October 06, 2015

Essential Skills: Securing Wireless Printing

Editor's Note: HP 3000 managers do many jobs, work that often extends outside the MPE realm. In Essential Skills, we cover the non-3000 skillset for such multi-talented MPE experts.

By Steve Hardwick, CISSP 

When you do a security scan of your site, do you consider your printers? It was enough, several years ago, to limit an audit to personal computing devices, servers and routers. But then the era of wireless printing arrived. Printers have become Internet appliances. These now need your security attention, considering some of the risks with printers. But you can protect your appliances just like you're securing your PCs and servers. 

Wireless routerWireless printers can be very easy to set up. They come preconfigured to connect easily, and even a novice user can have something up and running in a matter of minutes. To be able to make this connection simple, however, vendors keep the amount of wireless network configuration to a minimum. Taking the default settings, as always, significantly reduces the amount of security that is applied to the device. 

Modern printers are actually computer platforms that have been designed to run printing functions. Inside are a CPU, hard drive, RAM and operating system components. Unfortunately, a system breach can permit these components to be re-purposed to do other things. And those are things you don't want to happen at your site.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:46 PM in Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

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October 05, 2015

Pursuing Crowd-funding for an MPE Port

Open source software once provided a turbo-boost to the renaissance of the HP 3000 and MPE/iX. For one manager, the concept still holds some promise to improve his 3000's offering.

"Does anyone have a newer port of Apache and SSL for the HP 3000?" Frank Gribbin asked last month. "If not, I know a reliable vendor who can do the port. Anyone interested in crowd-funding the effort?"

CrowdfundingGribbin has long been on the trailblazing path with the 3000. His company was among the first to put Java/iX to work in its production software. At the law firm Potter Anderson LLP, he's done development as a part of testing the Charon emulator, too. 

"Our 3000s are still useful and humming along," he said. "I haven't done anything in Java for awhile. But I've been having a lot of success using the Apache CGI capability to communicate with BASIC programs that access IMAGE databases."

BASIC. Still working in a 3000 installation.

"My interest in Java was to build a better user interface for 3000 apps," he said. "I thought that was one reason the 3000 was losing market share. Once I figured out CGI scripting and a web interface, I put my effort into that. On our 3000, most of the time, BASIC got the job done. I've written supplemental code in FORTRAN, SPL, Java and Visual Basic, too."

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:12 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 02, 2015

3000 Masters make the most of ERP access

Volokhs, Simpkins, SadaatThe MPE/iX servers which service manufacturing users still have feature-growth opportunity. That's the chance to improve usability, an opportunity often presented by third-party add-on software. A few of the 3000 masters met last month to integrate that sort of software. They were widely-known, recognized for advocating MPE computing, or sharing deep ERP background to make a 3000 work smarter and more securely.

Eugene Volokh, Terry Simpkins, and Ali Sadat came together for an afternoon in LA, hunched over laptops and connecting three MPE-savvy software programs. (Of course, Eugene's dad Vladimir couldn't help but look over his son's work.) At the heart of the equation was MANMAN, still in use at Measurement Specialties' 10 HP 3000 sites, running manufacturing and ERP in China and elsewhere. That remains Simpkins' mission. He's also stood up for homesteading, or choosing HP 3000s, ever since the middle '90s. His company was acquired last year by TE Connectivity, a process that sometimes shakes out legacy software and systems. Not this time.

Eugene and Terry SimpkinsHelping Simpkins was Vesoft's Eugene Volokh, co-creator of Security/3000. The servers Simpkins' company uses also use the Vesoft product first launched in the 1980s. Eugene was just a teenager when he helped his dad Vladimir build Security/3000. As you can see from the picture above, one of the most famous members of the 3000 community has gotten older — as have we all.

