Previous month:
February 2006
Next month:
April 2006

March 2006

A day to focus on later dates

This weekend, Daylight Savings Time takes hold in many countries — earlier than ever in the month of April. It will be the final April where the change will take place, in the US; beginning in 2007, as a result of a new federal law, DST kicks in during March. The shifting nature of that time change might pose a puzzle for some 3000 administrators. A command file can help in getting the 3000 on the correct time, and keeping it there through 2007's new cutover dates.

SETCLOCK is at the heart of the 3000's time change capabilities. The command has had some problems in the past, flaws that HP has always fixed in due time. Back in 2002, the command was patched in mid-year for MPE/iX, although HP didn't make an announcement about the fix in a timely fashion, so to speak. Applying the latest PowerPatch to 7.0 brings SETCLOCK up to date.

A command file written by Dave Powell of MMFab will keep the 3000 caught up with the changes in time changes, both this year, and in years to come.

Continue reading "A day to focus on later dates" »

Count on those massive disks really working

Yesterday one of the advocates on the OpenMPE board of directors posted a bit of a brag as well as a thank-you to HP. Donna Garverick, who'd lobbied HP along with hundreds of customers voting in the final Systems Improvement Ballot, showed off the results of her first Bigger than 3000 Gig volume under MPE/iX.

Garverick, who manages 3000s for Long's Drug, configured her new disk at 400GB as an interim step, just to check out the programming HP's 3000 lab did to accomodate the bigger disks. Advocates like Garverick and companies who'll have to put several more years onto their 3000s may need to use bigger disks; the HP enhancement lets the 3000 see up to a half-gigabyte of storage.

Before now, an MPE system couldn’t mount a disc drive larger than 300GB. Thanks to Jim Hawkins’ (et al) hard work, we can now. This request was a SIB item from a year ago (or so) and is very much aimed at homesteaders (who at some point won’t be able to find a 4...9...18...gigabyte drive).

Continue reading "Count on those massive disks really working" »

Quiz teaches 3000 CCTL carriage control

The HP 3000 has Carriage Control (CCTL) capabilities that can come in handy when formatting output from aged legacy applications. Robelle's SMUG Book entry says that CCTL

is the process of moving the print position (or "carriage") to the next line or page, as well as performing advanced functions such as overprinting and printing through the perforation. Normally the program specifies the CCTL code for a line through the Fwrite intrinsic. MPE has too many ways to do CCTL and modern printers are controlled via Postscript or Printer Command Language (PCL) anyway.

But CCTL has its users, and understanding how it works can be a key to resolving print problems with some of those aging applications you might have under your wing. Dave Powell wrote up a quiz on CCTL behavior recently, one he shared with the 3000 community. He explained some nuances in his article, one he researched as part of his ongoing CCTL-to-Rich Text Format (RTF) utility.

Continue reading "Quiz teaches 3000 CCTL carriage control" »

When slower development might open new doors

In the world of PC-based servers — one of HP's alternatives to the 3000 — customers are facing another delay in receiving Vista, the most significant upgrade to Windows since the XP release of five years ago. An article in yesterday's New York Times suggests that backwards compatibility is slowing Microsoft's Vista release schedule. It's the sort of thing that began to slow down HP 3000 development, just about the same time that Microsoft rolled out XP.

This kind of backwards compatibility is a marvel for the customer and developer partners to enjoy. But it puts tremendous strain on the technological bandwidth of the vendor that maintains the compatibility. One unexpected benefit to the 3000 community from HP's exit: MPE/iX might get simple enough to give to an outside organization to maintain. A new steward might preside over a streamlined product line.

The comparison between Windows' compatibility and the 3000's looks evident to Wirt Atmar, founder of AICS Research. The MPE/iX supplier of QueryCalc has moved into Windows software in a major way since its development of QCTerm, a free HP 3000 terminal emulator designed to run on Windows-based systems. Atmar said that HP's devotion to the 3000's backwards compatibility gave it something in common with Microsoft — and most of nature.

