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Computing

From...

Put your contact info on the Web

November 4, 1998
Web posted at: 1:45 PM EDT

by Yardena Arar

(IDG) -- If you collect business cards, you've wrestled with the annoyance of transferring the information on the cards into an address book or contact management program. Typing is time-consuming, and even with a card scanner you must spend time proofreading the output.

A new, free Web-based service, myVcard.com, will streamline this data-entry drudgery -- if it catches on the way its creators hope it does.

myVcard.com is basically an online repository of contact information from anyone who cares to make it available that way. You look up people by their e-mail address, and with one click download the contact information in a single file that's easy to import into all major personal information managers.

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Here's how it works: The first time you go to myVcard's home page, you enter your e-mail address and click a button. Within moments you'll get your temporary password via e-mail. You return to the site, this time logging in with both e-mail address and password. Now you enter whatever data you wish into a form to create your Vcard (a standard personal information file format supported by newer versions of most popular contact managers and PIMs). During this process you also choose your permanent password, designate what information is personal or business, and decide what you want to password-protect. myVcard promises not to sell your personal information.

To look up information about other users, you need only their e-mail address. You can look up one address or many at a time, so, for example, if you've just returned from a conference with a stack of business cards, you can enter a list of e-mail addresses on a single on-screen form. If a contact gives you a password, you must enter that as well. When you're through, click a button and myVcard returns all available contact information on registered users. With a single button click, you can then import the information in ACT, Outlook, Vcard or ASCII text formats. I was able to import a small myVcard data file to my ACT 4.0 database in seconds.

You can also use myVCard to keep others updated on your own contact information. Should you change your address or phone number, myVCard will automatically send out e-mail informing those who have previously retrieved this information from the service, plus anybody else you tell the service to keep current.

Additionally, myVCard lets you keep an online calendar, with the ability to create groups (consisting of other myVCard users) and schedule personal and group events. But you can't download the scheduling information into your PIM.

Since the service is just launching on Monday, the database is rather small. myVcard is something of a chicken-and-egg proposition: The more people join, the more useful it becomes, prompting more people to join. If it picks up momentum, I'll be happy to put my card scanner out to pasture.

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