OpenMPE keeps knocking on HP's door
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Keeping up links to 3000 info

Freshair The Web is well-known for dead links, those Web addresses which return nothing but a "404 Not Found" message, or something more clever from some providers. The HP 3000 has been the subject of Web information for so long that its Web links bear some scrutiny these days, when parts of your ecosystem can go dormant. Some of the older information is on HP's Jazz Web server, where one dated page shows us how much has changed since the start of the century. (We'd like to see more "Not Found" pages like the comic one at left, an effort to spark vacating the chair in front of the keyboard.)

At a Web page titled "How to get HPe3000 information online, there's a good top half of the page with instructions on how to subscribe to the HP 3000 newsgroup/mailing list. But once you read beyond the link to 3k Associates' e3000 FAQ, the links get spotty. It begins with a reference to the HP e3000 Answer Line, an experiment hosted by the now-defunct user group Interex.

Another casualty that lingers in HP reference page is the 3kworld site, a venture started by Client Systems in the months before Y2K. 3kworld didn't outlive HP's first announced end of support date — but a major portion of its material was supplied by the NewsWire, so much of what was online is still available.

Perhaps a greater loss, still listed on the HP page, is the pair of e3000 vendor lists, and the HP 3000 vendor directory maintained by Triolet Systems' founder Brian Duncombe. Of the former we know too much; SolutionStore was a NewsWire venture of the 1990s, until a Web provider went dark with all data. Duncombe checked in with a similar outcome for his labors, but his information survives at OpenMPE.

Duncombe did a cleaner exit than we managed with SolutionStore. He contributed the source of his vendor listings to OpenMPE last year at the request of director Donna Hofmeister and Webmaster John Dunlop.

The remains of the list are still online at the great Tech Wiki created by 3k's Chris Bartram, who still tends to the server hosting the archived articles of the 3000 NewsWire 1996-2005. You can look through a list by vendor category or vendor name at the HP 3000 Twiki site. Even update an entry, if you're so inclined to help.

Duncombe, who started his project in the 1990s and maintained it for nearly a decade, wrote several popular performance utilities for the HP 3000 during the 1980s and '90s. He then had to wage a lawsuit campaign against a series of companies to get paid for his most popular product, and finally prevailed several years ago after what seemed like a decade of court jousting and delays. Of his vendor list, cross-indexed and including hundreds of companies, Duncombe said

I was never able to generate more than an infinitely small interest in vendors keeping me up to date. The majority of the vendor list was generated by me from materials that I picked up at conferences or e-mail references. Most updates were likewise generated by me, although some were as a result of a complaint about inaccurate information by a user, and my [subsequent] research into the specific item. It was a labor of love that I had to end when I stopped going to conferences.

Google quickly finds Adager, Flexibase, RAC, QTP, MPE/iX 6.5, and so forth. The cross-referencing by subject was useful in my vendor list, but my suggestion [to OpenMPE] was that it is not worth the effort.

The path of my pursuit in this update of Web links turns out to be circular. I located that HP Web page that sports long-dead links (Interex expired three years ago) by searching with Google. To be precise, though, the HP page turned up in a search using Google Minus Google, an engine built around Google's that eliminates results from Google's Web sites like Blogger, YouTube and Knol.

As Duncombe says, Google turns out to be a great way to find HP 3000 vendors who you already know by name. He's retired from his labors to found a chapter of Habit for Humanity, volunteering as well as "keeping busy getting back into photography and woodworking. I still lurk on [the 3000 mailing list] and see the messages from those still on the platform. I understand that for a small company that is perfectly happy with MPE, it is difficult to migrate, and that is a business decision that can be taken with the known facts."