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September 2001

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Letters, Addenda, Errata

Translation: Christian Hennecke If you have any comments regarding articles or tips in this or any previous issue of the VOICE Newsletter, please send them to editor@os2voice.org. We are always interested in what our readers have to say.

August 1, 2001 - A comment from our reader Thomas Nolte regarding last months editorial Yesterday, today, tomorrow:

I am currently reading the new issue of the VOICE Newsletter (August 2001). First, thanks to all contributors, who publish an online magazine that is always worth reading.

I would like to give a short note regarding the editorial "Yesterday, today, tomorrow": Compatibility is nice of course, but IMO it should not be kept at all cost. Presumably there is enough work to be done for the VOICE Newsletter, and so it's legitimated to automate is as far as possible. So I can fully agree to the use of CSS, PNG, etc. WexExplorer can't be the thing to look after any longer.

Thanks a lot for your efforts and work.

August 1, 2001 - ccr@gmx.at gives us a hint on Netscape 2.02's problem with PNG images:
In the editorial I read that people have complained about the new png format because it doesn't work with older browsers.

At least for Netscape 2.02 there is a solution - a plug-in that can be downloaded from http://hobbes.nmsu.edu/pub/os2/apps/internet/www/browser/npgpng09.zip and that enables enables display of ping images without problems.

A short note from Christian Hennecke:

This plug-in works, but not if the images are added with a normal img tag. You can still view the image by having the browser display it in a new window. Images that are linked to via thumbnails are displayed correctly.

August 4, 2001 - Marcus de Geus adds the following to Thomas Klein's response to a letter regarding his article Dawicontrol DC-2976UW SCSI Controller:
You may be interested to know that I have been running the following SCSI setup for several years now (under Warp 4), without any problems whatsoever:

SCSI Adapter 0 = Adaptec AHA-2940 (16-bit):

These devices are all internal, with the HHDs connected to the card's 16-bit port, and the CD-R(OM) connected to the 8-bit port. Total cable length is probably something like 1.5 m (5 feet), with the UW (HDD) part of it covered by a twisted pairs cable (nice, but don't ask me where to find one).

SCSI Adapter 1 = Future Domain AEC6710 (8-bit):

This is an external device (of course), connected to the card through a set of cables with a total length of approx. 15 m (yes, that's right, '1' followed by '5' without a decimal point separating the two -- in other words, 50 feet of SCSI cable).

In Steffen Rehn's case, the not-so-obvious, but perhaps simplest solution may be to invest in a second SCSI (8-bit, SCSI-2, i.e. inexpensive) card. This will let him hook up external SCSI devices using longer cables without increasing the load on the sensitive Dawi UltraWide card, which is clearly unable to cope with anything exceeding SCSI specifications. As an added bonus, the cheaper card will protect the UW card from hazards that may occur in an external environment (like someone tripping over the cable).

The secret is of course to make the right choice of operating system so it will let you run this kind of setup without going into terminal shutdown. I recommend OS/2 . You also need a bit of luck when you go out to buy a cheap (well, not very expensive) SCSI card without knowing much about them, like I did at the time -- and still do, to be honest. Last, but by no means least, you need good quality cables (i.e. . fully wired, fully screened) and terminators. These may be your best, and biggest, investment.

August 2001 - Tony Cheong from Singapore would like to state the following regarding Walter Metcalf's declaration from last month:
Dear Mr. Metcalfe,

I am happy to know that you've been elected to Voice's Presidency. You are a familiar name to me since I used to follow your articles in about.com, I thought they were very helpful articles esp to someone who only used Warp briefly in 1995. I returned to Warp this year and decided to stay - but just as I was starting to use your articles at about.com for organising my Warp system, they sent me an e-mail saying that about OS2 is to be discontinued. I was flabbergasted at the rude and sudden discontinuation that I unsubcribed from everything else there.

Now that you are here - ah, well, a familiar name instills confidence; I am very sure you would provide good helmnmanship; be yourself & rest your concerns that you cant take Dan Casey's place - although in all honesty I didnt know much about him until I started to read Voice when I rejoined the ranks of os2 users this year. But reading Voice's past issues has made me realise that he was a great guy who did much for the continuation of Warp. May he have a good afterlife! And may you have a good Presidency here!

