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August 2006

HP's Hawkins offers free peripheral session

Encompass is making full use of the Web, in a much wider effort than Interex did, to deliver training and advice to the HP 3000 community. Two weeks from today on Sept. 14, Jim Hawkins of HP will present one hour of “HP e3000 Peripheral and High Availability Environment.”

There were a lot of Webcasts in the years that followed HP's pull-out announcement, but they were organized and presented by HP. Platinum migration partners like MB Foster were among the first to use the Web to educate, and other Platinum partners were often part of the HP events.

The Encompass Webcast that begins at 3 PM EDT is an extract from "a more in-depth" breakout session at the HP Technology Forum, the following week in Houston. Peripherals present one of the most likely changes for the 3000 site, whether migrating or homesteading. Just earlier this month Donna Hofmeister (nee Garverick), the OpenMPE Secretary, chided 3000 site managers relying on mangy old disk drives:

I’m really shocked at the number of systems running these old [Jamaica enclosure] drives!  It’s more than time for many MPE shops to ‘smell the coffee’ or perhaps more accurately smell the looming disaster.  If your disc drive is less than 36GB, odds are it’s ready to be replaced. It’s past its expected life span and you’re living on borrowed time.

If you got any plans to keep on running these systems, it’s more than time to get onto new drives. With how prices have dropped, it’s hard to not justify going to new drives.

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Comp Three joins Resource 3000

HP 3000 technical resources form alliances on a regular basis, here in the era of Transition. Today we got word that Resource 3000 has gathered in Comp Three, the company that cooked up its TIPS database migration tool back in 2005.

Comp Three's president John Hohn has weighed in on the opportunities in moving from IMAGE to an SQL database.

There are many advantages to SQL; one that we found is, by rewriting our complicated reports to not use cursors (doing  intermediate summations with unions instead of programmatic  adding up of numbers inside cursor loops) we can complete reports  in seconds (yes, seconds!) that used to take 20-30 minutes on the HP 3000.

When Resource 3000 first formed up in 2004, the company sounded like it was dedicated exclusively to the mission of helping the customer determined to stay on its HP 3000s beyond HP's deadline for ending support. The group has since expanded its reach to include helping companies get ready for migration, if not doing it outright. For the moment, Resource 3000 migration offerings are focused on tools like TIPS to get the job done yourself.

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You're porting what, to where?

What's that we heard from last week's CAMUS conference in San Francisco? In a couple of public forums, attendees heard about Speedware's plans to port MANMAN to Unix (we'd presume HP-UX).

The HP Platinum migration partner has the migration wherewithal to do the job, given the help some seasoned experts in the ERP application still driving several hundred HP 3000 sites. SSA Global — or was it still Computer Associates — asked the CAMUS membership and the MANMAN user base if a Unix MANMAN interested them. Only about a third gave a thumbs up, and so the project got pushed to the side.

We've heard reports that Speedware's Nicolas Fortin said the company is doing the port, talking with the MANMAN owners INFOR, and even has three sites which want to make the shift.

It's at least another option for the MANMAN customer who knows they've got to leave the 3000 someday. We've heard few details other than those about the project, such as how long it would take and what it might cost. Some in the MANMAN community say that INFOR has almost nothing to lose, since the pickup on the project might be quite small. It probably won't cost INFOR much in the way of resources, either, since Speedware and its contracted experts would do the work.

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3000 certificate holders get a welcome

HP started sending letters to customers to "welcome back" the HP 3000 professionals who got dropped from the Hewlett-Packard professional certification program. HP deactivated more than 100 3000 pros last year who had passed serveral exams to get a certificate verifying their MPE/iX skills.

OpenMPE board director Paul Edwards drove the effort to get HP to reinstate the 3000 certificate holders. One customer, who has earned a belt-full of such HP notches, quipped when he got his e-mail, "Just in time for migration! This is what I call a backlog."

HP's Rich Gossman of the Americas HP Certified Professional Program Office explained that since HP cancelled the 3000 credential, now it's got to re-award them.

