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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. Grass roots 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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To begin this month: an apology to you, the OS/2 user. Last month in the Beta File, e-Zine! reported that Cybercom would be releasing a demo version of their much-anticipated AccuCount/2 software within a few days of that issue of the mag... Well folks, you probably know that never happened. The demos have been delayed once again while the AccuCount/2 team finishes stamping out a bug in one of the demo's device and process management routines.

Cybercom promises that this fix will be completed within "mere days", and once that happens you'll be able to download the demo version directly from Cybercom's web site. (This link isn't valid yet, but it should be in a few days, so attach an URL-Minder flag to it or something to let you know when it changes.) To keep abreast of all the latest info about AccuCount/2, check out Cybercom's Status page.

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Moving right along, for those of you who use McAfee VirusScan to keep your OS/2 system healthy and happy, on June 25th McAfee updated VirusScan for OS/2 to version 3.02, bringing it to the same service level as its Win95/NT counterparts. (Finally!) If you'd like to try VirusScan for OS/2 before purchasing, McAfee offers evaluation versions of VirusScan free for download and use for 30 days. Fill out the form to let them know who you are (mention you're interested in the OS/2 version!), and download either a self-installing version or a manually-installed version. Every 6 to 8 weeks, McAfee releases new DAT files which allow you to combat the latest viruses, and these can be downloaded free from McAfee's DAT site.

Now VirusScan for OS/2 is still a text-based application, but e-Zine! has been told by reliable sources that the McAfee development department is looking into hiring/contracting an OS/2 programmer or two to develop a GUI version of VirusScan -- it seems that McAfee has realized their hold on the OS/2 antivirus market isn't as strong as it used to be (IBM and C_Prot both have OS/2 AV products), so McAfee may be thinking about remedying the situation. Now would be a perfect time for all of you virus-conscious users out there to let McAfee know the OS/2 world is interested in their products, and urge them to port more of their NT products to OS/2.

Contact McAfee and let them know that more OS/2 products would be appreciated (and more importantly, would be economical for them).

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Now, to Netscape. If you haven't heard already, there was a 'stealth upgrade' of Netscape Navigator for OS/2 released on June 27th, one which fixes some of the bugs of the March 31 version -- a partial list of glitches fixed can be found in the Time-line section of the Unofficial Netscape for OS/2 home page. (Which, by the way, has changed addresses; Dan Libby is now maintaining it, so be sure to update your bookmarks to the new address.) The new version of Netscape can be downloaded from the usual place: Netscape for OS/2's official home page.

IBM's Netscape Plug-in Pack was also updated at the same time. According to Lauren Post of the development team: "OpenMPEG has a lot of fixes... Here are some of the new things:

If you find any bugs in the new Plug-in Pack, Lauren requests you let her know by posting a bug report to comp.os.os2.multimedia where she can see it.

Still on the subject of Netscape, two of the members of the Netscape Communicator for OS/2 team are going to be available on IRC on July 18th. Join the Undernet IRC channel #OS2 at 8:00 PM (EST), and you'll be able to ask questions of Mike Kaply and Dan Libby, two of Netscape's OS/2 gurus. Since this IRC session will be moderated, any questions you ask will actually be directed to the moderator, who will forward the questions on to Mike and Dan when they're ready for a new question. This way, they aren't bombarded with a thousand questions so fast they can't answer any of them.

If you have serious questions about the development of Communicator for OS/2, this is the place to ask them. This IRC session was coordinated by the "Soundoff With..." event series, a program designed to bring ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) and the public closer together. More information can be found at the "Soundoff With.." home page.

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In other news, Stardock has released an update and a demonstration version of their PlusPak: PMINews product. PlusPak: PMINews 1.01a (the released version and the demo are at the same code level) incorporates a number of fixes and enhancements over the 1.0 release reviewed in last month's OS/2 e-Zine!, which are said to include better handling of character set translation and improved database algorithms to enhance performance.

While our review last month was generally positive toward the initial release, it closed by suggesting that waiting for the first update might be in order (it's always a good idea to play it safe with the initial release of any product). Well, that update is here and so is a demo (which is nice). Interested users should seek the appropriate file on Stardock's web site.

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Some months ago, the 'teamos2.org' domain (former home of the main North American TeamOS/2 web site), was lost to the OS/2 world when a malicious hacker reportedly broke in to its ISP's computer system and did some nasty things. Even after TeamOS/2.org's ISP had repaired the damage and increased security, the web site remained down for various reasons (which differ, depending on who you ask), so the large amount of OS/2-related information TeamOS/2.org had hosted was lost.

However, recently another group has reopened the TeamOS/2.org domain, and is working hard at building the site up to be a must-have site for OS/2 users again. In order to make themselves into a great site, the people at the new TeamOS/2 Online are asking for your help, and offering you some great stuff in exchange.

