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July 31, 2008

Storage on the biggest 3000s

Somewhere in Minnesota, a farm of more than 30 HP 3000s tracks airline ticket transactions. The farm, one of the biggest collections of 3000 horsepower, uses plenty of storage. How much is hard to say, since the operation is under wraps and not open to press coverage.

But N-Class HP e3000s need storage that outstrips the requirements of most other HP 3000 models. A customer recently asked about options for data storage on these big systems.

We are looking at using a N-Class system and I’m trying to find out what storage options are available. What kind of disc options are being used out there? I understand that HP does not support EMC storage on the N-Class, but is anyone using it?

Craig Lalley, whose EchoTech consulting firm specializes in putting newer and better storage into 3000 shops, was at the ready with answers.

Lalley, who consults along with Jeff Kubler from their US Northwest HQ, said

The N-Class has native fibre, and while the EMC storage devices are not supported, I guarantee they work just fine.  (I do think the performance of HP's XP1024 arrays are much better).

The N-Class can connect to a VA7410. This storage device supports HAFO (High Availability Fail Over) and is rated at 35,000 I/Os per second.  It has 2GB of cache.  It is a Virtual Array, and is about the size of a MOD20, about 10U. (That's a guess).

The other options are

  • The XP512, which does about 300,000 I/Os per second; it is much older and about the size of one large refrigerator.
  • The XP1024 or XP128 are rated at 450,000 I/Os per second and are a great option today. 
  • The XP128 has less expansion capabilities that the XP1024, but the same core, and can go to 64GB of cache.

As for pricing, it depends on how much space you need.

The payoff between a VA7410 or an XP128 is about three VA7410s  — which means it is less expensive to purchase one XP128 than three VA7410’s.

07:51 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 30, 2008

Advocate: A tired term?

Now that the Connect user group's Web site is up and running, its content and comments are drawing notice here in my office. The group's president Nina Buik, who said in an interview with us at the HP Technology Forum that "advocacy" is being replaced by "community voice," elaborated on the strategy change in her blog at the Connect Web site. She said that many Connect members, including those who manage the HP 3000 replacement platform HP-UX, "have noticed there is no 'tab' marked 'advocacy' on the Connect Web site."

The term voice is important because it’s not Community Rant, Community Scream, or Community Gripe. The culture of Connect is not to be an adversarial watchdog of HP, but rather a positive forum where we can affect positive change to make the products and services we buy from HP even better. It is diplomacy versus combat, it is productive versus destructive.


Advocacy, Buik says, is a tired term "that in most minds reflects the outcome of some extensive survey." That has been true in the Interex user group, the community founded by HP 3000 customer/volunteers. But there were times when the extensive survey was only enough industry pioneers being able to see a problem that Hewlett-Packard could not. And complain about it in public to help HP see the clarity of the problem.

In the fullness of time, however, those Interex Management Roundtables — which gave HP VPs the opportunity to answer questions from a crowd of users in a ballroom — were replaced by that "extensive survey" kind of advocacy. The reviews on that kind of advocacy were pretty bad from the customers, vendors and industry pioneers. The survey was a vast document, with answers checked off on a 1-10 scale. It resulted in HP defending, answering and even admitting where it had gone wrong. The advocacy by that time had all of the dynamic of an infomercial.

But the old style of advocacy was alive at the recent Tech Forum in the HP-UX System Management Panel. Even though Connect needs to call the interchange "community voice," the Islander E room had more than a few customers venting about an unsatisfactory level of HP service and product for the Unix platform. We disagree with Buik and Connect on that point: For adults who can be civil, combat and conflict can result in resolutions.

OpenMPE is an advocacy group, or has been up to now, which goes to bat only about issues that impact the HP 3000 user. There's nothing wrong with either model — and from the looks of what Encompass/Connect has been able to do in getting close to HP management, it seems Hewlett-Packard sees more value in voice than advocacy. But OpenMPE has made a lot of difference in HP's end-game processes and plans for the 3000. But Connect's Buik says that "community voice"

...promises to be much more than the interpreter of an annual survey but a real-time voice to HP and HP’s partners. After meeting with several HP execs in Las Vegas [in June] at the HP Technology Forum & Expo, the goal for Connect is to provide an effective and efficient conduit for response and proposed actions by HP. This is happening, this is real, and this is your new Community Voice.

If anyone has become weary of "advocacy," it looks to be the community members and HP executives who want a positive perspective on the nature of selling computer products and services. It will up to the Connect members to decide if the user group's culture can accomplish what that rants and venting have not. Buik adds

At the first face-to-face Connect board meeting in Las Vegas, I delivered a presentation on Connect culture based on previous feedback and input from the Connect board. There was unanimous sentiment regarding focusing on the positive, objective leadership, open-mindedness and embracing (not just respecting) diversity in everything that we do.

04:53 PM in Migration, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 29, 2008

Keep poison out of your Internet names

It started out as a bizarre error: I couldn't get Google to appear in my browsers this morning. First there were strange messages about "too long SSL strings" broadcast to the server, and finally the mess devolved into every attempt to hit Google landing me at Hostmonster.com.

This kind of attack could happen to the HP server community without some vendor engineering. The assault is called DNS poisoning, a way to hijack the DNS name resolution services of your system or your Internet Service Provider. Hostmonster.com, after all, couldn't tell me much about the state of DNS poisoning. It's amazing how much we rely on the Google site for searches now.

Even the 3000 NewsWire's search features, for our archive Web site and current news blog, use a Google engine. Not an issue for our readers, most of whom use Windows, which has a patch available. Fixing this became a priority mission for me and my servers. It should be for you too, and HP has concocted a patch to help protect you.

The patch is fresh — just about 10 days old, because nearly all of the major operating system makers worked together to create a barrier for this kind of exploit. Notably absent: Apple, which apparently has been too busy creating a twice-as-fast cell phone/PDA to participate in the patch alliance. Soon, we Mac users hope.

Enough of the drama. HP says that it's vital you install patch HSBUX02351, software which affects just about every version of HP-UX in enterprise installations today. That's 11.21, 11.23, and 11.31.

As for the MPE/iX counterparts to these repairs, HP hasn't released any statement we can find, let along any software. DNS represented a watershed for the 3000 when Mark Bixby created the BIND software which performs the addess-finding magic. Bixby is gone away from HP, but Jeff Bandle is a networking guru still working with 3000 community members this year.

We're going to keep up on the situation with Bandle and Bixby, hoping that the HP lab team — still working until the end of the year — can keep Google from turning into a mess of error messages, or some other popular and vital Web site from being routed into the hands of unwitting pirate slaves.

