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September 29, 2006

HP's been tracing for years, employee testifies

News from the Congressional grilling that HP faced yesterday revealed the company has sent spying e-mails — HP calls it "tracer technology" — at least a dozen times in the past, according to an HP security worker. Such e-mails report who reads them and how they are forwarded.

Fred Adler, who was involved in HP's sting of illegal used 3000 brokers in 1999-2000, said the tracers have been used in cases where HP was working with law enforcement. Although Adler's testimony did not mention the spy-mails in conjunction with the 3000 investigation by the High-Tech Task Force, HP did work with the California law enforcement team in that matter. Several HP 3000 vendors were either jailed or put under house arrest in that 1999 case. A law enforcement official part of the Task Force, Adler has since joined HP as a security employee.

In a story published today by CNET — which saw its reporter Dawn Kawamoto tailed, her phone records nabbed through pretexting, and delivered a bogus HP e-mail — Adler's testimony sounds a good deal like HP's stance while it cracked down on 3000 companies like Hardware House six years ago.

HP security worker Adler said, under questioning, that he was the one who came up with the idea to include a software-based tracking device in the e-mail to Kawamoto. "That was my idea," Adler said. "At the time I understood it to be a legally permissible way to obtain information, and I still believe it to be."

Adler said it is a tactic still sanctioned by HP, and one they have used in past investigations. He said he knows of HP using the tracing technology a dozen or two dozen times, including instances when the company was working with law enforcement.

HP CEO Mark Hurd pledged to make internal changes at HP to stop what he called a "rogue operation." His pledges from prepared testimony included the statements below (click for a larger version):

Hp_pledgeHurd said that HP's policies will include language "related to inappropriate practices in obtaining confidential records or personal information. HP has a Privacy Training curriculum and a Chief Privacy Officer, Scott Taylor. The curriculum will be updated, and Taylor will be included in "review processes related to HP's accountability in the collection and use of sensitive information, including how such information is used in investigations.

In June, Taylor testified before a subcommittee of this week's House committee . He said then that HP considered privacy a core value. "At HP, we stand ready to serve as a resource to you, so that working together, we may find meaningful, functional ways to protect the privacy of American consumers and realize the full potential of e-commerce."

Meanwhile, resigned general counsel Ann Baskins and resigned chairman Dunn refused to accept responsibility. One blamed the other for the hoax, while HP's top lawyer Ann Baskins resigned before hearings started, then took the Fifth to avoid testifying and incriminating herself. Her attorneys said she "would have liked to appear

"Who was in charge was the HP internal legal department," said former chairman Patricia Dunn, who launched the pretexting probe in 2005. "Rightly or wrongly that's what happened. I do not accept personal responsibility for what happened."

The resigned director said under oath she believed personal phone records can be accessed as if they were public information. "My understanding was these records were publicly available," she said. "I understood that you could call up and get phone records."

One congressman on the House panel replied, "You're serious? I'm not being funny here. You honestly believed it was that simple?"

Investors remained unmoved by the testimony. HP's stock actually climbed 58 cents a share during Thursday's hearings, remaining less than a dollar off its five-year high. Investors have watched closely to see if CEO Hurd had been entangled in the hoax. Many give Hurd credit for HP's share resurgence in the last 18 months.

But the CEO delivered no new information under the questions of the panel from a Congress which the Wall Street Journal characterized as "enraged over H-P's use of pretexting and other spying tactics to find out which board member was leaking company information to the press."

Hurd testified he wasn't as concerned about board leaks as other directors, but he approved the content of the fake e-mail. He said last Friday in a press briefing he knew nothing about the "tracer technology."

But it was up to the Wall Street Journal, home of one of the probed reporters, to find the lighter side of Hurd's testimony. The Journal's legal blog said Hurd came away unscratched with a strong mea culpa, adding:

In a moment of levity during a day that had few of them, Rep. Blackburn of Tennessee asked Hurd who was currently heading up investigations at HP. “As of now we have an open position,” said Hurd, breaking into a wide smile. “We are looking for qualified candidates,” he said, drawing out the word “qualified” for dramatic effect.

12:34 AM in News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (1)

September 28, 2006

HP testifies today on probing privacy

UPDATE, 1 PM EDT

Both subpoenaed and volunteer HP witness at today's US House hearings — from HP board members to foot-soldier private eyes accused of violating privacy rights — invoked the Fifth Amendment at today's investigation into HP. HP's testimony about its pretexting probe that nabbed personal data using a ruse consisted largely of pre-submitted statements from CEO Mark Hurd and former board chair Patricia Dunn.

In addition to HP's general counsel Ann Baskins, Security Outsourcing president Ronald DeLia invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to testify at the hearing. Others who exercised that right included Anthony Gentilucci, former head of global security for HP, and HP ethics officer Kevin Hunsaker. HP fired both Gentilucci and Hunsaker last week.

HP denied reporters to the right to ask questions at a press briefing last week, in deference to its testimony and questions it said it would hear today before Congress. Members of the House committee blasted the company's leadership and decisions after hearing a string of Fifths.

"To go to this level to try to find out who might be leaking something, there's just no excuse for it, there just isn't," said Oregon Republican Rep. Greg Walden, .

"We have before us witnesses from Hewlett-Packard to discuss a plumbers' operation that would make Richard Nixon blush were he still alive," Democratic Rep. John Dingell of Michigan said.

Panel chairman Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., asked why, "No one had the good sense to say `Stop.'"

"It's a sad day for this proud company," said Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado, the panel's senior Democrat. "Something has really gone wrong at this institution."

Baskins_annWhile Congressional questions went answered about who knew what, how much, and when, HP released advanced testimony yesterday which Hurd read before the House committee.

This morning, HP's general counsel Ann Baskins (left) resigned after 24 years of service to the company. The company's resigned chairman, Patricia Dunn, launched the investigation in 2005, and today said that she had cleared the probe with HP CFO and interim CEO Bob Wayman in that year. HP denied Dunn's statement. Dunn said that Security Outsourcing Solutions, which ran the pretexting hoax, was virtually a part of HP, according to a story from the Associated Press, through Forbes:

So closely tied was DeLia's firm, Security Outsourcing Solutions Inc. of Needham, Mass., to Hewlett-Packard - for which it worked almost exclusively for eight years - that Dunn refers to the firm as a "captive subsidiary" of Hewlett-Packard.

Testimony_2SOS, as HP's statements have called the Needham, Mass. firm, investigated Hurd before he was chosen to replace CEO and chairman Carly Fiorina in 2005. Hurd has said in the advance release testimony that HP feels embarrassed about the investigation misconduct which it has funded. A full 12-page document of HP's statements for today appears on a US government Web site. You can download the PDF file to read along with the congressmen, still waiting for more testimony on how the hoax kept gaining momentum.

As for those who must appear by subpoena, rather than volunteering to testify, the list includes Ronald Delia, head of the SOS security firm, and HP's Kevin T. Hunsaker, until recently the company's chief ethics officer, and Anthony R. Gentilucci, who managed HP's global investigations unit in Boston. Both took the Fifth. Five operative hired by SOS and its subcontractors also got Congressional subpoenas and also pled the Fifth.

HP 3000 customers have been reluctant to get involved in the scandal. The company's stock price remains near a three-year high through today's hearings. But HP seems to be of two minds, similar to the customers' views, some of which we'll share tomorrow. On one hand Hurd says the investigation violations have nothing to do with HP's operations or strategy. Yet he and his company's employees are appalled, embarrassed and have apologized for the pretexting scam. It's a matter of debate whether Hewlett or Packard would have thought this misconduct has nothing to do with HP's strategy.