Looks like a backlog doesn't it?  Not really though..  we aren't THAT bad.  We had expired this credential but we decided to bring it back online even though no one new can get it.  So you're back in the "family" again!

So the 3000 certification becomes a valid HP document once more, although the vendor will issue no new certs. But the document, when it arrives, can make a difference in getting either a homesteading job or a contract that moves the 3000 out of the shop. Knowing the target platform is important, but detailed knowledge of the de-commissioned platform and its surround code is important as well.

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OpenMPE loses savvy director

Without too much explanation, OpenMPE's director Donna Garverick announced that board member Bill Lancaster has tendered his resignation from the board, less than six months after Lancaster ran for election to the post-2006 3000 advocacy group.

Lancaster received a leave of absence from the board "awhile back" according to Garverick, with the agreement that his situation would be revisited in mid-August.

The issues that were behind Bill’s original request have not resolved themselves, and he felt it was best to resign. The board really was disappointed that Bill left the board.  Bill is such a strong advocate and a very sensible (business) person. For the short amount of time that he was attending our meetings, he was a valuable contributor. He’s going to be missed.

Lancaster told us last month he has been taking on extra duties at his employer, Lund Performance Solutions, in the face of a temporary family crisis on the staff.

What good is Number 1?

HP gave guidance on its future during last week's third quarter report, a forecast that could have your vendor breaking the $90 billion sales mark for the first time in company history. The rise of HP's fortunes — its market cap is now doubled in just five quarters — has overturned the dour assessments of former CEO Carly Fiorina's tenure. When she was fired, then replaced by current CEO Mark Hurd, HP didn't say it was taking a new tack for the company's course. Hurd has just made the boat lighter and swifter by digging into the steerage levels and tossing expenses and some employees overboard.

Enough of that metaphor. What's notable about the "approximately" $91.2 billion in sales predicted by HP for fiscal 2006? Analysts say there's a good chance HP will overtake IBM in total sales, at long last, a goal that Fiorina announced like JFK promising a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s.

Question: Is this milestone significant to the 3000 community? One segment, those who've already headed for third party support and intend to follow their own future, probably could care less. The migrating customers, some wary of the future, might consider the No. 1 status as some security blanket against another discontinuance announcement.

No. 1 is fun, and it might bully some customers into sticking with HP as a vendor when their 3000 finally goes dark. But while we congratulate Hurd and HP on breaking to the front of the pack, it's important to look at the source of those sales. One IBM editor thinks that the enterprise is still the place where Big Blue leads the IT world.

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Third 7.5 PowerPatch readies for takeoff

HP has started sending letters out to its support customers running HP 3000s to ask who wants to apply for a copy of the new PowerPatch 3 for MPE/iX 7.5. This version of the OS first made its debut in 2002, so three PowerPatches in four years' time is a sign that HP's updating this MPE/iX more often than older releases.

While that's often been true in the past at HP, traditional HP corporate behavior regarding the 3000 needs to checked regularly during the Transition Era. For example, HP Professional Certification holders of MPE/iX documents found themselves deactivated last year, a misstep that HP is just now getting around to correcting.

But it has been more than two years since 7.5 got its last PowerPatch, HP's collection of patches to add enhancements and fix bugs, available only to HP support customers. Some 3000 sites wait until a patch rolls onto a PowerPatch release before testing and installing it; the lag between approving a patch for general release and PowerPatching it can be many months, all of which provide extensive testing — on other customers' systems.

HP's rolling out one feature for certain in the new PowerPatch. PowerPatch 3 will be the first 7.5 PowerPatch whose Communicator will contain an HP end of support notice bearing a post-2006 date. We'd also expect that PowerPatch 3 enhancements would be a subject of a few slides at next month's e3000 update at the HP Tech Forum.

