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BYTE-PRICE GIFTS, MEGA-JOY

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'Tis the month before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature is stirring - except for the mouse.

The computer mouse, that is.The mouse is getting a workout as Santa tries out goodies sure to please computer buffs of all ages. Here are gift ideas, each $25 or less, that will bring byte-size joy to a computer user:

- Turn the computer of someone you love into a Christmas wonderland with Simple Simon Says - Christmas for Windows by TDA Help! This is a fantastic product that will thrill children and fill adults with holiday cheer. Consider this for a pre-Christmas gift.

The Windows software features Christmas screen savers, wallpaper, music, games, icons and fonts. Choose from 10 wallpaper backgrounds, including candy canes, angels with "Peace on Earth" banners or teddy bears wearing Santa hats.

Set up one of five holiday screen savers with just a few clicks of the mouse. Our favorites: Winter Village, a colorful, peaceful old-fashioned town that Santa and his reindeer fly over, and Elf Magic, which sends Santa's elves scurrying across the screen and marks their paths with footprints.

The program also includes musical icons that play short clips of holiday tunes when another Windows application is launched. There are five holiday stationeries to use for letters and cards and electronic greeting cards to send to friends with e-mail.

The program includes two type faces - Snowy with snow-capped letters, or Old Christmas, a Dickens-style font - to give other documents an added holiday touch.

Simple Simon Says - Christmas for Windows has a suggested retail price of $14.99. It's available at Software Etc. for $12.98.

- Every mouse needs a house, or so ACI thinks. The company makes three styles of soft, furry fabric Mouse House Covers for "when your mouse calls it a night." The Mouse House costs about $5.99 at most computer stores.

- Imagine having a photo of you, the children, other family members or loved pets pop up on your computer user's screen. It's possible, thanks to Personal Screen Images. The company can turn any good quality color photograph into a screen saver for an IBM, Tandy or PC compatible computer running Windows. Up to nine pictures can be rotated on the screen.

You send the company the photos you want turned into a screen saver and it sends back a program disk with the photos loaded. Cost is $24.95 for the first photo and $5.95 for each additional photo. Shipping and handling adds another $4.50.

To reach Personal Screen Images, call 1-800-PC-VIEWS or write to the company at P.O. Box 2164, Fair Oaks, CA 95628-2164.

- Help your favorite computer user get coordinated this Christmas with a matching screen saver and mouse pad set. C-2 Office Gear has several coordinated styles, including a Cosmic Rings motif. The set is $9.99 at Software Etc.

- Give your computer user a lift to the information superhighway with The Internet for Dummies book. The "Dummies" series, published by IDG, is well known for its simple-to-understand explanations of how to use computers and various software programs. The Internet edition is $19.95 at most computer and book stores.

- Stuff the stocking of your favorite computer user with his or her very own little Computer Bug. The bug is actually a computer chip with plastic eyes and a tail. It comes in a little clear plastic box. The Deseret News spied the Computer Bug for $1.88 at Software Etc.

- A computer user can let the world know he or she cruises the Internet with a personalized e-mail license plate holder from DHM Information Management Inc. The company, an Internet access provider, first made the plate holders available for its clients. But they proved to be a hit and DHM now makes them to order.

Each black plastic plate holder features the word "Internet" on the top and an e-mail or URL address along the bottom, both in raised white letters. A single plate holder is $11 plus $3.50 for shipping and handling. To order by mail, send a check with the e-mail address in the memo field to: 409 North Pacific Coast Highway, No. 209, Redondo Beach, CA 90277. To order by e-mail, send a message to DHM at dirk@power.net

Want a preview of the plates? Hop on the Internet and go to http://www.power.net.

- The Pink Panther and the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show cartoon characters will keep a computer screen humming while a computer user is between projects. The screen savers are $18.88 at Egghead Software in Murray.

- Mouse pads are anything but mousey any more. They come in a dazzling array of designs to match any personality, interest or decor. Some pads worth taking a look at:

Looney Tunes mouse pads with those wacky cartoon characters Bugs Bunny and Tweety and Sylvester. Or, get really mousy with the Mickey Mouse mouse pad from Disney. Both about $7 at Media Play, Software Etc., and other computer stores.

Help remind your computer user what work is all about - getting time off to vacation - with mouse pads picturing exotic locations from C-2 Office Gear. There's the Bermuda Beach, African Wild or Futuristic City. About $5 at Media Play.

Gallery MousePads, from the Signals catalog, feature four famous paintings sure to please art lovers: da Vinci's Mona Lisa; Van Gogh's Irises; Monet's Water Lilies; and Georgia O'Keeffe's Oriental Poppies. Signal's MousePads are $19.95 each. To order, call 1-800-669-9696.

Data-Cal and the Visible Catalog both offer mouse and wrist pads with artworks by Dutch artist M.C. Escher. Prices range from $8 to $14.95. To reach Data-Cal, call 1-800-251-3370, or Visible Catalog at 1-800-323-0628.

Software & More in Holladay also has M.C. Esher mouse pads, plus Betty Boop and a scene from the Wizard of Oz. Pads cost about $5.