It will be up the US Congress to bolster the laws against such activity, so that HP's outside counsel Larry Sonsini and Baskins cannot claim this embarrasing action against the press and HP's own employees "is not generally unlawful." California's criminal case against HP and its "captive" outsourcing operatives is still in progress.

Sonsini, testifying today, urged Congress to clarify laws around pretexting. He had assured HP executives the spying probe tactics were "not generally unlawful."

04:54 AM in News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 27, 2006

Taking time change into your own hands

Last month we posted a story about the changes to Daylight Saving Time coming up in the US. A few customers have asked HP to make changes in the TZTAB.LIB.SYS file in MPE/iX, because DST will  start and end on different weekends in 2007 than it has up to now. TZTAB carries the keys to the HP 3000's time zone information. The HP-UX environment already has its zone patches.

But our advice which told users they'd need a C compiler to make these changes themselves was off base, according to one customer. A well-informed customer at that. Walter Murray used to work in HP's languages lab on the 3000 and other servers, including expertise on HP's COBOL II. Murray cleared up the confusion for us.

In the article “OpenMPE thinks far ahead of time changes” (August, 2006), you imply that a customer would need a C compiler to make the necessary changes to the file TZTAB.LIB.SYS to accommodate the change in Daylight Saving Time rules.

Not so! TZTAB is an ordinary ASCII file. You can update it with the editor of your choice.

Another important point is that it’s not just C programs that are likely to rely on the TZTAB file. For example, COBOL programs that use the CURRENT-DATE function will also want the TZTAB file to be correct.

Thanks to Walter for making this issue clear. HP still has a little while to apply such a patch to MPE/iX TZTAB —  a change that ought to take place for all supported MPE versions, 6.5, 7.0 and 7.5.

But it's good to know that the capability to do the work yourself lies in the hands of many users who don't have C compilers on hand.

10:18 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 26, 2006

Another user group struts its content

Just as HP's Technology Forum was wrapping up, the leaders of ERP user group CAMUS dropped a newsletter in our mailbox about its late-August conference. CAMUS is heading for another year with a user conference, thanks to prudent management of resources and active interest from the customer community.

Camuslogo The CAMUS board has taken on more vendor members, just as the Encompass user group's board has done. Several of the CAMUS directors hail from HP 3000 backgrounds or companies. A trio of them included a summary of their key experiences from their San Francisco show.

There's still a way to capture this year's user experience and vendor training from the CAMUS meeting. Join the group for access to presentation slides, especially if you're on the lookout for ways to extend your use of MANMAN, or sizing up replacement applications.

Articles by Terry Floyd of the Support Group, Terry Simpkins, Director of ISIT at MANMAN user Measurement Specialties (both board members) and Ed Stein of Magic Aire — all 3000 shops — gave the impression that a few days at a CAMUS show delivers a lot.

Excepts from the CAMUS newsletter:

BY TERRY FLOYD

The highlight of the conference for me was the ASK Reunion and Keynote speech by Marty Browne at the Opening Exhibitor Reception Wednesday Night.  Although I learned a lot at the free Training Day all day Wednesday and the attendees were all pleased with the presentations by Alice West, Chris Jones, David Cervelli, and Terri Glendon Lanza, seeing thirty or forty of those people who created and sold MANMAN software (most of whom I had worked with at ASK) was an emotional experience for me.

Although all of the presentations I attended were excellent, I thought the best one was Ed Stein’s “Responding to an Internal Audit for MANMAN.”  I always enjoy presentations by users because although they are not always the most polished, the content is meaningful and there is usually no hidden agenda or sales pitch going on.  Ed’s presentation was polished, his style was relaxed, and the content was exceptional.  Mr. Stein’s slides were varied, with actual examples of MagicAire’s internal documents as well as listings from various tools they use to manage and secure their hp3000 MANMAN site.  Although you can learn a lot just by reviewing the slides (which are posted at the CAMUS web site), the many things Ed told the audience were invaluable.

A couple of examples of the things Stein said that made it a better presentation were: “Our controller was nervous about this internal audit, so there was a pre-audit in November 2005” and “a basic, common-sense rule is: don’t volunteer any additional information to the auditors – only answer their questions.”

Other presentations I enjoyed were: “Using MANMAN/HP Into the Future” by Terry Simpkins, “e3000 Homesteading” by Jerry Mills and Steve Cooper, and “HP e3000 Transition Program” by Alvina Nishimoto.  Although I thought they were very much sales pitches (and my bias includes the fact that I compete with both of them and we do all of that), the two presentations “MANMAN to ERP LN  Migration” by David Cervelli and “QAD MFGPRO MultiSite Implementation” were well prepared, well presented, and very well received by the audiences.  All of the slides for all of these presentations are on the CAMUS web site.  I recommend that you review each one.

What can I say about the Event Night party sponsored by IFS?  Tickets for Teatro Zinzanni on the Embarcadero at the wharves in San Francisco cost $130 each.  It’s not often regular folks like MANMAN and MK users and small business owners like myself would be able to attend such a spectacle.  Without IFS’ sponsorship, it would have been impossible to provide such entertainment to our group.  It took 3 hours to serve the excellent 5-course meal amidst a play, an opera, vaudeville acts, a burlesque, a full-blown circus and some of the best singers, dancers, and musicians I have ever seen.  Even the waiters were in on the performance.  A once in a lifetime memory.  How will we ever top this next year?

BY TERRY SIMPKINS

I missed last year’s CAMUS conference in Chicago.  My plans were to hit the conference on my way back from our manufacturing facility in China.  As we know, best laid plans are subject to the whims of the CFO, and he decided (the day before I was scheduled to leave China) that I needed to stay there (with him) for an extra week.  So I did, and missed the conference.  Better planning this year eliminated that possibility.  The training day was a huge success and something the board is already planning to expand on next year.  My company was able to get two members of the planning group to the training day, and both came away happy, excited and sporting new tips and tricks for planning as well as a better understanding of the financial workings of MANMAN, having attended Chris Jones’s presentation on “Finance for non-financial employees’.   All of us should start planning now on who we can send to next year’s conference.  This is the most cost effective way to improve your company’s use of MANMAN.  The expert training and unlimited opportunities to speak with other MANMAN users make it a great way to get solutions to those nagging problems and questions.

Our company agreed to host a test database that was available to the training day classes.  Several of the teachers made use of the database, and commented on how much more effective the class was because they could work through real examples of the commands and screens right there in class.

The high point of the conference for me was the chance to sit with a couple of the vendors, and work through questions that had been ‘nagging’ me for sometime, but that had never risen to the level of demanding attention.  I was able to resolve several ‘little items’ that, when combined, will clearly make a difference in my everyday job.

BY ED STEIN

The highlight of the conference for me was having one of my key users (our Customer Service Manager) attend the training day and the presentations on Thursday and Friday.  He spent most of Wednesday in Chris Jones' room.  Being relatively new to the company and MANMAN, and coming from the OMAR / Sales side of the house, he picked up useful finance and planning knowledge in the training sessions geared towards the non-finance and non-planner folks.

The dual tracks of Homesteading and Migrating were both good, and I found myself attending both tracks.  My company will someday migrate to a new ERP (to be chosen by our parent company), but we don't have a timeframe.  I picked up useful information in the event of an ERP migration that is imminent or way out into the future (homestead in the mean time).

