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February 2001

Abandoned Gems

An editorial view from Mark Dodel and Christian Hennecke, editors of the VOICE Newsletter editor@os2voice.org

Over the years many developers and ISVs have discontinued work on their shareware or commercial products for OS/2. Some of them, mainly shareware packages, are still available for registering/buying, others have been withdrawn from the market. Unfortunately only very few, like Truespectra's Photo>Graphics, have been made available to the OS/2 community for free use and even fewer have been released including the source code, like JStreet Mailer from Innoval. That doesn't matter that much in case of a mature product - though there may be cases in which people would like to add functionality - , but with others it's a real pain, since nobody is going to fix the bugs. Because of this, the OS/2 community has lost some real gems. Think of e.g. FTP Browser. A really nice product, but it has some bugs that make it unsuitable for certain operations.

Now what to do if you encounter a package that is substantial for your OS/2 computing life? I don't want to discuss the term "abandonware" and things related to it. Some declare the use of abandoned packages without registering/buying as theft without exception while others think that it's ok to use them if there's no possibility to obtain a copy the normal way anymore. Again others think that all software should be free anyway. Opinions vary widely in range here and discussions easily evolve into religious wars.

What I would like to see instead are some "private investigations" and a bit of persuasive work by the OS/2 community. Yeah, what about getting yourself a nice pipe, a magnifying glass and a plaid cap and cape? Try to find the authors of the packages you would like to use and urge them to release it some way, especially the source code. (First things that come to my mind here are FontFolder and Ceres Soundstudio.) And please: Don't forget to always remain polite. Nobody will gain anything if the author is confronted with something like "You traitor have left OS/2, now give us the code. Instantly!" You don't think that somebody would be so stupid to engage an author like that? Alas, it has already happened. And we can easily imagine the author's reaction, can't we?

Well, of course you have to be prepared for some frustrating experiences. But then we have examples that proove that it can work. The author of Newsbeat uploaded the source to Hobbes in December. And the group who brought us the Y2K fixes for Pronews got permission to continue their work provided they don't make money with it. Meanwhile they have released a new beta that irons out a lot of the existing bugs. Last time I looked, BMT hadn't added Pronews to their list of OS/2 products again, but I was told that they have it on their internal list. I am currently waiting for my licence for what I consider the best newsreader for OS/2.

For a site that lists some existing discontinued OS/2 software packages, you can visit Bob Eagers Discontinued Software page http://www.tavi.co.uk/os2pages/oldsoft.html. Here he lists some information on ProNews/2 as well as applications released by Innoval.

VOICE Server Update: Our latest project for the VOICE server is to expand our News List service. I guess it had to happen eventually. With the demise of Warpcast, the VOICE News list is growing at a fast pace. Up til now we have had no reason to moderate the list. With the increased subscriber list and the higher posting rate, that has changed. The list is now moderated.

To subscribe to the VOICE News list, If you wish to discuss a topic, please join the VOICE News list by sending an email to majormajor@os2voice.org with the following text in the body of the email:

If you wish to make a comment regarding a post, please reply to feedback@os2voice.org. If you wish to discuss a topic, please join the VOICE Generral Discussion list by sending an email to majormajor@os2voice.org with the following text in the body of the email:
To get help on what commands are available from our mail list server, send an email to majormajor@os2voice.org with the following text in the body of the email:
We are working to improve the news list service with plans to add a digest format when that feature is available in our news list package. We are also working on creating a web archive of all news posts.

If you have any announcements you would like posted to the VOICE News list, please send it to submit@os2voice.org. Please include a valid reply address and a real contact name.

If you have any thoughts on this or other services, please let us know. Either attend a meeting, or send your thoughts and ideas to president@os2voice.org. If for some reason we do experience any more down time, you can also access our pages including the newsletter at our mirror site - http://os2voice.ibmforum.com.

Also as a reminder, VOICE offers several other mailing lists open to the OS/2 Community. A Meeting Announcement list, General Discussion list, the Warp Doctor list and the Help list. These are all currently under utilized, and volumes are low. You can subscribe to all or any by going to the VOICE OS/2 Mailing Lists page - http://www.os2voice.org/mailinglists.html. If you have something for the VOICE News list, please send it to editor@os2voice.org and it will forwarded to the list. The VOICE Help list doesn't require subscription to use it. just send your question to help@os2voice.org and people who are subscribed to the list will respond if they have an answer.

In January we had a couple of meetings on IRC in the #voice channel. You can read the transcript for January 15th meeting at http://www.os2voice.org/logs/V011501.LOG.html.

There will be a general meetings on February 5th and February 19th at 8PM EST(01:00 GMT, 02:00 Berlin). The Sundial Speakup normally scheduled for February has been cancelled. Instead we are moving that bi-monthly event to March and it will continue every two months from then on. So the Speakup with Sundial Systems on IRC is now scheduled for March 5th at 8PM EST(01:00 GMT, 02:00 Berlin). No topic has been set yet, but these sessions with the Sundial guys are always informative and entertaining. For more information on attending online VOICE IRC meetings please see the VOICE Meeting Information page - http://www.os2voice.org/meetinginfo.html

If you have an idea for a Speakup event, please submit it to liaison@os2voice.org, and we will try to schedule something. Also on the VOICE Calendar are weekly Warp Doctor team meetings every Wednesday at 8PM EDT (01:00GMT, 02:00 Berlin). As always, please be sure to check out the updated VOICE Future events Calendar in this newsletter or on the VOICE website at <http://www.os2voice.org/calendar.html> for more details on future VOICE events.

For February we have a review of the Dawicontrol DC-2976UW SCSI controller, by Thomas Klein. Next we have article on installing an Actiontec PC700 Internal PCMCIA Reader and a Compact Flash Adapter under OS/2 , by Peter Hinckley.

Looking for a modem that works great under OS/2, we have a review by Chris Ayers on Selecting a Modem for OS/2, The IBM V.90 PCI Data/Fax Modem. And then we have a review of the Graham Utilities for OS/2 Task Manager by Mark Dodel.

Klaus Staedtler von Przyborski is back with his fifth article in his Free Files series. He is now looking at freeware music apps for OS/2 in Let's play the music.

Finally we have the VOICE Newsletter OS/2 Tips page and the Letters, Addenda, Errata page. If you have any OS/2 or eCS tips you've uncovered, please send them to tips@os2voice.org. If you have any comments or suggestions about the newsletter or articles in it, please send them to editor@os2voice.org

Just a reminder that we now have a full Newsletter Master Index page. All the feature sections of the current and previous issues can now be found on this one page. Additionally, we have added a Java based search function to this master index page. It will allow you to search all past issues for a specific word or phrase. So try it out and let us know what you think. If you have any ideas for improvements let me know at editor@os2voice.org.

That's it for this month. For March we hope to have an article on T-DSL (ADSL by German Telekom) and ISDNPM 3.0. In addition we will have an article about Ogg Vorbis (where'd that name come from?), a relatively new sound encoding format. For anyone who ever has a need to post any announcements, we have an article on Writing Effective Product Announcements (A guide for the OS/2 developer who doesn't want to be a marketing professional) by Esther Schindler. And if you have a Palm Pilot, we have an article on successfully running the Palm Desktop under OS/2 using Odin. Finally, coming up in March, we have Oliver Heidelbach's first article on installing Emacs.

We are always interested in your thoughts and views on subjects related to OS/2, and would like to see opinion/editorial pieces as well as hardware/software reviews. If you can help by writing an article please contact me at editor@os2voice.org. Guidelines for Article Submissions to the VOICE Newsletter.

Mark Dodel and Christian Hennecke
Editors, VOICE Newsletter

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