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Freeware Friday: Electric Sheep

Make computing beautiful. Count electric sheep.

After the Flying Toasters screensaver came out in 1989, I thought I'd never be shamed into writing about screensavers again.

Then I met Electric Sheep.

Price: Free
Home page: http://electricsheep.org
Support: Online FAQ, Wiki, and email
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

With the possible exception of Steve Gibson's mind-bending and abstract ChromaZone in 1995, most screensavers are for kiddie slideshows and retired folks traipsing through national parks.

Chromazonex

But Electric Sheep, a screensaver created by software artist Scott Draves and free for most desktop OS platforms, really got my attention.

Electric Sheep shares ChromaZone DNA--and, apparently, its LSD. It's psychedelic and always in motion. Unlike ChomaZone, it doesn't repeat patterns. I guess no two sheep are alike. A hard claim to check, but I haven't seen two yet.


And get this. When your PC or Mac goes into sleep mode, it actually shares sheep data (sheeping data?) with other sleeping computers via the Internet.

You can vote with your keyboard for your favorite sheep, watch them reproduce in a kind of twisted Mendelian digital way, or make sheep of your own. The latter is probably overkill.

The name of the program comes from the title of a Philip K. Dick novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which was also the inspiration for the movie Blade Runner. Just a little trivia.


No, it won't run on Android. But we can dream, can't we?

And I want to know: Do electric sheep dream of flying toasters?

Ron White is executive editor of reviews at BYTE. Email him at [email protected]

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