International Consumer Education
I have been asked by Mark Dodel (The editor of VOICE Newsletter) and have agreed
to write a monthly column or article for the VOICE Newsletter. I will probably use
a lot of this space to talk about technical issues, but this month I thought I would
start with a non-technical issue - the future of OS/2.
There are two new organizations which have been formed in recent months and both
are dedicated to the future of OS/2. Iotta - the International OS/2 Technical Trade
Association, and VOICE - Virtual International OS/2 Consumer Education were both
formed at least in part as a result of discussions held during the weekend of the
OS/2 Marketplace Conference sponsored by POSSI (Phoenix OS/2 Society, Inc.) and
held in Phoenix, Arizona, in March of this year.
The Conference, by the way, was a wonderful catalyst for generating ideas and action
plans. In addition to attending the scheduled sessions it gave those of us who attended
an opportunity to brainstorm and develop ideas and agreement for Iotta and VOICE.
Thank you POSSI - and especially all the volunteers - for making that weekend so
productive for us!
Many of us who have been active in the OS/2 world for the last several years have
been hoping for just one good organization behind which we can throw our support.
TeamOS/2 was a good idea but lacked the leadership necessary to do more than flail
about ineffectually most of the time.
About twice a year, in a paroxysm of well-intentioned effort, the all volunteer
TeamOS/2 would converge on COMDEX and assist IBM in marketing OS/2 by installing
OS/2 on vendor's computers, by talking a lot about OS/2 and by helping vendors who
were using OS/2 with problems they were having. This was wonderful, successful,
and quite unique - I cannot recall any product in the history of consumerism which
has generated so much effort on the part of its proponents to spread the good word.
It was almost like a religion.
In fact, it became so much like a religion for some so-called teamers that they
began acting very much like participants in a religious war, spouting invective
when their rhetoric failed to convince their "opponents" of the worthiness
of their cause. Some of these people could rightly be called "Zealots"
- a biblical term used very disparagingly in the trade press of late.
For those of you as yet unaware, InfoWorld, a weekly trade publication used to have
"Readers' Choice Awards" every year. Since OS/2 had won Overall Product
of the Year for the last four years as well as Software product of the year, or
Client product of the year, or Server product of the year, or whatever the current
category InfoWorld had designed each year, when it won again for the fifth straight
year, InfoWorld invalidated the results attributing the win to a few "OS/2
Zealots" who "... stuffed the ballot boxes."
Don't get me wrong. There were and still are many good people involved with TeamOS/2
- I count myself as one and display the logo on my commercial web site. The problem
was the few who, lacking proper leadership, almost single-handedly destroyed much
of the good which had come of the true Teamers' efforts. Many of us in TeamOS/2
have been looking for an organization we could join which would have strong leadership
and which would benefit users and developers OS/2 products and services.
There are now two brand new organizations with the objective of promoting OS/2 along-side
Iotta will be a professionally run organization with the mission of promoting development
of OS/2 products and services. ISV'S and consultants who provide OS/2 related products
and services should seriously consider membership in Iotta. The benefits promise
to be enormous for members as well as for OS/2 itself. Iotta has been incorporated
as a non-profit in the state of North Carolina and has begun recruiting members.
You can find their web site at http://22.214.171.124/iotta/iotta.nsf.
VOICE is an organization for end users which has taken on the mission of promoting
OS/2 to the end user community. As its name implies, one of the ways they will be
doing this is through education. VOICE is not yet incorporated but should be soon.
The VOICE web site is at http://www.os2voice.org.
Both of these organizations are dedicated to furthering OS/2 by facilitating communications
with their constituencies, between each other, and with IBM. They will be working
together closely to disseminate information to their member about IBM's strategic
and short term plans for OS/2. They will both provide a conduit for their members
to feed information back to IBM about user and developer requirements. They will
both help to dispel the rumors and myth which seem to surround OS/2 like tabloid
If you are an OS/2 user, you should join VOICE. If you are an ISV or consultant
with OS/2 related products, you should join Iotta. Or both!
Just what is IBM's direction and strategy for OS/2? Let me tell you what I can in
the space remaining.