Continue reading "When slower development might open new doors" »

The one thing to add to make a 3000 faster

Some say it's faster storage, and others claim it's extra CPUs. But the one item that any 3000 customer can add to their systems to improve performance is almost always memory. Unlike processors, upgraded systems or other things HP simply doesn't make anymore for the 3000, memory has always been available from third parties. How much to add depends on who you ask.

HP has weighed in on memory needs for MPE/iX on its Jazz Web site. In a white paper written a couple of years ago about investments in disc storage, HP's Walt McCullough said that the 3000 is designed to go to disk only when what it needs is not in memory. Therefore, he says

The greater the amount of memory for the HP e3000, the more efficient it will run (to a point). MPE uses available (server) memory as a cache to store user process information and also keeps a virtual copy of the file.

Continue reading "The one thing to add to make a 3000 faster" »

Making that migration timetable yours

In our weekly podcast — a six-minute MP3 file — we hear from a early advocate of migration about how the job is taking longer than predicted back in HP's migration roundtables of '02 — but is being done on a 3000 level of service. That is, with an eye toward efficiency of code, ported by experts. The gurus happen to be from outside the 3000 customer's organization, but they are partnering with IT staffers who know the applications from the inside. That kind of partnership is extending migration timetables, so HP has expanded its migration timetable to match.

If you migration is not going to be finished in '06, don't worry. Do what it takes to make the timetable your own, based on your business needs. Oh, and to match the expected level of service your 3000 is giving your organization. Whatever you replace the 3000 with should last a long time — which might mean a migration will take longer than expected.

Controlling grep and securing FTP

What’s the correct invocation for grep from the CI?  I tried to use


but while it runs, I get a bunch of odd-looking errors rather than file names displayed.

Ray Shahan replies:


We use the allow statement on our HP 3000 to restrict what can connect to our 3000's FTP server:

ftp allow (and so on)

We also have our 3000 configured to use our network’s (Windows-based) DNS servers, using RESLVCNF. Can I change the allow statement in INETDSEC to use DNS names rather than IP numbers?

Matthew Perdue replies:

Yes. For example:
ftp  allow 192.168.0.* 172.16.0.* 192.168.1.*

Be careful if you need to use the line continuation character, as the HP documentation is wrong! Use the “\” rather than the “/” in postion 80 as shown in the documentation.

Alternate universe spins support, system supply

HP's exit from the 3000 market has been pushed back at least two years, but that doesn't mean that a customer's non-HP universe got stalled in response. Third parties have been building toward a close of HP's 3000 business in 2006. The vendor's extension of its support, on a limited basis, just puts HP among the realm of aftermarket alternatives for 3000 and MPE/iX support and system supply.

Some third party suppliers have been preparing for this year ever since HP's last year of 3000 sales. In 2003 Pivital Solutions became an official HP 3000 reseller. The company remains in the market as a supplier of remarketed systems (the only kind available anywhere today) as well as support plans. Back in 2003, Pivital's CEO Steve Surcaci announced the vendor's long-term goals for joining HP's sales network with less than six months of selling time left on HP's calendar.

"We’re trying to position ourselves not just as a reseller between now and Oct. 31, but we want to make sure HP understands we want to play a long term role with these homesteading customers — and support is a major portion of that. If and when the opportunity ever presents itself from HP to authorize a select group of companies to manage support for them, we want to make sure they understand we want to play a major role in that."

Continue reading "Alternate universe spins support, system supply" »

Houston RUG sets dates for conference

The only HP 3000 conference scheduled for 2006 has now released specific dates in November, as well as a location not quite inside Houston. The Greater Houston Regional Users Group (GHRUG) is employing the "Greater" part of its name, choosing a venue on Clear Lake, southeast of the city, as the site of this year's November 10-12 conference.

The conference will be held over a weekend, Friday through Sunday. But the Clear Lake venue — the University of Houston at Clear Lake — is only a mile from the Johnson Space Center, NASA's ground-tracking and training base for its space missions. Galveston, with a great beach along its seawall on the Gulf of Mexico, is only about a half-hour drive down I-45, too. Attendees will likely need a car, since the University is at least a $40 cab ride from Houston's Intercontinental Airport. The University is much closer to the Hobby Airport in-town, where low-cost carrier Southwest flies.

