Riven -- I expected Riven, the Sequel to Myst, to receive several suggestions. What surprised me, though, was that several readers noted the game is fun to play in tandem with another person. Adam White Scoville <email@example.com> wrote, "Riven's beautiful seascapes and immersing world consume not only me but also my significant other; I suggest that Riven, from Cyan Productions/Red Orb would make the perfect romantic gift for couples that play together... or for those who prefer solo pleasures. But be warned, the addictive nature of this adventure is not to be underestimated; Atrus isn't kidding when he warns that, 'For reasons you'll discover, I can't send you to Riven with a way back.'" You can find more information about Riven in TidBITS-403.
Email Effects -- Gideon Greenspan from Sig Software wrote about the $10 shareware Email Effects, a graphics package that draws using ASCII characters, making it easy to create neat signatures and other special effects for email. "I hope you don't mind me mentioning my own product, but Email Effects is a great way for people to send Christmas greetings to each other by email." I tried Email Effects and had fun - I'd never used a Square tool to draw out a square created with dashes, pipes, and plus signs. The program has a professional interface, excellent online help and tool tips support, and a command for putting your document directly into a new Eudora email message (for other email software, you must copy and paste). Sig Software has also made a few pieces of ASCII holiday clip art available. I highly recommend Email Effects!
Explore Kilauea Volcano CD-ROM -- Suggested by Davide Guarisco <firstname.lastname@example.org>, the $39.95 CD-ROM from FireWork Studios enables you to take a virtual exploration of Kilauea, Hawaii's most active volcano. Davide bought the CD-ROM while in Hawaii and says his favorite part is the eruption section.
MacBench CD-ROM -- For speed freaks who love to benchmark their computers, Keith Russo <email@example.com> recommends the Ziff-Davis MacBench 4.0 CD-ROM. Keith wrote, "Yes, MacBench is a free download, but the online versions will not run some tests that the CD-ROM includes. The first copy costs $5 and it's only $1 for each copy after that! You can mix CD-ROM titles from the Benchmark series, so you can include the Windows users on your list."
The Bachelor's Cat -- Novelist Lynn Hoffman <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in plugging her book, which was produced completely on the Macintosh. "When I finished my novel, The Bachelor's Cat (in Word 6), I formatted it as I wanted it to appear in a printed book. A friend designed a presentation cover for the manuscript (in Photoshop 3.0) and my agent submitted it to publishers. When it was accepted, my editor and I swapped revisions through email (Eudora 3.0) and the final cover was designed in Illustrator 6 and Photoshop. The publisher sees it as a big gift book." Amazon.com's Web site has a synopsis and several customer comments.