Not having used Warp for some years I came back to find a dismal Warp landscape, stalwarts having left for other pastures, os2 isv's closed or went off to support Windows, old Warp links having died,continuing flamewars, acrimony, and incessant bickering amongst some Warp user groups. It nearly dissuaded me from re-using Warp and stay back in the comfortable and well supported world of Linux and Windows.

But further digging uncovered superhuman and courageous efforts by individuals and small groups of people who continue to develop for and promote Warp's existence. These unsung heroes made no noises, promoted no -isms, and just like the proverbial bumblebee which it was said couldnt be aerodynamically flyable - just flew. This gave me hope as I've come to quite enjoy using Warp and finding that it can do quite a lot of stuff I didnt think it could.

I found software where I thought none exists thus I found much to return for. I try to do my little part by registering as much software as I need in the hope that if every user does his/her part then Warp would surely go on.

With your tenure at Voice it is certainly an incentive for me to join Voice as it has always been a pleasure to read your articles at about.com.

Please continue to promote all the *usability aspects* of OS2 - and pl dont allow the futile down-putting and despondency about Warp, etc, that goes on elsewhere to creep into this fine magazine. In my view what will carry Warp on is a positive attitude (some may say I am an ostrich head in the sand) but there, without the will nothing is won.

All my very best wishes for success and kind regards.

August 5, 2001 - One more comment regarding last month's editorial, this time from J. Christopher Kennedy:
I say go for web standards all the way. You can even provide additional CSS sheets on your own for your readers to pick and choose from. Just include the title= attribute on the links (or <style>) tags, and Mozilla will let you choose which to use. It's really very cool. Get rid of the tag, and don't use absolute font sizes. No point font sizes. Use ems and such so that fonts are resizable. As for the speed question, Mozilla 0.9.3 rocks (once you have it open).

dragonbard.com is designed using XHTML and CSS, and I believe it comes out very well. I've learned even more tricks as of late, and will eventually apply those as well. I especially like being able to provide printer friendly formats just by using different media in CSS. Not to mention supporting accessibility is greatly simplified by sticking to the standards.

Christian Hennecke's answer:

You are quite right. But for the foreseeable future we won't be able to get rid of Netscape Communicator 4.61, which unfortunately doesn't support or interpret correctly many CSS commands. I have tried to convert a web site that I maintain to HTML 4.01 or XHTML in vain. It looks good in Mozilla, Opera and IE, but you can't view it with Communicator.

August 9, 2001 - Another letter regarding the editorial, from Louis McKinley:
No matter which choice you choose you are going to receive negative comments. If it were I maintaining the web site, my strong tendency is the use of Cascading Styles Sheets -- even though this would force me to install a more recent version of my browser, for I am still using Netscape 2.02. Adding an updated browser would also take care of the problem with PNG images. Two browsers can be installed at the same time with no conflicts, and an instance of both can be opened at the same time with no conflicts. The use of CSS will be a good time saver, something which everyone could use, especially those providing a service such as the VOICE newsletter.

August 11, 2001 - Philip Chiu has some comments and questions concerning Michael Necasek's article OS/2 History Lesson about OS/2 1.3:

Michal Necasek's history on OS/2 was very well written. I had wished his August 2001 article had gone a bit further.

A "Windows-comfortable" friend of mine and I had many discussions regarding a certain point of OS/2 history. His information comes from an ex-OS/2 friend of ours who has gone on to using MS Windows NT. I used OS/2 only since version 3.

He believes that the very first version of OS/2 was intentionally crippled to only run on IBM's personal computers. The first OS/2 version was, according to him, incompatible with the IBM clone computers that were available. Later versions were later made compatible when 'IBM saw the error of their ways'.

His statements make no sense to me. The first version of OS/2 would likely have no market share and have the stigma of it being an unproven technology (Yo, it's version 1.00!). 'Tying' OS/2 to IBM preferred hardware would minimize the acceptance of OS/2 in the market in favor of maximizing the 'demand' for IBM PCs.

The assumed business decision would have been short-sighted for the acceptance of OS/2.

