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September 2004

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Making a news group

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

eComStation has gained a significant portion of the OS/2 user base since its introduction in 2000. Since its introduction there have been several problems coordinating and consolidating messages surrounding the product. Originally, discussions were primarily held in the comp.os.os2.* Usenet groups. Then, Serenity Systems International started some eComStation groups;eComStation and eComStation Multimedia, on Yahoo groups to provide 'unofficial' support and answer questions. These groups have been somewhat mirrored and extended by the news server hosted by Mensys news. Unfortunately this mirroring is not perfect as a user posting on the NNTP server must be subscribed to the Yahoo group for their messages to be cross posted. Believe it or not, there are 57 Yahoo groups associated with OS/2. There are, of course, various other locations that eComStation discussions are going on, including the comp.os.os2.* news groups, private and semi-private mail lists and IRC. Although variety may be the spice of life, it's not necessarily conducive to good communications. This is especially true when the number of participants is small and their correspondence is spread among one hundred odd venues. Because of my own issues with this situation, I decided to take some action. I wanted a centralized location where I could go to correspond about eComStation with other eCS users. I'm a big fan of Usenet and so I thought that an eCS specific news group would be perfect. Usenet groups are available globally, archived practically forever, and are completely free to access. Two of the best free services are Google Groups on the web and for NNTP readers; for an alternate and unedited news service, try Xusenet.

Usenet already has 30 groups dedicated to OS/2, so why does there need to be another specifically for eCS? eCS, while still undoubtedly OS/2 at its core, is rapidly changing. Although most of its software and technologies are available to other OS/2 users, there are many packages that are eCS specific. Topics such as the installer, user interface product packaging and software bundling are prime candidates for an eCS specific forum. Even programming topics can be eCS specific because of such changes as directory structure, WPS classes, TCP/IP updates and other modifications. This divergence from the base Merlin Convenience Package will make itself even more apparent with the release of eCS 1.2.

So I made up my mind that I wanted to create a new Usenet group comp.os.os2.ecomstation. Have you ever wondered where news groups came from? Who created them and how do they propagate? Me too! I had no idea about how to start this process. I started by Googling 'news groups' but that wasn't specific enough. I did find some information I wanted though and found out that I wanted to create a 'Big 8' news group. That lead me to this search and THE BIG EIGHT NEWSGROUP CREATION PROCESS, and Usenet Volunteer Votetakers, which got me started and lead me to the news.groups Usenet group. I found out that the creation of a Big 8 group is much more complicated than making an Alt group and the first thing that needed to be done was a posting of a Request for Discussion or RFD. After looking at other RFDs on news.groups, I wrote mine and posted it to news.groups as RFD: comp.os.os2.ecomstation. After some discussion, which you can read in the thread, I posted the second RFD just a few days ago. There were a couple minor errors, so I'll be posting the third and hopefully final RFD shortly. After that I will be required to fill out and email in a Proponent Questionnaire and finally there will be a Call for Votes or CFV. The CFV is the final step in the process and takes place at least 21 days after the first RFD or 10 days after the latest RFD update. The vote lasts for 21 days and at least 100 votes are required and at least 100 more YES votes need to be submitted than NO votes for the measure to pass. Assuming the measure is passed, the news group is created. However, it may take up to 6 months for it to propagate to all the major servers on the Internet. The great thing about this is that the entire process is public. Everyone can participate in the discussion and vote. I encourage everyone who has something to say to post it in news.groups in the most recent comp.os.os2.ecomstation thread and, when the time comes in a few weeks to get online and vote (hopefully 'YES').



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 legalese.

VOICE Online Update: This month the general member meetings are scheduled on Saturdays September 4 and 18 at 3PM EDT (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 Mark Dodel shows that attending VOICE IRC sessions is quite easy and fills you in on the capabilities of a not so well-known part of Mozilla: ChatZilla - one click and you are talking. Hopefully, this will cause more people to attend VOICE IRC meetings.

Most of us know that if you use the WPS heavily, it can become unstable over time. In INI file management, Bob Mclellan lines out methods to maintain clean INI files and thus a stable OS/2 or eComStation system.

Some of OS/2's system configuration files, namely the so-called INI files, are not human-readable plain text files. The formats that are used instead are not well-documented. James J. Weinkram has set out to explain. Read more in The OS/2 INI files. This article should be interesting for both advanced users and developers.

The scourge of SPAM never ends. While spammers find new ways to camouflage their identities and get their garbage through the users' defences, those affected also add new blocking methods to their arsenal. The latest are so-called Bayesian filters. Walter Metcalf introduces you to (PMM)Bogofilter - customizable SPAM filtering.

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

Upcoming articles include more in the series on DrDialog and tips and tricks for Embellish by Thomas Klein, and a review of the new eComStation 1.2 by Walter Metcalf.

That's it for this month.

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

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