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July 29, 2005

The week's up, so listen up: Podcast time

If you have a little more than five minutes, listen to our first 3000 NewsWire podcast. (It's an MP3 file served up from ronseybold.com) We wanted to roll this small show off our Macintosh and onto your music players or PCs before the month ran out. Like any good radio, it hopes to entertain a bit while it informs. No, you don't need an iPod to listen to it, but HP would like you have one anyway.

Featured players in our 'cast include HP VP Nora Denzel, the executive who looks like the only person podcasting on the HP corporate site. Denzel's been explaining and promoting the company's Adaptive Enterprise quite awhile, so we're passing along some of her "Agility Radio" audio to help show the level of HP's big-vendor podcasts. Adaptive Enterprise is something migrating customers might want to believe in, even though some of the players Denzel mentions have recently changed name badges. We also get some testimony from the exhibitor community which is not going to show up like they'd planned at next month's HP World conference — and the possible costs to Interex to settle up with them. The world of podcasts has room for vendor speeches like Denzel's and news clips, too. Let us try to make you grin a little, so you can tell us what you think.

01:01 AM in News Outta HP, Newsmakers, Podcasts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 28, 2005

Get better networked in beta

HP has taken the wraps off of its networked printing enhancement for the HP 3000 this week. A patch that extends the scope of printers available to HP3000 networks is out on the HP IT Response Center Web site, according to HP vCSY engineer Jeff Vance. He also noted that the results of the recent HP patch survey showed most people using the 6.5 and 7.0 releases of MPE/iX are willing to apply a patch to their systems.

The SIB '04 Network Printing patch, MPEMXU1, is now available for beta testing (BT) on 6.5 and 7.0, in addition to our initial 7.5 version.

You need an HP Support handle to get the BT version of this patch.

75% of you on 6.5 and 67% of you on 7.0 who filled out the recent MPE patching survey indicated you would apply a SIB patch on your respective systems. I realize that you didn't say you would apply non-GR patches, but still, I am hoping many of you will participate in this beta test effort so we can get this patch to General Release soon!

Of course, customers saying they're willing to patch and actually applying the patch are two different levels of commitment. HP is likely to be watching what happens to this No. 1 enhancement request as it creeps into beta testing. The vendor might figure that if customers can't sign on to test their most popular patch, well, there might be little motivation to complete other patch projects.

Getting this patch out of beta and into release could open the door for other enhancement work inside HP — at least what's possible in the 17 months until HP shuts down its 3000 development. A newfound set of customers willing to patch could come from Series 9x7 server customers. But HP has to enable its 7.0 release for those customers, if they are to join the patch party HP is throwing over the next year-plus.

Both sides have something they can do to help. Customers need to patch, at least enough to get enhancements out of beta test. HP needs to extend its OS reach for 7.0. Life goes on for those who intend to use MPE/iX through the end of this decade.

But even the HP-supplied network print enhancement has its limitations. Our June Q&A subject Rich Corn, who's built up his RAC Consulting firm on a third-party printing solution, explained the benefits and shortfalls of the HP patch.

We asked Corn in the June article,

Where can the SIB request for non-HP networked printing, as stated, fall short?


Well, I think it will be helpful to users. But you have to understand what is being provided. HP is removing an impediment to using non-HP printers with MPE. It is not “supporting” non-HP printers. To the extent that the current use of PCL by the MPE spooler is your problem, this is a good thing. If you have other issues, then this will not help. This will not help with integration with print server/host systems that require LPD/LPR.

I am a bit concerned about the exact meaning of “no...handling of CCTL information would be done” in the statement of the SIB request and making the final form feed become the user’s responsibility. If this is what is delivered, then it may well require programming changes, which will prove problematic for many users. If nothing comes out but what’s in the data file, that isn’t going to be a good thing. 3000 people depend on the spooler to print files correctly. Some may still need a tool that handles non-HP printers transparently.

We'd love to hear from you in your comments about how this HP patch will meet your printing needs. If it falls short, Corn has a solution that will fill the bill more completely.

08:42 AM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 27, 2005

Manufacturing new ERP user group links

3000 customers using MANMAN win the prize for fastest replacement of Interex resources. The MANMAN-L list that was hosted on Interex servers has been moved to the CAMUS user group servers successfully. A raft of messages trickled through to the NewsWire's e-mail filters yesterday, including discussion of how to renegotiate support contracts from MANMAN vendor SSA Global Technology. More on that in a minute.

Any ERP customer can sign up for the CAMUS/MANMAN mailing list at the user group's Web site. CAMUS director Jeff Milde wants the Interex refugees to consider its conference Oct. 24 in Chicago, as well as the benefits of joining the SSA combined user group:

We encourage you to explore the benefits and service offerings of the SSA user group. It is our hope that you and your company will continue to appreciate the value of being supported by a community of users and service providers. CAMUS will not compete with this user group.  If your company has not made the commitment to migrate to SSA ERP LN, and you need support for your legacy system, please know that CAMUS will be there to support you. Remember that among the many benefits to our members, the most important is USERS HELPING USERS.

Just about the same time the MANMAN list moved over, we got word of the new elections for the CAMUS user group board of directors. Two longtime HP 3000 veterans are running for the CAMUS board for the first time. Terry Floyd of the Support Group has tossed his hat into the ring, alongside Terry Simpkins of Measurement Specialties. Both men have spent their careers educating and helping HP 3000 customers.

Floyd founded his company to provide third-party support options to ERP customers using MANMAN, or moving to an alternative. IT Director Simpkins has testified to the value of using the HP 3000 for many years, both in MANMAN ads as well as earlier for HP. He's also been  on the cutting edge of SOX compliance, posting helpful reports to the MANMAN mailing list.

The support options from SSA earned some discussion among 3000 customers recently. The vendor has told its 3000 sites they can stay on the application hosted on their 3000s as long as necessary, a sharp contract from suppliers such as Amisys. SSA also wants its ERP customers to consider migration away from apps like MANMAN, but it means to make a business of keeping mature applications like MANMAN viable on servers like the 3000, so long as that doesn't extend to enhancing the apps.

Both Simpkins and Floyd offered advice on negotiating with SSA about support contracts for MANMAN. Simpkins, who's pulled a lot a duty in China recently getting new plants online, converted his 2 cents' worth into Renminbi" (RMB) which means "People's Currency" in China:

I think there are some clauses in the various licenses and support agreements that prohibit the [public] sharing of this [support price] information.

My .16254 RMB ($0.02US) is that  "It depends" on:
   1)  How well you negotiate
   2)  How hungry your sales rep is
   3)  The time of the month/quarter you sign (close to the end = better deal)

Floyd broke down the supportability of the recent MANMAN releases in his reply

My 2 cents (guesses/opinions, not hard numbers): MANMAN/MPE Version 9 is the most stable and easier to modify than later versions.  There are more companies on Release 9 or 11 than any others.  10 was buggy; only a handful have gone to 12.  Many went to 11 for Y2K or Euro Currencies, which turned out to be a mistake from a support standpoint.

