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May 2003

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The Future of the VOICE Newsletter

An editorial view from Christian Hennecke.

During the last weeks the future of the Newsletter has been discussed at length by the Newsletter team and with some readers. The consensus is that some things ought to and others must change, albeit the suggested solutions were different, of course. VOICE is an organization whose work is directed and done by its members, and they will now have to make some decisions. Let me explain the current situation.

Over the last year, handling the VOICE Newsletter has become more and more difficult, especially the German edition. As you surely have noticed its average size has decreased. The reason for this it that fewer articles are submitted - a problem which also OS/2 e-Zine is facing as well - and we cannot compensate for it by writing more articles ourselves, because the process of creating an issue is already bearing heavily on us. You may have also noticed a certain degradation in the quality of translations. This, too, is a result of our increasing burden by the creation process.

The fact is that basically there are only three people left who are working regularly on translations, with a few others contributing now and then. And things look worse for proof-reading. Except for the editorial, I usually end up doing it all myself. Furthermore there are delays in submitting articles and many authors neglect our guidelines regarding formatting, etc. which results in a considerably increased work load and work piling up shortly before the publication date. If the last issues had included more or, to put it plainly, the normal amount of articles, we would have been overwhelmed with work - despite using several tools to help automate some of the process.

You can see that something must change. Work on the Newsletter is done on a completely voluntary, honorary basis. We can only do so much as our spare time allows, and there is a life besides OS/2. If the situation does not improve, the current regular contributors will have to decide to either donate at least the same amount of time, or to restrict their work for the Newsletter to a more healthy amount.

The first option will result in the people involved burning out, neglecting their social life, and cutting back other activities. This in turn would mean that the remaining staff, too, would sooner or later use the emergency break and leave. To me, at least, the idea of looking like a vampire because I spend all my time in front of a computer instead of taking a walk outside or reading a good book in the sunny garden doesn't seem attractive. I think that we can agree that this is not an option at all, actually.

The other option means that only a certain amount of articles can be translated each time, which will leave us with an incomplete German edition and - if articles which have been submitted in German are not translated - an incomplete English edition as well. I already mentioned that this would already have happened more than once. And it already has lead to a degradation in quality. Not to speak of the times I had to cancel writing articles myself because the other work consumed all my spare-time. This outcome doesn't look exactly desirably either, does it?

How can we find a remedy? Issuing a call for help has slightly improved the situation in the past. But of the few who have offered to contribute even fewer have done so more then once, and again even fewer have become reliable regular contributors. It seems that the often conjured »OS/2 community« either does not realize the severity of the situation - or does not want to. Like in "Hey, they still manage to get out two complete issues, so it can't be that bad." Be that as it may, it's all voluntary work and we cannot force anybody to do it. In fact we want people to enjoy doing this and not look on it as work.

Another solution that has been suggested is merging the VOICE Newsletter with OS/2 e-Zine to reduce the work load. This suggestion isn't new and has already been considered more than once. However, we don't consider that way one to tread for several reasons. First, the VOICE Newsletter is the official organ of VOICE and for many it is an important reason for being a member of VOICE. OS/2 e-Zine could be published under the umbrella of VOICE, but resistance could be expected because of a potential loss of independence. That aside, it doesn't hurt to be able to read about topics from different views. Moreover, that is no solution to the problem of running the German edition.

But the most important reason is a different one: In the long run - and on this we completely agree with Robert Basler, editor of OS/2 e-Zine - the fusion would probably do more harm than good. In the beginning we would surely be provided with loads of articles by the authors of each magazine. But realistically speaking we can expect that to decrease over time (»Why write an article if enough others are doing it?«) and in the foreseeable future we would end in the same situation as today - but with only one OS/2 magazine left.

By using the preprocessor PPWizard we were able to automate several steps, but meanwhile the potential for efficiency has been exhausted. So we need to look elsewhere. Two of the things which consume a lot of time and nerves each issue are the revising the formatting and creating the INF version.

