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Pictures from Sept. 1999

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SCOUG was there!

Copyright 1998-2024, Southern California OS/2 User Group. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

SCOUG, Warp Expo West, and Warpfest are trademarks of the Southern California OS/2 User Group. OS/2, Workplace Shell, and IBM are registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation. All other trademarks remain the property of their respective owners.

The Southern California OS/2 User Group
"PC Dave" Gets Your OS/2 Running

OS/2 Forum Leader on AOL is an Installation Zealot

Installs, Upgrades, Disasters -- This Is Your Man

by Peter Skye

A CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE --- Some words have so many uses you can't even count them all.  Take the word "joint," and let's see what first comes to mind.  If you're mechanical, it's "universal joint," a linkage that rotates at any angle.  Athletic?  It's what hurts when you've got tennis elbow.

           If you spent the late '60s in Haight-Ashbury, it's a dollop of enjoyment typically passed among friends.  Self-employed at night?  The "joint" is where you end up when your lawyer can't get you sprung.  And if you build model airplanes, it's where the glue line is.

           And then, if you hail from New York, it's a place to hang out with the sometimes-seedy side of society.  You know, as in "this joint has a lot of atmosphere."  There's a well-worn bar, a casually-swept floor, and Mick The Block Boss holding an audience at table 3.  "How was dinner?" you're asked when you get home.  "The joint was crammed," you say.

The Busboy Works For Mick

           I met Dave Swartz in the neighborhood joint where, not being familiar patrons, we were led to the back and seated at a small table next to the kitchen door.  A scowling waiter took our order, and as the busboy rattled dishes a step or two from my right ear and the night manager kept a watchful eye on our silverware, Dave and I hunched closer together and began discussing the business of the day.


Forum Leader Extraordinaire

           Dave is the OS/2 Forum Leader for America Online.  Stop and think about that.  There's something like 14 million AOL subscribers, and a decent number of them do use OS/2.  Heck, there are members of the Southern California OS/2 User Group who use America Online.  The leader of a well-known OS/2 Internet SIG uses America Online.  AOL is a powerful resource for OS/2 users.

           And the man creating that power is Dave Swartz.

           "The big issues on the AOL OS/2 Forum are installation, drivers and configuration" says Dave, "and we're heavily involved with new users.  Did you know that IBM recommends the AOL OS/2 Forum for new-user help?  And I refer a decent number of questions back to my contacts at IBM.  Sure, AOL is heavy with Windows and Mac users, but we've also got plenty of OS/2 users who don't want to snoop around the Internet for two hours trying to get an answer or a driver."  Dave's voice drops to a serious tone.  "When you use the Internet, you're on your own when you've got to get some information.  When you use AOL, you come to the OS/2 Forum, to our online volunteers and to me, and you get your answer in one place.  No searching through FAQ lists.  No clicking through 2,000 hits from a search engine.  Do you realize how much time the average Internet user wastes in a month chasing down dead ends?"

Fresh Air

           Oh, to live the quiet, serene, no-Internet life again.  Montana, the quiet land that no one really knows, was the December 1947 birthplace of Dave Swartz.  His family moved to Salt Lake City when he was young, and then to Sacramento where he finished high school.  Dave studied Physics and Applied Math at UC Berkeley but left in his senior year.  He ran frozen yogurt shops in Berkeley and Beverly Hills for a while.  He liked to play soccer.  He became a micropower radio fanatic.

           The first computer he ever worked on was an IBM 1620, while in college.  It was designed for fast arithmetic, and IBM's engineer's (fully aware that the arithmetic processing units of the day were mighty slow) threw technology out the window and used table lookup.  To add 6 and 5, you looked in location x65 for the result and any carry; same for the other functions.  The cycle times were a lot less than ripple adders, and with a little hacking of the lookup tables you could do math in any base you wished.

           Dave also used a CDC 6400 (built by Seymour Cray) that was at Berkeley for student use only.  Computers would eventually come back to haunt him; he was hooked.

Warp Just Runs

           "I don't really want to run software.  I want to get it running.  That's the fun; that's the challenge."  Dave leans back in his chair and gives me a satisfied look.  "AOL is geared to new users.  The thing that we like and have the most fun with is helping a new OS/2 user get started.  You get 50 hours per month on the AOL installation diskette, which you can download if you've been tossing them, and that should be way more than you'll need to get any installation problems resolved.  The OS/2 Forum has a great track record for getting OS/2 running.  And that's basically what we do."

           "People don't get it.  Nobody complains about stuff that works.  That's why Windows gets so much press.  People need all those Windows articles so they can figure out how to make it work the way they want.  OS/2 users don't have nearly as many problems, so they don't check in that much once they're running."

           "That's why AOL is basically Windows with some Mac support.  Those are the people who need the most help.  To compare, take Linux.  Linux has 7 million users.  These are the young kids who are writing the next century's software.  They're smart enough to skip Windows and the Mac."

Getting There

           Dave's electronic climb to the top rung took a twisting path.  His first personal computer was a Tandy 386SX, on which he used Tandy's DeskMate shell.  "Tandy," he says, "sold a lot of PCs into the home market.  They were popular systems."  He ran and liked Geoworks.