11:15 AM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 26, 2005

MPE/iX Intelligence You'll Still Use

Earlier this morning out on the 3000-L mailing list, a customer asked if the book The MPE/iX System Administration Handbook was worth owning. Bill Brandt admitted that "When we got our used 917, my collection of HP publications is a bit hit and miss."  This book by Jon Diercks is a hit, something of a marvel when you consider its publication date of summer, 2001. HP hadn't scrubbed its 3000 program by that summer, but the 3000 was still a highly specialized, boutique server with a loyal following. Diercks' book was a breath of well-researched intelligence. You can still buy it today at Amazon and other outlets.

We reviewed the book in the NewsWire when it first surfaced. Paper books and manuals might be fading from the first rank of tech resources, but there's been a good history of ink on paper to help 3000 customers. One of our readers, Wayne Burke, offered a few of these kinds of resources for free recently:

I used to work on an HP3000 and have some old text manuals (in excellent condition) to give to anyone that might want it, if you could pass this on.

Image 3000 Handbook.
HP3000 bible.
Vesoft - Thoughts and Discourses on the  HP3000 software, by Eugene Volokh (Red, green and black versions)

I was a Eugene (Volokh) fan, not so much for what the books actually said, but how they caused me to think differently. Anyway, I can ship in any manner anyone wishes. I'm not trying to make a cent off this stuff at all, and I'd rather give it to someone instead of just recycling. Now I'm straight UNIX for the last 10 years. What a pile — well not really, but for a business platform nothing touches MPE.

You can ask Wayne for your free book by e-mailing him. Or just reach out and get your own copy of the Diercks handbook. More than 80 percent of all HP 3000s out there can make use of the Diercks book, since HP didn't sell many servers beyond the 2001 vintage.

08:48 AM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 25, 2005

Going to San Francisco?

Some HP 3000 customers and vendors now are stuck with transportation plans that will land them in San Francisco in about three weeks, even though there's no HP World to attend. Bay Area residents in the 3000 community want to mount a 3000 briefing in SF anyway, an OpenMPE meeting that could include HP's vCSY managers, who are still deciding what the vendor will do for the 3000's afterlife. It will dovetail with MB Foster's plans to hold a migration seminar up in SF.

The 3000 managers in HP have long used HP World to talk to the community in person. The OpenMPE meeting that was arranged in meeting with vCSY on July 22 could let HP keep up its habit.

Donna Garverick, the OpenMPE board director who works for 3000 customer Long's Drug headquartered in Walnut Creek, Calif., put out the word over the weekend about the prospective meeting. All that's needed is a place to meet and some interest from the community:

To demonstrate that OpenMPE is actually alive and kicking, I would like to ask people to attend — either in-person or virtually — an MPE update meeting on August 18th.

This will be an HP update meeting you can attend without booking airfare or driving to a conference room, Garverick said:

The board met July 22 with HP and presented this idea to them. Since many people will already be in the SF Bay area (gotta do something with those plane tickets), we’d like to have a meeting for both HP and OpenMPE to provide updates to the community. We also want to provide a way for people to attend over the Internet. The board proposed using HP’s virtual classroom technology to host the on-line connectivity.

At this point, we simply cannot afford to lose any opportunity to find out what’s happening and have a forum for asking questions. Both HP and the OpenMPE board of directors want to know what you think of this idea.  We need your feedback to help us plan the meeting.

Contact Garverick by e-mail to let her know if this virtual meeting in August piques your interest.

This is not a first for the 3000 community, although it's bound to be much updated from the group's last virtual gathering. After TV briefings in the 1990s, HP mounted migration Webcasts during 2002 and 2003 with interactive Web connectivity for attendees and phone-in lines. Though some homesteading was discussed in those Webcasts, this year's SF meeting is shaped around the rest of the 3000 community, those with post-2006 plans for their 3000s.

The 3000 community can be an inventive group. One of its seasoned developers and a 3000 NewsWire contributor, Roy Brown, used the tune from Scott McKenzie's 1967 hit San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair) to outline the options for SF-bound community members, alternatives including that MB Foster migration seminar:

If you're going to San Francisco
Cause you can't get a refund on your fare
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna find that Interex ain't there

For those who come to San Francisco
Be sure that you have got some hair to tear
In the streets of San Francisco
Puzzled people who never did beware

All across the nation,
such a consternation
Peoples' emotion
They were planning migration,
Left with no explanation
Peoples' emotion, peoples' emotion

For those who come to San Francisco
Be well assured that Birket will be there
If you come to San Francisco
Summertime will grant you Foster care

08:57 AM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 22, 2005

How to check those dates

Legislation in the US will soon be signed to expand the scope of Daylight Savings Time, the twice-a-year event that forces HP 3000 owners to adjust their system clocks. The new law will push the DST switchback one week later in this year, as well as start DST three weeks earlier next year. All those programs you had worked out to slowly change the 3000's clocks in October and April will have to be revised for November and March. You can get a good start with this article by John Burke from our net.digest archives.

While you're working at that, you may find yourself looking over your HP 3000's date routines. HP's got a DATECONVERT intrinsic to get the date format of Julian or Gregorian. Kathleen Mc Rae of HP pointed a user to sample code recently for using DATECONVERT. The HP IT Response Center has the sample in the document KBRC00015373.

There's also a way to extract the current date in Julian format using the functions INTEGER-OF-DATE and DATE-OF-INTEGER. Mc Rae recently explained how to use these functions with a COBOL sample up on the 3000-L newsgroup.

Mc Rae said:

Function INTEGER-OF-DATE converts a date in YYYYMMDD format to an integer date equivalent, starting with January 1, 1601, of the Gregorian calendar.  Function DATE-OF-INTEGER does the opposite, converting an integer date to its standard date equivalent.

INTEGER-OF-DATE
INTEGER-OF-DAY
DATE-OF-INTEGER
DAY-OF-INTEGER

$control POST85
IDENTIFICATION DIVISION.
PROGRAM-ID. PROG.
AUTHOR.
DATE-WRITTEN.
DATE-COMPILED. SAME.
ENVIRONMENT DIVISION.
DATA DIVISION.
WORKING-STORAGE SECTION.
77 GREGORIAN-DATE     PIC S9(8) BINARY.
77 DATE-OF-INT        PIC S9(8) BINARY.
77 DAY-OF-INT         PIC S9(8) BINARY.
77 INT-OF-DATE        PIC S9(8) BINARY.
77 INT-OF-DAY         PIC S9(8) BINARY.
PROCEDURE DIVISION.
ONLY-PARA.
     DISPLAY 'INPUT DATE IN FORMAT YYYYMMDD'.
     ACCEPT GREGORIAN-DATE FREE.
     DISPLAY 'THE DATE ENTERED WAS: ' GREGORIAN-DATE.
     COMPUTE INT-OF-DATE =
             FUNCTION INTEGER-OF-DATE (GREGORIAN-DATE).
     DISPLAY 'INTEGER-OF-DATE RETURNED: ' INT-OF-DATE.
     COMPUTE DAY-OF-INT =
             FUNCTION DAY-OF-INTEGER (INT-OF-DATE).
     DISPLAY 'DAY-OF-INTEGER RETURNED: ' DAY-OF-INT.
     COMPUTE INT-OF-DAY =
             FUNCTION INTEGER-OF-DAY (DAY-OF-INT).
     DISPLAY 'INTETGER-OF-DAY RETURNED: ' INT-OF-DAY.
     COMPUTE DATE-OF-INT =
             FUNCTION DATE-OF-INTEGER (INT-OF-DAY).
     DISPLAY 'DATE-OF-INTEGER RETURNED: ' DATE-OF-INT.
STOP RUN.