On the way to dinner (Kokkari Restaurant, very nice) Friday night with the CAMUS Board, I was introduced to a new concept.  I believe there were 2-3 cars in our caravan, and I was in the car with Marcy, Terry F., and Terri (with Marcy driving).  Now, having worked many years for manufacturing companies, we are familiar with the often boring concept of just-in-time manufacturing.  However, zipping through San Francisco traffic and negotiating sharp turns and traffic lights, Marcy introduced me and my fellow car occupants to the heart-racing concept of ... just-in-time braking!

03:12 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 25, 2006

HP calls off conversion kits

At last week's HP Technology Forum customers learned that their HP 3000s are more worthy candidates for trading than conversion. HP is cancelling its conversion program to turn 3000s into HP-UX servers, after converting only about 20, according to Transition Center director Alvina Nishimoto. The HP-UX systems created from a conversion kit would already be discontinued in the HP hardware line.

HP is discontinuing the newest entry-level Integrity Servers about three years after they roll out the door. Rust never sleeps in HP's hardware hangars.

3000 customers can get 26 percent off the price of a new Integrity server for their 9x9 systems, including the price of the software license. Those lucky few who own N-Class or A-Class HP 3000s can count on a 40 percent discount off the price.

This deal, called the HP e3000 Migration Program, is available to the customer who asks their authorized reseller or HP sales rep for the discount, a better program than HP's Trade Up or Trade In efforts. Those gave the customer a rebate check only after the HP 3000 equipment was turned over to HP — likely headed to Client Systems/Phoenix 3000 for used market sale. The Migration Program works on a discount off the new HP server and license.

06:47 AM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 22, 2006

Dunn resigns; Hurd tells HP's take on snooping

HP received its second resignation in as many years from a chairman of its board today, when Patricia Dunn quit the board after she admitted to launching HP's "pretexting" investigation of directors, journalists, employees and families. Dunn was to retain her board seat but give up the chair by January, 2007.

The last HP chairman to resign, Carly Fiorina, was included among the targets investigated by an outside firm which HP hired to snoop. HP's new chairman, CEO Mark Hurd, gave an 8-minute statement today of HP's facts in the matter, although Hurd admitted the full details of the snooping might never be known.

HP declined to let journalists ask questions at the press conference, conducted just after the stock markets closed Friday. HP cited Hurd's forthcoming testimony before the US Congress, set for Sept. 29, as reason to forestall questions from reporters.

Hurd reiterated that the actions of the investigation have nothing to do with HP's operations or business strategy, "or frankly, the vast majority of the people at HP." He offered an apology to the journalists and others whose privacy was violated by HP's hired investigators. HP also named a handful of employees who were briefed fully on the tactics involved.

Until October 6, an audio replay of Hurd's statements — as well as a discourse from an outside law firm he hired to investigate, starting Sept. 8 — is available online. Windows Media Player is required to listen.

06:08 PM in News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

OpenMPE gathers help, hope at Forum

The Campground (Special Interest Group) meeting of OpenMPE here drew only a dozen attendees, a number not far off the average crowd for all of HP's e3000 breakout sessions at the Technical Forum. But rather than count numbers to gauge relevance of OpenMPE, it may be more important to see who attended the one-hour meeting.

Openmpetx HP's business manager for the e3000 Dave Wilde (far right) was in the meeting room, one that user group Encompass divided into two parts for multiple campground meets in the same hour. Also present were OpenMPE's directors including chairman Birket Foster (above, left) and Speedware's Jennifer Fisher (above center) Encompass director Chris Koppe, and Dave Spear of the former HP North American distributor Client Systems. One customer on hand, Ralph Berkebile of Data Management Associates, stepped up later in the day to pledge $100 toward contacting the 3000 customer base.

"I want to be involved in this," he said to me at lunch, "and I want to offer some help. Later on, once [our consultancy] is more established, we can do more." DMA is starting up this fall, has just one Series 928, but many years of HP 3000 experience and one client at the moment.

Of such modest, grassroots effort is today's OpenMPE made. A recent upgrade to the group's Web site will enable polls of its membership, to help decide which projects to pursue first in its "virtual lab" of 30 experts. Questions have already been drafted for the first interactive survey, according to board director Fisher. Foster said the group's plan to create a virtual lab "has been treading water for the last year, while waiting for HP." But those in the room here in Houston remained upbeat and could make the group's goal of acquiring MPE source a reality, sometime in the future.

HP has extended its end-of-support date to "at least 2008," but in the same announcement the vendor said it is willing to release selected parts of source for MPE to some third third party, whenever HP exits the 3000 business altogether.

"There's no guarantee that OpenMPE will be selected as custodian of the source," Foster said. "But who else?"

In the meantime, OpenMPE still has work to do. The group started to execute one of its major projects this week, the review of HP's engineering process for building an MPE/iX release and testing releases. "We're reviewing the knowledge preservation process at Hewlett-Packard, so they can put it away properly," Foster said. "Our hope is one day when we have to open the box and build a machine from scratch, everything we need is in that box."

OpenMPE has a job as well in planning for the business transfer of MPE/iX. The HP Development Corporation (HPDC), which owns the intellectual property which is MPE, has been given questions by OpenMPE. Answers are still forthcoming.

The OpenMPE meeting noted that HP 3000 Professional Certifications have been reinstated, after having been revoked by HP in 2005. The reinstatement happened as a result of OpenMPE work by director Paul Edwards. Edwards and partner Frank Alden Smith want to take on the certification for the 3000 skills, now that HP won't certify any more professionals for the platform.

But HP's Dave Wilde was glad to name OpenMPE as an important part of HP's planning for a post-2008 ecosystem for the platform. He said that HP's top priority for the platform continues to be support for existing customers. OpenMPE offers a listening point and data delivery service to the HP 3000 team working inside HP.

07:07 AM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 21, 2006

Customers moving, HP exits

Here on the fourth day of the HP Technology Forum, customers have told stories of their plans and accomplishments moving off the 3000 and onto other platforms. Attendees at the Forum are migration-minded, mostly, some with field experience in moving apps to HP-UX and Windows. Others are still in the planning stage, but nearly every body in the lightly-attended e3000 sessions kept migration as their primary mission.

At the same time, most of HP's 3000 experts have taken to the skies by today. The exhibition floor closed last night with a well-attended food and free drinks reception: Asian shrimp salad (some wags warned their pals to 'watch the spinach") well-heeled wedges of cheeses, fruits and assorted pastry confections, beers from Bud Light to Heineken and Texas' favorite, Shiner Bock.

While we all held what must have been the smallest reception plates in my memory, we talked about the future for the moving 3000 shop. George Willis of investment firm Fayez Sarofim said his multiple N-Class installation will become an HP-UX Integrity shop in 18 months. He's moving an application with some modules more than 20 years old, taking the transfer as the first phase of his project. Willis has been a happy 3000 user, but simply faced with needing IT resources a homesteaded site would struggle to provide. Like many, Willis says he will shed a tear when the 3000 lights go out, sometime in 2008.

HP showed off the power and value of its newest entry-level Integrity systems, the rx3600 and rx6600, at a briefing late yesterday. These systems promise an 82 percent improvement in power by using the Montecito chips from Intel's Itanium line. These chips have been long in coming; HP was talking about a production release of Montecito-based servers for late 2005.

But the 3600 has a four-way, dual core processor capability, and the 6600 goes 8-way with dual cores. A customer can get into a 3600 for about $30,000, according to Integrity reseller and 3000 expert Terry Floyd of the Support Group and Entsgo. The new systems also feature a new kind of drive, the Serial Attached SCSI devices. HP called the peripherals "the new universal drive," smaller in form factor and including a mirroring functionality right on the drive. It's not RAID 5, HP said, but it will eliminate the need for Mirrored Disk UX in mission-critical environments.