IBM has decided that it is not feasible to compete with Windows by continuing to
match API functions in OS/2 every time Microsoft changes theirs, which is quite
frequently. Java has become the horse to which IBM has attached the OS/2 cart. If
software developers won't develop for OS/2, IBM will make it irrelevant whether
the software was intended to run on OS/2 or not. Vendors who create products using
Pure Java will find that their software will run on OS/2 in addition to every other
Pure Java platform.
It is unclear at this time whether Microsoft Java support will run Pure Java products
or not. Microsoft says that it supports "extensions" to the Java language,
but that could mean whatever Bill Gates or Steve Balmer want it to mean this morning.
My impression from talking to Microsoft sales people is that Microsoft will provide
extensions to whatever Java du jure they desire so that it will be incompatible
with any other Java, especially Pure Java as driven by IBM, Sun, et al.
At any rate, IBM has already made OS/2 the premier operating system for Java. In
fact it is the ONLY operating system with Java built in. But Java is only the beginning.
The real key to the IBM strategy lies in the NC. The NC!? Yup.
It is looking more and more as if most (read all except Microsoft NC or NPC or whatever
they are calling it today) Network Computers will use OS/2 as their operating system.
IBM won't call it that, however. In fact, you won't even know that the NC you use
has an operating system.
IBM has been quietly demonstrating a product called Bluebird. I hope IBM does not
use that for its product name, but I don't think they will. In fact, you will never
see this product so it will never have a name. It will be hidden out on the network
and only show up on the NC when we want to do some work. And that can be an internal
network or the Internet. Bluebird is OS/2 with the Java virtual machine which has
been optimized for the Network Computer.
You will find your favorite web browser as the user interface for Bluebird. This
is an interface with which almost every user is familiar. It is simple and since
it is loaded from the network you always have the latest version. This is a boon
for any business which uses computers, not just the Fortune 500. Think about never
having to upgrade software again, but always having the latest version. The user
interface, the operating system, and all of the application programs you use would
be maintained at their latest levels because they are always loaded to the NC from
The beauty of Java is that you can buy any Pure Java software and it will run on
any system running the Pure Java virtual machine. The beauty of Java on the NC is
that you plug it in and forget it. True zero administration.
David P. Both is president and founder of Millennium Technology, Inc., a
computer consulting firm in Raleigh, North Carolina which specializes in
OS/2 Warp, OS/2 Warp Server and related products, and Lotus Notes. He
spent the last eight of his 21 years with IBM as the lead support person
for OS/2. He is co-author of the book Inside OS/2 Warp, New Riders
Publishing, 1995, and has published articles in Windows and OS/2 Magazine,
Carolina Computer News, LAN Magazine, OS/2 Magazine, and others. He holds
nine IBM technical certifications and is and Premier IBM Business Partner.
Mr Both's email is firstname.lastname@example.org
and the Millennium web
site is http://www.millennium-technology.com.
UncleGrim's Scything Review
"THIS IS A SIMPLE BITMAP VIEWER". . . OR IS IT?
By: dON k. eITNER (email@example.com)
In today's "bigger is better" world of software, we tend to overlook the
simple things that have worked for years and still work beneath all the bloat and
pretty interfaces of 1,001-function application suites. This is rarely more apparent
than in the area of image editing where we've come to expect one program to handle
scanning, dithering, resizing, cropping, converting, and however many more functions
that we've previously done in 2 or 3 apps. Well, integrated applications are nice,
and we seem to have given into the idea that they have to be large, lumbering beasts
that eat your RAM and your hard drive alike, but it doesn't have to be this way,
and the Generalized Bitmap Module by Andy Key (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This public domain application "suite" consists of the code for manipulating
bitmap images in a number of ways as well as numerous command line and PM mode apps
written to take full advantage of that code. The underlying code, of course, can
be used for any other applications you wish to write. Each command line app provided
has a specific purpose such as displaying header information from a bitmap file,
doing bits-per- pixel conversions, converting between color spaces, etc. The PM
app (called Viewer 2) combines many of the functions of these command line apps
into a single menu system for those of us who prefer point and click. Full bitmap
manipulation is possible from this menu, including format conversion, half toning
and error diffused viewing, cropping, select/copy/paste, undo, and more. There is
even a menu item to take a snapshot of your OS/2 desktop.
I found the menu system to be well-designed with the most used functions readily
available and some more exotic functions just a click away. The online help file
is context sensitive and easy to understand. If you're interested in learning the
more in- depth features of the GBM code, an HTML file is also provided which explains
the command line switches of the various applications. I'm a graphical interface
junkie, so I used GBMV2 (Generalized Bitmap Module Viewer 2) for my tests.