The summit of these masters was topped up by Ali Sadat (foreground, above), whose Visual Basic user interface runs in front of MANMAN at Simpkins' sites. The product which started in 1997 as AdvanceMan does more than just pretty up users' OMAR and MFG screens with buttons and pull-down menus. By now it's an interface to the Web and XML, and it also lets users work in more than one MANMAN module at a time, plus eliminates the typing of commands to execute MANMAN actions. It doesn't require any changes to existing MANMAN environments. For continuity the screens began as ones that were similar in form to the original MANMAN screens. The flexibility and usability is now an opportunity to use an interface for improvements. That's an improvement to an app that was first released in the late '70s. Sadat's Quantum Software calls the product XactMan by now.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:32 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 01, 2015

Throwback: The 3000 World's Forever Era

ForeverIn the final October that HP was building HP 3000s, the community was still mounting a rally point about the system's future. The Fall of 2003 was presenting the fall of HP's manufacture of MPE/iX servers, although plenty of them would be sold and re-sold in the decade to come. In the waning weeks of that October people wore pins that promised MPE Forever and IMAGE Forever, rebellious chants to shout down HP's 3000 forecast.

The pins were prized at that year's HP World conference in Atlanta. The MPE Forever pin had been re-struck the previous year. The IMAGE Forever pin was harder to locate on caps and polo shirts. Early this week, a 3000 developer and consultant offered one on the 3000-L mailing list. Joe Dolliver reported that it went to the highest bidder, Frank Kelly. "Priceless" was how Dolliver valued the metal stamped as a protest.

As 2003's conference swelled up around the community, the people who supported IMAGE as well as the customers who used MPE's keystone reached out to touch each other's faith during uncertain times. The database, after all, was gaining a consolidated code base so advances like LargeFile datasets would work on some of the oldest PA-RISC systems. It was a more stable and efficient way to handle datasets bigger than 4GB. LargeFile datasets could be dynamically expanded. They were locked up, however, in an MPE release the majority of the customers could not use.

HP was still finding its way to the proper pace for migrations. Some of HP's missing steps were trying the skip the last stands its customers were making on hardware already a decade old.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:12 PM in History | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 30, 2015

The Re-baking of an Abandoned Classic

About five years after Hewlett-Packard stopped building the 3000, another legend ended its sales. Hydrox, the original sandwich cookie and the snack that Oreo copied and knocked off in 1908, fell off the world's grocery orders in 2008. Sometime tomorrow morning, Hydrox Cookies will arrive at ardent fans' doors and mailboxes. 

Hydro_stuffed_biteThis resurrection of a beloved cookie has several things in common with MPE systems of the past. At the heart of each revival is a belief that a better-known product is not necessarily better. That, plus a devotion to research that any return to sales demands. Some 3000 owners believed, from 2004 up to the year Hydrox left the market, that HP would return to 3000 sales. By 2010 there were few who retained such hopes — but by that year a better 3000 was already in development.

Like MPE users, Hydrox consumers know their cookie is superior to something better-known: the Oreo. Leaf Brands made tomorrow's return possible by rescuing the Hydrox trademark from disuse by Kellog's. The cereal company was the last firm to make a Hydrox, but by the end the cookies were being baked using high fructose corn syrup instead of genuine sugar. Unlike Oreos, though, the first ingredient in a Hydrox is flour, not sugar.

Hydrox schoolHewlett-Packard never tinkered with the composition of MPE/iX or the 3000 hardware at the end of its HP lifespan. But the company has transferred its "HP3000" trademark to a VPN server appliance series. A set of HP inkjet printers called the 3000 has also been on the product list since the last HP 3000 rolled off the line in 2003. HP has not abandoned that trademark, but the server's owners haven't dropped their devotion to the product, either. Like the Hydrox fanatics, some 3000 users look forward to a return of MPE-capable systems.

It's like making a new cookie from an original recipe: new MPE boxes have growth options. And like Hydrox, you purchase them in different ways today.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:06 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 29, 2015

ERP migrations move classics onto clouds

Order to Cash

The largest company that's moved its ERP onto the cloud sells pet foods. Pets are one of the fastest-growing industries, and so demand agility and scalability. When Kenandy hosted a webinar today, the $2.3 billion Big Heart Pet Brands was at the top of the company's customer list. But there's also a family-owned sewing machine manufacturer in the Kenandy lineup.

That sounds like a mirror of the 3000 manufacturer community — companies large like Big Heart, a division of the JM Smuckers. And privately-held firms that have devoted followings. Everyone would like to be leaner in the IT department. If your reaction to that statement is "Well, not me," then you might be representing a view that won't sync with company directors and owners.

