December 01, 2017

Fine-tune Friday: ODE's 3000 diagnostics

DiagnosticsOne diagnostic super-program, ODE, holds a wide range of tests for HP's 3000 hardware. These testing programs got more important once HP mothballed its Predictive Support service for the HP 3000 in 2006. Predictive would dial into a 3000, poke around to see what might be ready to fail, then report to HP's support engineers. ODE's diagnostics are a manual way to perform the same task, or fix something that's broken.

However, ODE includes programs that require a password. Stan Sieler has inventoried what was available in MPE/iX and examined each program for whether it's unlocked for customer use. That was back in the days when 3000 owners were still HP support customers. Today the 3000 owners are customers of third party support firms like Pivital Solutions, or Sieler's own Allegro. The locked programs remain in that state, more than six years after HP shuttered its support operations.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:09 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pivital Solutions: Your complete
HP 3000 resource

November 29, 2017

Wayback Wed: MPE gets its last millicode fix

Drywall-patchTen years ago this month HP's labs delivered its final fix for MPE/iX millicode. The patch demonstrated the last critical repair of the OS by the HP development labs. It had been 16 years since HP had to do a fix for the 3000's millicode. The 2007 millicode patch was crucial whenever a customer's applications accessed mapped files and utilized Large Files, those which are 4GB or greater in size

HP introduced the Large Files feature in 2000, just after the community had cleared Y2K challenges. The corruption could occur if any one of five out of the last six bytes of a Large File failed to transfer correctly. Corruption introduced by MPE/iX is so uncommon that the patch became essential—and a way to gauge how much the community might lose when HP's labs would close up.

The labs were ready in a way the customers rarely saw. HP announced the bug with repairs and white papers already available.

OpenMPE sought an opportunity to take a role in the repairs. OpenMPE advocates showed concern that binary repairs like this one would present a challenge to application developers who need to integrate them into MPE/iX in the future. OpenMPE wanted to do this work. The advocacy group never got its opportunity to participate in the development work for 3000 sites.

HP's repair rolled out four years to the day after the company ended sales of the 3000. The development of this type of patch, a binary-level repair, remained available throughout 2009 and 2010. At the time of the repair, HP had not yet licensed its source code for MPE/iX. Delivery of that source code wouldn't take place until 2011. HP's binary patches for the corruption were not done in source code.

Large Files was a feature gone sour, by HP's own reckoning. The vendor was trying to remove the code from customers' 3000s. A 2006 patch was designed to turn off Large Files and get those files on the system converted to Jumbo files, which are much better engineered.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:18 PM in History, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 27, 2017

How dead is tape in 2017? HP thinks it's not

RIP tape backupHP 3000s have been held together with tape. Mylar tape, the sort in 8-inch reels and modern cartridges, has been the last resort for recovery. The world of MPE/iX computing survived on its backups whenever things went awry. It's easy to assume tape's dead these days. People think the same thing about the HP 3000s. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise agrees with the latter death notice, not the former. Tape thrives today because of Big Data.

Why would an MPE/iX customer care about newer tape? Resources like on-premise backup are shared today, here in the era where HP is read to sell a seventh-generation of Linear Tape Open. LTO isn't costly, which makes it a good fit for the always-economical 3000 world. In fact, the media is cheaper than the more common DLT tapes.

"I would still recommend LTO," says Craig Lalley of EchoTech. "I know a couple of my customers are using it. The performance will not be as high as other computers', but that's more or a CPU/backplane issue."

The MAXTAPBUF parameter is essential in using LTO, he adds. As to speed,

The N-Class 750—with a couple CPUs and a high speed fibre disc sub system that definitely helps—but it will never peak the LTO-1 throughput. It's still the fastest tape storage for the HP 3000. So the real advantage is amount of storage. And remember, it is always possible to store in parallel: two, three and four tape drives at once, in parallel as opposed to serial.

It seems that the new job for tape in 2017 is not everyday backups. These ought to be done to disk, a function supported by MPE/iX since 1998. Today's tape is there to backup the disk backups. Backups of backups are very much a part of the MPE Way.

The forthcoming HPE StoreEver MSL3040 Tape Library is designed for small to mid-sized organizations. It offers flexibility and storage capacity of up to 4.08PB with LTO-7. Hewlett-Packard is just one of many companies to keep pushing LTO forward. The standard isn't moving all that fast, though. Five years ago LTO-5 was the cutting edge for complete data protection and secure, long-term retention of business assets.

Using LTO devices for backups of backups on-premise is straightforward for anyone who's created a virtual HP 3000 using Stromasys Charon. So long as the host Linux server can communicate with the LTO device, it can backup a 3000 that's been virtualized. An emulator removes the risk of staying on the MPE/iX environment. A virtualized server won't be tied to interfaces from 15-year-old 3000 iron, or IO designs first crafted in the 1990s.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:40 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 24, 2017

Giving Thanks for Exceeding All Estimates

Thanksgiving-Table-2013
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise sailed into the Thanksgiving holiday beating estimates. The company eked out a "beat" of analyst estimates for quarterly profits, exceeding the forecasts by 1 percent. Overall the fiscal year 2017 results for sales were flat ($37.4 billion) and year-to-year earnings fell. Even that tepid report beat estimates. Nobody's expecting HP Enterprise to rise up soon. Keeping its place is a win.

It's about the same spot the HP 3000 and MPE/iX have shared for some time. After the exodus of migrators tailed off, the community has been losing few of its remaining members. A slice of them met Nov. 16 on a call. Someone asked if there was anything like a user group left for 3000 owners. I was tempted to say "this is it" to the CAMUS members on the line. Someone offered an opinion that the 465 members of the 3000 newsgroup were a user group.

I'm thankful there's still a 3000 community to report to here in 2017. We've exceeded estimates too. Nobody could have estimated that the HP 3000 and MPE/iX would last long enough to try to resolve the 2028 date handling changes. Hewlett-Packard once expected 80 percent of its customers would be migrated by 2006. That was an estimate which was not exceeded, or even met.

I'm grateful for keeping my storytelling and editing lively during this year, halfway through my 61st. I've got my health and vigor to count on, riding more than 2,000 miles this year on my bike around the Hill Country. I'm grateful for family—lovely bride, grandchildren to chase and photograph—and for the fortunes that flow in my life, the work of book editor, coach and seasoned journalist.

HP's steering back to its roots by replacing a sales CEO with a technology expert in Antonio Neri. “The next CEO of the company needs to be a deeper technologist, and that’s exactly what Antonio is," Meg Whitman said on a conference call discussing HPE's succession plan. I can also be grateful for that appreciation of a technologist's vision. Like the death notices for MPE/iX, the fall of technology on the decision ladder was overstated. In 2006 I talked with an HP executive who believed "the time of the technologist" had passed. Strategy was going to trump technology.

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise isn't eager to count up its business selling its servers. The report from last week needed this caveat to claim earnings were up for 2017

Net revenue was up 6 percent year over year, excluding Tier-1 server sales and when adjusted for divestitures and currency.

The most recent quarter's results included HP's cut-out of large server sales, too. "When you can't count the numbers that are important, you make the numbers you can count important," said think tanks about Vietnam war results. There are been casualties while HP let non-engineers call the shots. If Hewlett-Packard Enterprise can be led by an engineer for the first time since Lew Platt's 1990s term, then technology has exceeded corporate estimates of its relevance. Our readers learned about their tech bits long ago. We're grateful to have them remain attentive to our pages.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:31 AM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 22, 2017

Whitman leaves HP better than she found it

WhitmanHP Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman is stepping down from the company's leadership seat, effective January 31, 2018. After her run of more than six years it can be argued Whitman is leaving an HP in better shape than she found the corporation. One measure of her success lies in HPE's revenue growth in spite of headwinds, as the analysts call challenges like cloud competition. That fact can be offset with the number of layoffs during her tenure. Most estimates put that figure at more than 30,000, an employment disruption that ranges even wider when accounting for divestitures and the split-up of HP.

Numbers don't say enough about Whitman's impact on the future of the vendor which invented HP 3000s and MPE. After a string of three CEOs who ended their terms disgraced or fired, she brought a steady gait to a company in desperate need of a reunion with its roots. The Hewlett-Packard of the 1980s delivered the greatest success to MPE customers. In hand-picking Antonio Neri as her successor, Whitman has returned HP to its 20th Century roots. The Enterprise arm of HP will be led by an engineer who's worked only for HP. The last time that was true, Lew Platt was CEO of an HP that was still in one piece, instead of the two of 2017.

Hewlett-Packard finally made that transition into two companies on Whitman's watch, after a decade when the printer-server split was debated around the industry. She also pruned away the leafy branches that made the HP tree wider but no taller: Autonomy and other ill-matched acquisitions were cut loose. She said in an interview on CNBC today that the time for "supermarket IT" suppliers is gone, and the future belongs to the fast. Whitman's years reversed some damage at HP, which at least beat analyst estimates for its Q4 earnings. 

"What If" was once an ad slogan for Hewlett-Packard. The question could be posed around Whitman's role at the company. What if this executive woman took HP's reins in 1999? She was already a CEO in that year at eBay. From the way Whitman has brought HP's headlong blundering to heel, she might have kept the company focused on the mission of the current day's HP Enterprise.

The rise of mobile computing and off-premise IT was always going to hound HP, a corporation built to sell specialized hardware and proprietary software. Passing the baton to an engineer leader—Neri started in the HP EMEA call center—shows Whitman knows more about HP's culture than anyone who's had the CEO job since 1999. She remains on HP's board and said she'll be available for sales calls in the future, too.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:41 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 20, 2017

Was news of CALENDAR's end Fake News?

Fake-NewsHP 3000 customers, support experts, and vendors have heard a fresh take on the upcoming demise of CALENDAR functions. Date keeping was going to suffer for anybody who needed that intrinsic to steer 3000 date-keeping. Nobody wanted to debate that fact. As I reported in 2015, with considerable help from Vesoft's Vladimir Volokh, CALENDAR doesn't have enough bits to track dates beyond December 31, 2027. It would be easy to conclude the 3000's date capability will go bust at the end of that December.

That's fake news, said Steve Cooper of Allegro to everyone on last week's CAMUS user group call. "A whole lot of fake news," he said, when one user referenced our 2015 article as proof dates were going to be a problem on 3000s in about 10 years. "You need to get the true scoop instead of spreading rumors."

Cooper was one of several 3000 experts who said that dates could be kept accurately in MPE/iX for much longer than 10 years from the end of next month. HP's replacement for CALENDAR—an intrinsic written in the early 1970s—adds bits to let 3000s track data. HPCALENDAR isn't employed inside lots of MPE/iX software, but that will change for anyone who wants their MPE/iX end of life to be determined by utility and value, rather than capability.

In 2015, our story asked Whether the End of 2027 is MPE's End, Too. It isn't, so long as you use HPCALENDAR to replace CALENDAR. MPE/iX app managers will need source code access to make this kind of substitution, using the new intrinsic method of remediation.

