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April 2008

Linear advice saves tape storage solution

A 3000 community member who is obviously homesteading asked for help installing a Digital Linear Tape device today. His question to the HP 3000 newsgroup was "Why can't my Series 939 see the DLT8000 I just brought into the shop and mounted successfully?"

A couple of tape experts had good solutions to assist Joe Barnett, but both storage guru Denys Beauchemin and HP's Jim Hawkins couldn't resist much bigger advice: Migrate off that HP 3000. While Barnett contemplates that outsized project, he's got little to spark such an adventure — if his only problem is storing more data from a growing disk farm.

The experts shared a wide range of counsel, from the basic of "check that media" and "tape heads wear out on DLT8000s" to "they haven't made that generation of DLT drive in five years" (a period Beauchemin likes to call a lustrum, accurate but arcane English.)

When Hawkins stepped in to comment on Beauchemin's advice, the combination of counsel was another reason to believe in the power of the 3000 community.

Continue reading "Linear advice saves tape storage solution" »

Tech Forum serves two 3000 talks

The HP Technology Forum put its session schedule online today, a list of talks and speakers which includes two HP 3000 updates. Most notably, HP e3000 Business Manager Jennie Hou is not listed as a speaker for either of the talks.

The Tech Forum has not specialized in HP e3000 information in its three years of existence, unless a demand for migration techniques counts high in a customer's quest for knowledge. Last year's show was the first to feature Hou as the business management speaker for an e3000 update. Hewlett-Packard carried on the tradition of naming an e3000 Contributor of the Year for 2007. It remains to be seen if Allegro's Stan Sieler will remain the final winner of the award HP has handed out since the middle 1990s.

This year's events with "e3000" in the title are one HP update on the 3000 support roadmap, offered by HP's Alvina Nishimoto, and the HP e3000 Migration Solutions Overview, a one-hour talk delivered by Director of Marketing Chris Koppe from Platinum Migrations partner Speedware. Koppe's talk during last fall's e3000 Community Meet pulled advice from migration engagements dating back to 2003. The talk abstract bills the session thus:

Don’t miss the ultimate overview of HP e3000 migration solutions. Speedware is one of only two HP e3000 Platinum Partners and has seen it all when it comes to migrations. Learn about solutions for migrating 3GL and 4GL languages, databases and third party utilities. Migration experts share their insights on straight migrations as well as more modern “legacy modernization” projects.

Continue reading "Tech Forum serves two 3000 talks" »

Matching HP's 3000 support bit for bit

Hewlett-Packard drags along its support business as the last car in the company's long train of HP 3000 products. 2010 might be the deadline for HP's 3000 hardware support, or it might not. In the meantime, third parties replicate more and more of what the vendor still sells to the community.

Companies hesitate to go third party on their 3000 support when they think of a system needing low-level service. 3000 hardware doesn't go bad often, but the most essential component, the CPU board, is supposed to need HP's intervention to get replaced.

But more third parties are doing this hardware recovery, the rescue of processor boards gone bad. HP's service reps do this for a fee, in due time. Software vendor IRS wrote a program that can service another support company's customer, if the customer needs an HPSUSAN identity number restored on a 3000. Adjusting SUSANs, part of a 3000's fingerprint, is a process that can invite illicit conversions. The key to staying legal is "like to like" replacements, according to support provider CTS's owner Brett Forsyth. At CTS, an HPSUSAN number is just another part of servicing a 3000.

Why not have HP do this work? Forsyth reports that the vendor's 3000 service to third party supported clients "on these issues is both slow and extremely expensive — plus very few of the HP CEs these days are experienced in these matters."

Continue reading "Matching HP's 3000 support bit for bit" »

UDALink carries Data Express tool upward

Yesterday we took note of the new version of Data Express, a testing suite from COBOL supplier Micro Focus. The name of the product once described a software solution from HP 3000 Platinum Migration partner MB Foster, which also offers homesteading utilities for companies still relying on 3000s.

At MB Foster, Data Express became UDALink and an allied family of products years ago. MB Foster's Birket Foster clarifies the product name:

MB Foster makes Data Express available... well, it's not the original DataExpress that MB Foster bought from IMACS in 1989 —€“ the premiere data access and delivery solution for the HP 3000. That morphed to become UDALink (Universal Data Access Link) which now runs on the HP 3000, as well as Unix (HP-UX for Itanium included), Solaris and Linux. UDALink talks to various databases including Eloquence, Oracle, and DB2.