06:36 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 28, 2008

Connect opens up myCommunity

PeoplemapHP user group Connect opened up its portal to the HP enterprise computer community late last week with an introduction of myCommunity, a feature that Connect calls a place that

... mirrors the social networking site launched for HP Technology Forum & Expo 2008, and allows you to find other members with the same interests as you, in the same field as you, and in the same region as you when you use the Community Map.

Connect members receive full access to myCommunity with a username and password which is assigned when they join Connect (Encompass) or contact the organization. The fee for individuals is $50 for a membership which lasts through December 2009. There's even a complimentary membership (for a limited time) with allows you access to myCommunity.

I fleshed out my own profile on the site (you will need the smallest picture of yourself you ever took, at 120x120 pixels) to give my profile some personality, plus three pages of demographics to let the myCommunity software from Leverage Software find matches to my profile. I threw my demographic net pretty wide, but so far haven't come up with a lot of close matches (as you can see above, I'm in the dead center of the circle.) But the site and the community is brand-new. So far, we've got five members of the "Other/HP e3000" group, and two in the SIG Migrate group.

So you could join us in either group and start a discussion, if you're a Connect member.

Othergroup Connect closed the social networking site for the HP Technology Forum & Expo 2008 on June 29, about 10 days after this year's HP Technology Forum & Expo, then worked with Leverage Software to refresh and reintroduce it as the myCommunity feature on the Connect Web site.

Connect explains the features of its social network:

  • Update your profile so that other members like you can find you by selecting “Updating My Profile”
  • Posting to discussion forums by selecting “Groups”
  • Read and post to other individuals’ blogs by selecting “Community Blogs”
  • Start meeting other members like you by selecting the “Community Map”

If you do not have a current Connect membership, we encourage you to follow these simple instructions to renew your membership and start getting connected using the new social networking feature:

1.    Visit the Join Connect page and renew or sign up for your Connect membership.
2.    Once you have renewed or signed up for membership, you may then begin enjoying the social networking member benefits.

07:02 PM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 25, 2008

Questions we all want answered

Back in March the Greater Houston RUG hosted the GHRUG International Technology Conference. This was a meeting full of 3000 customers, many of whom were looking for migration justifications, advice, as well as assurances that homesteading had its merits, too.

Just at the finale of the conference, Alan Yeo of ScreenJet and I dreamed up some questions we planned to handle on a roundtable to conclude the conference. Then an HP employee took an extra 40 minutes to explain virtualization on the HP-UX, and these questions went into limbo.

Well, not exactly into limbo, but into my notebook, since they are good questions many 3000 sites either want answered, or can answer from experience. Take this test and see if you can write a couple of sentences for each.

1. What are the biggest mistakes when people are migrating?
2. What do you perceive as the greatest risks in homesteading?

There are eight more, each providing a proving point for a migration choices and pace of your movement, if any, away from the MPE/iX environment.

The other eight, including a really wide-ranging one at the end:

3. What are the main technical problems that people find during migration?
4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of emulating the MPE environment?
5. What OS choices are you making and why, and what seem to be the pros and cons?
6. What third party tools represent the biggest problems to duplicate when migrating?
7. What preparation would you do now, even if you don't intend to be migrating for several years?
8. Isn't migration from the HP 3000 inevitable?
9. How can Linux help me if I'm homesteading or when I migrate?

The doozy:

10. What are you doing now, honestly?

I'd love to see comments and replies to this entry. I plan to push it in print, over the 3000 newsgroup, and even up on the social networks. Chime in, even if it's just one of the 10. You should ensure that your migration advisor or supplier can answer these for you, too.

03:25 AM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 24, 2008

Eloquence: The path of least resistance

This one is for migration sites only, but the story involves an HP 3000 keystone: IMAGE. Your system has come bundled with IMAGE/3000, then TurboIMAGE, then TurboIMAGE XL and iX, since 1976. HP won an award for the database about the time the product was first bundled with every 3000, ranking Number One in a Datamation study.

Oracle was also in the running that year, along with IBM's DB2. SQL Server didn't exist, and neither did Eloquence — although that last database was not very far away from going to work for enterprises like yours.

Out on the 3000 newsgroup, the users and vendors of the community debated the merits of an SQL database versus IMAGE. Migration sites will require something to replace IMAGE. Nothing is a closer match or a better value than Eloquence, although the product did have a few detractors in the online discussion.

Craig Lalley runs an HP 3000/HP 9000 consulting business along with Jeff Kubler (we interviewed Kubler in our last printed issue). Kubler said, based on his field experience with users

Part of the path is convincing management, and that means getting cost approval. While large companies can absorb the cost of Oracle, most small to medium business would choke at the cost. Eloquence is much more cost effective and provides 80 percent of the capabilities of Oracle.

Small to medium is you, reader, for the most part. More HP 3000 sites hover below the $100 million run rate than those running above it. If your IT enterprise is part of a much larger mothership already using Oracle, migrating to it is an easy decision. SQL Server is only a little easier, because of a cost still in the Oracle strata — but "it's Windows, man."

Something like damning with faint praise, unless you can add, "and I don't mean the bad Windows, Vista."

Charles Finley, who's been working alongside IBM's outpost Sector 7 to migrate large enterprises to IBM systems, said that by breaking out the cost of TurboIMAGE (a clever trick, if you can manage it), the migration databases are not that much less of a value.

If one compares the cost of the Oracle Standard Edition or MS SQL Server or DB2 for something like the HP 3000 with a TurboIMAGE license when it was sold, you will see that the cost of that plus an Intel server is not all that different. I played with Oracle’s numbers the other day and was pleasantly surprised to find this out.

When Michael Anderson pointed out that "migrate to Oracle requires more money upfront. So my idea of 'Path of least resistance' is: COST!"

Denys Beauchemin has also been helping users migrate, and added that using a
"true relational database" like Oracle gives a foundation in software that is, well, we'll let him say it:

Oracle is HUGE, (yes it can be in cost also.)  But as foundational software, it is amazing.  The companies that I have helped migrate to Oracle have been very pleased to get all these capabilities heretofore unavailable to them. Going from IMAGE to Oracle is a veritable quantum leap and one that is very liberating.

As for open source relational database migrations, Duane Percox of QSS said that his application for K-12 school systems used to run on TurboIMAGE. That database has seen its day, he says.

For its day TurboIMAGE was a great tool. That day has passed. Just like I don’t use RMS (DEC) anymore, there will come a day I don’t use TurboIMAGE. No sadness, just fond memories for the fun we had with TurboIMAGE in running circles around DEC solutions that used bloated DB solutions.

