We’ll be looking at Alien Skin 4000, Freecell and Red Alert (old school) as well as getting used to your computers windows control panel. Once again if you have questions please email: will@beesum-commuications.com. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can. If there are any programs or types of programs you would like to see featured in this column, please let us know the same way.

Windows’ Control Panel controls and enhances your computer’s performance. This is something that it is important to learn how to use. This time around we’ll start with something easy: the keyboard and the mouse. It’s a toss-up which is used more the keyboard or the mouse. As such you should configure these parts to reflect you and your experience.

Adjusting keyboard settings: Open Control Panel and double-click the Keyboard icon. Click the Speed tab on the Keyboard Properties dialog box. In the Character Repeat section, you’ll see a Repeat Delay: slider (repeat delay is a fancy way of saying how much time elapses between holding down a key and when the key starts repeating) and a Repeat Rate: slider that adjusts how fast a key repeats once you press it. Underneath, you’ll see a Cursor Blink Rate slider that controls how fast or slow your cursor blinks. To set any of these options, click and drag its slider button in the desired direction using your mouse. Bear in mind that faster is not always better; a hair trigger on the repeat key can result in unwanted characters, and a hyperactive blinking cursor can be very annoying. For best results, adjust the sliders while switching occasionally to a text document and checking the results. When you find the settings you want, click OK.

The mouse is basically the same.

Alien Skin Eye Candy 4000 -Will Nicholls

This is a simple interface or plug in. This baby will work with Adobe Photoshop 4.0 or later, Adobe ImageReady 1.0 or later,

Jasc Paint Shop Pro 5.0 or later, Corel Photo-Paint 8 or later, Macromedia Fireworks 2.0 or later and Deneba Canvas 6.0 or later. Wait, did I say simple? It’s only the controls that are simple when using this filter. The features are amazing. Once I plugged it in I was off and running. Richard, our Art Director and head designer said that the Chrome feature impressed him the most. To get the same type of look he would have to work hours before. All I know is that it only took a few moments to get what I wanted in a simple test design. Unfortunately I can’t give you the full look without color but 1 created this glass/chrome image of the Beesum logo in about ten minutes without any experience. I was impressed and thought hot damn, this is going to keep me on the computer even more learning the ins and outs of it. It made doing a routine chore a pleasure. Creating something that is visually attractive has been made much easier. This product is worth the price if you want to do any type of professional design or art work. Not only worth it but a required piece of technology if you are serious about what you do. Kudos to the people at Alien Skin for a product you can actually use from the word Install.

Free Cell – Brian Zelnicker

I am a dinosaur. My knowledge of computer games and programs can be written on the head of a pin. I am soft on hardware, and hard on software. When my colleagues at work are engaged in their life and death cyber-struggles to build empires, slay dragons, and beat the pants off Tiger Woods at golf, I sit in front of my monitor playing cyber-cards. To be more precise, I get sucked into the vortex of a particular form of solitaire known as Free Cell. There is no narrative. There are no dragons. There are no weapons. Just a deck of cards. The deck is dealt, all cards face-up, into random columns. Four empty slots allow the player to shift up to four cards at a time. Four other slots are provided for each suit.

The game is simple, you have to unshuffle the deck into separate suits running from ace to king. The trick is to avoid painting yourself into a comer where you can’t make a move. If you nail it just right, the cards will fly up into their proper places when you crack the jumble. If you miscalculate, by burying an ace for example, you will lose. Nobody will die, your empire won’t crumble, the universe won’t be destroyed, but you will lose. It might sound lame to those of you who fly through outerspace looking to destroy the Klingons of Uranus, but if any of you have ever been bitten by the coma-inducing Tetris bug, you’ll understand the disturbingly hypnotic effects of Free Cell.

Old School -Macdevil

If my colleague Brian ‘Z-man’ Zelnicker is a dinosaur, then I am Cro-Magnon man. Despite the barrage of joking and teasing from the ‘new-schoolers’ I am an avid fan and supporter of the original real-time strategy PC game Comand and Conquer’s Red Alert. Yes, many of you may already know much about this classic game and the new ground it broke when it was first released some four years ago. However, there is some prime NATION space available and I will therefore review one of Westwood Studio’s top rated PC games.

The story line is as interesting as it is simple. Albert Einstein has invented a time-travelling machine and has been kidnapped. Consequently, Hitler is eliminated (assassinated), never giving rise to nefarious Nazi- nation Germany. Instead, it is the great Soviet Red Army, with its annihilating firepower, that is the new villain. Stalin is at the helm, controlling the fate of the world with a deluge of high-tech weapons and spy gadgetry. Only one thing stands between Soviet take-over and the end of the free world as we know it – the Allies. Here is where your mind’s strategy and the excellence of real-time game play combine to make Red Alert so much fun and always intriguing, game after game.

Both sides, Allies and Soviets, share a balanced yet different method of attack. The Soviets, with their Mammoth Tanks, MIG jet fighters and Telsa towers rely primarily on brute force to cause YOU pain! Allies, on the other hand, have the advantage of stealth & surprise to wage wondrous warfare at will! This game allows you to choose either side as a campaign or a simple single game skirmish. You can play against the computer or hook up and compete between office mates! New schoolers beware! Step out of the cold, and into the OLD!