This time of year I'm inundated with software or literature about software. Manufacturers, naturally, know people are on the prowl for gifts. And there are also plenty of people boxed in for the winter who are looking to improve their computer systems. Here are some of the more intriguing pieces I've found.
BDL HOMEWARE. Bette Laswell, president of BDL Homeware, sent me some of her programs she describes as "ready to use -- you don't have to figure out how to customize it." Her programs, for IBM compatibles, are for home-based needs.
BDL.Health ($40), for instance, is for maintaining complete health records for your whole family. BDL.Grow ($40) lets you record information about your child's birth, his or her growth, immunization records, doctors, hospitals, etc. When you're ready to sell your house and move on, there's BDL.Move ($40). And when it's time for no more houses and your spirit must move off this mortal coil, there's BDL.Estate ($75), a whole estate-records maintenance system that shows what you have, what you owe, your bequests and final plans.
(BDL Homeware, 2509 N. Campbell Ave., No. 328, Tucson, Ariz. 85719;  577-1435.)
QUICKEN UPDATE. Quicken 4 is out, the home-finance program for IBM compatibles and Apple Macintoshes that's taken the country by storm because of its incredible power, ease of use and price ($59.95 list).
Quicken 4 has all the features of Quicken 3 plus new investment portfolio tracking and many subtle features here and there. As with Version 3, it's an incredible boon in keeping tabs on your bank accounts, credit cards and cash. Tax-related income and expenses are tracked and arranged in categories. Now you can also keep track of investments and other assets, such as CDs, stocks, bonds, IRAs and mutual funds.
I use Quicken to write all my checks. Quicken also connects to the Checkfree bill payment service through your modem.
For people who don't have ultra-complex expenses but certainly could use some order in their financial life, this program is one of the best values around. You also get free, unlimited (though not toll-free) technical support.
(Intuit, 66 Willow Place, Menlo Park, Calif. 94026;  624-8742.)