We have done a bunch of PostgreSQL and find it to be a wonderful database, but our customers are choosing SQL Server at a rate of about 80/20 over PostgreSQL, with Oracle being almost non-existent. But that [latter choice] is more due to our customer base than the technology itself.

As a last word we'll quote Ray Shahan, IT manager at Republic Title, who also swears by the power of an RDBMS. The power, Shahan says after taking courses in Oracle and SQL Server, lies in the third party tools for those more costly DBs.

The current RDBMS technologies are  to IMAGE what IMAGE was to flat files - just blows it away.  This is not really due to anything about the DB’s themselves, rather, the really cool tools for these DB’s.  SQL alone can make IMAGE more useful (much more useful), but using triggers and stored procs as well as vendor specific access languages (for instance, PLSQL), make data access quick and fun!

12:00 PM in Migration, Newsmakers, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 23, 2008

Preparing for prairie dog pop-ups

Prairiedog Hewlett-Packard canceled its Certified Professional status for HP 3000s earlier this summer. At the most recent HP Technology Forum, user group president Nina Buik of Connect said that HP could only find 21 IT pros who held CP certificates for MPE/iX. No vendor, she reported, would keep a certification program open for so few pros.

There's more to the story, another side that HP 3000 education expert Paul Edwards laid out. HP canceled those 3000 certs for the second time when it was shutting them down this June. Back in 2005, the vendor cut off certifications with little warning. Edwards' efforts and negotiations with Hewlett-Packard's Rich Gossman saved the certs back then.

Why should anyone in the 3000 community care about Certified Professional certification? Even if there were only 60 CP holders with HP 3000 system administrator or HP reseller certs, this is a significant number. Soon, HP 3000 owners will pop their heads out of their cubicles like prairie dogs from holes. They'll wonder where all the expertise has gone and how to find some. In about 22 weeks, HP's 3000 labs will abandon the prairie.

"The 3000 talent pool is shrinking," says Edwards, who retired from the OpenMPE advocacy group this spring after five years of service. He has been a teacher of HP 3000 owners, and said that he usually concluded his classes — taught for HP — by advising the 3000 pros to go take the certification test to get their cert.

I heard at the HP Tech Forum that the vendor couldn't keep a cert program open for just a couple dozen certification holders. It's hard to see why not, considering that keeping those certifications valid would not cost HP anything. The certifications were already issued. HP would be preparing no more tests, or retesting for a platform which HP has frozen.

All the cert program amounted to in HP's effort was maintaining a few dozen names in a database, a database so ill-managed during 2005 that HP couldn't even find it. It was located at last, Edwards arranged to have the certifications put into a special status: recognized, but not to change.

The only way anyone would get a new CP cert would be if Edwards and his partner in education Frank Smith could devise tests for Sylan Prometric Learning centers to administer. HP refused to do even this, even after the vendor had permitted Edwards and Smith to use the HP classroom materials for HP 3000s — materials which Edwards and Smith had written, and rewritten.

Now HP's CP program has been "realigned" for the second time in three years, and more than a dozen CP certs have been kicked out of the program. This kind of weeding out happens when a vendor is turning away from products, not when it's running short of money. HP's Services group was plenty profitable last year.

Finding help for managing HP 3000s, certified help that could pass an HP test on the platform, just got harder this summer. The 3000 owners who have been eyeing the horizon have a better chance of making their ownership sustainable. The prairie dogs, unaware of what HP has been bulldozing on the prairie, will find either another reason to migrate — which would please Hewlett-Packard — or a challenge that their vendor won't assist.

06:00 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 22, 2008

3000 patch fixes repair program

Several years ago, HP updated its 3000 customers to a diagnostic suite called CSTM. The software replaced the SYSDIAG utilities which had served the community for several decades. CSTM put the same diagnostics at hand for both HP-UX and MPE/iX servers. But CSTM needs passwords to run its diagnostics, codes which HP promised to provide to the community, but remain undelivered today.

It's been awhile since that promise (think the Rich Sevcik era, going back into the early 2000s), but this summer CTSM needed a patch to keep working in 2009. Yes, even when HP won't provide but a shadow of its 3000 support, the system diagnostics used by HP CEs, third party supporters and even customers require some updating.

All this brings us to patch ODINX19C, which restores the customer/support provider's ability to access the online diagnostics. HP's notes on the new patch say that the current CSTM password tables will stop working on Jan. 1, 2009 — coincidentally, the same day when HP Support loses its lab facilities for the 3000 and MPE/iX.

Stan Sieler of Allegro Consultants, which supports 3000 customers, confirmed that " the password mechanism was date-sensitive, and had no code for dates past 2009." No matter who's using CSTM, Sieler posed a question about the situation which illustrates HP's continuing role in a 3000 market it claims to be exiting at the end of 2010.

Sieler asked, "The real question is, when support disappears from HP, how do people access the diagnostics?"

Okay, CSTM might not be a major part of your 3000 ownership experience, or a key tool in your sustainability plan. (You do have one of those plans, don't you, if you're homesteading? Pretty cowboy-like if not.) But CSTM is just one of many MPE/iX tools and modules which are getting their last housecleaning this year. HP announced a raft of patches for parts of the OS over the past month. Skipping them can cause problems you don't want in 2009, or even now. Using an un-fixed CSTM can result in a System Abort, in a worst case. Sieler said getting the passwords out of the way can make these diagnostics a tool for the community.

In CSTM, some tools are usable by anyone, and some require a password.  Of the password-protected ones, many would be usable by knowledgeable customers and by third-party support providers... if they know the password.

Putting a new password table into CSTM is not the kind of project the HP IT Response Center will be able to accomplish. In fact, there are more experts now outside HP who can do this kind of "sustaining engineering" than the number inside HP. They're retired experts, like HP's Mike Paivinen, or those who have started new jobs at places like K-12 provider QSS (Jeff Vance, Mark Bixby) or consulting for Marxmeier Software (Lars Appel).

Much of HP's 3000 lab is migrating to the third party environment, or hanging up its "white coats" to pursue new careers like becoming professors in math. Since the experts will be working outside of HP, what good will it do for Hewlett-Packard to keep control of MPE/iX, things like passwords? The vendor won't tell anybody how much control it wants to retain, now that we're in the "Cone of Silence" era on HP's 3000 plans. But issues like updating access to a repair suite do raise the question once more: What's in the future for HP's ownership of MPE/iX?

06:34 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 21, 2008

HP Certified Pro outsourcing

Hpstore_2 Last week I mentioned my trip to the HP Store at the recent HP Technology Forum. The HP Merchandise store sold branded items — most priced under $50 — to tout Hewlett-Packard and especially the HP Certified Professional status of the wearer or bearer. Things like a simple USB laptop light ($6), or the handsome $155 Barrington Captain's Bag, shown below.