There was also talk of a pivot point strategy to handle things without replacing CALENDAR. Pivot points were in vogue for some Y2K repairs. In such designs, software processes a date by comparing the date to the moment it processes the date. The old ColdFusion software from Microsoft did this to add century information for Y2K, for example. A Stack Overflow discussion illustrates how pivot points work in Python.

Read "Was news of CALENDAR's end Fake News?" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:20 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 17, 2017

Experts say 2028 date hurdle is a small fix

December2027-calendarCAMUS user group members listening on a one-hour call Thursday heard the sound of a calendar page being ripped off. Experts in system management and development said the 2028 date deadline—when MPE's CALENDAR intrinsic stops being accurate—is only a moment of change that users and programmers can work around.

Unlike Y2K, it turns out that Y2028 is going to let everyone sleep well while they do their fixes. One 3000 expert said there's a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt being spread about 2028.

CALENDAR sits at the heart of many programs and systems, and no one on the call debated the intrinsic's useful lifespan. At midnight of the eve of 2028, the 16 bits of CALENDAR won't be enough. The intrinsic was built for the 1970s, not the third decade of the 21st Century.

But like the moment when Luke Skywalker left Dagobah to fight Darth Vader, there's been another Jedi of the OS. Hewlett-Packard built HPCALENDAR in the early 1990s once it decided to sell the 3000 against Unix. Replacing CALENDAR with HPCALENDAR will supply the 2028 fix.

Terry Floyd of the Support Group checked in after the call to show how he'll make that change in MANMAN whenever a customer needs running room of more than 10 years from the end of this December.

Read "Experts say 2028 date hurdle is a small fix" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:39 AM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (1)

November 13, 2017

HP's shrinkage includes iconic HQ address

  800px-HP_HQ_campus_4
Hewlett-Packard pointed at a shrinking ecosystem as a reason to cut down its futures for the 3000. Time in the post-HP world for MPE/iX moves into its Year Number 17 starting tomorrow . That's right; the Transition Era completes its 16th year tomorrow at about 1PM. Transitions aren't over, either. In the meantime, MPE's clock now starts catching up with Hewlett-Packard's headquarters. The iconic address of 3000 Hanover Street in Palo Alto will not be HP's much longer. On the subject of icons, that's a oscilloscope wave to the left of the original HP logo on the building above.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 12.09.17 PMHP is moving its corporate throne to a company and a building in Santa Clara soon. The existing HQ has been in service since 1957, but consolidations in Hewlett-Packard Enterprise—which also has a shrinking ecosystem—mandated the move. The offices of Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, the shrines to the HP Way, management by walking around, and the shirt-pocket calculator designs, will be packed up sometime next year. The HQ look of Silicon Valley's first corporation is distinctive.

Hewlett-packard-original-officesEverything has its lifespan, from ideas to the office desks where overseas currency and coins lay on blotters, resting in the side-by-side rooms Hewlett and Packard used. The coins and bills represented the worldwide reach of the company, left on the desk as a reminder of how far-flung HP's customers were. HPE's CEO Meg Whitman said HPE consolidations are part of making HP Enterprise more efficient.

Dave Packard coins"I’m excited to move our headquarters to an innovative new building that provides a next-generation digital experience for our employees, customers and partners," Whitman said. "Our new building will better reflect who HPE is today and where we are heading in the future."

Companies which use HP's hardware to run MPE/iX might also see efficiency as one benefit of moving out of their use of HP's servers. A virtual platform, based on Intel and Linux, is hosting MPE/iX. Charon goes into its sixth year of MPE/iX service later this month.

A customer could look at that Hanover Street address, which will be without HP for the first time since Eisenhower was President, and see a reduction. HP Enterprise will be sharing office space with Aruba, a wireless networking firm HPE acquired in 2015. Aruba also has big hopes for cloud computing. Cloud is the future for HPE growth, according to the company. HPE is cutting out 5,000 jobs by year's end. The workforce might be considered a part of the HPE ecosystem, too.

Read "HP's shrinkage includes iconic HQ address" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 12:45 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 10, 2017

CAMUS Conference calls meeting on 2028

It's official. The CAMUS user group is holding a phone-in meeting of about two hours on November 16. The subject on the agenda is being called the HP 3000's Y2028 Issue, a tip of the hat to the Y2K challenge the 3000 survived 17 years ago.

2017-18-clockThe call starts at 10:30 CST, led by CAMUS president Terri Glendon Lanza. The agenda as of today lists Allegro, Beechglen and Stromasys as assisting in discussion of a roadblock to unlimited use of MPE/iX. Lanza will provide the call-in number to anybody who contacts her. You can sign up for the free call by emailing Lanza or calling her at 630-212-4314.

The meeting, an annual affair, lists these issues surrounding MPE's long-term future—otherwise known here as The 10-Year Clock, starting to tick this December 31.

Our main topic will be what we are calling the “Year 2028 Problem”. Without a fix, all HP3000 and Charon MPE systems will experience invalid dates beginning January 1, 2028. After this main topic, there will open discussion for all platforms.

If you are running the MPE (MPE/iX) operating system on an HP3000 or Charon platform, the Year 2028 Problem topic ought to be of great interest to you. Most, if not all, of our CAMUS members who are running MANMAN and other applications on an HP3000 or Charon MPE OS system will likely have moved on to another system by 2028. But if not, we believe that the time for a fix is sooner than later, given the dwindling availability of expertise.

Membership of CAMUS goes beyond MPE/iX customers who use ERP systems. DEC sites are also on the rolls. "If you are running on a different system," Lanza said, "you might still find this topic fascinating."

Lanza said the NewsWire's article from May of two years ago "got many of us thinking 10-12 years out" into the future. We'll be on the line on the 16th to offer whatever help we can. As usual, that help will consist of locating people with genuine expertise. If you're supporting MPE in any way, there's room for you to share experience and ideas.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:50 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 06, 2017

Flood drives off HP, even as 3000s churn on

Server_rack_under_FloodLate last week Hewlett Packard Enterprise—the arm that builds HP's replacements for 3000s—announced it will be moving manufacturing out of Texas. According to a story from WQOW in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the facilities from HP's Houston area are pulling out and headed to higher ground in the Midwest. HP said its operations were flooded out beyond repair by Hurricane Harvey. A report from the Houston Business Journal says HPE is sending more than 200 manufacturing jobs north due to the Texas rains. “Because of the destructive effects of flooding two years in a row, the company has decided to move more than 3,000 employees to a new site in the greater Houston area,” HPE said in a press release.

HP 3000s have fared better in high waters. A couple of the servers up in the Midwest keep swimming in front of a wave of migration.

Back in 2013 we reported a story about a once-flooded HP 3000 site at MacLean Power, a manufacturer of mechanical and insulation products. The 3000's history there started with Reliance Electric at that enterprise, becoming Reliant Power and then MacLean-Fogg. Mark Mojonnier told his story, four autumns ago, about the operations at Mundelein, Illinois.

The new company, Reliable Power Products, bought its first HP 3000 Series 48 in 1987. We had a flood in the building later that year and had to buy another one. The disk drives were high enough out of the water to survive, so when the new one arrived, we warm-booted it (with the old disk packs) and it picked up right where it left off.

The 3000s continue to out-swim the waters of change there for awhile longer. Monjonnier updated us on how the servers will work swimmingly until 2021, and why that's so.

Read "Flood drives off HP, even as 3000s churn on" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:19 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 03, 2017

Dealing with PCL in modern printer networks

HP 3000s generate Printer Command Language, the format syntax HP created for its line of laser printers. The 3000s were glad to get PCL abilities in their applications and utilities, but PCL is not for everybody. Multifunction devices not schooled in HP technology, such as those from Xerox, need a go-between to extend the 3000's printing.

The easiest and most complete solution to this challenge is Minisoft's NetPrint, written by 3000 output device guru Richard Corn. When we last reported on Corn's creation it was helping the Victor S. Barnes Company pass 3000 output to Ricoh multifunction printers.

But for the company which can't find $995 in a budget for that 3000-ready product, there's a commercial Windows alternative you might try to integrate into your system designs. Charles Finley of Transformix explains that the path to print outside of PCL has multiple steps.

Read "Dealing with PCL in modern printer networks" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:33 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 01, 2017

CAMUS wants a deeper look at 2028

TankerThe Computer Aided Manufacturing User Society (CAMUS) is one of the few user associations that remain as 3000 resources. It's a modest group made up of a few dozen MANMAN sites that rely on MPE/iX. Much of the devotion is wrapped around efficiency and stability. ERP is a big migration that can take years to get right. These 3000 sites are absorbed with keeping their ships in the deep water, away from the shoals of premature change.

Change is coming, though, as if it's a lighthouse on the horizon for the 3000 skipper. The change is called 2028, or more accurately, Dec. 31, 2027. In about 10 years or so, MPE/iX will stop keeping dates as expected. Nobody could forsee a day, 45 years ago, that a 3000 would still be in production service. The HP 3000 will turn 55 in late 2027. There's a good chance emulation hardware will be functioning well on that last day of 2027. Stromasys has made the lifespan of HP's MPE hardware a non-critical element.

Some customers are looking at how to edge past that lighthouse of a date. CAMUS holds a phone-in user group meeting once a year, and this month's meeting wants to examine ways to steer around the 2028 reef. It's possible, and CAMUS might be the group to help steer this course. All it takes are production systems that could be cloned and tested with a fix.

The group has invited its members and 3000 experts to discuss the workarounds. The meeting has been penciled in as a Thursday, November 16 event. "We are looking to bring in experts to speak to the issue of what is being described as the Year 2028 Problem,” said Ed Stein, "which is where HP 3000 systems run out of valid dates beginning 1/1/2028, per the MPE operating system."

CAMUS meetings are free to attend, meaning it matches up well with the operating budgets for many 3000 shops. The server's in a mission critical position at companies which aren't devoting much spending to it. That's always been one of the 3000's charms: it delivers more than it receives. Managers can get more details on the meeting and sign up by emailing Terry Glendon Lanza or calling her at 630-212-4314.

Tactical planning for the HP 3000's future is a current practice at shops like MagicAire. The company that manufactures mobile cooling units has a Series 939 that continues to run MANMAN and carefully-crafted applications. Ed Stein there has a need to think about something more pressing than getting his apps and utilities licensed for emulator use. He's thinking strategic.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:27 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 30, 2017

HP's Way Files Go Up in Flames

Hewlett-packard-original-officesThe Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported yesterday that the vast collection of Bill Hewlett's and David Packard's collected archives, correspondence, writings and speeches — materials that surely included HP's 3000 history at the CEO level — were destroyed in a fire this month. An HP executive who was responsible for the papers during the era the 3000 ruled HP's business computing said "A huge piece of American business history is gone."

The fire broke out in the week of October 9 at the headquarters of Keysight Technologies in Santa Rosa. Keysight got the papers when it spun off from Agilent, the instrumentation business HP spun off in 1999. HP's CEO Lew Platt, the last CEO of the company who worked from the ground up, retired that year.

The blaze was among those that raged over Northern California for much of this month. What's being called the Tubbs Fire destroyed hundreds of homes in the city's Fountaingrove neighborhood. The Hewlett-Packard papers chronicled what the newspaper called "Silicon Valley's first technology company."

