January 14, 2020

Listserv still serving advice after 26 years

Bank vault safety deposit boxes
The 3000-L Listserv repository is the HP 3000 resource that's been in the longest continuous use for the MPE/iX ecosystem. HP had a Jazz website for about 13 years, content that was carried over to Fresche Legacy's servers once HP's labs closed. 3000-L was online for about a year or so before the NewsWire entered the Web.

The content on the 3000-L was a big reason I believed we could do a monthly HP 3000 newsletter. We curated and learned, education and advice we shared with readers. Even after 26 years, 3000-L can be searched for answers that go back to the era of MPE/iX 4.0.

That repository is full of history about the people who have created the MPE ecosystem, too. with enough patience, most answers will be hiding in the hundreds of thousands of email messages. All are logged by subject line. 3000-L can be searched within date ranges, too.

3000-L was once so robust that we could publish a column about its gems once a month as part of the first 10 years of the NewsWire. 

The columns are archived in our 1996-2005 pages. We called them NetDigest, and for awhile they were written by John Burke, who helped us found the NewsWire with his knowing voice and deep technical experience.

For the source material for those columns, refer to the 3000-L search panel.

For the columns, refer to the Tech Page of the '96 - '05 issues. Once you arrive at the Tech Page, just do a search within the page for the phrase net.digest. We've got 106 columns there.

Photo by Jason Pofahl on Unsplash 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:29 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

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HP 3000 resource

January 09, 2020

How to Encrypt 3000 Log-on Passwords

Padlock
NewsWire Classic

Is there a way to encrypt MPE logon passwords to keep auditors satisfied that the HP 3000 is secure? We need to show that they cannot be easily read with the ;pass parameter (i.e. listuser xxx.yyy;pass)

The replies generated one of the longest threads of the month on the 3000-L.

Tracy Johnson offered an opinion that “the answer to your auditors is not in encrypting passwords. The answer lies in restricting AM and SM capability to only those key personnel who can use the the “;pass” parameter within established policy. AM and SM capability also presumes the same capability to change another user’s password, and therefore also the ability to look it up.”

Chris Boggs reported in a virtual testimonial that “Our auditors were not satisfied by even limiting SM and AM capabilities to only two individuals (both in our department). Since we had Vesoft's Security/3000 already, I changed our regular logon ID’s to use the Vesoft password which is encrypted.

"There are other features in Vesoft security which are handy when dealing with auditors such as password obsolescence, password “history,” minimum password standards, inactivity logouts, day/time restrictions, automatic deactivation of logonID’s after a certain number of failed logon attempts, and probably a few others.”

Bradmark’s Jerry Fochtman said some Interex Contributed Software Library routines can help. “I developed a routine to return the passwords for user/group/account (based upon caller’s capabilities) during this time. It also signaled if the password was encrypted, simply returning blanks in this case. There was another routine which given a password, would encrypt it based upon HP’s approach and tell the caller if the entered password matched the one in the system directory.”

Fochtman also took note of the Vesoft abilities and added his humble opinion on the security solution from Monterrey Software, “SAFE/3000. It also utilizes one-way encryption for its passwords. And in terms of strictly security, it is a better tool in several areas, such as network security.”

Michael Gueterman, whose company Easy Does It Technologies does pre-audits for 3000 sites, added notes on using only session-level passwords.

“That’s fine for some things, but I still recommend keeping at least MPE Account passwords in place for all but the most “open” areas. For accounts with SM or PM, I also recommend MPE User passwords as well. Also, when at all possible, explicitly define what people are ALLOWED to access, instead of using generic wildcards. Wildcards make auditors unhappy, and an unhappy auditor is dangerous!”

Image by meineresterampe from Pixabay

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:41 PM in Hidden Value, Newswire Classics | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 07, 2020

So many owners = so much value

Office building colored floors
Editor's Note: While the MPE/iX MANMAN customers mull over their 2020 options, it's useful to look at the history of an application being orphaned by its creator. Cortlandt Wilson, a consultant on ERP systems, wrote this early-years history of how MANMAN's ecosystem evolved. The bottom line is proof that value in an application like MANMAN is baked-in — or it wouldn't have survived so much change.