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Details and conflict at the Tech Forum

With less than four weeks to go until the HP Technology Forum opens, the list of 3000-related sessions grows a little larger. OpenMPE board member Chuck Ciesinski reports that he's chairing a roundtable panel on Business Continuity Planning at the Forum. The advice will apply no matter what operating environment drives your enterprise. Evidence of that claim lies in the panel's makeup:

Bill Hassell, HP-UX expert
Keith Parris, OpenVMS expert
Richard Light, HP Recovery Operations Manager
Birket Foster, founder, Platinum migration partner MB Foster
Rick Eccher, CIO, Community Partners
Manny Masongsong, CEO, Basilica Software Corp.

Ciesinski, now the Senior Unix Administrator at Applied Biosystems, chairs the roundtable. The session kicks off at 11 AM Monday, right after HP's top executives Mark Hurd, Ann Livermore and HP's CIO Randy Mott speak. (Mott is said to be cool to the idea of classic HP telecommuting in the company's IT operations. Much of the remaining HP 3000 lab goes to work in their own home.)

The conflict at the Tech Forum? That lies in that scheduling, according to Ciesinski. Dave Wilde, the business manager for the e3000, updates the 3000 community in a talk at the same time.

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The Long and Short of Copying Tape

Is there a way in MPE to copy a tape from one drive to another drive?

Stan Sieler, co-founder of Resource3000 tech resource Allegro Consultants, gives both long and short answers to this fundamental question. Turns out one of the answers is to look to Allegro for its TapeDisk product, which includes a program called TapeTape.

Short answer: It’s easy to copy a tape, for free, if you don’t care about accuracy/completeness.

Longer answer: There are two “gotchas” in copying tapes ... on any platform.

#1: Long tape records

You have to tell a tape drive how long a record you with to read.  If the record is larger, you will silently lose the extra data.

Thus, for any computer platform, one always wants to ask for at least one byte more than the expected maximum record — and if you get that extra byte, strongly warn the user that they may be losing data.  (The application should then have the internal buffer increased, and the attempted read size increased, and the copy tried again.)

One factor complicates this on MPE: the file system limits the size of a tape record you can read.  STORE, on the other hand, generally bypasses the file system when writing to tape and it is willing to write larger records (particularly if you specify the MAXTAPEBUF option).

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Encompass director provides picks

In the interest of easy choice, Encompass board member Chris Koppe of Speedware has provided his list of session picks for the upcoming HP Tech Forum, now less than a month away. Koppe's company is a HP Platinum migration provider, but also delivers the Speedware development environment as well as the AMXW migration suite — an ease-your-way set of programs to let a 3000 customer become a Windows or HP-UX site.

Koppe's picks — kind of like the "staff picks" in your favorite bookstore — as reported in an Encompass e-mail:

Session 1243:  HP e3000 Transition and Migration Customer Panel
Session 1621:  Successful Migrations: Making Them Happen
Session 1749:  HP e3000 Business Update
Session 1881:  OpenMPE: A Current Status
Session 1229:  HP e3000 Peripheral and High Availability Environment

If you're headed to Houston for the Forum, we think these are good sessions for the 3000 manager. In addition to the OpenMPE update, there might even be something to learn about homesteading in that HP Business Update. That update is being led by Dave Wilde, who's been the e3000 Business Manager but now goes by the title of ESS (Enterprise Storage & Servers) Installed Base Marketing

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How can you beat free?

In just a few days the price of this year's CAMUS ERP conference will rise. The user organization is holding out its early-registration price as long as possible. The conference begins Aug. 23, and early reg ends Aug. 18.

FreedayInterex used to extend its early bird deadlines in the same way. But CAMUS is better tooled for the long run, financially. The group, which has several HP 3000 experts on its board, is even taking limited training budgets into account with a Free Training Day.

That day is Aug. 23, and the place is the Hyatt Hotel SFO, near the airport. MB Foster is even sponsoring an offsite lunch. The schedule includes advice from some of the most savvy ERP experts in your community.

This meeting is for companies which are both migrating AND homesteading, according to Terry's Floyd's latest column in the Support Group's newsletter, Those Support People:

The capital AND is supposed to impart some informtion to you about the importance of covering both topics. Different [ERP] users have different ideas about when they will be leaving the platform they've used for many years.