Formatting could be simplified by using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). As a positive side-effect our readers could easily adapt the style sheet to their personal preferences (font, font size, colors, etc.) and then apply it to each future issue. A disadvantage is the lack of backwards compatibility with older browsers. IBM Web Explorer would not be an option. All browsers which don't support CSS would only use the structure given by normal HTML and there would be no color, but at least the text would remain readable.

We are also strongly considering shutting down the INF version. We are aware of its advantages like the search feature and having everything in a single file, but although we were able to work around some restrictions of the IPF language (e.g. no images and lists in tables) and the converters by using PPWizard, they still require adjustments by hand. Time we are missing otherwise.

Over the next three months we will take care that everyone in the team restricts him/herself to a healthy amount of work. If any articles remain untranslated, the respective issue will remain incomplete. Afterwards we will decide which measures to take dependent on the situation. If the translation team's working situation will not have improved to a decent level, we will have to shut down the German issue. I would continue to help with the English issue and translate articles which are submitted in German as far as possible. I'd rather see one issue done right than two mediocre ones.

The prospect isn't exactly good for sure. You have the power to fight against it. Write articles! We will be glad to help you even if you are a complete beginner. Help with correcting, formatting and translating articles! You would like to continue reading an INF version of the VOICE Newsletter? Help creating it! You would like to see a nicely laid-out printable PDF issue? Start Maul Publisher and go! We won't get in the way of improvements and new ideas, only someone has to agree to realize them. Best this would be you!

Send your comments, ideas and offers to help to

Regarding the organization of VOICE itself, an announcement went out to the members list a couple weeks ago asking for nominations for Vice President to fill the one seat currently inactive on the VOICE Board of directors. Along with the call for nominations was a nomination for Roderick Klein for the position. If you have the desire and the time, you can nominate yourself as well for the VP position by sending a brief resume to Nominations close May 2, 2003.

Also at the most recent VOICE meeting we discussed changing the bimonthly VOICE general meetings on IRC to more European friendly times. We would really like to see better attendance at meetings so we can have a more active group. Nothing has been finalized yet, though 3:00PM EDT (19:00 GMT) on Saturdays was suggested as the best time for the majority of people attending that meeting. What do you think? Please send your comments to

VOICE Newsletter Update: Our Newsletter translation team is still in dire 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

Please note our new Disclaimer page regarding warranty and copyrights, and the respective terms for submitted articles in our Guidelines for submissions to the VOICE Newsletter.

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. 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. 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 May 5and 19 at 8PM EST (01:00 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 Thomas Klein returns with part eight of DrDialog, or: How I learned to stop worrying and love REXX. He continues with his overview of development of REXX programs with GUI using the free development environment DrDialog by IBM. This should be interesting for anybody, especially for those who have always wanted to write their own OS/2 applications, but were afraid of the high learning curve of PM programming.

I still see people ask about running win32s programs under win-OS/2. For those people we have a how-to article by Jeffrey Race on Installing a hybrid WIN32S 1.25/1.30 extension in WinOS/2 on OS/2 Warp 4.

Connectix has sold its intellectual rights for its virtual PC technology to Microsoft, but the Innotek port to OS/2 is still available and will hopefully see more development. Mark Szkolnicki tells us about his experience in Virtual PC - Now We Can Have It All!

Timothy Sipples expounds on some little known facts in OS/2 and Mainframes: The Linux Answer?.

Don Eitner, a long time contributor to the Newsletter, is back with a look at some recent developments in the OS/2 world in Not Bad For an Old Elephant.

Finally we have the VOICE Newsletter OS/2 Tips page and the Letters, Addenda, Errata page. 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 review of WarpVision, by Mark B. Szkolnicki; a look at the Workplace Shell Toolkit by Christian Langanke; a review of eComStation 1.1 GA by Mark Dodel; a review of CAD Handler, by Mark Dodel; and the next articles in the series on DrDialog, by Thomas Klein.

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

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