OTC AdvancedCloud ERP promises to take the IT plumbing off a to-do list, but it can't carry business intelligence to outside applications running on web-connected hosts. ERP applications are notorious for being fine-tuned program suites that have been tempered and shaped by decades of insider business practices. From the invoice to the bill of materials practices, ERP touches every aspect of work.

Kenandy's Director of Client Services Rohan Patel dove deep into the particulars of what Kenandy can do to match a migrator's business intelligence. There's a whole new level of functionality in a modern ERP system. Patel mentioned that Kenandy (the name of the product is the same as name of the company, like Adager) can optimize sales order aggregation, "to combine orders to maximize the stuffing with trucks, define transit routes so you can have distance-based decision making -- in terms of if can you fulfill that order so it will arrive on time."

A manufacturer which hopes to sell to Wal-Mart will have to work around a delivery window the retailer sets. There's a fine at America's largest retailer if you deliver late. The next generation of ERP is supposed to give its users the tools to manage this new commerce.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:08 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 28, 2015

Cloud ERP app suite to get demo event


Kenandy will be demonstrating its Cloud ERP suite on Tuesday, September 29 at 10 AM Pacific Time (1 PM Eastern) in a webinar led by Director of Client Services Rohan Patel and Marketing VP Stewart Florsheim. It will be an opportunity to see how the creators of MANMAN have re-imagined the benefits of resource planning software, using the "single source of truth" concepts that are inherent to the cloud.

Registration for the event is at the Kenandy website.

HP 3000 sites which continue to rely on software like MANMAN often don't have a migration target app vendor who understands the nature of MPE-based ERP. Kenandy, launched in 2012 by MANMAN's founder Sandy Kurtzig, has built a comprehensive ERP suite that includes order-to-cash, planning and production, procurement, and global financials, all upon the Salesforce1 platform.

The software promises scalability and agility, which may be important for a 3000 shop that's been acquired by a larger entity. On the other hand, The Support Group's Terry Floyd has said, "We think the latest Kenandy release is capable of handling some of the smaller, simpler MANMAN sites." This seems to be a software set that fits with two ranges of IT enterprise, although its first generation of success leans more toward the smaller than the larger.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:37 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 25, 2015

Taking the Measure of HP's Ex-Leaders

We're waiting for more information about the HP 3000s still doing service by working with Apache CGI scripting, as well as an upcoming confluence of CAMUS advice about Stromasys and Kenandy, to help ERP companies to homestead or migrate. So while we wait let's take a break for Friday Funnies. The story is funny in the way a two-headed calf wants to win a blue ribbon at the fair.

The latest news in our election cycle features the prospects of a woman who impacted lives of many of our readers, as well as the direct fortunes of any who work at or have retired from HP. Or any who will be separated from the vendor soon in the latest layoffs.

BackfireThat would of course be Carly Fiorina, subject of scorn in both Donald Trump's eyes as well as derision from Yale economics professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld. The professor wrote this week that Fiorina has learned nothing from her failures, or even admitted she's had any. And so, there's a criticism of his column afloat in the bowl of the 3000 world. Sonnenfeld's talks with former CEOs were not first-hand knowledge, the takeaway read.

Here I offer a subjective summary, and that criticism of the professor goes, "Do not measure Carly's impact on HP -- or her ability to lead -- by how other corporations fared during the same period when she was CEO. Or on the valuation of the company before and after. Measure her by how anybody would have fared, given what she took over starting in 1999. Also, understand that whatever you add up, it will be conjecture."

It's a good word. Conjecture is "an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information." By setting up a measurement problem so there is no constant -- to compare against, say, the veteran insider Ann Livermore, who HP passed over so Carly could get her job -- the measure will always be incomplete, clouded in imagination. In Catholic school, we were usually told at this point of our hard questions, "Well son, it's a mystery."

