Previous month:
June 2008
Next month:
August 2008

July 2008

Storage on the biggest 3000s

Somewhere in Minnesota, a farm of more than 30 HP 3000s tracks airline ticket transactions. The farm, one of the biggest collections of 3000 horsepower, uses plenty of storage. How much is hard to say, since the operation is under wraps and not open to press coverage.

But N-Class HP e3000s need storage that outstrips the requirements of most other HP 3000 models. A customer recently asked about options for data storage on these big systems.

We are looking at using a N-Class system and I’m trying to find out what storage options are available. What kind of disc options are being used out there? I understand that HP does not support EMC storage on the N-Class, but is anyone using it?

Craig Lalley, whose EchoTech consulting firm specializes in putting newer and better storage into 3000 shops, was at the ready with answers.

Continue reading "Storage on the biggest 3000s" »

Advocate: A tired term?

Now that the Connect user group's Web site is up and running, its content and comments are drawing notice here in my office. The group's president Nina Buik, who said in an interview with us at the HP Technology Forum that "advocacy" is being replaced by "community voice," elaborated on the strategy change in her blog at the Connect Web site. She said that many Connect members, including those who manage the HP 3000 replacement platform HP-UX, "have noticed there is no 'tab' marked 'advocacy' on the Connect Web site."

The term voice is important because it’s not Community Rant, Community Scream, or Community Gripe. The culture of Connect is not to be an adversarial watchdog of HP, but rather a positive forum where we can affect positive change to make the products and services we buy from HP even better. It is diplomacy versus combat, it is productive versus destructive.

Continue reading "Advocate: A tired term?" »

Keep poison out of your Internet names

It started out as a bizarre error: I couldn't get Google to appear in my browsers this morning. First there were strange messages about "too long SSL strings" broadcast to the server, and finally the mess devolved into every attempt to hit Google landing me at

This kind of attack could happen to the HP server community without some vendor engineering. The assault is called DNS poisoning, a way to hijack the DNS name resolution services of your system or your Internet Service Provider., after all, couldn't tell me much about the state of DNS poisoning. It's amazing how much we rely on the Google site for searches now.

Even the 3000 NewsWire's search features, for our archive Web site and current news blog, use a Google engine. Not an issue for our readers, most of whom use Windows, which has a patch available. Fixing this became a priority mission for me and my servers. It should be for you too, and HP has concocted a patch to help protect you.

Continue reading "Keep poison out of your Internet names" »

Connect opens up myCommunity

PeoplemapHP user group Connect opened up its portal to the HP enterprise computer community late last week with an introduction of myCommunity, a feature that Connect calls a place that

... mirrors the social networking site launched for HP Technology Forum & Expo 2008, and allows you to find other members with the same interests as you, in the same field as you, and in the same region as you when you use the Community Map.

Connect members receive full access to myCommunity with a username and password which is assigned when they join Connect (Encompass) or contact the organization. The fee for individuals is $50 for a membership which lasts through December 2009. There's even a complimentary membership (for a limited time) with allows you access to myCommunity.

I fleshed out my own profile on the site (you will need the smallest picture of yourself you ever took, at 120x120 pixels) to give my profile some personality, plus three pages of demographics to let the myCommunity software from Leverage Software find matches to my profile. I threw my demographic net pretty wide, but so far haven't come up with a lot of close matches (as you can see above, I'm in the dead center of the circle.) But the site and the community is brand-new. So far, we've got five members of the "Other/HP e3000" group, and two in the SIG Migrate group.

So you could join us in either group and start a discussion, if you're a Connect member.

Continue reading "Connect opens up myCommunity" »

Questions we all want answered

Back in March the Greater Houston RUG hosted the GHRUG International Technology Conference. This was a meeting full of 3000 customers, many of whom were looking for migration justifications, advice, as well as assurances that homesteading had its merits, too.