The greatest improvement that HP adds to the industry-wide Montecito is HP's zx2 chipset, providing 33 percent more CPU bus bandwidth than the zx1 and 66 percent more memory bus bandwidth. The chipset also includes a ROM cache to decrease boot time. Using HP-UX still requires reboots to patch up security vulnerabilities, although the vendor is working on HP-UX technology to integrate more of those weekly patches without bringing an Integrity server down.

HP also talked about discontinuance of these newest hardware models. In today's HP-speak, "discontinuance is not obsolescence" because a server user can still buy upgrades for a year after discontinuance. Then HP pulls the Integrity server into a maintenance support phase, something like the five years and counting which MPE/iX has had. This discontinuance calendar is something for HP 3000 buyers of even the newest Integrity systems to watch. The popular rx4640, rx2620 and even the bare-bones rx1620 are headed for a discontinuance in about a year.

HP gives these 4640 and 2620 customers an upgrade kit to get the faster Montecito processors into their systems. 4640 and 2620 Integrity units must make do with their slower zx1 chipsets, however. The newest entry-level 3600 and 6600 servers are headed for a 2009 discontinuance, which amounts to about a three-year active life cycle.

11:30 AM in Migration, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 20, 2006

Smoke off the show floor

The HP Technology Exchange was tranquil this afternoon, the third day of exhibiting at the HP Technology Forum. HP laid out its 500 square feet of thick-padded gray carpet in the rear center of a floor with 107 vendors, more than 50 new faces from last year's oft-moved show. Tonight's wrap-up reception on the floor should pack in enough customers to "brick up the aisles," as one exhibitor said of the opening event Monday evening.

Oddly, the exhibition space was closing at 3 PM today, but will reopen at 6 for a reception. Some conferences schedule the other way, stopping talks in mid-day to give exhibitors better traffic through their booths.

The modest-sized DSPP technology kiosks, available for less than $3,000 to HP partners, found a few 3000 suppliers, such as migrations company DB-Net and Quest Software.

Smoke Show gimmicks were in easy view. One vendor who specializes in repairs of printers and computer equipment rigged up a dry ice trick to make it look like a printer was burning. The smoke was pouring out of an IBM printer — just about the only non-HP equipment in the exhibit hall. HP was serious about keeping the gear at this conference limited to HP and partner models. One presenter was told to leave his Sony Vaio laptop at home.

HP 3000 allies and suppliers Transoft, Genisys, Acucorp, Bradmark and Speedware are exhibiting on the floor, all with 10x10 booths except for Speedware -- which is sharing its 10x20 space with arch-rival Cognos, of all companies. Cognos brought two sizes of banners in accepting Speedware's invitation, but decided to post the smaller flag on the outside edge of Speedware's space.

The two companies are still in negotiations to work together on migration projects, according to Speedware's president Andy Kulakowski and Cognos technical account manager Charlie Maloney. Speedware's had a meeting at the Cognos facility in August to combine forces on migrating PowerHouse customers to other platform versions of the 4GL. Speedware's Kulkowski said that 55 percent of his company's revenues now come out of the professional services work. Speedware's Chris Koppe said yesterday that for a PowerHouse customer, moving to PowerHouse on a non-3000 platform is the lowest risk migration.

3000boothHP's booth for 3000 customers catered to the migrating kind, with a green sign among a forest of sea-green banners called "HP Transition Services." No 3000 hardware sat on the show floor, but a Web browser stood open to HP's migration customer success stories.  HP's Colleen Mueller (left) stood in for HP group managers and engineers while we snapped our photo. She was preparing for a few dates on the HP Integrity Road Show starting up next week, coming to a town near you. 

No 3000 hardware sat on the HP Technology Forum show floor, but a Web browser stood open to HP's 3000 migration customer success stories.

02:59 PM in News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

HP throws strikes, OpenMPE gets to bat

Forumcrowd HP's VP of its customer solutions group Jack Novia threw a strike last night in a ceremonial first pitch at the Houston Astros baseball game. The hospitality event brought more than 1,000 HP Technology Forum attendees to the Minute Maid ballpark as HP's guests, sitting in sky-high $6 seats and eating a spread of barbeque laid out for HP Certified Professionals.

Novia's pitch offered the only mention of the HP spying scandal here. HP CEO Mark Hurd, who dodged a reporter by jumping into a waiting Lincoln SUV just minutes after his speech to open the forum (speaking to the packed hall above), said "I asked him not to embarrass the company, given the press coverage we've  gotten over the last week." The latest reports on the scandal include news that HP placed spyware on a reporter's computer and that it studied a ruse to infiltrate news offices with investigators posing as janitors or clerks.

On the 3000 front here, HP tipped off its pitch it will throw this fall. 3000 managers Dave Wilde and Jennie Hou explained that a policy statement on HP 3000 licensing rules is forthcoming "because customers have asked us to clarify the issues" Wilde said. He explained that some customers either never heard or don't recall HP's licensing policies in the wake of the vendor's suits against hardware brokers in 1999 and 2000.

The OpenMPE meeting, one of only two here at the Forum without a 3000 migration theme, reported than an OpenMPE volunteer is reviewing the source code build process at HP this week. The group has been waiting for months to place its volunteer as an observer to the process, which will assure OpenMPE the process can be duplicated by an outside entity.

At the meeting HP explained that it is looking at which third parties will be able to help support the system once the vendor leaves the market. One key issue is which firm might be able to administer the changing of stable storage information to modify PA-RISC system personalities. HP does such changes now through its support operations, and third party IRS4HP offers stable storage reconfiguration using its SSEDIT software.

Future policy for the HP 3000 community came up as a primary subject of the only non-migration meeting so far here at the Forum, an event with about 5,000 attendess. The meeting includes "Campground" gatherings of Special Interest Groups, a forum for smaller groups focused on things like legacy operating systems such as the less mainstream OpenVMS and MPE. OpenMPE met in a group of a dozen attendees, including three of its board members, HP's Wilde, Encompass board director Chris Koppe and Client Systems' Dave Spear.

Spear, whose company was the last authorized distributor for HP 3000s in North America when HP ended 3000 sales, said "We might be able to help, after we have talked some more" with OpenMPE's directors and HP.

Numbers remained unchanged for OpenMPE's goals to get a lab up and running, to take over some of HP's development and patching. the group needs 100 systems signed up for support that ranges from $3,750 yearly to $20,000 per system, depending on system size and numbers signed up. If HP says "no dice" to the release of parts of the 3000 source code, to let OpenMPE create patches, "then OpenMPE dies."

HP has already said it will release source code for third party use once it leaves the 3000 market, but didn't say how much, to which company or organization, or when the transfer will occur. But too late did not seem to be a roadblock, according to OpenMPE chair Birket Foster, who led the campground meeting.

"We have one customer, a school who's in year 5 of a 10-year plan to migrate, and a police department who's in year 3 of a 5-year plan," Foster said. He added that several of the company's customers have 2010 to 2012 timeframes for their migrations. Other firms such as drug compaines need to preserve  data for 7 years. Such companies will need patches to keep their 3000s running until then.

One 3000 consultant, John Berkebile, said he had a client who told his firm they wanted to support their HP 3000 through 2019. He shook his head at that prospect, but said support through 2011 was possible.

