It is that time of year again when people are confronted with the task of finding suitable gifts for their computer-afflicted loved ones. We're here to offer professional help.
For those who are convinced their significant others would actually sleep with the computer if given the chance, consider Spreadsheets, cotton-polyester percale bedsheets printed to resemble the ubiquitous green-bar fan-fold computer paper found in offices, right down to simulated tractor-feed holes along the sides. (The bars appear to be periwinkle blue, however.)
A twin set, including one flat sheet, one fitted sheet and one pillowcase, costs $59.95. A queen set, with two pillowcases, is $79.95. Extra pillowcases are $19.95 a pair.
Spreadsheets are guaranteed to be user friendly and are available from the Boston Computer Museum Store, (617) 426-2800. Ask for extension 307 and request a free catalog of other computer-related gifts.
Among the other offerings for hard-core computer fanatics, who are often affectionately called propeller-heads, are multicolored propeller beanies ($10) and baseball caps ($12).
Slightly more practical is Santa's Helper, at $24.95 (plus $2.50 postage and handling), a program for IBM PCs and compatibles from Cummings Software Corp. of Seattle, phone (206) 284-0305.
Santa's Helper is many things. It keeps a data base for Christmas card lists. It generates mailing labels. It allows users to design their own cards. It plays Christmas carols and displays the words for sing-alongs. It has 1,000 gift ideas. It creates shopping lists and tracks gifts against a budget.
Cummings Software also offers Beat the Spread, which allows sports fans to pick winners in professional football games, including scores, point spreads and "over-under" predictions. It comes with a data base of statistics on all games since 1988.
"It's strictly for fun," said its developer, Woody Cummings, disavowing any link between his program and those who might use it for wagering.
It's a good bet that shoppers will be able to find something useful at Curtis Manufacturing Co. of Jaffrey, N.H., phone (800) 548-4900, a treasure trove of inexpensive computer-related gifts.
Among the new offerings this year is Cable Organizers, a $9.95 package of plastic clips and cord holders that can tame the spaghetti-snarl of wires and cables that typically spews from the backs of The clips keep the cables neatly ordered, and there are adhesive labels that make it easy to identify wires without having to crawl around under the desk.
Curtis also offers two devices that slice off the perforated margins on computer paper. This is not as silly as it sounds, as anyone who has accidentally ripped a printout can attest.
The Curtis Trim-Right ($14.95) is a desktop paper-cutting unit that appears to be well suited for precise trimming of single sheets, whether to remove the margins or to create custom sizes.
The Curtis Trim-Trak Margin Remover ($9.95), on the other hand, a compact, hand-held gadget that zips off the margins on long strings of multiple-part forms. Either is a must item for anyone who uses a lot of pin-fed computer forms.
The PC universe, as a result of Windows 3.0, is just now starting to appreciate the role of the mouse-pointing device, which has been used on the Apple Macintosh for years.
Macintosh users can continue to stay a generation ahead of their PC counterparts by switching to the Curtis MVP Mouse, a $149.95 trackball.