November provides good weather for the southeast Texas area, too — with much less risk of hurricanes than those September conference dates for the 2006 HP Technology Forum, also being held in the Houston area. And last year's record Nov. 10 high in Galveston was 84 degrees.

Continue reading "Houston RUG sets dates for conference" »

Bringing experience to 3000 migrations

A request for migration advice drew broad and ample response on the 3000 Internet newsgroup this month. The caliber and quantity of the response shows the community is moving along on its transition path, a good deal more openly and frankly than in 2004 and earlier. Nearly everybody was caught by surprise at the pace of migration among the 3000 customers — except the customers, who knew how integrated the 3000 has become with their business success.

A lot of the users' reports about databases revolved around swapping in Eloquence. John Pitman, writing from the IT operations of Ryco Hydraulics, said his company is working through the move from IMAGE on the 3000 to the Eloquence database on HP's Unix servers:

We have started down the Eloquence/C path on HP-UX some time ago. Having many C programs already under MPE, that decision was pretty easy. We got a free copy of Gnu C, and once we worked out how the libraries worked, it got easy. Some of the IMAGE access routines had some OS conditional code added; now we have over 100 programs with only a few conditional compiles in them that compile and run on either system. This is what you should head for with whatever language you use, so you don’t have two source bases to maintain continuously while you convert.

Continue reading "Bringing experience to 3000 migrations" »

Listing of migration experiences produces Eloquence

During a fascinating week up on the 3000-L newsgroup, advice poured out this month from almost 20 customers, consultants and vendors about migration. In 40 messages, the 3000 community replied to Connie Sellitto's request from the Cat Fanciers Association:

CFA’s Board of Directors have expressed an interest in moving our main operations off the HP 3000 within the next 6-12  months. We have 12 TurboIMAGE databases, over 200 COBOL programs, all in-house written with source available. The few SQL-called routines were replaced with COBOL a few years ago.

Advice, suggestions, condolences — welcome!

Advice from the community rallied around Sellitto's note that "We also have a PC network with Web and SQL servers — could these be upgraded to handle a converted (Eloquence) database?" Eloquence received praise from its users who'd replaced apps using IMAGE databases with the Marxmeier Linux-Unix-Windows toolset. But the fact that the advice centered on choosing a new database reflects the primary concern for any HP 3000 shop migrating away from in-house applications.

Continue reading "Listing of migration experiences produces Eloquence" »

Making a case for change, sooner or later

Posteraerialgif_1 For many years Wirt Atmar, the founder of software supplier AICS Research, worked as a persistent advocate for the HP 3000's future. In 1996 Atmar organized The World's Largest Poster Project, a demonstration of what HP 3000s could do as well or better than any other computer. Atmar used an HP 3000 and an HP color printer to produce a poster that covered an entire football field in Southern California, bragging that MPE Users Kick Butt.

Atmar remains a resource for his HP 3000 customers; his company wrote a free terminal emulator, QCTerm, which can be had for just the bandwidth of a download. But this veteran of more than four decades in the computer business faces the future better than many of the 3000's more ardent fans. He weighed in recently on a recommended set of actions for the 3000 owner as well as for its administrators. While the 3000's value was extraordinary for many years, Atmar believes the magic has gone. He doesn't believe in migration of applications, however. That's not to say that 3000 owners and managers should stay put.

I strongly argued for the continuation of the HP 3000 for as long as I could  simply because it worked so well for our customers, but once HP killed the HP 3000, I immediately changed my recommendations. What I now tell our customers is that if you’re the business owner/manager, you will want to stay on the HP 3000 as long as you can, until you find something similar enough that you can  purchase and move your business operations onto with some ease.

But don’t try to  migrate your old application off onto something else. That’s a death trap, and it’s not worth it.

