Jewish World Review Nov. 22, 2002 / 17 Kislev 5763

Last-minute ideas

By Mark Kellner | Ask anyone who knows me - my wife or my father in particular - and they'll tell you: I'm a last-minute kind of guy. It's probably genetic, but maybe not.

Preparing for the annual trek to the COMDEX computer trade show - of which more next week - I had to get some things ready, and in a hurry.

One was a CD-ROM of material I wanted to share with someone. I had the disc-burning computer, I had the data files, I had the blank CD media, and I had some very nice glossy labels from Avery, part of their "After-Burner" CD labeling system, which is a neat little system that sells for just under $30.

I even had some software with which I could design a CD label, but nothing really appealed to me. What to do?

The Web - and the Avery folks - provided my answer. On the Web site, you can find something called "Avery Print," which stores designs of dozens of labels, cards and other Avery products. A step-by-step process walks you through the selection of a design, editing text, adding graphics and then printing a label. The latter is done via your computer and the Adobe Acrobat program. A free "reader" software program, available for Macs and Windows machines, is available at, and is all that's needed to print the file.

Oddly enough, though, I had varying results - not terrible, but varying. On a PC running Windows XP, I could design a label, change the graphic and get ready to print, but because the PC lacked the typeface used in the design, the end result was, well, not pretty.

On the Mac, I could edit the text, but not change the graphic. Instead, I specified "no graphic" rather than the caduceus suggested. After all, I'm not a doctor! The Mac, fortunately, had the necessary font and the label printed perfectly.

While there may be some bugs to work out in my own use of the Avery Print Web site, it's laudable that Avery is offering the service. There's self-interest for the company, of course: they want to sell labels and cards and so forth. But making it easier for computer users to design and print labels is a positive thing, and Avery deserves kudos.

Another last-minute project was printing up some new business cards - supplies were low. Here, another Avery product, their "Clean Edge" linen-textured business card stock, about $15 a pack, came to the rescue, but the impressive thing was the printer.

Brother International Corp. offers a multi-function printer/copier/scanner/fax called the MFC-5200c. Although it works with Macs, the unit really shines with Windows systems; its software disc is stocked with a version of PaperPort, one of my favorite scanning programs. Running off the business cards, the printer's upgraded PhotoCapture Center(tm) feature allows users to print color photos and images from a wide range of digital media including Sony Memory Stick, CompactFlash and SmartMedia cards.

Much more can be said about the Brother MFC-5200c, and shall be said in a future installment. Meanwhile, those looking for a good multi-function unit for a home office, or just family use, would be well advised to check out this one. The unit retails for $399, and information is available online at

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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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