Migrators advise: set aside lots of time
HP labs report work on 3000 updates

Second careerist seeks 3000 stewardship

That might be the headline of a situations-wanted advertisement for HP 3000 experts. Some have been separated from companies who mismanaged themselves into extinction, while others are no longer working because the HP 3000 they tended has been put on autopilot status, or grounded. Such is the fate of those who have good homesteading skills.

Brian Donaldson is one of these community members. He has been looking for work in the computer business for two years, after working for more than 20 among HP 3000s. Earlier this week we took note of his debut on National Public Radio, as the subject of a Hunger in America series installment. He's been contributing on the 3000-L mailing list for many years. He still has a Series 917 of his own in his Oakland-area apartment. He still has skills to offer.

Donaldson's availability is typical of the kind of opportunity intersection that this community is going to be driving through over the next few years. This week we have examined the time that it takes to migrate, based on reports from Summit credit unions. It's significant. More time than many expect, including testing. Last week we looked at Linux and open source software as a next destination for 3000 sites. Even the community's experts say that Linux has a suck-you-in factor set on high, if you have the least bit of geek in you.

Migration, training in new environments: It will all take time. Who's going to take take of the 3000's needs while your staff makes its way to the future? Perhaps people like Donaldson, who don't need a job so much as paying 3000 work. We're talking outsourcing here, a strategy that might be more attractive to management than hiring consultants.

With the amount of HP 3000 development on the wane, engineers like Donaldson might be a resource to the 3000 community that's preparing to migrate off the platform. He gave us a rundown of his recent experience on the platform:

Thanks to my Y2K bonus way back when, I was able to go buy my own 3000 -- a neat little 917LX. I am still using it almost every day, so my skills are still very much current -- COBOL, TurboIMAGE, VPlus, KSAMXL, Adager, MPEX and so on.

Having my own box has given me the freedom to write a bunch of apps that I would never have been allowed to write at any company as an employee.

1) I wanted Vesoft’s Security/3000, but they wanted way too many bucks for it, so I wrote my own. Gives me all the basics of the Vesoft product -- session logon security, console passwording, modem passwording, and an app that emulates VEAUDIT/3000 -- gives me reports of user.accts etc without passwords, PM programs, SM users and so on... If Eugene could do it, I knew I could do it too. Wasn’t that difficult, just a lot of work.

2) I also wrote a COBOL/VPlus app that gives me a list of synonyms in an Image data base. Where HOWMESSY only gives you a %age of synonyms I took my app a bit further and actually showed the offending records that are on a synonym chain -- the primary entry and the synonyms underneath it.

3) Wrote an app to monitor source code changes. Of course, any fileset can be monitored, not just source code, but I wrote it with source code in mind.

4) Inventory app for my music CD catalog. Needed some kind of indexing system but discovered that Image’s wildcarding lookup “indexing” was quite flawed. Discovered that if you wanted all the entries with the key value “FREE LIVE” the DBFIND would find it ok, but if you tried to lookup by “LIVE” the entry wasn’t found! So then I wrote my own indexing system for this app and it works great. Lookups are fast but the updating of the index keys isn’t all I wanted it to be. A bit on the slow side.

5) An app to change user.acct passwords constantly -- user defined list of user.acct passwords to be changed every “n” seconds (where “n” is user defined). Only problem with this app is that it works perfectly and changes those passwords! Quite annoyingly I might add. It changes the passwords to random values so if you don’t have the caps to do :listuser xxx;pass you will never know what your password changed to unless you go ask the sys mgr. I’ve written some other apps too but cannot remember them offhand at the moment.

While doing all this programming, I got to learn some other neat things I knew nothing about such as AIF’s, even Pascal. I got a lot of help from Stan at Allegro on the Pascal stuff. Even how to install patches, do upgrades and so on.

So I think I got my money’s worth when I paid all that money for my box way back in 1999 or 2000. I love my 3000. I told my wife Tina I would sell her before I sell my 3000. I wasn’t joking, either! :-) I’ve signed up to take an Oracle class starting January at the local community college. Not sure if it’s really worth the trouble.

If after listening to our podcast from Monday about Brian's situation, and looking over his potential, you want to make a difference in his life, contact him at [email protected]. You could save him, and others, from the cheerless alternative of Oracle training — just by setting up the interim 3000 stewardship you will need to make a migration work out.