the Beta File

Welcome back to the Beta File, your source for the latest breaking news in OS/2 beta development. The big news at the IBM Technical Interchange this month is that there are a lot of OS/2 vendors with products in development, including Lotus (SmartSuite 96) and Stardock (rumoured to have more apps in the pipeline than you can shake a stick at). And that's just the big guys!

Of course, during any given month, we don't come across every company currently in development. What's that you say? You want to help fill out this column? You have a product that you're sure is going to be the next killer app? You want a little free hype? Well get off your keister and drop us a note!

Now, to business.

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Axel Mueller will be beta testing his new Small Internet Dial-In Server package for OS/2 (SIDIS/2) until the end of the month. The test period is a bit short but he does not expect many problems. Over the last one and a half years SIDIS/2 has grown out of the need to provide efficient and reliable Internet access for students at a local campus and since the package has been in daily use for quite some time, Mueller does not expect to receive many bug reports. (Developers are so optimistic!) Obviously there is some interest in this kind of software package as the log file of Mueller's FTP server can attest to.

As you already may have guessed this software package is designed to give people access to a LAN or the Internet via a LAN connected PC and up to 4 (2 currently tested) modems. Shortly before the end of the month there will be a new version which most likely will be shareware at a very reasonable registration fee. The SIDIS/2 package contains programs for 2 major areas:

While there is no official web site at this time, Mueller may arrange one after the beta stage. There is no limit to the number of testers that will be accepted so contact Mueller for further details to join. Depending on the feedback during the beta test, there may be a shareware version some days before or soon after the beta test is over. If there are a lot of problems there may be another beta round.

Mueller says that the final product, "will be available at a price where nobody has to think it over for a long time if he/she wants to register SIDIS/2." If only all developers were so pleasant.

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Also in communications news, Carsten Wimmer and Werner Fehn are currently testing CapiTel, a 32-Bit multithreaded Answering Machine for OS/2 Presentation Manager, which is based on ISDN CAPI 1.1. They promise us an easy to use and fast product with MMPM/2 support which will provide all interesting info about callers.

This beta version will expire on June 1st 1996 and the authors will release a non-beta shareware version then. Further information can be found at the CapiTel web page.

The current test is a public beta, with the main testing being done in Europe, especially Germany. While the final shareware version will be released on June 1st (how's that for a firm prediction?) the final price has not been decided yet. If you're interested, just download the beta from the web-site above and you're ready to go.

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The Number Company, Inc. is currently testing MonetaArbor, a program that employs an inverted tree metaphor to represent selection logic used by list managers in direct-marketing. MA features an intuitive, easy-to-use GUI for adding, deleting, changing, copying, and moving nodes (and subtrees) and supports drag-and-drop. In addition, MA provides the user with a real-time view of each list prospect's tour through the selection tree.

Lead developer, Howard D. Weiner tells us the beta has been ongoing for over a month with 22 testers. The Number Company is still accepting beta participants though; to join, download MonetaArbor from the above WWW site or from BMT Micro.

Final delivery is scheduled for May 15, 1996, the price is expected to be US$99 and the product will start its general availability life as a shareware product. After this, The Number Company intends to make it a commercial product (sometime during the late summer of 1996). Weiner claims that traditional selection is a classic software development activity (labor intensive requiring list managers to rely on the skills of software developers) but that, "MA is a product for list managers who wish to take control of the selection process, eliminate the costs and delays traditional selection development entails, and make the process of selection and the planning of promotions/campaigns real-time."

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Back on the Internet front, Insomniac Software is developing a new usenet news reader for OS/2. The new app will be called Newsbeat/2 and is currently being developed and tested by the lead insomniacs themselves, Vipin Bhargava and Dave Minogue, along with a handful of beta testers.

Anyone reading this column most likely knows what a news reader is but for those who don't, Newsbeat/2 is a full 32-bit, multithreaded, PM USENET newsreader for OS/2. It will support reading, posting, e-mail replies, uuencode/uudecode, kill-files and multi-user logons. In the words of the developers, "Newsbeat/2 is multithreaded, allowing you to read, post, e-mail, uuencode and uudecode, ALL AT ONE TIME!" More info on features and progress can be found at Insomniac's web site.

The beta code was delivered on May first to 15 testers for one month's testing. Unfortunately, this is not a wide beta and no more participants are being accepted but the general availability release should be out by June 15 so you won't have long to wait to see the final product. Expect a shareware registration price of US$30 (or CDN$40).

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Patrick Schulte has been testing his text mode address manager for OS/2, WHO, for about five months now. WHO features the ability to edit, delete, insert, list, sort, print (telephone lists and entries in brief), look up next birthday, search, and etc. through your contact information. Since WHO is a text mode app (boy, this sounds like the Abbott and Costello "Who's on First" routine), it is a very small program for those of you concerned about system resources.

While there is no official web site for WHO, HTML documentation is provided with the program. Schulte is still accepting beta participants as long as they have access to reliable e-mail. For further information contact him at the e-mail address above.

In Schulte's words, "All my betas work fine. So there will perhaps be a full version in the next two or three months..." And put your wallets away, WHO will be released as Freeware! To get a look at the current code, grab who00043.zip from the FTP site.

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Another freeware application currently under development is PageMage by Carlos Ugarte. PageMage is a virtual desktop utility for OS/2 2.1 and up. The key ideas were to emulate some of the features provided by the "fvwm pager", a virtual desktop packaged with the X window manager known as fvwm. When asked what makes PageMage different from other typical virtual desktop programs, Ugarte responded:

  1. It's free.
  2. There are many ways of switching desktops (mouse hitting the edge of the screen, hotkeys, clicking on a desktop, etc).
  3. Many user configurable options.
  4. It's fast (what some users say of it, compared to other virtual desktop programs).
  5. I'm open to suggestions from users.
But don't take his word for it, check out the web page and get more info for yourself. So far it's been an open beta (the file is on the "standard" OS/2 ftp sites) for about a year ago or so. Since then, there have been seven public releases and new testers are always welcome. Just grab the zip file and, if you prefer, e-mail Ugarte to ask to be put on a list maintained to notify folks of new releases.

Ugarte says the program will be finished, "whenever all bugs are fixed, and [he] stops adding new features." I like his honesty. As I mentioned, the app is freeware so no registration is required, although donations are welcome.

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And finally, Adobe is in the OS/2 news with their new "Amber" Acrobat reader for OS/2. Acrobat is a software application that allows reading of Portable Document Files (.pdf files) which are used for publishing application-independent documents (often on the Internet). This initial version is limited in some ways, but Adobe is monitoring how many copies are downloaded so if you have any interest in this type of product drop by their site and grab a copy!

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