Over the years MANMAN has experienced highs and lows. At one time the software's creator, ASK Computing, was a media darling — a successful high-tech company founded and run by a woman, Sandy Kurtzig. The MANMAN product has a good reputation in the mid-sized manufacturing systems market. The company, however, unsuccessfully tried to follow up its success with a next generation solution based on a new technology infrastructure.

When I was with ASK in the late 1980s, on several occasions I heard the president and co founder of ASK say that “we are an applications company, not a software tool company.” Unfortunately, the companies on top of the ERP market all developed their own technology infrastructure. The search for a new technology infrastructure led ASK to purchase Ingres for its relational DBMS and tools.

ASK finally purchased a infrastructure and the basic application software for a ERP system from a then little-known Dutch company named Baan. As part of the sales agreement ASK modified significant amounts of the functionality and called the application MANMAN/X. Strained by development costs and weak sales, the company floundered.

By 1994, ASK was facing a severe cash crisis. Looking for a financial angel or a buyer, the board of directors finally recommended a buyout offer from Computer Associates. Many ASK employees, however, responded to the takeover by resigning.

Industry analysts’ concerns about CA’s “ferocious reputation” and the loss of experienced staff highlighted the takeover of ASK. Many MANMAN customers expressed skepticism about CA’s ability to maintain the product, and the quality of support noticeably dropped. 

By 1996, CA concluded that application software and services shouldn’t be managed like software tools and utilities. CA spun off its manufacturing products into an independent business unit to be named the MK Group (MK for Manufacturing Knowledge). MANMAN/X was renamed MK to reflect its marketing role as the flagship product.

Note: Wilson reported from a user group meeting of CAMUS in the late 1990s that the MK Group began to prove stable and was responding better to customer needs. There's inherent value in MANMAN that the repeated transfers of ownership have scarcely erased. By this summer, sites using the ERP package will have right of use for a product that has endured three changes of ownership. The software went from ASK Computer Systems to Computer Associates to SSA Global to Infor. The final owner of MANMAN, Infor, kept up support for nearly 14 years.

Photo by Takafumi Yamashita on Unsplash

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:28 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 02, 2020

Even in apps retirement, 3000 data survives

Aging hands on keyboard
A notable manufacturing datacenter in the 3000 community is making changes to its application lineup over the coming year. Although the profile of the apps and their status is changing, there's no talk of removing MPE from the datacenter yet.

Al Nizzardi is part of the IT command at TE Connectivity, the company that has more MANMAN instances running than any other in that ERP ecosystem. There's been a devotion to the 3000 that's extraordinary. Terry Simpkins has been the face of using 3000s in manufacturing since the 1990s. The IT director at TE even appeared once in a magazine ad promoting the 3000.

At TE, plans for the future of ERP applications have been aimed at SAP for several years. It's a migration, but one with echoes. SAP shares a customization practice with MANMAN: both apps are better choices when they're tuned to individual business practices.

After a few decades of use, the data repository for a MANMAN site becomes an asset that deserves its own curation. Data from a 3000 goes back to the late 1970s. The final cutover to SAP is likely to take place in late 2020 or sometime in 2021, by Nizzardini's reckoning.

"Databases are slowly migrating to SAP," he said. "I believe the final cut over will be 12 to 24 months out from today. That does not mean the end of the HP 3000. Historical data will reside on a HP 3000 of some sort."

TE runs a production N-Class, a test N-Class, an N-Class disaster box, and an A-Class. The datacenter does some Netbase shadowing, Nizzardini added. "We are still formulating a plan on our options, whether it's using an emulator or the N-Class we have" for archival MPE computing. "Either one of those options will be moved to a co-lo."
 
Experts on managing MPE/iX computing never stray too far from a place of helping. "We will be ready for when the Phoenix arises," Nizzardini quipped. "I've often said they will have to yank that HP 3000 out of my cold dead hands."
 
Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Posted by Ron Seybold at 12:41 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 24, 2019

Gift wishes heading into the future

Christmas tree
Today's the day when generous people tuck presents underneath a holiday tree. Not so long ago, the only museum devoted fully to HP's computers was looking for gifts of classic hardware to flesh out its collection.

The HP Computer Museum is based in Melbourne, Australia. Its founder Jon Johnston passed away but left behind gift requests. The museum is downsizing now, like a lot of the owners and managers of HP 3000s. It's worth noting, though, that HP's breakthrough 3000 designs were among the most desired of museum gifts.