This outreach is part of what a trade conference is all about, why you travel and put up with the flight delays,107-degree heat and lines at the airport taxi stands (25 minutes on a Monday afternoon, I kid you not). Barringtonbag You want to touch that bag to take home a badge honoring and bragging about the HP certification you have earned.

But HP is not in the bag business. It's in the service sector, selling what it sells at the HP Merchandise Store. Where in the world does all this stuff come from? It didn't seem expensive (well, maybe the Captain's bag). So where did HP go to get what it sold in Las Vegas. My current Amex statement revealed all. Everything is outsourced these days, especially marketing.

Storerules The goods in the Merchandise Store come from the warehouse shelves of Schroepfer Wessels Jolesch, a Plano, Texas-based merchandise marketing company. The charge for $15.09 in my participatory journalism budget said "SWJ LLC," so a-hunting I went to see what that string of letters meant.

It's pretty amazing to see the vast array of gimcracks and genuine goods on offer at SWJ, or "Swidge," as the company likes to call itself. You can buy whips, then have your logo, whether it's "HP Invent" or "Master ASE," stamped on them. Or just about anything else, it seems, from looking at the Swidge site. Water heaters, it says on the menu of dozens of items. I didn't see an option for the 20-gallon or 40-gallon models.

Swj Did HP and lots of other people give this kind of stuff away in years past, instead of selling it? You bet. I've got a drawer full of the stuff from 25 years of tromping around conference floors. There was always a Swidge out there turning your garden variety golf glove into a corporate badge. This is just the first year I've been party to a purchase of an HP outsourced operation. The store staff wasn't HP employees, either. The Hewlett-Packard staff was on the expo floor, explaining blade enclosures to everybody — even the press on a pop-in interview.

Hpcplight According to the rules above on that blue sign, a big chunk of the merchandise was off-limits to the rare 3000 pro who'd earned HP CP status for MPE/iX. (That sign didn't keep me from buying something off-limits, strictly by accident. And it's good to know that HP is supporting manufacturing business in China, too. HP 3000s serve a major manufacturer in that country, with no migration in the foreseeable future.)

The ability to spend at the Store doesn't matter, considering all the other places a 3000 pro needs to spend — consulting for migration, third party support, spare parts — even training in vendor-neutral environments like Linux. We'll wait to see if there's ever a chance to shop on any expo floor in a Linux store, full of penguin products.

06:58 AM in News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 18, 2008

MPE shell expands, with explanation

Way back in the middle 1990s HP added the Posix shell to the HP 3000, so customers who had Unix and MPE running in the same shop could train operators and managers with a single set of commands. Posix was a plus, making the 3000 appear more Unix-like (which seemed important at the time).

Over the years, however, Posix has been a feature to be discovered for most 3000 managers and operators. (By the way, the computer's operating system was renamed from MPE/XL to MPE/iX just for this added Posix feature).

But enough history; Posix is still on the 3000 and remains a powerful interface tool, an alternative to the CI interface that HP created for the system. You can even call Posix commands from the CI, a nifty piece of engineering when it can be done. That's not always possible, though. A customer wanted to know how to "expand wildcard shells" using Posix. He tried from the CI and had this story to relate.

:LL /BACKUPS/HARTLYNE/S*
ls: File or directory “/BACKUPS/HARTLYNE/S*” is not found

So how do I do this? I need to be able to tell tar to archive all of the reels of a STD STORE set via a regexp.  It does not work in tar, and it apparently does not in ls, so I speculate that there is something special about the innovation of Posix utilities from the CI that I am not aware of. What is it?

Jeff Vance, the 3000 CI guru at while at HP who now develops at K-12 app vendor QSS, had this reply:

   Wildcards on most (all) Unix systems, including Posix implementations, are done by the shell, not the individual programs or in-lined shell commands, like ls in your example. A solution is to run the shell and execute ll from within.

Greg Stigers then supplied the magic Posix shell command to do the expansion:

SH.HPBIN.SYS '-c "/bin/ls -l /BACKUPS/HARTLYNE/S*"'

In a note of thanks, the customer said that getting the answer by working with the HP 3000 community's newsgroup "is like having an entire IT department right outside my door."

An interesting footnote if you've read this far: The Posix shell for the 3000 is one part of the operating system not built by HP. The shell was licensed by HP from MKS, and Hewlett-Packard pays royalties to MKS so Posix can work inside of MPE/iX. That's an issue that OpenMPE and HP will have to clear up before any emulation or source-license arrangements can be worked out.

For now, enjoy using Posix as a way to get familiar with the commands in Unix systems. In the great majority of instances, these commands are the same.

06:53 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 17, 2008

Certifications: No rescue for 3000s

The HP Technology Forum trains IT professionals on HP systems. The meeting also tests those pros who are certified to pre-sell or train on or teach skills about Hewlett-Packard offerings. But HP has decided to test the mettle of HP 3000 experts no more, a decision that the Connect user group president Nina Buik can do nothing to reverse.

Swissarmyhp At the conference she said she "personally went to bat" to get HP to reinstate the certifications, which admittedly are held by fewer than 100 IT pros in your community. Being a  HP Certified Professional is an accomplishment to market, both for HP and for anybody who passes the challenging tests. HP thinks so much of HPCP status that it sold an exclusive line of shirts, caps, jackets and even golf accessory sets in the HP Store at the Forum. You needed a CP badge to buy these materials. The shop was busy.

A seasoned IT manager knows that seeing a shirt or a pen set with an HP training logo assures the company of nothing more than an ability to pass a test once. But the distinction is something more than a resume or the limited references. In a community where the 3000 skills are growing rare, certification could make hiring MPE/iX expertise easier.

Alas, even growing to 50,000 members didn't give the Connect group the clout to turn back HP's choice to end many certifications. HP reported to Buik that only 20 people hold the 3000 certification. As with so many other aspects of Hewlett-Packard decisions that affect the 3000, this was a numbers game the community lost.

"From a business perspective, it's really difficult for HP to justify putting together a program for 20 people," Buik said. "I don't know that any company would do that."

While she's probably right, putting something together was not the community's request. All the 3000 pros who'd earned their certs wanted was the right to let HP recognize them, not produce more testing and advance the certification curriculum. After all, since nothing has changed in HP's technical offerings for the 3000 since 2005 (even counting major patches and enhancements), why re-test?

