Jewish World Review Oct. 17, 2002 / 11 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763

Nobody asked me, but ...

By Mark Kellner | As the late Jimmy Cannon, one of the great sportswriters, would say, nobody asked me, but ... there's a few things on my mind:

THE GREAT SOFTWARE SCAM: A flood of e-mails has hit in the last few weeks offering copies of the 2002 versions of Norton Anti-Virus and other Norton-branded software published by Symantec Corp. at bargain-basement prices.

I dismissed the stream of junk messages as just that, junk. But in a meeting with Symantec personnel in Santa Monica, Calif., recently, I learned there was far more involved.

First, the e-mails are NOT - in any way - authorized or sponsored by Symantec. That company prefers to sell its products via standard sales channels, such as retail computer and office supply stores, warehouse clubs and well-known online computer sellers. Second, you could be a victim of a scam if you respond to these e-mails. You might get a counterfeit or pirated version of the Norton software, or your might get nothing at all. Meanwhile, the sender of the e-mail has your money, and perhaps your credit card number to boot.

The Norton name is well known enough in computer circles to inspire a measure of confidence among consumers, which makes this scam even more odious. There is little to prevent these rip-off artists from using another software publisher's name - IBM's Lotus division, Corel's WordPerfect or Microsoft's Office - in a future hustle. I hope it does not happen, but a good general rule of thumb is that if ANY offer in ANY e-mail seems "too good to be true," it probably is.

THE BEST MAC MAGAZINE might well be MacAddict, a publication of Future Networks in Brisbane, California. Each issue is pithy, precise and comes with a CD-ROM crammed with an amazing amount of shareware, trial ware and software demos. Anyone who is serious about seeing a broad range of applications for the Macintosh would love to get their hands on these CDs.

The writing lists more towards a Gen X (or later) sensibility than other computer magazines, but in studying reviews in two issues (October and November), I found highly accurate analysis that didn't skimp on the important details. The how-to section, a key feature of any computer enthusiast magazine, is loaded with both short tips on removing red eye from photos and longer articles on how to set up and serve a professional Web log (or "blog") from your own Mac. Step-by-step instructions and photos are very well presented.

The only "ouch" for buyers is the price: $7.99 per issue on the newsstand. But issues feature a card with a subscription offer of $24 a year for 12 issues and 12 CDs, which may rank as one of the last great bargains. Details can be found at, and for Mac lovers, it's worth investigating.

SPEAKING OF MAGAZINES, the computer journalism field lost a titan on October 8 with the passing of Jim Seymour, who for nearly 20 years contributed columns to PC Magazine and for many years also scribed for PC Week. Mr. Seymour, a renaissance man whose talents spanned PCs, photography and even investment analysis, was highly regarded as a straight shooter and sound thinker. He will be missed.

NOT TO BE MISSED, however, is a $20 book (At Amazon for $13.99; click on link) called "What Your Computer Consultant Doesn't Want You to Know," where author and tech consultant Joshua Feinberg dispenses invaluable advice for small businesses on how to buy and use technology. If you run a small office (10 people or less), or if you don't have access to an information technology consultant, Mr. Feinberg's book will offer tremendous suggestions and savvy for a reasonable price.

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JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.

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© 2002 News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at