The UDA family of solutions includes cross-platform synchronization functions such as IMAGE and KSAM to Oracle or SQL Server. UDACentral does drag and drop data transfer to help migration data between OS platforms and different databases —€” IMAGE, Oracle, Eloquence, DB2 and SQL Server, among others).

The MB Foster products operate on all platforms including the HP 3000. The 3000 is a platform which Micro Focus does not support — which makes data access with the software written by Foster's company a starter step for a migration, a role the newer Data Express cannot play.

Continue reading "UDALink carries Data Express tool upward" »

Data Express gets Micro Focus update

The name Data Express resonates in the HP 3000 community from years of use by its supplier, MB Foster. But that Swiss Army knife of 3000 data transfer became the UDA-Link family years ago — so migrating HP 3000 sites shouldn't be confused that Data Express now has an update. The COBOL and development environment maker Micro Focus has taken up the Data Express name for one of its products.

The Micro Focus Data Express has added a new SQL server module, enabling the suite of tools to support for Microsoft SQL Server. Micro Focus, which purchased competitor AcuCOBOL last spring to consolidate COBOL migration choices for 3000 sites, says its Data Express is used to "create a secure, robust test environment for production data from across the entire enterprise." From a press release:

Data Express also allows organizations to create representative subsets of large volumes of production data for testing purposes, ensuring a secure, compliant testing environment for application development.

“The addition of SQL Server support will allow our customers to test production data from across their entire enterprise without sacrificing privacy or regulatory compliance,” said Stuart McGill, CTO, Micro Focus.

Testing is one of the most significant parts of any migration effort, according to the community's migration partners and 3000 sites which have made their transition. While SQL Server runs second to Oracle in large enterprise database choices, smaller HP 3000 sites use the Microsoft database as part of a Windows platform strategy.

Continue reading "Data Express gets Micro Focus update" »

New tricks for HP's old dogs, and newer, too

Earlier today HP invited computer customers to a Webcast about NetBeans, technology that will never make it onto MPE/iX servers. The novelty of the Web information, hosted by Encompass, was its target: Users of OpenVMS, the last non-industry-standard operating environment which HP supports.

And an environment HP apparently still extends, given the information in the Webinar.

A plug-in for NetBeans, provided free-of-charge by HP, allows you to use NetBeans on your desktop to develop and debug OpenVMS applications remotely. This includes not only Java applications, but C, C++, Fortran, Cobol, Basic, and Pascal applications.

HP 3000 customers might recall that Java support was a big step forward for their server — back in 1998. Since that time HP has dropped all interest in the "write once, run anywhere" language. That's too bad for homesteaders, who could benefit from this free Integrated Development Environment which has only gotten richer and more proven in the past five years.

But NetBeans, and the power of Java in general, are a good story for a migrating HP 3000 customer, either as impetus to start moving or as a tool to make the migration easier.

Continue reading "New tricks for HP's old dogs, and newer, too" »

Why there are always parts available

Hewlett-Packard tells the 3000 community that the vendor can provide custom legacy support through 2010, but the offering will depend on parts availability and the age of the HP 3000. Older systems might have parts which are no longer on the HP warehouse shelves.

But no matter how old the HP 3000 might be in your shop, you can be reasonably sure that spare parts will not keep you from keeping it working. Last week Wyell Grunwald offered a "practically free" HP 3000 on the Internet newsgroup. All that Grunwald wants is the cost of shipping to send the 200-pound server onto its new home.

After a quip about this early '90s server making a good bookend, another community member said they could use the system for parts. Imagine, an HP 3000 PA-RISC server built in 1990 — yes, 18 years ago — still has parts available in your community.

The key word in that last sentence is community. Even when HP runs out of HP 3000 parts, the community can carry on the supply. This group got a lot of longevity when it invested in the HP 3000, as well as durability. The word "tank" is part of Grunwald's 922 description.

Continue reading "Why there are always parts available" »

QSS gathers another 3000 HP expert

The man who made the Apache Web server a reality for HP 3000s has landed a post at an HP 3000 third party software firm. Mark Bixby joined Hewlett-Packard's MPE/iX lab late in the 1990s, while the vendor was still adding open source utilities to the operating system. Somehow, HP couldn't find a job this year for the man who brought domain name services and the first Web server to the HP 3000.

