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March 2000

"Stealthy OS/2"

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

Many people, even windows fanatics, use OS/2 on a regular basis and probably don't even know it. It is embedded in telephone systems, ATMs and gas pumps. I've seen it in use in Sears Customer Service area, and of course in many banks. You can view some of the known OS/2 Large Customer users at http://rover.wiesbaden.netsurf.de/~meile/los2cl.html. Now a German company "Met@box" comes along with a way to spirit OS/2 into the home via a TV set top box. The site is in German, http://www.metabox.de/, but you can view an English translation via Altavista's Babelfish at http://babel.altavista.com/translate.dyn?sourceid=00263048410555502706&doit=done&urltext=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.metabox.de%2F&lp=de_en&x=6&y=7. Imagine a large number of non-corporate types now using OS/2 to access the internet on their TV. That is mind-blowing. and they are already expanding beyond Germany to Spain, and South Africa. Perhaps someday the U.S.

Why is this little set top box of import to us? Simple, it's the numbers. Right now major sites have no qualms about restricting their sites to windows users only. This is generally blatant descrimination, and we can access the site by changing our Netscape profile to identify ourselves as a windoze user (assuming they don't further restrict to internet exploder only). Of course that is self defeating because it proves that there are no OS/2 users. These TV viewers may not even realize they are using OS/2, but they will be using our version of Netscape and be counted as OS/2 users.

Hopefully companies that have ignored the OS/2 market will take notice and finally develop those plugins we have been deprived of for years, like Flash and Realplayer. Maybe even IBM might take notice and finally release a version of ViaVoice for OS/2 so these folks can talk to their TV and tell it where they really want to go. :-)

So will this little box actually do well, number-wise? I don't know, but it is certainly off to a great start, winning the Internet Product of the Year award in 1999 from a German Computer Site - http://www.computer-tip.de/reportagen/metabox500/ (again you can view an English translation via Altavista's Babelfish at http://babel.altavista.com/translate.dyn?sourceid=00263048410555532206&doit=done&urltext=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.computer-tip.de%2Freportagen%2Fmetabox500%2F&lp=de_en&x=24&y=9). Hopefully this product can expand OS/2 use in Europe and elsewhere throughout the world. Certainly where it will be available, you can feel comfortable recommending it to your less technically savy friends or relatives. They won't have to hassle with installing on "designed for windoze" hardware, and finding and applying obscure fixes just to get it installed and running. They will have support from a company that seems to care enough to use the best product available, rather then what's in vogue. Also the hardware will be made to run the best - OS/2 Warp, so problems should be minor. On Met@box's site they declare they use a "Crash-safe operating system". :-))

I've never really cared whether OS/2 was popular among the masses. I just want to be able to continue to use the best operating system for the personal computer. If it takes a stealth approach, then I'm all for it. People are beginning to wake up to the fact that Redmond's best is a load of bugs (I'm being nice here). Hopefully the sleeping blue giant will awaken and begin to at least stop standing in the way of promotion of this crash-safe, easy to use, powerful operating system we call OS/2.

Speaking of supporting OS/2, VOICE is looking for more members to help with the Warp Doctor site. Warp Doctor is being designed to become the place to go to answer questions on OS/2 support. An updated version of the now ancient Warp Pharmacy. We need assistance with web design, suggestions for content, the content itself and soon we will need help with entry of the data. If you can help we sponsor Warp Doctor development sessions on IRC in the #voice channel every Wednesday at 9PM EST(02:00GMT) http://www.warpdoctor.org/irc.html. Please come to some of these and assist in creating the best OS/2 support site on the internet. As to content we are in need of assistance with OS/2 Install/optimization and Networking install/configuration pages. If you have an existing page with this type of information, or you can help with writing new pages, plase contact dcasey3@home.com or better yet join the Warp Doctor mail list - http://mailer.falcon-net.net:8080/guest/RemoteListSummary/warpdoctor

If you haven't done so yet, but are ready to do so now, joining VOICE has been made a bit easier if you are outside the US. Mensys has added the VOICE memberships to their online store - http://shop.mensys.nl/cgi-bin/db2www/mns_art2.d2w/report?artname=VOICESUB&username=&i1=&o=&x=86904.73096. As before you can also join VOICE online via our BMT Secure order form at https://secure.falcon-net.net/BMT/order0308.html. Please consider joining VOICE now. Every membership helps make us stronger in our support of the OS/2 community.

Coming up in March, we have a General VOICE meeting on Monday, March 16th, 8PM EST(01:00GMT) and again in April on the 17th. On April 3rd at 8PM EST(01:00GMT), we welcome Sundial Software for a speakup on Mesa 2. 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.

This month we have a review of A Scanner that works in OS/2, The HP 6200 and 6250, SCSI version by Beth Flunker. If you are looking for a scanner to work under OS/2, that means SCSI, and they are getting rare now, with the proliferation of USB devices. Beth has written an excellent article on this newer model Hewlette Packard scanner that in deed works under OS/2.

I've been hearing about Papyrus word processor for at least a couple of years. Now there is a Papyrus Office suite. Thomas Gunzelmann gives us a look at the current German version in his review article Papyrus Office 8.05 for OS/2. Hopefully an English version will follow soon. The English version of the site was just updated, http://www.rom-logicware.com/start_e.htm and Ulli Ramps of R.O.M. logicware told me that they really are working hard to have the English version available in a couple of weeks.

You can read the followup article on Junk Spy version 1.0, Part 2, by Wilson Rook. Wilson's first look at Junk Spy last month covered the basics. This month he delves into it a bit deeper.

I have a review of Ghostview 2.8 and Ghostscript 6.0. If you looked at Ghostscript or Ghostview before for postscript file/PDF viewing and couldn't get it running, maybe now is the time to look at it again. The new version looks polished, is easy to install and best of all it's free.

Finally Don Eitner returns with a new End(User) column. This month Don sets his sights on the rumoured new client, in a peculiarly titled article The black plague was common, but it sure wasn't popular..

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. 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. To that end, and because of several recent requests, we have added a Guidelines for Article Submissions to the VOICE Newsletter.

Mark Dodel
Editor, VOICE Newsletter

If you want to express your feelings on the way IBM has abandoned OS/2 users in it's quest to appease bill gates, please write a letter to the US DOJ and tell them how you feel.

Joel I. Klein
Assistant Attorney General
Antitrust Division
U.S. Department of Justice
601 D Street, NW
Washington, DC 20530

The email address is antitrust@justice.usdoj.gov, however I believe a written communication has more effect then electronic.

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