In the meantime HP continues to tell customers that parts availability will make such support a struggle. Robert Gordon of Genisys, one of a handful of HP 3000-related companies on the Techology Exchange show floor, said that parts for 9x9 and earlier 3000s are in easy supply. A-Class and N-Class systems are easier to get this year than last, but still more of a challenge to find.

08:12 AM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 19, 2006

Contributor of the year, roadmap of years

Chrisawardsm Before we head off to the Migration Success roundtable, we'll share a pair of photos from yesterday's HP 3000 news. At the e3000 Update, HP 3000 Business Manager Dave Wilde (left) presented the latest Contributor of the Year award. This is a plaque that HP has passed to many storied hands over the last 10 years, including Adager's Alfredo Rego, MB Foster's Birket Foster, Lund's Bill Lancaster and OpenMPE director Donna Garverick-Hofmeister, to name just a few.

This year's winner is Speedware's Chris Koppe (center, with HP lab liasion Jennie Hou at right) the only member of both Interex and Encompass boards of directors. Wilde said that Koppe has a long history of service to the 3000 community, "and we haven't always agreed" over the years, a sign of a good advocate for the customer. Koppe said afterward that he was completely surprised by the award.

HP also showed off history of the platform as well as the future of its involvement with the 3000 in a summary slide. At the moment, HP is calling December of 2008 the "current end-date" of support, leaving the door open for more years of HP involvement.

Sep18roadmap

07:56 AM in News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 18, 2006

HP quiet on boardroom, speaks on SSEDIT

After HP CEO Mark Hurd stayed mum on company boardroom misconduct during his opening speech of the Technical Forum here in Houston, the 3000 group inside HP said the company would issue a statement about modifying 3000s without HP support help.

Hurd said only that HP "had gotten a lot of press last week" before beginning his prepared remarks. The company's stock is at five-year high, despite the threat of indictments of HP employees over the "pretexting" scam that snooped into private phone records. Over the weekend HP revealed that it had tailed a reporter and one of its board members during its leak investigation.

The vendor's employees closer to the 3000 community had more to say about the privacy of data, this time in the systems' stable storage. HP's Jennie Hou said during this morning's e3000 update the company will be releasing a statement on HP's policy regarding changes to the stable storage contents of HP 3000 systems. Such changes are possible, without HP support intervention, using the SSEDIT software from IRS4HP and Advant support.

"Our customers have recently requested more clarity on e3000 upgrades in terms of hardware," Hou told a meeting room of about two dozen attendees in the session following Hurd's speech. "We're working on releasing an official policy statement, later in 2006. We will reiterate the things that are very consistent with HP's expectations. For example, for systems that running MPE/iX, the need to have the right level of software licensing. Upgrades to the hardware should be through an authorized path."

"If there are modifications to licensing or stored information, they do need to be conducted by HP's authorized personnel," Hou added.

Hou said the vendor believes there is an even balance today between supply and demand for HP 3000 hardware. The availability of 3000 hardware on the open market, nearly three years after HP stopped building new HP 3000s, could be an issue in relying on third parties to change model strings and PA-RISC hardware personality with SSEDIT.

HP's message about making changes outside of HP support services "gives the customers the information they need to do the right thing," Hou told us after the update.

07:17 PM in News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 15, 2006

OpenMPE stirs the emulation pot

A new member of the OpenMPE mailing list has posted a fistful of proposals for the advocacy group — enough that some group members want to nominate Pete Eggers for the open spot on the group's board of directors.

Much of what Eggers addressed has been discussed before by group members, but it's always a good thing for a new spark of energy to reverberate through an all-volunteer group. Unlike Encompass, nobody is getting paid for being part of this user group. But the work goes on. John Dunlop was working this afternoon to bring the Web site up to complete operation after an upgrade.

Eggers' emulation discussion, and other related messages, are available on the OpenMPE mailing list archives. Send your browser to the archive page to read where Eggers tees off a lively chat among 3000 devotees, some of whom believe in a future for your enterprise server beyond HP's plans.

The discussion has generated 46 messages in three days, more than the input in the prior three months. At least one new HP 3000 expert, Mark Ranft, has volunteered to help. Take a look and add your opinions.

04:35 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 14, 2006

Amisys gets traded, again

While we wait a little longer for your comments on HP's boardroom blunder (keep those cards and letters coming folks), I'll turn for a bit to the world of migration and healthcare applications. AmisysSynertech, the owners of the Amisys/3000 customer base, have been acquired by a healthcare firm called DST.

The transaction, expected to close by the end of the fourth quarter, will be the fifth sale of Amisys since 1997 — moving from an independent company to a minor group at HBO, which merged with McKesson, then sold Amisys to Platinum Equity, which sold Amisys LLC to Whitney & Co. for an undisclosed amount in 2003. Now that Amisys has been paired with Synertech, that firm has been acquired by DST. Not bad for a company whose 3000 application customer base never reached more than 120 organizations.

Of note: The press release that unveiled the transaction also put a number on AmisysSyntertech revenues. The combined numbers — accounting for support fees for 3000 sites, sales and support of the new Amisys Advance replacement app, and oh yeah, all that hosting revenue from Synertech — came to $103.4 million for fiscal 2005 and $65.1 million for the seven months ended July 31, 2006.  Amisys has approximately 1,400 employees located in three principal locations: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Rockville, Maryland; and Hyderabad, India.

What the acquisition means, for the 3000 customers who plan to migrate to Amisys Advance, remains to be seen. There are two kinds of acquiring companies: those who loot the assets to strenghten existing lines of business, and those who buy successful companies to offer and integrate a new line. DST has a DST Health Solutions wholly owned subsidiary, which will assimilate the Amisys staff and customers.

This is not the first time Amisys has been acquired by a publically traded company. DST said in its press release:

DST will fund the acquisition with available cash balances and existing credit facilities. The integrated business unit will operate as DST Health Solutions. On a pro-forma basis, the transaction is not expected to have a material impact on DST’s net income or earnings per share for 2006.

That's businesss-speak for "No matter what business Amsys does in the next quarter, we're too big to expect the revenues or profit to make much of a difference in our balance sheet and '06 report."

Reading tea leaves in the release will give migrating customers a chance to expand their purchase plans with Amisys and its new parent. "DST believes the expanded DST Health Solutions business will provide deeper product offerings to existing and new customers, as well as leverage DST’s AWD and Output Solutions products"

Last year DST acquired CSC's Health Plans Solutions business. The HPS applications were to "expand the DTS presence in the healthcare processing services industry, which currently uses DST's AWD and Output Solutions products."

DST is largely a computer services company, the market segment which produced all that revenue for Synertech. DST's market cap is $4.2 billion, about one-fourth the size of McKesson's. Amisys Synertech was privately held by part of the Whitney Group at the time of the sale.

12:44 PM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 13, 2006

AG office finds evidence to indict inside HP

Even after HP announced it would remove Patrica Dunn from the chairman's seat on its board of directors, the company got another signal the "Pretext-Gate" mess in the board room won't go away anytime soon. Although CEO Mark Hurd told employees that its subcontractor's blunder to probe personal phone records "has nothing to do with HP operations," California's attorney general has announced it has "sufficient evidence for indictments both outside and within HP" over the matter.

Hurd's statement will only turn out to be true if no indictments are filed against an HP employee. Dunn is not an employee; neither is chief counsel Larry Sosini, who told the board the hoax was within the bounds of the law.

Hurd is right in one aspect: this behavior has nothing to do with the operations of the part of HP still serving the homesteading 3000 customer. We should all keep in mind there are two HPs: the one that allowed this blunder to happen, without adequate oversight; and the one that still serves the 3000 community at the "worker bee" level.

