TechnologyTell

The Festive Apple 2012: Christmas Trees for OS X, iOS, and the living room

Sections: Features, Home and Personal, iDevice Apps, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, iPod touch, Mac Software

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It’s almost time (some would say past time) I was out looking for this year’s Christmas tree. With a 130 acre woodlot, covered mostly with balsam fir, it might seem that finding a decent Christmas tree would be a piece of cake, but it isn’t. Nature has this redundancy thing going in that firs, which naturally regenerate, tend to grow in clumps all jammy-packed together. Consequently, even though there are tens of thousands—maybe hundreds of thousands—of fir trees on our property, very few of them (at least ones of Christmas tree size) are straight and evenly proportioned. The secret of growing good Christmas trees is to thin the stands when the trees are seedlings, but unless you’re in the Christmas tree business, it’s hard to find the time.

That said, my wife has spotted one she thinks is promising within sight of the house, so the search may be short this year. In the meantime, we have outdoor lights on a 35-foot, nicely shaped specimen in the yard that looks great.

I’m a Christmas tree purist. I prefer a dark green balsam fir (Abies balsamea) with long needles and a fairly bushy shape, but one that grew naturally with no artificial shape-shearing, let alone one made in China from plastic and aluminum.

Today, the top selling Christmas trees are Balsam fir, Douglas fir; Fraser fir, Noble fir, Scotch pine and White pine, and about a third of Christmas trees displayed in United States will be real trees; the rest artificial trees.

For me, the fragrant Balsam Fir is the perfect Christmas tree, with its soft dark green needles, symmetrical shape and distinctive aroma. As one Nova Scotia grower puts it, the Balsam Fir is Christmas. Of course, Douglas Fir or other popular Christmas tree species fanciers might dispute that.

How to Pick the Perfect Real Christmas Tree

Not everyone is fortunate enough to live on a large woodlot in ideal Christmas tree growing country, but you can still find a nice real, grown-in-the-ground tree. For instance, the Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association says that the Friday after Thanksgiving isnt just about holiday sales and turkey leftovers. It also marks the beginning of Christmas tree season for many choose-and-cut farms and retail lots, and they suggest that before heading out to purchase a Christmas tree, a little preparation goes a long way, and offer some simple tree-selecting tips.

If you dont know what species of tree you prefer, here are a few comparative characteristics.

Balsam fir a relatively dense tree with a slender, spire-like tip. It has a dark-green appearance an long-lasting needles, and it retains its pleasing fragrance.

Fraser fir is similar to the Balsam fir with a pyramid shape and strong branches that are turned slightly upwards. Its form, needle retention, dark blue-green color and pleasant scent have made it a popular choice.

Scotch pine known for its long needles and stiff branches, which are well suited for decorating. It has good needle retention and holds up well throughout the holiday season.

Colorado blue spruce is an increasingly popular species due to its symmetrical form and unique blue foliage. It has an attractive natural shape.

White spruce has a conical form that extends to the ground. White spruce has a lovely foliage color, short stiff needles and good natural shape.

Eastern white pine one of the largest pines in the United States. White pine has very little aroma, and is reported to result in fewer allergic reactions than more aromatic species.

White fir also known as concolor fir. It has good foliage color, a pleasing natural shape and aroma, and good needle retention.

Douglas-fir, a popular species unrelated to true firs, has dark green or blue green needles that are soft to the touch and radiate out in all directions from the branch.

Canaan fir is a relative newcomer to the Christmas tree market with similarities to Fraser and Balsam firs.

While I’m not a fan of full-size artificial Christmas trees, I do like the virtual ones you can have on your Mac Desktop or iOS device.

iOS Christmas Tree Apps

Christmas Tree

Decorate your tree with a huge assortment of ornaments. Stage it in the perfect environment with your favorite photo. Then relax in joyous delight to realistic animated snow, shimmery animated lights, and your favorite holiday songs.

Create your own jingly and jolly Christmas tree on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad this holiday season.

  • 221 ornaments, trinkets, toppers, gifts, ribbons, and more
  • Animated snowfall, lights and fun sound effects
  • 5 holiday songs including favorites like Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls, and Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies
  • 4 tree styles
  • 6 festive backgrounds or set a custom background from your photo album
  • Place ornaments in front of or behind the foliage
  • Reposition or resize the tree for best scene placement
  • Precise ornament placement with zoom in/out
  • Export finished tree to photo album or email it directly to friends and family
  • Universal applications – runs full screen on all devices including the iPad
  • No ads on any saved or emailed trees

New in Version 1.3.1:

  • Runs in full screen on the iPhone 5
  • Listen to festive Christmas music while decorating
  • Misc bug fixes

Product [Christmas Tree]

Christmas Tree Maker – Free

It’s that time of year again. A time to Deck the Halls, bring Joy to the World, and oh yes, decorate the tree. With Christmas Tree Maker, you can decorate to your heart’s content with items for the most creative and visionary decorators.

