16 Slick Screen Savers

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Practical

Don't Touch My Computer, Episode 2

This whimsical screen saver is designed to discourage casual intruders: On your screen a cartoon character walks into an office, carrying a little dog. He sets the dog down and hangs up a "Watchdog on Duty" sign, and then exits the frame. The dog sits there, chases its tail, and scratches--until someone touches your keyboard or mouse. Then it starts barking and jumping at the screen. Don't Touch My Computer is free, but the developer's logo appears at the bottom right of the screen with a link to online offerings.

Webcam Screen Saver

This unique screen saver flips through live Webcam images. The default list includes New York's Times Square, a U.S. weather map, Las Vegas's MGM Grand, and many more. You can edit the list as you please, and read tips on finding Webcam URLs. The developer says that the screen saver can be used to send companywide text bulletins to employees. The program is free for a 7-day trial period, and costs $20 to keep.

LinguaSaver

Give yourself a mental workout and test your high-school Spanish (or French, German, or Italian) with LinguaSaver. This screen saver displays phrases in any two languages, with a slight pause between the first and the second languages so that you can practice your own translations. This free version includes about 100 basic words and phrases that use past, present, and future tenses. For $20 you can upgrade to the full version of LinguaSaver, which has about 9000 phrases, plus more-advanced vocabulary and grammar lessons.

Tao Screen Saver

Run this unassuming little screen saver, and peaceful images of Chinese art, architecture, gardens, and bamboo forests appear, accompanied by philosophical statements such as "The softest thing can overcome the hardest./Formless, it can enter where there are no gaps or space." There's no background music, but that's just as well...this freebie would be an excellent nerve-calmer for high-stress office environments, where music wouldn't be appreciated.

Book of Time 3D

This screen saver displays a photorealistic leather-bound book with parchment pages floating on your desktop. An old-fashioned clock face appears on each page. As the pages flip, accompanied by page-turning sound effects, the clock hands advance to the correct time. There are no nag screens in this demo version--the clock simply stops running after 5 minutes. You can register for $15 to keep the clock running.

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