More than 100 boxes of the two men’s writings, correspondence, speeches and other items were contained in one of two modular buildings that burned to the ground at the Fountaingrove headquarters of Keysight Technologies.

The Hewlett and Packard collections had been appraised in 2005 at nearly $2 million and were part of a wider company archive valued at $3.3 million. However, those acquainted with the archives and the pioneering company’s impact on the technology world said the losses can’t be represented by a dollar figure.

Brad Whitworth, who had been an HP international affairs manager with oversight of the archives three decades ago, said Hewlett-Packard had been at the forefront of an industry “that has radically changed our world.”

HP's archivist who assembled the historic collection said it was stored irresponsibly at Keysight. While inside HP, the papers were in a vault with full fire retardant protections, according to Karen Lewis. The fires, which Keysight's CEO said were the "most destructive firestorm in state history," left most of the Keysight campus untouched. HP 3000s themselves have survived fires to operate again, often relying on backups to return to service.

Dave Packard coinsNo such backup would have been possible for the lost archives. The company was so devoted to its legacy that it preserved Dave and Bill's offices just as they used them while co-leaders of the company. The offices in the HP building in Palo Alto — unthreatened by California files — include overseas coins and currency left by HP executives traveling for Hewlett-Packard. The money sits on the desks.

Read "HP's Way Files Go Up in Flames" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:38 PM in History, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 27, 2017

Advice on keys for 3000s, and KSAM files

When building a TurboIMAGE database, is it possible to have IMAGE automatically sort a segmented index for the key field?

Gilles Schipper says

No, but you can create TurboIMAGE b-tree index files which allows generic and range searches on items that are indexed - specifically master dataset key items. Only master dataset key items can be associated with b-tree index files.

You can find out more starting at Chapter 11 of the TurboIMAGE manual.

How can I reduce the size of my existing KSAM files? I have removed lots of records from the system and the KSAM files are consuming lots of magnetic real estate, even though there are few records left.

Chuck Trites says

Make a copy of the KSAM file. Then use the verify in KSAMUTIL to get the specs of the file. Purge the KSAMFIL and the KEYFILE if there is one. Build the KSAM file with the specs. FCOPY from the copy to the new KSAM file and you are done. It won't copy the deleted records to the new file.

Francois Desrochers explains

Do a LISTF,5 to get the current key definitions.

Build a temporary output file with all the same attributes:

:BUILD KSNEW;REC=-80,,F,ASCII;KSAMXL;KEY=(B,1,10)

Copy the records from the original file to the temporary file

:FCOPY FROM=KSTEST;TO=KSNEW

Purge the original file and rename the temporary file:

:PURGE KSTEST
:RENAME KSNEW,KSTEST

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:24 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 25, 2017

OpenSSL's gaps for 3000s surface again

HP did its best, considering what was left of the MPE/iX lab budget, to move the server into modern security protocols. Much of the work was done after the company announced it would end its 3000 business. The gaps in that work are still being being talked about today.

OpensslA message on the 3000 newsgroup-mailing list noted that installing the SFTP package for the 3000 uncovers one gap in software. John Clogg at Cerro Wire said that "I successfully generated a key pair and loaded the public key on the server, but that didn't solve the No key exchange algorithm problem. One posting I found seemed to suggest that the problem was an old version of the SSL library that did not support the encryption the server was trying to use." A note on enabling the 3000's OpenSSL from 2010 still wished for a library newer than what's left on MPE/iX.

The work that remains to be done—so a 3000 can pass sensitive info via SFTP—has been on a community wish list for many years. Backups using SFTP are missing some updates needed to the SSL library. At least the server's got a way to preserve file characteristics: filecode, recsize, blockfactor, type. Preservation of these attributes means a file can be moved to any offsite storage that could communicate with the MPE/iX system. Posix on MPE/iX comes to the rescue.

In the heart of the financial industry in 2003, a modest-sized HP 3000 connected to more than 100 customers through a secure Internet proxy server. That encryption combination was emerging as HP went into its last quarter of sales for the system. But today's standards are miles ahead of those of 2003.

"The old OpenSSL library does not support the ciphers needed to meet current standards," Clogg said. "I was able to make the connection work because the FTP service provider has a configuration setting to enable "insecure old ciphers." Fortunately, this will work for our purposes, but it would be unacceptable if we were transferring banking, credit card or PII data."

The 3000's OpenSSL library is older than 1.01e, which another homesteader says is the cutoff for security that protects from the Heartbleed hacks and RSA key generation compromises.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:40 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 23, 2017

Clouds? All the time, even Sunday Morning

Communication LinkYou can tell a technology has reached everyday adoption by watching TV. Not the Netflix or basic-cable television. I was watching CBS Sunday Morning yesterday when David Pogue explained cloud computing for the masses. My technology consumer and partner in life Abby was on the couch, inviting me to watch along. I figured CBS would give Pogue about 5 minutes to examine the tech that's driving the world. He got 9 and managed it well. Abby paused the show to ask a question. It's become easier than ever to answer these cloud queries.

HP 3000 Communication ManualThe 3000 manager of today needs to comprehend clouds, even if they don't use them in their MPE/iX environment. The potential to drive a 3000 from the cloud is still out there for the taking, because Stromasys will host Charon from a cloud. Why that's a good idea remains to be tested, but the theory is sound. First of all, you didn't want to manage proprietary hardware from HP to run your MPE/iX. Now with the cloud, you don't have to manage hardware at all. MPE/iX becomes a service, a term that Pogue never mentioned in his 9 minutes.

It's okay. The story needed the visuals of acres of Virginia covered with datacenters (a word Pogue spoke as if it were "Atlantis") and the sounds of his walk inside a cloud facility (Fans. Lots and lots of fans, although not a word was said about what was making all that noise.) You can't expect a deep dive from morning news, but CBS and Pogue did a good job. Cloud's mainstream now. Streaming movies, you know.

Programmer TemplateWe watched the show about the same way most of the homesteading community runs their MPE/iX. Locally hosted (on our DVR unit) and running on our fixed terminal (the old Sony flatscreen in the den). The only cloud involved in the experience was ATT's, since our Uverse account has its listings loaded into the DVR from a big disk someplace.

The best instance of any cloud related to the MPE/iX of today is a replacement for it. Kenandy has a Salesforce-based application suite of the same name. The Support Group has just about wrapped up the first install of the solution for a 3000 site. Salesforce is the big dog in app platforms served via the cloud. Amazon is probably underpinning Salesforce, because Amazon Web Services (AWS) is underneath just about every kind of cloud. The tech that drives Netflix is also powering the next platform for MANMAN sites that need to migrate.

"So it's in the air?" Abby says. "Not much," I say, "unless your laptop is on wi-fi, or you're using a smartphone. You get the cloud's goodness over wires."

While all of that future-tech was over the air, I found myself telling her about a 45-year-old piece of plastic to explain why we call off-premise computing "the cloud." It's my version of an explainer, anyway. The 3000 was cloudy before cloudy was cool.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:41 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 20, 2017

Fine-tune: Database passwords, slow clocks

We are trying to access a database on our old system using QUERY and it is asking for a password. I have done a LISTF ,-3 on the database, but there is no lockword listed (which I assumed would be the password). Where do I find the password assigned to a database?

John Burke replied

Assuming you do not have access to the original schema and you want to know what the password is, not just access the database, then sign on as the creator in the group with the database, run DBUTIL.PUB.SYS and issue the command SHOW databasename PASSWORDS.

Mike Church and Joseph Dolliver added

If you just want to access the database, log on to the system as the database creator and, when asked for password, put in a “;” semicolon and hit return.

Why is my system clock running slow? Our HP 3000 loses about one minute per day.

Bob J. replies

One possibility was addressed by a firmware update. HP's text from a CPU firmware (41.33) update mentions:

“System clock (software maintained) loses time. The time loss occurs randomly and may result in large losses over a relatively short time period. Occurrences of the above problem have only been reported against the HP 3000 979KS/x00 (Mohawk) systems. Software applications that perform frequent calling of a PDC routine, PDC_CHASSIS, affect the amount of time lost by the system clock. Your hardware support company should be happy to update for you.”

[Editor's note: as this question was posed a few years ago, today's hardware support company will be an independent one. We've always recommended Pivital Solutions.]

Tongue firmly in cheek, Wirt Atmar noted

My first guess would be relativistic time dilation effects as viewed by an observer at a distance due to the fact that you’re now migrating off of the HP 3000 at an ever accelerating rate. My second guess, although it’s less likely, would be that your machine has found out that it’s about ready to be abandoned and is so depressed that it simply can no longer work at normal speed. We’ve certainly kept this information from our HP 3000s. There’s just no reason that they need to know this kind of thing at the moment.

And in the same vein, Bernie Sherrard added this, referring to HP's promised end of 3000 support on Dec. 31, 2006

Look at the bright side. At a loss of one minute per day, you won’t get to 12/31/2006, until 2 AM on 1/2/2007. So, you will get 26 hours of support beyond everyone else.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:57 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 18, 2017

Hardware icon added tools through 3000

WrenchThe HP 3000 had many notable brands on its roster over the last two decades—Hertz, M&Ms, State Farm. Plenty of well-known businesses leveraged their growth and dominance on MPE/iX apps and Hewlett-Packard hardware. In some places, the legacy kingpin of the 3000 has led datacenters to move data better on other platforms. Tools, as it turns out, can find places to work where owners were heading as well as where they're installed. That's what happened at True Value.

True-valueThere's more than 700 retail True Value stores, but the units operate as a cooperative. Together these stores own their distributor True Value, while they operate independently. Local ownership is bolstered by the bargains behind corporate purchasing. Long's Drug in the western US once boasted the greatest number of retail locations connected by 3000s. When it came to the number of locations supported by 3000 technology, True Value had Long's beat by a factor of two.

Hillary Software installed its byRequest solution at True Value in 2004, when the 3000 had fallen from HP's graces. It was an investment to prolong and improve the value of the 3000. More importantly, it was an investment in data. The software transforms MPE/iX data into the formats of the larger world: Word, PDF and Excel. True Value said byRequest revolutionized data and document management for them. Reports traveled via email to be used in the programs that are available everywhere. For some companies, Excel is a platform because it's essential to every decision.

The Hillary software moved data better than classic MPE/iX reports ever had. The software also helped move the company, when it was ready, onward to its next datacenter platform.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:45 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 16, 2017

Getting the Message Across for MPE/iX

MessagesNot long ago, the HP 3000 community was wondering about the limits of message files in the operating system. HP introduced the feature well back in the 20th Century, but only took Message Files into Native Mode with MPE/iX 5.0. That's certainly within the realm of all operating HP 3000s by today. The message file, according to HP's documentation, is the heart of the 3000's file system InterProcess Communication.

Message files reside partly in memory and partly on disk. MPE XL uses the memory buffer part as much as possible, to achieve the best performance. The disc portion of the message file is used only as secondary storage in case the memory buffer part overflows. For many users of IPC, MPE XL never accesses the disc portion of the message file.

Yes, that says MPE XL up there. The facility has been around a long time.

