Gary: Hey, Randy, good to see you on the cyber waves here on the net. Things sure are different down here in Texas.
Randy: I'll just bet they are. Life is slower. Bigger houses. Sex with farm animals.
Gary: Okay, Johnny Bronx. I don't want to hear it from you up there in hell land. At least here in Texas we carry our guns out in plain sight. Right in the rifle rack in my pickup truck.
Randy: Yikes! I guess you can take the boy out of the country but you can't take the country out of the boy. You seemed to have adjusted pretty fast to life down there.
Gary: Well, to tell you the truth I have had a little trouble sleeping. It's just so quiet here. I can't sleep with out some noise to lull me to sleep.
Randy: Well, do I have the perfect item for you. I found this bitchin' utility for myself a while ago and I have found it indispensable since. It's called Earsaver from Synthetic Productions. This cool program makes your Mac into a soothing aural therapy session using just two megs of RAM.
Gary: I need therapy, and I've got two megs of RAM. Speak to me of this Earsaver.
Randy: Earsaver is a "virtual ambient soundscape player" that runs on your Mac underneath other programs. It plays soothing soundscapes with gentle music while you work on your computer.
Gary: Uh, yeah, it's called an audio CD. I don't think you were the one to discover it.
Randy: No, it's not a CD. In fact it doesn't even use your CD drive. Hell, it doesn't come on a CD, I downloaded the whole program online.
Gary: So it's music that doesn't require a CD drive. It sounds like you're talking about some annoying short music loops that will drive me crazy.
Randy: On the contrary. Earsaver plays complete song passages, some that last well over 20 minutes. The program also has a repeat feature, which I use, err... repeatedly. Earsaver uses a proprietary software based audio engine that plays whole songs of CD quality music in just 2 megs of RAM.
Gary: Killer, but it must drag System performance to a crawl while it's running under other programs.
Randy: Not really. I have occasionally noticed a skip or stutter in the music when I launch an application while it's playing, but nothing too distracting. As far as my overall speed while it's running, I really can't notice much of a speed difference.
Gary: All right so far, but when you say ambient music I start thinking new age crap like John Tesh. And if John Tesh is involved, I'm leaving right now.
Randy: Relax, Earsaver is 100% John Tesh free. The "music" it plays is called Ambionics®. Ambionics is more of a sound environment than songs. It combines sounds of nature, like rain and ocean waves mixed with gentle unobtrusive music.
Gary: Originally, Earsaver was developed as a tool to be used in office environments to reduce stress, but you are right. It really shines as a noise machine for sleeping. I loaded a copy onto Gamey, my G3 PowerBook, and it made every hotel we stayed at on our trip to Texas a home away from home.
Randy: Earsaver recently went through a revision from version 1.0 to 1.5, and be aware that the file formats have changed. That means that music that plays on version 1.0 won't play on version 1.5, and vice versa. So decide about upgrading before you buy an album in a specific format.
Gary: Good point, my sad little friend. You can purchase music to play with Earsaver, and download the "albums" immediately. For the longest time, there were only two albums available, but finally (thank God) there are more albums to choose from.
Randy: One thing that drove me crazy in the first version of Earsaver was that the tracks did not truly loop as in most noise boxes that you can buy. The tracks faded out and there were a few seconds of silence between tracks. Sometimes the unexpected silences actually woke me up. Let's hope they fixed that in version 1.5.
Gary: You know what drove me crazy? There were no tracks of just nature sounds, like waterfalls or thunderstorms. There was always some synthesized music that accompanied the natural sounds. That sometimes woke me up, pissed off, wondering who the hell was playing the radio at this ungodly hour.
Randy: You know, I liked the synthesized part.
Gary: You would, hosehead.
Randy: Well my juvenile insult hurling friend, you will be happy to know that each of the three new albums on Earsaver's web site contain three hours of a mix of straight nature soundscapes, music soundscapes and hybrid songs using both nature sounds and music. And Earsaver let's you make a playlist of your favorite tunes, so you can just play the nature tracks if you so desire...freak.
Randy: And to top it all off this schweet little piece of paradise now comes at an even lower price. They just dropped the price from $29.95 to just $19.95. And that includes two full albums too. You can now order a special edition CD too that comes with the full program and all three new albums all on one disc for $49.95.
Gary: SOLD! Now I can truly relax with the soothing tunes from Earsaver, my pickup truck and my shotguns.
Randy: You load the rifles and I'll get the JohnTesh paper targets.
Gary: Life is good!
Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.
The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.
You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .