OS/2 eZine - http://www.os2ezine.com
July 16, 2004
Mentore Siesto is a member of Team OS/2 Italia. He founded in 2000 the P.I.D.O./2 project and collaborates to the numerous OS/2 - eCS related Italian projects in its spare time.
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OS/2 in Italy

As for all the non-English countries, Italian people like very much to have software and manuals written in national language. The situation is perhaps worse than in other countries: during High School, many Italian students follow at least 2 years of English courses, to learn grammar, syntax and some classic literature, but this doesn't apply to ALL of the students (many of those choose to learn French or German), and - what's worse - this basic knowledge is rapidly lost after finishing school for the vast majority of students, except for those who choose University (College) and follow a scientific course (Engineering, Physics and so on).

This causes some trouble when an Italian comes near an English speaking PC: one would really prefer to read normal, comfortable, good-looking Italian text rather than those uncommon and strange English terms. Even I, while am writing these lines, feel a little weird: in fact, usually I translate from English to Italian, and not the opposite, nor am I used to think in English. So, I have my good old English-Italian dictionary near me :-)

Furthermore, there are many Italian people who do not know English at all, and therefore feel really uncomfortable with English PCs: thus the importance of having a thorough, correct and coherent NLV support for an Operating System and its applications.

The problem is more serious for OS/2 and eCS: especially in Italy, we have a big lack of NLS for operating system, programs and documentation, and - much often - even the original English documentation is incomplete and hard to understand...

I use to say that, to make an operating system really friendly, we can't think of a technician as our target, but of "Mrs. Mary", who just wants to invite her daughter's friends to her birthday and wishes to print out some invitation cards. She doesn't know that "Mary had a little lamb": she might know that "Maria aveva un agnellino", which is the Italian translation of the first sentence - but she doesn't know English, so how can she use that fancy Object Oriented Multithreaded Intuitive Multitasking WPS-aware English DTP application??

In Italy (as in many other countries, I think), a good chance to sell an Operating System lies on its good looking (and so we need Eye candies, bells & whistles and all the other sort of useless and cpu-wasting goodies), but really much on its appeal to the user in terms of readability: when my friends see my eCS desktop, the first thing I hear from them is "Damn, it's in English!! I won't buy this ugly thing!".

Of course, a problem needs solutions. Here we come.

PIDO/2: the birth.

A friend of mine and I were talking about these issues, back in a warm afternoon in 1997 here in Pisa, and decided that the Italian OS/2 community needed a new idea: an Italian Documentation Project, just like the ILDP for Linux, (The Italian Linux Documentation Project is an initiative from Italian students who wish to give Linux a complete documentation in Italian) based on voluntary efforts from the OS/2 users and easily available to all OS/2 users and administrators.

In september 2000, the PIDO/2 project (Progetto Italiano Documentazione OS/2, in English: Italian OS/2 Documentation Project) was born, and a committee of small number of people (we were less than 10... Damn, we still ARE less than 10!! :-) agreed to follow some common guidelines for producing a good Italian documentation for software, hardware, administration and all topics related to OS/2 and the soon-to-come eComStation. With the first documents (related to Rexx programming and co-existance between OS/2 and some Windows flavours), and after some little trouble, the PIDO/2 website was finally up.

Now PIDO/2 talks of eCS and OS/2, and it's already grown up beyond our expectations.

PIDO/2 structure and technology.

Actually the document repository is located at www.ecomstation.it/pido2/, and it's entirely made in PHP by Mirco Miranda (site mantainer, who did some really great work - have a look at it). After a few minor corrections, it now works almost entirely without administrator intervention, and manages all the needs for a site like this: querying for documents, adding new documents, marking a document as "to be translated" for a single member, keeping the original English documents and periodically sending informations about the state of the project (like new documents added).

Of course the server is an OS/2 machine (oh, well, it's really MUCH more than this: see below)... Actually PIDO/2 website counts as much as 57 Italian documents and many other English documents (to be translated), not counting manuals, books and other things to come: the topics covered vary from programming (this is actually my dominion, especially Rexx and programming tools), system management (Mirco Miranda and others), CD Recording (time for a summoning: DANIEEEELEEEEEE!!! Stop messing around and translate those CDRecord/2 documents!!! - Mentore :-)) and much more. All documents follow some common guidelines (which vary for plain text, html, ZIP files, or other formats) for better readability: this way of doing things will probably ease the work for Italian versions of OS/2 - eCS applications' documentation.

ecomstation.it: the common base for Italian OS/2 projects.

