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The December Shareware Report Print
By Bill Dubie and Dave Sciuto

Smaller is Better

We've often been told to stuff it, but now we know exactly how:
Aladdin Systems's StuffIt provides a comprehensive file-compression solution to let you save files in a smaller space. This versatile system goes beyond the services composing other file- compression utilities, with the ability to search archives, to use FTP to transfer files, and other useful tricks.

{mosadsense4joomla ad_layout="A"ad_align=""}StuffIt includes a browser, similar to Explorer, from which you can drag and drop files to archive, or expand existing archives. The list of supported compression standards is considerable: StuffIt supports the popular .zip and .sit formats, and even creates its own (.sit), which, Aladdin says, creates files 20 percent smaller than zip files.

The DropStuff window presents a clean, easy-to-use interface for dragging, dropping, and compressing files--and even lets you send out compressed files directly from its window.

Conversely, Aladdin Expander decompresses crunched files quickly and neatly. We were impressed by the features StuffIt has over WinZip, and the quick learning curve as well.

When disk space is tight, or when you need to compress files for sending or downloading, a good crunch utility can be your best friend. And you know your best friends can tell you to stuff it when you need it.

Where to find it: http://www.aladdinsys.com/
System requirements: PC running Windows; most major platforms
Price: $29.95; see web site for other pricing information.

Christmas Bomberic is Da Bomb

Santa's job is tough: The poor old guy leaves the North Pole on a cold, dark night and flies around the world, squeezing down hot, smoking chimneys with a big, heavy sack of toys. And he does all in a single night with help only from flying reindeer and tiny elves. No pressure?

This year, Santa's under even more pressure. Alawar cast him as the hero in Bomberic, Christmas Edition, v1.03. Reminiscent of the classic video game, "BomberMan," Bomberic is a fun and challenging game for kids of all ages. Armed with land mines and candy-wrapped bombs, Santa must defeat all the monsters before Christmas Day.

Santa travels through a labyrinth gathering gold, gems, and other valuable things. Along the way, he encounters the snowball monster, the angry snowman, and the evil penguin. His bombs and land mines not only to kill the monsters, but also explode walls that may hide treasures.

Sometimes Santa can't get out of his own way. If he's not careful he can blow up helpful stuff or even himself. Among the gems and gold, Santa must find the appropriate number of keys to unlock the exit door to the next level.

The game's great color, festive design, and very cool music will put you in the spirit of the season. All that's missing are the Christmas tune, which we're sure you can hum to yourself as you blast the enemies.

Where to get it: http://www.alawar.com/games/bomberice/
Price: Free for 30 days, $18.75 registered.
System Requirements: Pentium 166, Windows (all), DirectX

Passage of Christmastime

Admit it: This time of year, you're a kid at heart. In the days before Christmas, you cozy up to your PC, perhaps read email and the daily news online, then start to play. Your spouse and kids think you're balancing the checkbook, doing some e-shopping, or updating a spreadsheet for work. But you know differently--after all, it's Christmastime, right?

Get into the season's spirit with a fun and addictive game like Gekko Software's Passage 3, Christmas Edition. Passage 3 is a hybrid of dominoes, solitaire, Tetris, and Scrabble, rolled into one. One by one, colored tiles with Christmas patterns, become available to stack next to other tiles already on the board. Well-known Christmas tunes play in the background.

Each tile must be either the same color or the same pattern as its surrounding pieces. It's more difficult than it sounds. Good planning and the best of luck are required to rack up points. Fortunately, you occasionally get a neutral gray tile that fits anywhere.

When you fill a row or column of tiles, you've completed a passage, and the tiles disappear, we geeky gamers discovered it's a piece of cake getting to level two, which occurs when you completely remove all the tiles from the board. However, we haven't made it beyond level two before our 40 minutes and iminishing credits. We'll continue to play this until Christmas, and maybe if we're really good Dubies, or Sciutos, Santa will bring us gaming adroitness to go with our perpetual childishness.

Where to find it: http://www.gekko-software.de/edown1-4.htm
Price: FREE
System Requirements: Windows (all), DirectX 6.1 or later

Belly up to the StatBar

Say, just what's going on under the hood of your computer? How much memory is being consumed when you run that game or monster app? Is your system clock synched with real time, or is it running a bit behind? Is your CPU just kickin' back, or is it working overtime?

StatBar, a configurable status checker, sits on your desktop, constantly monitoring your system usage, RAM consumption, and keeping check on your disk space. We could choose the color scheme to go with our nice new Windows XP set-up, and told it to auto-hide so it wouldn't take up desktop real estate.

For our laptops, we could also tell StatBar to check on battery status. Its time-sychronization option can adjust your system clock to the correct time. We could even set the speaker volume from StatBar. The options are only limited by the pixels available in screen width. For example, we didn't need the battery monitor on our desktop systems. Check the Web site for tips.

StatBar itself doesn't take up much RAM or disk space: It's one of those utilities that you never knew you needed, but are invaluable when you need to monitor your computer. Call it a dashboard for your PC.

Where to find it: http://www.statbar.nl/
System requirements: PC running Windows
Price: Free

2001 © Bill Dubie and Dave Sciuto

About the Authors:

Bill Dubie and Dave Sciuto host The Computer Report, New England's longest-running technology talk show, on Talradio 980 WCAP in Greater Boston.
Contact them at:
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
and check out their Web site at:
 theReport.com.

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