Got problems? Get software

Downloads: Offbeat programs that claim to do anything from repelling mosquitos to hypnotizing one's boss are available.

March 25, 2004|By Ieva M. Augstums | Ieva M. Augstums,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

Annoyed by pesky mosquitoes buzzing around your ears as you type? There's hope.

A quick online search nets access to a software program claiming the ability to transmit a high-frequency sound through PC speakers to repel the mosquitoes - or at least irritate them and prevent them from biting.

Seem useful?

"I'm not going to tell you that every one of the downloads are the best out there, but if a user wants it, they can find it," said Kelly Green, director of CNet, which offers more than 30,000 free and free-to-try software titles.

In today's technologically advanced world, software seems to exist for every purpose, however bizarre it may appear: teaching a parrot to talk, learning Morse code, even hypnotizing your boss.

It's easy to make fun of the software. But as Preston Gralla, a longtime software reviewer and author of Windows XP Hacks, points out: "Every piece of software has a dream behind it. One person's crazy idea can be another's treasure."

Learn how to sway the thoughts, emotions and actions of family members, friends and co-workers with Tele Hypnosis Pro 1.0. This "electronic magic software" claims to teach the user how to control the minds of others.

Some things the program's developers say you can do: make a male or female love you passionately, influence your boss to give you a raise and keep your children off drugs.

Purchasers can also practice mind control on themselves, its makers say.

"Many users are using it as a self-development device in order to improve their psychic skills or personal magnetism," says Carolina Del, one of the software's developers and director of

Other self-hypnosis features include how to stop smoking, lose weight, and enhance your memory and intelligence.

Where to find it: Cost: $199.

If you're already plotting this year to win your street's "Best Decorated House" award, plug Holiday Lights Designer 2.0 into your computer.

The program allows you to virtually string lights - large bulbs, small bulbs, minilights and icicle lights - on images of your home or anything else you want to decorate. You can change the lights' colors, make them blink and even decorate lawn ornaments.

Developers at Arapaz Software LLC in Orlando, Fla., say their software was a hit around the holidays. They're thinking about adding Halloween and Fourth of July features.

"Nobody out there has this same product right now," said Ron D. Collins, the software company's co-owner. "We're looking for Suzy Homeowner who just wants to buy the software and play with it and for that avid professional landscape lighter."

Where to find it: Cost: $79.95, standard edition; $129.95, professional edition.

You can keep track of your personal biorhythms as well as the biorhythms of others with BioStats 1.21. Biological rhythms are physiological or behavior changes that recur in predictable cycles.

The program charts four basic rhythms - physical, emotional, intellectual and intuitional - as well as four extended rhythms, labeled compassion, aesthetic, self-awareness and spiritual.

Software features include full interpretation of high, low and critical biorhythm phases; automatic daily readings; and the ability to compare the biorhythms of two individuals and get a compatibility reading.

"I have found the biorhythms to be pretty accurate for most people, especially with the physical and intellectual cycles," says Wilbur Southey, director and chief programmer of South Africa-based Infinite Technologies.

Where to find it: Cost: $19.

Scared your feline friend will jump on your keyboard and mess everything up? No fear. You can catproof your PC.

The PawSense program uses specially designed algorithms to detect typing that is being done by your cat when it walks across or sits on your keyboard. When cat movements are detected, your computer ignores the false typing and commands. There are even several cat-annoying sounds, such as the harmonica and hissing noises, to get the cat off the keyboard.

"It's amazing to me how people will implement the same piece of software over and over again," said PawSense creator Chris Niswander of Tucson, Ariz. "I wanted to avoid developing the one-millionth version of something."

Where to find it: Cost: $19.99.

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