A table provides a listing of major hardware products the museum was seeking. This matrix lists the items by rarity and product category. Near the top quadrant: HP 3000s first released 45 years ago.

HP Computer museum needs
The white boxes represent the most needed items. The museum has no samples of these items. Pink boxes are most rare.

An HP-built 3000 server is old by definition now. The freshest pieces of hardware were manufactured more than 16 years ago. The craft and design of the HP iron, of any vintage, was legendary as well as being a gift of legacy. Even if MPE/iX is the only thing in use at some sites in 2020, because Stromasys emulation has taken over there as the hardware platform, HP's hard goods made that environment a classic.

Several resellers still trade in HP's MPE/iX iron. Cypress Technology's Jesse Dougherty continues to leave reminders about his 3000 system stock. Ebay is another reliable source, a place where the systems are often being sold by a reseller like Cypress. A Series 969 220 was for sale this week at $1,450.

Happy holidays. We're taking a break until just beyond the new year, when we mark the start of the 47th calendar year of MPE and 3000 service.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 12:21 PM in History, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 19, 2019

Seeking forgiveness as a support plan

So sorry chalkboard
ERP software becomes wired in deeply at corporations. Now that MANMAN has seen the end date coming for its manufacturer support, customers who rely on the ERP suite are looking for a 2020 plan to keep using it.

One aspect is a ruling about whether a product or a vendor is dead, but the intentions for its product lives on. It's an aspect of law called droit moral in France. Droit moral is not recognized in the US. Intentions are preserved in droit moral.

Some HP 3000 owners considered HP a dead entity after 2008, when no more patches were being built. HP's intellectual rights to MPE and the HP 3000 remain in effect. But there are those moral rights, too. This computer would not have become the keystone at places like aircraft makers and airline ticket agencies without customers' contributions, work that started many years ago. In fact, HP once recognized this kind of help in the market with the e3000 Contributor of the Year Award.

Contributors earn rights when measured in terms of ethics. Droit moral preserves ethics.

Source code rights might belong to customers once a product goes into permanent hibernation at the manufacturer. In 2008, I wrote that I believed that in order to honor droit moral for the 3000 community, HP's increasingly restrictive statements of licensing needed to stop. The vendor's support group needed to move on to other profitable HP markets. The vendor needed to leave owners and customers to continue using their computer, without any extra licensing payments to HP.

Droit moral lived in the hearts of some of the 3000 advocates within HP. While I visited HP's 3000 group one afternoon, the former business manager Dave Wilde and I walked across the wooded HP campus to lunch. That entire campus site is now the location of Apple Park, Apple's worldwide HQ, so things have changed a lot. At the time, through, Wilde said the 3000 group wanted to give the system "the ending that it deserves." It sounded warm and genuine.

Infor, the owners of MANMAN, are not as warm and genuine, even though they have enough sense about branding to sponsor the NBA Brooklyn Nets with an Infor logo on Nets uniforms. At the moment there's no coordinated effort from the remaining MANMAN customers to establish whether MANMAN truly belongs to customers after the exit of its creator. The customers are unsure who might even respond to such ownership questions.

Read "Seeking forgiveness as a support plan" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:50 AM in History, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 17, 2019

Does orphaned source code belong to you?

Orphan with bike
Not many application vendors still have shingles hung out for business in the MPE market. It's also been awhile since any vendors made an exit from the MPE marketplace. Now that Infor, makers of MANMAN, will depart this coming June, its ERP customers are talking about what source code is rightfully theirs.

During a conference call, about a dozen customers and another dozen independent support vendors kicked around the idea. Every customer on the call had signed a MANMAN license agreement, way back in the 1980s or 1990s. It was generally accepted that you never own a piece of software unless your organization wrote it.

To put it more plainly, the use of a vendor's product is always governed by an agreement. Everybody agrees on the rules for ownership and use.

Then conditions change.

The vendor folds up a product line, or goes out of business altogether. It happened with MPE/iX, to note one instance of the former fate. 3000 users can scarcely take a few steps before they stumble on a software vendor who's closed down all business. That's what happens over time after a vendor has built the bulk of its business around a server that's no longer sold or supported by the manufacturer.

The new condition gets managers asking about why any license should apply to an orphaned product. Permission to own the code that's only been licensed — that's a matter for the courts, or at least lawyers represening both sides.