First, select a background and tree that suit each other.

Next, you may need a tree skirt if you chose an indoor background.

Lights, lights, and more lights. A tree wouldn’t be the same without sparkling, twinkling lights! Choose from elegant white to every color under the rainbow. Place them on the tree one at a time for a customized light job, or string them on the more traditional way. Some may like their lit up tree to blink.

Don’t forget the garland. By now, your tree will be a shining example of Winter Wonderland, and we haven’t even gotten to the ornaments or balls yet, so save room.

Next, choose from a selection of different shapes, sizes, and colors of balls.

Now, decide which style of ornaments you want to add to the tree—from candy canes to homemade gingerbread men to country style to elegant. There is something for everyone’s taste

Finally, top off your tree with an angel, a star, or a Santa, just to name a few. Strategically place beautifully wrapped gifts underneath, than show off your decorating talents by posting the tree on Facebook or emailing it to a friend Don’t forget to save it in the barn so you can admire it later.

This free version of Christmas Tree Maker includes a sampling of Christmas tree decorating items. If you want access to all of the items, you will not see them in the free version. Feel free to try out the sampling (free version) because thats what it is: a sampling. If you love it and want more, you have to buy Master Christmas Tree Maker from inside the App in the Supply Store Shop.

New in Version 1.02:

  • Fixed various iOS 5 related bugs…

Product [Christmas Tree Maker]

OS X Christmas Tree Apps

TreetopLights 2.4

TreetopLights is an AppleScript Studio application that places a Christmas tree on the desktop and holiday lights on the menubar or screen edges. The desktop tree can be decorated with blinking or fading lights, ornaments, a treetop star, and perhaps some snow. The ambient lighting can be controlled for the appearance of a dimly or brightly lit room, and the transparency and size of the tree can be set to keep it out of the way, or set the perfect holiday mood. The optional but festive menubar lights can blink or glow to decorate the menubar, or even go around the screen. A countdown timer displaying days until Christmas and the twelve days of Christmas is also included for on-tree display. There’s also an option to send a Christmas greeting through Apple’s Mail application.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

New in version 2.4:

  • Updated for Snow Leopard
  • Santa & Snowman now appear when clicking or command-clicking the desktop tree in Snow Leopard
  • Send A Christmas Greeting option now creates a proper image attachment with Mail in Snow Leopard

Note: TreetopLights will only run under Mac OS X 10.3 or later.

Product [TreetopLights]

Christmas Tree Creator 2004

Christmas Tree Creator ’04 is the latest version of the previous Christmas Tree Creator software.

Use Tree Creator to create fun digital Christmas trees by adding drag-and-drop ornaments and lights. Apply the editing tools to get everything just the way you want it, then share your creations by printing greeting cards, posters, emailing friends, or viewing your trees as animated screen savers.

Despite the name, this is the current version.

Product [Christmas Tree Creator ’04]

The Perfect Tree 2.0

Spruce up your Christmas season with The Perfect Tree, a cheerful holiday offering from Anawiki Games. Based on the classic Christmas tale of the same name, the game tells the story of a lonely little pine tree and the player’s efforts to help it become the perfect Christmas tree.

The Perfect Tree features classic match-3 mechanics, enhanced by numerous exciting power-ups, seasonal level design and gorgeous special effects. Earn stars by chaining together combos and by clearing levels as quickly as possible, then trade them in for lights, ornaments, garlands and presents to turn the poor, pitiful pine into a beautiful Christmas tree of your own design.

With its bright, cheerful graphics and positive message, The Perfect Tree is a holiday treat for the whole family. Whether you’re looking for a way to unwind after a tiring day of Christmas shopping, or for something to distract your little ones until the 25th.

Features:

  • Create your very own perfect tree
  • Magnificent match-3 mechanics
  • Exciting power-ups and gorgeous special effects
  • Beautiful white Christmas atmosphere
  • 110 levels, packed with Christmas cheer
  • Over 100 items to decorate your tree
  • Cheery, seasonal soundtrack

Product [The Perfect Tree]

Christmas Tree Bounce 1.0

Christmas Tree Bounce is an OS X screen saver that simply takes an image of a basic Christmas Tree and uses gravity to bounce it on the screen (various times).

The screensaver is small (116 KB) and uses very little system resources.

In theory, you can edit the package of the Screen Saver and replace the tree.png file with your own file (keep the name the same though, and be aware of the dimensions to make sure it doesn’t look odd). I’ve tried this and it does work.

This screen saver should work with 10.4 onwards, but only really guarantees 10.4.9 onwards.

Product [Christmas Tree Bounce]

Happy Tree Icons 1.0

Happy Tree Icons is a set of four colorful tree icons to green your desktop.

Product [Happy Tree Icons]

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