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HP shows strong Q3, Integrity growth

HP posted its third quarter results this afternoon, numbers which show that the company's Business Critical servers such as HP Intergrity and HP 9000 servers are finally showing partity with the Industry Standard (Intel-based) servers.

Overall, HP reported net revenues of $21.9 billion, about 5 percent better sales than the same quarter of 2005. Profits were $1.5 billion for the period, up from $900 million in the last third quarter.

In the Enterprise Storage and Servers segment, BCS and ISS server sales were even at 20 percent of revenues. But BCS revenues fell 6 percent from last year's third quarter. Integrity sales rose by 76 percent from the same period last year, and now account for 38 percent of BCS revenues. PA-RISC based systems continue to outsell Integrity servers in the BCS lineup.

Imaging and Printing did not represent the greatest share of HP's sales mix in Q3, although the print group's operating profits were more than twice that of any other group. The Enterprise Storage and Servers group made a good profit showing at $296 million; the printer group posted $884 million in profits. Per dollar sold, printers and imaging remains HP's most profitable business. In Q3, supplies alone sold 9 percent more than the same 2005 quarter.

HP promises to answer MPE questions at Forum

Even at it is winding up the last push for sponsorship money, Encompass and HP are promising their September show will include "MPE — Answers to the Looming Migration Questions."

Only the meeting of OpenMPE advocates at the Forum's Campground stands as an advisory on any 3000 subject other than migration. For 75 minutes, OpenMPE's directors Birket Foster, Chuck Ciesinski and Matt Perdue will talk about "A Current Status" for the organization, a report of the ongoing efforts of the group. "Listen to a report on activities of the past year. Review plans for the next year."

If those aren't the questions that are looming for you, the rest of the Tech Forum's 3000-related lineup might be helpful. David Parsons, the HP VP of Industry Solutions and Alliance Marketing, says that CEO Mark Hurd, Executive VP Ann Livermore and CIO Randy Mott "will address upwards of 7,000 HP customers, partners, and employees at the event."

Those numbers may be easier to reach in Houston than in last year's rescheduled show in Orlando. About 4,000 showed up in Florida last fall. Houston is headquarters for a lot of HP operations, being the former hub of Compaq.

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Powerful merger of 3000 forces

Late this afternoon Donna Garverick pointed the 3000 community to a notice of nuptials — hers, along with James Hofmeister in a new household that may boast the most 3000 brainpower per square foot of residence. (Contenders are welcome to challenge our seat-of-the-pants calcuation, of course.) The two 3000 veterans were married today.

Garverick has been chair of the SIG-Sysman special interest group, co-chair of SIG-MPE, and for the last three years, a vocal and active advocate on the OpenMPE board of directors. She is noted for her capital-less postings on the 3000-L newsgroup — as well as many years of service and administrative expertise on MPE, MPE XL, and MPE/iX. Especially the iX, where she's held forth and taught users about the Posix bonus inside the 3000's operating system: a good intro to the world of Unix.

Hofmeister has been a primary force behind HP networking advances for the 3000 for the past several years, and a strong contributor to the networking knowledge base that's the 3000-L archives. In The 3000 NewsWire archives alone, he's got 36 entries between 1997 and 2005. During the last six years the engineer at HP's Expert Center has become the authority on telnet and the much-improved FTP on the HP 3000. Much of his advice and counsel about 3000 matters has been on his own time, since HP has many jobs for its 3000 experts, all at once.

Our most recent article on these two vets showed they were already working together in the spring of 2005, when they were planning a Birds of a Feather meeting for MPE Networking at HP World. Although that HP World show never made it out of the nest, apparently these two birds found their feathers compatible.

Both Garverick (far right, front row) and Hofmeister (third from left, back row) joined the close group of lunchmates at last summer's 3000 luncheon in San Francisco, almost one year ago to the day.

