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October 2003

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Time for some advocacy.

An editorial view from Mark Dodel, Editor of the VOICE Newsletter.

Recently I have spent some time monitoring and even posting in the advocacy groups for Windows and Linux on Usenet. No I'm not considering abandoning OS/2. This was in part out of curiosity to see if there was much more being said in these forums then there has been in the comp.os.os2 groups, which of late have sunk to what appears to be new lows for beneficial to trash postings. My other interest was to help spread at least some notice that OS/2 is still alive and doing surprisingly well in the form of eComStation. More on that in a minute.

What I have seen over the past couple of weeks is that advocacy must be going the way of the Dodo bird, the corded telephone and the black and white television set. is pretty much a cemetery. If a platform's future is forecast by the volume of posts in its advocacy group, then Windows is truly doomed. Of course it could just be that people have no reason to try to advance a platform that is imposed on them by a criminal monopoly. The most activity there seems to be generated by people who start flame-bait threads by denouncing Linux. Maybe I've just caught it at a bad time. Maybe all those Windows advocates were unavailable because their machines were down do to one or more of the latest viruses that seem to invade their systems on a weekly basis.

comp.os.linux.advocacy ( affectionately called Cola by those who frequent it) is very busy. Several hundreds of posts every day. But as with comp.os.os2.advocacy, the noise is deafening. Many of the threads start out attacking individuals or rapidly degrade into slugfests and they seem to be even nastier then those I see in the OS/2 groups. They certainly have their share of nutcases who assume multiple identities, and hide behind throw away addresses, taking their fanaticism for and against to similar extremes as the anti-eComStation trolls in our community. They also spend a lot of time discussing the best way to deal with the nonsense. Though its nice to see a lot of activity in the Linux groups, its difficult to read through more then a fraction of the hundreds of daily posts, unless you can devote an hour or so each day. And to be frank most of the posts are either just personal attacks, windows fanatics (aka, wintrolls) posting insane nonsense about Linux, or Linux fanatics posting insane nonsense about versions of Linux other then what they are running at the moment. Still there is a lot to learn from and maybe even teach to our Linux using friends.

Here's where I thought I could make a post without starting a flame war. In the comp.os.os2 Usenet group we have managed to unite in an attempt to control the few nutcases that spend all their time attacking OS/2 and eComStation users. It is easy to just ignore or filter out the perpetrators of the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). The key to dealing with these trolls is to ignore them. It seems psychologically they only received attention when they wet their pants when they were infants and they have never grown out of thinking that bad behavior is the best way to get attention. The problem has been with the people who respond to them, often quoting their entire diatribe. But some people have legitimate reasons to respond, to clearup the lies and insinuations these creeps spread. As we have written about in the past, the OS/2 community has come up with a method of putting the [FUD4] tag in the subject line so people who don't want to even view responses to these trolls. You can read more about this at an FAQ devoted to explaining all this at I posted this as a suggestion on how the Linux folks might deal with the trolls plaguing their groups. No real advocacy here, just introducing some information from the OS/2 community. I received some constructive comments in response and wasn't flamed as I initially anticipated for being a non-NIX user.

Then after cross posting a Microsoft related posting (about how Microsoft acknowledges they are reading and analysing all our Usenet postings) in comp.os.os2.advocacy, comp.os.linux.advocacy and I noticed this generated some discussion on OS/2 and eComStation. In addition, there seem to have been several OS/2 related postings in the Linux and Windows groups since then as well. So it appears that at the very least I and a few others have generated some cross-pollination between these groups. People are reading some information with the word OS/2 and eComStation in it. Its a beginning.

We are entering a brave new world for alternatives to the overbearing, virus plagued, exorbitantly expensive and morally bankrupt Microsoft platform. We have some excellent news coming from Serenity about plans to continue to enhance eComStation. They have signed deals with InnoTek and NorthLAN to port OpenOffice to OS/2, as well as a new virtual machine project for eComStation-OS/2. In IBM's latest OS/2 Strategy, they have extended support for OS/2 Warp 4 Convenience Packages and for Warp Server for e-business Convenience Packages through 31 December 2006. InnoTek has released the Webpack for OS/2, which includes Innotek's OS/2 Kit for Java, the Macromedia Flash Player for OS/2, the InnoTek OS/2 Kit for Acrobat Reader and the InnoTek Font Engine for OS/2. Now what we need is some eComStation-OS/2 advocacy. We all need help spread the word. Don't be hostile, just be informative. And slowly we will rebuild the OS/2 community together. So come to Warpstock 2003, and learn more about what IBM, Serenity, Innotek and others have in store for us in the future. Then help spread the word (nicely) that OS/2 is very much still alive and kicking.

VOICE Newsletter Update: 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 October 4 and 18 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 Christian Langanke returns with part 2 of his article on A programmer's perspective for the end-user - Part 2. Christian tells us more on why he stays with programming on the OS/2 platform.

In LSwitcher 2.7 - A New Face on an Old Friend, Don Eitner tells us about a small new utility that makes your OS/2-eComStation system even more intuitive then before.

Finally Isaac Leung takes a new look at an old favorite of ours in his review of the OS/2 spreadsheet Mesa 2 2.3. BTW, in case you were not aware, Isaac is the Editor-in-Chief of OS/2 e-Zine and he has graciously contributed this article to our newsletter. So you might want to consider submitting some articles to Isaac for publishing. ;-)

We do have a couple of letters on the Letters, Addenda, Errata page. And this month our OS/2 Tips page returns. A big thanks to David Brain for taking on the task as our new Tips page editor. If you have any OS/2 or eCS tips you've uncovered, please send them to David at 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; A review of the Lexmark E322 laser printer, by Alex Taylor; Using the HP PhotoSmart 1000 printer 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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