Just at the finale of the conference, Alan Yeo of ScreenJet and I dreamed up some questions we planned to handle on a roundtable to conclude the conference. Then an HP employee took an extra 40 minutes to explain virtualization on the HP-UX, and these questions went into limbo.

Well, not exactly into limbo, but into my notebook, since they are good questions many 3000 sites either want answered, or can answer from experience. Take this test and see if you can write a couple of sentences for each.

1. What are the biggest mistakes when people are migrating?
2. What do you perceive as the greatest risks in homesteading?

There are eight more, each providing a proving point for a migration choices and pace of your movement, if any, away from the MPE/iX environment.

Continue reading "Questions we all want answered" »

Eloquence: The path of least resistance

This one is for migration sites only, but the story involves an HP 3000 keystone: IMAGE. Your system has come bundled with IMAGE/3000, then TurboIMAGE, then TurboIMAGE XL and iX, since 1976. HP won an award for the database about the time the product was first bundled with every 3000, ranking Number One in a Datamation study.

Oracle was also in the running that year, along with IBM's DB2. SQL Server didn't exist, and neither did Eloquence — although that last database was not very far away from going to work for enterprises like yours.

Out on the 3000 newsgroup, the users and vendors of the community debated the merits of an SQL database versus IMAGE. Migration sites will require something to replace IMAGE. Nothing is a closer match or a better value than Eloquence, although the product did have a few detractors in the online discussion.

Craig Lalley runs an HP 3000/HP 9000 consulting business along with Jeff Kubler (we interviewed Kubler in our last printed issue). Kubler said, based on his field experience with users

Part of the path is convincing management, and that means getting cost approval. While large companies can absorb the cost of Oracle, most small to medium business would choke at the cost. Eloquence is much more cost effective and provides 80 percent of the capabilities of Oracle.

Continue reading "Eloquence: The path of least resistance" »

Preparing for prairie dog pop-ups

Prairiedog Hewlett-Packard canceled its Certified Professional status for HP 3000s earlier this summer. At the most recent HP Technology Forum, user group president Nina Buik of Connect said that HP could only find 21 IT pros who held CP certificates for MPE/iX. No vendor, she reported, would keep a certification program open for so few pros.

There's more to the story, another side that HP 3000 education expert Paul Edwards laid out. HP canceled those 3000 certs for the second time when it was shutting them down this June. Back in 2005, the vendor cut off certifications with little warning. Edwards' efforts and negotiations with Hewlett-Packard's Rich Gossman saved the certs back then.

Why should anyone in the 3000 community care about Certified Professional certification? Even if there were only 60 CP holders with HP 3000 system administrator or HP reseller certs, this is a significant number. Soon, HP 3000 owners will pop their heads out of their cubicles like prairie dogs from holes. They'll wonder where all the expertise has gone and how to find some. In about 22 weeks, HP's 3000 labs will abandon the prairie.

Continue reading "Preparing for prairie dog pop-ups" »

3000 patch fixes repair program

Several years ago, HP updated its 3000 customers to a diagnostic suite called CSTM. The software replaced the SYSDIAG utilities which had served the community for several decades. CSTM put the same diagnostics at hand for both HP-UX and MPE/iX servers. But CSTM needs passwords to run its diagnostics, codes which HP promised to provide to the community, but remain undelivered today.

It's been awhile since that promise (think the Rich Sevcik era, going back into the early 2000s), but this summer CTSM needed a patch to keep working in 2009. Yes, even when HP won't provide but a shadow of its 3000 support, the system diagnostics used by HP CEs, third party supporters and even customers require some updating.

All this brings us to patch ODINX19C, which restores the customer/support provider's ability to access the online diagnostics. HP's notes on the new patch say that the current CSTM password tables will stop working on Jan. 1, 2009 — coincidentally, the same day when HP Support loses its lab facilities for the 3000 and MPE/iX.

Stan Sieler of Allegro Consultants, which supports 3000 customers, confirmed that " the password mechanism was date-sensitive, and had no code for dates past 2009." No matter who's using CSTM, Sieler posed a question about the situation which illustrates HP's continuing role in a 3000 market it claims to be exiting at the end of 2010.