The site is currently running two contests, and entries are being accepted until July 22nd. The first contest is a challenge to produce some top-notch graphics for the new site, including a logo, buttons, backgrounds, etc., while the second involves the creation of the web site itself, including HTML/Java design, browser compatibility, and loading time. Full details on the contest rules and guidelines can be found at TeamOS/2 Online's contest page.

Of course, the TeamOS/2 Online crew doesn't expect you to do any if this for free! A slew of software vendors have donated their products to be used as prizes for the contest, including SofTouch Systems, Lotus, Stardock Systems, Panacea, and more.

To win some great software and help out the OS/2 community at the same time, submit your entries to TeamOS/2 Online today!

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Now, to hardware support. The Connectix QuickCam is a popular computer video camera used for various tasks, including Internet video conferencing. However, Connectix only produces Windows and Macintosh drivers for their cameras, and since Connectix is being fairly secretive about how the QuickCam's VIDEC compression is implemented, it's anything but easy for third-party developers to produce drivers with features equivalent to those on Windows and the Mac. OS/2 has third-party drivers for the QuickCam, but if Connectix made development information freely available to the OS/2 (and other platforms) developers, the drivers could be better.

Hanno Mueller has started a campaign to attempt to convince Connectix that it's good business for them to allow third-party driver developers to use the VIDEC compression format; if they can, then the drivers they produce will have more features, and will cause more people on that third-party platform (like OS/2) to buy Connectix QuickCams. The campaign has many supporters from various platforms, including the developers of OS/2's own QuickCam drivers. If you own a QuickCam, it's in your best interest to support this campaign, because it means better quality OS/2 drivers for you if Connectix sees the light.

So if you use the QuickCam under OS/2, or have ever wanted to use it under OS/2, why not visit the Free VIDEC Campaign home page and add your name to those already on the list. You won't be agreeing to boycott, berate or blow up Connectix, all you're doing is adding your voice to the masses who want the QuickCam to be usable by everybody, not just by operating systems that Connectix wants to support.

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News Flash: Creative Labs ends OS/2 Driver Drought!

Creative Labs has confirmed that they will be releasing a patched AWE 32 driver to support the AWE 64 card. This driver will not support the newer Creative technologies and will probably not provide any more functionality over the current AWE 32 driver except for AWE 64 support. Whether it contains bug fixes is not known; neither is it known whether Creative will be adding features or fixing bugs with future versions.

We can only hope and stay tuned...

The driver should be available soon at the Creative Labs web page and shortly afterwards at Colin Hildinger's AWE32 and OS/2 page. (In fact, you should probably check Colin's page first. --ed.)

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News of another grass roots program all OS/2 users might be interested in came to OS/2 e-Zine! this month. As you may know, OS/2 does not have a whole lot of software out there which can take advantage of today's voice modems. Sacha Prins, author of the shareware Answering Machine for OS/2, has put forward a proposal for a joint development effort for OS/2 voice modem software. Since not many OS/2 developers by themselves have access to a large numbers of voice modems, it's difficult to make a voice modem application compatible with more than a handful of hardware types -- each modem has subtle differences from others which make compatibility difficult. According to Sacha:

"Hence my posting. I myself lack the resources (modems, time) to finish a good application in this lifetime. However, a joint effort could result in a useful program. Therefore I have set up a mailing list, have reserved some space on our corporate web-server, and am willing to invest time into a project that may result in something beautiful. If you are interested in this also, either to discuss, or participate or for another reason, subscribe to the mailing list and visit the web-pages every now and then."
To subscribe yourself to the mailing list, send an e-mail message to voicemodems-request@businessnet.net, and include the following two lines in the message:
Contributions to the mailing list should be sent to voicemodems@businessnet.net, and any problems should be e-mailed to Sacha. Information about the project will be stored at the VoiceModems web page; at the moment it's empty, but as more people join the campaign, it'll no doubt fill out somewhat. If you have a modem with voice capability and want to help develop software for it, or even if you just want to know what's being done, this project is a good way to keep up on the latest.

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Lastly, IBM has finally released an entry-level evaluation versions of its Visual Age for Java development software. Available for both OS/2 and Windows, the entry-level version is virtually identical to the Professional version of the product -- the main limitations of the evaluation version include:

To run VisualAge for Java, IBM recommends a Pentium or higher, and the program requires at least 32 megs of RAM (48 is better), and anywhere from 45 to 100 megs of free hard disk space. (The actual VAJ evaluation download for OS/2 is around 20 megabytes in size.) More information can be obtained from VisualAge for Java's home page.

The Professional version of VisualAge for Java is set to be released on July 25th, and is expected to cost around US$99, as opposed to close to US$2000 for the enterprise version.

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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!

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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