The 3000 customer who plans to move to HP's other servers must take Hurd's statement to the press yesterday to heart: "These tactics have no place at HP." The California AG's office says it believes someone inside the company harbored and aided this hoax. Customers may have a different view than HP shareholders about Pretext-Gate. The market bid up HP's stock price to a five-year-high yesterday.

For the record, the legality of these tactics is still in play. If criminal or civil claims arise from this hoax, then fans of privacy rights can hope that "pretexting" will be labelled as illegal as ethics make the scam appear.

HP announced yesterday that chairman Patricia Dunn will vacate her non-exective chairman seat on the HP board of directors, reacting to CEO Mark Hurd will replace Dunn as chair in January, according to an HP press release. HP also announced that Dick Hackborn, a director since 1992 and now retired from HP, will be "lead independent director," effective in January. Dunn will remain on the HP board, however.

HP has never had a "lead independent director" before now. Hurd said in a statement that the "pretexting" hoax used by the company's hired investigators will be off limits. "I am taking action to ensure that inappropriate investigative techniques will not be employed again," Hurd said. "They have no place in HP."

HP also announced that director George Keyworth has resigned effective immediately. The company has posted a detailed summary of statements from Hurd, Dunn, Keyworth and Tom Perkins, who also resigned over this blunder. Dunn and Hurd apologized to their board members — but not reporters — for violating their privacy.

08:14 AM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 12, 2006

And how was your day?

[Editor's note: OpenMPE chairman Birket Foster offered us this Open Mike column this morning, based on his reflections while in flight yesterday, Sept. 11. Open Mike, and this newsblog, are forums for the 3000 community.]

By Birket Foster
Chairman, MBFoster

Yesterday marked the five-year mark since the 9/11 event in 2001. A lot has changed since that year. I thought it ironic that my flight was at 9:11 yesterday morning – the airport was busy, almost back to normal (noticeably absent were liquids and gels). The PA system was used to call for a moment of silence – and that was certainly different. All pages and flight announcements stopped for a moment as the concourse quieted. People primed by CNN and the perhaps their radio in the car or taxi on the way to the airport, all reminded of the changed world we live in.

The in-flight movie was Poseidon, a re-made movie about people who took a risk to escape a disaster. I am not sure I like the idea of a disaster movie on a plane, but it inspired me to write this piece.

I was thinking about parallels with the HP 3000 market, and how disastrous the changes have been for many since the announcement in November 2001. There are many members of the community, both customers and suppliers, who have moved on. Some have tried a couple of times to escape from the platform — only to discover there were pieces missing in the intended solution, or that the solution was too expensive or complex to implement.

At MBFoster we have been helping customers to build both sustainability plans and as well as migration plans. Sustainability plans are important even for those that are migrating. An organization will typically need 18 to 36 months to execute the transition plan, and some will need to keep the original application available for history, audit or compliance purposes for some time after the new application is successfully running. Skipping this process “because we are going to migrate” is a recipe for disaster.

Sustainability planning should be thought through on a business basis – what will it cost to have your application down? Is there a worst time or a better time – typically there is a range of costs and impacts – depending on the time when the disaster strikes. There should be two measures in your business continuity plan – the steps you have taken to mitigate the risk of a failure, and the steps and mean time to recovery. These plans are sometimes known as resilience and recovery plans.

There are steps that can be taken to reduce the chance of a failure. Look at your disk drives – today a set of RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disk) drives will go a long way to guard against a failure. If you have got RAID drives then you should think of replacing them every three to five years.

  • If you have spare parts like disk controllers and drives, who on your team or in your supplier team is capable of replacing the parts?
  • How would they know which part to replace?
  • Do you own the spares or does a vendor have them for you?
  • What is the time to get them on site?

Ordering the parts off eBay is probably not a safe strategy, unless you can wait for the auction to finish.

There are questions aplenty to consider about disasters and your plans. Does your plan look at the cost of the outage? Does your senior management team understand the risks and measures that IT has taken on behalf of the organization? Do you have the list of prioritized tasks that it will take to keep your business running? Will you be able to serve the customers manually? Can you still ship to or service your customers? What is the impact and how will it be handled? Who declares the disaster?

Does your organization have business continuity insurance against various forms of business interruption? There may be compliance issues associated with having a written and up to date plan.

In 1998 MBFoster survived 16 days with no power at our offices. We had a generator running within 48 hours capable of running the whole building. But all of our planning had been for short outages. Our cell phone list was out of date and we had to build both the communications plan and the revised daily operating procedures to allow the shutdown of power to the building at 7AM and 7PM to check the generator. We diverted phones and faxes to our other offices while we acquired the generator. It was interesting and taught us a lot.

Now is a good time to check your business continuity plan to be sure it is up to date and you have included all the different applications and functions in your plan. E-mail, FTP and other communications methods need to be considered if you use them with customers or supplier partners. It turns out that this review will help today and when you begin your transition. Each interface both inbound and outbound from your systems needs to be documented, so that when you transition you can be sure that this functionality or surround code won’t be overlooked.

Whether you are homesteading or transitioning your applications, building a business continuity plan makes sense. Ask your accountant or insurance company for a checklist and adapt it to your needs. If we at MBFoster can help, or you have any questions or comments on this article, feel free to send me a note at Birket@MBFoster.com or at 800-ANSWERS (that’s 800-267-9377) extension 204.

I hope you had a great day.   

Birket Foster is the Chairman & CEO of M. B. Foster – a software company offering cross-platform data access and delivery solutions in the HP 3000, HP 9000, Unix/Linux and Windows markets. He travels a lot and hopes that he has made a difference for many of the NewsWire readers over the years. He invites readers to drop The 3000 NewsWire a note, or a story about that occasion.

09:11 AM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Update: HP's lead attorney said investigation tactics were legal

In a Tuesday story, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that HP's chief counsel Larry Sonsini approved the "pretexting" hoax to swipe phone records, a blunder that has sparked SEC, Justice Department, Congressional and California state probes of HP.

Sonsini is also leading HP's deliberations on the HP board of directors, now two days old, about what action to take. Patricia Dunn, the chairman who started the probe, isn't attending the meetings. Also recusing himself: George Keyworth, the director linked to the leaks to reporters from the WSJ and News.com.

HP's hired investigators pretended to be the reporters to gather call records.

Today's WSJ's story quotes a dean of Yale's business management school as saying it's "extemely uncommon" to let an outside attorney lead a corporate board meeting. Frankly, Sonsini seems like the right choice to sort out this mess, considering he dubbed the hoax legal.

08:51 AM in News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 11, 2006

HP faces state, federal probe on privacy hoax

In the weekend before new Congressional and US Justice investigations into its "pretexting" hoax, HP's CEO Mark Hurd said in a company-wide memo he believes "this has nothing to do with the strategy or operations of Hewlett-Packard."

The US Justice Department and US Congress have both asked for information on the relationship between HP and its hired investigation firm, which authorized bogus calls to phone companies to tap reporters records. The HP-funded sweep even raked in the phone records of one reporter's father at News.com, according to one story at that Web site.

A customer may ask what this has to do with the HP 3000 community. That depends on your firm's future relationship with Hewlett-Packard. If a customer is homesteading, there's a good chance HP's misconduct or blunder means little — except to reinforce the ill will some of these customers feel about the vendor. Longtime customers may understand there are two HPs — the boardroom level one that cancelled the system's lifespan at the vendor, and the 3000 division loyalists who still tend to customer needs, even in transition.

