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News from the OS/2 World- by Ryan Dill

Greetings all, and welcome again to OS/2 e-Zine! 's monthly news update. This column is designed to go over certain topics that e-Zine! 's own News Folder might have missed, or only glossed over.

We still believe our News Folder can't be beat when it comes to up-to-the-minute, accurate information, but it usually contains more "official" things like press releases and such. This column will include a bit more detail about things we think are of interest to OS/2 users everywhere. Grassroots support, off-the-record news and updates -- stuff that other sources may have missed -- you name it, we've got it!

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InnoVal Systems Solutions, makers of the popular Post Road Mailer, have announced that the first beta of their Java version of Post Road should be available towards the end of January in 1998. The company hasn't yet decided how the beta testing program will be organized, and they're asking for user input. The options are as follows:

If you have any other options you think InnoVal might be interested in, or if you want to voice your opinion on which of the above methods is best, e-mail InnoVal and let them know.

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VOICE, the Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education group, will be hosting a special IRC (Internet Relay Chat) session in channel #voice on Wednesday December 17th at 9PM EST (02:00 12/18/97 GMT). The session's special guest is Timothy Sipples of IBM's Networking Software Group, who will be talking about networking OS/2 in a home/SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) setting. According to VOICE: "This is your chance to ask an expert those burning questions you have about connecting your OS/2 boxes to one-another."

Note that VOICE's regular IRC meeting is still on for 8PM EST, an hour before the special presentation. For more information about using IRC in OS/2, see the IRC page at Judy's Warped World.

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Those who use Epson printers under OS/2 have had a lot happening the past few weeks. You may or may not know that Epson Germany produces their own version of Epson printer drivers for OS/2, different from those shipped by default in Warp 4. (OS/2's popularity in Germany has prompted many German companies to offer top-notch OS/2 support, Epson among them.) The drivers produced by Epson Germany are slower than IBM's own drivers, but offer better printing at higher resolutions and support for more printers.

Since August, the drivers were freely available for download from Epson Germany's web site as the company prepared to have Epson in other countries (like Epson America) share in the cost of developing the drivers. Around mid-November, Epson Germany removed the drivers from their web site, citing lack of demand from Epson's other subsidiaries and not enough money to maintain them for worldwide use themselves. (Epson America, for example, seems completely uninterested in supporting these OS/2 drivers, or even spreading news of their existence. Rumours suggest this may be due to anti-OS/2 pressure from developers of a certain non-OS/2 operating system.) In the meantime, the drivers were posted to public FTP sites including Hobbes in North America and LEO in Germany. The drivers were eventually removed from Hobbes, but Leo kept a copy.

Due to huge response from Epson users worldwide, Epson Germany has slightly reconsidered their position, and not only will they now offer the drivers for download again, but they've updated them. You can find both the previous version (v1.011) and the current version (v1.020) on Hobbes now, as epson_driver_v1011.zip and epson_driver_v1020.zip. (Once the drivers move out of the /incoming directory, search for the files by name). However, in the README file, the developers at Epson Germany state this update will be the last; development of OS/2 drivers from this point has been frozen. (By the way, IBM has recently updated its own OMNI drivers for Epson printers, which you can find here)

Feel free to send a note to Epson Germany (such as the registration form in the driver package) to thank them for the updated drivers, and to encourage them to find a way that can continue to be developed. Additionally, writing to Epson in other countries and requesting they help out rather than sitting on their hands would be a benefit. Epson America's address is below, while those of other countries can be found at Epson's world map.

EPSON Deutschland GmbH
Zülpicher Strasse 6
40549 Düsseldorf
Ph.: (+49 211) 508 2700
Fx.: (+49 211) 504 7787
Epson America
20770 Madrona Avenue, D1-04A
P.O. Box 2842, Torrance, CA, 90509-2842
Ph.: 1-800-GO-EPSON
Fx.: 1-800-442-2007

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Some recent updates to OS/2 that users may be interested in:

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Cramon Utilities, makers of OS/2's popular B.U.G.S. arcade game, are sponsoring a B.U.G.S. high score competition, with Stardock software up for grabs as prizes. The rules: simply play PlusPak: B.U.G.S. until your family and friends start telling you it's unhealthy, and that, "you should really get out more." Once you feel you've come up with a respectable score, send your B.U.G.S. high scores (the BUGS.SCR file in your game directory) via e-mail to Ingo Guenther with the subject line 'Highscore Contest'.

A few other rules: only people using version 1.02 of the game are eligible to enter, and only one high score per person will be used. (If you send in more than one, they'll only use the most recent one when they do the judging.) Lastly, if your high scores haven't arrived via e-mail by January 1st of '98 (Whoops... '1998'; darn Year 2000 bugs!), then they won't be counted.

Now the important stuff -- the goodies. The person with the highest high score will receive a copy of Stardock's Galactic Civilizations software v2.1, with a free upgrade to version 2.5 and a free copy of the Galactic Civilizations Expansion Pack. The second-place winner will get a copy of Stardock's Trials of Battle, and the person with the third highest score will win a copy of Stardock's PlusPak: Themes to spice up their Desktop.

The top ten high scores for each difficulty level will become the scores in the default B.U.G.S. high score file, and the top ten entries from the 'Elite' difficulty level will also be added to the PlusPak: B.U.G.S 'Hall of Fame'. If you've always thought you were pretty good at PlusPak: B.U.G.S., now's your chance to prove it.

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That's it for this month. If you have a tip that you want followed up or a news item you think should be reported, don't hesitate to let us know!

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Ryan Dill is a student in Computer Science at Acadia University in Wolfville, NS and OS/2 e-Zine! 's Technical Editor. He is reported to be relieved that, with the advent of Warp 4, talking to your computer is no longer considered a sign of mental instability.

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