Thinking way ahead of time (changes)
August 2, 2006
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.
Others have agreed, and fellow OpenMPE director Paul Edwards has sent a request for HP's plans to fix TZTAB. After all, as customer Dave Powell noted, "Since HP is now supporting the 3000 thru end-2008, I nominate them."
TZTAB has come up for discussion in the 3000 community before now, usually in relation to another program like Samba. In a 1999 entry from our Hidden Value column, a customer asked about how to manipulate TZTAB:
As I look at the tztab.lib.sys file, I see that there are many time zones which are not listed in the file. Where do I get the rest of the :time zone definitions?
HP’s Walter Murray replied:
Make sure you have the complete file. The EOF should be 285. If you need to customize the file with additional time zones, refer to Appendix A of the HP C/iX Library Reference Manual.
Making changes to a lib.sys file in MPE/iX may not be for the faint of heart or feeble of budget, however. To start, a customer would need that HP C/iX compiler, unless the open source gnu C compiler could be made to do the job.
Powell added, "TZTAB scares me... [changing it] looks like something that should be done just once by someone who really knows it, not re-invented site by site."
As for HP staff who know how to work on the problem, Murray now works for the California Correctional System's IT services group. Any intrepid 3000 customer with a compatible C compiler who wants a look at that Appendix can download the PDF file from HP's docs.com Web page.
The request is a good example of why the 3000 community needs a virtual lab — and the only entity that's willing to set that up is OpenMPE. Which takes this entry full circle: the OpenMPE directors are looking way ahead and still looking for customer commitments. The future is a place where many HP 3000s will still be critical resources.