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One way to teach algebra is to make it less intimidating, according to Davidson & Associates Inc., a Torrance, Calif.-based software publisher that has come out with a new program to help students master both first and second semester algebra through a simple step-by-step tutorial approach.

The program, called "Alge-Blaster Plus," features a game in which students protect a space station as they reinforce graphing skills.

"We've found that students enjoy the challenge of the game, and suddenly algebra isn't so intimidating after all," said Jan Davidson, Ph.D., president and founder of the company.

The program is a continuation of a tradition of excellence by the company, which has produced award-winning educational software, videos and workbooks that adhere to proven teaching objectives.

Davidson & Associates expects Alge-Blaster Plus to be an even bigger hit than its previous algebra program, " Alge-Blaster."

"The new program is going to be a very strong seller," said Bob Davidson, chairman and chief executive officer. "No other algebra program offers so many features at such a good value."

Alge-Blaster Plus has more than 500 algebraic equations, an infinite number of computer generated problems and five different activities, including the outer space game. It has an on-line "help" feature and a glossary of terms to provide assistance when needed. An easy-to-use editor enables students to add their own algebra problems to the program.

In addition, the program keeps track of the user's progress and provides options for on-line verbal and numeric hints. The suggested retail price is $49.95. A two-disk teacher pack is available for $59.95 and a "lab pack" with five disks is available for $149.95

The program can be installed on Novell/ICLAS, AppleTalk, Corvus (Omninet), Digicard and Tandy SchoolMate networks, making it easy for teachers to use in lab situations. Suggested retail price for the network version is $299.95.

Apple-Blaster Plus runs on the Apple IIGS, Apple IIc , Apple IIc, Apple IIe (with 128K and extended 80-column card), according to Jennifer Astle, marketing spokeswoman.

The MS-DOS version operates under Tandy DeskMate and runs on the Tandy 1000 series, IBM PC, PS/2 and major compatibles with 512K RAM (random access memory) and VGA, TGA, MCGA, EGA, CGA or Hercules graphics.

The program can be installed on a hard disk on both Tandy and MS-DOS computers, and the MS-DOS version is packaged with both 5.25 and 3.5-inch disks.

Davidson & Associates, founded in 1981 and known nationally for its high quality and educational effectiveness, also is marketing a program called "Spell It Plus" that teaches spelling for ages 10 and older. It has a suggested retail price of $49.95.

For more information, check your computer store or write Davidson & Associates, 3135 Kashiwa St., Torrance, Calif. 90505.

Commodore users group

The next meeting of the Commodore Buffalo Users Group, better known as COMBUG, will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25 at Clearfield Branch Library, 770 Hopkins Road, Williamsville, according to Donald R. Standard, 28 Bucyrus Drive, North Tonawanda, N.Y. 14120.

Standard said visitors are welcome at the meetings, which last until 8:45 p.m. For more information, call Standard at 691-6258 between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.

He reports that new membership fees are $15 a year. He said meetings include question and answer periods and discussions of all kinds of hardware and software problems.

Personal Computers welcomes your questions and programs as well as advance notification of computer group meetings. Mail your correspondence to Lonnie Hudkins, The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240.

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