"That doesn't mean that the 3000 group doesn't deserve a voice to HP, or deserve to get answers from HP," Buik added. This is a "really big company," she explained, and joining a user group is an easier way to be part of a very large organization, much like being in a sorority helped Buik in her college days.

The concept of lobbying a computer vendor for products, strategy or processes used to be called advocacy. HP 3000 customers would advocate things like Itanium support for MPE/iX (promised, then withdrawn) or the continued bundling of IMAGE as the default 3000 database. Advocacy is yesterday's term for this give and take between customer and supplier.

Connect calls the effort "customer voice," according to Buik. These certifications are not so essential to warrant public demonstrations like the ones I've seen at national user group meetings before the Tech Forum took over the business. However, the 3000 community needs a voice to get the answers that Buik says they deserve, answers to more vital questions about MPE/iX licensing and the ownership of technical support information and diagnostics.

"In everything that Connect does, you're going to see that our customer voice is going to be part of it," the user group president said. Since the talks with HP are under wraps now, it seems that having a "customer voice" to break through the cone of silence will be easier to justify — since the vendor has been telling the community answers will be forthcoming. Perhaps Connect can raise its voice on the unresolved afterlife of the heart of the 3000 — and get answers before the remaining 24 weeks of lab support slip away.

09:28 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 16, 2008

Migration bias and mainstream visions

Soltisunify Your community can be seen as complacent. Hewlett-Packard knows this about the 3000 customer who will not adopt a new solution for enterprise computing. IBM knows this too, which is why the vendor hot on HP's heels has given up trying to sell a solution most like the HP 3000's integration. Frank Soltis (above) who IBM calls its Chief Scientist, is selling a new "unified" solution to IBM customers.

It's as if HP decided, back in 2001, to sell a server which could be both an HP 9000 and an HP 3000, all at the same time. The vendor finally did this, an offer once called Superdome which now goes by the Integrity name

The unified system is the IBM Power Systems, the System i and System p. It used to be these were two distinct solutions. The System p was a Unix server. The System i ran as what most of your community knows as an AS/400. This year IBM has combined the two systems in a unification. Even that — a server which can operate with Linux, Unix or the AS/400 environment — hasn't removed the complacence from the community.

We have seen some companies who made the transition to these IBM Power systems. Many to the System p, fewer to the System i. Here at the NewsWire we have reported since 2002 on the prospects of an integrated system like the System i to replace the integrated HP 3000s. IBM sees no end to the System i lifespan. HP has announced the end of its HP 3000 business. The distinction makes no difference to the resellers who try to put a System i into a 3000 shop.

Christian Schneider of PIR Group says there's no pain to remain on the 3000. "I believe that the 3000 users are complacent," he said, after more than four years of effort to induce a migration. There is no pain for them to leave."

Schneider says that good-sized customers have passed when offered a System i solution. "I mean c’mon, Union Beverage/Nationwide Spirits is still on the [3000], and we worked with them back in April of 2003."

That is not a massive entity Schneider describes, not even one publicly traded. But it's not the "frozen in time" business HP identified as a typical homesteading site. Migrations are in play, just not to the IBM Power Systems in major numbers. Like IBM, we miscalculated when thinking that an integrated system should replace another integrated system. IBM has as much faith in the Power line as HP does in the Itanium systems.

But a vendor's faith, plus any technical advantage that can add up to a better or equal value, still hasn't lured 3000 owners to IBM ownership. Schneider explains.

I think the IBM Power Systems blow away any HP offering.  Pick an operating system i, p, AIX, Linux and an integrated Windows card and run it all on one platform.  I haven’t seen anything even close being offered by HP.

But then again, I’m biased.

IBM's bias is to keep integrating the technology and ownership advantages of Power Systems. So it will now sell "one line of POWER6 technology-based servers from a 1-way 520 to the 64-way 595. The new Power Systems will run Linux, AIX and i5/OS. The System i 515 and 525 and the System p 520 will come together under the new Power 520."

IBM has a white paper and an FAQ on this shift, if you're interested.

IBM calls this "mainstreaming" the System i, which was once the AS/400. For the record, the AS/400 celebrated 20 years of service this summer. IBM decided it was time to keep these customers from migrating.

Visionaries at IBM believed they had come to a decision point on the System i  platform. For more than 20 years — from System 36, System 38, AS/400, iSeries and  System i — IBM has kept the community on contemporary, relevant technology  bases. But the question now was, do System i proponents want the platform to be a  unique offering on the edge of the industry, or do they want it to be in the mainstream of IBM technology and a focal point of what IBM is investing in for the  future? Mainstreaming the product was the logical choice.

Logic might be a good reason to reconsider what IBM is now offering. But I keep coming back to what Schneider discovered in offering the System i. He says the customer sees no pain to remain. Hewlett-Packard sees pain in its exit from the community. The customer with no clear migration timetable doesn't see HP's vision as relevant any longer. Whatever is going to move these users, to whatever platform, it won't be Hewlett-Packard or IBM.

09:42 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (2)

July 15, 2008

Join a community, and link in

Nameplate It does not matter if your HP 3000 future lies on the migration or homesteading path. You need to belong. We all do, and it's easier than ever today to join a social networking group to share our lives and what we've learned, as well as make connections to those we'd like to meet.

There's a thicket of options for this out there on the Web. While we wait for the Connect user group to open up its community site, I'd like to invite readers to a group I'm forming up on the Linked In Web site.

Linked In is focused in a way that sites like MySpace will never be — it uses recommendations to connect its members. Joining is free, and from there you can search "HP3000" to find people who know something about the enterprise system you know and have loved.

Facebook is much more fun, of course, and you will find HP3000 comrades there, too. (MB Foster's Birket Foster is especially keen on it these days.) Facebook even has a Fun Wall for its members. Linked In has more than 250 members with HP3000 experience and expertise. You can join up in the new HP 3000 Community on Linked In with a click (and becoming a member.)

Why do this? Linked In is devoted to professional development (jobs and career) and business networking. And no, that's not the IPV6 networking you've been hearing about.

Social networks are the Internet mailing lists of the 21st Century, which is one of the reasons Connect is starting up one right after it allied three HP user groups. What do you get in joining a group? Linked In explains,

Many professionals advance their careers and business goals by counting on industry and professional groups, alumni organizations, industry conferences and corporate alumni groups to help them make vital new business contacts. LinkedIn Groups offers extra features to group-based organizations to help their members stay in touch with one another and discover powerful new business contacts within their groups and beyond.

Yes, these same claims can be made for many a social network. Connect, for example, hopes to offer all this in its forthcoming site, one where anybody can browse, but all will need to buy a membership to share and ask questions. (Joining Connect isn't free, but it is inexpensive.)

