wouldn't. Last month I saved $180, and you may be interested in the story of how it was done, because you may be able to save in a similar way yourself (or perhaps you already are doing so). In the mail my wife got a brochure which offered a video DVD package which she thought (and I did also) would make a great birthday present for our son. (His birthday is in January and that hasn't come yet, so at this time I can't be more specific about the set.) The problem is that the price of the 14 discs was approximately $200, according to the brochure. And yet it was something we were sure John Calvin would enjoy immensely. So what to do? It was time to compare prices on the Web! Doing so, we found the same set for about $110, a savings of $90. (I found out later I could have saved even more if I had shopped around a bit more.) The same site that showed me stores and prices for this particular item also told me how stores rated in terms of customer satisfaction. I ordered from a "five star" store, and we were not disappointed. Within a matter of days the product arrived, brand-new, shrink-wrapped, and in perfect condition. Now you may or may not think it is good stewardship to spend $110 on 14 DVD disks. In our case, we thought it was, since Notre Dame was now assuming the cost of our son's education (he was awarded a full-tuition scholarship plus a Presidential fellowship for the Ph.D. program there) and we were happy as parents to be able to splurge a bit at this point (since we were not now as financially restricted as in previous years). But that's not the point. The point is that whatever you may want or need to buy, the Web can often help you get it at less cost. Want to see some specific prices? Let's pretend that what we wanted to get for John Calvin was The Art of Buster Keaton. Buster Keaton was a great comedian of silent film (greater, in my personal opinion, than the better-known Charlie Chaplin). This DVD set includes 11 features (including The General, which may be one of the best films ever made) and 19 shorts. The suggested retail price is $199.95. You can get the set from Tower Records for $197.94 or from CD Now for $195.55 (not much of a savings!). Here's how to compare prices. Go to http://google.com and search for the following: "The Art of Buster Keaton" compare price Web pages will turn up from various price comparison sites, including the following: BizRate.com http://video.bizrate.com/marketplace/ Epinions.com http://www.epinions.com/ NexTag http://www.nextag.com/ Yahoo.com http://shopping.yahoo.com/ (Those are currently my four favorites, but I also check others. After you decide on your own favorite sites, you can, of course, go to them directly rather than use Google. At Epinions.com, it can be seen that The Art of Buster Keaton (full set) can be ordered from Deep Discount DVD (a five-star store) for $119.98 (including shipping), which is about $80 less than what you might pay elsewhere. Our own savings on the DVD set we got our son was about $90. So what about the other $90 we saved? Well, we own a Xerox XD155df digital copier/laser printer. Not only did our toner cartridge run out, but also we had no spare on hand. I went to the local Staples store, and the price was about $198. I went to the Staples Web site, and I found that their price was about $183.50. I went to the Xerox Web site, and I found that their price was about $180. I did a price comparison search, and I found at NexTag a number of vendors selling this item for about $155 or so (the new official Xerox item, not simply a compatible or refurbished item). Thus we saved at least $45 a cartridge (actually, we saved $90 or more, because we bought two cartridges). IMPORTANT: It's good to know that many local stores have a "price match" policy. Staples is one of these. If you can prove that the lower price is a normal selling price and that the vendor has the item in stock, your local store may match the price. Our local Staples did, in fact, honor their "price match" policy, so we got the toner cartridges from our local Staples at a savings of $45 or so each. Sometimes the savings aren't that dramatic. For example, this week I was only able to save about $10 off the normal price of $70 for Norton SystemWorks (but then again, the package came with a $30 rebate, so my final cost for this product will be about $30, so I will be getting it at less than half-price anyway.) And if the item is expensive to ship, there may be no advantage to the Web. The Web can save you money, even if you don't find a cheaper price on the Web. I'm fussy, for instance, about clothes hangers, and for years I've looked for a place to buy "blonde suit hangers with lock bar." (There's something about wood that I like, and the lock bar keeps the trousers in place.) I finally got smart and decided to search the Web, only to find that a set of five such hangers was available for $6.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond, which was also the price at our local Bed Bath and Beyond Store for which we happened to have a discount coupon (and, yes, they did have them in stock). If you do buy on the Web, my advice is ordinarily to buy only from companies that have a high customer satisfaction rating. It is also a good idea to buy from a company that has a toll-free phone number and a "real" mailing address (not just a P.O. box). If you're using a charge card, be sure the site is secure (your browser may indicate that by showing a padlock in a bottom corner), which means that no one can see your credit card number except you and the store (and no one between you and the store). My next planned purchase through the Web is some ties. I am planning to try out a vendor called "2002 Ties," which claims to have "the largest, online selection of novelty neckties in Canada." (Like Carl Trueman of Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia, I have a liking for cartoon ties.) Since I live in the U.S., why would I buy from a Canadian vendor? Here are some advantages: "Please note that all prices are in Canadian funds. exchange rate (Example:$10 tie is $6.39 in US funds). Your credit card company automatically does the currency exchange for you. No tax is charged for US and international destinations. All shipping is $5 in canadian funds, a flat fee for 1 tie or 20 ties." http://2002ties.com/english.html If you're considering buying your ties online (and if your tastes are out of the ordinary), here's a helpful list of places