Business cards go digital

Several years ago one of us wanted to have new business cards made up to identify himself as “”Some Guy I Met at a Trade Show.”” That’s because anybody who’s been to a trade show knows you can collect a hundred business cards, but later you can’t remember who those people are or what to do with the cards.

We have a solution.

It’s the new CardScan from Corex. We have covered this product for a dozen years or so, and in its earlier version it worked OK, though it was hard to jump up and down about it. But this one is the cat’s silk pajamas. It’s about the size of two decks of cards, weighs less than half a pound, and can scan 40 business cards a minute.

The software is able to sort the information on the cards and separate company names from personal names from addresses, phone numbers, etc. We fed it every card we had lying around, including a couple that had been through the laundry and were considerably the worse for that experience. CardScan read them all correctly, except for a couple of very minor errors.

The information is stored in a contact database that’s part of the software and can be searched, sorted and annotated. The information can also be transferred to Microsoft Outlook, ACT!, GoldMine, Lotus Notes, handheld computers and so-called “”smart”” phones. The reverse is also true: You can take info from those sources and add it to the CardScan database.

Finally, you can upload all that information to your own private section on the CardScan Web site (, where it can be accessed online from anywhere. There is no charge for this online service if you buy the color version, CardScan Executive, which lists for US$250. If you buy the black-and-white version, CardScan Personal, which is US$150, you get the online database service free for three months but then have to pay a one-time fee of US$50. (Note: We found the black-and-white version for US$128 at


Searching saved e-mail in Microsoft Outlook can take so long you’ll think the computer has turned to stone, but there is a better way. It’s called Lookout and it’s a free download from

Curiously, Lookout is identified as a Microsoft program, so, you might reasonably ask, why didn’t Microsoft include it with Outlook in the first place? Well that’s because Microsoft didn’t write it; Microsoft recently bought it from the originator.

A further note on searches: We’ve been using Google mail for a few months and it has an excellent search function for all e-mail, incoming or outgoing. It saves those messages forever, as long as forever doesn’t exceed 1 gigabyte. (A gigabyte is a lot of storage, enough for 200 million words. If you’ve got more than that, you should keep quiet for a few years or run for Congress.)


It seems like aquarium screen savers have been around since the Devonian Age, but we found a new one that’s a bit different. It’s called the Aquazone Desktop Garden, and you can select your own aquarium setting and then choose from 20 different species to populate it.

If you’re a fish stalker, you can elect to follow a particular individual around. If you tap on the glass (digitally speaking), the fish turn and watch you for a few seconds. If you think of it, you can also feed the fish.

One the neatest effects is choosing your own photo for a background seen through the glass of the fish tank. We chose a picture of our living room and sent it to friends so they can see how things look through our new aquarium. AquaZone is US$20 from (Allume, by the way, is the formerly named Aladdin Systems, well-known to Mac users for their Stuffit program.)


A reader found for us, and it’s a goodie. It has tons of utilities programs and is a good addition to what’s available at Our reader really liked the automatic spell checker that can be added to Outlook Express, the most common Windows e-mail client.

Have you ever wondered what all those letters mean on blank CD and DVD disks? Are we kidding? Absolutely not. At Web site explains the difference between CD-R, CD-RW, DVD and other parts of the disk alphabet. If you’re burning video to a DVD, for instance, it’s best to use DVD-Video. And don’t forget to “”finalize”” the disk.


At last: Scrabble online. Scrabble Online is $20 from Atari (, and you can play it online or off. The online service is called GameSpy, and it’s free when you register the game, but if you don’t want to see any ads then it’s an extra $20.

The game can be set for play at many levels of difficulty, from “”casual”” to “”hotshot”” to “”deity.”” You can learn new tricks from a number of word lists on the Atari Web site, like more than a dozen words that use “”Q”” without requiring a “”U.””


We’re probably not far away from the time when someone is going to create an entire movie on a desktop computer. Here are two books to help out:

“”iMovie 4 and iDVD: The Missing Manual”” by David Pogue; $25 from O’Reilly ( This is for Macintosh users, who already know their computer has the best movie-making software you can get without going into heavy money. Few know how to make the best use of it, however, and this book should help.

“”Make Your Own Hollywood Movie”” by Ed Gaskell; US$30 from Sybex ( The focus here is on shooting and editing techniques, starting with how to position and use the video camera for shooting scenes before they are brought into the computer for further editing.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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