Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

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July 2001, Week 2 -- Business Cards for Busy Businesses



   "CardScan" is one of those devices that costs far too much for what it is, but might be worth it anyway.

   Just as the name implies, CardScan is a small Windows device that scans business cards. That's all it does. The accompanying software stores the card images in a Rolodex format or puts them directly into your database. The list price is $299, which is patently ridiculous, since you can get a full-size scanner combined with a printer and a copying machine for half as much (see "hard copy" item below). A regular scanner will scan business cards just as well as this. And yet ...


   Just like small Dymo and Seiko label printers, which cost more than a regular full-size printer but just print mailing labels, there's utility there. After all, regular printers can print labels too, they just take more setup time. Often you just want to do something quickly and neatly. If the price is more than it should be, sometimes you just shrug and say 'Okay, what can you do?' We use a label printer that is absurdly priced compared to a full printer, and yet it's a great convenience.


   The CardScan scanner is about twice the size of a business card. I have looked at similar devices from Corex for several years now and been unimpressed, but this new model 600c works very well. Corex phone is 617-492-4200.


Hard copy notes

   Lexmark just released its X73 multi-purpose scanner/copier/printer for $149 retail. This makes them one of several companies in recent weeks to release a three-in-one desktop unit in the $149-$199 range. The others are Brother, Xerox, Canon and Hewlett Packard. It looks like the standard price for a multipurpose printer, scanner and copier is going to settle around $150 or less in the next few months. They all provide flatbed scanners, which let you copy letter-size sheets and book pages.


Greeting cards


 Printmaster 11

   For a long time the Blue Mountain greeting card company was far and away the most visited site on the worldwide web. Greeting cards are big business as it turns out, and a lot of people make their own. We've looked at just about every greeting card program ever made and our current favorite is "PrintMaster Platinum, Version 11," $40 for Windows, from Broderbund

   It does cards, calendars, jigsaw puzzles and much more, and has a corrective feature we love: it will change a quarter-fold card design to half-fold, and vice versa, as you please. The "silver" and "gold" versions of this program are $20 and $25. Phone: 319-247-3325.


Downloads the easy way


   There are plenty of interesting programs available as downloads from the Internet. Some can only be reached this way, but getting them can eat up a lot of time, especially if you don't have a cable modem. Fortunately we found a happy solution.


   It's called "FilePlanet", and if you go to their home page you can see categories of ready-made CDs as well as the option to create your own. There are limitations: you can't choose from the wide selection of downloadable programs you would find at or, but you can make your selections from a pretty extensive list. It's not free, but for only $10 you can have a CD made with your own list of downloads.


   If you click on "File Categories" on the FilePlanet home page you can browse the options. Popular categories include business and finance, utilities, games and graphics. You would select your custom CD from those lists. Many of the available files are demos of larger programs or 30-day trials. Some are trial versions of major programs, like Adobe's "PhotoShop." Even demos and trial versions are useful, however, letting you see whether you like something enough to pay the full price.


Guard that code, block that lift, lock that site



   "HTML Guard 2.0" is a $15 Windows program that encrypts you web site's source code and blocks the "right-click" mouse button used to lift images. It can also block the selection of text and the print function in Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Since you wouldn't necessarily want to do all that, the features can be selected. Program is shareware, $15 to register. Web:



--  Science facts and fancies, with lots of quizzes to educate children and adults alike.

--  News on medical and pharmaceutical research, popularized but with a heavy emphasis on the science involved.

-- Descriptions of more than 4,000 drugs and an online dictionary of medical terms.

--  Satellite imagery of dust storms, hurricanes, fires, etc. One of the best satellite image sites.

--  Popular science in the best sense of the term. Explanations of cloning, using the example of Dolly the sheep; make a snowflake, build an igloo, how clocks work

--  101 "knock-knock" jokes. Search on "knock-knock."

NOTE: Readers can search more than four years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at  or