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Amisys advances its healthcare app

Amisys Synertech Inc. (ASI), which owns the customer base of and applications for AMISYS/3000 and Unix-based Amisys Advance, rolled out another generation of its healthcare HP-UX app with an announcement last week.

The Version 3.1 of Advance promises enhanced navigational capabilities as its chief upgrade, along with the maturity of having another year of field testing integrated into the app. ASI started booting up Advance on former HP 3000 sites in 2005, when it released version 2.0.

Release 3.1 of the enterprise-wide and functionally rich information management application builds upon enhancements delivered in Release 3.0 by featuring an array of streamlined navigational capabilities.

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HP's confidence about HP-UX futures

While 3000 vendors like Advant figure that HP-UX is just "next on the HP chopping block" — and so they load PA-RISC Linux on systems to let customers just cut to the future — HP has plans for developing the OS with some specifics to 2010.

Offered without comment, HP's chart of HP-UX 11i, "Taking you confidently into tomorrow." Click on it to get a better view.


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Free ERP training, just a fortnight away

Just two weeks from today at the San Francisco Airport, a Free Day of expert ERP training takes off. Aug. 23 is the Free Training Day for this year's CAMUS conference, an event with significant support from HP 3000 companies and vendors. If you're going, say hello to 3000 NewsWire sponsors Pivital Solutions, MB Foster, Speedware, HP, Genisys and the Support Group. Jeff Milde of CAMUS says:

On Wednesday, August 23, CAMUS is sponsoring a no-charge MK and MANMAN Training Day.  If you live near San Francisco, you can bring as many people as you want to these training sessions and not pay a dime (but please go to and fill out the “Free Training Day Only Registration Form” so we’ll know how many to expect for the free lunch).  Of course, we hope these attendees will stay for the rest of the Conference, but if not, then okay.  It’s the CAMUS motto, “Users Helping Users,” in its purest form.  The very best teachers in the MK and MANMAN fields have volunteered their time to help the entire community:  David Cervelli, Alice West, Chris Jones, Terri Glendon Lanza, Tim Peer, Susan Kiezel, Terry Floyd, Robert Bruce, and others will be on hand.

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Set calendars for MPE training

Veteran MPE trainers Paul Edwards and Frank Alden Smith have scheduled an MPE/iX fundamentals (h3217s) class to be delivered on November 6, 2006, in the organization’s Virtual Classroom Environment (VCE). Edwards said that “VCE allows a 3000 user or manager to attend from wherever they are, work, home, or on the road."

Attendees can browse to to find a link to go to the Course Schedule. “Following that link will enable you to register for this class,” Edwards said. “Remember that full payment must be received at least two weeks prior to the start of the class.”

In the same way that HP user group Interex shut its doors last summer, HP's gotten out of the training business. It's up to independents like Edwards and Smith to step in where an $8 million user group or an $80 billion vendor used to serve 3000 education.

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HP reinstates MPE certification holders

OpenMPE advocate and training expert Paul Edwards reports that HP is reinstating the company's certifications in HP 3000 skills.

Much like the HP 3000 product line, the certifications won't be available to others from HP. But Edwards and his partner in HP training, Frank Alden Smith, intend to take that task over for HP, too, just as the duo started up a 3000 training business from the remains of HP's classroom materials.

Edwards reported that HP's Rich Gossman said it was a matter of days, it appears, until HP creates a credential that's inactive. That's HP's way of describing a certificate nobody else is going to get from HP — kind of like a brand spanking new 3000.

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Super Tuesday: Windows stalling migrations

Early next week, Microsoft will release another "Patch Tuesday" set of security bulletins to the Windows environment. It will be a big event for the customers who rely on Windows XP and use Windows as their enterprise servers. These environments need to be maintained rigorously, and some patches will require a restart of Windows systems.

That is the kind of interruption hard to point at in the 3000 environment: a single day when many machines are forced to come offline. On a regular basis, HP sends out security patch alerts for HP-UX, too, many of which are labelled critical by HP, if not necessarily by the customers.

