- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2001

Thank the Lord for Kinko's didn't think I would say it, but a minor snafu was solved thanks to the noted quick-copy chain.

I landed in San Jose, Calif., with everything needed for a trip, except business cards. Definitely a problem, I thought while driving up Highway 101. A turn into a shopping center revealed a Kinko's and my chance to resolve this.

That may sound mundane, so far, but here's what happened next: the person behind the counter set me up with Adobe Inc.'s PageMaker desktop publishing software. We came up with a template, or design, for a page of cards; I filled in the information and hit the "print button."

Disaster struck: Somehow, two-thirds of the page didn't print properly. I had neither the time nor the inclination to redo the PageMaker file. (Also, to be honest, I had closed the program without saving the file, because I was at a public computer and didn't want to leave my personal information on screen.)

I started browsing around the computer and voila found a copy of Microsoft Publisher. This program, which is bundled with some versions of Microsoft Office software as well as being sold as a stand-alone application, is a bit easier to use than PageMaker. When you're buying computer time by the minute, easier is better.

It took seconds to find a business card template and then modify it to fit my needs. The printout contained crop marks the Kinko's people could use to trim the cards to the proper size and within minutes I was on my way.

While the current version of Microsoft Publisher is in stores now, a new one is due to appear soon and will be reviewed here. It adds several features that are common to the new Office XP suite and promises to be a useful upgrade. If you would like to get a copy of a Beta trial CD, check out www.microsoft.com/ publisher and check out the details.

• I want universal power. Now. No, I'm not feeling megalomaniacal, but what I really want is a universal power adapter that is truly universal. On this trip, I carried three devices that needed separate power packs, and two that could have benefited from having extra, plug-in power. Not to mention a personal data assistant that could have used some recharging.

But forget an adapter or lose one and you can find yourself stone out of luck, or paying big bucks for a replacement, if you can find one in a store. There are some so-called universal adapters that can power consumer electronics devices such as radios, CD players and similar items, but it might be dicey using them with a PC or wireless modem.

For the person who can find a way to create an adapter that can handle multiple devices, my prediction is that a fortune waits. One step is for manufacturers to try and bring products closer in terms of power usage and connectors.

• Hotels need to get with it. A certain hotel chain outpost in San Francisco OK, the name is Hilton has an interesting approach to modem-using guests. Local calls are $1 for the first 60 minutes, then 10 cents per minute, or $6 per hour, after that.

My solution was to hang up and redial the Internet access number just before 60 minutes passed. I paid $3 for roughly three hours of access as opposed to $13 had it been a continuous connection.

Ironically, many hotels offer high-speed Internet access for $10 per day, and guests rave about the service. In the face of such competition, it seems imperative (to this traveler) that hotels, particularly those charging in the three-figures per night, either add the high-speed access or lose the high local call charges.

• 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 [email protected], or visit the writer's Web page, www.kellner2000.com. Talk back live to Mark every Thursday from 8 to 9 p.m., Eastern time, on www.adrenaline-radio.com.

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