Continue reading "Making a case for change, sooner or later" »

RUG meet to connect ERP sites

Mark off the first Friday in April for a meeting of ERP customers, including those who want to remain on their HP 3000s as well as migrating sites. The Computer Aided Manufacturing User Society (CAMUS) will host regional meetings April 7 in Austin, Boston, Frankfort, Ind., Fremont, Calif. and Irvine, Calif. These locations will hook up with a five-way conference call at 11 AM PST to discuss the state of migrating off HP 3000 ERP applications, as well as options for staying put with a working application.

The two choices mirror the theme for this year's CAMUS annual user group meeting, now coming to San Francisco in July. Terry Floyd, the founder of ERP support and integration company the Support Group, said CAMUS wants to talk with 3000 ERP users, no matter which direction they're headed.

"If you want to homestead, we want to help you talk to the right people," said Floyd, who became a CAMUS board director last year. "If you want to migrate, we can help you, too." RUG meeting registration details, along with a form to sign up, are online at the CAMUS site.

Continue reading "RUG meet to connect ERP sites" »

Opening up vote totals, then wallets

In our weekly podcast (5 MB MP3 file), we talk about the tempest over the details of the OpenMPE election results — and then move on to the more important matters ahead for OpenMPE. Putting the election results out quickly was a good move. Now the group needs to move on toward getting a budget assembled, to improve its visibility and impact. You might even be asked to pay to vote next year.

OpenMPE opens up vote details

After a little prodding from a few HP 3000 customers and consultants, OpenMPE has voted to release the candidate-specific details of its 2006 election. The voting put two new directors onto the advocacy group's board of directors, a set of volunteers who do just about all of the work for the four-year-old organization. Three of the four incumbents earned back their seats in the election, which drew a record number of ballots.

Six volunteers ran for the five board seats, with the top five vote-getters winning in the election. The results reported by the board, and confirmed in independent observation by The 3000 NewsWire:

111 people voted
492 total votes were cast

Donna Garverick: 101
John Wolff: 91
Matthew Perdue: 83
Bill Lancaster: 82
Jennifer Fisher: 69
Steve Suraci: 66

John Wolff, the vice-chair of the Board of Directors, explained how the voting process works.

Continue reading "OpenMPE opens up vote details" »

HP struggles to keep up

In December HP made some commitments to its HP 3000 customers, but those like Paul Edwards are still waiting to see the vendor's work surface. Edwards, part of the OpenMPE advocacy group, discovered last year that his Certified HP Professional status had evaporated — at least for his MPE/iX certification. On Edwards' advice, HP poked around and learned that the HP 3000 certifications had been retired from HP's program.

Edwards believes that HP 3000 pros deserve a certification as long as HP 3000s are running, not as long as HP wants to fund its certification program. HP agreed in its December 20 announcement that extended HP support for two extra years.

The vendor has been struggling with making good on this promise, however. It's well past two months after HP's agreement to reinstate the certifications, but Edwards and others can't get back into the certification Web site.

Continue reading "HP struggles to keep up" »

OpenMPE board may consider opening vote totals

In the wake of its most popular election, OpenMPE has gotten a request to reveal the specific vote totals from the balloting which ended last Friday. One board member has replied, adding that the group may bring up the matter at this week's meeting.

Any restraint of information in the HP 3000 marketplace comes under scrutiny these days, particularly from OpenMPE. The advocacy group holds a series of telephone talks with HP's 3000 group — some of the most complete communication HP is sharing about the future of its 3000 operations. But OpenMPE had to agree, much to the displeasure of customers and former board members, to hold those talks confidential. HP wouldn't discuss its matters with OpenMPE otherwise.

If there's an issue with secrecy here, the problem doesn't appear to stem from OpenMPE. HP is the party that's insisting on being able to talk off the record. OpenMPE, like many an HP 3000 customer, hasn't much leverage to insist otherwise.

The 2006 election drew a record number of ballots, but members were voting for five directors among a six-candidate field. We hope the results from 111 voters don't call to mind hanging chads, denial of voting through inept registration, or biased election judges. (Especially the last one, since I was the only outside observer of the vote.)