where you can buy ties you never knew existed: GalahLinks.com: Neckties http://www.galahlinks.com/Shopping_and_Food/Clothing/Men_s/Neckties/ (Some of the vendors on the list do sell ordinary ties as well.) In an earlier article in CATI, I gave some advice about how to save money in buying books on the Web: CATI: Buying Books and/or Reading Books on the Web http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati46.htm#1 It needs to be updated (it was published over a year and a half ago), but you'll still find a lot of helpful information in it, I think. I'm hoping to revise it for a future issue of CATI, but for now let me make some comments here on one excellent source of Christian books: Westminster Bookstore http://wts.edu/bookstore/ It is especially strong on scholarly titles, but it includes many Christian titles of general interest as well. You will find great prices on their Web site plus special offers that are not available to walk-in customers but are available to those who order books from them through the Web. Example: During November (until November 31) you can get Daryl Hart's Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America at half price ($8.50 rather than $16.99), but you have to order the book through the Web. Here's where (for now) you can read about the special offer: Daryl Hart's Defending the Faith http://wts.edu/bookstore/newsletter.html#view_review_3 And here are some books that carry a special 30% discount for the month of November only (mentioned on the same Web page): Raymond Dillard and Tremper Longman III, An Introduction to the Old Testament Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., ed., Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos Michael S. Horton, Covenant and Eschatology: The Divine Drama Michael S. Horton, ed., Confessing Theology for Postmodern Times J.G. McConville, Apollos Commentary on the Old Testament: Deuteronomy Danny E. Olinger & David K. Thompson, eds., History for a Pilgrim People: The Historical Writings of Charles G. Dennison (former church historian for the Orthodox Presbyterian Church) Paul David Tripp, Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens Bruce Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary Ed Welch, Blame it on the Brain?: Distinguishing Chemical Imblances, Brain Disorders, and Disobedience To keep up with the Web specials at Westminster Bookstore, sign up for their free monthly newsletter near the top of their home page. Incidentally, ministers and other serious students of the Bible and theology should check out the offerings on this special Westminster Bookstore Web page: Westminster Bookstore: Greatly Discounted Sets http://wts.edu/bookstore/sets.html Minimum discount on this page seems to be 30%, and many (maybe most) sets are offered at a 35%, 40%, or even 50% discount! Well, we've looked at DVD videos, copier toner cartridges, men's neckties, computer software, suit hangers, and books as specific examples of how you can save money on the Web. Many more examples could be given (and perhaps may be given in future issues, with an emphasis on what is available for free). Closing thought: you aren't saving money if the Web tempts you to buy things you would not otherwise have bought. If you spend $25 for a useless item that normally costs $75, you haven't "saved" $50: you've wasted $25! The Web can be a resource that can save you money, but good Christian stewardship includes simply finding the best prices, but using Biblical principles throughout all the decisions that you make regarding what God has entrusted to your care. Digression: E.B. White's children's book Stuart Little has a section dealing with "Stuart's ship." Anyone who has read the book knows that. What few people know is that Stuart was a Presbyterian mouse. His Reformed understanding of God's call to him to "love his neighbor" led him to share the message of God's Word in love to his feline friends, some of whom also became good Presbyterians. Since Stuart was Small (he was a Little mouse) and most cats were Taller, it was very difficult to follow the Biblical command, "Greet one another with a holy kiss" (1 Cor. 16:20), but finally he did find a Shorter cat to kiss 'im. <groan> _______________________________________________________________ 3. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: INFORMATION ON CATI NEWSLETTER Like to know what this is? This is the seventy-fifth issue of a free newsletter devoted to "Christians And The Internet" ("CATI," pronounced "Katy," but spelled with a "C" and an "I" for "Christians" and the "Internet"). Like to subscribe to this free email newsletter? Just send an email to email@example.com (but be sure to include your name in the note). Like to read past CATI issues and articles (or even search CATI for a particular subject)? Go to http://cati.org and you'll find an archive of past issues (arranged in reverse chronological order), a partial index of articles (arranged alphabetically by topic), and a search engine specifically for use with CATI. Like to pass along this issue to others? You may. Permission is hereby granted to pass along any issue of CATI to someone else, provided that it is passed along in its entirety with no changes made. (For now, I prefer that you send the complete issue, although I may in the near future provide guidelines for passing along individual articles.) Like to use material from this newsletter (say, on a Web page or in a publication)? For permission to do that, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org (explaining what you'd like to use and for what purpose). Reasonable requests are usually granted. Like to unsubscribe? That's also easy. Just send an email to email@example.com (but if you decide to unsubscribe, you'll be missed, so any thoughts about the newsletter that you would be willing to share at that time would be much appreciated). Like to tell your friends about CATI? That is not only much encouraged, but also an encouragement to the editor! CATI is a lot of work (albeit a labor of love) and (since it is a free newsletter and I intend it to stay such) provides no financial income, so what keeps me going with this personal endeavor is knowing that people are finding it to be helpful, instructive, and enjoyable. (Comments from readers are always welcome, so let me hear from you!) Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is Copyright (C) 2002 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.