The system hosting PIDO/2 gives support for a variety of Italian initiatives related to OS/2 and making it live (or at least survive) in Italy: PIDO/2 is hosted by ecomstation.it, which serves also as HUB for the IRC network eCSNET (which is made of as much as 16 OS/2 servers!). So, ecomstation.it is also a big IRC server, managing among the others also the #eCSIta IRC channel, made for Italian users, and the international channel #eCS. PIDO/2 hosts also a copy of OpenChat, a powerful IRC client, already configured to get up and connect automagically to eCSNet: this copy contains also the GemZ scripts, and it's available at www.ecomstation.it/pido2/download/openchat.wpi (You'll need of course the latest WarpIN installer to install it). ecomstation.it serves also as a mirror for some international sites dedicated to OS/2 and eCS (just to name a few, there are Postgres, SLRN and the XWorkplace Italian NLV), and finally manages many mailing lists for the various projects here present (PIDO/2, eCSoft2, the old Team OS/2 Italia web site and mailing list, but also postgres and other users' projects).

Projects and projects (and projects).

The PIDO/2 project has got, until now, interesting spin-offs, like the Italian version of the SNAP video drivers from Scitech, XWorkPlace (from 0.9.x to the latest versions), Mozilla, and the Italian version of eCS itself (some of the PIDO/2 members, like me, joined the project).

All of those projects, and others, are entirely hosted by ecomstation.it, which is really the reference site for the Italian OS/2 - eCS community (and is useful also for many non - Italian OS/2 users). ecomstation.it hosts also many Italian programs for eCS and OS/2, made by people like Francesco Cipriani and Rocco Foti (CDRWizard and Radio Track 2000), and many more.

I think that, if technically possible, we might also extend these projects to other applications (AudioStation, Warpvision, XINE/2, Emperoar/TV, MAUL, OpenOffice, and many more come to mind immediately), though this project is on a voluntary basis - so we really can't work on it as much as we wish.

As we all know, the lack of applications for OS/2 is a big trouble for all users who wish to have a system up and running: so it's important to enhance visibility for any software available. An important project related to this issue for the Italian OS/2 and eCS users is the eCSoft/2 site, located at www.ecomstation.it/ecsoft, also written in PHP: eCSoft/2 is a comprehensive archive of nearly all the applications available and working on OS/2 and eCS, completely written in Italian, including comments about install difficulty, status (freeware/shareware/GPL...) and availability of the software. This site takes the place of "I Bellissimi", the first Italian website dedicated to OS/2 applications and utilities made by Stefano Tagliaferri, and intends to be THE reference site for OS/2 - eCS software for Italian audience.

The future. Just dreams?

We all know that these projects are just a drop in a sea of troubles. Also, being a no-profit work, we need to do other things to get some money and eat our daily bread :-) so it's impossible do this as an all-day job.

With all these difficulties, PIDO/2 actually contains many more documents than we could think of when we started (in Italy, it's common to have a little pessimism, and really frequent in the OS/2 and eCS community), and the site is constantly growing (I have sooooo many documents to translate!).

In the future, due to the fact that documentation is non infinite, I think that we might move more often to application NLV and production of quality Italian programs documentation, while continuing to update documentation regarding issues already covered in the past.

But another idea comes to mind, and I'm thinking about it since a year: the Italian OS/2 - eCS community lacks an "official" newsletter, and this is a problem also for all those PC users which are seeking for a working, coherent, easy to use, good-looking and - most of all - powerful and secure alternative to their broken windows, without having to install the usual Linux blah blah blah distribution with all its weirdnesses. So this could be the last and biggest project: an Italian eCS - OS/2 magazine, covering all aspects of this systems which do not make part of the PIDO/2 project.

This can't be something like a national version of eZine, or VOICE (I already thought about this opportunity), because it should be really better to address the major issues regarding Italian situation in PC and operating systems, so - if this will be possible - I will try to make a "real" Italian computer magazine related to OS/2 and eCS.

For these reasons, this project could contain news, programming courses, code snippets, FAQs, but also interesting contributions from Italian and foreign OS/2 (and not only!) newsgroups, users feedback, editor notes, and so many things I can't think of now (sorry but it's 00:10 here, I slept 3 hours last night and had a 9-hours travel through Italy from Pisa to Roma and back yesterday... I'm a little tired :-). But this is (might be???) the future, and the future may still be far off... We're terribly sorry about this :-(

The main problem for this initiative is how many people can work on it. We greatly need help from the Italian speaking OS/2 - eCS users, even if they can only give feedback or news on software, translations, and any other thing that might be useful for the OS/2 community. So this is a call for volunteers who want to contribute: Italian OS/2 - eCS users, let's start working!

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