Almost every town in Switzerland has a rifle range. I live right across the road from the one in my village with the target end pretty much facing my house. So, when the weather is nice, the furious key-clicks of gonzo programming are often accompanied by high-power rifle fire. You know, when it's pretty much aimed your way, gunfire doesn't sound anything like movie sound effects. Since the bullet is travelling faster than sound, the noise kind of “piles up” and arrives all at once, yielding kind of a shhhhhhh-TWHOCK effect…cool.
Anyway, when I decided to abandon Windows software development, I thought it would be fitting to “go out with a bang” by writing a program even more irritating than the Microsoft development tools used to create it. The sound effects that so often accompany my programming provided the perfect inspiration for the Bullets Screen Saver. Having previously saved your screen by smashing rocks into it, it was but a baby step to maximise the life of your monitor by riddling it with bullet holes, accompanied by authentic sound effects including pistol, submachine gun, carbine, assault rifle, shotgun (with and without echo from nearby hills), howitzer, and cannon fire. To conserve Internet bandwidth, these “sound bytes” are limited to telephone-like fidelity. The screen saver sounds much better, with the “large-calibre” version delivering compact disc quality (if your sound board is up to it).
The Bullets Screen Saver is available exclusively for 32-bit Windows systems such as Windows 95/98/Me and Windows NT/2000/XP. Windows 3.1x blows away things just fine without any outside assistance.
To minimise download time and reduce Internet traffic, the Bullets Screen Saver is available in both small- and large-calibre editions. The large-calibre variant includes sound effects with compact disc audio quality, in stereo; it sounds glorious, but you have to download more than a megabyte just to try it. If you'd like to see if the Bullets Screen Saver is “your ounce of lead,” get the small-calibre edition which includes sound effects sampled at the Windows least common denominator of 11,025 8-bit monaural samples per second. It doesn't sound anywhere near as good (gunshots have lots of high-frequency and binaural information) but it's only 59 Kb and can be downloaded 20 times faster than its hi-fi brother in arms.
After you've downloaded the program archive, extract BULLETS.SCR with an un-zip utlity, copy BULLETS.SCR to your Windows directory (usually C:\WINDOWS), use the Display item in the Control Panel to select Bullets on the Screen Saver page and use the Settings… button to configure the screen saver as you like. By default, the Bullets Screen Saver blows holes in the screen as it existed when the screen saver was activated. You can, from the Settings… dialogue, designate a target bitmap to be displayed, then blown away by indiscriminate gunfire. Please don't select a portrait of a person—that is extremely naughty; even rapacious software entrepreneurs don't deserve such treatment.
Version 2.0 of the Bullets Screen Saver was built in July 2006 using Microsoft Visual Studio .NET. Some programs built with this development system will not run on some early versions of 32-bit Windows (Windows 95 and Windows 98); if you encounter problems installing the program on such a system, Version 1.0 will almost certainly work for you. All prior releases remain available.
Experienced C programmers who wish to modify the screen saver or simply look under the hood to see how it works may download the source code. You're welcome to use this source code in any way you like, but absolutely no support is provided for it—you're on your own. Please see the README file in the archive which explains how to choose which set of sound files are built into the screen saver.