Continue reading "OpenMPE board may consider opening vote totals" »

Paying a CEO to play, not to go away

A pair of large HP shareholders sued HP yesterday, trying to get back part of the cash that Hewlett-Packard's board of directors paid former CEO Carly Fiorina to leave the company in 2005. The legal action points out a proper difference between on the job compensation versus the pay to go away. The 3000 customers who stick with HP over the next three years, following the vendor down the migration path, should consider what kind of pay policies get funded by system purchases.

In the case of Fiorina, an executive who demanded faster growth than the 3000 sector could deliver nearing its third decade of earnings for HP, her exit pay might have exceeded HP limits. A major shareholder, the Service Employees International Union, had sponsored a shareholder proposal to limit these golden parachutes to not more than about three times a CEO's annual pay plus bonuses.

The proposal become part of HP's bylaws after HP paid Michael Capellas, the CEO of Compaq who helped engineer HP's takeover of that company, a cool $17 million on his exit. Fiorina got a package worth more than $22 million. It might rise to as much as $42 million, now that HP's stock is on its way back up from the record low prices of Fiorina's reign. In a bit of irony, new CEO Mark Hurd is helping to feather his predecessor's retirement nest.

And it's not like the shareholders are asking HP to adopt Google's thinking on compensation. Google pays execs Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt just $1 a year. They rely on the company's share price for their compensation, rather than millions a year and even more on exit.

Continue reading "Paying a CEO to play, not to go away" »

HP, Intel pitch woo to Integrity on Webcast

HP and Intel used their joint Webcast of last Thursday to promote the future of the Itanium processor and HP's Integrity server line, using marketing guru Geoffrey Moore as a softball-tossing host. The show was already fully subscribed over the Web as it began early on Thursday morning California time  — which is either a comment on the popularity of the content or a measure of the width of the purchased Internet band.

Now that the crowds are away, you can still watch the Webcast in a replay from the HP Web site,

HP-UX users, as well as companies being taken to that environment like Summit and Amisys sites, should care a great deal about the future of Itanium. The processor remains the only long-term platform for HP's Unix, since the PA-RISC chips are being phased out from the HP server line. There's another end-of-life that HP has arranged for its enterprise customers, although the developers say this migration is simple so long as your application doesn't need to access native-level horsepower. Most Integrity customers report the servers deliver serious improvements over their PA-RISC predecessors.

HP's show was touted as a hard look at the enterprise issues, but the questions aired and answered didn't go far beyond what HP has already said. The tough questions, like those the HP 3000 community used to pose at conference roundtables, didn't seem to make the cut in the 45-minute show. And for an event which promised three CEOs, at one of them didn't appear for even three minutes.

Continue reading "HP, Intel pitch woo to Integrity on Webcast" »

OpenMPE vote sets record, installs 2 new directors

The OpenMPE board of directors certified election results this afternoon for the 2006 vote, a three-week campaign that drew a record number of ballots and elected new directors Bill Lancaster and Jennifer Fisher. Considering that homesteading customers have ever-less to do with HP these days, the turnout surprised us here at the NewsWire. Like in the past two elections, we got to watch the ballots come in, acting as independent judge. OpenMPE is all about interface with HP. We wondered why more people than ever who are staying with the 3000 seemed to care.

While we agreed to keep the vote totals for each candidate to ourselves, we can say the election was close. There were 111 ballots cast, out of a membership of 333 for the group. That 33 percent turnout is something that Interex user group elections didn't come close to achieving — at least not in the last 10 years of the group's history before it went out of business.

Elections for five spots with six candidates running aren't exactly dramatic races; only Steve Suraci, a board member running for a second term somewhat reluctantly, didn't retake a seat this time. Suraci, who runs the Pivital Solutions third party support company, put two years of service in for the volunteer group, which thanked him and departing director John Burke. Burke didn't run for another term. Both Burke and Suraci have been vocal about the depth of relationship that OpenMPE has with HP. But as an MPE consultant and a support provider, they represented important constituencies for all of the 3000 customers — both those homesteading, as well as the migrating market.

