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January 08, 2009

Keep up with the 3000, and Vladimir

From our "Where Are They Now?" series

Vladimir Volokh has maintained his pace of travel through the HP 3000 community, even as this legend of the computer's software field turns 70 this year. The founder of VEsoft called to remind us that the HP 3000's date intrinsics will outlast those in Unix, so long as a program uses HPCALENDAR — correcting a detail he spotted in our printed 3000 NewsWire issue from November.

This month Vladimir will start his 30th year of travels through his base of customers. He carries printed copies of the NewsWire on the regular maintenance consulting which remains the backbone of his business life. He loves to visit a site for a single day of instruction, repair and maintenance of the 3000 and its administrators. January will find him on the road to North and South Carolina for three weeks.

Logfiles are his latest target for cleanup. "Either they always have too many of them, or they have too little. The customers never know what they log, or how to read them. I would say they lose millions of sectors of space to logfiles, but nobody looks at them, so they don't know." But last month, for the first time, Vladimir found an HP 3000 which didn't have any logfiles. Logfiles are useful for 3000s, especially to assist in security. And it's difficult to erase all of them. But as the saying goes, you can make a system foolproof, but not-idiot proof.

"They managed to screw up the system so the last file was shut, so even it couldn't have a logfile," he explained. He laughed, because his visit helped the customer understand and employ logfiles. "After 30 years I am still enjoying it, because there is one single way to do it right, but there are a hundred ways to do it wrong. With every visit I say, 'What now?' I asked them, what's worse than not having any log files? Not noticing it."

Like a patient professor, Vladimir makes the day of his visit entertaining and enlightening. Because the HP 3000 has not changed much over the past decade, he finds many of the same oversights and blind spots in administration and management, peppered with surprises like zero logfiles.

11:36 AM in History, Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink

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