Sample run of the program:


INPUT DATE IN FORMAT YYYYMMDD
20050705
THE DATE ENTERED WAS: +20050705
INTEGER-OF-DATE RETURNED: +00147744
DAY-OF-INTEGER RETURNED: +02005186
INTETGER-OF-DAY RETURNED: +00147744
DATE-OF-INTEGER RETURNED: +20050705

The longer the HP 3000 sticks around, the more important date manipulations will be to its users. The server already hosts a lot of the longest-lived data in the industry. Not every platform in the business world is so well-tooled to accept changes in time; the AS/400s running older versions of OS400 struggled with this task.

You also need to be sure your 3000's timezone is set correctly. Shawn Gordon explained back in 1999 how his scheduled job takes care of that:

"You only have to change TIMEZONE.  For SUNDAY in my job scheduler I have the following set up to automatically handle it:

IF HPMONTH = 10 AND HPDATE > 24 THEN
   ECHO We are going back to Standard Time
   SETCLOCK TIMEZONE = W8:00
ENDIF
IF HPMONTH = 4 AND HPDATE < 8 THEN
   ECHO Setting clock for Daylight Savings Time
   SETCLOCK TIMEZONE = W7:00
ENDIF

3000 customers say that the help text for SETCLOCK can be confusing:

      SETCLOCK  {DATE= date spec; TIME= time spec [;GRADUAL | ;NOW]}
                {CORRECTION= correction spec [;GRADUAL | ;NOW]}
                {TIMEZONE= time zone spec}
                {;CANCEL}

Orbit Software's pocket guide for MPE/iX explains shows the correct syntax. In this case, ;GRADUAL and ;NOW may only be applied as modifiers to the DATE=; TIME= keywords, not to ;CORRECTION=.

12:56 AM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 21, 2005

A retirement, or a death?

When a corporation like Interex — multi-million-dollars strong and carrying a 30-year history through an industry with an attention span of six months — when that kind of resource goes belly-up seemingly overnight, it's easy to call it a death. Many HP 3000 community members point to the user group's performance for the 3000 as a symptom of its mortal wounds.

But even as Encompass readies to reach out to the stranded Interex members, another member of the 3000 community suggests Interex hasn't died off, but simply retired. Doug Mecham, the founder of the group, shared his observations with us for the August printed edition of the NewsWire this week. But he just added this postscript, which we share here until his Q&A interview appears next month.

Rather than any negative or derogatory term used to describe the situation, perhaps we should just refer to the “change” as “RETIREMENT” of Interex as we would an old friend. This situation does open up possibilities – opportunities for new lives in different directions, each person taking the spirit and success knowledge elsewhere in the World.  Interex will not long be forgotten, for it represented an organization of professionals that made a mark in the computer world, second to none. I doubt if very many can say they did not grow personally (I know I did) and gain good value for their involvement with Interex; it was a “family” of many passionate people working on a common theme of collaboration and growth for all.

Doug Mecham
Proud Founder of Interex

Encompass president Kristi Browder wanted her members to know that the departure of Interex was no barometer, in her opinion, of the user group concept. A letter from Browder said in part:

...We express our deep regret to the members and community of Interex during this difficult time. As a former partner and colleague of Encompass in serving HP technology users, Interex has shared similar goals, passions and dedication to the HP user base. There are many things being written and I’m sure there will be even more articles published this week. I want you as an Encompass community member to know that this is no indication of the downturn in the value of Encompass or user groups in general.

Our quick check of the Bay Area US District Court showed no bankruptcy papers had been filed by Wednesday afternoon for any company called Interex. We didn't search online, but used technology from the era of 1984 — the year the user group started to call itself Interex — to call up the courthouse. I didn't think to ask the clerk to check for "The International Association of Hewlett-Packard Computer Professionals." But it seems plain that if the user group will file bankruptcy — it pulled all of its Web pages off the Web yesterday, save one  — that filing would have to be a Chapter 7. That's the permanent retirement, in financial terms, despite a lively discussion of a "Virtual Interex" over the last two days on the 3000-L mailing list.

All that talk of retirement aside, the HP world, including the 3000 neighborhood, now has conference papers that may never be delivered, because the conference they were written for has been cancelled. The HP World paper submission deadline rolled over just this month. Wirt Atmar and others are suggesting that a virtual conference, powered by a technology like Atmar's QCShow, could let those presentations emerge.

What's unlikely to be duplicated is the networking which made the conference travel worthwhile. I'm going to miss the face-to-face contact I was assured each year by going to HP World and Interex before it. The situation seems to call for an annual reunion of some kind among the longest standing branch of Interex, its founders and veterans like Mecham. Put the NewsWire down for some help in making that annual retirement party a reality.

01:41 AM in Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 20, 2005

HP offers conference alternative

Interex has brokered a deal with HP to let the vendor make good on the user group's conference promises. A notice posted Tuesday on the Interex Web site front page offers a free registration to the HP Technical Forum conference for anyone who's left holding the bag on a paid registration to HP World. (Tip of the hat to Gavin Scott for pointing out this development.)

What's more, HP will offer discounted booth space to the HP World exhibitors who got caught holding worthless receipts for booth space at the now-defunct Interex show.

HP will offer a complimentary, comparable registration to the 2005 HP Technology Forum for paid, registered attendees of HP World 2005. Additionally, HP will offer discounted exhibition space at the 2005 HP Technology Forum to non-HP competitors exhibiting at or sponsoring HP World 2005. HP World participants can get obtain additional information by calling (877) 216-5400, email HPWorldInfo@TravelHq.com, or by visiting www.HPWorldParticipants.com.

HP's show is scheduled for Sept. 12-15 in New Orleans.

The above Web page gives registrants and exhibitors the details on how to redeem their Interex booth space and conference registrations. HP is looking a tiny bit more noble in offering to help Interex with its disgruntled customers. Still, you gotta wonder if Interex would even be closing its doors if HP had not scheduled its own new technical show one month after HP World.

Competition looks to have done in the user group. Now HP has a clear field to mount its show, as well as the good will of rescuing Interex's customers and vendors.

