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Computing with Bifocals - Puzzles & Solitaire Forever!
by - December 30th, 2005

I'm sitting in my condo in Austin, Texas, and its 30 degrees outside.  The wind is blowing and its probably going to sleet and it is downright nasty. It seldom gets that cold here, so I am grousing about the whole thing.  My daughter reminds me that it got a lot colder than this when we lived in Idaho, and I respond that "yeah, but at least we had snow!"  Lets face it, I am being downright cranky. 

So I decide I can be cranky, or I can review a couple of really cool games and enjoy myself at the same time.  Being the EXTREMELY mature individual that we all know I am, I opt for door number two and you get the benefit of my actions.

Both of these games have been around for awhile, but in their current versions they are dazzling. 

Puzzles Forever 1.1  (Release Date November 30, 2005)
2.8 MB
U.S. $15
Developer Sight - Solitaire Forever
Works With Both OS 9 and OS X
Tested on PowerBook G4 X 10.4.3

In the strictest sense of the word, Puzzles Forever should not be called a game because it is, as it says, an application that allows the user to create and put together puzzles.  What makes it unique is that it is in 3D.  It comes with 6 pictures that can be made into puzzles and you can actually use the software forever without paying for it using only those 6 pictures.  However, if you really enjoy puzzles that will not be enough for you.  It is quite challenging to use your own photos to make puzzles.  You won't be able to finish any photo you start, using your own images, unless you purchase the software.

The graphics are outstanding as are the details included in the application.  In the following example I selected a photo from my iPhoto library.  As an aside here, the absolute easiest way to move a photo from your iPhoto library to Puzzles Forever is to drag the photo from iPhoto onto your desktop and then import it into the application.  You can import directly from iPhoto but it takes several steps to do it.

Screen Shot of My Puzzle

The application gives me a thumbnail image of what my completed puzzle will look like which is a big help for anyone crazy enough to choose a picture like this one.  The puzzle is actually assembled in the middle area where there is a faint, exact size, image of the puzzle.  Puzzle pieces can be manipulated within that area or anywhere else within the window.  Pieces are turned in different directions by placing the arrow on the selected piece, holding down the mouse button, and then using the arrow keys to turn the pieces.  You can fasten pieces together outside the primary work area.  There is a little click that lets you know when you have successfully meshed two pieces together.

Puzzles can have as few as 2 pieces up to over 600.  The number of piece options varies depending on the size and shape of the picture you choose.  You also have choices about the shapes the puzzle pieces will take as illustrated in the image below.  To move a photo into the application you click on the import icon and follow directions.  It takes about 5 minutes to become adapt at utilizing this application.

Define New Puzzle Window

Solitaire Forever 1.1.2 (Release Date November 30, 2005)
4.6 MB 
U.S. $25
Developer Sight - Solitaire Forever
Works With Both OS 9 and OS X
Tested on PowerBook G4 X 10.4.3

The second half of this duo is Solitaire Forever.  Like Puzzles Forever, it is a 3D game, and that is one of the things that sets it apart from the numerous other solitaire offerings out there for our selection.  Every version of computer solitaire offers its own unique attributes and treats.  Some elements that I like in other games are not present here, but what is here is fantastic and it has been lovingly and carefully crafted. 

Solitaire Forever includes 100 versions of solitaire.  As each version is listed there is also a list of other names that are associated with that particular version.  There is a set of alphabetical buttons that let you hop to a specific game if you know what you want and don't want to scroll through 100 titles.

Instructions for each game are also included.  There are keyboard shortcuts for those who don't want to use a mouse.  The software also keeps up with number of games played, won and lost.

Solitaire Forever Game Choice Window

The 3D effect available in the Puzzles Forever is most visible when a puzzle has been completed or when a new one is being selected.  In the solitaire game, the 3D effect is everywhere.  With every click of the mouse, every movement of a card, there is 3D effect.  Cards fly and twirl through the air, but only enough to be interesting.  It would have been easy for the author to show off his skill, but he used restraint so that the effect is interesting without being annoying.

 Images Featuring 3D Effect

You can download a trial version of Solitaire Forever that includes 4 of the 100 games from the author's Web site.  There is also an absolutely free version of one of the games, Klondike, that can also be downloaded from the same location. 

Both of these games are worth your interest and I urge you to check them out if you enjoy these kinds of computer activities.

Copies of Nancy's book Tips, Hints, and Solutions for Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With OS X are available in PDF download versions  for US$9.57 and in print version for $18.15 plus $4.00 shipping.   To view sample pages and get ordering information visit the September 14, 2004 column.

Post your comments below.

Check out Nancy's complete index of all her columns for the most complete list of tips anywhere. The list is categorized and is a great reference when you are looking for help!

A Capacious Catalog Of Computer Tips

Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color, covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.

Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.

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