Networking is important to the average HP 3000 expert, a person who might not have the same level of skills in meeting new people with similar interests. Do you have a personal blog or Web site? (You can read mine, and its odd mix of books, movies and wisecracks, at ronseybold.vox.com)

My advice is to try a social network to see if you're the type to introduce yourself over the Web — be it Linked In, Facebook or Vox.com — before you start to pay for any community. And if you're wondering what that "Internet mailing list" refers to up above, take a click towards the venerable HP 3000 newsgroup at raven.utc.edu/archives/hp3000-l.html

06:56 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 14, 2008

The *nix and MPE dance

In a world that invites experiments and mergers, a few developers in the 3000 community have asked if Linux could deliver MPE/iX services on more advanced hardware. This concept is, in theory, a place to run the 3000's environment without any reliance on HP's branded hardware.

It's been done in the past, by Ordina-Denkart. Called MPUX, the solution delivers MPE services while an HP-UX server controls the hardware. MPUX gives HP 3000 applications a place to live other than an HP 3000. It does not pull Linux into the equation, however — so that vendor lock-in of HP's Unix remains in the picture.

But over at K-12 developer QSS, which HP's Jeff Vance and Mark Bixby of 3000 fame have gone to work, there's a great push toward putting Linux on the front line of choices for operating environments.

What services could MPE bring to the Linux experience? Former 3000 NewsWire columnist and current Linux app purveyor Shawn Gordon says

Linux could really benefit from MPE's batch and spool environment. There's virtually nothing other than cron and regular disk files. It's a real pain in the butt and I'm really surprised no one has done something yet.

QSS has done just that with its Linux work, reports founder Duane Percox.

The work at QSS, which continues to serve an education community including some members using HP 3000s, makes a good start at bringing MPE/3000 elegance to the rough-edged Linux environments. Percox says

At QSS we have an expectation that we can monitor and track all jobs that our customers run when using our QSS/OASIS software. This has been particularly easy with MPE since those features are built-in.

We have ported our systems to HP-UX and Linux (Red Hat and SuSE) and needed the same functionality on those platforms.

This is what I can report:

1. We contracted with an organization to create the basics of a job scheduling system that would run on HP-UX/Linux that would support basic job scheduling as we use it on MPE:

   -- job queues, stdlists, scheduling, job management, programmatic interface for launching jobs

   -- ability to have input parms in the script (think JCL) as we did on MPE

2. Took that system and have been refining it (and fixing issues that arise) and using it with our first deployed hp-ux/linux systems.

3. Continue to evaluate the opportunities for productizing this resultant job management system, but currently cannot afford the distraction.

4. We have always had our own print environment so we are not disadvantated by the lack of a built-in spooler for our applications. However, we do use CUPS on our Linux systems and find it to work quite nicely.

Job management was always one of the 3000's enterprise advantages, even as third parties extended the capabilities in offerings like Unispool and Maestro. Putting these services into a Linux setting makes that open source, no-vendor-lock-in solution an even smoother migration destination.

And if you're not migrating from your 3000, take a few moments to appreciate the built-in job management capabilities of MPE/iX.

11:46 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 11, 2008

Euro learning connects all in Fall

Connecteurope Now that the three HP user groups — ITUG, Encompass, and HP-Interex EMEA — have formed up as Connect, the new entity is rebranding and expanding a conference. (Connect officials said at the recent HP Technology Forum that two of the three organizations, including Encompass, ceased to exist in their old names.)

Community Connect Europe 2008 will open up in Mannheim, Germany Nov. 10-12. The meeting has been an ITUG (Tandem/NonStop) event in past years, but Connect is working to expand the content to include all HP Enterprise platforms which HP continues to offer.

The conference organizers are accepting proposals for presentations through Monday, July 21. The event's speaker team wants papers on Linux, blade technology use and strategy, security, business continuity and Service Oriented Architecture.

Probably more importantly to the HP 3000 customer, the meeting will deliver instruction and advice on the above topics, some of which may be emerging technology choices to even a veteran IT manager.

Speakers receive complimentary Community Connect Europe 2008 registrations. You'll get one complimentary registration per session "valued up to 1,100 Euros or more." (With the US Dollar trading at about $1.60 per Euro, this comp registration is right in line with the price of the HP Technology Forum's full-monty package.) This registration includes access to all conference activities, scheduled meals and social functions, and conference program materials.

There's also an Expo Hall on offer at the event, with about two dozen exhibitors signed up this week along with HP. Event organizers are seeking companies to take space on the show floor, too.

01:02 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 10, 2008

Migration consternation: Back support fees

There might be more customers who don't have to remain on HP 3000s if vendors such as Cognos didn't change so much to upgrade. While that's been the story of consensus in the 3000 community for years, even PowerHouse users in other environments are getting back-payment pain while they try to remain a hostage to the language.

Up on the PowerHouse newsgroup, an OpenVMS consultant said his client was quoted $4,115 Canadian dollars for five extra licenses on a server. The client dropped PowerHouse support in 2004, since they'd never used support in five years of owning the language. The real sticking point comes when Cognos, now owned by IBM, demands back support fees for a chance to sell those five licenses. Etienne Rompre said

The license price is okay for five users, but they also said that I need to get back on support for two years back and one year forward for an additional $9,900 CAD. So for five additional users, this sums up to $14,015 or $2,800 per user. At this rate, even Microsoft licenses seem cheap.

Many a HP 3000 site faced with this kind of pricing will find a way to step away from PowerHouse. Core Migration uses both Java and Microsoft's .NET framework to liberate customers from this kind of business practice. After all, vendor lock-in is so 1980s. And the new Cognos ownership has apparently changed nothing about this kind of pricing practice.

For the 3000 homesteading community, the Cognos approach just keeps companies in the "continue to use" mode, since they might be able to cost-justify migration's new hardware and the surround code programs, but can't pay the price in return-to-support fees. Migration candidates have to pay to remain on PowerHouse, even on a new platform like HP-UX, where they also might have to swallow upgrade fees.

Vendors are entitled to charge whatever works for their business plans, but OpenVMS, just like HP 3000s, is a platform with a dwindling lifespan at Cognos. It's easy to understand why back support makes sense for a supplier who's going forward with your platform. It's baffling to see how this kind of business could do anything but drive a customer into an alternative — or freeze them onto a platform they might otherwise leave.

Etienne anticipates a chilly reception to a Cognos offer that looks hot to grab cash from a receding product line.

If I present this to the customer, they will show me the exit pretty fast, and find another car rental package running on the web or on Windows. Any suggestions on how to pass this to the customer? Or any suggestion to move away from PowerHouse to another open source tool to redo the rental package?