Continue reading "3000 patch fixes repair program" »

HP Certified Pro outsourcing

Hpstore_2 Last week I mentioned my trip to the HP Store at the recent HP Technology Forum. The HP Merchandise store sold branded items — most priced under $50 — to tout Hewlett-Packard and especially the HP Certified Professional status of the wearer or bearer. Things like a simple USB laptop light ($6), or the handsome $155 Barrington Captain's Bag, shown below.

This outreach is part of what a trade conference is all about, why you travel and put up with the flight delays,107-degree heat and lines at the airport taxi stands (25 minutes on a Monday afternoon, I kid you not). Barringtonbag You want to touch that bag to take home a badge honoring and bragging about the HP certification you have earned.

But HP is not in the bag business. It's in the service sector, selling what it sells at the HP Merchandise Store. Where in the world does all this stuff come from? It didn't seem expensive (well, maybe the Captain's bag). So where did HP go to get what it sold in Las Vegas. My current Amex statement revealed all. Everything is outsourced these days, especially marketing.

Continue reading "HP Certified Pro outsourcing" »

MPE shell expands, with explanation

Way back in the middle 1990s HP added the Posix shell to the HP 3000, so customers who had Unix and MPE running in the same shop could train operators and managers with a single set of commands. Posix was a plus, making the 3000 appear more Unix-like (which seemed important at the time).

Over the years, however, Posix has been a feature to be discovered for most 3000 managers and operators. (By the way, the computer's operating system was renamed from MPE/XL to MPE/iX just for this added Posix feature).

But enough history; Posix is still on the 3000 and remains a powerful interface tool, an alternative to the CI interface that HP created for the system. You can even call Posix commands from the CI, a nifty piece of engineering when it can be done. That's not always possible, though. A customer wanted to know how to "expand wildcard shells" using Posix. He tried from the CI and had this story to relate.

ls: File or directory “/BACKUPS/HARTLYNE/S*” is not found

So how do I do this? I need to be able to tell tar to archive all of the reels of a STD STORE set via a regexp.  It does not work in tar, and it apparently does not in ls, so I speculate that there is something special about the innovation of Posix utilities from the CI that I am not aware of. What is it?

Jeff Vance, the 3000 CI guru at while at HP who now develops at K-12 app vendor QSS, had this reply:

   Wildcards on most (all) Unix systems, including Posix implementations, are done by the shell, not the individual programs or in-lined shell commands, like ls in your example. A solution is to run the shell and execute ll from within.

Continue reading "MPE shell expands, with explanation" »

Certifications: No rescue for 3000s

The HP Technology Forum trains IT professionals on HP systems. The meeting also tests those pros who are certified to pre-sell or train on or teach skills about Hewlett-Packard offerings. But HP has decided to test the mettle of HP 3000 experts no more, a decision that the Connect user group president Nina Buik can do nothing to reverse.

Swissarmyhp At the conference she said she "personally went to bat" to get HP to reinstate the certifications, which admittedly are held by fewer than 100 IT pros in your community. Being a  HP Certified Professional is an accomplishment to market, both for HP and for anybody who passes the challenging tests. HP thinks so much of HPCP status that it sold an exclusive line of shirts, caps, jackets and even golf accessory sets in the HP Store at the Forum. You needed a CP badge to buy these materials. The shop was busy.

A seasoned IT manager knows that seeing a shirt or a pen set with an HP training logo assures the company of nothing more than an ability to pass a test once. But the distinction is something more than a resume or the limited references. In a community where the 3000 skills are growing rare, certification could make hiring MPE/iX expertise easier.

Alas, even growing to 50,000 members didn't give the Connect group the clout to turn back HP's choice to end many certifications. HP reported to Buik that only 20 people hold the 3000 certification. As with so many other aspects of Hewlett-Packard decisions that affect the 3000, this was a numbers game the community lost.