Bixby landed a development position at Quintessential School Systems (QSS), making him the second HP 3000 lab expert to join the K-12 applications provider during the past year. Jeff Vance, whose 28-year tenure with HP ended when he took early retirement from the company, joined the school system software firm in 2007.

To be accurate, QSS is more than just the spot where more than 100 US school systems buy an application for HP 3000s. Ever since 2003, QSS has been investigaing, developing, as well as recently shipping a vendor-neutral version of its software; that is, one that will not rely on a vendor-only operating environment like MPE/iX.

Vance joined QSS to work on the newest of platforms, open source Linux projects. Bixby seemed delighted to join his former HP colleague at the company which still serves many HP 3000 sites.

I will be taking a couple of months off to focus on various personal projects, then in July I will be joining Quintessential School Systems (QSS). I definitely look forward to working with Jeff Vance again, who also ended up at QSS after he left HP.

By the time Bixby ended his road inside HP, the company had already moved him out of HP 3000 day-to-day work. If ever there was a sign HP is taking rapid leave of your community, it's the vendor's inability to find a place for an engineer with Bixby's skills, as well as his repository of MPE/iX internals knowledge.

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Matchbox-ing up for Tech Forum

A national user group conference rolls out with bigger expectations than a regional meeting. The recent GHRUG International Technology Conference offered a swell networking cookout at an extended stay hotel's pool as its social event. Encompass, as well as sponsor vendor HP, is lining up its own social event with an international flair.

On the final day of HP Tech Forum discount registration, Encompass announced that Matchbox Twenty will be playing a mini-concert at the show's final evening, June 19. We're a bit short of enough hipster cred to appreciate the band's stature. But Encompass assured everyone that the group is "one of the most successful bands to emerge in the past decade." They're not stretching at all to say that. iTunes reviewers assure us that over the last decade the band has "earned five Grammy nominations and had more number one hits that nay other artist in the Adult Top 40 radio history."

Interex, the now-defunct HP user group, used to book talent nearly as well-known, but aimed at a somewhat older audience. But the Interex stars were keynoters, the likes of Dave Barry, Scott Adams (Dilbert) and Al Franken (Saturday Night Live). Top-line talent draws the crowds to a user event, another kind of curb appeal as if the Las Vegas venue wasn't enough.

Those larger crowds could deliver a key networking contact for attendees, the ones learning more about HP's alternatives to the HP 3000. Plus, the band makes a better value of the $1,495 entry fee. Matchbox Twenty concert packages for close-up seats start at $250 a ticket. Last year's Tech Forum band was Train, which has won a Grammy but can't boast the same producer as Matchbox Twenty's Steve Lillywhite — who's produced albums for the Rolling Stones and U2.

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Encompass wants an alliance decision

Now that user group Encompass and its allies have hashed out the details of their consolidation, it's time for the user group community to vote on the proposed alliance. The vote is part of the charter for the new group, which might be called Endeavor. (The HP world will learn the new group's name at the HP Technology Forum, co-sponsored by the allied groups, June 16-19)

You need to be an encompass member with an up-to-date member ID to vote on the alliance of user groups ITUG (Tandem), Encompass, Interex Europe and Encompass Pacific Rim. These groups are likely to merge anyway, but they need the official blessing from their combined members. (Interex Europe has 35,000 members who belong to a group not associated with the failed user group of the same name in North Ameria.)

Details from Steve Davidek, former Interex advocacy member and current Encompass Director of Advocacy, Chapters & SIGs:

As announced and addressed in various forums over the past several months, ITUG, Encompass and HP-Interex EMEA intend to join forces to create a new, unified global community for HP enterprise users.

As a member of the Encompass user group, I would like to encourage you to vote on the consolidation.  Your vote plays a crucial role in the fate of the new organization.

Davidek manages an HP 3000 installation at the City of Sparks, Nevada and is in the process of organizing a migration there, but still running the system in interim homestead mode.

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ERP and 3000 meet in Friday Web VRUG

The ERP user group CAMUS hosts a Virtual RUG meeting on Friday. A VRUG, as they are known, presents speakers on topics via a telephone hookup and Webinar using Web-Ex on your PC. Friday's VRUG meeting runs late morning to early afternoon Central time, but you can come and go from your phone and PC as schedule permits.