What do you do with message files? A program could open a message file and write a data record every 2 seconds. The data record could be the dateline plus the 2-word return from the CLOCK intrinsic. In another example, a message file could be used to enable soft interrupts. It might then open a log file to write progress messages from the interrupt handler.

HP's examples of using message files are illustrated using Pascal/XL, so you know this is 3000-specific technology. You'd think they'd be little-used by now, but this month the developers on the 3000 mailing list were asking about limits for the number of message files. An early answer was 63, but Stan Seiler used a classic 3000-era method to discover it: testing.

The answer is 4083. Or, why testing counts.

I just successfully opened 4,083 new message files from one process. Since the max-files-per-process is 4095, I suspect I could probably have squeezed in a couple more, but my test program already had some files open.

That this programming facility is still in use seems to suggest it's got utility left. Multiple programs and processes use message files to communicate. HP explains in an extensive document, "Suppose that a large programming task is to be divided into two processes. One process will interface with the user. This process is referred to as the "supervisor" process. It does some processing tasks itself and offloads others to a "server" process. This process only handles requests from the supervisor and returns the results."

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:29 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 13, 2017

Take the Training, A Young 3000 Jedi Can

Jedi-younglingsEarlier this month I enjoyed a cookout at the HQ of The Support Group. The company that migrates MANMAN sites to the cloud of Kenandy and supports homesteading sites had a new face at the office. The young intern was on his way to working for a startup, but was getting some experience in an established software and services company in the legacy market.

He was also learning the HP 3000 for the job. Not yet 35, the intern had a deep array of 3000 expertise to call on while he helped support homesteading sites. Such customers can lose their own deep 3000 workers and then might rely on support for how-to answers.

The intern and some homesteaders are examples of people who'd benefit from 3000 MPE/iX training. When I recounted my experience with trying to learn the mysteries of the Apple Watch, I figured it was safe to say formal MPE training would be out of reach for anybody who didn't have their own support resource. I could be certain HP was unable to teach anyone how to use MPE/iX, at least in person one to one. The HP manuals do remain out in the community on websites outside of HP.

As it turns out, when I state something in the negative, a positive exception emerges. I'm always glad to get news like this. Resources can get overlooked or lose visibility. That's why Paul Edwards reached out this morning to raise his hand in class, as it were. Paul is still offering MPE/iX training.

Read "Take the Training, A Young 3000 Jedi Can" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:26 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (2)

October 11, 2017

Keeping Watch On Answers From Support

Hp-01_calculator_gf_set_01Getting answers about how to use interfaces can be troublesome. Graphical interfaces never made it to the native MPE/iX applications unless a third party tool helped out. VPlus wasn't graphical, but ScreenJet made it more like a GUI. Powerhouse and Speedware developed graphical skins for MPE/iX apps written in those fourth generation languages.

Underneath all of that is the common language of the 3000, the commands and their prompts. The computer's user base by now has this command interface drilled into memory. Once in awhile the managers and users on the 3000 mailing list ask for a refresher on how to configure a network or a storage device.

A mailing list like that is one way to approach 3000 support. In this, the 44th year of MPE and 3000 life, you could expect users supporting each other to be a popular choice. There is no guarantee about the accuracy of any support you scrape off an email or a website, unless the information comes at a price. "Information wants to be free" drove the concept of user-swapped support. Support ought to flow freely, but paying for it keeps the resources fresh and responsive.

Apple_watch_series_3The 3000's interface seems like an anachronism here in 2017. You might expect that, but it's something companies must accommodate if a 3000 becomes a foreigner in a datacenter without expertise. The OS can seem as obtuse as anything not well known. New owners of smart watches have a learning curve that can seem as steep as knowing which network services to disable in MPE/iX for the stoutest security. I rode that watch curve today and came away sore. The support saddle provided an experience with Apple that reminded me of Hewlett-Packard's customer situation.

A new Apple Watch comes with an interface no user has experienced before. It has little to do with a smartphone's design and nothing at all related to a laptop. You are either pre-Watch or you're Watch-ready; there's no prerequisite warmup ownership to give you a lift. The Watch Series 3 comes with no on-board help, either. This makes it inferior to the 40-years-older MPE, and also makes the Watch something like a high-concept product from HP's past, the HP-01. That was the personal device which, like many products from the HP Way, was way ahead of its time.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:01 PM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (1)

October 06, 2017

Staying Secure with MPE/iX Now and Then

Account-relationships-securityThe IT news is full of reports about security breeches. If an Equifax system with 143 million records can be breeched, then Yahoo's 3 billion email accounts were not far behind, were they? Security by obscurity for outward-facing MPE/iX systems isn't much protection. That being said, the high-test security that is protecting the world's most public systems seems to failing, too. A few years ago, the US Office of Personnel Management had its systems hacked. Millions of fingerprints were stolen from there.

Hewlett-Packard built good intra-3000 security into MPE/iX, and third parties made it even more robust. Back in the 1980s I wrote a manual for such a product called EnGarde that made MPE/iX permissions easier to manage. Vesoft created Security/3000 as the last word in protecting 3000s and MPE/iX data. Eugene Volokh's Burn Before Reading was an early touchstone. The magic of SM was a topic explored by 3000 legend Bob Green in a Newswire column.

Homesteading managers will do well to make a place in their datacenter budgets for support of the 3000. Security is built-in for MPE/iX, but understanding how it works might be a lost art at some sites.

The fundamentals of securing an MPE/iX system go way back. A wayback server of sorts at the 3k Ranger website provides HP's security advice from 1994. It's still valid for anyone, especially a new operator or datacenter employee who's got a 3000 to manage. They just don't teach this stuff anymore. 3000s get orphaned in datacenters when the MPE/iX pros move on into retirement or new careers.

The printed advice helps. A direct link to the Ranger webpage can be a refresher course for any new generation of 3000 minders.

Managers of MPE/iX systems need to look out for themselves in securing HP 3000s. Hewlett-Packard gave up on the task long ago. In the era that led to the end of 3000 operations at HP, the vendor warned that its software updates for MPE/iX were going to be limited to security repairs after 2008. They weren't kidding. The very last archived HP 3000 security bulletin on the HP Enterprise website had stern advice for a DNS poisoning risk.

Read "Staying Secure with MPE/iX Now and Then" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:07 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 04, 2017

Data on 3000s still needs to be synched

SynchronizeSome HP 3000 apps are making their way to other platforms. Many already have, counting across the 15-plus years that might be considered the MPE/iX Migration Era. Data is always making its way from a host to someplace else. Making a sound master data repository is the work of synchronizing software. There's such a product for MPE/iX, one that's been in production use since 2006.

MB Foster makes UDASynch, which it says "supplies high performance and minimal system load synchronization services from server to server, server to website, and to operational data stores within your enterprise." Next week the vendor will talk about its product and its potential in a webinar on Oct. 11 at 2PM EDT.

Minimal load benchmarks, by MB Foster's accounting, mean a less than 2 percent drain on your main 3000, the one whose apps are supplying the data to be synchronized. UDASynch is a multi-platform product. The MB Foster product uses an intermediate Windows-based server to collect the 3000's data. This information then can be passed on to servers running the Unix, Windows or Linux environments.

UDASynch has been built with 3000 specifics in mind. It does a full database name check, has a memory reuse function, a debug option to convert XML to a binary file, the ability to search a table list using the IMAGE database name, a feature to automatically create backup files when the backup file is full, and a feature to call DBGET with '@' list if DBPUT is called with a partial list.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:39 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 02, 2017

Way Out in MPE's World, Desert Sands

BinzagrThe HP 3000 has had a presence in the Middle East since the computer was a new HP product. EMEA stood for Europe, the Middle East and Asia in Hewlett-Packard's business region lineup. The Binzagr Company in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia was an early subscriber to the NewsWire. The firm deals in "distribution and logistics for a wide range of consumer products, spanning food and drink, personal and beauty care, home care and automotive tires."

It's been quite some time since MPE/iX had a presence in the Middle East, though. That's changing for a little while this year. Stromasys is bringing its products to GITEX, the annual consumer computer and electronics trade show, exhibition, and conference that takes place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates next week.

The vendor selling software that preserves and extends MPE/iX applications will be showing off Charon at the Dubai World Trade Centre Hall 1, Swiss Pavilion Booth B1-40.

Old-DubaiThe GITEX website says that annual attendance at the show is 147,133. I've written about the HP 3000 since 1984, and I've never seen MPE associated with any show boasting an attendance in six figures. Comdex used to claim those kinds of numbers, and GITEX is as far-flung and diverse as Comdex in its heyday. More than 4,400 exhibitors will be on 92,903 square meters of show floor.

"Whether you're already using our Charon legacy server emulation solutions, or are interested in learning more, we hope you'll visit us," said a cheery email from Stromasys. That's right: it's taken an independent software company to put notice of MPE solutions in front of a vast audience.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:12 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 29, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Libraries, Large Disks

LibraryWhere can I find a list of HP DLT libraries and what version of MPE can drive them?

No libraries are supported on MPE in random mode. While autoloaders can easily be made to work quite well on the HP 3000, one requires specialized software in order to make use of the full functionality of a DLT library. What is important from an HP 3000 point of view is as follows:

• The tape drives in the library must be supported on MPE and can be connected to the 3000. This means the drives must be DDS or DLT4000, DLT7000 and DLT8000. If the system is an HSC (pre-PCI) architecture, the drives must be HVD SCSI. If the system is a PCI system (A- or N-Class,) the drives can also be LVD.

• The connection to the library robot or picker, must also be supported on the 3000, again HSC needs HVD and PCI can do LVD or HVD.

• Finally you must have software that will connect to the picker and drive it. This software can either be running on MPE or on another system, to which the picker is connected. MPE itself cannot drive a robotic library.

I want to install disc drives larger than HP's 144GB. What issues should I consider?

The maximum disk size for MPE/IX is theoretically 2^31 sectors. Due to overhead and rounding DISCFREE output will show 2,147,483,632 sectors for such a disk, this is equal to 549,755,809,792 bytes. So, a disk of this size would likely be sold as a 550 GB disk (powers of ten) though it contains 512 GB from an engineering perspective (powers of two).

Even with the Large Disk Patches, MPE/iX users should be cautious when considering the usage of disks larger than 18-36 GB on MPE/iX systems for the following reasons:

MPE/iX transaction throughput increases when MPE is allowed to spread IO across disks. Even though newer disks are faster than older disks there are limits to disk speed and bus speed which must be taken into account.

Moving from nine 2 GB disks to one 18 GB disk, for example, will often create a disk IO bottle neck. For best performance we recommend that the number of MPE LDEVs never be reduced - if one has nine 2 GB disks then they should be replaced with nine 18 GB disks to ensure no loss of throughput.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:45 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 27, 2017

Wayback Wed: HP green-lights emulators

Green-LightFifteen years ago this month, Hewlett-Packard gave the recently-orphaned HP 3000 customer base hope. The vendor was speaking at the first HP World conference since HP's plan to curtail 3000 futures. Customers were reluctant in 2002 to step away from MPE/iX, at least at the pace their vendor was urging. In a roundtable at the conference in LA, HP said PA-RISC emulators capable of running MPE/iX software could be licensed for HP's OS.

