After Dark X, by Infinisys
Posted: 16-Jun-2003

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Infinisys Type: SHAREWARE

Reviewer: Stephen Nickerson Class: UTILITY
     
$10   Download
Description
After Dark has a long history of providing screen savers for Mac's since 1989. This resurrection of the popular product previously available for earlier MAC OS versions will delight many and for the low price, may be a good addition to the standard screen savers provided with Mac OS X.

Installation
The installation instructions were easy to follow and consisted of downloading a disk image file to your desktop. Once opened, all that needs to be done is to copy the screen saver files to the "Screen Savers" folder (Choose "Home" from the "GO" menu, open the "Library Folder" to find the "Screen Savers" folder). To configure the screen savers, open "System Preferences" and open the "Screen Effects" pane. (The instructions indicate opening the "Screen Saver" pane, but this is an error.)

Selecting the screen saver you wish to use displays a preview in the "Preview Window". Click on "Test" to view in full screen mode. After Dark will not display in full screen mode unless you have purchased a password and entered it to unlock the product. Click on the "Configure" button to bring up the screen saver control panel. Each screen saver has various screen settings that control how the screen saver will behave. Some have extensive options, and some have very basic configuration capabilities. Since these screen savers are driven as part of native Mac OS processing, they behave as all other screen savers work within the Mac OS X environment and seem to be very stable.

If you downloaded a demo version first, you can convert to a full version, by purchasing a password from the Infinisys home page. To enter the password into the product, you must select the "SpaceToasterX" module from the list of displayed modules. Once selected, you select the "Configure" button and click on the "Input Password" button. Type (or cut and paste) the password into this box. During my attempt to do this action, the password was not accepted and the input box would not go away. Killing the application (Force Kill) and attempting again did not solve the problem. A reboot followed by following the process did solve the problem and the password was accepted normally.

Features
After Dark for Mac OS X uses the built-in OS X screensaver engine, so the conflicts and incompatibles that occurred with previous versions are a thing of the past. I found this to be true and did not experience any problems with any of the screensavers. You don't have to worry about your screensaver causing problems hanging your system anymore. There are many included screen savers with many variables that can be set with for each. Some of the screen savers have more extensive options, and that seems to depend on the complexity of the saver itself. I did not have a copy of the old After Dark for Mac OS 8.6 (and earlier) to compare the screen savers to, but in general they all seem to have the appropriate options.

The following are descriptions of each of the screen savers included in the version that was previewed.

Note: The version that was reviewed appears to have been updated, and is now available as "After Dark X + fish". This new version has added "Fish", "Mowing Man" and "Mandelbrot" modules to the existing "Space Toasters", "Starry Night" and other previous favorites.

(Screen shots borrowed from the InfiniSys Web Site.)





Space Toasters X

This is an updated version of the original flying toaster screen saver of the past. In conjunction with view of the Earth, the moon floats in the background, its phases mirroring the phases of the real moon hanging in the sky above you. The toasters go through many different routines, enhanced with different rotations and gyrations. Interesting to watch and full of color, this is one of the more interesting screen savers included with the software.
Starry Night X
A variation on the original, this screen saver provides nighttime views of various Japanese cities and landmarks - Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka Castle, and the famous suspension bridge over the Inland Sea. Several options allow you to vary the speed, the display effects and the location.

New Warp X
This module is a variation of the original Warp module. Move through the stars (or asteroids or whatever those things are) in a variety of directions, and for extra fun play your desired music at the same time. You can register sound files by using the "Add" button and then play them by checking the "Play" checkbox.

New Message X
This screen saver turns your Mac into a message board. This screen saver turns your Mac into a memo display screen, leaving messages for those who come by after you have gone. A variety of effects to choose allow you to turn a simple message (for example "Don't Touch My Mac") into an interesting display of your message to the outside world.

New Line Art X
This screen saver draws multiple lines, forming an endless variety of patterns. This screen saver displays dancing lines with a variety of settings that allows you to watch as the effects create an interesting display. You can vary the number of lines, the number of multiples for each line and the speed (as well as other interesting combinations) using the appropriate slider.

Shower X
A simple module that looks like sea spray to some and fireworks to others. You can vary the speed of the "spray" with a simple slider. Not too exciting, but may be enjoyed by some.

Circles X
Displays lots of colorful circles in various sizes and colors. You can vary the speed by using the speed slider. Can become mind boggling if you watch it too long!

Fireworks X
A colorful fireworks display, almost a colorized version of Shower X. You can vary the speed and frequency by using he appropriate slides. Again, not real exciting, but perhaps appropriate for some.

The following screen savers are not included in the reviewed version, but part of the downloadable version (descriptions from
Infinisys Home Page).




New Fish X
Second only to the Flying Toasters in popularity, the Fish module has been a fixture of After Dark since the early days. "New Fish X" features all 9 Fish from the After Dark 4 version, to which have been added a shark and a manta ray. In addition you can change the background and add decorative objects to your virtual fish tank. Seven backgrounds and over 150 decorative objects (including coral, rocks, stone lanterns etc) are included. You can also use your own graphics and photos.
Mandelbrot X
Modeled on the "Mandelbrot" module from earlier After Dark versions, this uses the Mandelbrot fractal patterns to create stunningly beautiful images on your screen. Each pattern displayed has eight zoom levels, zooming further and further into the pattern and imparting a sense of infinity. You can also choose from 4 color varieties - "Standard", "Fire", "Air" and "Water".



Mowing Man X:
Another "After Dark" icon. Forever chasing the suburban dream Mowing Man mows on without rest. He'll never be able to keep the grass down. You can make his life harder or easier by varying the growth rate and how often he has to mow.

Summary
For $10, this screen saver package is easily worth the money. It adds some entertainment value to your Mac, providing enhanced, yet still nostalgic screen savers that decorate your Mac when things become idle or boring and you need something interesting to watch. This product is highly recommended!

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Easy to use and install
  • Extends Mac OS X screen savers
  • Brings back Mac legacy
  • Stable

Cons

  • Initial password entry problem (resolved after a reboot)
  • Some screen savers are lackluster (but others may prefer these more simple behaviors)


Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Mice