The hard place the managers encounter is the language that keeps software in a vendor's IP locker. In cases like these, IP not only means Intellectual Property. It means, "in perpetuity." If anyone has a digital copy of their contract, searching for that phrase will certainly bring up a hit.

Eleven years ago, the 3000 community talked this through while Hewlett-Packard considered the new licensing of MPE/iX source code. Customers wanted their intention of owning a 3000 — to run a business in perpetuity — to match the intentions of HP's product licensing. We invoked French law to give voice to our wishes for that outcome.

There is an aspect of French law which does not exist in US law. It's called "droit moral," meant to protect the moral rights of ownership of a work of art. Even more than HP's support group, the 3000 community considered MPE/iX to be a work of art.

One story about using droit moral in the movie business:

Droit moral is an intellectual right of an artist to protect his work. When an artist dies, the droit moral goes to his heirs, unless he appoints someone else. For example, a John Huston movie was colorized in the US, and the movie was shown this way in the States, despite the opposition of the Huston heirs who were trying to honor their father's artistic wishes. But in France, where the Huston heirs argued their father didn't want his film to be in color, the colorized film can't be shown because of droit moral.

The argument, one which might be tested in court, is that the intention of investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a product is to use it in perpetuity. Ownership of source hasn't been much tested in US law. The places where cases have appeared before a judge are courtrooms where things went better for the customers than the manufacturers.

Image by Isa KARAKUS from Pixabay

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:26 AM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 12, 2019

Information for MPE/iX: Always Online

NClass movie

HP's movie tour of the first A-Class systems, still online

Time machines transport us through the power of timeless information. It can take us way back, into the era when legacy technology was current and popular. In the 3000 community we are connected by wires and circuits and pulses of power. We always were, from the days of black arts datacomm that pushed data off of cards of punched paper. We’ve lived through a glorious explosion of ideas and inspiration and instruction. It’s a movie that always has another story in waiting, this Internet, so ubiquitous we’ve stopped calling it by that name. In 2019, 45 years after MPE became viable and alive, the World Wide Web is named after an element common throughout the physical world: the cloud.

And through the magic of these clouds come stories that lead us forward and allow us to look back at solved challenges. My partner Abby and I sit on the sofa these days and play with paper together, crossword puzzles, especially on weekends with the New York Times and LA Times puzzles. We look up answers from that cloud, and it delivers us stories alongside the answers. Finding the Kingston Trio’s hit BMT leads us to the Smothers Brothers, who started out as a comic folksinger act. After HP 3000 strategy TV broadcasts came alive via satellite, there were webinars. Today, YouTube holds stories of the 3000’s shiniest moment, the debut of the ultimate model of that server's N-Class.

Gravity - George Clooney One night we sat on another couch and watched the splashiest celebration of stories in our connected world, the Academy Awards. Despite racking up a fistful and more of them, Gravity didn’t take the Best Picture prize that night. A thing can have many elements of success, enjoy parts of being the best, and not end up named the winner in the final balloting. The 3000 saw a similar tally, a raft of successes, but its light began to fade from HP's vision. In the movies they call the last light of the day magic time, because it casts the sweetest shades on the players and settings.

It’s magic time for many of the 3000’s stalwart members in its special academy. The 3000 is remaining a time machine in your reaches of space. It's data is like gravity, a force to unify and propel. MPE systems contain ample gravity: importance to users, plus the grounding of data. Data becomes information, then stories, and finally wisdom.

And in our magic time, we are blessed with the time machine of the Web, the cloud. Users and owners of HP 3000s will always be able to look up wisdom of this community online, written in stories, illustrated in video, told via audio. Find it here, as well as in the cloud at the following resources:

The HP Computer Museum

3K Associates

The host of the HP Jazz papers, Fresche Legacy

Then there are the fallen, resources no longer at their original addresses.

The MM II Support Group

MPE Open Source.org

Those last two are live links today, however, thanks to the Internet Wayback Machine. The Wayback is such an enterprise now that it's fundraising this week. The arrival of Wikipedia was met with skepticism at first, and it's still sneered at in some places. The popularity of Wikipedia is demonstrated in the way it appears as the first result in many a Web search.