As for the migrating 3000 customer, they may be measuring HP's conduct in its response to this error in judgment or ethics, depending on how culpable Congress, the US Justice Dept. and California's Attorney General find your vendor to be. HP is saying it will take appropriate action. Who determines what is appropriate? Those injured by "pretexting" investigators, unleashing a coordinated hoax to get at private records and paid with HP's revenues?

The hoodwinked media companies — the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and News.com — have been like hornets swarming from prodded nest since the revelations. Forgiveness is not automatic in a healthy relationship. It's an outdated belief that a person injured, like these individuals whose phone records got the snoop from HP's prowlers, ought to forgive to move on. Unless HP can admit what it did — in the best light, fund an investigation with a disregard for tactics — then customers and the marketplace don't have to forgive the vendor. Reparations are in order for healthy forgiveness, too.

At the moment, HP's leadership believes this incident has nothing to do with the company's operations. Some media companies might disagree, if the matter of trust and responsibility is an element in a company's operations. If HP hopes to repair the damage and earn back the trust of news gathering organizations, bigger changes than blaming this on their subcontractor are needed.

HP's CEO said in his weekend memo that the company's values include the fact that "We have trust and respect for individuals." He added that "Clearly things have happened here that are unacceptable. But we will not react to speculation. Instead, we will continue to gather and review all the relevant facts. I can assure you we will get to the bottom of this and take appropriate action. HP's values are at the core of this company."

Removal of the HP chairman Patricia Dunn, who launched the probe to quell boardroom leaks, seems to be in order. In a twist of irony, she once worked as a freelance reporter.

HP's board will meet within the hour by phone at 9 PM Eastern, well after the stock markets closed, to discuss how it should respond to the allegations and probes. The company deliberated for three hours yesterday, it said in a statement, without deciding anything.

The Wall Street Journal was quoting "people familiar with the situation" in a Monday story, saying that former director Tom Perkins, something of a Silicon Valley venture capital legend, wanted to rejoin the board and see Dunn ousted. The WSJ also got a Perkins spokesman to say Perkins wouldn't come back to the board, even if asked.

As to the people familiar with such deliberations, the signs point to director George Keyworth, connected to the reporters whose records were rifled. HP must endure Keyworth until next spring, when his term expires, if it doesn't take sharp action.

07:33 PM in News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 08, 2006

Speaking of the Houston RUG, and HP's got the problem

Two items surfaced this week that show the wide gulf of the HP experience for users of the 3000. In Houston, volunteers have announced there is one week left to submit a proposal for a talk (PDF file with details) at "The only HP 3000 Conference in North America" in November. Here's to the cheek and moxie of a 3000 community that — five years to the month after HP said the 3000 was kaput — continues to teach homesteading skills to managers. (There are migration talks planned for the GHRUG event, too.)

There is still room at the GHRUG event for speakers, according to conference coordinator Judy Reustle, a volunteer who works for NASA in the Clear Lake area, where the conference will be held. Details on conference registration costs and a speaker list should be emerging shortly, after a GHRUG board meeting next week.

From another state of HP's mind, California — where HP's exit of the 3000 community was executed — we hear news that the private investigators hired by the HP's chairman of the board pretended they were board members to get the directors' phone records. Using that personal information, HP "out-ed" director George Keyworth for leaks after 20 years on the board. HP's chair Patrica Dunn said she was "appalled" at the news.

It's difficult to imagine either of HP's founders, who both served at the chairman post, uttering such a statement. If Dunn was foolish enough to accept an investigator's report without inquiring about tactics used to gather such personal information — this kind of subtrefuge is now called "pretexting" — then she ought to clear her board seat as clean as George Keyworth leaves his.

Update, 5 PM: The story gets worse, at least for anybody who still cares about privacy rights. News.com, one of the companies Keyworth talked to, has reported that "The [investigation] company in turn hired a contractor that used "pretexting" to scrutinize board members, HP said. The technology giant acknowledged on Thursday that the phone records of nine reporters, including two from News.com, were also accessed.

Today's HP board can sometimes let such an issue of integrity and obvious details slip through its grasp. When corporations can hire subcontractors to invade the privacy of investigative reporters —well, that bears no resemblence to the HP I met in 1984. (And oh yeah, I can see the irony in that sentence.) A matter of trust has been breached here. In a bald use of understatement, Dunn calls the incident "embarrassing."

In the Wall Street Journal article on Dunn's alleged discovery, the report said that "California Attorney General Bill Lockyer is investigating whether HP, or firms that it hired, broke California law by pretending to be board members and reporters in seeking phone records." The Journal had a sidebar about "scams" that rely on pretexting. Some might call it impersonation, misrepresentation, or yes, lying.

Being as big as HP is becoming — No. 1 in computer revenue this year, we'd predict — is not very becoming, image-wise. The director who got ousted, much like a good share of the 3000 community, ought to just stay put and see what happens in the face of this mistake.

HP removed him — by eliminating his seat at the next election — because he shared board meeting information with the press. Breaking confidences is one level of mistake. Breaking California law, if that turns out to be the case that Lockyer makes in a criminal charge, is at another level. HP would show more integrity if the vendor could emulate Keyworth's information sharing — between its own board and subcontracted investigation companies.

01:44 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 07, 2006

SWAT team arrives on 3000-L

Although the HP 3000 mailing list 3000-L only goes out to 581 e-mail subscribers today, many more use and contribute to this online resource through the Web or newsgroup readers. This ready resource for 3000 help acts as a virtual support team for the community, and it swung into action for users of Samba this week.

Our entry yesterday on Samba included references to use the Samba Web Administration Tool (SWAT). In the last 24 hours the 3000-L experts added even more detail. Frank Gribbin, whose company was one of the Java pioneers in the 3000 world, posted his experiences with SWAT. Then OpenMPE director Donna Hofmeister added some updated testing of SWAT on her 3000.

Gribbin put his useful info online, then Donna commented and updated:

Here's some useful info when getting SWAT going. In SERVICES.NET you'll want a line that reads:
swat   901/tcp   # Samba/iX Web Admin Tool

In INETDCNF.NET you'll want:
swat  stream tcp nowait.400 SAMBA.ORG /SYS/SAMBA/SWAT207L swat
-a
(adjust the path to your SWAT NMPRG)

The above comments for inetdcnf.net seem to be pretty old. If you're running 2.2.8, you'll want:

swat stream tcp nowait MANAGER.SYS /usr/local/samba/SWAT swat

Donna continues, "If you’re running an older version of Samba, you’ll need to modify ‘/usr/local....’ to point to where SWAT actually lives (and case is important).  I believe the user needs to match the user in your samba daemon jobs. (For me, it’s MANAGER.SYS, for you it may be MGR.SAMBA)  I also think you do not want to use the -a switch.  Here’s what the SWAT documentation has to say:

-a
This option disables authentication and puts swat in demo mode. In that mode anyone will be able to modify the smb.conf file.

Do not enable this option on a production server.

When I connected to my MPE/Samba server (Running SWAT without -a) through a browser to access SWAT, I was asked for a logon and password... which I figure is a good thing.

I reboot the 3000 at this point.

You shouldn’t need to do that. After changing your services and inetdcnf files, all that you should have to do is give inetd a swift kick (e,g,  :inetd.net -c  ) Check inetd’s $stdlist after doing that and you should see that it brought in the new configuration.

In your Web browser point to http://xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx:901/(where xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx is the IP of your 3000)

Or you can use the name of your 3000 too.