Not all vendors need apply for those HP Technical Forum spaces, however. HP competitors will not be admitted to the HP Technical Forum, a policy that says a lot about what kind of conference and expo the vendor will be hosting in New Orleans. Interex was not eager to put HP's competitors onto the HP World show floor, but it didn't flatly shut them out, either.

So the question before the HP World registrant is this: How much can I accomplish at a vendor-run conference? HP is partnering with Encompass, the user group made up of Compaq and Digital users, to mount its New Orleans show. Encompass chose to work with HP, instead of maintain its own conference.

08:48 AM in News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 19, 2005

Send your HP messages today

This morning HP announced its plan to shed 10 percent of its employees from its cubicles around the world. Summertime has become the season for HP to do this housecleaning, a coarse word to describe one of the sharpest of events in someone's life: being laid off. A few years back in 2002 HP did this just at the cusp of an HP World conference, leaving professionals searching their voicemail for a notice they didn't need to worry about what was going undone back at their HP cubicles while they were away.

Of course, with the sudden demise of HP World, there's no chance that scenario will replay itself. HP gave its side of the story in a press release issued this morning. It's not been shy about this year's layoffs. The notice was on the front page of the HP Web site. Now, after Interex shut itself off yesterday, the 3000 market gets to see if this is the second straight day in which part of its ecosystem dies off.

The 14,500 HP layoffs are necessary to focus the company on its priorities, HP says. This sounds like an invitation to watch where the cuts take place. Enterprise Storage and Servers, the HP unit that creates HP's 3000 alternatives such as HP-UX and Windows servers, has been under pressure in the past few quarters to maintain a profit. HP insists this round of layoffs is not about profitability or shedding expenses, though. If its Enterprise unit sees a lot of layoffs, a customer might conclude that the printer, camera and home PC business is finally ruling the roost at the company.

How to find out where the cuts are landing? Send an e-mail to everyone in HP you know and trust. Watch to see how many get bounced this week. The answers will help you see if the planning for HP's 3000 end-game is going to get a boost or a jolt today.

There's been a lot of work done for the 3000 customer, in the form of promises and intentions and even HP plans, by people working in what's been called Virtual CSY (vCSY), the HP group caretaking the remains of its 3000 business. A round of layoffs that ripples through vCSY could wash out many of those intentions, or reinforce business decisions that can still make a difference to the 3000 customer.

Everybody's been speculating on the announcement this morning, which HP made before the stock market opened. But the advance betting by the market analysts doesn't give good odds for the  HP Enterprise business to escape intact.

The San Jose Business Journal echoed a Standard and Poors report:

A Standard & Poors Equity Research Report anticipates layoffs will come in HP's enterprise systems division, where margins have been lower than in other divisions such as printing and imaging products.

But the New York Times has an article with a quote from an analyst that says this layoff season isn't about the bottom line. To echo that, HP's language in its release suggests that the company will be paring down its infrastructure:

The majority of staff reductions will come in support functions, such as information technology, human resources and finance. The remainder will be made inside business units, in areas where work can be reduced by improving processes and re-prioritizing existing tasks. To facilitate these reductions, HP will offer a voluntary retirement program to longer-serving staff based in the United States.

That voluntary retirement can be a way for your HP 3000 advocates who remain inside HP to step off the big corporation treadmill. A few years back one of the most prominent vCSY players in the Transition Era said he thought of his next career move more often. A job teaching math sounded pretty good some days, he said while a group of us waited in the hall for an HP World room to open up. Voluntary retirement is a way to make second-career dreams a reality. We've already lost some help this week in the Interex exit. Let's hope the 3000 helpers inside HP can hang on through the end of next year, to see plans and intentions become a reality.

07:46 AM in News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 18, 2005

Interex closes its doors

HP users group Interex officially pulled the plug on all of its operations today, posting the following notice on its home page of its interex.org Web site:

Dear members:

It is with great sadness, that after 31 years, we have found it financially necessary to close the doors at Interex. Unfortunately our publications, newsletters, services and conference (HPWorld 2005) will be terminated immediately. We are grateful to the 100,000 members and volunteers of Interex for their contributions, advocacy and support. We dearly wish that we could have continued supporting your needs but it was unavoidable.

Interex

The user group had struggled to maintain a financial balance in the years following the Y2K ramp-up for IT, according to one of its directors, an era when attendance at the group's annual HP World shows fell steadily. Membership figures for the group, inflated to six figures in press releases during 2004, included a very broad definition of members, such as anyone who'd requested an Interex publication.

Phone calls to the Interex offices were going unreturned today; requesting a link to the company operator on the voicemail tree gave no reply as of Monday morning. Advertiser and sponsor Acucorp had the news of the HP World cancellation confirmed by Interex ad rep Tara Stafford, according to Acucorp's Marketing Communications Manager Kendra Brunje. Brunje added that the Interex employee said the Interex staff "was led to the door" on Friday. User conference speakers were also notified of the conference cancellation by e-mail.

Unresolved issues around the closing were still numerous today. Conference attendees who'd paid for show admission wondered about refunds on the 3000-L mailing list. Sponsors such as Acucorp have sent deposits on booth space for the show, hundreds of thousands of dollars. Speakers are holding non-refundable tickets to the San Francisco event, and some are talking of alternative meeting plans in the city during that week.

There's more. Interex operates mail list servers that host groups such as the MANMAN ERP mailing list, which was discussing how to continue its communications on alternative servers once the Interex systems go dark. And technical experts in the 3000 community were wondering how much of the user group's technical archives and resources would survive in the wake of such a sudden closing.

02:29 PM in Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Interex cancels HP World 2005

The HP 3000 is going to outlive the HP user group that was founded to serve it.

Interex, the HP user group that began its life serving HP 3000 customers in 1974, is apparently ending its existence before HP stops servicing the system. What's more, the organization is cancelling its HP World conference less than four weeks before the expo was set to open in San Francisco at the Moscone Center on Aug. 16.

Reports from two sources in the Interex volunteer management confirmed over the weekend the user group will be going out of business. Greg Cagle, a volunteer co-chair of the HP World program committee, confirmed in an Internet message to the 3000-L newsgroup that this year's conference had been cancelled. The HP World conference has always been the financial keystone of the user group, which saw HP scale back its sponsorship last year of the group's annual North American event.

In a bit of odd coincidence, the group's final conference, last year in Chicago, was held in the same city where its first conference took place in 1974. Many HP 3000 community members said their attendance at 2004's HP World would be their last.

"I think the HP conference drove the final nail in the coffin," said former Interex boardmember Paul Edwards who operates HP 3000/9000 consultancy Paul Edwards & Associates.

HP's 2004 move to establish its own show wasn't supposed to contribute to any instability for the user group. User group officials and HP both believed the HP technical conference wouldn't pull down the Interex expo. The user group relied on an operating reserve which it built up during its more profitable years, then spent down in tougher seasons, all funded from HP World booth sales and sponsorships. HP announced its own HP technical conference last summer, one to be held this September in New Orleans. Interex had licensed the name HP World for its conference from the vendor in 1996. The conference had been offered to HP 3000 customers, and then to the HP computing community at large for 30 years.

