The cover of PC Magazine for July, 2002. This is here for decorative purposes only. PC Magazine July, 2002

Remember when PC Magazine used to give away their utilities for free? Ah yes, those where the days. The earliest PC Magazine utilities were distributed as PC-BASIC programs printed up in the Utilities section, which made good typing accuracy an important skill. Eventually this was sUpplanted by electronic distribution via BBS and then the Internet. A lot of useful programs were thrown our way for free, and PC Magazine presumably bathed in good will and reflected glory.

Back in July, 2002, I wrote one of those free utilities for PC Magazine. CubeShow was a screensaver that featured a tumbling representation of a 3D cube, adorned with photos of your choice. Having never written a line of DirectX code in my life, it was quite an adventure, but I think I managed to produce something that worked and was popular.

Some of the more interesting problems involved with writing this utility were:

  • Finding the right rotation parameters to achieve smooth animation
  • Figuring out how to change photos on a cube fact only when it was hidden
  • Keeping a photo upright as the cube rotated

A lot of fun!

A screen capture of CubeShow in action, showing the cube with a couple of candid photos visible.
Figure 1 - CubeShow in action

Sadly, PC Magazine’s free utility policy bit the dust during some corporate belt-tightening, and now it’s a for-profit operation. As a result, they are rather tight-fisted about their rights to CubeShow, so I can’t give you a copy, or even give you the source. And worse yet, when they converted their Utilities department to a store, they didn’t grandfather previously free utilities. So if you want a copy of CubeShow, you’ll either pay $7.97 for a one time download , or $19.97 for a year of unlimited downloads. Not a bad deal, and there are some good utilities on the site. If you download all 140 of them you’ll surely feel like you got your money’s worth!