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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 the brand new WarpCast News Service (brought to you by OS/2 e-Zine! and the OS/2 Supersite) might have missed or glossed over.

When it comes to up-to-the-minute, accurate information, you'll find that WarpCast can't be beat, but this column will sometimes offer 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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First of all, as we mentioned above, you might notice that our News Folder has a new section this month which we at OS/2 e-Zine! are extremely pleased to be a part of. WarpCast, a brand-spanking-new news service brought to you by OS/2 e-Zine! and the OS/2 Supersite, came into being late last month, and is intended to bring interesting news to OS/2 users as promptly and accurately as possible. The keystone of WarpCast is a moderated mailing list which relies on the combined industry contacts and resources of both its partners. As OS/2 news and tips are unearthed, whether from Internet news groups, other OS/2 users' news pages, from IBM and other ISVs or through direct e-mail to WarpCast staff, each tidbit is weighed in importance, verified as much as possible, and then e-mailed out to all of WarpCast's subscribers.

WarpCast e-mail messages are clearly labeled as such, allowing them to easily be filtered to a convenient mail folder for easier reading by subscribers. All messages include the information of where the news was obtained, who deserves credit for it, and whether it's been verified or is currently just a rumor.

This provides (we believe) the best way of not only keeping up with the latest OS/2 news, but also of getting your own OS/2 news out to a large number of people at one time -- if you have information that you believe would be of interest to OS/2 users, simply e-mail it to news@os2ezine.com and it'll be moderated by WarpCast staff.

You can subscribe to the WarpCast list through the WarpCast subscription form, simply by providing a valid e-mail address. Users have a choice of whether they'd like to receive news as it's posted to the list (immediate delivery) or to receive a digest of the day's messages at the end of each day. And by the time you read this (or shortly after), you'll also be able to browse the daily digests on-line, in e-Zine! 's News Folder.

If you have any questions about the service that aren't answered in the WarpCast FAQ, feel free to let us know.

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A few Netscape tidbits: after all of the fake Communicator screen shots floating around the Internet for the past month or so, Dan Libby of the Communicator for OS/2 team finally revealed some real ones at the beginning of September. You can see them on display at the Communicator section of the Unofficial Netscape for OS/2 page.

The latest word out of Steve Wendt's OS/2 Warp News and Rumours page says that a Communicator beta for OS/2 is due in about a week and a half from today ('today' being e-Zine! 's publication date -- the 16th -- so around the 26th of September), and that internal beta testers say it's working "juuust fine".

Also from the above page, unverified insider information from Dion Gallard:

"...Netscape Communicator will be released as IBM Communicator for OS/2. It will not include the 'groupware' components of Communicator (as it competes with the Lotus stuff). It will also only be available through the 'Software Choice' web site and only be available to those with Upgrade Protection (you'll need a key to download it)..."
In other words, it appears that Communicator will be a commercial product for OS/2, instead of Netscape Corp.'s usual practice (which is a free trial of 90 days, and thereafter still free in cases such as academic institutions). Ick.

This could be why IBM is working hard to make sure you can use Java v1.1 with the older Netscape 2.02: a 'bridge' (currently at the pre-alpha stage) is unofficially available which updates a few files and allows Navigator 2.02 to use your existing Java 1.1 installation instead of the older Java 1.02, as was necessary previously. (One reason for wanting to use Java 1.1 with Netscape is greater speed at running applets.) You can download the bridge from the OS/2 Forum Austria. Keep in mind this is pre-alpha software, so use at your own risk.

Lastly, IBM has recently signed agreements which give it the rights to bundle Netscape Navigator 4.0 with OS/2. Not Netscape Communicator, just the browser portion. Now we know from comments and screen shots (see above) from the Communicator for OS/2 team that more than just the browser already exists, so this licensing agreement doesn't necessarily mean that IBM is never going to let the rest of Communicator see the light of day; it's already programmed, so that would be dumb and wasteful. It does mean that IBM is going to be focusing a lot more on the browser portion in the future than the rest of the Communicator suite though.

The reason for this, as mentioned by various people, is that Lotus, now owned by IBM, sells groupware applications like Notes which compete with some of the features in the Communicator suite. Lotus doesn't want IBM bundling the competition, so IBM has had to tread very lightly in this area. Hopefully the Communicator for OS/2 team will be permitted to have their entire effort released to the public. As long as that happens, I personally don't care if only the browser gets bundled with the OS, as anyone who wants the entire suite will still be able to get it from the 'net.

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If you haven't heard yet, QuickTime for OS/2 is almost definitely not going to see the light of day. All of the rumors in the past few months culminated in a comment by an Apple employee on Apple's support site. The comment implies that IBM and Apple parted ways under a mutual agreement, but I've heard contrary rumors that Apple simply abandoned the project, leaving IBM's developers in the lurch. Who knows?

Fortunately, OS/2 still has two excellent options for working with QuickTime content: QuickMotion and MainActor/2. Both are reviewed in this month's issue.

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IBM's been fairly busy this month in terms of updates. It seems every time I turn around, they've released another TCP/IP stack tweak. As I write this, the latest version of TCP/IP is 4.02b, which can be downloaded for update at IBM's OS/2 TCP/IP v4 update page. (To find out the level of TCP/IP you're currently running, type "INETVER" at an OS/2 command prompt.

As well, IBM has released a new version of OS/2's CD system file, CDFS.IFS. The new version includes support for Microsoft's new Joliet CD format, and also adds support for CDs with mixed-case filenames longer than 32 characters, which might be found on various Java toolkit CD-ROMs emerging nowadays. You can download the CDFS.IFS update from OS/2's Device Driver Pack Online.

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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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