But the group's top management wondered as early as 2000 what the role of a vendor-specific user group would become in a commodity computing, heterogeneous IT world. HP took a hard tack away from specialized computing products when it embraced Unix and Windows environments and pushed its PC and printer businesses harder than enterprise systems like the HP 3000 and HP 9000. More common platforms meant HP was focusing less on Interex's heartland: SMB customers using specialized environments such as MPE/iX and HP-UX.

"The proliferation of platforms — 75 percent of our members have multiple platforms — means that they have less time to focus specifically on HP or any other vendor," said executive Director Chuck Piercey in 2000. "They don’t have the luxury of focusing on the HP 3000 like they did 10 years ago. We have less mindshare, and have to be more effective with the mindshare we do have. It squeezes the value proposition: you have to deliver more value cheaper and faster."

OpenMPE, the volunteer advocacy group that's still working with HP on 3000-related issues and concerns, now emerges as a prospective focus point for the 3000 community's communication with the vendor. HP had planned to address several concerns about the vendor's end-game for its support at this year's HP World.

Interex looked sound this year to many in the HP 3000 community, especially those suppliers offering migration services for the platform's owners. Many of the HP 3000-related companies which had booked HP World booth space as of Friday were promoting products and services built around migration. A multi-company booth at the front of the show floor included two HP e3000 Platinum migration partners. About one third of the booths on the last week's show map were listed as either unsold or on hold, although the largest booth areas had been sold.

Rumors still unconfirmed as of this morning in the 3000 community included news that Interex had already filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and that the user group had laid off its staff on Friday, July 15.

One HP World sponsor, MB Foster Associates, announced on Sunday that it will be offering a Migration Workshop in San Francisco over the dates of the cancelled HP World, August 15-17. The workshop appears to be a way for attendees to salvage any trips to HP World which have travel reservations cannot be cancelled without penalty.

Birket Foster, CEO of the Platinum migration partner, said of his company's workshop

This Migration Workshop will cover:

1) Preparing for an assessment.
2) Making a choice - What applications should be replaced, which ones should be moved?
3) Part 1: How to do a software selection    Part 2: How to migrate code
4) Moving data
5) Sustainability planning - how to keep everything running until the applications are cut over.
6) The Training plan - how to get the right training at the right time.
7) Planning the “go live” and cut over(s) of the applications.
8) Decommissioning the HP3000 - legal and accounting implications
9) Project Management - the key to keeping it all on track
10) Human factors in a migration project.

If you are going to be in San Francisco and would like to attend this workshop contact Migration@MBFoster.com or contact Dawna at 1-800-Answers (1-800-267-9377) extension 203 - the cost will be $US995.

Meanwhile, the NewsWire's voicemail box and e-mail inbox had started to fill up with unofficial reports of the show's cancellation and the demise of Interex. We'll update this story as we have more reports from official sources.

07:46 AM in Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 15, 2005

Bouncing back to CSL help

The HP 3000 community has a rich heritage of free help, volunteering that preceded the open source movement by many years. Interex, the HP user group, did a good job of soliciting and distributing user-written utilities and some applications years ago. But these programs, which are a membership benefit of belonging to Interex, are also available in other places. (We do think that user group support is important, and we'd like to see Interex continue to serve the HP 3000 community.)

That said, you might have a problem like the question posed to the community a few months ago:

Does anyone have a COBOL/C program that can be used in any MPE application such that it runs as a background process in MPE Operating System? The program should be able to calculate the system idle time and the application should exit itself automatically if the system is idle for specific time, say 30 minutes, without any key-in by the user.

Jeff Kell, the curator of the 3000 newsgroup where the question appeared, suggested the Contributed Software Library (CSL) program BOUNCER to do the job. It's not as hidden as it might appear behind the Interex membership gateway. BOUNCER is available from 3k.com's Web site, along with other contributed software.

A lot of that CSL work is still quite useful, and it might be hidden to the 3000 manager who's taken over the server since the Interex CSL heydays. (There were once so many CSL programs that Interex used to award a prize for the best contributed program of the year, shipped out on something called a swap tape — a way to exchange files in the dark era before the Internet brought us so close together.)

Nowadays contributed work is appearing on the invent3k server and up on Jazz, the HP Web site run by the engineers at the 3000 division, all for free. HP has assured the community that the riches on Jazz and invent3k will outlive HP's support operation for the 3000. Where they will live is still to be determined.

08:39 AM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 14, 2005

A fix for LargeFiles is in play

We're tracking the progress of HP's repairs to LargeFile datasets (LFDS), the greater-than-4GB containers for IMAGE data. The feature has had its problems since its release, but it looks like a new patch has entered testing outside of HP's database labs. Liz Glogowski of HP told us:

We have passed all our in-house unit and regression testing on the LFDS, and have passed the files to a database tools provider to start their internal testing.

We're keeping an eye on this, and we'll have more to say about it in next week's FlashPaper, available online at our www.3000newswire.com/flashpaper. (Each month we also make a PDF version of the FlashPaper available as a download, too; here's June's.) But we can say this much about this repair: testing it will take longer than lots of other repairs to HP 3000 bugs. LFDS by their nature are really big, and it wouldn't be unusual for a single run of a test suite to take 90 hours. It's the kind of test that an N-Class server could speed up, but being in a hurry about the testing probably isn't the best strategy. It's taken more than a year to get a patch out of HP's database labs, another testament to the complexity of making something very big very fast, too. Stay tuned.

01:14 AM in News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 13, 2005

Patch power is flowing

Accepted wisdom about the HP 3000 has the latest release of MPE/iX getting the most attention from HP in the months remaining until the vendor's exit from the market. But other versions of the OS are getting their due, too. When I tried out that accepted wisdom on support provider Gilles Schippper of GSA during our Q&A for the July printed edition of the NewsWire, he gave the companies not using the latest MPE/iX some hope:

Q. It seems that 7.5 is, for the moment, the only MPE release certain to get the latest bug fixes and enhancements.

A. Well, I don’t know about that; the three supported releases right now are 6.5, 7.0 and 7.5. HP’s announced it will be supporting all three until the end of 2006. The latest release of a PowerPatch was for 6.5, PowerPatch 4, just a few months ago. In May HP released PowerPatch 3 for 7.0, and they’re talking about PowerPatch 3 for 7.5 in early 2006. I think all three operating systems are actively being supported and enhanced.

HP, of course, will be pointing out this work in its communication with users next month at HP World. Whether there's time for any more patch work on 6.5, probably the most widely-installed version of the OS out there, remains to be seen. But don't overlook taking on one of these PowerPatches — nicely-bundled up collections of HP's patches for MPE — if you're on HP Support. So long as you're still paying HP its monthly fee for support, you might as well get something tangible out of it, even if your 3000 rarely requires a support trouble call.

