Linfield's Line- by Kevin Linfield

Well, after last month's column, I wonder how many of you have returned to read this one. Bitching and moaning about companies and products is something we all do, yet most of us are afraid to do in public (I consider Usenet and WWW sites public). Last month, I wrote about problems I saw in IBM's new version of OS/2 (code named Merlin) and I am quite surprised at the overall reaction I received. I also noticed that I made the "hit list" in comp.os.os2.advocacy and although the initial post was very negative, many of you came to my defense. Based on the responses I received (and read), I feel that I can categorize OS/2 e-Zine! 's readership into different classes.

1. Rational People

Most of the e-mail and Usenet postings I received/read were positive. It would appear that many people feel I brought up some very disturbing trends of IBM and where (and how) it is positioning OS/2. I'm guessing that this group of people are home users and like myself, are scared of losing OS/2 to the corporate market (like what happened to AIX a number of years ago). I was pleased to note that most of the e-mail messages were polite, and while agreeing (or disagreeing) with me, a few respondents tried to find alternatives to my conclusions.

2. Irrational People

A minority of the messages (and posts) I received were downright rude. A few called me some nasty names and wanted to know why I was abandoning the OS/2 userbase. One respondent appeared to take things personally and did his darnest to get me into a flame war. Another e-mailed Trevor (editor of e-Zine! ) and wanted to know why a negative article was allowed to be in e-Zine!. Lucky for me no-one tried to bomb my mailbox and although everyone is entitled to their opinion, it would have been nice if those who were nasty had waited a day after typing their message before sending it off.

3. The Silent Majority

I'm sure most people who read my rant did nothing about it. No letter to the editor, no flame to me, nothing. They probably felt that it was not worth the effort, or that their time could be spent doing better things.

So, now that the aftermath is over, let us get some things straight. I have not abandoned OS/2. Quite the contrary, I have been using OS/2 since 2.0 and run it on my home machine, my notebook, and my work PC. I started writing professionally in April 1994 when I felt that the Canadian magazines were ignoring OS/2. I have reviewed many OS/2 software packages, and as stated in Linfield's List, my writing has appeared in many Canadian publications.

Has my opinion of Merlin changed? I now have a copy, and have installed it on my 486DX66 with 16 MB of RAM. (You can check out my bug reports and comments on comp.os.os2.beta. Search for the keyword Kevin.) If you have anything less than I have, you will be quite disappointed. This thing thrashes my hard drive, and I didn't install any of the Bonus Pak, OpenDOC, networking features, nor many of the accessories. It looks great, but there is not a heck of a lot of new features that I can use (or need to use). VoiceType is what I want, but I do not have the financial resources to upgrade to a Pentium 133 with 48 MB of RAM (Donations graciously accepted :).

Now that IBM has stated its recommendation that you will need a MINIMUM of a 486DX33 with 16 MB of RAM for Merlin (with NO voice support), I hope others realize that this will not necessarily be an easy upgrade for millions of OS/2 users. I'll freely admit that Merlin sounds great, but I currently don't have the hardware (or the money to upgrade) to be able to take advantage of many of its features. What else can I say? Only time will tell.

Kevin Linfield is a Toronto based consultant and a freelance writer. He can be reached via e-mail at Be sure to check out Linfield's List, Kevin's favourite OS/2 Freeware.

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