What a certification is worth
Who, not how many, matters

Houston meeting spreads OS training

Organizers of the recent Greater Houston HP 3000 conference want users to know: It's not just a 3000 conference. Found teaching Friday through Sunday: Bill Hassell, HP Unix guru extraordinaire.
''GUIs are for wimps," he told the collected audience of about 20 in one of his four sessions. He's a command-line man himself.

Alfredoghrug Which, if you consider it, makes Unix a comfy spot for the old-time 3000 veterans to land. After all, prowess with the command line was pretty much the bulk of the old 3000 experience. Even the new 3000 experience, aside from things like GUI/3000.

At the Houston show, Adager's Alfredo Rego gave an agnostic talk in the 40 minutes carved out for his keynote. He drew on an large inflated ball to show the audience where you could go one unit south, then one unit east, then one unit north, and end up at the same place. The North Pole, of course, but Alfredo's lesson — which he demonstrated with the help of a Mac which was also running Windows — "don't necessarily accept the obvious answer."

"The obvious way is not so good. the non-obvious way is better," he said. Using his read-between-the-lines method of study, I read that to mean that manipulating the schema in IMAGE/SQL is the obvious way of trying to deliver Large File datasets. Work at the root level, less obvious, would have been much better, I have heard.

You might even say that sticking with an HP 3000 is the non-obvious way to run an IT operation. Alfredo didn't say that. And he was generous in his praise of the hard work HP has done to make Large Files operate correctly, without corruptions. And just as pleased that HP chose to bury its work, in the interests of not forcing change in programs like QueryCalc, Adager, Suprtool and DBGeneral.

Birketleadingway Then there was Birket Foster, recounting for everybody all the things you'd better plan for whether you're staying on your 3000 (it's called a Sustainability Study, and you ought to have one) or making the jump off to another platform. After one night when Foster led attendees to the suite hotel near the Clear Lake UH campus for some impromptu BBQ, he was part of a party that headed off to the Johnson Space Center for a tour of rocket chassis, training rooms and Mission Control.

Not just a 3000 show? You betcha. At lunch on Day One, IBM bought time to show off the merits of its latest Series i servers, the integrated solution that resembles an HP 3000's value proposition. It's not the first time IBM has sent a missionary to Houston to talk to HP customers. Each time the presenter has been polished and funny.

Gilles Schipper's favorite MPE/iX utilities? Well, there's DIRK, which lets an IT manager check out open trap doors where intruders could access the 3000 without a login and password.

Attendees and exhibitors and consultants numbered about 50 in total at the conference. But the caliber of who was on hand — Paul Edwards giving advice on homesteading, Michael Marxmeier and Alan Yeo telling of migration bulwarks like the Eloquence database and ScreenJet, used live to show a migration happening — the speaker roster says a lot about the future of this conference. Next year it will have even more, leaving not fewer 3000 slots like Interex did in its later HP Worlds, but just more to learn alongside the essentials of the HP 3000 experience.

As a reunion and re-education of 3000 wizards, it was a great weekend. Next year's version, in September of 2007, will have more on hand of everything, including solution diversity and attendees.