I started by taking a 24bit snapshot of my 800x600 desktop, resizing it by dividing
both horizontal and vertical by 1.5 (you can change this amount or just enter your
own image dimensions), and printing it on my color inkjet. The resulting image was
no less than I expected from my printer, which is sadly under-supported on OS/2,
but the process was painless, as it should be. I then played around with reflecting
the image horizontally, transposing x for y, rotating the image 90 degrees, and
then remapping it to an 8bpp image using the N (256 in this case though you can
vary the number easily) most used colors in the image. Finally, I saved the image
as a .GIF file, which in GBM is done simply by adding the format extension to the
filename you want to use.
Thus, converting DESKTOP.GIF to DESKTOP.JPG can be as easy as opening the GIF file,
selecting the Save As option from the File menu, changing the 3 letter extension
and clicking on OK.
The GBM package lacks a few things one would expect in a great image editing package,
most notably at least a basic paint program and support for the Portable Network
Graphics (PNG) format. Also, the rotate feature is not variable, meaning you aren't
given the choice of rotating the image by a user-defined amount such as 57 degrees.
This feature seems to be nothing more than a combination of horizontal and vertical
reflections in various combinations. Despite these few drawbacks, GBMV2 is one of
the best apps I've used in DOS, Windows, or OS/2 for dealing with bitmapped images
in an everyday (less-than professional print artist) fashion, and since the code
is provided as public domain, you could port the whole thing to any platform you
desire and add any features you feel it needs.
NOTE: This is a simple bitmap viewer comes directly from Mr. Key's online help file.
Product: Generalized Bitmap Module
Cost: Free (Public Domain Software)
More Info/Download: <http://hobbes.nmsu.edu/old/os2/graphics/gbm.zip>
Interviews with the VOICE Board
In our continuing series of interviews with the people who make up VOICE, we now
interview Gerry Ellington (Stryder), VOICE President:
VOICE> How long have you used OS/2?
Gerry> I started my use of OS/2 in 1993. At that time I was heavily
involved in communications and was tired of waiting for long
downloads to take place. I felt that there had to be a better way to
utilize the computer while I waited. Chicago was still vaporware and
Desqview was not really all that compatible. I decided initially to
try Novell's (formerly DR) new Dos 7.0 This product was supposed to
be able to preemptively multitask sessions from the command line.
Needless to say it was less than successful (as a matter of fact I
received a fix to an acknowledged bug over a YEAR after I placed
the initial trouble call). So that left OS/2. Having seen a demo a
few months earlier, I decided to give it a try. The rest as they say
VOICE> How do you currently use OS/2?
Gerry>I use OS/2 as a preemptive method of doing other meaningful things
while waiting for long tasks to finish (strangely enough many things
are still communications). It also provides the greatest flexibility
in running applications, not need to boot to dos to run a dos
VOICE> What is your background in computers?
Gerry> I have used computers since the day of the VIC 20, 300 baud modems,
cassette tapes, and a text based Compuserve. I then migrated to a
C-64, 8088, 80386, 80486, Pentium, and now Pentium Pro's. I have
worked in the industry in one form or another for the last decade. I
am currently an SA for the Dept. Of Defense.
VOICE > What other OS/2-computer related activities are you involved with right
Gerry> I always have a webpage up that is dedicated to OS/2. In addition to
harassing IBM officials <G> I am also working with a great group of
folks on VOICE in an effort to unite all of the folks out there in
cyberspace in a virtual user's group. There is also an effort
underway to provide an internet link to Warpstock through VTC etc.
VOICE> How did you get involved with VOICE?
Gerry> There were several IRC meetings that came about as a result of the
Getting Down To Business meeting in Phoenix. As a result of the IRC
meetings it was decided that a group of individuals would work as a
steering committee to form what became VOICE. I volunteered to work
on the committee.
VOICE> What does the 'President of VOICE' do?
Gerry> Actually it is the easiest job <G> now that VOICE as an organization
has been founded. Basically I see the position as sort of a
facilitator, who's goal is to keep VOICE going, set up the board
meetings, etc.. At some point as the organization grows, it will
become important for the president to become a 'totem' for the
organization as well, and provide visibility for VOICE as an
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