The Windows churn is keeping 3000 sites busy, according to Platinum migration partner Birket Foster. He points out that Microsoft will be moving its operating environments to 64 bits very soon, in IT terms. Vista is the last environment likely to work under 32 bits, so 3000 sites are stocking up on PCs, ahead of a regular purchasing schedule, to stay in the 32-bit world. Why? It has a lot to do with staffing, and the lack of it for Windows administration.       

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Finding SCSI disks from third parties

Bos2_cover_sm Disk drives are the most likely parts of an HP 3000 to fail, being just about the only moving part in the system. (Tape is the other.) Disks from HP are certified, but they're still more costly than any other kind of storage peripheral. When you walk through Fry's and see a 200 GB disk for $150, you might wonder if there's a chance to use that kind of device in your HP 3000.

By many experts' testimony, there's a good chance that an under-$100 drive will boot up your HP 3000 just fine. These older 3000s use pretty small disks, so the costs of replacement are small, if you go outside HP's inventory. HP's not even making the SCSI-2 drives, the ones shipped with 9x8s, for new sales anymore. Some third party outlets like Phoenix/3000 can get you a remanufactured model of HP drives, but their focus leans more toward HP's VA arrays than an 18GB drive.

If a little drive is all you need, how can you be sure you're buying something that works with the 3000? A few years back John Burke wrote an article for the NewsWire explaining how to do it. HP replied with its set of sensible reasons why the HP-firmwared devices are worth the extra cost. But a few more years and lot less Low Voltage Device inventory is making more customers look at replacing their 3000 disks that are 8, 10, even 15 years old.

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Thinking way ahead of time (changes)

Diligent HP 3000 managers think ahead. This may be a habit of learning IT skills in an era when changes took longer and created more disruption. This week some in the 3000 community are thinking of next spring, when the Daylight Saving Time dates in North America will shift. There's going to be a few extra weeks of DST in 2007.

Customers have begun to ask HP for support in preparing for the change. (Yes, it's still seven months away. See the paragraph above.) While most customers handle this shift with a batch job, which can be modified easily, there's a part of MPE/iX that will need tweaking: the time zone table, also known as TZTAB.LIB.SYS.

OpenMPE director Donna Garverick posed the question about next spring's time shift, including a swell Web page that tells the whole story on Daylight Saving. (To start, it's called Daylight Saving, not Savings, since it saves daylight, a thing that's singular, not plural.) But after reading a few "I use this batch job" replies, Garverick got more specific:

Our TZTAB file will not be correct when the new Daylight Savings Time rules take effect.  HP-UX, for example, has already released a patch to correct the TZTAB file.  I'm concerned that there's an [HP 3000] exposure with no plans to fix the problem.

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Getting MPE/iX-only from HP

HP 3000 customers and advocates love the MPE/iX operating system. The software's elegance and integration more than offset the maturity of an environment now in its fourth decade. Getting a licensed copy of MPE/iX, however, involves purchasing hardware.

Back in 1999, after a set of lawsuits, HP set the business rules in its sandbox that hardware and MPE/iX were inseparable. Then-division GM Harry Sterling compared the MPE/iX license to a license plate on a car. Plates are pretty much useless on any other vehicle, we figure. You have to transfer ownership of the whole kit, under HP's auspices, to get a copy of MPE/iX that you don't already own.

HP still operates a License Transfer office, as it were. Now the service costs $400; it was once free, back in the days when HP was still selling the server.

In other markets HP serves, the OS-to-hardware link isn't quite so rigid. The Digital customers that HP acquired in its Compaq merger get a hobbyist's license for OpenVMS if they want it. Digital and Compaq worked that one out before HP got ahold of those two companies. HP sees more of a future in OpenVMS and the Digital customer base, though you rarely hear about them in HP's strategic pronouncements.

As for that hobbyist license for the HP 3000, we've heard little about it since a year ago, when HP's Mike Paivinen addressed the matter at the OpenMPE meeting. Paivinen said it was well down HP's list of action items.

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