Oct. 26, 2012
-- Originally released several years ago, The Hat was originally written for the purpose of fairly deciding a random order in which the author's children would be allowed to do certain things, such as play video games or use the computer. Since deciding to release it to the public as freeware, it has become widely used by teachers and parents for similar applications as well as by others for deciding winners of sweepstakes, door prizes, and raffles.
Operation of the program is simple and straightforward. First, users enter a list of names by any of several methods, either by typing directly within the program, pasting them from the Windows Clipboard, importing from a text file, or by loading lists that were saved using the program's built-in save/load functionality. Once all names are entered, users can then “shuffle” the list in the main program window by clicking the “Shuffle” button, at which point the names are rapidly and continuously rearranged visually, optionally accompanied by the program window shaking and changing colors and also playing optional sound effects, until the stop button is clicked. The names are then displayed in a new, completely random order.
In addition, users can also draw names individually, very similar to drawing names from a hat, without the tedium of writing each name on little bits of paper and putting them into a hat. The names are actually shown coming out of a virtual hat on golden tickets or, optionally, a colorful beach bucket on seashells accompanied by realistic sound effects. This feature is useful for deciding winners of sweepstakes and raffles or just a fun way to select random names from a group. Users can also specify any number of names to be drawn at once for randomly choosing smaller groups from a larger group.
New version 3.0 boasts improved graphics and functionality over previous versions including the ability to save and load lists from within the program and the ability to choose between either a graphical top hat or colorful beach bucket from which to “draw” names. The application is still licensed as freeware. More information, screen shots, and a free download link can be found at http://www.harmonyhollow.net/hat.shtml