It would take most of the next 10 years to make an emulator a reality, a period when HP declined to share tech details that would've sped development from third parties like Stromasys (which was called Software Resources International at the time.) Charon came onto the market during the years when HP had run out the clock on issuing new 3000 licenses.

HP's Dave Wilde said at that conference that 19 of the top 20 application suppliers for the 3000 were already on the move to HP’s other platforms. 3000 owners were moving at a pace far slower than the app suppliers, though. Customer interests in 2002 were higher about ways to ensure a supply of newer hardware once HP quit making it 12 months from the conference.

HP was far off in figuring how to placate its customers devoted to MPE/iX.  The vendor would extend a 50 percent credit for N-Class systems to be used toward any HP-UX system. The discount was to drop to 40 percent during 2005 and 30 percent during 2006. 

The discounts were going to be too short-lived. Customers were so engaged with their 3000s that HP had to extend its end of support date beyond 2006, and then beyond 2008. Post-2008 was the period when the 3000 emulator's development started to take off.

HP’s announcements at the September, 2002 show represented its first tangible offer to customers with continued 3000 ownership as their most cost-effective strategy. HP did not release pricing for the MPE licenses to accompany such an emulator. At the time, there was the possibility that such emulator software could make Intel x86 as well as Itanium processors look like PA-RISC 3000 hardware. The pricing of the MPE/iX licenses was going to be an issue, the customers believed.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:14 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 25, 2017

Changing the Changing of the Guard of Tech

Much of the way tech is changed has been transformed since the 3000 was built and sold by HP. In the days when source code and modified applications ruled manufacturing, changes to business rules were a matter of finding the code's creators or hoping for great documentation. By the time the 3000's growth path has become a matter of installing a virtualized server on an Intel box, changes to business rules can be handled with modules from Salesforce-based Kenandy.

Apple Watch 3I saw how much changing tech changed for myself at the end of last week. Apple unveiled  a new cellular edition of its Apple Watch, with rollout on the day of my anniversary. My bride wanted something she could listen to with wireless headphones, answer calls, and text. We watched the Emmy broadcast and she saw her anniversary present. It would be my gift to get the day-of-release Watch to her in time for an anniversary dinner at Jack Allen's in the Austin hill country.

In years past, making a change of technology in the Apple world involved lines. Not like the lines of code a MANMAN customer would have to pore over while updating apps. I'm talking the lines where people camped out overnight, or at least lined up like I did one hapless November morning for a Black Friday. Lines are now no more a part of the process for new Apple gear than they are for modifying an ERP suite once you get to the Salesforce era.

I strolled up to the Apple Store in the Domain shopping neighborhood at 7 AM, ready to take a spot in a line I expected to be already swelling away from the door. The store was lit up but the only people at the door were relaxed retail employees. With practiced cheer, I told them I was there to buy an anniversary gift, the Series 3 Watch. Did I have a reservation? I did not, I told them, wondering when a reservation became a milestone on buying something.

There was no problem. I was led to an oak tree in a plaza just a few feet from the store, where a fellow my age asked me what I wanted to buy. I had these numbers ready as certainly as an IT manager's got an inventory of their app modules. The 38mm, gold case, sport band, wi-fi plus cellular model. My bride had looked over the sizes and colors a few days earlier. After a few moments of scrolling on his phone under that oak, he said he had one. He took my phone number, texted me a reservation. and told me to return at 9.

I had time enough to get to the ATT Store to upgrade my wife's phone, which turned out to be essential to getting her Apple Watch present-worthy and working at Jack Allen's that night. Simpler than the old camp-out to purchase drama of five years ago. Modular application design has made the same kind of simplicity a part of ERP. Companies still have to engage experts to take them to that simplicity. What made a difference in the Watch gift journey was having experts that knew what the old tech did and how the new tech fit in.

Read "Changing the Changing of the Guard of Tech" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:43 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 22, 2017

Importing CSV Text Into COBOL II

CSV iconI'm importing a Comma Separated Value (CSV) text file into a COBOL II program. I want to compare a numeric field from the file to a number. But the input text field can be different for each record. How do I code in COBOL to accommodate the different number sizes in the text file?

Walter Murray, who worked inside HP's Language Labs where COBOL II was developed before moving out into the user community, noted that Suprtool was likely the best solution to the problem. But after someone suggested that COBOL's UNSTRING statement could be useful, he had his doubts. 

Along with suggesting that "importing the file into an Excel spreadsheet, and saving it in a more civilized format," Murray had these notes.

The UNSTRING statement will be problematic, because one of your fields may have one (or more?) commas in it, and you may have an empty field not surrounded by quotation marks. You might have to roll your own code to break the record into fields.  If you are comfortable with reference modification in COBOL, your code will be a lot cleaner.

Once you do isolate the check amount in a data item by itself, you should be able to use FUNCTION NUMVAL-C to convert it.  Yes, NUMVAL and NUMVAL-C are supported by COBOL II/iX, as long as you turn on the POST85 option.

Olav Kappert offered a long but consistent process.

First thing to do is to not use CVS; use tab-delimited. No problem with UNSTRING. Just use the length field and determine if the length = 0.

Do an UNSTRING of the fields delimited by the tab. Then strip out the quotes. Determine the length of each field and right-justify each field and zero-fill them with a leading zero. Then move the field to a numeric field.

You now have your values. Do this for each field from the unstring. You can create a loop and keep finding the ",".  By the way, determine the record length and set the last byte+1 to "~" so that the unstring can determine the end of record. Long process, but consistent in method.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:05 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 20, 2017

Hardware broker posts reducing numbers

SpeedChart-Series-997-IntroOut on the 3000-L mailing list, a hardware broker posts a message every month to report on pricing for HP's 3000 hardware. For many 3000 owners, HP hardware is going to take them to the retirement date of the MPE/iX applications. Hewlett-Packard built plenty of the boxes, ending in 2003. That's 14 years ago next month, so that's the youngest a 3000 built by HP can be. They're only getting older.

The pricing lineup from the hardware broker has listed N-Class systems in prior months. None are on the latest inventory. One notable addition is A-Class HP 3000s. They're for sale at the broker for $1,200. It's a one-processor model, but at least it's an upper-tier single-CPU A-Class. The broker's got discs and other needed peripheral goods, too.

One of the other items on the inventory list sheds light on how the world of HP hardware has changed. Just below that $1,200 A-Class server is a 2GB memory module, selling for $125. That's memory for a Series 997 system, a 3000 that was last built late in the 1990s. That 997 list price was in the six figures when first introduced, the top of the first 9x7 PA-RISC line in 1998. The memory module is available, and that's something of a miracle. HP's hardware still lasts a long time.

That it's priced as low as it is today, from the broker: encouraging for the 3000 site that wants to preserve HP's hardware to drive their MPE/iX apps. Customers believe they'll be able to get HP hardware for MPE/iX as long as they want. They might be right, depending on how long that date is into the future. Memory boards still for sale nearly 20 years after system introduction seem to prove that.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:57 AM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 18, 2017

Stromasys demos its app futures at VMworld

One of the last vendor chipsets from industry giants now has its future set, a tomorrow where apps need someplace to live. Oracle's not exempt from closing down its Sun workstation and server line. A recent announcement from Oracle introduces the beginning of the end of the Sun SPARC processors. HP turned off development of its PA-RISC chipset in 2008. The vaunted Itanium chips have now received their last generation, Kittson. What follows these announcements is always the end of the line for the hardware running them. Customers determine how long they'll go forward with vendor hardware.

Charon running SPARCStromasys made its annual trip to VMworld to show off its solution for two of these solutions. Charon for PA-RISC has been saving MPE/iX applications from hardware obsolescence since 2012. The company's VMware demonstration covered the solution that steps in for the SPARC end of life. As in its demos for the 3000's chipset emulation, the SPARC solution at VMware ran on a laptop.

The company's product manager Dave Clements was interviewed at the show about the overall capabilities of the product line. Stromasys started its lineup emulating DEC processors, moved to HP's PA-RISC, then added Sun's SPARC not long afterward. Alpha chips are also emulated using Charon.

Openpower-power-roadmap-newSystem vendors who relied on these specialized chips have become rare. It's true: Apple's newest iPhone 8 coming out on Friday uses an A11 processor, built by the phone's vendor. In the enterprise computing arena, only IBM sticks to a proprietary chip. The Series i continues to use the POWER chipset. No one can be certain for how long. Last spring, IBM rolled out a roadmap that would take POWER beyond the year 2020. IBM is the last vendor to commit to its chipset for that period of time. like HP Enterprise, uses other chips. Any industry-standard chip could only power the Series i apps through some kind of emulation.

PA-RISC-clockHP and Intel once had sweeping plans for Itanium. For a time in the 1990s, the chip was supposed to take over for x86 architecture. Then technical realities set in, followed by market rules. Apps that used the x86 software was too different from programs designed for PA-RISC. HP and a handful of other system vendors could not sell enough to make those dreams of market domination a reality. Finally, Microsoft dropped Itanium support five years ago.

When dreams fail, there's emulation here in 2017. The x86 foundation has been with the industry since the 1980s. It powers solutions like Charon, long after the SPARCs, Itaniums and PA-RISCs have left the field.

There's nothing announced yet for Itanium emulation. But there's little doubt which company would be first in line to build it.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:36 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 15, 2017

Friday Fine-tune: Disk and memory checks

The utility cstm has the ability to show the configuration of your current memory installation: the makeup of 3000 memory in terms of boards used. What command delivers this information?

First, enter the MAP command to see a map of the hardware on your system. Each item on the resulting list has a line number. Note the line number for “memory” and use it in the “select device” command, then enter the “info” command. For example, if the memory is device 64:

cstm>select device 64
cstm>info

If you enter the map command now, you will see the status of the memory will be “Information starting” or “information running”. When the status changes to “Information Successful,” you can display the result with the “il” (information log) command. Note: You can avoid the necessity of repeatedly looking at MAP to determine whether the info function has completed by entering “wait” at the prompt following the “info” command. You will not receive another prompt until the info process has completed.

Another answer without using cstm is to run SYSINFO.PRVXL.TELESUP and at the prompt type MEMMAP. You should avoid this solution if using Mirror/iX, since it will break the mirror.]

What MPE command shows me much total hard disk space I have available to me, and how much of that is being used? Also is it possible to break that up per account? For instance, can it tell me how much hard drive space I would gain by purging a particular account?

Use :DISCFREE C for checking disc space used and available by drive and in total. :REPORT z.@ will let you know how much your accounts are using. You may want to run :FSCHECK and do a SYNCACCOUNTING first.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:59 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 13, 2017

Lexicon migrates jargon, work remains same

Composable infrastructureChurn was always a regular catalyst for commerce in enterprise vendor plans. Making changes a regular event in IT planning seems to be requiring new language. Sometimes it's not easy to translate what the latest, shiniest requirements are, in order to move them back into familiar lexicon. HP Enterprise has added jargon new to the senior tactical pros in the 3000 datacenter.

