- The Washington Times - Monday, December 13, 1999

The business cards piling up in that desk drawer contain useful information. Accessing and organizing that information is what CardScan Executive from Corex Technologies (www.cardscan.com) is all about. The $299 package is a combination of software and a Universal Serial Bus-compatible scanner that brings data into a personal computer and accurately organizes the information into the correct fields of an electronic Rolodex.
The new CardScan Version 5 Software enables users to accurately scan international business cards and automatically synchronize the information with most popular contact managers and personal information management software. I have used the old version of CardScan (and will have a review of the new version shortly). It’s a great tool for staying organized. Check this one out.
Maybe I’m biased, but I do believe books are a great gift for any computer user. They are a handy reference packed with wonderful tips, and are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Just about anything in the “For Dummies” series from IDG Books Worldwide (www.dummies.com) is worth giving. The “Dummies” book I wrote is long out of print, but the editing process remains the same. Writers are grilled and probed and tested to make sure that the information they provide is worthwhile. Two of my personal favorites these days are “Building a PC For Dummies, 2nd Edition” by Mark L. Chambers, and “DSL For Dummies,” by David Angell. Each retails for $24.99, and each will guide readers through what could be difficult tasks: building your own PC or getting ready for DSL, or Digital Subscriber Line, technology, which will be of interest to many Internet surfers and telecommuters.
These two books are excellent examples of why the “Dummies” series is such a good one. They are well written, sparkling expositions of their subjects.
“The Microsoft Edge” by Julie Bick (a former Microsoft product manager and author of “All I Really Need to Know in Business I Learned at Microsoft”) is possibly the most valuable business book of the year ($20 from Pocket Books). Each and every page is packed with really good stuff for managers, employees and, especially, entrepreneurs. The book is a quick read, but worth a long study there are lessons of particular worth to technologists, but I can’t imagine anyone in any field not gaining something from this particular volume. Pages 143-144, on picking the right public relations agency, are tremendous, on target and prescient. The author is a gifted communicator who truly has something worth reading.
Another useful volume to get the inside story on Microsoft is “Renegades of the Empire” by Michael Drummond of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The story of three programmers at the Redmond, Wash., firm will grip you as they fall and rise with various projects, not the least being a hot gaming tool called “DirectX.” This story has more twists and turns than Route 29 from Lynchburg to Charlottesville. It’s a good, solid read.
By contrast, save your money and avoid “High Stakes, No Prisoners” by Charles H. Ferguson, published by Times Books. Apparently disappointed because he didn’t become a billionaire selling his software company to Microsoft the deal was worth a mere $160 million Mr. Ferguson’s cant about the technology industry is a whiny screed that teaches little.
“Hacking Exposed” reads like a cross between a spy novel and a tech manual. The $39.95 volume, published by Osborne/ McGraw Hill and written by Stuart McClure, Joel Scambray both columnists for InfoWorld and expert George Kurtz, details all sorts of things that can happen to your computer network. The volume covers Unix, Linux and Windows 95/98 and NT systems, as well as Novell networks. If you work with any of these, you need this book it’s that simple, and that scary.
Write to Mark Kellner in care of The Washington Times, Business Desk, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002, send e-mail to MarkKel@aol.com, or visit the writer’s Web page (www.markkellner.com).


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