Warpstock 99 - A Personal Experience

By: Walter Metcalf
Date: 10/20/99

As I prepared for my first trip to Warpstock, I wasn't sure what to expect. I'd heard quite a lot of hype from the old-time enthusiasts, but I'd also seen OS/2 reeling from a number of recent body blows from its parent--IBM, so I confess that I'd had become a bit discouraged and didn't want to let myself get built up with false expectations. Nevertheless I began to get excited as the day approached.

A series of minor problems had left me somewhat frazzled by the time I arrived Friday night, but Saturday morning when I was more rested and began to meet other OS/2 enthusiasts, Warpstock began to do what many people had told me it does: acts like a shot in the arm!

Many of you took the time to express your appreciation for this website, and I want to thank you for that: it meant a great deal to me. Another source of both surprise and encouragement were the number of IBM employees, some well known, others not so well known, who are strongly committed to OS/2. In fact the large number of IBM employees who took part in Warpstock was a pleasant surprise to everyone involved.

One of the biggest frustrations I felt while at Warpstock was like that felt by a guest at a great banquet: too much food and a limited appetite; my appetite in this case being time! According to the List of Presentations there were 60 presentations (not counting the Welcome, draws, and "Birds of a Feather" sessions) in two days.

Many others I spoke with expressed the same frustrations. (This year Warpstock "broadcast" some of the sessions using live RealAudio. Consideration is also being given to creating a CD containing all of the presentations and making it available to registrants.) Not only was there the frustration of choosing just one among up to four simultaneous presentations all of which I would have found profitable, I also had to leave time to visit all the exhibits and chat with the vendors. I wish now that I'd left more time than I did. That's what I found myself wishing over and over again: there was so many great presentation, great software, and wonderful people that I wished I had at least three days instead of just two to absorb all of it!

There were signs of the rough waters OS/2 is going through. Several vendors in particular were very conspicuous by their absence. In fact, one of the biggest ISV's, had been asked repeatedly to come, but made the decision not to even to make a token appearance. Nobody is pleased with some of the things IBM has done recently, but it would be a real shame if this, or any other, vendor's absence was due to hurt feelings or displeasure with IBM. By not coming they are not hurting IBM, they are hurting their fellow OS/2 users, and probably themselves as well. Other vendors wanted to come but were unable to do so because of travel expense, or even the weather. One report has it that Computer Data Strategies, whom many people were looking forward to seeing because of their new product announcement, was unable to make it because bad weather grounded their plane.1

One exceptional event that played to an overflow crowd was Warped Jeopardy! The game is modelled after the popular television show, with a few Warped variants to add spice. The contestants were David Moskowitz, Judy McDermott, and Larry Finkelstein, and they all did their best to answer questions put forth by guest host Randell Flint. Warped Jeopardy! was sponsored by Sundial Systems. For a more complete report see the Warpcast article Warped Jeopardy!

Several of the vendors that did attend deserve kudos for helping to make up for the absence of others with their enthsusiam. Sundial Systems and Serenity Systems especially seemed to be everywhere and were positively bubbling with enthusiasm. IBM, has already been mentioned, also added a great deal to the conference because of the dedication of the employees who attended, their exhibit, and the number and quality of presentations they put on.

One of the first things I asked myself Saturday morning is why it took me three years to come to a Warpstock convention. Am I going again next year? Assuming I can afford the travel expense--you bet! If you didn't go to Warpstock 99 for whatever reason, you really missed a great event. Be sure to be there next year!

Walter Metcalf

Next week: Kon - A Powerful General-Purpose Editor


1 - Attendance this year was also down to 275 from around 400 last year, but it's hard to say how much of that is due to people leaving OS/2 and how much is due to OS/2 users attending other OS/2 conferences such as WEW or POSSI instead of Warpstock.

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