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Family 3.30.05

'Here Come The ABCs'

They Might Be Giants is a songwriting and performing duo that has been writing witty songs for 20 or so years now. This disc, coming right after big success with their family-friendly NO!, is mostly made of soundtrack songs for the DVD of the same name. All of the songs are miniatures, most revolving alphabetic concerns. The best of the songs remind me of School House Rock from when I was a kid. I didn't always understand what I was being told back then, but I just liked hearing the songs.

On a couple of numbers there is a character with a really low and scary voice that could spook kiddies without the context of the puppet or animated character that goes with it. The same could be said about Cookie Monster, though, and who doesn't love Cookie?

They Might Be Giants has a knack for continuing to reach new audiences (Disney is distributing this disc). Here Come the ABCs also includes the theme to Disney's Higglytown Heroes and "Clap Your Hands" from the Dumb and Dumberer soundtrack. No marbles required for enjoyment, either.

--- Dave Cross

This week for families:

Brighton Memorial Library storytimes: Mondays 10 a.m. (ages 3-4), 10:30 a.m. (ages 1-2.5); Thursdays 7 p.m. 2300 Elmwood Avenue. 784-5300, www.brightonlibrary.org

Head Start/Early Head Start now accepting applications, Action for a Better Community. 325-5116 ext 3300

Henrietta Public Library storytimes: Mon, Apr 4, ages 2-8, 7 p.m.; Tuesdays 11-11:30 a.m., Wednesdays 10:15-10:45 a.m., 455 Calkins Rd. 359-7092, www.hpl.org

Penfield Public Library through Apr 30. poetry contest, grades 6-12. 1985 Baird Rd, Penfield. 340-8720

Rochester Museum and Science Center 657 East Ave. Wed, Apr 6, lecture, "The Bombardier Beetle," 7:30 p.m. $15. | Surprise! It's Science, through May 2005 | Rochester's Frederick Douglass, through January 2006 | Live Science! demos and theater, Sat 2, 3 (sign-interpreted), 4 p.m.; Sun 1:30, 2:30, 3:30 p.m. | Ongoing exhibits include: AdventureZone, Carlson Inquiry Room, At the Western Door, Try Science Around the World | Hours: Mon-Sat 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 12-5 p.m. Tix: $5-$7. 271-1880, www.rmsc.org

Seneca Park Zoo 2222 St Paul St. Mon, Apr 4, 9:30 a.m. or Tues, Apr 5, 1 p.m., animals in motion, ages 4-6, $22. | Wed, Apr 6, book and beast, 11 a.m. | Hours: daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tix: $5, $4 seniors, $2 kids. 467-9453, www.senecazoo.org

Stormwater Coalition Logo Design Contest for grades 7-12. entry forms: www.monroecounty.gov. deadline: Mar 31.

Strong Museum 1 Manhattan Square. Sat-Sun, Apr 2-3, Enchanted Museum family weekend, 12-4 p.m. | through Fri, Apr 1, Shake Paws with Clifford Week. | Enchanted Museum, through May 8. | Adventures with Clifford the Big Red Dog, through May 1. | Long-term exhibits include National Toy Hall of Fame, Can You Tell Me How To Get To Sesame Street? and Super Kids Market. Hours: Mon-Thurs 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 12-5 p.m. Tix: $7; $6 seniors, students; $5 children. 263-2700

Swimming Lessons through June 4. Tuesdays and Thursdays 5-8 p.m., Saturdays 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Freddie Thomas Learning Center, 625 Scio St; Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 5-8 p.m., James Madison School, 200 Genesee St. 428-7888

Van Gogh Like Me Sat, Apr 2. art workshop, ages 7-12, Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, 205 Genesee St, Auburn, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. $10. 315-255-1553

VERB Anytour Wed, Mar 30: Lewis St YMCA, 53 Lewis St, 3-5 p.m.; Thurs, Mar 31: Northwest Family YMCA, 730 Long Pond Rd, 3-5 p.m.; Fri, Apr 1: Boys & Girls Club, 500 Genesee St, 5-7 p.m.; Sun, Apr 3: Amerks Game, 100 Exchange Blvd, 5-9 p.m.

ZooTeen Volunteer Info Sessions Thurs, Mar 31. Seneca Park Zoo, 2222 St Paul St, 7 p.m. 336-7213

For the low, low cost of free...

Toto... I don't think we're in Redmond anymore. If you're not comfortable with the high cost of maintaining a modern computing system, then Bill Gates and Steve Jobs must seem like the Wicked Wizards of OS. Families on a tight budget have an alternative to the bloat and cost of Apple's OSX and Microsoft's Windows XP. For many years, the Open Source alternative has been Linux, where the distro (distribution package) is king. Linux is an alternative to the mainstream operating systems (the software that runs your PC or Mac). Instead of about $100 to $300 per computer, you can install Linux on as many computers as you like for free (or at a very reasonable cost).

Unlike the major operating systems, however, there is no "one" version. Ask a techie for a recommendation and you'll be directed toward distros from RedHat, SuSe, Mandrake, Gentoo, Debian, Slackware, or one of many others. That's because the communal "open source" aspect of Linux has led to the creation of numerous packages and configurations. One trip to linuxiso.org and you'll see what I mean.

One new distro, the Debian-based Ubuntu (www.ubuntulinux.org) has met our family's diverse needs. I downloaded a disk image (iso) and made an installation CD for an older computer. Then I visited the unofficial Ubuntu guide (ubuntuguide.org) to pick up configuration tips. After a bit of tweaking, I installed word processing and educational software for my kids (quite a lot). You can also obtain free installation disks from the Web site if you're not burner-savvy.

The site claims that "Ubuntu" is an ancient African word, meaning "humanity to others," or "I am what I am because of who we all are." That's a nice summary of Linux's community-focused spirit.

There are other distributions that share that gestalt. For interested families, there is even a local user group. LUGOR (www.lugor.org) meets the third Thursday of each month at RIT's building 70 in room 70-1400 from 7 to 9 p.m.

--- Stan Merrell