OS/2 eZine

16 May 2000

Christopher B. Wright is the Editor in Chief of OS/2 eZine, a title he tried to duck for many months with little success. When he's not working on OS/2 eZine (what? he's not supposed to have any other jobs!) he works on his web comic strip, Help Desk.

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From the Editor

Publishing a magazine every month -- even when it's an electronic one -- is hard work. It's even harder when you're not really in the game.

When I became the Interim Editor in Chief of OS/2 eZine I thought of it as nothing more than trying to maintain the status quo -- put out a few issues until either Chris Wenham returned to his old job, or someone else more qualified came to take over the job and run eZine the way it was supposed to be run.

So immediately after Warpstock we released a November issue. It wasn't too difficult, we had a set of articles we'd intended for October anyway. So, as far as I was concerned, I'd done my job.

November came and went, and in December I realized it was time to do this all over again. We barely made it this time... the issue came out at what could only be described as the last possible minute, and we barely qualified calling it a December release. It was at this point that a part of me realized something wasn't working right... but I didn't know what it was, yet.

January passed without an issue, and February arrived. The February edition of OS/2 e-Zine! was not very large, but it was still an enormous task to put out. Everything was too complicated. I didn't know what I was doing.

It was too complicated because the people who had managed OS/2 eZine before me were technically competent people... Chris Wenham had managed to automate the building of each issue through the use of an HTML Preprocessor called PPWizard. PPWizard is a very powerful tool that can do an awful lot of things... if you know how to use it, which I didn't. And while all the documentation was there for me to pick up (Chris had even written an excellent series of articles for OS/2 eZine on how to use PPWizard) there was one thing missing -- I didn't have a lot of time, and I needed to learn to use those scripts now.

Ultimately, I failed. Given the amount of time I had, I couldn't learn to do what I needed to do. So February's issue was small, and March's issue was non-existent. It was at this point when I realized that I'd lost contact with most of the former staff of OS/2 eZine... most had moved on to other jobs that required a lot more time than their previous ones had... and I'd been trying to write, edit and publish eZine mostly by myself, with the help of a few guest contributors every month.

April came, and as April was nearing its end I realized that there wasn't going to be an April issue, either. And that's when I realized what the problem was. It wasn't that the Rexx scripts Chris Wenham had created were beyond my comprehension. It wasn't that all the former contributors for OS/2 eZine were off doing other things. The problem was that I wasn't behaving as an Editor in Chief should, interim or not.

All I'd done was to hold on to the bits of OS/2 eZine that were flying apart and try to keep them together until someone else came in to do the job right. But maintaining the status quo isn't an option for any publication. If OS/2 eZine can't grow, can't actively fill a need in the OS/2 community, it shouldn't exist. By simply trying to find articles to post on our site every month I wasn't doing anything for the community. OS/2 eZine lacked a vision, it lacked its original mission... it had turned into a shadow of its former self, and I wasn't doing anything about it... I was just waiting for someone else to volunteer to do it for me. So I took a deep breath, banged my head against a wall for a five minutes, called up Thomas Bradford (our publisher) and erased the "Interim" off my title. It was time to ressurrect OS/2 eZine.

The first order of business was to get regular contributors again. A single WarpCast mailing took care of that... I'm still trying to respond to all the offers of assistance. If I haven't replied to your mail yet, please be patient... my mailbox was flooded with enthusiastic OS/2 users of every range of expertise, ready and willing to write.

The second order of business was to figure out when we could actually publish the first issue of the "new" eZine. It was late April at this point, and I wanted to put out an issue by 16 May... which meant that we had approximately two and a half weeks to come up with our articles. Fortunately, I was able to find people who were not only interested in contributing to OS/2 eZine, but who were willing to provide something on that compressed schedule.

Finally, I needed to simplify the design of OS/2 eZine so I could update it manually for the moment, but make it relatively simple to switch over to a database-driven site when the blessed day finally came. I also thought it was important -- at least from a psychological standpoint -- to change the look and feel of the site.

The result is the issue you're reading now. We'll be adding more to OS/2 eZine as time goes on -- more articles, more kinds of articles, and we'll start re-introducing all the features you've missed... especially the ability to download zipped versions of each issue. I understand how important that is to people who are charged hourly for their internet access. That's something I want to fix very soon.

I hope you enjoy this issue.

Christopher B. Wright (wrightc@dtcweb.com)
Editor in Chief, OS/2 eZine