01:55 AM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 12, 2005

To get migration answers, give us your questions

This year's HP World conference will have its first independent roundtable on migration issues. The 3000 NewsWire has been asked to moderate the panel in San Francisco, and we'd like to get your questions to take to the conference next month.

Take a minute and post a comment here to ask a question about your migration dilemmas, or just inquire about what seems to be working already. The HP World panel is full of consultants and vendors who have migration experience already. In the great tradition of roundtables at Interex conferences, I'd like to have a healthy list of pre-submitted questions to carry to the podium next month. If you'd like to e-mail yours instead of commenting here, because you're like to remain anonymous, just contact me at editor@3000newswire.com

01:41 AM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 11, 2005

Use SOX to free up enhancements

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) is putting HP 3000 shops through their paces this year, but the law that is making IT shops clean up procedures might have a silver lining for the 3000 customer. HP needs motivation — the fabled "business case" — to justify work on the platform for its customers. Federal legislation seems to be a great business case, according to Donna Garverick at Longs Drug Stores. In a posting to the 3000 newsgroup last month, Garverick said that "a certain drug store company" has a service request (SR) filed with HP to finish the port of OpenSSH, secure file transfer software that will satisfy SOX requirements.

The HP 3000 community has made a start at bringing OpenSSH to the 3000. Ken Hirsch has a working port posted at the invent3k public access server, but it needs more engineering time to become worthy of meeting SOX requirements. Garverick said OpenSSH will let Longs transfer its data from the 3000 securely, and suggests that users who are also trying to meet SOX requirements should ask HP to clean up the port on HP's invent3k server.

Secure FTP is getting the transfers done for Garverick, "albeit slowly." She'd prefer to us OpenSSH, if HP can be convinced to respond to SRs filed about the invent3k port of the software:

Because of Sar-Ox, we’re required to use Secure FTP for transferring data. If your company is in the same situation, please HP know that you too would like to see OpenSSH brought to MPE

There's no guarantee that US law will be able to ensure engineering time for OpenSSH. But if there's a better business case than avoiding government fines, we'd like to hear it. Use your support channel contacts (if you're still on HP's MPE support) to file your SRs. It's likely that SOX will require some other enhancements to the 3000, if HP is willing at all to help its customers make their transition. Secure FTP, (SFTP) the working part of OpenSSH, is well documented. A great supplemental Web page SFTP is at Beechglen's Web site:

http://www.beechglen.com/mpe/SFTPInstallNotes.html

01:31 AM in User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 08, 2005

Questions about Itanium migration?

At this summer's HP World, the Special Interest Group for Itanium (SIG-Itanium) will be holding its third annual meeting in San Francisco. The processor has been real enough long enough to have shipped working releases through more than three years. Itanium also represent's HP's future for HP-UX servers, the system the vendor has recommended most often to replace HP 3000s.

We're part of the leadership for the SIG-Itanium, and we'd like to hear questions from HP 3000 customers and partners about the chip. The questions you pass on here will be asked at the August meeting in San Francisco. E-mail them to me at editor@3000newswire.com, or just post a comment below. I am helping to chair the meeting, and so I'll do my best to get the answers to questions for those of you who can't be in SF.

HP announced at the end of May that it has shipped out its last version of PA-RISC processors, the CPUs that drive the HP 3000 line and much of the installed HP 9000 lineup. These are the 9000s that have replaced some 3000s, although Windows/Intel systems are being picked by the biggest group of migrating 3000 sites. By some estimates HP will have only another five years of support life left for PA-RISC, so the future of its enterprise lineup for Unix lies squarely with Itanium. A poll we conducted last fall couldn't turn up much interest at that time from HP 3000 sites in the Itanium systems HP was offering. Maybe the nine months since then have changed things. We'd like to know.

There's been more interest now that HP has said PA-RISC has seen its last update. Eben Young, the IT manager at HP 3000 shop Health Plan of San Mateo, pointed out the "expected demise" of PA-RISC — which was noted on Robelle's blog with a link to a Silicon Valley.com story —  and then Young posed some questions:

"Is the migration of HP/UX on PA/RISC to HP/UX on Itanium seamless, from the point of view of software compatibility?  Are the data structures and high-level constructs essentially identical to in-house application programmers?  Is it true that those who have opted to install HP-UX PA-RISC systems must now consider thinking about a migration to Itanium?"

Good questions all, since they address concerns by HP 3000 shops that migrating to HP-UX is only the first step in a transition. The leading HP-UX processor is going away as surely as HP's manufactured HP 3000s. HP's Itanium 2 Integrity servers are supposed to make up half of all enterprise sales at HP by the end of this year, if the vendor hits its target.

As for the agenda for next month's SIG meeting, it's still being formed up, but is based around customer reports and HP's updates on the processors:

15 minutes of introduction and housekeeping (attendance, elections, etc)

10 minutes of customer testimonial  about their Integrity experience

About 35 minutes of content presented by HP

About 15 minutes general Q&A

Your questions can make that Q&A more lively.

09:20 AM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 07, 2005

Improvements requested, but not yet granted

Even though fewer HP 3000 customers are participating, the Systems Improvement Ballot process to enhance the 3000 received a lot of requests this year. In our printed edition, we recently published a list of HP's responses to the top 11 SIB requests; the vendor regrets to inform its customers that many of the ideas to make the 3000 better are "not a good candidate." This isn't a surprise, when you consider what HP's position is on the 3000: a good computer the vendor recommends leaving behind.

For those who need to stay, however, the list of requested enhancements which follows runs longer than those which had an official HP response from the engineering manager. This more complete list shows the customers who rely on the system are still thinking about how it could be an even more efficient tool. This list also chronicles the maturity of MPE/iX, the 3000's operating environment. Not everyone knows how much the 3000 can do, but those who contributed these requests are aware of the system's potential.

Our thanks to Paul Edwards of Paul Edwards Associates for tracking down these details. Edwards is one of the tireless volunteers working in the OpenMPE organization. For all practical purposes, OpenMPE has become the HP 3000's user group.

A user group advocates improvement, suggesting what the vendor might not be eager to do. While these could look like holes in the 3000's solution, they are really seeds for anyone who takes on the MPE/iX source code, should HP ever license it to a third party.

1.  FTP -- Security protection for netrc files.  Currently, both read and execute access are required to use a netrc file.  This exposes the password to anyone with read capability.  Requesting that FTP be modified to need execute-only access -- similar to UDC and command file access.

2. FTP -- Site chmod.  Enable MPE’s FTP to issue ‘site chmod’ commands. User would be able to correct rwx permissions during an ftp ‘session’. This capability is already supported in hp-ux’s ftp.

3. MPE -- Help text corrections.  Many typos exist in the help subsystem.  Additionally, recent CI enhancments are not included. Requesting a final clean-up of this text.

4. MPE -- Finfo CI function.  Finfo doesn’t report on hfs namespace files correctly (probably a problem with flabelinfo).  Since finfo is closely related to jfinfo and pinfo, it should return status values as well.  Also, finfo should follow symbolic links.

