Although I personally do not use screensaver programs anymore, many people still enjoy them as a form of “eye candy”. This article by Lynn Sullivan describes a new type of virtual aquarium screensaver that has become popular over the past few months. Also included is a brief history of why screensavers were originally developed and were actually necessary before the advent of modern types of computer monitors.
Screensavers enable consumers to personalize their computers and cell phones. Although they are no longer strictly necessary, the popularity of screensavers has not diminished. Millions of users from the United States visit Screensavers.com each month to select from thousands of virus-free and spyware-free downloadable content items. Some screensavers have even advanced to the point that they deliver real time images on their displays.
Originally, screensavers were intended to prevent phosphor burn-in, or screen burn, on CRT computer monitors. When this happens, “ghosting” can be seen on the surface of the screen. Phosphor burn-in was widespread with monochromatic CRT screens such as the amber or green monochrome monitors commonly used with older computer systems. The most prevalent burn-in image on early televisions was caused by the RCA Indian Head test card. Anyone who remembers the earlier days of television might remember this icon – it was the one that was displayed before color bars were introduced. This picture would appear after the American national anthem was played as stations shut down for the day. People would forget to turn off their televisions at night and the phosphor dots would burn out over time, thus imprinting an outline of the image into the affected TV screens. Here is a picture of what the original image looked like:
With current monitors, screen burn is not as problematic as it once was, yet screensavers remain popular. Perhaps people have come to simply enjoy their screensavers. I happened upon a site that offers a genuinely nice looking screensaver. Honestly, I haven’t used a screensaver in a long time because I don’t have a problem with screen burn with the type of monitors I use today. However, I changed my mind and bought a screensaver because it just looked so good.
Dream Aquarium does a fantastic job of emulating a live aquarium setting. The program was written by Alan Kapler. Mr. Kapler has worked on visual graphics for movies such as Titanic and X-Men. He created a program to design realistic storms, floods, and tornadoes in the film Day After Tomorrow. The screensaver he created is one of the best I’ve seen.
Although the program is not free, it only costs $19.95 with 20% of the profits donated to environmental charities. Purchase is completed online using Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, Discover, or American Express. After the purchase, a serial number will be sent to you immediately by email. The set-up process is short and easy. The site also offers a free trial demo version.
I purchased this program for a few reasons. First, it LOOKS good. The fish actually move like real fish. Second, it supports dual monitors. I have two different scenes on my two monitors that complement each other – nice touch. The options can be set for each monitor separately. Third, the site is professionally done and offers support, forums, and updates.
The site claims the following features:
- The most realistic fish motion and behavior of any virtual aquarium.
- A fiddler crab that cleans the bottom of the aquarium and chases fish.
- Fish have articulated fins, moving eyes, gills, and mouth.
- Beautiful shifting light rays, ground ripples, gently waving plants that fish can swim into, soft shadows cast by fish, configurable bubble streams, auto-feeding.
- Add well over a hundred fish (from 18 species), and change settings without having to exit the aquarium.
- Free demo aquarium screensaver contains NO adware or spyware.
- Widescreen formatting, multi-monitor support & much more!
After working with the options and playing with different settings for several weeks now, I can tell you the claims are accurate. The options allow you to add the fish of your choice, feed the fish, move or cancel the water bubbles, select the scene, change the lighting, adjust the speed, and much more. I think you’ll like this screensaver. Give it a try!
Update for December 11, 2010: Digital Aquarium Screensaver
Earlier today a visitor named Gao David sent in a submission for a related product called “Digital Aquarium Screensaver”. Although the text reads somewhat like an advertisement, I might as well post in here since the content is mostly relevant. If any of you have actually tested this product, you can always post your impressions of it in the comment section.
Digital aquarium screensaver is a unique screensaver that will bring the underwater world to your computer screen. You can tickle fish and feed fish. The small fish grow up after eating food. Click anywhere on the water and you will begin seeing ripples, the fish themselves will also create their own ripples once the ripples hit them. You can adjust the camera focus, fog density, light intensity, wave sound, and bubble count. The screensaver allows you to set your desktop background as aquarium. If you want an aquarium you never have to clean, then this is the screensaver for you.
Features: 25 species of fish, 3 colorful backgrounds, Desktop background as aquarium, Tickle fish and watch them twist, Feed fish and watch them eat, Small fish grow up after eating food, Water ripple effect, Adjust the camera focus, Adjust the fog density, Adjust the light intensity, Adjust the waves sound, Adjust the bubble count, Lock the foreground colors, Lock the background colors, modify the foreground colors, modify the background colors, Show/Hide water, Show/Hide lights, Show/Hide terra, Bubble music,Compatible with Windows 7(32 and 64 bit), Save current setting, Free technical support, Free minor updates.