Those profiles can come from the same company, given enough time. That's why OpenMPE matters to migration, in our opinion. (We'll have more on that later this week.)

Continue reading "OpenMPE vote sets record, installs 2 new directors" »

Be a part of a swelling turnout

The 3000 NewsWire is the official election observer for this week's OpenMPE election. As I write this, with less than four hours to go until the polls close, this year's voter turnout is setting a record for participation. We take this as a sign that customers are ready to involve OpenMPE in their transition plans — whether to rely on the organization to advocate a better end-game for those who are migrating, or enhance the platform for those who will homestead for at least several years more.

There is still time to have a say in the group's leadership. Six candidates are running for five seats; there are four incumbents. You must be an OpenMPE member to vote — that's free, and you can do it online quickly from the OpenMPE Web site.

Once you have your membership number in hand, then you can cast your ballot, until 8 PM EST, at the following Web address:

Look up your membership number here if you're already a member.
There are more than 330 members already. We'll have results on Monday, once the board has certified them.

CAMUS to update ERP users in April

The Computer Aided Manufacturing User Society (CAMUS) will host regional meetings in April, a way to connect with colleagues who manage manufacturing applications. CAMUS has a heavy tilt toward the MANMAN shop; several hundred companies, at a minimum, still rely on this application, often hosted on HP 3000s.

Terry Floyd, founder of the Support Group, is among the best in the world at tracking the needs and size of the MANMAN community. Now he's joined the CAMUS board of directors, so he has an even keener interest in gathering users who might be migrating from their 3000s, or trying to stay within budget and stay put.

Those users can attend regional meetings on Friday, April 7. RUG Day will take place in meetings in Frankfort, IN (CAMUS Midwest), Austin, TX (CAMUS SouthCentral), Boston, MA (CAMUS Northeast), Fremont, CA (CAMUS Northwest), and Orange County, CA (CAMUS Southwest).  "This may be the last year that CAMUS sponsors RUG events," a CAMUS announcement warned, "so it could be your last chance to meet with some of the MANMAN, MK and Maxcim users in your area." You can register online.

Floyd agrees that 2006 is a crucial year for ERP customers to decide if attending a user group meeting is a priority or not.

Continue reading "CAMUS to update ERP users in April" »

Sure enough, it's full up on the Web

Interest must be high in HP's Webcast today featuring CEO Mark Hurd, Intel CEOPaul Otellini and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. The Feed Room (a service HP is using for the Webcast) reports right now that it's unavailable. Keep trying, if you're interested, however; people bail out of this sort of thing, and the Q&A from Hurd doesn't begin until 12:15 Eastern (US ) time.

HP tries to make waves over the Web

Ceos_2 Tomorrow morning (well, 8:30 Pacific US time, 16:30 GMT) HP will hold a Web seminar featuring its CEO, the head of Oracle and the CEO of Intel. As if that weren't enough computer business firepower, the show will be hosted by Geoffrey Moore, author of the seminal marketing text Crossing the Chasm, the book whose descriptions included Late Mainstreet, to sum up the HP 3000 position as of the late 1990s.

In order of cumulative exposure in the industry, you'd probably rank Oracle's Larry Ellison No. 1, Moore second, and Intel's Paul Otellini third. Newest to the power circle is Hurd, who picks his public appearance carefully. HP's not saying very much about the content of this Web broadcast except to describe it as tougher in tone that what you might expect. HP says it will be:

A compelling interchange on the future of enterprise computing streamed live over the World Wide Web. You won't want to miss it as these leading executives take enterprise computing issues head-on.

You will hear from three CEOs whose companies had combined 2005 revenues of more than $135 billion. What might be more worthwhile than the 40 minutes they speak, however, will be the postscript to the presentations: Mark Hurd taking questions over the Internet customers and partners who are watching. Well, a quarter-hour of them, anyway.

Continue reading "HP tries to make waves over the Web" »