5.  MPE -- Debug.  Repair old/known bug regarding data breakpoints. Very important for support after 2006 (Right, Stan? :-) [A note to Allegro Consultants' Stan Sieler.]

6.  MPE -- Copy.  Copy command can’t copy temporary files to HFS namespace.  This is an hpfcopy() internal bug.

7.  MPE -- Listgroup.  Add ‘format=detail’ option.  Similar to ‘listacct’.

8.  MPE -- Pattern matching bug (impacts ‘listfile’, ‘store’, etc). For store in particular, this could mean some files fail the pattern match and are not stored.  See [HP's] Jeff Vance for details.

9.  MPE -- Repair to call_3 and exec_0 procedures.  Fix the nl and xl so that all call_3, exec_0 procedures validate parms, required for system protection against hackers.

10. MPE -- CI.  CI evaluator operator precedence bug.  See [HP's] Jeff Vance for details.

11. MPE -- CI.  Repair CI error messages with typos or incorrect/inadequate text.

12. MPE -- Implied run.  Repair implied run function to parse parameters correctly.

13. MPE -- Input CI function.  Input;wait does not work in batch.

14. MPE -- listacct.  Repair parmeter parsing and error reporting bugs.

15. MPE -- Purge.  Problem with purge improperly purging files when used in batch.

16. MPE -- Acctinfo/groupinfo CI functions.  Requesting two new CI function be created.  Both would return data currently available via listacct and listgroup but the data would not have to parsed.

17.  Backporting.  (Still) requesting that several recent CI enhancements (like pinfo, CI functions and shutdown) be backported to 7.0 and 6.5.

18. Perl -- Request a filecode for perl (or, opening/reading and looking at the first line, or looking at “.pl” suffix?) that will trigger the CI into automatically running perl scripts.

19. Perl -- It is on invent3k and you can compile it yourself — but the request is to just be able to install it.

20. Perl -- The CI already has been enhanced to accept “#” as an alternative to “:comment “.  Now just use your imagination a little bit and you could almost use the existing, standard Unix-ish “trigger” by starting the script file with “#!/usr/bin/perl”.

21. MPE -- Modify the restore command to allow the onvs= parameter, like in the store command, so specific volume set(s) can be restored. This would be very valuable when all the accounts in the system volume set are needed to be restored after a drive failure. Or, all accounts in a specific user volume set.

22. MPE -- Request is for a function that will return the amount of remaining space in your environment variable stack.

23. Formspec -- Fix the problem with renumbering vplus forms in interactive mode.

24. MPE -- Request the allow command to be persistent.

25. Spooler -- Request spool file % printed.

26. MPE -- Fix character substitution in comments. “/” is now being replaced with spaces.

27. IMAGE -- fix an issue with image b-trees and dbfind. If you do a wildcard find on a master, then try to read thru the found entries,and for each, dbfind detail under the master and read them.  After hitting the detail, the next dbget on the master would get confused and report end-of-chain.

28. MPE -- fix the problem of the mpe logging facility when it overflows/restarts the id# that it generates and assigns to each unique openlog. Seems this id# is simply an integer that is incremented for each openlog, and when it reaches 65,536, the next openlog causes it to restart from the beginning at 1. However, it does not check to see if the process which originally was assigned a number is still connected to logging.  So on a system which has a long-running background job also has a lot of open/close logging events which roll this unique id#, one can end-up with multiple running processes which are logging events using the same id#.

08:17 AM in News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 06, 2005

Easy and Affordable Backup Optimization

By Gilles Schipper
GSA


It’s nice to be back with Ron Seybold’s 3000 NewsWire to offer some of my experiences with the HP3000, after contributing way back in the days when he edited The HP Chronicle.

When Ron called to interview me, one of his questions was “Other than finding a new machine, what's the best thing a customer can do to improve performance and reliability of their 3000 systems today?”

To me, there was a single and obvious answer – improve I/O performance.

Obvious for two reasons – because many, if not most, HP3000 systems are I/O bound (ie, I/O is the major resource bottleneck), and secondly because enhancing that resource does not affect the user licensing fees associated with many 3rd-party software licenses.

Improving I/O performance is generally associated with improving disk I/O. Disk I/O represents the very largest component of total I/O transactions generated by the HP3000.

However, without expanding upon the various options available to reduce the I/O bottleneck (which I will do in the future), let me suggest a very simple and affordable opportunity to achieve significant improvement in tape I/O performance and thus reduce your system backup times.

Shortening the time necessary to complete your backup means increasing the availability of the system for online productive use.

Other benefits could include reducing times necessary for system updates, patching, and file restoration from backup.

If you are currently using dds, dds1, dds2, or dds3 tape drives as your backup device, you could gain significant improvements in tape reading and writing times by simply replacing the drive with a dds4 – a very affordable option.

Moreover, this simple tape drive replacement requires not even a system reconfiguration and will result in immediate benefits.

There is even more good news.

This dds4 tape drive – also known as the HP Surestore DAT40 tape drive – can be used to create SLT tapes and boot from these tapes.


If your procedures include creating an integrated SLT and full backup on a single dds medium, you will be able to continue doing that.


Tape speed improvements over your existing tape drives will vary according to the drive that is being replaced, and the system that is undergoing this drive upgrade.


The slower the original drive, the more significant the improvement.


In general, the faster your system is, the more spectacular will be the improvement.


For example, expect to see as much as 67% speed reduction from upgrading your dds3 unit to a dds4 on an e3000/N4000 single CPU system.


For a 918 system, the same tape drive upgrade could see a full backup time reduction in the neighborhood of 33%.


You may have read or heard some HP3000 experts espousing the benefits of DLT over DDS technology.


To a certain extent, that may be true. DLT is said to be more reliable and faster than DDS.

That would certainly be true in comparison to DDS2 and earlier models (The DDS2 being especially unreliable in my experience).


However, the DDS4 compares quite favorably to the DLT7000 and 8000 models, both in speed and reliability.


And, unless you have an e3000 A-class or N-class, you will not be able to afford the luxury of being able to use the DLT as a boot device, and so would need to retain your DDS drive and forgo the convenience of integrating SLT and backup on the same medium.


Although I have not tried one, I would suspect that the even faster DDS5 drive (also referred to as DAT72) would also work very nicely on the HP3000


It seems that after many pundits were announcing the death of DDS technology, it has seen a remarkable rebirth.


You just need to visit
www.datmgm.com to gain an illuminating peek into the bright future of DDS technology.


And for those of you wondering, no I do not have any financial interest in DDS technology.

07:13 AM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 05, 2005

Classy experience taught for programmers

Wirt Atmar, one of the 3000 community's most seasoned developers and advocates, is teaching a course on Modern Programming philosophy starting next Monday. It's a course to be taught using the technology Atmar's company has developed, meaning that students will be able to view lectures from anywhere they can get a reasonable bandwidth Internet link. QCShow has been a project that Atmar's team at AICS Research has developed over the past several years, funded in part by a National Science Foundation grant, that feeds course lectures through a browser, complete with slides and instructor audio. You can still sign on by faxing Wirt your full name, credit card number and expire date, and e-mail address, to (505) 526-4700. "Philosophy of Modern Programming," offered July 11-August 21 will be

...a pre-prepared downloadable audio slide show which you can watch at your convenience, so even if you have travel plans during this period, unless you will be completely disconnected from the internet, you should be able to stay current quite easily.

