CeePrompt! Computer Connection

Let your computer deal the cards

Originally published April 21, 1997

Cathi Schuler

How many times have you given a gift with a hand-scrawled message or needed a card at the last moment for that special occasion? Not too many of us have a stash of commercial greeting cards tailored for the multitude of holidays and life events that seem to occur daily.

For the price of dozen or fewer store-bought cards, you can purchase and install greeting-card software to create an endless supply of unique and customized messages to celebrate every imaginable occasion. Or even better ... you can create free greeting cards on the World Wide Web to send as e-mail attachments.

The Print Shop by Broderbund is probably the oldest and best-known software application specializing in affordability and ease of use. Greeting cards are just one of the many graphic-design options in this user-friendly program. Don't worry if you're not particularly creative; there are plenty of templates and pre-formatted design samples waiting to be personalized with envelopes to match.

Prices for Windows and Macintosh versions of Print Shop range from $14.95 for The Print Shop to $49.95 for The Print Shop Ensemble III. The PrintShop comes with 1,000 graphics, whereas the Ensemble version includes 15,000 graphics, 1,100 photo images, 1,200 ready made designs and Photo Accessories that allow users to insert personal photos into pre-designed frames. The Ensemble also includes easy access to the Print Shop Web site for additional free graphics and quotes. Visit the Print Shop Web site for complete details and pricing information: http://www.broder.com/psd/psd.html

While I've long been a fan of Print Shop, my personal favorite of late is Greetings Workshop. Just imagine what you might expect from a joint Microsoft/Hallmark venture, and you won't be disappointed with this program. This $29.95 multimedia package is both entertaining and fully functional. Children and adults alike will marvel at the clever cards, the wide array of formatting options and the fun-to-use interface. Double-
sided printing options contribute to the professional look of these cards.

Like Print Shop, Greetings Workshop offers a direct link to its Web site where users can peruse a newsletter for tips and ideas and also order custom papers and envelopes specially designed for the Greetings Workshop application. Additionally, Greetings Workshop includes unique designs for invitations, announcements, banners, signs, fliers and awards "in Hallmark quality." Check the Greetings Workshop Web site for a demonstration and additional information: http://GreetingsWorkshop.msn.com/

If you'd rather send an electronic card via e-mail, start with Internet Card Central at http://members.tripod.com/~MargaretC/cards.html

Although you may have to do some digging and weeding at this extensive index of online card resources, it's well worth the toil. Literally hundreds of free and fee-based electronic greeting-card sites exist on the World Wide Web allowing you to send electronic greetings as e-mail attachments.

Free electronic postcards are available from Kodak, for example, at hhttp://www.kodak.com/digitalImaging/pictureThis/picThisHome.shtml. Elvis fans will be pleased to know that the King is alive at http://www.lasvegassun.com/lounge/elvis/postcards.html
cards.html. Maxracks http://www.maxracks.com/ is yet another free card service with a variety of card styles and themes. There are as many online cards to choose from on the Web as there are in a traditional card shop.

Perhaps the most impressive online cards I've seen so far are the "More Than Words" collection from KMMC Multimedia Greeting Cards. These are true multimedia cards complete with animated graphics and sound.

A few generic cards are available for free at this site, but for $29.95 you can purchase the software which enables printing, e-mailing, custom formatting, music and sound effects. You can even record your own personal voice message to accompany your personalized card. The sound and clarity are great with just ordinary speakers. Auto playback encoding means that cards can be "read" or played with a double mouse click. It's a fun surprise for recipients and a welcome break from flat e-mail text.

Print Shop and Greetings Workshop are available for purchase at most software retailers. Online cards and "More Than Words" are available through the World Wide Web and require Internet access. With computerized greeting cards, you'll never be caught cardless again.

Cathi Schuler owns a computer literacy training/consulting company, Cee Prompt! She is a co-author of computer textbooks and can be reached by e-mail at cschuler@uop.edu or cschuler@ceeprompt.com or by mail c/o The Record, P.O. Box 900, Stockton, CA 95201. She is on the Internet at: http://www.ceeprompt.com. Click here for past archived columns.
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