For example, take HPE Synergy. Offered as an alternative to legacy systems like the 3000, HP Enterprise (HGPE) calls it "a composable infrastructure system." 3000 pros would know this as a roll-your-own enterprise system. Like Unix was in the days HP pitted it against the 3000, with all of its software and components and networking left to the customer's choice.

Composable, okay. It's not a word in the dictionary, but it's made its way into HPE planning jargon. "Provides components that can be selected and assembled in various combinations to satisfy specific user requirements." Like every Windows or Linux system you ever built and configured.

Here's another. HCI: hyperconverged infrastructure. A package of pre-compiled servers, network and storage components in a single engineered offering. This is opposed to buying those components separately, and end-users configuring them.

Hyperconverged. Again, not in the English lexicon. Pre-compiled server, network, storage components offered together. "Turnkey," from 1988. The bedrock of every HP 3000 ever sold.

Read "Lexicon migrates jargon, work remains same" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:30 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 11, 2017

Songs of a Simpler Week of September

HP Song Book coverThere's tragedy a-plenty to ponder today, what with the news of Irma's landfalls and a somber anniversary of an attack right at hand. Over this weekend, though, an old friend of the HP 3000 passed along a memory marker. That's a piece of documentation that proves our 3000 world was a different place, but a place still related to what we know today. The marker for this month comes from Dave Wiseman, WisemanGatorwhose 3000 pedigree includes dragging an inflated alligator around a conference show floor as well as a 3000 performance dashboard with a Windows GUI, sold with a freeware version years before open source became an industry strategy.

Wiseman shared a sheaf of pages from the HP Song Book. Corporations of the 20th Century had official corporate songs, but these tunes first rose up on Sept. 11, 1989, sung at the Interex conference in San Francisco. They were written by Orly Larson, a 3000 division database expert who played guitar and strummed up good vibes from customers in the era before corporate Internet.

50th Anniversary SongIn addition to being a September a dozen years before the 9/11 tragedy, the 1989 conference opened on the 50th Anniversary of Hewlett-Packard. Unix was not yet HP's chief enterprise computing platform. The vendor wanted a seat at the desktop user interface table with its New Wave GUI, coupled with the HP Deskmanager office mail and software suite hosted on 3000s.

There was still more software to sell than HP could explain easily.

Database SongHP was trying out the concept of offering two databases for the 3000, TurboImage and Allbase. The song lyrics (at left) told the 1989 attendees that HP had already sold over 35,000 HP 3000s with IMAGE. Another product, HP SQL, was being touted for $15,000 "US list, that is," a line that somehow was scanned onto the melody of the ragtime hit Baby Face. Allbase's price was $30,000 in that year, "unconfigured, that is." This might have been the last time that HP software pricing made its way into song.

Read "Songs of a Simpler Week of September" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:12 PM in History | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 08, 2017

Fine-tune Friday: Moving systems quickly

Here in the 14th year after HP stopped building 3000s, customers continue to use them. They use them up, too, and when that happens it's time to move a system from one machine to another. Here's some timeless advice from a net.digest column of the NewsWire on how to move quickly.

How do you move a large system from one machine to a completely new system, including disk drives, in the quickest way possible and minimizing downtime? In this particular case, it is a 7x24 shop and its online backup to a DLT4000 takes 16 hours.

Stan Sieler came up with an interesting approach to this particular problem, an approach that can be extended to solve a variety of problems in large 7x24 shops.

• Buy a Seagate external disk drive.

• Configure the Seagate on both the old system and the new system.

• Connect the Seagate on the old system.

• volutil/newset the Seagate to be a new volume set, “XFER” (REMEMBER: Volume set names can and should be short names!)

• Do one (or more) STORE-to-disks using compression with the target disk being the new Seagate drive.

Read "Fine-tune Friday: Moving systems quickly" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:58 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 06, 2017

HPE server sales and its CEO stay on course

HPQ3-ProfitsFive years ago this fall, Meg Whitman became CEO of HP. In 2011 Hewlett-Packard was a single monolithic company which just swallowed a $11 billion taste of Autonomy Software. One day after the company cut Autonomy loose, Whitman's HP Enterprise announced it beat analyst estimates on sales and profits.

It's not a bad trick for a corporation that's been shedding products and sectors ever since Whitman took over. The fortunes of HP might be of no more than casual interest for homesteading 3000 customers, including those who use the Stromasys Charon virtualizer for their MPE/iX platform. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise continues to sell servers that can host alternatives to the PA-RISC iron. Yesterday's results showed the vendor's server sales dipped only slightly in the period ending July 31.

Sales for the full company were $8.2 billion, ahead of the $7.5 billion predicted by analysts. Earnings were also out in front of estimates, 31 cents per share versus a prediction of 26 cents. The markets moved HP's stock upward on the news. One analyst said he's still concerned for HPE's future.

In a report from the San Jose Mercury News, Rob Enderle said "regardless of the firm’s structural changes, this is a firm that still appears to be in trouble and there is, as yet, no bright light at the end of the tunnel." Sales rose in the latest quarter on the strength of a strong period for storage and networking equipment. Moving Autonomy to Micro Focus earned HP $8.8 billion, according to Whitman, who had to address rumors she is in the running for the new CEO job at Uber.

Taking over a company with a top management strategy in tatters seems to be a one-time thing for Whitman. On the analyst conference call that delivers the business results, she said Uber's search spotlight fell upon her late.

“I was called in late in the Uber search,” she said. Uber reminded her of her former company, eBay, in that both companies made their name by upending traditional industries.

Read "HPE server sales and its CEO stay on course" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:30 PM in News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 04, 2017

HPE takes a breath after its software flip

HP-UXAs the company which was once the vendor of HP 3000s and MPE, Hewlett Packard Enterprise has now merged its software operations with British software company Micro Focus International. Not included in the transaction that closed this week: enterprise operating systems. The question to be answered over the next few quarters is whether the enterprise customer cares about infrastructure beyond their choices for cloud computing. Those who've adopted HP-UX should watch the HPE naming-space closely.

HP recently floated a survey by way of the Connect user group, quizzing customers about a name for a new version of an enterprise OS. HP 3000 managers know the OS by its previous monicker, HP-UX. This OS has a growing problem—a lack of compatibility with Intel x86-based computers. HP means to sell enterprise strategists on the merits of what it calls HPE Portable HP-UX.

The new name represents an old idea. HP's been engineering the second coming of HP-UX for a long time. Our first reporting on the new generation of HP's Unix started late in 2011. HPE Portable HP-UX is supposed to "suggest a technology that completely emulates a hardware system in software," or perhaps, "Conveys the idea that HP-UX is now available anywhere." These were the multiple choices on the HP naming survey.

HP says the latest iteration of this concept will "enable re-hosting of existing Itanium HP-UX workloads onto containers running on industry standard x86 Linux servers." A container, in this idea, is a portion of Linux devoted to the carriage of an older operating system. Network World surmised in May that the containers "will likely pull HP-UX workload instances and put them in Linux as micro-services. Containers are different from virtualization, which require hypervisors, software tools, and system resources. Containers allow customers to maintain mixed HP-UX and Linux environments and make the transition smoother."

Network World said the technology offers an escape from an aging OS. All software ages, but it ages more quickly when the vendor adds layers to run it. An emulation or virtualization strategy is expected from third parties. When a vendor creates these layers for its own OS, it's a sign of the end-times for the hardware. HP's Unix customers have to take their applications elsewhere.

Virtualization has been a benefit for customers who continue to rely on MPE/iX applications. Stromasys Charon HPA has preserved the most essential element of the platform, the OS. The point was not to move away from an HP-designed chip. PA-RISC is preserved. In contrast, HPE Portable HP-UX is moving to x86 because the future of Itanium now has a final generation. Kittson is the last iteration of Itanium. It puts HP-UX in a worse spot than MPE/iX. HP-UX has become an OS that Hewlett-Packard has disconnected from the HP chip it built to run it.

While the company that was once called HP has added one letter to its name, it continues to pare away its non-essential lines. Enterprise software is the latest to go. Excising the software from HPE isn't news, so it won't relate to the market's reaction Wednesday to HPE's third-quarter report. That doesn't mean HPE Q3 results won't make waves, though.

Read "HPE takes a breath after its software flip" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:45 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 01, 2017

Steps for a Final Shutdown

Kane-death-deadlineWe're hearing a story about pulling the next-to-last application off an HP 3000 that's run a port facility. At some point, every HP 3000 has to be guided into dock for the last time. These are business critical systems with sensitive data—which requires a rigorous shutdown for sending a 3000 into a salvage yard.

While this is a sad time for the IT expert who's built a career on MPE expertise, doing a shutdown by the numbers is in keeping with the rest of the professional skill-set you can expect from a 3000 manager. I am reminded of the line from Citizen Kane. "Then, as it must for every man, death came to Charles Foster Kane." Nothing escapes death, but a proper burial seems in order for such a legendary system.

Chris Bartram, whose 3k Associates website offers a fine list of public domain MPE/iX software, has chronicled all the details of turning off an HP 3000. "I have performed last rites for a 9x8 server at a customer site," he says, "and have been through the exercise a couple times before."

There are 10 steps that Bartram does before switching off the 3000's power button for the last time.

Read "Steps for a Final Shutdown" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:23 AM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 30, 2017

Wayback Wed: The Big Wet soaks HP's show

Sam-Houston-flood-HarveyDuring this week of 2005, a natural disaster the size of Hurricane Harvey sank the launch site of HP's conference debut. Hurricane Katrina socked New Orleans two weeks before the first HP Technology Forum & Expo was to make its appearance on the HP 3000 show calendar. Katrina's loss of life was staggering compared to Harvey's toll. In some way, though, the disruption for that conference devoted to HP business computing felt fated. HP's computer group bore down a storm of change on the Interex user group's shoreline that year, cooking up the Technology Forum all during 2005. The HP-led show was roping in exhibitor dollars which had kept the Interex user group afloat each year.

Houston-flood-totalsAs of this writing, HP Enterprise has not reported damages to the HP facilities in the Highway 249 corridor where the Compaq and HP facilities are located. The reported rainfall totals are staggering, however, and the hurricane is being declared the worst rainfall disaster in US history. HPE-Houston-Facilities

The company had its history with hurricanes and the Gulf Coast before this week, though. HP got close to Houston because of its Compaq acquisition in 2002. In 2005, Interex canceled its HP World show when the user group folded with millions in unpaid hotel deposits still on the books. At the time, HP said anyone who'd paid to attend the Interex show could shift their registration to the first-ever HP Tech Forum. The event was to be held in New Orleans in the thick of hurricane season. Katrina wrecked the city so badly that HP had to move its new show to Orlando.

The 2005 hurricane rescheduled an HP show that was not aimed to replace Interex's annual tentpole event. The scheduling might as well have been targeted at the user group, though. Interex got notice in 2004 it could collaborate with the DEC-driven Encompass user group on a 2005 conference, But the HP user group launched by HP 3000 customers was 30 years old by 2004. Interex had to go its own way to retain enough revenue from the event. User group leaders averred that the deciding factor was HP's insistence on steering the content and tone of the new event. In particular, the tone was cited by an HP liaison David Parsons. The Interex members had a history of going toe-to-toe with HP's executives in the legendary Management Roundtables.