Continue reading "Certifications: No rescue for 3000s" »

Migration bias and mainstream visions

Soltisunify Your community can be seen as complacent. Hewlett-Packard knows this about the 3000 customer who will not adopt a new solution for enterprise computing. IBM knows this too, which is why the vendor hot on HP's heels has given up trying to sell a solution most like the HP 3000's integration. Frank Soltis (above) who IBM calls its Chief Scientist, is selling a new "unified" solution to IBM customers.

It's as if HP decided, back in 2001, to sell a server which could be both an HP 9000 and an HP 3000, all at the same time. The vendor finally did this, an offer once called Superdome which now goes by the Integrity name

The unified system is the IBM Power Systems, the System i and System p. It used to be these were two distinct solutions. The System p was a Unix server. The System i ran as what most of your community knows as an AS/400. This year IBM has combined the two systems in a unification. Even that — a server which can operate with Linux, Unix or the AS/400 environment — hasn't removed the complacence from the community.

We have seen some companies who made the transition to these IBM Power systems. Many to the System p, fewer to the System i. Here at the NewsWire we have reported since 2002 on the prospects of an integrated system like the System i to replace the integrated HP 3000s. IBM sees no end to the System i lifespan. HP has announced the end of its HP 3000 business. The distinction makes no difference to the resellers who try to put a System i into a 3000 shop.

Christian Schneider of PIR Group says there's no pain to remain on the 3000. "I believe that the 3000 users are complacent," he said, after more than four years of effort to induce a migration. There is no pain for them to leave."

Continue reading "Migration bias and mainstream visions" »

Join a community, and link in

Nameplate It does not matter if your HP 3000 future lies on the migration or homesteading path. You need to belong. We all do, and it's easier than ever today to join a social networking group to share our lives and what we've learned, as well as make connections to those we'd like to meet.

There's a thicket of options for this out there on the Web. While we wait for the Connect user group to open up its community site, I'd like to invite readers to a group I'm forming up on the Linked In Web site.

Linked In is focused in a way that sites like MySpace will never be — it uses recommendations to connect its members. Joining is free, and from there you can search "HP3000" to find people who know something about the enterprise system you know and have loved.

Facebook is much more fun, of course, and you will find HP3000 comrades there, too. (MB Foster's Birket Foster is especially keen on it these days.) Facebook even has a Fun Wall for its members. Linked In has more than 250 members with HP3000 experience and expertise. You can join up in the new HP 3000 Community on Linked In with a click (and becoming a member.)

Why do this? Linked In is devoted to professional development (jobs and career) and business networking. And no, that's not the IPV6 networking you've been hearing about.

Continue reading "Join a community, and link in" »

The *nix and MPE dance

In a world that invites experiments and mergers, a few developers in the 3000 community have asked if Linux could deliver MPE/iX services on more advanced hardware. This concept is, in theory, a place to run the 3000's environment without any reliance on HP's branded hardware.

It's been done in the past, by Ordina-Denkart. Called MPUX, the solution delivers MPE services while an HP-UX server controls the hardware. MPUX gives HP 3000 applications a place to live other than an HP 3000. It does not pull Linux into the equation, however — so that vendor lock-in of HP's Unix remains in the picture.

But over at K-12 developer QSS, which HP's Jeff Vance and Mark Bixby of 3000 fame have gone to work, there's a great push toward putting Linux on the front line of choices for operating environments.

What services could MPE bring to the Linux experience? Former 3000 NewsWire columnist and current Linux app purveyor Shawn Gordon says

Linux could really benefit from MPE's batch and spool environment. There's virtually nothing other than cron and regular disk files. It's a real pain in the butt and I'm really surprised no one has done something yet.

QSS has done just that with its Linux work, reports founder Duane Percox.

