Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat. It's not the only one - you should see how much weight the PC Week team has put on. All these IT Christmas parties and press lunches don't half play havoc with our waist lines. Anyway, for the final feature of 1998, we've decided to tell you about our favourite games and a handful of other interesting widgets.
YOUR POSING FRIEND
The REX certainly deserves an honourable mention in the Christmas presents round up because it's just about the daintiest, cutest and downright most desirable lump of consumer electronics on the planet.
The truth is that it's not really all that fantastic. You can't enter data directly into the cheaper models, and even on the expensive REX Pro it can take anything up to three weeks to enter a simple name and phone number thanks to a pretty clunky interface. Nevertheless, it retains a high pose value for showing off to your friends in the pub, and if you're seriously committed there's a good chance that you might actually find the thing useful. You can buy the deluxe gift set, which includes the Pro model, a desktop PC docking cradle and a slinky little leather carrying case, all in one box for about #170. It looks a whole lot more impressive than it actually is, and thus is ideal for impressing the socks off somebody whose good side you wish to get on.
- Manufacturer: Franklin
- Telephone: 01932 891025
- Price: from #70
EMAIL OF THE FUTURE
Just when you thought you were fully wired up, riding on the crest of the digital wave and about as cutting edge as it's possible to get without losing a couple of fingers, those damned marketeers go and pull the rug right out from under your feet. Email? Passe, we're afraid. These days the only way to stay in touch with your nearest and dearest is with Vmail (the V stands for video) and the only way you can do that is with a digital video camera, like the Logitec QuickCam Home. Cameras like this one allow you to record short video clips and, using the supplied software, bundle them up into compressed, self executing files which can be played back on any Windows-equipped PC. The general idea is that you send these Vmails to your friends and family over the Internet, rather like sending people a home video of yourself in place of a letter.
Like several of the similar devices currently available, the QuickCam is a USB device, which plugs straight into USB-equipped PCs using only a single cable that carries both data and power to the device. The supplied software makes it possible to use special recording techniques such as stop-frame for animation or time lapse photography, where the camera can film a single video frame at set intervals.
- Manufacturer: Logitech
- Telephone: 0181 308 6582
- Price: #99.99
ON TOP OF THE WORLD
If, at Christmas, you enjoy playing the role of "miserable old git who insists on giving the kids something educational instead of a present they might actually enjoy", then you might like to consider the 1999 World Book from IBM. You can pretty much guarantee that as soon as your back's turned the kiddywinks will have loaded up Death Cop 5, but if you absolutely must force education upon them, this encyclopaedia is as good as any.
As well as containing a host of information on every conceivable subject from Aardvarks to Zeppelins, this twin CD pack also includes a range of tools to help kids track down relevant information for homework projects.
The Research Wizard guides users through the process of writing an essay, by helping to prepare a schedule, drawing together research notes, creating an outline and revising the initial drafts of the essay. There's also a Chart Wizard which makes it easy for children to prepare charts and graphs for use with their school projects, and a Timeline Wizard for producing historical datelines. The Quiz Wizard allows children to create three different types of quizzes which they can either take themselves or give to their schoolmates.
The package includes thousands of articles, photos, maps, charts, video clips and animations. There's also an interactive Cyber Safari which allows children to explore a virtual safari park and learn about the animals.
It's probably not the most fun piece of software in the world, and the chances are the little blighters won't thank you for it, but who knows, when they grow up to be Nobel Prize winners they might give you a mention at the awards ceremony.
- Publisher: IBM
- Telephone: 0990 426 426
- Price: #30
Completely skint? Has Christmas sucked your bank account completely dry? Are you the only person in the IT industry not making an absolute killing? Well, don't worry, because Data Design is offering a collection of cartoon mouse mats, giving you something for the IT geek in your life without breaking the bank. What's more, the company has the exclusive UK rights to the hugely popular Dilbert cartoons, as found pinned to IT department notice boards all over the world. As well as plain vanilla mats, the company also offers the LiquidPad, a liquid-filled mat with a unique tactile feel, which features floating shapes, cartoon characters and even glitter providing a novelty finish. Also available is the Lenticular Pad, which works rather like a holographic image, producing a two-step animation effect.
- Manufacturer: Data Design
- Telephone: 01666 510199
- Price: #6.99.
Moon's dark side is mountainous, rugged and never visible from the Earth
The groundwater basins in some areas of Tehran have been damaged irreversibly
This is the first time that any spacecraft on Mars has recorded air vibrations on the planet
Arctic sea ice is thickening at a faster rate during winter, thus slowing down long-term decline: NASA
But, the seasonal ice growth could only delay the demise of the Arctic ice cap for a few more decades