As they often do, the storms triggered disaster recovery reporting. Before Katrina swept its broom of destruction in 2005, we ran a pair of articles about disaster recovery strategies. Our columnist Scott Hirsh has also weighed in with best practices on DR in hisWorst Practices column written in the wake of 9/11. Gulf Coast weather didn't sink Interex, but the tradition of an August-September schedule for North American HP trade shows was scattered for good by the storm. HP CEOs had a tradition of being in hurricane paths.

Read "Wayback Wed: The Big Wet soaks HP's show" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:09 PM in History | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 28, 2017

VMware ties virtualization to Amazon's tail

Comet-tailStromasys is a regular presence at the annual VMware conference. This year's event kicked off yesterday with an announcement that ties VMware to Amazon's Web Services. Businesses that want to run some VMware workloads on AWS can do so at Amazon's Oregon cloud datacenters.

VMware is also a regular in the Charon configurations for HP 3000 virtualization. Cloud-based offerings around Charon have been in the Stromasys lineup for several years. The opportunity to be the first 3000 site to operate from the cloud is still out there, but Stromasys is ready.

Charon's HPA product manager Doug Smith says VMware is by no means essential to eliminating a physical 3000. A lot of companies have VMware installed, though, and when they're spent that kind of money they're often interested in how to leverage their datacenter resource. Creating a virtualized Linux server to cradle the virtualization of PA-RISC demands a lot. Some companies have VMware on very powerful servers, so that can help.

Most of the Charon customers are on physical platforms. If VMware is available it can be used unless there's a customer requirement for direct access to a physical device like a tape drive.

Cloud promised a lot for a long time, but it has had costs to calculate, too. This is where the AWS partnership is likely to make a difference. Stromasys product manager Dave Clements said at the start of 2016, "A pretty good-sized virtualized server in the cloud costs about $1,000 a month. We don't discourage it, though."

VMware tried to launch its own cloud services and failed, so now their Amazon ally "gives us a strategic and long-term partnership." It's called VMware Cloud for AWS. The VMware show also included an introduction of a new Kingston SSD device, the NVMe SSD, to eliminate data bottlenecks. SSD is one of the hidden advantages of taking a 3000 host into virtualized Charon territory.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:56 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 25, 2017

SSDs: Not a long-shot to work with MPE/iX

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is not entirely sure if it's leaving the support forum it once devoted to the HP e3000. (After so many years, "e3000" is still the go-to keyword while looking at the HPE resources that remain online.) To test if the forum was still alive, or entirely in archive stasis, I posed a question. Could an IDE SSD drive get a hookup to a 3000 using an SCSI converter?

Is there enough bus connectivity in the e3000 to install an SSD on the server? There are SSD drives that can link up via IDE and I've found a SCSI to IDE converter.

One reply bounced back on the forum. "Torsten" said, "If this is really an HP3000 server, this sounds like the most crazy tuning idea."

Not so crazy, we've seen. In 2015, after one 3000-L newsgroup user compared putting SSDs in 3000s to a McLaren racing engine in an SUV, a more plausible solution emerged: using SSDs to support a virtualized 3000 running on an Intel-based PC. "You could house your 3000 in a Stromasys emulator running on a Linux box with VMware," said Gilles Schipper of GSA, "employing as many SATA SSD disks as you want on your host."

But there was a time in another May when SSDs running native in HP's 3000 hardware was a possibility worth investigating. It was also a necessity, because it was the only way.

Read "SSDs: Not a long-shot to work with MPE/iX" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:46 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 23, 2017

Wayback Wed: Lights Out for 3000 Classics

Series 70 with Disk FarmDuring this month 20 years ago, HP sent its death notice out about the original systems it built to run MPE. All computers running CISC technology, systems the community learned to call Classic 3000s, got their end of support notice in August of 1997. Hewlett-Packard officially labeled them and the software built for MPE V as "vintage software and systems."

As continues to be the case for HP's end of life plans, the finale for the 3000's original chip design arrived more than a few years beyond the EOL of September 1998. Series 70s were still in use when the original notice went out, at least a decade beyond their final shipping date. HP created the Series 70 when the RISC Spectrum project looked certain not to rescue the highest-end HP 3000 users in time. Series 68 users were running out of horsepower, and HP's final CISC server filled the gap for awhile.

HP was consolidating its support resources with the announcement. Even though 20,000 HP 3000s shipped between system introduction and the arrival of the RISC-based systems, the newer, lower-priced MPE/iX servers became popular replacements for Classic 3000s. By 1997 the software vendors had made a complete embrace of the new OS. But 3000 customers, ever a thrifty bunch, retained what continued to serve them well enough. Customers noted that the approaching Y2K deadline was not going to hamper the vintage software or its hardware.

Although the announcement sparked a 3000 hardware sales bump and hastened the journey of the two-digit systems like the Series 42 to the scrap heap, the old compilers remained under support. A community advocate then asked HP to free up Basic/V to the community, along with the original Systems Programming Language (SPL). The request pre-dated the idea of open source by more than a few years. HP's response was no different than the one it held to when it stopped supporting MPE/iX. Once an HP product, always an HP product.

Wirt Atmar of AICS noted that "If HP has abandoned Basic, it would be an extraordinary gift to the MPE user community to make it and SPL legal freeware. Basic still remains the easiest language to build complex, easy string-manipulating software that must interact with IMAGE databases."

Another community leader, Chris Bartram, made direct reference to freeware in seconding the move to give Basic/V to the customers. Bartram's 3k Associates already hosted a website of shareware for the HP 3000. He said donating the MPE V versions of Basic and SPL fit with HP's new policy of relying on shareware for its HP 3000 customers.

"It certainly doesn't hurt anything at this point to make it freeware," he said, "and fits in well with the wealth of other freeware programs that are becoming available on the platform -- almost all without "official" support or significant investments from HP." Old hardware, on the other hand, suffered from the same issues as HP's aging iron of our current day. Parts became a showstopper at some sites.

Read "Wayback Wed: Lights Out for 3000 Classics" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:32 PM in History, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 21, 2017

The Next Totality: Will it be our last?

21stCenturyNorthAmericanEclipsesA wide swath of North America sparkled with zeal for the sun today. The total eclipse cut across the US from left to right coasts, scattering visions many viewers never knew before in person. We had a partial here in Austin and built a binocular viewer. On TV a stadium full of astronomy enthusiasts saw the clouds dash all but 11 seconds of totality hopes in Carbondale, Ill. Not far to the west, the Stonehenge knockoff Carhenge had clear skies and a stunning swing of darkness for about two minutes.

The talk today began to turn to whether this would be the last total eclipse in our North American lifetimes. The answer is easy enough for things younger than 70: this won't be the last, because less than seven years from now a top-to-bottom totality will swing through North America. Austin is in the path of 100 percent this time. We have to decide if we'll be renting out the NewsWire offices for viewing parties in 2024.

Next EclipseThe question that's harder to answer with certainty is whether this is the last totality for the HP 3000. For many years by now we've heard sites talking about plans to work in the 2020's. Ametek Chandler Engineering has a plan to take them into 2023. Earlier this month, the 3000 manager at MagicAire shared the news that he's deciding if clearing the 2028 CALENDAR roadblock is worthwhile for his operation.

The number of companies who'll rely on the 3000 may be zero in less than six years, but I wouldn't bet on it. Series 70 machines were running in the Dallas area more than 15 years after they were taken off HP's 3000 lineup. The odds of zero MPE/iX apps running in less than six years are probably nil. Virtualized PA-RISC systems from Stromasys will be cradling what we call 3000 apps in 2024.

Not-BrightOur community of experts and customers might take up their circa-2017 eyewear once again when I'm turning 67. If back in 1979 — when the last total eclipse sailed through a bit of the US — someone figured nobody would need to be wearing glasses to watch a total eclipse in 2017, they'd be wrong about that. Old tech has a way of hanging on once it's proved itself. The last total eclipse I'm likely to see is in 2045. I'll only be 88, and MPE will be just a tender 63 years old. Anything first created in 1954 and still in use is 63 years old today. That would be nuclear submarines and M&Ms. Think the latter (alluring, durable) while considering MPE's lifespan. There's also that song about the future, brightness, and shades. As we saw today, stranger things have already happened.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:29 PM in History, Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (4)

August 18, 2017

Fine-tune Friday: SCSI codes, and clean-ups for UDCs and 3000 power supplies

Cleanup-siteI need to clean up COMMAND.PUB.SYS on my 3000. There's a problem with BULDACCT. Is there a utility to help manage the UDC catalog?

Stan Sieler replies:

One option is "PURGE," which ships on all MPE systems :) Of course, that means you have to rebuild the UDC catalog. We recently encountered a site where, somehow, an HFS filename had gotten into COMMAND.PUB.SYS. You can't delete UDC entries with HFS filenames, nor can you add them. I had to edit the file with Debug to change the name into something that could be deleted.

Keven Miller adds:

I believe you want the utility UDCSORT from the CSL, the UDC sorting and reorganization program.

There are so many SCSI types. It's got to be the most confusing four letter acronym. Is there a guide?

Steve Dirickson offers this primer:

SE (single-ended): TTL-level signals referenced to ground; speeds from 5 Mhz to 20 MHz

Differential (HVD): something around +/-12V signals on paired wires (old-timers think “EIA 20mA current loop”); same speeds as SE

LVD (Ultra2): TTL-level differential; 40 MHz clock

Ultra160: same as LVD, but data signals double-clocked, i.e. transfers on both clock transitions like DDR DRAM. LVD and Ultra160 can co-exist on the same bus with SE devices, but will operate in SE mode. HVD doesn’t co-exist with anything else.

Upon arrival this morning my console had locked up. I re-started the unit, but the SCSI drives do not seem to be powering up. The green lights flash for a second after the power is applied, but that is it. The cooling fan does not turn either. The  fan that is built into the supply was making noise last week. I can’t believe the amount of dust inside.

Tom Emerson responded:

This sounds very familiar. I’d say the power supply on the drive cabinet is either going or gone [does the fan ‘not spin’ due to being gunked up with dust and grease, or just ‘no power’?] I’m thinking that the power supply is detecting a problem and shutting down moments after powering up [hence why you see a ‘momentary flicker’].

Read "Fine-tune Friday: SCSI codes, and clean-ups for UDCs and 3000 power supplies" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:47 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 16, 2017

How Free Lunch Can Cost You The Future

Blue-plate-special-free-lunchStaying put with 3000 homesteading has been a sure road to spending less. That's in the short term, or maybe for intermediate planning. A longer-term strategy for MPE/iX application lifespans, especially the apps serving ERP and manufacturing, includes a migration and less free lunch. Those times are ending in some places.

"Life was really easy for the last 25 years, with no upgrades and no new releases," Terry Floyd of TSG says of the second era of ERP on the 3000s. MANMAN customers looking into that past could track to 1992, and then the versions of MANMAN owned by Computer Associates. MPE/iX was in the 5.0 era, so there have been many revisions of the 3000's OS since then. The hardware was stable, while it was not so aged. It's not unheard of to find a company that hasn't upgraded their 3000 iron since the 1990s. Yes, Series 928 systems work today in production.