HP recognized this kind of pricing would hold up HP 3000 migrations and said they would try to work things out with third parties. But the vendor realizes it cannot force a company to deal in a way to retain customers and encourage migrations that stick with the language or solution. Cognos isn't the only company dealing this way, but the stories never seem to cease about the product that's still running in more than a thousand HP 3000 sites.

09:33 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 09, 2008

Going cold turkey, coming on board

Some stay, and some just have arrived. After Gary Sielaff told the community he was about to unplug his HP 3000 — and was preparing to hear screams from users about the replacement Windows system's Blue Screen of Death — a new user asked about basic database backup.

I just started learning an HP 3000 — I guess we are going in different directions. I have an HP 3000 connected to an Win32 IIS box. How would I go about backing up the database before I go running DOALL commands?

Matt Perdue replied:

Start out by doing a test:

:FILE STORDISC;DEV=DISC :STORE @.PUB;*STORDISC;SHOW.

This should backup all the files in the PUB group of the account you're logged in currently and if it works will prove your version of STORE can do a store to disc backup. If it doesn't work do: :FILE STORFILE;DEV=TAPE :STORE @.PUB;*STORFILE;SHOW and the operator (perhaps you) will have to put a tape in and respond to the tape request on the console.

Substitute the "@.PUB" for the database name (e.g. ARDB@.DATA if your database is named ARDB and it's in the DATA group) and store your database to either disc or tape.

You can read the full thread of comments, including Gary's, at the 3000 newsgroup archives.

Perdue, a member of the OpenMPE board, added some general advice for the new HP 3000 user:

See docs.hp.com for the MPE/iX documentation or use the link off HP's Jazz Web site at http://jazz.external.hp.com or just directly to

http://www.docs.hp.com/en/mpeixall.html.

Look for "MPE/iX System Utilities Reference Manual" for the version of the operating system on your machine. To tell that, do a SHOWME and the version will be shown on a line such as:

RELEASE: C.75.00 MPE/iX HP31900 C.45.05 USER VERSION: C.75.00

or

RELEASE: C.70.01 MPE/iX HP31900 C.39.06 USER VERSION: C.70.01

The first example is 7.5 and the second is 7.0

11:38 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 08, 2008

Tools to help embrace .NET

Micro Focus, the company which owns two of the three leading COBOL solutions for migrating 3000 shops, announced a new product today that expands the capabilities of its .NET offerings.

.NET has become a popular framework-cum-strategy for the migrating 3000 community. DB-Net, one of the longest-standing migration companies in the 3000 space, specializes in .NET. So does Core Migration as it carries PowerHouse users into the world of Windows servers.

The Micro Focus Net Express with .NET is getting updates to Net Express and Server Express, according to the MF press release.  Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 can now be used a tool for developing COBOL applications, according to Micro Focus.

Using a combination of strong COBOL compatibility and innovative language enhancements, enterprises can reuse existing COBOL assets across the enterprise, while also extending them into the .NET Framework. Developers can now build programs more efficiently, delivering greater business agility as IT departments can meet business needs at a faster pace. This will increase software developers’ productivity, freeing up more resource to develop further projects.

The Micro Focus release reminded us all that COBOL is the most widely used computer language in the world today, "despite an increasing array of programming languages." The migrating community might be able to shuck off the 3000, MPE/iX, even the IMAGE database. But not COBOL, at least for those firms who rely on their own in-house applications written over many years that hold much of the company's business logic and practices. Stuart McGill, CTO Micro Focus, said:

These latest additions underline our commitment to developing and enhancing our products in the application development market. Major upgrades to our COBOL tools mean that COBOL not only remains a contemporary language, but will continue to be seen as essential for enterprise solutions developers the world over. The software released today runs on 57 different enterprise class platforms.

Those platforms include HP's preferred 3000 replacement of HP Integrity Servers running HP-UX, as well as Windows systems. Micro Focus is having an introductory webcast dedicated to the new release of Net Express 5.1 with .NET, on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 11 AM EDT. You can register for the Web cast at the Micro Focus site.

09:01 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 07, 2008

Something new mixes up data

Over the weekend, a new resource to encrypt 3000 data poked into the community's picture.

Brian Donaldson posted a message onto the 3000 Internet newsgroup, to tease readers with a few details about new software for the 3000.

We now have an application available that will allow users to encrypt data items. Uses the industry standard AES256 technology.

Adheres to TurboIMAGE rules --

  • Automatics are excluded form the app
  • Key items in manual master datasets cannot be encrypted.
  • Search/sort items in detail sets linked to manual masters cannot be encrypted

With security near the top of everyone's concerns, encryption is a hot item in current IT strategies. Orbit Software sells the AES256 level. One supplier to the Ecometry e-commerce user base sells an encryption solution, too.

Donaldson said that the beta version of the software "will allow you to encrypt data items of type X and U. A 30-day demo version is available to one and all who request it."

Contact Donaldson at bmdinsocal@aol.com, or 818.781.4296.

10:03 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 04, 2008

Celebrate Independence Now

Fireworks Today in the United States, we celebrate Independence Day by vacationing from work, driving cars on some of least expensive gasoline in the world, and reflecting, between fireworks' starbusts, how lucky we are to choose.

Although July 4th is a distinctly US holiday, a British friend of mine says it's the UK's independence day, too — as in, "We're rid of that dysfunctional colony once and for all."

Think for a moment, if you're reading this on the holiday or the days that follow, the items you can celebrate leaving behind while you continue your use of the HP 3000.

You are independent from inflexible pricing on 3000 support (what non-HP entities could compete when HP was in the market in a serious way?), as well as the need for HP-branded storage. Plenty of SCSI disks will work with 3000s without bearing the HP badge. The SCSI pass-through driver will embrace even more, once the software is applied to the task by the community's experts.

Then you can celebrate the long-gone uncertainty about HP's plans for the system. For each year we published The 3000 NewsWire up to 2001, the community worried that Hewlett-Packard was locking MPE/iX and the 3000 in the enterprise ghetto. Being turned out onto the streets of independence eliminates that wild card from your relationship with the system.

But perhaps most of all, the independence of the 3000's Transition Era gives any user of the system The Power of Now. That's the title of the Oprah-discovered classic book by Eckhart Tolle. He says that the true pleasure of Now is that it removes the pain in life. We're drawn to the future, as well as the past, by our ego. The ego makes us crazy and our lives miserable.

