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September 2003

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About OS/2, eCS and their supporters in Newsgroups

An editorial view from Marckus Kraft, Associate Editor of the VOICE Newsletter.

Being a user of OS/2 and the Internet for quite a long time, I am still surprised on how people react about the "new" eComstation, especially in the Usenet Newsgroups. I wonder how grown-ups can behave the way some do in comp.os.os2.misc, comp.os.os2.utilities. or comp.os.os2.advocacy (just to mention some).

Let me give you an example: One day Mr. X asks a question on how to solve a problem, some minutes later Mr. Y will answer about 50 percent of this question and offers advice to "upgrade" to eCS. Again several minutes later Mr. Z will complain about this advice, will call it heresy ("religious opinion contrary to the doctrines of a church" according to Webster's New Encyclopedic Dictionary), spam, and illegal to write about in an OS/2 newsgroup, etc. etc. Normally this will call for some revenge from Mr. Y, Mr. A or Mr. B. We end up with lots of entries only related to the topic by the words OS/2 or eCS. Poor Mr. X still has 50 percent of his problem unsolved.

Because Y, Z and the others use rude words and very bad language, this reminds me almost of a religious war. And thinking about religious wars a piece written by the famous Italian writer Umberto Eco comes to mind. Thanks to the Internet I will now present it to you. Mr. Eco does not write about OS/2 or eCS, but I am pretty sure you all could make the transfer to our days.

Umberto Eco's piece on Mac and DOS, Catholic and Protestant

Source: Umberto Eco's piece on Mac and DOS, Catholic and Protestant

The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counterreformist and has been influenced by the "ratio studiorum" of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory, it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach - if not the Kingdom of Heaven - the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: the essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.

DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can reach salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: a long way from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.

You may object that, with the passage to Windows, the DOS universe has come to resemble more closely the counterreformist tolerance of the Macintosh. It's true: Windows represents an Anglican-style schism, big ceremonies in the cathedral, but there is always the possibility of a return to DOS to change things in accordance with bizarre decisions.....

And machine code, which lies beneath both systems (or environments, if you prefer)? Ah, that is to do with the Old Testament, and is Talmudic and cabalistic.

This excerpt is an English translation of Umberto Eco's back-page column, "La bustina di Minerva," in the Italian newsweekly Espresso (September 30, 1994).

VOICE Newsletter Update: If you have a few hours to spare a month, we could really use the help of an additional editor to write editorials and assist in running the Newsletter.

Our Newsletter translation team is still in need of backup. To be able to help you don't have to be a very good translator or HTML programmer. If you have profound knowledge of English or German spelling and grammar, you can also help with editing the articles. Some hints on translation activities are also available in the FAQ. If you can help please contact

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 September 7 and 21 at 3PM EDT (19:00 GMT). Please note the change in time! 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 have three programming related articles. The VOICE Newsletter has primarily been an enduser magazine, but over the past year we have tried to also offer OS/2 related programming articles to hopefully encourage the OS/2 community to become more comfortable in developing software for our favorite platform. We have not lost our primary focus, we just happen to not have many other kinds of articles this month ready for publication. So if you want to see more reviews of software and hardware next month, how about writing something?

To start us off this month we have Thomas Klein back with the 10th article in his series on DrDialog, or: How I learned to stop worrying and love REXX. This month Thomas looks at iterative (looping) logic.

Next up we move from REXX to Java programming as Per Johansson returns with an article on accessing databases using Java, JDBC and JNDI. Per shows us how to do this using tools that already exist for OS/2.

Though some might consider this "programming", in Creating Scripts to Automate Application Migration, Chris Clayton shows us end users how to write REXX scripts to migrate applications from a previous installed OS/2 or eComStation desktop onto a newly installed version.

We do have some non-programming articles this month for you folks that are sourcecode-phobic. VOICE President, Walter Metcalf writes about his recent experience installing the latest version of OS/2, eComStation in the article eCS 1.1 Installation Tips and Tricks

We have a review of the Epson Perfection 3200 Photo scanner by Lothar Frommhold. Here's a USB scanner that Lothar had no problems getting to work with eComStation.

Finally this month we have the first of a two part article by Christian Langanke on why he program's for our favorite platform in A programmer's perspective for the end-user - Part 1. Part two will be in the October issue.

We do have a couple of letters on the Letters, Addenda, Errata page. This month however there is no OS/2 Tips page. The Tips page may return next month. 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. Upcoming articles include a look at the Workplace Shell Toolkit by Christian Langanke; "Using the HP PhotoSmart 1000 with OS/2", by Stuart Updike; and the next articles in the series on DrDialog, by Thomas Klein.

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

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