Software Gift Ideas
Your Roots are Showing — Genealogy has taken hold of several of our relatives in the past year, and if anyone in your family might be interested, David Kanter’s <[email protected]> suggestion is ideal. "If any Mac user is into genealogy work, point them to Leister Productions’ Reunion 6 for the Mac. This brand new version is a brilliant, made-for-the-Mac product that help you organize family information and produce a wide-range of charts and reports which you can tailor to your needs. Although Reunion is easy to use and its default settings serve most users, the program is also extremely flexible. Even genealogy veterans using another program should look at Reunion – it can import (and export) data using the GEDCOM format, so converting an existing database into Reunion is usually an easy process. Back in January, Macworld gave Reunion 5.02 a 4-star rating (with the other two programs getting just 2-stars)."
Computer Cooking — They may be one of the most stereotypical computer uses, but recipe databases can be helpful. Molly Bullock recommends Computer Cuisine, "which has been great for helping me track my recipes. I’ve tried similar commercial programs, but this one is the best I’ve seen. And best of all, it’s $10 shareware! The menus are easy to use, and it has over a thousand recipes included. (Just last week I tried the homemade recipe for eggnog and it was great!) I like the layout and design of the database – it looks great, but note that you need FileMaker Pro to use it."
An Alternative Word Processor — If you’re interested in trying something a little different in the word processing world, you might find that you agree with James Beinke <[email protected]>. He writes: "After reading the TidBITS article about Nisus Software offering an earlier version of Nisus Writer for free, I downloaded it and have found it fills a special niche. The page layout feature is especially useful for creating booklets. The online help is good. The price of upgrading with manual can’t be beat."
Stating the Obvious — Peter Jones <[email protected]> offers an obvious idea. "So far, no one has mentioned the one Macintosh-oriented gift that would seem to be a natural: Mac OS 8.5. Under $100, even including shipping (or run out to your nearest retailer for a copy)."
CD-ROM-based Training — Dennis McGann <[email protected]> recommends any Personal Training Systems Interactive CD-ROM Tutorial as a Christmas gift. He writes: "I bought the Photoshop 4.0 tutorial when it was offered by MacWarehouse at a deep discount. I wasn’t expecting much, but found the tutorial easy to follow and logical. The instructor’s voice is also pleasant. I learned a lot and enjoyed it. PTS offers many other tutorials, including QuarkXPress, Illustrator, PageMaker, Word, and Excel."
BBEdit — Bare Bones Software’s popular text editor gets a nod from Steve Hideg <[email protected]>. "BBEdit has become the most-used tool I own. It’s wonderful for authoring/editing HTML, C, Java, and other languages (I occasionally use it for AppleScript and Lingo as well). I work at a university, and manage our public labs with RevRdist (by Dale Talcott at Purdue). BBEdit is the perfect tool for editing RevRdist’s control files.
"BBEdit is scriptable, too. I’m using it to configure Netscape preference files for users in our labs. Its search capabilities are great, including grep as well as multi-file search and replace. It can open the data fork of any file, and generate hierarchical file/folder listings (just drag a folder into an open BBEdit document). These are just a small subset of BBEdit’s features – it’s an awesome program. You can get a free demo of BBEdit 5.0 or a copy of the freeware BBEdit Lite from the Bare Bones Web site."
Sundial — Earl Atwood <[email protected]> recommends the visually stunning Sundial. "It’s the original time-lapse desktop picture. You can see what the Golden Gate Bridge looks like at 6 AM in the morning or at 9 PM at night. You can also download a demo."
Starry Night — Mark Altenberg <[email protected]> recommends the perennial treasure of star-gazers. "Starry Night by Sienna Software is one of my favorites. This program is beautifully designed and easily encourages hours of playing around, viewing the stars and other heavenly objects from any place in the universe and any point in time. It can compel almost anyone to become an amateur astronomer."
Teach for Multimedia Authoring — David Huston <[email protected]> raves about Teach, a program for authoring multimedia presentations. "Teach is powerful, fast, efficient, easy-to-learn, and fun-to-use program that rivals Authorware in its capability, but is simpler to learn and use. All the effects work via drag & drop, and you can drag hundreds of pre-programmed objects onto your presentations. And, since they’re not Java, they work fast! To modify movies, text-boxes, graphics, animations, narration, sounds, and so on, all you have to do is open a few dialog boxes and specify the changes you want for appearance, timing, and interactivity. For ease of organization, all your presentations are organized as book-like projects and subdivided into chapters and pages. Teach organizes your pages automatically – creating a contents list of each page (for the designer), as well as tables of contents of chapters and pages (for the user). I have introduced 12-year-olds to Teach and they were creating their own books within 4 hours. Teach has even more ready-to-use resources that teachers can use to present ideas of instruction in multimedia formats: templates for quizzes, tests, flash cards, Internet use, branching, feedback, and more. It’s $49 and you can download a 30-day demo."
Have a Virtual Holiday — Tongue firmly planted in cheek, Wade Riddick <[email protected]> suggests that you "give the gift that keeps on giving a headache: a PC. Remind your loved ones why they use a Mac, and buy them a copy of Virtual PC. It’s a handy product to have around the office: make your coworkers green with envy when you configure your PC to connect to the Internet in six seconds through the Mac side. And that doesn’t even broach the world of stupid PC tricks such a gift would open up."
Join the Linux Revolution — Tom Gewecke <[email protected]>, who has written about Linux on the Mac for TidBITS (and will do so again soon), recommends "a book and CD-ROM that lets you run Linux on your Mac, put out by Prime Time Freeware."
Oodles of Shareware — A neat present for a new Macintosh user might be a CD from SiteLink. Most of what they offer can be found on the Internet, but trying shareware programs or Kaleidoscope themes from CD is a lot faster than downloading them. Also interesting is the Desktop Vistas CD, which offers numerous high-quality photographs that would be perfect for desktop backgrounds. The best part is that SiteLink’s CDs are inexpensive, running around $10. Definitely worth a look.