One talk that's worthwhile for HP 3000 customers of any kind, ERP or not, migrating or homesteading, is Jeff Kubler's "Moving in Your Own Time," presented over the lunch hour Central US time. Today I worked a bit to help him flesh out the idea and the specifics, but it's his show to present. His Kubler Consulting been a long-time consultant to the 3000 community, a trainer for Robelle's Suprtool and Speedware's products, and an advisor to the Amisys and Ecometry markets.

You can sign up for a spot by sending an e-mail to [email protected]. Details of Webinar phone-in and WebEx login will be sent to registrants prior to the meeting. It's free and runs between 10:30 and 2 PM Friday.

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Minisoft's IMAGE/Eloquence tool: A Provider

Microsoft is a major player in most IT enterprises, and the company which brought us Vista is big enough to change the rules. It employs de-facto standards to "embrace and extend," and one change for Microsoft Windows Server database access has spawned a new IMAGE and Eloquence tool. Perennial HP 3000 software provider Minisoft serves up this tool for Windows Servers this month.

Minisoft explains why the new OLE DB Provider can bridge the path between HP 3000 data and other servers in the Windows line in the years to come. Windows, after all, is the leading choice of 3000 migration sites by number, if not by size of IT budget.

The new Minisoft OLE DB Provider opens the door to a rich set of  development tools and platforms for Microsoft Windows Servers. Microsoft recently announced that OLE DB will be the method by which all information is accessed. The Microsoft OLE DB to ODBC Bridge known as MSDASQL is not available for the 64-bit environment.

The roadmap for future Microsoft applications requires using OLE DB data sources to  “provide uniform access to data stored in diverse information sources." The Minisoft OLE DB Provider provides that access to your existing IMAGE and Eloquence databases.

This is the first that we've heard of a data bridge that's been branded under the Provider name, but hey, Microsoft's OLE announcement is pretty recent by Minisoft's accounting. Minisoft goes on to explain where its Provider will help in IMAGE and Eloquence access. Migrating or homesteading, you still have to access data.

Continue reading "Minisoft's IMAGE/Eloquence tool: A Provider" »

Six years, five months, and forecasts for futures

This week the 3000 community will move into the month that signals six-and-a-half years of the 3000's Transition Era. It has been a period filled with dread, hope, opportunity and change. A good deal of all that was predicted from the very first day of Transition, but some events were not. 3000 owners who need to forecast events for the next 77 months, now that the first 77 have passed, can start by reviewing what's come to pass from predictions and what has not, and why.

On November 14, 2001, the day of HP's announcement of ending its 3000 operations, ERP and MANMAN advisor Cortlandt Wilson looked into his crystal ball and saw these events:

Up until Jan 1, 2007 service parts should be available from HP just as they are now. After that I expect that HP will continue it’s policy of selling service parts on a “best, available” basis.

Not only accurate, but accurate-plus: HP still offers parts and service on its support throughout this year, two more than HP figured. Also as predicted, the third party market and the vast field of identical HP 9000 hardware has made parts a non-issue to go forward with a 3000.

Q: Is it possible that someone will take over support of MPE/iX after HP stops support in 2006?
A. Yes. In fact the conversations are already well underway.  I was in on a phone call between HP and members of Interex’s MPE Forum just yesterday where that topic was discussed at some length.

We wish we could say this one was forecast accurately, but that swap-over front has moved slower than forecast. HP's decision on support for MPE/iX, tied to licensing source for some, outlasted Interex and that MPE Forum. The timing still seems to be tied to end of HP support. It's important to remember that HP made its discontinuance announcement from two spokesmen: Then-GM Winston Prather, and Jim Murphy, the latter notably of HP Support.

But HP did follow through on what it did promise for improving system, as predicted.

Continue reading "Six years, five months, and forecasts for futures" »

Tips on Deleting Bad System Disks

As HP 3000s age their disks go bad, the fate of any component with moving parts. Even after replacing a faulty drive — which is not expensive at today's prices — there are a few software steps to perform. Wyell Grunwald explains of the failed system (bootup) disk

Our disk was a MEMBER in MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET. I am trying to delete the disk off the system.  Upon startup of the machine is says that LDEV 4 is not available.  When going into SYSGEN, then IO, then DDEV 4 it gives me a warning that it is part of the system volume set — cannot be deleted.  I have done an INSTALL from tape (because some of the system files were on that device), which worked successfully. How do I get rid of this disk?

