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January 06, 2009

Who's to mind the CALENDAR?

Last year we took note of the HPCALENDAR intrinsic and its ability to create accurate timestamps for decades to come on the HP 3000. The intrinsic isn't new, though, even though HP advised its customers in November to begin using it on HP 3000s.

No, HPCALENDAR harks back to version 5.5 of MPE/iX. Its power lies in the 3000 for use by programmers who want accurate dates beyond 2038 for application files. But the operating system itself? It continues to use the old CALENDAR intrinsic, which only gives an accurate timestamp to 2027.

Is it foolish to be considering the timestamping ability of a 3000 some 19 years into the future? HP must have thought so while it made technical decisions for this system over the past seven years, knowing the vendor would step out of the 3000 community. You see, HPCALENDAR was never integrated into the operating system itself.

Now, with the 3000's development labs closed down, the community can wonder who'll keep the calendar functions up to date for MPE/iX.

Vesoft's Vladimir Volokh called to update us on the CALENDAR mistake, based on an error we made in our November printed issue. Although I carefully reproduced all of the HP technical details about using HPCALENDAR, a "display quote" on the page didn't get the facts correct"

The newer intrinsic extends the 3000's date accuracy for more than 30 years beyond 2008. 2038 will be the last year to accurately store timestamps.

Actually, it's Unix that's going to lose the ability to store timestamps accurately by 2038. Volokh explained that since HPCALENDAR uses 23 bits to store timestamps, there are 8.3 million places to store a date. If only HPCALENDAR had been wired into MPE/iX, instead of just available for application programmers to use as an intrinsic.

08:00 AM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink

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