I would have been ecstatic if Necasek actually had the 1st version of OS/2 to run on his IBM compatible PC. It would be easy to prove or disprove the compatiblity issue for me. If the 1st OS/2 version was incompatible to PC clones, then my friend is right; if it wasn't incompatible, then he is a victim of an OS/2 'urban legend'.

Maybe I am approaching this problem the wrong way. Maybe I should asking what is the first verson of OS/2, officially. I am presuming it is v1.00. Maybe I should also be asking if anyone here has actually used that version on a non-IBM PC compatible. Necasek seem to have done well with v1.3, but it isn't enough.


Michal Necasek responds:

All in due time :-) I would be way too long.

His statement is untrue, and I'll tell you why: there were TWO versions of OS/2 1.x (up to 1.3), IBM's and Microsoft's. They were pretty much identical. Now it is possible that IBM didn't try very hard to ensure compatibility with clones as their primary customers used IBM hardware. But Microsoft was selling OS/2 to OEMs, i.e. clone makers. If OS/2 1.x was crippled that way, they couldn't sell it. Because I have copies of OEM versions of MS OS/2 1.1 and 1.3, licensed to Zenith and NCR respectively, they obviously did sell it and it did work on non-IBM hardware.

IBM's version _did_ support the IBM AT (it had to because PS/2s came out only few months before OS/2 1.0) so IBM could very well reason that if OS/2 didn't run on clones, they weren't AT compatible in the first place - and it is likely some weren't (AT&T and HP comes to mind).

Don't forget about Microsoft. If OS/2 was to be incompatible, it would make no sense for MS to be interested. I have several books about OS/2 from Microsoft Press and until 1989, they were very firmly behind OS/2.

Just one quote:

"I believe OS/2 is destined to be the most important operating system, and possibly program, of all time".

- Bill Gates, in the foreword to OS/2 Programmer's Guide by Ed Iacobucci

The first version is not running yet. I'll try again but I don't have any hardware that's even remotely from 1987. It fails to boot on a 386 but I suspect some problem with the harddrive. It doesn't boot on a 1994 PS/2 either :-)

I did get OS/2 1.1 to run though (on a Celeron 300).

I'll try again but I'd strongly suspect the "urban legend". I am certain OS/2 didn't run on all clones and I'm likewise certain those clones weren't AT compatible and OS/2 wasn't the only program that didn't work on them.

Yes, the first version is 1.00. Released in December 1987 AFAIK.

And yes, somebody had it running. For instance Peter Norton and Robert Lafore in the book "Peter Norton's Inside OS/2". They don't say what exactly they used but it was some clone running MS OS/2 1.0.

August 14, 2001 - An update from Lothar Frommhold for his article DVD RAM Disks and eCS, OS/2:
If one uses preformatted DVD-RAMs, reading and writing of data files works very well with the eCS GA (here on my station, anyway) - without any further ado. (I have not tried video or music recording or copying.) If one wants to format a DVD-RAM, using

the system crashes. We have had that problem with preview1 as well; nothing has changed since preview1 in that regard.

In February I was able to download a newer UDF.IFS, version 1.1.1; I did not notice any big changes when I substituted that version for UDF.IFS version 1.0 provided with the GA. Writing speeds measured about 140 kb/s (pretty slow; existing windows drivers, e.g., from Software Architects, give me much higher speeds, using the same hardware. But who wants to use windows?)

In order to format DVD-RAMs, I had to go back to the old OS2CDROM.DMD file available from Hobbes (in the package udffile.zip) and in an older MCP (with similar name). Then the above formatting statement works and DVD-RAMs may be used freely under eCS GA, just like any other disk - except for the limited writing speeds.

Meanwhile IBM has published UDF.IFS version 1.5 on Software Choice. With the following result:

Glenn told me [editor's note: in the eComStation mailing list] that there is a new file udf.exe that I could download from Software Choice. The package consists of several files including UDF.IFS version 1.5 and is from July 6, 2001. The package was installed in seconds and after a reboot it fixed the problems with system crashes I described in my previous comment. UDF-RAM now reads, writes and formats DVD-RAMs without problems; so DVD-RAMs now can be used as any other disk under OS/2 and eCS, no software that doesn't come with eCS is required.

As it has turned out, UDF 1.5 is included in the eComStation GA, but is has to be installed by hand. The archive can be found on the first CD.

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