HP offers partly cloudy futures
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3000 keeping its beat at daily newspaper

PioneerPress Even in the face of last month's layoffs in the newsroom of the St. Paul, Minn. Pioneer Press, an HP 3000 installed there keeps on reporting on revenues.

Although the newspaper business is embroiled in change this year, a leading daily paper for the Twin Cities is still using software developed for the HP 3000. An advertising system which was sold off-the-shelf by Collier-Jackson continues to track the paper's subscriptions and newsstand sales.

Linda Roatch, a former HP user group director, checked in and reported on the 3000's status. "We do have a 3000 in house that still runs our circulation system," Roatch said. "I'm the Advertising Systems Manager. I'm not involved with the 3000, but I believe it's the Collier-Jackson circulation system from long ago, one that we've highly customized and haven't upgraded in years."

Newspapers represented a healthy market for the HP 3000 in the decade that led to HP's exit announcement. Collier-Jackson was a newspaper software vendor once large enough to mount its own user group conference, a meeting of several days during that decade. Collier-Jackson was sold in 1994 from Compuserve to GEAC, a Canadian company which was acquired by ERP and business software vendor Infor. Infor has made acquiring legacy software a business mantra.

An application bought off the shelf and fine-tuned for a business's processes is a classic element in 3000 homesteading. ERP users operate in the same kind of shop, customizing apps such as MANMAN or MM II/eXegysys to adapt to business changes. Infor owns MANMAN as well as the Collier-Jackson assets.

Roatch did duty on the Interex user group board and worked as an independent consultant from her Minnesota base. She says she's moved on to working with Sun and Oracle in another section of the paper, which recently laid off nine more employees from its 138-person newsroom. It's a struggling business like so many other newspapers, but it's holding its own while it holds onto its HP 3000.

"I'm responsible for the project management, support and development of software used by Advertising," Roatch said. "I've not worked on the HP 3000 for almost four years. The software I support runs on Sun servers and an Oracle DB, and I'm pretty removed from the hardware and database support stuff."