HP PhenomenonI believe the only way we'll ever see first-hand Carly-era information is an insider other than Carly who was an HP executive would write a book about the era. Say, Chuck House did that, didn't he? For those who don't know him, he was the leader of HP's software management, and that would include MPE. He was the only winner of what Dave Packard called HP's Medal of Defiance, for extraordinary defiance beyond the normal call of engineering duty. In 2009 House wrote "The HP Phenomenon; Innovation and Business Transformations." House has quite a bit to say about Carly's leadership (lordy, pages 403, 427, 443, 460, 471, 477, 480, 497, and 597) her Compaq decisions.

There's also  a sheaf of pages indexed as "Vitriolic reaction." You probably would believe House has some first-hand experience of HP management, given that he was an executive manager throughout her HP service. House wasn't CEO, though. The only CEO who's created a book is Carly. She's so certain of her story she had to write two books.

Read "Taking the Measure of HP's Ex-Leaders" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:29 AM in Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 24, 2015

TBT: An End to 3000 Management Verve

Sixteen years ago this month, the HP 3000 community learned it was losing an essential component of the platform: A general manager who'd stuck his neck out for the server's customers. Harry Sterling announced his retirement from Hewlett-Packard and the world of the 3000.

Harry at HP WorldSterling came into the 3000's wheelhouse from a technical role, moving through product development and into the job of R&D manager for the server. On his watch in the labs, IMAGE gained B-trees for state of the art searches, MPE gained a Posix interface and namespace, and MPE/iX got its first Internet tools and utilities. MPE/iX 4.0, 5.0 and 5.5 were developed in the labs that Sterling managed. When Olivier Helleboid moved up from his GM post in 1996, Sterling was ready to make business distinction for the 3000. He was the first 3000 GM whose roots where wholly in tech. 

While Sterling led the division for four years he never lost touch with the customers and their perspective. Even though the overwhelming majority of them worked at small companies, he knew their needs were important to HP. No other leader of HP's management team believed this and acted upon it better than Sterling. Many GMs chose to work for HP, instead serving the vendor's customers. At its worst, that kind of allegiance sparks protests, lost accounts, and untold waste of budget and manpower. Business in computing is hard, but Sterling usually managed to make it look smooth while he kept it personal. He made mistakes, like all of us, but it rarely seemed like the decisions were being made at the customers' expense.

Harry Sterling TestimonialSterling was one of the best things that ever happened to HP 3000 customers. I can be accused of a clouded assessment because he was a key ally while we established the NewsWire. We never got better access or more cooperation than when he ran the 3000 business. He also green-lit a 25th Birthday Party for the server in Germany in 1997 that made people believe the best was still yet to come. We all needed to hear that while HP made Unix the favored child.

But one proof of his positive impact is the recovery of the platform as a strategic choice for HP. One of the most interesting things that happened in the period he ran the division involved resetting beliefs about computers in the 3000's age group. HP had thought such products were the children that it needed to eat in order to keep growing and improving. After a few weeks talking with Sterling's division managers, technology marketing guru Geoffrey Moore decided his own beliefs about legacy products needed revising.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:09 PM in History | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 23, 2015

Where Do Those DBEs Go In MPE?

Where can I get help with storing and restoring an Allbase DBE?

Gilles Schipper replies

SQLUTIL.PUB.SYS should let you access the DBE. IMAGESQL is to a DBE what QUERY/DBUTIL is to TurboIMAGE.

Denys Beauchemin adds

ISQL.PUB.SYS is used to access the data in a DBE. If a TurboIMAGE database is attached to a DBE, there is a DBTC file for each Turbo database and an ATCINFO file with the DBE.

How can I find all the IMAGE databases on a system?

Michael Anderson replies:

IMAGE database root files all have a unique filecode value, -400. IMAGE datasets all have a value of -401. So if you want to find all IMAGE databases on a MPE system I would use the following command:


This will give you all the IMAGE root files and only the IMAGE root files. If you use something like “listf @01.@.@” you get the first dataset in the database, but also any file where the filename ends with “01”, and that may or may not be a database file. Also, the MPE file system allows filecode representations to be alpha (“PRIV”) and Numeric. When you see “PRIV” as a filecode it simply means that the numeric value of the filecode is negative, and again this can include non-database file types.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:02 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)