Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education



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Interview with an OS/2 User

Next we interview Tom Stevic. Tom works for a distributor of industrial computerized machine control products. He also has a small company of his own to enable him to do projects outside of his employer's scope of business.

VOICE> What kind of business are you involved in?

Tom> I do technical support for the machine control products we sell. This includes working on the help desk, training, on site troubleshooting, and doing the engineering for some of the turn-key projects we do.

VOICE> Can you please describe your current use of OS/2 in your workplace? What >kind of hardware and software are you using for OS/2? Approximately how many pc's are running OS/2 at your site?

Tom> I use OS/2 as the primary operating system for all of the PCs that I use, and for two other PCs that I am responsible for. Other than the PCs I have OS/2 on, there are 3 win95 machines, one win 3.1, and a RS6000. With the exception of the laptop computers that I and another Tech use, the PCs are used as replacements for terminals to the RS6000. ( we still have 15 ascii terminals running )

When at my desk answering the telephone, I use voice-type to record the details of my conversations, the details are stored in a DB/2 database that uses a front end designed with DBExpert. During my conversations, I am often required to look up specs on different products ( most of the tech references I use have been scanned an stored on my desktop, that makes retrieving them a snap, and also allows me to fax pages without leaving my office ). I often am required to walk customers through the keystrokes required to do things in the support software the control devices use. I also can generate quotes, log on to our vendors web sites, and write documentation.

My work machine is up and running 24/7, and I typically have 6 DOS sessions, the DBExpert applications( along with DB/2 ), 3 windows sessions, netscape, mr2ice, the IBM works word processor, wordperfect 5.1 for dos, and faxworks all open and active at once.

VOICE> How did you decide to use OS/2? What features were considered important for this project(s)? What previous experience was there with OS/2 and other operating systems?

Tom> In the beginning, I was a dos sort of guy, and later, a DOS + Desqview guy. When windows 3 was released, and I heard all the ravings about how good and easy it was to use, I took a look at it. I was very unimpressed with the total lack of performance. I could finish tasks in less time than it took the windows machines to start their applications. I decided at that point that windows was not for me. And I made it clear to those who would ask. After a while, though, I was beginning to realize the a graphical interface was the wave of the future and I could not resist forever.

About that time, while visiting my brother, he gave me a demo of OS/2 2.1. After I installed it and played with it a while, I decided that with the flat memory model it used, I could work the way I had become accustomed to, without getting the dreaded GPF and out of memory errors that windows always gave me when ever I would try to use it. I also decided that if I started using OS/2, I could continue to voice my opinion about windows. ( which turned out to be more accurate than I realized )

I have been sold ever since.

The features that are important to me are primarily the fact that I can have multiple programs open and active, and I can switch from application to application at will. My work habits have grown to use this and I now find it very hard to go back to starting and closing programs so the OS does not lock up on me.

VOICE> What other operating systems if any were under consideration or are used for your business? If you use OS/2 in conjunction with other OSes in any form of a network, how well does OS/2 work with these other systems?

Tom> Two of the OS/2 machines and all of the win machines are networked back to the RS6000. After the initial difficulty of getting the OS/2 machines setup ( the people who wrote the application that runs on the RS6000 had no clue what they were doing. Even when problems came up with the win machines, the 'fix' was to reinstall windows and then follow the keystrokes to install networking ), the OS/2 machines perform flawlessly. My desktop machine gets rebooted when I add things to it, but the other OS/2 desktop ( running V3 connect ) has been up for over two years. I simply have no networking problems with them at all. Not so with the win machines. They lock up at least once a day. I can't offer much more insight on them however, I refuse to touch them.

The RS6000 has several flat ascii file "databases". These files contain our customer information, inventory and pricing, billing, and other such information the system uses. The RS6000 application is ODBC enabled though, and those of use who use PCs make use of that. Most of the use by the other people is to create custom reports using Excel. My use of the information is to have a local copy of the information I use ( customer info, inventory & pricing ) sitting in a DB/2 data base. I used DBExpert to create a custom interface to the data and have a much more powerful and flexible set of screens than the others who still use the ascii terminal emulation to access the standard screens.

VOICE> Do you foresee continued/increasing use of OS/2 in this fashion?

Tom> I have made quite an impression on the owner of the company with the data screens I use, and have received the OK to change all of the terminals to 'my' system. He has no idea what an OS is, so I am free to use what ever I want. The only trouble is to find the time to do this while not dropping any of the other balls I juggle, and the accounting department is not going to change, because OS/2 is not used by 'everyone else', plus the fact that the people the accounting department deal with have told them that OS/2 is a dead end. ( Gee, that sounds familiar )

VOICE> Are there any changes that you would like to see to OS/2 that would facilitate your continued use or expanded use of OS/2?

Tom> A *visible* commitment by IBM to the product and the ability to run win32 programs.

VOICE> How have IBM's statements that they are targeting the medium to large business sector affected your work or your decision to continue using OS/2 for this/these task(s)?

Tom> I do not look at IBM for any support, other than to continue developing the product. My shop is small enough that I am looked on as something of an *expert*, even though I am not. I use what works. And for the way I work, and for the stability of the product, OS/2 works best.

VOICE> If IBM licensed another company to sell the OS/2 client to home/SOHO users, would it affect your usage of OS/2 (would you use more OS/2 clients for your work, etc)? If this company could add features, what features would you like to see added?

Tom> If the company actively marketed the product, and responded to the constant reports of the death of OS/2, and provided the ability to run win32 programs, and kept the device drivers for new hardware coming, yes, it would make my use and support of OS/2 a great deal easier.

VOICE> Would you be interested in a refreshed version of OS/2 Warp 4.0, that is a new install package that included all fixes and new enhancements as well as new hardware support since the original release?

Tom> This would be very helpful, even though software choice is a very easy way to update, for new installations, one CD would be helpful. Perhaps a quarterly release of refreshes for a small fee to licensed users? I would pay $15 - $25 for this ( after the original W4 purchase of course ).

VOICE> Has your business been contacted by IBM about the potential use of Work Space on Demand? Do you see any use for that product in your business?

Tom> No. We have never been contacted by IBM. Unless I can convince the accounting department to replace the main application that we use with standard off the shelf products, there is no use for WSOD at our shop.

VOICE> Do you know of any other sites using OS/2 in your industry?

Tom> As a distributor, no. But one of the products we sell is an IBM product called Plantworks. This is a factory automation product that only runs on OS/2, and we have 11 customers that we have placed this package at. The smallest being a single node doing fault collection for three machines, the largest being a 23 node system collecting fault and production, and providing operator interface functions for 124 machines. OS/2's stability has shown to be flawless in these installations. All of the machines run 24/7. There has *never* been an unplanned reboot for any of the 87 machines.


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