Continue reading "The *nix and MPE dance" »

Euro learning connects all in Fall

Connecteurope Now that the three HP user groups — ITUG, Encompass, and HP-Interex EMEA — have formed up as Connect, the new entity is rebranding and expanding a conference. (Connect officials said at the recent HP Technology Forum that two of the three organizations, including Encompass, ceased to exist in their old names.)

Community Connect Europe 2008 will open up in Mannheim, Germany Nov. 10-12. The meeting has been an ITUG (Tandem/NonStop) event in past years, but Connect is working to expand the content to include all HP Enterprise platforms which HP continues to offer.

The conference organizers are accepting proposals for presentations through Monday, July 21. The event's speaker team wants papers on Linux, blade technology use and strategy, security, business continuity and Service Oriented Architecture.

Probably more importantly to the HP 3000 customer, the meeting will deliver instruction and advice on the above topics, some of which may be emerging technology choices to even a veteran IT manager.

Continue reading "Euro learning connects all in Fall" »

Migration consternation: Back support fees

There might be more customers who don't have to remain on HP 3000s if vendors such as Cognos didn't change so much to upgrade. While that's been the story of consensus in the 3000 community for years, even PowerHouse users in other environments are getting back-payment pain while they try to remain a hostage to the language.

Up on the PowerHouse newsgroup, an OpenVMS consultant said his client was quoted $4,115 Canadian dollars for five extra licenses on a server. The client dropped PowerHouse support in 2004, since they'd never used support in five years of owning the language. The real sticking point comes when Cognos, now owned by IBM, demands back support fees for a chance to sell those five licenses. Etienne Rompre said

The license price is okay for five users, but they also said that I need to get back on support for two years back and one year forward for an additional $9,900 CAD. So for five additional users, this sums up to $14,015 or $2,800 per user. At this rate, even Microsoft licenses seem cheap.

Many a HP 3000 site faced with this kind of pricing will find a way to step away from PowerHouse. Core Migration uses both Java and Microsoft's .NET framework to liberate customers from this kind of business practice. After all, vendor lock-in is so 1980s. And the new Cognos ownership has apparently changed nothing about this kind of pricing practice.

Continue reading "Migration consternation: Back support fees" »

Going cold turkey, coming on board

Some stay, and some just have arrived. After Gary Sielaff told the community he was about to unplug his HP 3000 — and was preparing to hear screams from users about the replacement Windows system's Blue Screen of Death — a new user asked about basic database backup.

I just started learning an HP 3000 — I guess we are going in different directions. I have an HP 3000 connected to an Win32 IIS box. How would I go about backing up the database before I go running DOALL commands?

Matt Perdue replied:

Start out by doing a test:


This should backup all the files in the PUB group of the account you're logged in currently and if it works will prove your version of STORE can do a store to disc backup. If it doesn't work do: :FILE STORFILE;DEV=TAPE :STORE @.PUB;*STORFILE;SHOW and the operator (perhaps you) will have to put a tape in and respond to the tape request on the console.

Substitute the "@.PUB" for the database name (e.g. [email protected] if your database is named ARDB and it's in the DATA group) and store your database to either disc or tape.

Continue reading "Going cold turkey, coming on board" »

Tools to help embrace .NET

Micro Focus, the company which owns two of the three leading COBOL solutions for migrating 3000 shops, announced a new product today that expands the capabilities of its .NET offerings.

.NET has become a popular framework-cum-strategy for the migrating 3000 community. DB-Net, one of the longest-standing migration companies in the 3000 space, specializes in .NET. So does Core Migration as it carries PowerHouse users into the world of Windows servers.

The Micro Focus Net Express with .NET is getting updates to Net Express and Server Express, according to the MF press release.  Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 can now be used a tool for developing COBOL applications, according to Micro Focus.

Using a combination of strong COBOL compatibility and innovative language enhancements, enterprises can reuse existing COBOL assets across the enterprise, while also extending them into the .NET Framework. Developers can now build programs more efficiently, delivering greater business agility as IT departments can meet business needs at a faster pace. This will increase software developers’ productivity, freeing up more resource to develop further projects.