Gilles Schipper of support provider GSA said that INSTALL is something to watch while resetting 3000 system disks.

Sounds like the install did not leave you with only a single MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET disk.

Could it be that you have more than one system volume after INSTALL because other, non-LDEV 1 volumes were added with the AVOL command of SYSGEN - instead of the more traditional way of adding system volumes via th VOLUTIL utility?

You can check as follows:


If the resulting output shows more than one volume, that's the answer.

He offers a repair solution as well.

Continue reading "Tips on Deleting Bad System Disks" »

Tape backup: Set DLT to beat DDS

Dlt Backing up enterprise-grade 3000s presents more interesting choices today than 5-10 years ago. Back then DDS had only two generations, neither of which were reliable for certain. A DDS tape used to be the common coin for OS updates and software upgrades. The media has advanced to a DDS-5 generation, but Digital Linear Tape (DLT) has a higher capacity and more reliability than DDS.

When a DDS tape backup runs slower than a DLT, however, something is amiss. DLT is supposed to supply a native transfer rate of 15 MBps in the SureStore line of tape libraries. You can look over at an HP PDF datasheet on the SureStore, even certified by HP for MPE/iX, at this link.

HP 3000 community partners such as Genisys and Bay Pointe and Pivital Solutions offer these DLTs, and Orbit Software has an "order with our backup software" option, too. But at an estimated cost of about $1,300 or more per DLT device, you'll expect them to beat the DDS-4 transfers of 5 MBps.

HP 3000 customer Ray Shahan didn't see the speed he expected after moving to DLT and asked the 3000 newsgroup community what might be wrong. Advice ranged from TurboStore commands, to channels where the drives are installed, to the 3000's bandwidth and CPU power to deliver data to the DLT. HP's MPE/iX IO expert Jim Hawkins weighed in among the answers, while users and third-party support providers gave advice on how to get the speed you pay extra for in DLT.

Continue reading "Tape backup: Set DLT to beat DDS" »

Spreading 3000 expertise on tail slices

800pxlong_tail As the HP 3000 community huddles together in numbers, the skills and solutions they need become more unique. Migration proponents might call HP 3000 homestead services arcane or obtuse knowledge, but 3000 community members still need to be served from what's known as The Long Tail.

The great thing about Long Tail economics is that small companies can have a big impact on a customer's success using the strategy. The Long Tail, according to Wikipedia, is

The niche strategy of certain business such as or Netflix. The distribution and inventory costs of these businesses allow them to realize significant profit out of selling small volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers, instead of only selling large volumes of a reduced number of popular items. The group of persons that buy the hard-to-find or "non-hit" items is the customer demographic called the Long Tail.

Doing just a little volume of hard-to-find items like HP 3000 management and data services looks like the new strategy from an old 3000 partner, The Support Group. The company has made its bones on being among the top Trusted Advisors for ERP strategy and MANMAN support. But TSG's recent posting to a the 3000 community Internet newsgroups sketched out solutions which might have become hard-to-find.

Continue reading "Spreading 3000 expertise on tail slices" »

No joke: The wrong HP computer?

Car_wash Perhaps we can file today's entry under History, too, because it promotes a Hewlett-Packard that is gone for the 3000 owner who's not considering a migration. HP has put together a series of TV ads that hawk its HP Financing as part of a "HP Total Care" package. The ad looks like it's part of a campaign selling HP PCs; it's hard to believe that the HP Integrity servers would ever spark such a slick advertisement.

HP drew customers' attention to the joke (not an April Fool's gag) in its HP Technology at Work newsletter. The ad, like so many, is posted up on You Tube, in hopes of the Tube lending some viral marketing oomph to the message. You can have a look yourself. It's probably funnier if your company has a constant future in the Hewlett-Packard fold.



You can certainly believe after having a look at the ad that HP has a marketing message that includes the idea that any other computer than the ones it sells is the wrong computer. On the other hand, HP's Financing might be available for non-HP products. Or not. HP knows humor sells, plus it needs to have a direct message at the end of the joke:

Watch and laugh at this YouTube video and discover to what lengths companies will go to finance their technology. See what life would be like without HP.

