Heath's Helpful Tips- by Heath Phillipi

Greetings! Welcome to the first edition of OS/2 e-Zine!

This being the first time any of you have read this column (and the first time I have written it), I think a little discussion on the general purpose is in order.

The aim of this column is to help new and potential users get "Warped". Not to say that experienced users shouldn't read this column, (I hope they read it as well, and maybe learn something new from time to time), but it will focus on many questions newer users have about OS/2. This being an electronic medium, I want to stress early that readers have input into this column. Feel free to e-mail the editor or myself about topics you would like to see discussed.

Since this is the first article, in a new column, in a new e-zine, about an old OS with new interest, let's start at the beginning.

I've learned over the years that when considering a new operating system (OS) or software application, it is best to plan ahead before taking the plunge. In order to plan ahead, you need as much info as possible concerning the new OS/application. If you have already taken the plunge, please read on since we may discuss a resource you haven't found in your quest to be Warped.

In a nutshell, there are three basic areas to look for information and support on OS/2 Warp. Briefly they are phone (voice), printed (paper), and electronic.

First, lets look at electronic resources. The Internet is currently the largest network in the world. It has the broadest collection of information accessible from any one place. Unfortunately, with this vast amount of data comes a pervasive amount of "noise". Learning to use the Internet is like learning to ride a bike. At first you spend more time in the bushes or on the ground than you do going forward. The same is true for the Internet - you spend a vast amount of time wading through off-topic newsgroups and useless Web pages. To get you off on the right foot, let's look at some of the best places to start looking for information on OS/2.

The search for any knowledge on the Web should start with a good search service. This means using search tools like the WebCrawler or Yahoo. With tools such as these (and the many more that exist out there), you should be able to find anything you need, from vendor Web pages to the latest bug discovered by OS/2 users. I wouldn't want any of you to say "Great, but my search turned up 3,000+ Web pages. Which pages do I look at?" so here are a few of the most useful pages I have run across.

If you need convincing on why you should try Warp in the first place, stop in on the Why Get Warped? page or the Personal Software Services page, both from IBM. To see if your current hardware will work with Warp, or if you need to add something to your current setup, check out the Warp Compatibility Table. For a particular problem on a current install, head for The Warp Pharmacy or the IBM Solution Database. And, lastly, the mother of all OS/2 pages is the OS/2 web page put out by Team OS/2. If it has to do with OS/2, there will be a link there for it.

Usenet newsgroups can also be very valuable in your search for knowledge about OS/2. A few of interest include any of the comp.os.os2 (c.o.o.) groups. Good ones to start with are c.o.o.setup, c.o.o.setup.video, and c.o.o.setup.storage. One group many new users overlook is c.o.o.networking.tcp-ip. This is a very good group to read if you have questions about any of the IAK (Internet Access Kit) modules or Internet connectivity (as well as network connectivity). Another group that should be read is the alt.org.team-os2 group. Team OS/2 is a collection of users who donate their time and skills to help OS/2 users get the most from OS/2.

Don't forget hardware/software specific groups as well. Many OS/2 users read groups such as comp.periphs.scsi. There are also vendor specific newsgroups (such as Dell or Gateway 2000) that might provide help.

Another Internet resource often overlooked is FTP. Most needed files can be found at an FTP site somewhere in the world. For OS/2 there are a few good sites that have 90% of the needed fixes/shareware/demos/etc... These include Hobbes, CDROM, LEO (Link to Everything Online), and Team OS/2's FTP site.

One great electronic resource some users of OS/2 overlook is the on-line help that comes with OS/2. You can press F1 at anytime to get help (just like Windows), and you can choose to look through all the help files on your hard drives (one better than Windows). You can also get error and command specific help from the command line by typing help .

Also included with Warp is AskPSP. This can be a very valuable tool for problem solving once you have OS/2 up and running. (Refer to the Up and Running book that came with OS/2 for more information). If you use and like AskPSP, updates can be had on the IBM Technical Connection CD-ROM. This is a must have for anyone planning on supporting more than one install of OS/2 Warp on different machines. Call IBM at 1-800-992-4777 for more info.

There are also forums on Compuserve, Prodigy, and America Online for OS/2 users, not to mention a number of local BBS's that support OS/2. Ask around at your local computer stores that sell OS/2 to see if there are any in your area. IBM also has an OS/2 BBS (the documentation that comes with Warp explains how to access it).

Next, lets look at printed resources for OS/2. The first place to look if you have OS/2 already is the box. The manual, while somewhat thin for power users, has many valuable tips. It also has the phone numbers to call to get the official IBM tech manuals, a must have if you plan to program, or if you are just of a curious nature. Also included in the box is a string of subscription cards for most of the available periodicals for OS/2. For those of you who have long ago lost the box or never had the box (if you use Warp at work) here is a list of names and phone numbers (if available).

There are also many books being released now for OS/2 Warp. Many of them fall in under the $50 mark and include a CD-ROM full of shareware or some other useful items. Since there isn't enough room to review them here right now, I will simply recommend you pick up one of the above magazines and see if they have any rave reviews.

A trend has been developing in recent years that is making it harder and harder to get live phone support from a vendor. The good news is that you still get free support for Warp. The main number for IBM software support is 1-800-992-4777. The fax back support from this number is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also get prompts to more specific help, such as the free 60 day startup support (407-994-4777).

Another place to look for support is in resellers. Granted, the local Best Buy may sell Warp, but they probably know as much about it as you know about nuclear physics. The resellers I am talking about are the OS/2 mail order specialty shops and local OS/2 consultants. The Sources & Solutions Directory is a very good place to look for both. Many resellers also have Web pages you can find through links on the pages above. For business users, a local consultant may be just the ticket you need to get your site up and running on OS/2. Check the local yellow pages or call IBM and ask if there are any local consultants/resellers they recommend.

Well, I think that is a good enough start for now. Just remember, if you are new to OS/2 just look around, the help you need is there. IBM may not have the flashy ads of Microsoft, but they do have one of the best desktop operating systems today. Don't take my word for it, go out and see for yourself.

Heath Phillippi is curently a Customer Engineer for AmeriData, Inc. in Appleton Wisconsin. He is the OS/2 Warp Champion for the OS/2 BESTeam, as well as a proud member of Team OS/2.

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