Adobe Photoshop Album 2.0
This $50 program for Windows users can help organize digital photographs into easy-to-find groups. You can sort through your photos by date, subject matter, and can even click through a calendar to find out when you took them, in case you forgot. There are simple tools for fixing common photo flaws, and can help you email your pictures, or even turn them into prints and picture books. If you want more retouching tools, consider Pint Shop Pro 8.0 for about $90.
Once you've selected the photos you'd like to share with whichever program you decide to use, you can upload them to mypublisher.com and create truly wonderful gifts. Prices start at $29.95 for a 10-page book of your images. The books are hardcover and beautifully bound with your own photo and text on the cover. Additional pages are $2.95 each. The software is a free download from the site, and takes only a few seconds, even over a non-broadband telephone line. But if you want these for Christmas, you'd better hurry…. The site's operators say the deadline to submit is Friday, December 19.
MyDVD 5 Deluxe
Here is a very easy software package that can turn your home movies into DVDs you can play on just about any DVD player. Of course, you'll need to have a computer that has a DVD-burning drive.
MyDVD 5 Deluxe from Sonic matches an intuitive interface with muscular programming that allows even novice disc-burners to make all kinds of video projects. You can add special effects and DVD-style menus to your home movies. The program burns CDs as well. If you're ambitious, you could use the program to make personal DVDs for family and friends… but if you're like me, you could buy them the program so they could do it themselves!
Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2004
Anybody and everybody should be worried about viruses and hacker attacks. So Norton Internet Security is there to block out worms, viruses and intruders. Symantec offers Windows ($70) and Mac ($100) versions of the software suite at its website. Both include antivirus, firewall and personal privacy features, and the Windows edition also comes with an anti-spam feature.
Other great gift ideas include software titles for PDA owners. There are several like Britannica Concise Encyclopedia available on Secure Digital (SD) cards, suitable for PDAs. There are also great programs like Wine Enthusiast, Atari Retro and Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, for about $40 each.
When all else fails, go with a sure thing. A gift certificate from NetFlix means your special someone will be able to order the latest DVD movies, three at a time, for up to one month (for a $20 gift certificate). When they return the three, they can order three more… no late fees. Perfect for the movie fan who'd rather be watching movies than driving to the store to beat the midnight return deadline.
By John Quain and Bob Bicknell