Benefits Support, financing, training, all the little squares in the ad's direct message (click it for a detailed picture), these are still available from the vendor if a company is investing in HP's 3000 alternatives. The message might sting a little for the company that has not migrated and feels like it needs to run a car wash to finance their computer purchases. The subtle nudge is that a company without IT financing is in real trouble, or just someone to spark a laugh.

Of course, many of those options are available from outside of HP, from independent providers — even for the HP 3000 owner. It's a good idea not to take marketing too seriously. We can laugh here in our company, because the alternative won't get us anywhere.

Continue reading "No joke: The wrong HP computer?" »

3000s don't add up in migration

One element working against the HP 3000 in 2008: Novice owners.

In the El Defensor Chieftain, official newspaper of Socorro County, New Mexico, we read of a faulty tape on a 3000 that is giving the County Treasurer fits.

"The problem seems to once again be the officer's HP3000 hardware. "I think the tape drive is running out," said computer technician Joe Franklin.

Joe's expertise might lie in Windows, and if that's true then he's better-skilled than a lot of the world's workforce. But unless the Chieftain's reporter Evelyn Cronce's quote is in error, then Joe the technician is typical of a lot of the HP 3000 customer base. These are people who know just about everything better than managing an HP 3000.

The 3000 was adopted by a lot of entities like the County Treasurer, places where steel filing cabinets were probably the previous data information system. Since the 3000 is so reliable, and the software vendors and HP itself were spot-on about support, the County and many 3000 sites never needed to know that a tape drive can't fill up, but a tape will. Or that backing up to tape is pretty much out of date now, since tape drives can go belly up on any system.

Novice owners might not know that a disk drive — and I'm just guessing here, but in Sorocco there's probably one of those venerable 2GB drives that HP included in the elderly 9x7 computers — well, those can fill up, but can be replaced.

What will be replaced someday at the County Treasurer's office is the HP 3000, to nobody's surprise. Data Now, the company which has specialized in apps for municipalities like Socorro County, wanted to do a replacement of its own 3000 installation. But at a total contract of $48,000 for two years, the county balked.

So now the County awaits the new AppLogix system, which is getting close to a year overdue. Oh, and a new tape drive is on order for a "no-longer-supported HP 3000."

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Whose life is ending, and when

You hear the phrase "end of life" a lot in the 3000 community. Usually it's Hewlett-Packard talking about its HP 3000 product. It's as if once HP stops supporting the system and working on MPE/iX, then the server is dead.

We also hear "end of life" from some partners in the HP 3000 community, especially those with a heavy migration quota to fill. By heavy quota I mean a lack of business such a partner can conduct with a customer who won't migrate anytime soon.

Come to think of it, that's really the perspective HP seems to approach every time the vendor uses phrases like "as the 3000 comes to its end of life." Whatever is ending, it's unlikely to be the HP 3000 use at a good number of good HP customers. If that were not true, then HP would say its 3000 support will reach its end of life, without a doubt in 2010.

Products outlive their creators. A user group sprang up in the 1980s to support the beloved Osborne PCs, after the company that created them had gone belly-up in 1983. The First Osborne Group (FOG) held their system and its included software close to their hearts, long after Osborne fell to the competition of Apple and Kaypro.

Ancient history, some might say, adding that the market is completely different 20 years later. But the customers aren't that different. Keep in mind that the 1980s is the time when many of the strongest HP 3000 advocates and its most durable customers adopted the 3000. For these companies, the end of life that's approaching soonest is not for a server that runs well in their enterprises and is supported by a growing third party ecosystem.

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Checking out the Contributed Software Library

When the HP 3000 first nurtured its community, the computer pros contributed software for one another. This sharing first took place in the 1970s, an era long before open source when only academics exchanged work without payment. For more than two decades the 3000 community created the Contributed Software Library, programs written and fostered in the computers of user group Interex.

More than two years have passed since Interex passed away. The user group's assets have been dissected, calculated and disbursed, but the CSL was not on any trustee's list. Interex never owned these programs, only the collective mass of them on a single tape or selected from one data store.

Now the community is looking for what it contributed. Charles Shimada, a volunteer whose hard work kept Interex computers running at many a conference, was holding the archives of the CSL when Interex melted down. He's willing to share any particular CSL program, so long as a 3000 user can ask for it by name.