           He then installed OS/2 2.0 on that machine, "flawlessly" he adds.  He upgraded the hardware with an Adaptec SCSI card, a 200 MB drive and a Toshiba CD-ROM, choosing Toshiba because OS/2 supported it.  He joined both SCOUG and POSSI to show his support.

The AOL Choice

           First he tried Prodigy, but didn't like the ads and switched to America Online.  "AOL," Dave reminds me, "started as QLink on the Apple".

           AOL had a DOS Forum where OS/2 users would congregate; the OS/2 Forum was eventually split off from the DOS Forum.  Dave was a heavy user and was asked by Audrey Beck, the OS/2 Forum Leader who was based in Minnesota, to help out.  Within a month he was the OS/2 Forum Librarian, and when Audrey left in the spring of 1995 he became the OS/2 Forum Leader.  In 1996 he also became the DOS Forum Leader, bringing the two groups back within shouting distance.

           "I spend 30 to 40 hours each week on OS/2 Forum tasks," Dave explains to me, "and I also work 15 hours each week at USC Hospital, where I'm involved in an OS/2 'legacy application' and a Novell NetWare 'Groupwise' mail system.  And I'm a Process Operator for Chevron in El Segundo and an active Union Steward in the OCAW."  Clearly, Mr. Swartz is a busy guy.

The Exclusive Swartz Software And Hardware List

           Dave uses Object Desktop and ZipMe, and owns the Watcom C/C++ compiler which he plays with.  And a peek inside his machine shows he also uses antivirus programs from IBM, Dr. Solomon's and McAfee, SmallED, PMJPEG, Deskman/2, Lotus SmartSuite, ScreenSaver, GammaTech Utilities, Orange Hill, "everything that Sundial Systems sells" (that would be Relish, Mesa 2, Clearlook and DBExpert), everything from Stardock and SofTouch Systems, BackAgain/2, PMPGP and PGP, Partition Magic and System Commander on his machine.  He tries out just about all the new OS/2 software.  And he's adamant about one thing:  "I pay for all shareware I continue to use after I've tried it.  If nobody buys it, there eventually won't be any!"

           "What kind of a modem does an AOL OS/2 Forum Leader use?" I inquire.  "I've got some USRobotics Sportsters and an old Practical Peripherals 28.8," Dave replies.  He's running a dual Pentium 166 MHz "home made clone," along with a couple of other Pentiums and a 486 EISA machine.  "The usual stuff," says Dave.

Ponder This

           So what, exactly, are the benefits of AOL membership?  "In the OS/2 Forum we've got Message Boards, Email and twice-a-week real time chat sessions covering all aspects of OS/2.  Chat sessions are great, you just get online and talk like you're in a meeting.  Problems get solved fast this way.  We've had some incredible guests like Tim Sipples, Brad Wardell from Stardock, Felix Cruz, Randell Flint and Rollin White from Sundial Systems, Paul Hethmon, Dave Moskowitz, REXX expert Dick Goran -- the list is endless."

           Dave continues, explaining how the Message Boards are similar to Internet newsgroups but more heavily moderated for language.  He adds that they've got the OS/2 Fixpaks online (they've got IBM's permission to distribute these files) so you can download a Fixpak and get help on installing it all from one source.

           "And AOL has a great Email system that is easy to use, and you get multiple user accounts even though you only pay for one master account.  That's great for family use.  And also very important, in a family environment, is our parental control features over online and Internet access.  Plus, we're easy to use.  Young people and those who really aren't computer savvy can just sit down and use it."

           That's good news for parents.  How about the computer literate?

           "When you run OS/2 you get AOL's convenience, ease of use and online manageability, and still have the clearly superior performance and stability of OS/2.  Lots of people are still running Warp 3 with the Fixpaks that IBM supplies for free.  IBM doesn't lie about flaws in their code, they do admit to them and they endeavor to do something about fixing them.  Consider this:  OS/2 works far better than Windows and nobody, whether it be a big-time corporation or the regular folks next door, likes to be bled to death by pointless 'upgrades' as is happening right now with Windows 98.  OS/2 costs less than Windows due to its lower hardware requirement, and WorkSpace On-Demand, even for only 4-5 desktops, makes sense because you've centralized all your support -- if the user's computer breaks, you throw it out, set down a new box, turn it on, and up pops that user's screen."

Information Is Our Job

           "We're a good source for lots of power user info, too," continues Dave.  "For example, suppose you don't want Warp 4 to use its Plug 'n' Play sniffers.  When you're installing, hit Alt-F1 when you first boot from the install diskettes and hit Alt-F1 again at the first boot from the hard drive.  If you do this, the Plug 'n' Play sniffers will not run at all.  I got this info indirectly from IBM's Sam Detweiler, and put it up on AOL's OS/2 Forum so everyone could benefit."

