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!

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!