Continue reading "Checking out the Contributed Software Library" »

Inventing a new home for Invent3k

Inside of HP's 3000 labs — a place that amounts to cubicles, a meeting space with a speakerphone and a portion of a computer room — sits a community resource. HP has a public access server called Invent3k, a 3000 which anyone can use. The server was set up in 2001 to encourage community development of software for the 3000. HP stocked this system — a Series 989 at the time — with HP subsystem development software such as a COBOL compiler and more.

IBM appeared to follow the HP move a few weeks after Invent3K went online, opening up a public server for Linux developers and users to access over the Internet. History would show that Invent3k went online less than six months before HP announced the vendor would leave the 3000 market. Leave sometime later in the future, as it turns out.

Now the future is Invent3k is, well, up for grabs. HP has told the community members that it will pass along the server's data — and we don't know if that includes these subsystem software — at the end of HP's 3000 operations. Bill Cadier, who's still working inside the 3000 labs, looks to be the current manager of Invent3k. But like HP's definition of when its 3000 works cease, the move date for Invent3k is unannounced, too.

This HP 3000 is a resource which OpenMPE would like to host right away, or as soon as possible. The idea of an independent, virtually non-profit advocacy group which stewards such a server seems like a good plan. Nobody, not even HP, wants to see Invent3k go offline for good. It's the home of code like txt2pdf, which as its name suggests, takes a text stream on the HP 3000 and converts it to a PDF file.

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HP converts MPE/iX to social net app

In a responsible effort to recycle more than 30 years of programming code, Hewlett-Packard has decided to re-purpose MPE/iX as a social networking application. The news we received from a usually reliable source reports that HP has been searching for an appropriate future for the HP 3000 operating system for more than seven years. Executives have hit on a new social network as an ideal mission for the 33-year-old software.

"We're reaching to become more popular with customers younger and less gray than the 3000 community," said HP spokesman Ben E. Fitforeyou. "This MPE/iX software isn't going anywhere unless we do something about it, and HP is willing to take its chances and charge into the future. We see MPE/iX as a way to bring thousands of computer professionals together for significant social interchange."

A coalition of user groups and advocacy boards, including the DEL/3000 Special Interest Group, the New Wave Association, and HP's Business Report Writers, have agreed to be a test bed for the MPE/iX revision. A core of HP's retired 3000 developers are rolling up their sleeves on the technological transformation, expected to be completed by December of 2010.

"There's a big change a-brewing for MPE/iX," said D. David Brown, the development leader directing the core team from Montange d'Mystere, Switzerland. "I've been waiting more than 20 years for something as important as this."

Demise depends on point of view

Qcreports AICS Research has rolled out an evolutionary version of the company's QueryCalc HP 3000 product. Founder Wirt Atmar announced the new product, QCReports, in a posting over the HP 3000 newsgroup. You can download and install a version 0.98 copy from the product's Web page,

QCReports runs on any system which supports Marxmeier Software's Eloquence database: HP-UX, Windows or Linux. The software has been 95 percent rebuilt on Windows from the QueryCalc code, Atmar said. In an extensive post to the newsgroup he explained the evolution of the product and how it can help an HP 3000 site migrate to another platform

Although there are an enormous number of PC  manufacturers, there’s really only one system, and I very much believe in Bill Gates' plans for World Domination. Because of that belief, the newest version of  QueryCalc, which we now call QCReports, was translated onto the PC.

However, in that post you'll see another viewpoint from Wirt, who has logged many hours as an advocate for the HP 3000 and IMAGE. The HP 3000 died in 2001, he says, and so QCReports had to take up QueryCalc's mantle for AICS. But Wirt showed curiousity about any interest in a 3000 version of the product, too, a broad-minded view in the wake of an obituary.

The question: Is there any interest (meaning money) in us putting together host code for the HP 3000 and  IMAGE? I estimate that it would only take us a couple of months (in the  Atmarian Calendar) to get it up and running on the HP 3000. We already have all of the database query code written for the HP 3000. It’s only a matter of rewriting it for the new communications protocols.

The death of a system is a serious matter for anyone who's invested so much in it across so many years. But I disagree with the time of death, or even the current prognosis for how long the 3000 can survive.

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