The future is something our mind creates, while the past is where we believe our identity grew up. In truth, our self is something inside us, rooted as deep as your company's business mission. Now this community is liberating its self to enjoy the stability of a system still working as promised, without the vexation of Vista, or the stagnation of Unix, the dizzy puzzle of database elements, or being tethered to Microsoft's free-falling business strategy. Embracing this self should feel like independence.

Years ago, your company chose an integrated solution in the 3000. Although nothing lasts forever, this system will continue to serve until the Internet runs out of addresses (IPv6 is coming) or Microsoft tosses a data access curve you can't work around. Until then, you can live in the Now. If you don't want to create any more pain in your life, don't create any more time than is necessary to keep your IT resources doing their job. Futures, pasts, roadmaps, none of these exist in reality. Ask a 3000 community member about roadmap reality.

"Don't create any more time than is necessary to deal with the practical aspects of life," Tolle advises. Celebrate independence from the future (now that HP is departing) as well as the past. Always say yes to the present moment, something you can define on your own. HP has left this choice to you.

04:51 AM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 03, 2008

HP helps 3000 open source effort

Hewlett-Packard's contribution to open source software on the 3000 has been profound since the late 1990s. That's when the vendor added Java to the operating environment subsystems and began to ensure that fundamentals like Samba were included in the 3000's toolset.

But one of the more significant — and perhaps final — contributions from HP to the 3000 community's open source users showed up about a month or so before the recent HP Technology Forum. HP posted an open source porting white paper, using Samba as its example, as a guide to porting programs to MPE/iX.

HP community liaison Craig Fairchild notes the paper that covers Samba/iX 3.0.22 "is intended to serve multiple purposes; to help specifically with any future Samba ports, and to help generally with other open source porting efforts."

Fairchild explains that the paper is intended for:

  - non-HP e3000 programmers to become more adept at porting open source software to MPE/iX
  - documenting the steps used in the porting of Samba/iX version 3.0.22
  - expansion of a few selected porting concepts beyond Samba
  - supplementing existing porting sources on the Jazz Web site.

12:39 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 02, 2008

Create PDF files from 3000 output

Last year we updated the abilities of the Sanface Software solution to create PDF files out of HP 3000 output. But there are other ways and tools to do this, a task that's become essential to sharing data reports between HP 3000s and the rest of the world's computers.

On the HP 3000 newsgroup, a veteran 3000 developer asked,

Has anyone any experience involving taking a file in an output queue and creating a PDF version of it?

"We use text2pdf v1.1 and have not had any problems since we installed it in October 2001," says Robert Mills of Pinnacle Entertainment. "I have e-mailed a copy of this utility and our command file to 27 people. Never knew that so many sites wanted to generate PDFs from their 3000s."

The program is a good example of 3000 source code solutions. This one was created as far back as the days of MPE/iX 6.0, a system release which HP has not supported since 2005.

Lars Appel, the former HP support engineer who built such things on his own time while at HP support in German, has source code and a compiled copy of the utility.

Such solutions, and many more, are hosted on the Web server at 3K Associates, www.3k.com. Check the Applications Ported to MPE/iX section of the Public Domain Software area at 3K's Web site.

You'll also find a link to GhostPCL up at the site, another Appel creation, one which he describes as

A program that reads PCL input files and converts them to a variety of output formats, including PDF or JPEG, for example. Combined with my little FakeLP Java program, you might even use it to capture MPE/iX network spooler output and generate PDF or JPEG from an MPE/iX spoolfile.

Open source solutions like these have been an HP 3000 community tradition. Way back in 2000, we reported in the NewsWire about that FakeLP Java program, helpful in getting text2pdf to do its PDF magic. (For the record, both Mark Bixby and Appel are still working in the 3000 community, but not for HP; Bixby joins QSS this month, and Appel has been helping in support for the producer of the database Eloquence, Marxmeier Software)

A roadblock to using the text2pdf program: the spoolfiles had to be in text file format to work with it. But Lars Appel offered a free solution to make 3000 spoolfiles that don't rely on CCTLs ready for their PDF closeups:

"I have a small Java program that listens to a given port, for example 9100, and 'pretends to be a network printer' i.e. gets all the data sent and writes it to a flat file. This might be a start, as OUTSPTJ.PUB.SYS should have converted CCTL to plain PCL when sending to a JetDirect printer. However, this little Java program is just a quick and dirty experiment. Use at your own risk; it worked on my 3000, but your mileage may vary."

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ cut here _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

// FakeLP pretends network printer to capture spooler PCL output

import java.net.*;
import java.io.*;

class FakeLP {

public static void main( String args[] ) throws Exception {

int port = 9100;
int next = 1;

if (args.length > 0) port = Integer.parseInt(args[0]);
if (args.length > 1) next = Integer.parseInt(args[1]);

ServerSocket serv = new ServerSocket( port );

while (true) {

System.out.println("FakeLP listener ready");

Socket sock = serv.accept();
byte[] buf = new byte[4096];
String name = "F" + (next++);

System.out.println("Capturing spoolfile to " + name);

InputStream si = sock.getInputStream();
OutputStream fo = new FileOutputStream(name);

for (;;)
{
int got = si.read(buf);

if (got != -1)
fo.write(buf, 0, got);
else
break;
}

fo.close();
si.close();
}
}
}

07:25 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 01, 2008

Connect through a social app

Connectcommunity HP's enterprise users group, Connect, showed a peek at its new online social networking site during the recent HP Technology Forum. Designed by social networking software company Leverage Software, connect-community.org will help users — mostly Connect members — connect and find each other based on common interests and experience.

On the expo floor, Connect staff was helping attendees see what the site will offer when it goes live in the coming weeks. The member's profile icon stands at the center of a circle, with icons of other members around it at differing distances. The closer the member's icon is to yours, the more they have in common. (Click on the screen shot at left to see more detail on the interface.)

Filling in a profile on the site gives the proximity and similarity data to the application. There are even opportunities to tell the site that your interest is in MPE/iX.

ConnectdemosYes, the operating system/technology platform, professional interest, even HP Technologies, all have tick-boxes for MPE/iX. The professional interest section also includes the all-important Legagy Migration and Modernization professional interest. That's a category, when you think of it, that much of the HP 3000 community will fall into — regardless of migration or homesteading intentions.

Connect will launch the Social Networking Web site sometime in these weeks following the Technology Forum & Expo. The full benefit of using the site will be reserved for group members, however.

Non-user group members will be able to visit and read postings, discussions and archived information from the old Encompass and Vivit Web sites. But in order to discuss or ask a question or participate in a chat, a Web site user will have to become an Encompass member. Connect's press handlers pointed out that social networking sites sometimes charge a membership fee anyway, so being a member to share on the Connect site isn't all that unusual.

06:53 PM in Migration, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)