3000 sites step into Unix healthcare
Carriage wit tracks follow path to open MPE

Homestead community stewards useful bits

The dictionary defines the verb "steward" as an act "to manage or look after (another's property)." The 3000 community shows how to do this with its expansive archives across many systems all over the world. When a customer wanted to use vi as an editor on their HP 3000 — to remain consistent with Unix systems at his site — the request for help led to stewards who've looked after software for all homesteaders.

It began when James B. Byrne was having "no end of trouble" using vi on his 3000. The editor is somewhat legendary for its cryptic interface and commands, but it's in wide use on "open" systems such as the HP 9000. From across the Atlantic, Lars Appel, retired from HP's support operations, delivered advice on making vi behave better on the 3000. Then in California, OpenMPE member Donna Garverick added a warning about using MPE's "frombyte." A smarter third-party program, BYTECNVT, exists to ease the process, she said. But where to get BYTECNVT, or where to even start to look?

Google didn't provide the answer, although it tried. The search engine had hidden the location of BYTECNVT in its "omitted some entries very similar to those already displayed." How often do you chase those extra links?

Since the answer wasn't obvious, I went to the best repository of third party, freeware and contributed 3000 programs: 3k Associates' 3k.com Web site. On the 3k Native MPE Applications Web page, however, BYTECNVT wasn't listed. Ted Ashton, a former OpenMPE board member, wrote the program but since retired from Southern University, the old location of BYTECNVT. Southern's server was no longer hosting the program, which replaces frombyte and tobyte, and opens the file specified, determines whether it is currently bytestream or not and converts it to the other format.

Time for another Web tool, recently upgraded, to search for the community's steward. Since the vi discussion sprang up on the 3000-L mailing list, I went to the new search engine for the list. Bingo: A posting from Keven Miller reported that he's got BYTECNVT and will send it to you. He's the steward, for now, of a program to make vi useful on HP 3000s.

Out at the 3000-L Web site at http://raven.utc.edu/cgi-bin/WA.EXE? there's also a feature called "Archive Search: Search through multiple lists' archives at the same time." You can use this if you feel like your subject might have been discussed on the OpenMPE mailing list, also hosted at raven.utc.edu. You need to log in to the 3000-L Web interface to use this search. Supply the e-mail address you use for subscribing to the lists, and pick a password if it's your first time through the log in process.

Former HP support technician, Lars Appel. 3000 manager and recent winner of the e3000 Contributor's Award, Donna Garverick. Retired 3000 manager and former OpenMPE director Ted Ashton. 3000 community resource Jeff Kell, curator of the 3000-L list at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. A 3000 expert who's running a reel tape transfer service for 3000 sites, Keven Miller. Not a single HP staffer among this crew of stewards — but then that's a topic for tomorrow, and MPE/iX futures in 2007 and beyond