           "Or suppose you're still running Warp 3 and need Win32s subsystem 1.15 because that's what Warp 3 would support.  That was a Microsoft 'add-on/extension' for Windows 3.x and was originally distributed by Microsoft but later removed as newer versions of the Win32s subsystem became available.  Warp 3 required the 1.15 version.  We've got it, thanks to the AOL Windows Forum Leaders who kept it specifically for us to use.  We work together to integrate the subsystem pieces that your particular installations need.  If you've got Warp 4, you need version 1.25 of Win32s instead, and we've got that too."

           "Have an old DOS game that you can't get to run on OS/2?  We've got programs that fix that.  Need an init string for your modem?  We've got them.  Need to run old CP/M programs on OS/2?  Check with us.  AOL is different from the Internet.  We're a business; it's our job to give you the information and files you need."

AOL And Its Volunteers

           "AOL works as a 'family oriented service' because the people who are on the front lines of keeping it running treat each other very much like a large, extended family.  Some of these people our members 'see' online and a lot of others are not as visibly present in that their work is more 'behind the scenes'.  For instance, there's Robin.  She's worth the membership fee right there," Dave muses.  "Robin has been an AOL Online Forum Leader for a long time.  She does a lot to help us, both in front of and behind the scenes.  She has been, for example, invaluable in building many of our AOL screens.  She helps and encourages the membership, she helps and encourages us, she helps and encourages everybody.  Robin is one of the finest examples of online professionalism I have ever met.  Besides that, her technical prowess is awesome.  I'm very proud and grateful that we've got her on AOL."

           Dave's on a roll.  "Or there's Simon.  Simon is the coordinator for our entire 'Channel' on AOL.  He's the one who gets us the resources to do what we need to do.  Simon doesn't necessarily care much for or about OS/2 personally one way or the other.  However, he's one of the major reasons we have an OS/2 forum here on AOL in the first place!  And that's just my point:  We help each other out around here, regardless of our opinions.  We don't say 'no'.  We genuinely care for each other and I think it shows in the online environment we try to create for all."

AOL, The Family

           As I listen to Dave talk about his AOL family, I finally get a true understanding of its difference from the Internet.  The Internet can be a cold, lonely place.  AOL is, indeed, a "family".

           "I could go on and on about the volunteer 'heart' of AOL," continues Dave.  "There's Tom who built our file library system.  There's Kevin, the wizard of 'how to do it' who leads our PC Help Center.  Or there's Gerry, who builds promos for the events and chats we do and puts up with my horrendous typos.  And then there's Joyce who, along with Kevin, is creating and evolving a never ending series of classes and tutorial discussions.  Did I mention Dan, Leader of the Windows Forum who also handles the volunteer system for all of us?  And we've got Chris, a Mac man who's also our guru of Hardware.  Alas, time is short . . . for every person I mention to you, there are ten more who are just as spectacular."

It's Free to Try

           So suppose you want to give AOL a try.  What, exactly, do you do?

           "The AOL software installs in a Windows session," Dave says, "and the installer needs a full screen Win-OS/2 session.  The OS/2 installer will recognize AOL if it's already been installed on your machine under Windows."

           "The installed AOL software can run in either Full Screen or Window.  It won't give you any trouble.  It even runs on LANs, including on OS/2 machines on your LAN.  Run it under Win-OS/2 standard or, preferably, enhanced mode.  The online help for WIN_RUN_MODE explains how to do so."

           Many people join AOL for a few months just to have access to the OS/2 Forum.  AOL currently offers new members "50 hours free."  AOL membership, presumably after those first 50 hours, is $20 per month.


Dave Swartz, AOL OS/2 Forum Leader,

America Online,


BackAgain/2 by CDS Inc.,

Clearlook, see Sundial Systems

DBExpert, see Sundial Systems

Deskman/2 by Development Technologies,

Dr. Solomon's,

GammaTech Utilities, see SofTouch Systems, Inc.


Linux, search on Yahoo (returns categories as well as sites)

Lotus SmartSuite, for OS/2 Warp,


Mesa 2, see Sundial Systems


Object Desktop, see Stardock Systems, Inc.

Partition Magic by PowerQuest Corporation,

PMJPEG by PixVision Software,

POSSI, The Phoenix OS/2 Society, Inc.,

Relish, see Sundial Systems

SCOUG, The Southern California OS/2 User Group,

SofTouch Systems, Inc.,

Stardock Systems, Inc.,

Sundial Systems,

System Commander by V Communications,


USRobotics, now merged with 3Com,; USRobotics modem support is at

Watcom C/C++ compiler, Powersoft merged with Sybase in 1995,, news://

Section List

The Busboy Works For Mick
Forum Leader Extraordinaire
Fresh Air
Warp Just Runs
Getting There
The AOL Choice
The Exclusive Swartz Software And Hardware List
Ponder This
Information Is Our Job
AOL And Its Volunteers
AOL, The Family
It's Free to Try

The Southern California OS/2 User Group
P.O. Box 26904
Santa Ana, CA 92799-6904, USA

Copyright 1998 the Southern California OS/2 User Group. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

SCOUG is a trademark of the Southern California OS/2 User Group.
OS/2, Workplace Shell, and IBM are registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation.
All other trademarks remain the property of their respective owners.