Donna tested the -a option, too. "The first time I connected to my MPE/Samba server through SWAT I logged on as MANAGER.SYS (and gave the appropriate passwords). I had full access to all of Samba’s smb.conf file. The second time I connected, I logged on as a different (non-sm, non-pm) user -- this time I only had a limited view. I could check Samba’s status, view the smb.conf file -- but not make any changes! I vote for no -a."

Gribbin noted that when updating Samba and Apache config files, some are picky about how their records are terminated. Robelle's Qedit and Programmer Studio from Whisper Technology make the needed adjustments. "Be sure to know what version of MPE/iX you have installed, including patches," noted Gary Jackson.

So in less than a day, a 3000 manager got two options for tools to modify Samba's tools, and a team of 20-year 3000 experts giving fundamental answers to a how-to tech question. It might be hard to get that level of 3000 experience on an support call to HP this year.

09:39 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 06, 2006

Taking a SWAT at Samba

For many years HP 3000 sites wished they had what they saw on other systems. Then in the late 1990s the community got a lot of what it wanted. By 1999 the platform got the Samba file sharing system, a universal utility you find on nearly every computer.

Samba arrived because of two community coding kings: Lars Appel, who ported the Samba open source package to the 3000, and Mark Klein, who ported the bootstrap toolbox to make such ports possible. As John Burke said in the sunnier year of 1999:

Without Mark Klein’s initial porting of and continued attention to the Gnu C++ compiler and utilities on the HP 3000, there would be no Apache/iX, syslog/iX, sendmail/iX, bind/iX, etc. from Mark Bixby, and no Samba/iX from Lars Appel. And the HP 3000 would still be trying to hang on for dear life, rather than being a player in the new e-commerce arena.

So Samba is there on your HP 3000, so long as you've got an MPE version minted in the last six years or so. But getting started with it might perplex a few managers, like the one who just asked how to get Samba up on its feet on his 3000. One superb addition is SWAT, the Samba administration tool. Yup, the 3000's got that, too.

As a total network newbie, I tried to get Samba up and running from the directions at docs.hp.com, but failed miserably. Do you need Samba running before you can run SWAT? Where can I find the instructions for Samba on the 3000 for the complete idiot?

When this user asked how to Samba, OpenMPE director Donna Garverick-Hofmeister showed off some steps (her reply here de-Donna-ized with capital letters)

I’ve not tried SWAT. I remember a HP World presentation on Samba that included how to get SWAT to work. The presenter said something about having to add certain ports to your services file (maybe... It’s been a long time... and I think I glazed over at that point.

1. What OS version are you on?  And Samba’s version?
2. When you click on explore your network on your PC (aka network neighborhood, in old-speak) is there a domain/workgroup name?  Did you add that to your smb.conf file?  Is your MPE server on the same network as the rest of your servers?
3. Did you edit smb.conf with vi or another bytestream-friendly editor?
4. In smb.conf, is interfaces set correctly to your MPE system’s IP address and mask?
5. You probably don’t want to be a domain master or preferred master.

Samba is generally pretty easy to get started.  There’s not a whole lot to change in the smb.conf file (adding logons is a bit different though). A few minor changes and Samba should start up.

In addition to Donna's advice, we can add a few pointers to help. First, SWAT runs on the HP 3000 fine. Have a look at the HP Jazz Web page about the last version of Samba to see a SWAT confirmation. SWAT's been around since we took note of when Appel ported it, in 2002.

HP's Jazz page also includes links to Samba resources. SWAT has its worldwide features cataloged on a Web page at Samba.org.

So Samba and SWAT still help the 3000 play in the now-not-so-new e-commerce arena, as well in other neighborhoods.

11:48 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 05, 2006

Board fights replace clubby HP history

The Wall Street Journal reports that HP's board of directors is refusing to renominate a director in next year's election because he has leaked information to the press.

No, not The 3000 NewsWire. But the Journal's story, which anybody can read online until Sept. 13, covers the fall of the board member most responsible for HP's move to exit the 3000 market: Carly Fiorina. "If it's not growing, it's going," was Fiorina's motto in the years after taking the HP reins. The 3000's limited growth made the platform a candidate for discontinuance, using her standard. Now the board member who wanted Fiorina's power de-centralized is on the chopping block.

Newsweek has a report on a Web site that headlines HP chairwoman Patricia Dunn as the person who has "spied on the home phone records of its board of directors to catch a leaker."

The WSJ report sketches a board running an HP far different from the one that created that HP 3000. Keyworth has been on the board for 20 years, almost since the time HP released the "Mighty Mouse" Series 37 HP 3000, the industry's first office server that could be used outside a computer room, on carpet with standard AC.

"A board can't serve effectively if there isn't complete trust that what gets discussed stays in the room," said Dunn in the WSJ article. Dunn became the non-executive chairman of the HP board last year, once Fiorina was ousted from the chairman and CEO posts. Before Fiorina was fired, HP's board never had anything but an executive chairman.

Keyworth wanted Fiorina's grip on the company loosened, the WSJ said in its story. Now HP will be discontinuing his service on the board, by next spring, for talking about HP's plans with the press.

The Journal writers, who relied on a lot of leaked information while Fiorina was being ousted, dug into their files for blow-by-blow accounts of the blowups in HP's boardroom this spring. The Journal says leaking information to the press from disgruntled directors is pretty commonplace in business.

"The only people who leak more to the press are prosecutors," quips John C. Coffee Jr., a Columbia University law professor. Directors have a fiduciary duty to keep inside information affecting the share price confidential, but other leaks wouldn't necessarily violate any rules, says Mr. Coffee.

"Carly sought to make the leaks the No. 1 issue," said one board member, "and the board was seeking to make performance the No. 1 issue." Board members say the leak, and Ms. Fiorina's reaction to it, didn't cause her demise, but probably accelerated it.

11:08 PM in News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 04, 2006

The Labor of Your Love

Here in the US we celebrate Labor Day today, a tribute to the respect workers earned in the labor movement of the 20th Century. It's a holiday with most offices closed, but much labor in the shops and boutiques across Austin and elsewhere.

Homesteading customers face labor too, and they often seem to struggle for respect from the HP computer community. Their work is no less important than the heavy lifting of migration. It's just as necessary, too.

If you were lucky enough to have a holiday today, thank your precursors in the labor unions. Those organizations are as derided now as 3000 customers who stick with the platform and polish MPE skills. For a good look at what labors a homesteader should work on, I offer Paul Edwards' homesteading primer from early in 2004. Homesteading tasks are little changed by this year, with one exception. Many more customers have moved the labor of their 3000 support to third parties.

07:42 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 01, 2006

Training savings still online

TrainingmapHewlett-Packard continues to give its 3000 customers some breaks on the fundamentals of migration. A few weeks ago the company's Alvina Nishimoto reminded managers who were listening in on the SIG-Migrate Webcast that free training is still available to customers bound for HP-UX.

A special password makes as much as $2,000 of online training free. HP began the online fundamentals classes for migrating HP 3000 sites back in 2003. As an example, there's HP-UX from an MPE perspective, network usage and configuration. HP's description:

An online, self-paced course is intended to provide a linkage between the MPE and HP-UX networking computing environments as approached from an MPE perspective.

Price $379, unless you've got the coupon code: ENT96SN02. Look for the pop-up box in the registration pages that says you've got a coupon.

Have a look at the free training available at www.education.hp.com/curr-mpe-e3000.htm. It's worthwhile, self-paced time spent learning a target environment. Hard to beat the value, too, according to our review in 2003.

09:54 PM in Migration, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)