Continue reading "Tools to help embrace .NET" »

Something new mixes up data

Over the weekend, a new resource to encrypt 3000 data poked into the community's picture.

Brian Donaldson posted a message onto the 3000 Internet newsgroup, to tease readers with a few details about new software for the 3000.

We now have an application available that will allow users to encrypt data items. Uses the industry standard AES256 technology.

Adheres to TurboIMAGE rules --

  • Automatics are excluded form the app
  • Key items in manual master datasets cannot be encrypted.
  • Search/sort items in detail sets linked to manual masters cannot be encrypted

With security near the top of everyone's concerns, encryption is a hot item in current IT strategies. Orbit Software sells the AES256 level. One supplier to the Ecometry e-commerce user base sells an encryption solution, too.

Continue reading "Something new mixes up data" »

Celebrate Independence Now

Fireworks Today in the United States, we celebrate Independence Day by vacationing from work, driving cars on some of least expensive gasoline in the world, and reflecting, between fireworks' starbusts, how lucky we are to choose.

Although July 4th is a distinctly US holiday, a British friend of mine says it's the UK's independence day, too — as in, "We're rid of that dysfunctional colony once and for all."

Think for a moment, if you're reading this on the holiday or the days that follow, the items you can celebrate leaving behind while you continue your use of the HP 3000.

You are independent from inflexible pricing on 3000 support (what non-HP entities could compete when HP was in the market in a serious way?), as well as the need for HP-branded storage. Plenty of SCSI disks will work with 3000s without bearing the HP badge. The SCSI pass-through driver will embrace even more, once the software is applied to the task by the community's experts.

Continue reading "Celebrate Independence Now" »

HP helps 3000 open source effort

Hewlett-Packard's contribution to open source software on the 3000 has been profound since the late 1990s. That's when the vendor added Java to the operating environment subsystems and began to ensure that fundamentals like Samba were included in the 3000's toolset.

But one of the more significant — and perhaps final — contributions from HP to the 3000 community's open source users showed up about a month or so before the recent HP Technology Forum. HP posted an open source porting white paper, using Samba as its example, as a guide to porting programs to MPE/iX.

HP community liaison Craig Fairchild notes the paper that covers Samba/iX 3.0.22 "is intended to serve multiple purposes; to help specifically with any future Samba ports, and to help generally with other open source porting efforts."

Continue reading "HP helps 3000 open source effort" »

Create PDF files from 3000 output

Last year we updated the abilities of the Sanface Software solution to create PDF files out of HP 3000 output. But there are other ways and tools to do this, a task that's become essential to sharing data reports between HP 3000s and the rest of the world's computers.

On the HP 3000 newsgroup, a veteran 3000 developer asked,

Has anyone any experience involving taking a file in an output queue and creating a PDF version of it?

"We use text2pdf v1.1 and have not had any problems since we installed it in October 2001," says Robert Mills of Pinnacle Entertainment. "I have e-mailed a copy of this utility and our command file to 27 people. Never knew that so many sites wanted to generate PDFs from their 3000s."

The program is a good example of 3000 source code solutions. This one was created as far back as the days of MPE/iX 6.0, a system release which HP has not supported since 2005.

Continue reading "Create PDF files from 3000 output" »

Connect through a social app

Connectcommunity HP's enterprise users group, Connect, showed a peek at its new online social networking site during the recent HP Technology Forum. Designed by social networking software company Leverage Software, will help users — mostly Connect members — connect and find each other based on common interests and experience.

On the expo floor, Connect staff was helping attendees see what the site will offer when it goes live in the coming weeks. The member's profile icon stands at the center of a circle, with icons of other members around it at differing distances. The closer the member's icon is to yours, the more they have in common. (Click on the screen shot at left to see more detail on the interface.)

Filling in a profile on the site gives the proximity and similarity data to the application. There are even opportunities to tell the site that your interest is in MPE/iX.

Continue reading "Connect through a social app" »