"There is just nothing cheaper than running a stable ERP on a stable platform like MPE," Floyd adds. He also notes that migrating a MANMAN site out of the 3000 Free Lunch Cafe is made possible by the latest Social ERP app suite. "If Kenandy was less flexible," he says, "it would be a lot harder in some instances."

Free Lunch, as described above with devotion to existing, well-customized apps, is quite the lure. It can cost a company its future, making the years to come more turbulent with change and creating a gap when a free lunch won't satisfy IT needs. Pulling existing apps into a virtual host with Stromasys Charon can pay for part of the lunch and provide one step into the future.

Migration to a subscription model of application, instead of migrating PA-RISC hardware to an Intel host, makes a company pay for more of the future. The payments are measured, though. If the payoff is in enhancements, the future can brim with value like a golden era of application software.

Read "How Free Lunch Can Cost You The Future" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:34 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 14, 2017

Increasing Challenges of 3000 DIY Support

Beer-fridge-supportDo It Yourself efforts sometimes emerge from ingenuity. Enthusiasts build mashups of products like a beer cooler melded with an old fridge. DIY desktop PC builds were once the rage, but most datacenters' efforts today are Build To Orders. The challenges of DIY support for production-class servers is also starting to become a tall order. The increased efforts are being found in HP's Unix environments, too.

"DIY is increasingly hard to do," says Donna Hofmeister of Allegro, "mostly due to aging hardware. Often, those left in charge of MPE systems have little knowledge of the system. We get called when things are in a real mess. This applies to a lot of HP-UX shops now as well."

The oldest of hardware has its challenges on both sides of the PA-RISC aisle, both HP 3000 and HP 9000s. As an example, last week Larry Simonsen came upon DTC manuals in his cleanup pile. "I have some old manuals I do not find on the Internet using Google," he said. "Where do I upload my scans before I destroy these?" The aged gems cover support for the DTC 16TN Telnet Terminal Server, DTC 16iX Lan Multiplexer and DTC 16MX Communications server. The installation guide is HP part 5961-6412

Destroying old paper is environmentally friendly once the information is captured in some way. The capture gives the community ways to share, too. Keven Miller, a support pro who's stockpiled HP's manuals on the 3000 and MPE/iX, said those DTC manuals are only in his library as versions for HP-UX documentation. Like a good support provider always does in 2017, he got serious about capturing this tech data about the 3000.

"If you happen to choose to scan, send copies my way to include in my collection," Miller said. "Or if that's not going to happen, drop them off or I'll come get them and scan (at some future date) myself."

Parts have driven working HP 3000s into migration scenarios. A depot-based support operation assures a customer they'll never come of short of a crucial component. Pivital's Steve Suraci, whose company specializes in 3000s, pointed out that a weak Service Level Agreement (SLA) has a bigger problem than just not being able to get a replacement HP part.

How many HP 3000 shops are relying on support providers that are incompetent and/or inept? A provider is willing to take this company's money, without even being able to provide reasonable assurance that they had replacement parts in a depot somewhere in the event of failure. There are still reputable support providers out there. Your provider should not be afraid to answer tough questions about their ability to deliver on an SLA.

Read "Increasing Challenges of 3000 DIY Support" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:49 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 11, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: A Diagnostics Tour

Newswire Classic
From Stan Sieler

There are two kinds of diagnostics: online and offline.

The online come in two flavors:

1. Older releases of MPE/iX have online diagnostics accessed via SYSDIAG.PUB.SYS (which is a script that runs DUI.DIAG.SYS). (MPE/iX 6.0 and earlier, possibly MPE/iX 6.5 (I'm not sure))

2. Newer releases of MPE/iX have online diagnostics accessed via CSTM.PUB.SYS (which is a script that runs /usr/sbin/stm/ui/bin/stmc).

Both are, well, difficult to use. (HP-UX also switched from sysdiag to stm.) Both have some modules that require passwords, and some that don't.

The offline diagnostics are on a bootable CD or tape. The lastest offline diagnostics CD (for PA-RISC) that I could find was labelled "2004."

That CD has seven diagnostics/utilities. I tried running all of them on an A-Class system. The "ODE" one is special; it's a program that itself hosts a number of diagnostics/utilities (some of which require passwords).

Read "Friday Fine-Tune: A Diagnostics Tour" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:00 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 09, 2017

Parts become hair triggers for some sites

Ordering parts for HP 3000s used to be painless. HP's Partsurfer website showed the way, letting a manager search by serial number, and even showing pictures in a full listing of components. Click to Buy was a column in the webpage.

PartsurferThat's a 3000 option that's gone from the HP Enterprise Partsurfer website, but there are options still available outside of HP. Resellers and support vendors stock parts — the good vendors guarantee them once they assume responsibility for a server or a 3000-specific device. Consider how many parts go into a 3000. These guarantees are being serviced by spare systems.

Parts have become the hair trigger that eliminates 3000s still serving in 2017. "Availability of parts is triggering migrations by now," said Eric Mintz, head of the 3000 operations at Fresche Solutions.

Homesteading to preserve MPE/iX is different and simpler matter. Virtualized systems to run 3000 apps have been serving for close to five years in the marketplace. That's Charon, which will never have a faded Partserver website problem. No hardware lasts forever, but finding a Proliant or Dell replacement part is a trivial matter by comparison. A full spare replacement is one way to backstop a Charon-hosted MPE/iX system, because they run on Intel servers.

"Some customers do want to stay on as long as possible," Mintz said. Application support helps them do this. So do depot-based support services: the ones where needed parts are on a shelf in a warehouse space, waiting.

Read "Parts become hair triggers for some sites" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:52 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 07, 2017

Support firms vet, curate online 3000 advice

French-CuratorsJust a few weeks ago, we reported on the presumed disappearance of the HP 3000 Jazz lore and software. The resource of papers and programs written for the MPE/iX manager turned up at a new address at Fresche Solutions' website. Fresche was once Speedware, a company that licensed use of all the Jazz contents—help first compiled by HP in the 1990s.

Now it looks like HP's ready to flip off the switch for its Community Forum. These have been less-trafficked webpages where advice lived for 3000s and MPE. Donna Hofmeister, a former director of the OpenMPE advocacy group, noted that an HP Enterprise moderator said those forums would be shut down with immediate effect.

I discovered this little bit of unhappiness:
7/31 - Forum: Operating Systems - MPE/iX

Information to all members, that we will retire the Operating Systems - MPE/iX forum and all boards end of business today.

As far as I can tell, all MPE information is no longer accessible! :-( I'm not happy that no public announcement was made <sigh> If you can demonstrate differently, that would be great!

But a brief bout of searching this morning revealed at least some archived questions and answers at the HPE website about the 3000. For example, there's a Community post about advice for using the DAT 24x6e Autoloader with MPE/iX. It's useful to have an HP Passport account login (still free) to be able to read such things. The amount of information has been aging, and nothing seems to be new since 2011. It wasn't always this way; HP used to post articles on MPE/iX administration with procedural examples.

Not to worry. The established 3000 support providers have been curating HP's 3000 information like this for many years. No matter what HP takes down, it lives on elsewhere. "We gathered a lot of the Jazz and other HP 3000 related content years ago to cover our needs," said Steve Suraci of Pivital. "While I don’t think we got everything, I do think we have most of what we might need these days." Up to date web locations for such information should be at your support partner. Best of all, they'll have curated those answers.

Read "Support firms vet, curate online 3000 advice" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:58 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 04, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: HP 3000 DLT vs. DDS

Dlt Backing up enterprise-grade 3000s presents interesting choices. Back in the 1990s when the 3000 being built and sold by HP, DDS at first had only two generations, neither of which were reliable. A DDS tape used to be the common coin for OS updates and software upgrades. The media has advanced beyond a DDS-4 generation to DAT-360, but Digital Linear Tape (DLT) has a higher capacity and more reliability than DDS.

When a DDS tape backup runs slower than DLT, however, something is amiss. DLT is supposed to supply a native transfer rate of 15 MBps in the SureStore line of tape libraries. You can look at an HP PDF datasheet on the Ultrium SureStore devices certified by HP for MPE/iX at this link.

HP 3000 community partners such as Pivital Solutions offer these DLTs, At an estimated cost of about $1,300 or more per device, you'll expect them to beat the DDS-3 transfers of 5 MBps.

When Ray Shahan didn't see the speed he expected after moving to DLT and asked the 3000 newsgroup community what might be wrong. Advice ranged from TurboStore commands, to channels where the drives are installed, to the 3000's bandwidth and CPU power to deliver data to the DLT. Even the lifespan of the DLT tape can be a factor. HP's MPE/iX IO expert Jim Hawkins weighed in among the answers, while users and third-party support providers gave advice on how to get the speed which you pay extra for from DLT.

Read "Friday Fine-Tune: HP 3000 DLT vs. DDS" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:53 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 02, 2017

Long-term value rests in short-life servers

Buried-treasureIt's a summer afternoon in Virginia when a 3000 expert takes inventory. He's got a declining number of billable hours this month, enough of a problem to reach for resources to liquidate. His pair of big 9x9 systems in offsite storage have been offline for all of this year, and all of last year, too. There's gold in them there chassis, he figures. They've got to be worth something.

Then the expert has a look at last week's 3000-L newsgroup traffic. The messages have dwindled to a couple of dozen even in the good months, but one hardware reseller posts messages monthly. Old 3000s are for sale at an asking price that doesn't exceed $5,000 for even the biggest server. HP only built one N-Class bigger than the 4-way 550 N-Class that tops the list. The 9x9s in the message? About $1,000-$1,200 apiece, even for a 989. Selling servers like that to a broker might net maybe half that to our expert.

Even though the servers are in great shape, stored in temperature-controlled storage units, and sport some nice peripherals, the resale value of the boxes isn't surprising. They're short-life assets, because eventually they'll break down. There's something in them that might be more valuable than $500 per system, though. The MPE/iX licenses for these systems could be worth something, even if the hardware isn't exactly golden.

Series 989A historical note or two: The Series 989 models sold for as little as $175,617 when HP launched them 18 years ago. MPE/iX 6.0 was the first OS to power them. Like everything else HP built for MPE/iX, the servers stopped being sold in 2003

How much such licenses would fetch is an unknown this year. A low-cost server in the used market usually has MPE/iX loaded on its disks. A clear chain of ownership, though, might not be a part of that discount price. Who'd care about such a thing? Our expert thinks of the one company more devoted to the everlasting future of MPE/iX than anybody: Stromasys.

Any 3000 customer with enough dedication to using MPE/iX in an emulated environment may very well want good MPE/iX licenses. HP promised to deliver an emulator-only MPE/iX license to the community, but the vendor stopped issuing licenses before Stromasys Charon got into the market. A license for a 3000 is the one element of the MPE/iX environment in shortest supply. For now, nobody has started to list server licenses as a product that can be purchased.

Read "Long-term value rests in short-life servers" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:47 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

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