- The Washington Times - Monday, June 23, 2003

Like Diogenes searching for an honest soul, I keep looking for good — or, perhaps, even better — applications

for the Apple Macintosh. I found one, while another fell a bit short of expectations.

• Business Card Composer, from BeLight Software of Odessa, Ukraine, is a remarkably capable program aimed at a specific need. For $39.95, you get a program capable of designing and printing business cards via inkjet or laser printers. It’s written to work with Mac OS X, and it performs well.

Once the domain of private eyes such as television’s Jim Rockford, the need for fast printing of business cards is now being experienced by entrepreneurs, mobile executives and hobbyists. Business Card Composer (details at www.belightsoft.com) features templates and suggested layouts, horizontal and vertical, as well as the ability to design your own card.

Using some artwork at hand, I set to work on a blank form and designed a card in about 20 minutes. It wasn’t as intuitive as some processes might have been, but the result was fine and customizable.

If one truly wants to be creative, it is possible to add a photo background, which is popular in some circles.

The software also can integrate with Apple’s Address Book application. This would let a company set up a standard card design and then print cards for employees as needed. Uniformity, an essential in the world of corporate branding, can be maintained easily with this approach.

Another impressive feature is that this program will create a version of your design in the Adobe Acrobat PDF format, which a commercial printer could use to create cards on higher-grade paper stocks.

I don’t know of another, similar program for Mac users, and as such, Business Card Composer has the market pretty much sewn up. For those needing this kind of function, the program should be a welcome addition.

• Powermail 4.1.3, recently released by CTM Development of Switzerland, is a $49 paradox. The program is an e-mail client for Mac OS X users that is said to replicate many of the functions of the long-lost (and non-OS X-compliant) Claris Emailer.

Like more popular programs, it offers the ability to filter e-mail by subject, sender, account (sent from or received by) and, if you desire, file these in separate folders or e-mail boxes. It will simultaneously check multiple e-mail accounts and download e-mails, provided you have enough communications bandwidth to do so.

On the plus side, PowerMail also will, like Business Card Composer, integrate with Apple’s Address Book application. This makes it easier to create and send e-mails. However, that’s about all that PowerMail will integrate with.

One of the neat things about applications on the Mac is that you can specify something such as PowerMail in your system preferences and then, no matter what program, if you click on a “create e-mail” or “e-mail this file” button, it fires up the application, attaches the file or creates the e-mail and you’re ready. I have seen this done with Apple’s Mail.app, with Microsoft Entourage and with Qualcomm’s Eudora. But not with PowerMail, not from Microsoft Word or Excel for the Mac.

During my PowerMail testing, the application froze up on both an older PowerBook (G4 Titanium running at 500 Mhz) and a relatively new G4 desktop (running at 1.2 GHz). Getting “unstuck” was not pleasant. And, finally, my download version of the software lacked a manual — or any hope of getting one — and the company didn’t answer some questions I had posed via e-mail.

Instead of spending $49 on a program that would frustrate you, it might be better to spend $95 or so on a stand-alone copy of Microsoft Entourage. Or, you could stick with Mail.app, which is a pretty good program by itself.

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