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Mythwell Software's Alchera 3.7 Is Awesome

Reviewing: Mythwell Alchera 3.7  |  Rating:
lynlyn By lynlyn on
Badge: Publisher | Level: 5 | Computers & Laptops Expertise:
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I've been using Mythwell's Alchera dream journaling software for close to ten years now. If you're looking for software to record and work with your dreams, Alchera provides everything you need and more.

Alchera has all the features you'd want from any good journaling program. But where it excels is in the extra features for analyzing and finding dream patterns.

The Alchera word processor is pretty barebones, but it works for typing up dreams. Specifically, there is no right click menu, so cutting and pasting is more cumbersome than most of us are used to. This isn't a big deal and will be corrected in Alchera 4.0, an upgrade that is included in the purchase price of Alchera 3.7.

Alchera is password protected, as you'd expect from journaling software, but in addition it has a "guest mode" so you can allow friends or family access to the program without worrying they'll run across the naughty dream you had about Brad Pitt. I haven't had any friends clamoring to look at my dream journal, but it's nice to know I could let them if they wanted to.

Other standard features include a nice print/export/email function with various options for how you'd like your dreams formatted, a spell checker, and a keyword search.

Ok, now for the good parts. Alchera is designed with several tabs that allow you to access a separate daily journal, an analysis section, and a symbol dictionary from any dream. This means that any time you bring up that Brad Pitt dream, you can quickly access the journal page where you noted that you spent the day watching Legends of the Fall, and the analysis page where you concluded that the dream means you need a boyfriend.

The analysis page has several sections that can be customized so you can easily find any information you want to record. There are also exercises included with this part of the program to help you get started on working with your dreams.

When you go to the dictionary tab from a dream, the keywords in your dream are highlighted so you can click on them to find their meaning. The dream journal included with the program is one of the better ones out there, working more with metaphors and possibilities than dogmatic "this means that" definitions. However, the dictionary is also customizable, so you can add your own dictionaries to supplement this one or replace it altogether.

The best part of Alchera is the labelling system. This allows you to add labels to your dreams from categories you create. If you want to keep track of emotions that frequently show up in your dreams, you can create an Emotions category. Any time you enter a dream, you bring up the "Attach Labels" box and then check which emotions were in it. Later, when you want to look at all the dreams that made you happy, you can do a search on that label. What I like about the labelling system is that it allows you to search on ideas that won't necessarily come up as keywords. It can also create graphs comparing the various label values, which is useful if you want to see if you had more happy Brad Pitt dreams last year or more scary dreams about your boss.

Customer support for Alchera varies. Alchera's creator, Harry Bosma, is just about the nicest guy you could hope to know, and any time I had a problem in the early years he was a great help in solving it. In truth, I've never experienced more attentive and conscientious customer support. After using Alchera for so long and reading the semi-regular newsletters, Harry seems like an old friend, and I'm proud to be using his software. Now that Alchera is just about fully grown, it doesn't require all the attention it did in the beginning, so customer support isn't as fast as it once was. Technical issues in the later releases have been pretty much nonexistent, so there isn't really a need for it. If you do have problems with the software, know that your questions will be answered, but it might not be immediately.

After ten years of using this software, I haven't once felt the need to switch to something else. I've recommended it to all my friends who like to work with dreams because it's easy to use and it does everything but interpret the dream for you. If you work on creative projects, having quick and easy access to your dreams is an invaluable source of inspiration. Being able to find specific dream themes and issues is also a priceless psychological tool I wouldn't want to do without. And the labelling system is fun if you enjoy seeking and finding patterns. I'm yet to hear of any software that does these things better.