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MathsOwn - 1 March 2005

Making Maths Fun – A software solution for kids and teachers alike

“Making maths fun” has been a mantra for maths teachers for many year. Now, a Wellington company has made the goal easier with a software programme that makes maths not only fun, but also simple and effective as a teaching tool.

Wellington software marketing company Chequers Software, based in Wellington’s technology incubator T-UP, released ‘MathsOwn’ last month as a basic maths teaching system, using Internet delivery and a free trial offer.

Chequers Software Director Dr David Hingston, who lead the software development team, was inspired to develop the program when his daughter’s school teacher suggested he exercise his daughter daily with 10 basic maths questions. Dr Hingston said there was no way he was going to be able to reliably do that, however he knew he could persuade a computer to do it!

Dr Hingston wrote the original program and over a two week period his daughter’s test results climbed from 59-97%. His daughters teachers at Wellington Queen Margarets College were suitably impressed.

Given such stunning results from the prototype Dr Hingston was encouraged to develop MathsOwn. With some input from the Queen Margaret College Teachers the programme is now more enhanced. The sophisticated maths drill program is designed to integrate basic maths learning in homes and schools.

MathsOwn is designed to complement teachers efforts, but it also encourages students to interact with their peers and learn together. Dr Hingston said this is a very powerful teaching method as students speak and understand their peers communication probably best of all”

MathsOwn is also developed as a more positive computer game, where learning is the focus, yet there is plenty of opportunity for students to compete at different levels, for example against the clock and each other.

Dr Hingston says that teacher resources are limited and software like MathsOwn can take away some of the mundane work, translating this into more teaching time. For example MathsOwn takes over marking, doing it in an instant.

Queen Margaret College is now looking to use ‘MathsOwn’ as a teaching tool in the Junior School.

Essentially the Windows-enabled programme is able to be operated by anyone from three years and upwards. Apart from the obvious numeracy and maths advantages, the programme also encourages first learning of computer and keyboard skills.

An additional advantage is the ability to have peer-reviewed tests on the programme, which is believed to be a first for programmes of this kind. Traditionally assessments have had little learning value, however MathsOwn also introduces marking during assessment to encourage learning during assessment.

It all adds up to an efficient learning tool which consolidates and extends numeracy education.

Early impressions are that MathsOwn creates a whole new maths confidence and attitude, which is surmised to form a solid foundation for future maths learning.

The majority of the sales from www.cheqsoft.com are exports. As the Internet overcomes delivery over vast distances Chequers Software believes that innovative software applications is an industry that New Zealand companies can compete successfully Internationally.

Dr Hingston, also a specialist medical practitioner, believes that New Zealand’s health and education systems need more resources. In the long run more exports are what is required to fund these, which is why he is interested in this area. His health experience is injected into the software products to ensure these are ergonomically user friendly.

Dr Hingston encourages the government to foster this growth industry more. When there is intellectual property created New Zealand as a whole benefits.

Chequers Software have developed a number of innovative performance software programs, notably their time saving Clipboard Express Pro and OOS Prevention Software (Break Reminder).


TimesOwn - 10 July 2005

The Best Clock in the World

How often have you attended a tele or video conference to find someone missing an important meeting – postponing an important decision or forcing a lost opportunity? The cause is often a miscalculated start time - a result of someone getting the mental maths wrong or the daylight saving status changed!

For less than the likely cost of one missed meeting CheqSoft.com has developed the answer to minimize this problem.

Wellington software marketing company Chequers Software, based in Wellington’s technology incubator T-UP, have recently released the new TimesOwn Pro, International Time Zone software.

TimesOwn uses a simple customizable interface to show user selected Time Zones, including daylight or summer time status. Drag and drop ease of use is also incorporated. The software ordinarily runs independent of an Internet connection.  Customer feedback has suggested the user interface is the best available.

TimesOwn Pro incorporates the ability to choose pre-selected groupings of Time Zones. Planning equivalent times can be calculated in a flash for multiple destinations – as many as might be of interest – forwards or backwards in time.

TimesOwn Pro also incorporates Multi Time Zone Meeting planners – a user dials the time of interest, generates an email to the participants and pastes the preformatted equivalent meeting times for all participants, adds any personalization and sends it to all. All the time calculations are automatically performed taking into account any daylight saving transitions included.

Time Zones daylight saving rules basis may change on an annual basis in accord with the particular government’s decree. A good example is the Australian time zones changed to avoid changing Summer time half way through the Olympic and Commonwealth Games! TimesOwn names the zone appropriately, whether it be daylight (NZ) or summer time, (e.g. Australia).

Particular examples highlighting the need for TimesOwn Pro are the many Middle Eastern Muslim Countries who change their time zone basis every year.

TimesOwn Pro can even populate Windows with military time zones, so a PC can run on military time. The Windows Operating Systems time zones, as used by the computer and recent versions of Outlook, have largely remained static over the last few years. TimesOwn Pro is also designed to add additional Time Zones to the PC, as well as update these, even on a daily basis. Even these military TimesOwn Zones may be used in recent versions of Microsoft Outlook.

International travellers can plan their destinations as a group of Time Zones and update their PC’s Time Zone using TimesOwn on arrival of each successive leg of their journey with a single click.  TImesOwn makes it easy to know the times to make those calls home etc.

The TimesOwn software series is designed to come into its own assisting people make calls with new cheaper Internet Phone alternatives such as Skype. As these can radically lower the cost of international communications more will occur and more coordination of these will be required.

With the shrinking of the World into a Global Village Chequers Software Director Dr David Hingston, saw an increasing need for a new generation Global software Clock. TimesOwn has been in development for five years now and incorporates as many years customer feedback.

Several Corporations are currently evaluating TimesOwn Pro for their use. As it is so customizable TimesOwn is being considered for direct projection onto walls, to replace standard wall clocks . Another use is to assist planned server maintenance around the World.

Dr Hingston said it has been absolutely fascinating revising the time zone history incorporated in TimesOwn. How many people knew that countries during the 2nd World War had Daylight and Double Daylight savings?

In 2000 Dr Hingston designed the user interface and his brother Tom wrote the software. Tragically Tom died 2002, bequeathing Chequers Software to David. David, who had been working as a General Practitioner decided to take the opportunity to help the health system the best way he could. His belief is that gaining more foreign revenue for New Zealand is going to assist more people in the health (and education) systems in the long term.

Dr Hingston said TimesOwn offers a set of features not offered any where else that he has found.  He also noted it is satisfying receiving feedback that TimesOwn Pro’s usability surpasses competing products at any price during evaluation.

As most of Chequers Software Revenue is International the software is priced on the Internet in $US although purchases may also be made in local currency!

Chequers Software have developed several other performance system tray software programs, notably their recently released MathsOwn basic maths tutor, OOS Prevention Software Break Reminder and the time saving Clipboard Express Pro.



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