A Comparison, Part 2
By Paul Edwards
[Ed. note: OpenMPE board member and 3000 education resource Paul Edwards has been promising us he would write this article for several years. This is the second of two parts. Edwards explains, "Recent events have finally put this comparison into sharper focus. There are so many parallels between each community that I felt I had to write about the comparisons so that others in the HP 3000 world could possibly use this information for their own future."]
Social interaction has always been an important part of the HP 3000 meetings and conferences. We had a chance to renew old friendships and make new acquaintances. Important contacts were made for future information exchanges.
The classic car and truck meetings are very social and have a family atmosphere. Spouses and children are encouraged to participate in the many activities. The renewing of friendships and acquiring new contacts are valuable as well.
Equipment Purchase and Sale
Used HP 3000 equipment availability from the many broker companies will continue to be very important to the ongoing hardware support of the homesteading users. Having the ability to patch or rebuild the MPE operating system has been the goal of the OpenMPE organization, and it hopes to provide the software support requirements of the users for many years to come. This will depend on the outcome of the announcement by HP, expected by the end of this year, of the final disposition of the MPE source code.
Through a vast array of catalogs for parts purchase, the classic car and truck community can rebuild and repair their favorite vehicle. Many parts are NOS (New Old Stock) that was acquired by dealers from the car companies as they emptied their warehouses of obsolete parts. Reproduction parts are also available. You can almost build a new vehicle from all the parts offered in the catalogs for the most popular models.
The business server technology has changed drastically from the days when HP produced the first HP3000. Applications that companies execute daily on their systems to run their business processes can continue to run far into the future with proper management and planning. The support of the HP3000 hardware and MPE operating system by HP has declined over the last few years as the number of their knowledgeable support engineers has decreased. The HP 3000 is a very reliable system and can be maintained by a small internal staff or third party companies.
Automobiles and trucks have had drastic changes in size, style, and technology over the years, too. The classic vehicles are easier for their owner to work on them without sophisticated equipment and expertise. But, it is sometimes difficult to find experienced outside repair facilities and personnel who know how to work on the older vehicles.
Interex ceased to exist last year after falling victim to lower levels of funding from HP, increased conference costs, a declining membership base, and other factors. The Encompass user group wants the MPE community to join them. But I don’t feel Encompass has anything to offer the HP 3000 user base because of their HP-UX, Linux, and Windows product directions.
The Late Great Chevy organization was purchased recently, and we don’t know what final structure will result from the purchase. They provided restoration parts, conferences, a monthly magazine, a Web site, and liability insurance for club events.
Publications, Email, and Newsletters
There were several publications produced by Interex over the years. They ended up being merged, reformatted, downsized, and some were eliminated. They did a lot of email blasts for the annual conference activities. Many local user groups, or RUGs distributed their own newsletters.
There are a large number of companies who support the various car and truck manufacturers. A search of the Web will produce many sources of parts most of the popular models and manufacturing years. eBay is a good source for vehicles and parts, too.
Our local chapter of Late Great Chevys of Dallas produces our own monthly newsletter that is distributed mostly by e-mail. I manage our club Web site at www.lategreatchevys.org.
Talent Pool Issues
The pool of experienced MPE personnel to do systems management, application development, and consulting is shrinking each month. These people are retiring, moving on to other technology, involved in long term contracting projects, and dying away. This should be a concern to the system managers at homesteading sites who should build a list of possible candidates to assist them with ongoing support and future migration projects.
As many of the classic car and truck owners are near retirement age, an effort has to be made to get younger people involved in the hobby for continuity for the local clubs. The expertise loss will make it difficult for people interested in the hobby to get expert help when needed. The loss of members in the local clubs is a real concern to the club officers because of the lack of new blood in the organization.
In summary, there are many parallels between HP 3000 user organizations and classic car and truck organizations. Other interest areas could be social fraternities or sororities, retired military organizations, college alumni clubs, charity groups, trains, planes, museums and local area historical sites, crafts, or other hobby interest clubs. They all have some or all of the topics discussed above in common.
There won’t be any future in the HP 3000 user community unless we all make it stay active. Depending on the interest area you engage in, look at the comparisons discussed above and make proper decisions about your future.
Paul Edwards is an HP 3000 training resource, a consultant on HP 3000 and HP 9000 projects, and a member of the OpenMPE board of directors. He's been an HP 3000 user since 1976. You can contact him though his Web site at www.peassoc.com.