On Computers

Tis the Season

Gail Allinson, gail@oncomputers.info

30 November 2003

This is the very last day of November and here in the good old US of A and most of us have just recovered from Thanksgiving. We are now rolling on into the December holiday season. So Jack and I thought we'd take it a little easy and offer some fun winter and holiday software recommendations.  Some of these are old favorites and some of them are new. Some are winter oriented, many are definitely Christmas oriented, and one offers decoration for all occasions and all persuasions. So let's start with that one.

Holiday Lights

Holiday Lights from Tiger Technologies is an old favorite of mine.  I've been enjoying it for years, first in the limited but useful trial version, and later in the paid version.  I've also contributed many free downloadable "bulbs" over the past few years.  This is probably my all time favorite holiday program.  There are bulbs available for almost anyone's special day, religious or otherwise. If you don't like the bulbs that come with the program, you can download others or even design your own in the full version. While I had a heck of a time finding any free or usable shareware for Hanukkah, this program offers menorahs and dreidels, too. There is also a Mac version, but only for 0S 9.

Even though I've loved this little desktop decorator, music box and screensaver for a long time, in the interest of full disclosure I need to mention that I became a paid contributor to the program this fall.  Just as long as you also know that I don't get a percentage of the sales!

For Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP, Windows NT 4, and Mac OS, Free trial, $19.95 for the registered version.

Super Elf Bowling

Those bawdy, naughty, wise-cracking elves are back at it again in Super Elf Bowling.  This year's offering is a 3-d version of the classic Elf Bowling which is still available if you are a purist.  After a few minutes of elfin taunting I found myself putting a little extra speed on that old bowling ball. Nothing like plowing down elves to put you in the holiday spirit. 

While Super Elf Bowling includes a little nag for you to take a survey, there is nothing too annoying about this sponsored freeware.  In fact, I found myself killing an hour without even trying as I tested it here in the old On Computers lab.  One word of warning, when you get to the download screen be sure you read and, if desired, uncheck the "Bonus Download" NavExcel software offer. See spywareguide.com for more information on NavExcel.

System Requirements: PC- Pentium 800, 64 MB Ram, 4 MB VRAM, Win 98, Win 2000, Win NT, Win XP

A Christmas Tree and Winter Dreams Screensavers

Delfyn Software have created two beautiful screensavers.  In preparing this article I looked at a lot of bad screensavers and I assure you that these two stand out from the rest of the pack. Both are 30 day free trials with limited, but enough function, to truly enjoy and get a feel for the full version.

A Christmas Tree Screensaver

Includes many choices of ornaments, lights, tree colors and music. Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP Free trial, $6.95 for the registered version.

Winter Dreams Screensaver

Choose your scene -- includes snowfall, trees, birds. Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP Free trial, $10.00 for the registered version.

Microsoft Winter 2003 Free Downloads

Once again, our friends of Microsoft offer lots of winter fun for users of Windows XP, Media Player 9, Plus! DME, and more.  Includes free software and "how-to's". Go check it out.

Tux Racer

Okay, penguins are from the South Pole and right now it is summer, not winter in the southern hemisphere, but hey -- it looks like winter.  Our little Linux penguin friend Tux does a belly flop down a snowy race course snapping up herring along the way.  The more herring, the higher the score. Over the years, I've spent more time than I want to admit chasing the herring in this game.

Tux Racer comes in a free beta version and also a free demo version.  This is another long time favorite of mine.

Of course you can also purchase the full version here for $14.99.

You can download additional courses for the beta version here: Tux racer Belly Rub - Courses

Linux-Windows-Mac OS

A Word of Warning

Everything I've listed here today worked on my computer, didn't load me up with spyware and was fun and reasonably functional even in the limited trial version.

In researching this story, I avoided some software completely because it was so loaded with adware that I didn't even want to put it on my computer. Be careful.  A lot of free software in this arena just isn't free.  This is a great way to get parasites if you aren't careful.

My recommendation is this: before trying unknown software, backup your system. If you are using Windows, at least back up your registry and check all software for viruses and spyware. Also try to get your downloads from reputable sites and read the fine print.  For example Download.com will usually warn you about adware. Any user reviews or comments can also help you sort that out.

12 December 2003, Addendum:

I'm packing to leave for North Carolina, but I need to mention some other neat holiday games.  They are at Kewlbox by Blockdot  It looks like you need to leave at least an e-mail address in order to download games, but the privacy policy looked pretty good and our spyware test came up clean.  There are a number of holiday offerings there including the every popular "Santa Balls". Enjoy!

© 2003 Gail Allinson

Back • Home • Up • Next

© 2002 - 2004 by On Computers and the Videotex Services Coalition.