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March 2004

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Strength in our diversity

An editorial view from Jason R Stefanovich, Associate Editor of the VOICE Newsletter.

I've seen a disturbing trend online lately. Racist and Nationalistic comments being made by participants in several forums. Mostly, these comments are made by individuals who, because of the peculiarities of their nation's economic system, feel that their jobs have been stolen from them and given to less deserving people in developing nations. I've read as Americans and Europeans made accusations about their jobs being stolen away and given to unqualified, cheap labor in countries like India and China. Strangely, these accusations have not been leveled against people from countries like Russia and Czechia. The only difference that I can see here, from my perspective, is the color of people's skin.

Traditionally, the computer world was the one place where people could get away from this garbage. Your merit depended on your contributions to the group, your knowledge, and the way you treated others. Not the way you looked, or what country you were born in. Unfortunately, some people feel the need to take their unsavory and ignorant thoughts online and proclaim them to the world. OS/2 users hail from all corners of the world; from Las Crusas to Lima, from Los Angeles to London, from Munich to Moscow, from Bangalor to Beijing, from Edo to Ewa and everywhere in between. All should be welcome equally into the OS/2 community.

I'm not out to convince anyone of how wrong-headed they are, the type of people who engage in this type of discrimination seldom listen. Luckily, so far, the effects of this trend in the OS/2 world have been relatively limited. I ask that people who feel they have to express themselves this way do so in forums where it is accepted as appropriate and keep their muck-raking and ignorance out of the OS/2 forums. I'm positive that the vast majority of our readership agrees. Like the spew of the "FUD4", these types of comments can ultimately only be controlled by censure of the offending individuals. I hope it never has to come to that.

On a somewhat lighter note, I've thought a lot lately about the different types of programmers out in the OS/2 world. Roughly, there are three categories: low level, systems, and application (excuse my layman's terminology). Low-level programmers, like Daniela Engert and Jan van Wijk work in the depths of the software, where the silicon meets the code. Systems programmers, like Chris Wohlgemuth and Ulrich Möller, work within the operating system, digging into system services to provide new functionality. Applications programmers, probably the most diverse group, work on the top layer of the operating system providing new programs directly to the end user. Although there are some talented individuals who can do all three of these types of programming well, they are rare indeed. As one skilled low-level programmer admitted during a Warpstock presentation (paraphrased) "Just because you can write a device driver and read assembly code doesn't mean you can design a user interface".

Now, most users would think that all these programmers would work together, using their individual strengths to help a project come to fruition. However, even a cursory examination will show this is rarely the case. Systems and low-level programmers build their own interfaces, often with less than optimal results (see The Luxury of Ignorance for an example from the Unix world). Applications programmers exclude useful features rather than ask for assistance from systems and low-level programmers. There are many reasons for this, but most of them are purely emotional and would take up much more time than I have available to explain fully. The end result is that many programs are good, but could be even better if exposed to a diversity of experience and talent. I challenge OS/2 programmers of all skill levels and persuasions to work together more often. Systems and low-level programmers, ask an applications programmer to help write or design your interface. Applications programmers, ask systems and low level programmers to put Rexx hooks or pipe interfaces into their programs. In the end, cooperation and diversity will provide the ultimate goal, whatever the motivation, of a better OS/2 experience for all.

P.S. Can anybody help me by porting the newest version of NetPBM? <G>

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 and HowTo articles. If you have an idea for an article, why not write one. It's one of the best ways, short of programming native OS/2 applications, that you can help the OS/2 Community. And anyone can do it. Few of our writers are professionals. They are just OS/2 users trying to help other OS/2 users. Please send me your ideas or better yet a draft of an article to Please note our guidelines for submissions to the VOICE Newsletter. There you will find suggestions for topics, hints on content, structure and formatting, as well as the legal stuff.

VOICE Online Update: This month the general member meetings are scheduled on Saturdays February 6 and 20 at 3PM EST (20:00 GMT). Everyone interested in OS/2 or eComStation is invited to attend either or both of these sessions in #VOICE on the Webbnet IRC network. For more information on attending online VOICE IRC meetings please see the VOICE Meeting Information page -

If you have an idea for a Speakup event, please submit it to, and we will try to schedule something. As always, please be sure to check out the updated VOICE Future events Calendar in this newsletter or on the VOICE website at for more details on future VOICE events.

This month we continue with our article series about using MySQL. Wolfgang Draxler shows that it doesn't always have to be PHP and that REXX gets along with this database quite fine. Read more in In close collaboration: MySQL and OS/2. Part two deals with creating a database.

Finding a printer that delivers good results on OS/2 can be a demanding task due to driver issues. Stuart Updike reports his findings about how to achieve the best results when Using the HP PhotoSmart P1000 with OS/2. This should also make for an interesting read for users of other printers.

eComStation has brought much relief on the laptop installation issue. In Installing eComStation 1.1 onto a Thinkpad T41, Chris Clayton tells you how to solve remaining problems and what you can expect from the successor of the T40.

Finally, we have our OS/2 Tips and Letters, Addenda, Errata pages. If you have any OS/2 or eCS tips you've uncovered, please send them to If you have any comments or suggestions about the newsletter or articles in it, please send them to

That's it for this month.

Christian Hennecke, Mark Dodel, Marckus Kraft and Jason R. Stefanovich
VOICE Newsletter editors

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