It's a natural to see Wirt offer a class to the 3000 community at large. His advocacy and experience with the 3000 puts him in an elite echelon. He's a professor and scientist by trade as much as a software company developer and president. He began his commercial 3000 development experience by creating a word processing solution during the early years HP was heavy into the 3000 terminal market. Years ago his firm created QueryCalc, a super report generator used as the basis for applications on 3000s around the world. QCTerm followed, a free Windows-based terminal emulator for HP 3000 hosts.

One of the things that's fun about Wirt is that he likes to cut across accepted wisdom. In 1996 he was instrumental in creating the World's Largest Poster project, which unfurled tons of plotter paper across an Anaheim football stadium to promote MPE to HP officials at that year's HP World. When the management at HP decided in 2001 to step away from the community, Atmar replied by making a case for staying on the platform another 20 years. (Wirt said "indefinitely" as far as the 3000's prospective term, but it looks like a calendar problem in 2027 might be a roadblock, at least for now.)

At the same time, he's made avid use of other environments and platforms; QCShow runs on Windows, and the company is waiting to see what happens with the new x86-based Macs before it proceeds with a QCShow player for the Mac, Linux and Unix, for example. The course will show some of the technique that let AICS developments emerge.

As of last week, Wirt said he still had room for more students in his class, an experience I expect will show the richness of the 3000 community's legacy: incisive minds still at work on new ideas. It took a bit of rebellion to choose the 3000 over IBM during the 1970s and 1980s, a  difference in thinking any 3000 veteran can lay claim to as they move into their next career chapters.

The class is $125, with lectures to be delivered on Mondays and Fridays. Wirt says

There will be two quizzes (classes without grades are never taken seriously enough), one midway and the second at the end, although the grades will be recorded no where except with the student. The minimum class size necessary to make the class is 10 people; the maximum is 100.

The class will center itself around a very pretty idea, finite state automata theory. Object-oriented programming is a subset of finite state automata theory. Visual BASIC will be the language explored, and it would be helpful if the prospective student was somewhat familiar with VB, but it’s not necessary.

3000 community members are now finding themselves teaching opportunities during the Transition era, but Wirt's a seasoned hand at this, having been a university professor since 1975. Taking a course on programming philosophy could be a way to open up some new doors for yourself. There are few courses offered by an MPE veteran that are taught with technology that lets you learn from your couch. AICS Research developed  that 3000 emulator, QCTerm, using the philosophy Wirt will detail in the course:

I’ve been designing finite state automata for 30 years now. In fact, everything we’ve ever built here has been a finite state automaton, including QCTerm and — as odd as it may sound — synchronous, finite-state analog computational systems.

01:15 AM in Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 04, 2005

Independent resources make you stronger

Happy Independence Day, if you are among those who celebrate the independence of the US. (Our friend Alan Yeo of ScreenJet in the UK quips that the Brits celebrate July 4, too, as "the day we got rid of our offspring.")

Independence is important to The 3000 NewsWire. You see the word in our tagline under our logo, so it's part of our essential mission. We have published stories over the years that sparked controversy and ruffled some feathers, part of the byproduct of saying what we think, as well as relaying what you think. As a small company we couldn't do the work by ourselves. We stand on the shoulders of this community of users and developers who tell us what they know. We also rely on a long-time friend and Webmaster, Chris Bartram, to deliver news through our Web site.

We don't except there will be a lot of news today with the US holiday slowing the pace somewhat. But it might be news to you to learn how much Bartram has done with his 3k.com Web site. You can download software for your 3000 for free there, utilities tried and tested by the user community over years. Have a look at our latest Q&A interview with him to learn more about the 3000's Web resources and a hopeful outlook for the platform.

01:15 AM in Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 01, 2005

Planning a Path for Patches

HP is asking customers to tell the vendor how they want to see the HP 3000 patch operation run in the future. A message posted late last night on the 3000-L and OpenMPE mailing lists, and then forwarded from Jeff Vance at HP, directs customers to a Web site to take a survey. Vance said in his message that HP will be reviewing the results and "Your responses will make a difference in our patching approach."

HP's survey form is at www.hpuseradvocacy.org/node/1920. HP hasn't announced a deadline to receive survey forms. You need to register with hpadvocacy.org to submit the survey form, but it doesn't ask many questions and promises to keep the information private. It looks like a fine overhaul of the Web site.

That patch process at HP has only 18 months left to operate, according to information the customers have today. When HP pulls out of the 3000 market at the end of December, 2006, it will take down its support operations. Today, the only way to get a patch from customer's bug fix request into general release is through an HP support account. Beta testers must be HP support customers to test patches before HP makes them available to general release. The customer community has already told HP they'd like to have fewer restrictions on who can test HP 3000 patches. HP, for its part, has said last summer they want to hear more from customers about what to do about this "patch gap," the distance between the smaller number of customers on the latest, most-patched HP 3000 release and the majority of the customer base.

Even doing more backporting would close the gap. SIG MPE co-chair Donna Garverick said that at the last HP World meeting, "SIG MPE requested HP to back-port to 6.5 and 7.0," she said. "But the question on everyone’s mind is — if stuff is back-ported will anyone install it?  CSY really needs to get a clear answer to this question.  If most people say ‘no’ — that’s clear.  What we don’t want is people saying ‘yes’ when they can’t actually patch their systems (probably because they’re locked down)."

One interesting element of HP communique is the mention of patching scope. The message says the survey is:

...specifically aimed at MPE 9x7 and other issues regarding an understanding of your MPE/iX patching and/or updating plans and requirements over the next 1-2 years.

If you're keeping score, two years from today is six months past HP's end of support date for the 3000.

The customers told HP in several e-mail exchanges and at the last HP World conference that the beta-test patches now mired in untested status could be sprung from patch jail, if you will, by letting a broader set of sites test them. That's an opening to put the patch process out into the full 3000 community, not the 40 percent or less of sites who still have a support contract with HP.

Another possibility would be to include Series 9x7 systems in the patch process, by giving these systems the ability to run MPE/iX 7.0. By some estimates, only a third of HP 3000s are running the MPE/iX 7.5 release, the version HP has focused upon for its patching process. 7.5 is becoming known as the "parking release" inside HP. Most customers, however, have their 3000s parked someplace else today.

Steve Davidek, a City of Sparks, Nevada Systems Administrator on the Interex Advocacy Survey Task Force, is running point on this joint survey effort between HP and the user group. You can contact him for more information — or perhaps to say something the survey form doesn't have a field for — at   sdavidek@cityofsparks.us, or phone him at 775.353.1671.

11:56 AM in News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack