Some of the HP 3000 community's biggest stories of 2006 came directly from the vendor's officials and labs. While this was no surprise four to five years ago, when HP was parting ways with the 3000's future, the vendor's reach into the 3000 customers' future surprised us during the past year. No story was more surprising than the HP admission of a spying program conducted through 2005 and 2006.
4. HP informed the marketplace and the 3000 community that the chairman of the board Patricia Dunn had started a program in 2005 to stem leaks from its dissident board members to the business and industry press. HP-financed spying, which violated HP's own privacy policies as well as California law, netted the company the name of the dissident director, but also netted the firm a $14 million fine and the general condemnation of both the business and 3000 communities. Dunn resigned as chair, the second chairman in as many years to leave the post under fire.
The privacy-violating investigation included HP employees who had helped the vendor track down and prosecute third party HP 3000 hardware brokers in 1999. One such employee said the "pretexting" used in the spy hoax had been a regular practice of HP's for more than seven years. The disgrace and distrust amassed a greater damage to the company's reputation than to its stock price — although by the end of 2006 federal officials wanted to question HP's CEO on a stock sale he executed just before the spy news surfaced.
5. HP reinstated the certification holders who'd earned HP's professional credentials as HP 3000 and MPE/iX experts. HP had dropped the IT pros from its certification program for budget reasons. Although few in number, those who held the certifications have remained in the 3000 community as consultants and technical experts at third parties.
HP restored the credentials of the IT pros as a result of lobbying and work from OpenMPE board member Paul Edwards, who worked with Rich Gossman of HP to rectify the error. Although HP won't certify any more IT pros in 3000 skills, the move opened the door to let these certificate holders stand out in a marketplace growing hungry for 3000 expertise during migrations or homesteading sustainability projects.
6. HP released the third PowerPatch for its penultimate release of MPE/iX. The PowerPatch represented HP's 2006 offering of enhancements and critical bug fixes for the 3000 — and it would have been the last bit of HP lab work for the 3000 if the vendor had not extended its support program until 2008 or later.