The Wayback will save what we don't remember, even as it moves off of its legacy addresses. These very Web pages you're reading are likely to be Waybacked. We began putting the NewsWire on the Web in 1995. The dream was that our website would be like the 3000 in one way, Always Online. By now, by way of the Wayback, it seems the dream has come true.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:12 PM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 10, 2019

Wayback: HP FAQ captured its OS visions

Canary close up
It's only available through the Internet Wayback Machine, but a record of HP's intent for its enterprise operating systems still exists. For reference we traveled to LegacyOS, a website devoted to the legacies of Sun and HP's enterprise products. The promised land, as HP imagined it 17 years ago, was getting its operating systems to the Itanium Processor Family.

HP's decision to keep MPE/iX away from IPF servers was the canary in the coal mine for the company's business intentions for HP 3000s. Such a canary roosted in mines while work proceeded. If the quality of the air turned poisonous, the canary died and the miners evacuated.

At the time there were only two models of Itanium processors in working servers from HP, so calling it a family was marketing optimism. Nevertheless, moving to the nascent IPF, as well as a new OS in HP-UX, was HP's vision of end-of-life. The life ending turned out to be at HP's MPE/iX labs eight years later, rather than any useful lifespan for MPE/iX.

There is a current-day lesson in any review of the HP 3000 plans of 2002. HP noted at the time the vendor created a Business Critical Systems group. That group, HP's cheerful-but-inaccurate 3000 plans, and HP itself in its classic makeup don't exist anymore. Users can count on their community, rather than the vendor, to see the conditions for any end of life canary.

Q: What is HP’s strategy moving forward with HP e3000 servers?

A: Our commitment to HP e3000 and MPE/iX operating system is to continue delivering on the roadmap we have already communicated, delivering the planned performance and functionality, with future MPE/iX releases in the 2002-2003 timeframe. Moving forward, we are focused on moving HP e3000 customers to IPF-based HP servers that deliver more benefits to the customer, using aggressive and innovative migration programs.

Q: Does HP plan to port MPE/iX to IPF-based platforms?

A: No. MPE/iX will not be ported to Itanium-based servers. The communicated HP e3000 roadmap includes PA-RISC based servers that deliver the performance and functionality customers need in the 2002-2003 timeframe. After that, HP e3000 customers benefit more by moving to HP Unix Servers using Itanium technologies and best-in-class migration programs, and taking advantage of the industry leading performance, functionality, and lasting value that Itanium and HP-UX will deliver.

Q: Should HP e3000 customers who need to stay longer on the platform than 2004 be concerned?

A: Absolutely not. HP will support the servers at least until the end of 2006. During this time, HP is committed not only to provide full support for the servers, but also to make available the aggressive and innovative migration programs, to help customers successfully move into Itanium-based HP-UX servers on their own pace.

To recap, the end of 2006 became the end of 2010, in part because HP's aggressive and innovative migration programs were undermatched to the needs of the customer. The Itanium technologies became an also-ran, lapped by Intel's modernization of x86 processors. Intel announced its departure from Itanium futures in 2015. Now commodity hardware rules the roost in today's mines.

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:12 AM in History, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 05, 2019

Set a Watch for Jobs That Hang Others

Guard tower
Jobstreams deliver on the HP 3000's other promise. When the server was introduced in the early 1970s it promised interactive computing, well beyond the powers of batch processing. Excellent, said the market. But we want the batch power, too. Running jobs delivered on the promise that a 3000 could replace lots of mainframes.

Decades later, job management is still crucial to a 3000's success. Some jobs get hung for one reason or another, and the rest of the system processing is halted until someone discovers the problem job and aborts it. When it happens over a weekend, it's worse. You can come in Monday and see the processing waiting in queue for that hung-up job to finish.

Is there a utility that monitors job run time, so that it can auto-abort such jobs after X number of hours? Nobix sells JobRescue, a commercial product for "automatically detecting errors and exception messages; JobRescue eliminates the need for manual review of $STDLISTs, making batch processing operations more productive."

Then there's Design 3000 Plus. The vendor still has a working webpage that touts JMS/3000, a job management system that was at one time deployed at hundreds of sites. Its powers include "automatic job restart and recovery. Whenever a job fails, a recovery job can be initiated immediately."

The home-grown solutions are just waiting out there, though, considering how few 3000 sites have a budget for such superior software. Mark Ranft of Pro3K shared his job to check on jobs. The system does a self-exam and reports a problem.

Read "Set a Watch for Jobs That Hang Others" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:32 AM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

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