« January 2010 | Main | March 2010 »

February 26, 2010

Newest year evokes freshest tender mercies

NewsWire Editorial

    After reporting migration plans for eight years, we are preparing to migrate my mom Ginny. She lived in Las Vegas for the last two decades, but at 84 her health demands closer connection with our family. Next month she makes a transition to Toledo, the town where she grew up and now returns to regain health -- and reclaim constant contact with loved ones.

    It's going to require extra spending and careful revision of her life's details to return mom to her home town. My brother and sister and I have talked about it for years, perhaps using the same kind of language your community used to address migration off your HP 3000s. “It will need to happen eventually. But it's still working for now,” we'd say about her independent lifestyle. She was happy to rule the roost of her life. Mom hit age 80 with enough spark to dance all the way through the Beatles' They Say It's Your Birthday, onstage at an Irish pub where we arranged a birthday bash.

    But four years later, her gait is ruled by a walker and her laundry is no longer a manageable chore. The retreat in her ability has been swift over the past six months, sudden as a seized-up drive or a user group going bust over a weekend. When people straddle their ninth decade of life, every morning feels like a gift. Though the end of life summons deep grief from us, it doesn't spark as much surprise.

    That same kind of acceptance and understanding swept over your community eight years ago. The months after HP's plan for the death of its 3000 business brought out hindsight about the vigor of the vendor's resolve to sell the computer. In human terms, a system just on the verge of its fourth decade of life looked like an octogenarian to some. To others, the economic support from HP and investment from independent developers “was working for now.”

   But now is the final February your community concerns itself with HP's 3000 affairs. Like the 71-year-old company that it is, the decline of the Hewlett-Packard that cultivated its own miracles and wonder grew more evident with each quarter. The operating environment that has been the bedrock for 3000 success, MPE and IMAGE, will gain a second life in 41 weeks. MPE/iX is making a transition back to its birthplace for some quiet and happy years among its creators.

  Of course, I'm not talking about Hewlett-Packard, which still owns the rights to improve MPE/iX, seemingly forever on a timetable of never. The retreat for this heartbeat of the 3000 is into the hands of computer experts in their 50s and 60s, the people who pushed along the growth of a great invention: engineers, developers and dedicated customers. Most of the HP creative team behind MPE has long since left the buildings in Cupertino. It will all be gone before long, although a few independent-thinking engineers like Cathlene Mc Rae will remain online, until they take their own retirements.

    The independents of support companies and software firms and hardware doctors will look after that heartbeat more closely soon enough, just like my brother and sister in Toledo will attend to mom's needs in their visits to a nursing home. The average age at one such facility is 82. The average age of 3000 advocates and caretakers is probably 30 years less. We all age every day, those who give birth as well the offspring they create and grow.

    HP has grown away from its roots while it has grown up its customers' independence. Today it's easier than ever to sever ties with technology from your vendor -- once you have made a transition away from the proprietary miracles like MPE, like OpenVMS, yes, even like HP-UX. Big system vendors see little motive to nurture such unique products. Maybe the 3000's end at HP will teach the vendor some lessons about hospice.

    Mom will be better off back home. She'll have daily visits from my siblings and her grandkids, gentler accommodations than the desert digs she scratched out in Vegas, transportation from folks she helped create, instead of taxis. Her mail is delivered indoors. Social activity is just down the railing-assisted hallway.

    And when there is another health challenge, people with the heartfelt affection of family will help nurse mom through it, no matter how somber it may turn out to be. Maybe MPE will gain the same kind of ground, a safer spot than a product which is no longer patched or packaged, lingering in limbo until HP turns off its accounts that receive support checks from you.

    Homesteading customers in your community - counting the interim ones, many more than HP and its partners believe - might have received a better hospice from HP for its 3000 life than restricted source code licensing. The high road of protecting your investment could have trumped those legal blinders which limit now limit MPE source to reference-only use. Nobody knows how long the terms of that transfer will matter to customers. Nobody has illusions about Ginny beating the reaper like she beat that tambourine to the Beatles four years ago. Whatever is left can be as healthy as possible, with her safety more certain now that care is nearby and constant.

    My family is making a migration to more peace of mind about mom. Your family of community is arranging the same safety. That kind of peace, ready for a future of undetermined years, is what support companies and non-profits like OpenMPE aim to deliver. And if there's more dancing with the tambourine left in your community, you can count on your family to usher it onstage. HP might see an end of life at the end of this year. It is likely to be surprised at the vision of the Interim Era, where tender healthcare comes straight from your devoted hearts.

04:59 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 25, 2010

Drive to free MPE wraps with read-only code

After eight years of work, the 3000 community will be receiving the long-sought MPE/iX source code in 2010. Yesterday users of the computer learned from Hewlett-Packard which organizations are receiving a license to read — but not modify — source for the operating system and database that drives the HP 3000. Adager, Pivital Solutions, Allegro Consultants, Beechglen Development, Neil Harvey & Associates, Ordat, OpenMPE and Terix were named by the vendor as license holders for source.

HP isn't releasing all of the parts of MPE/iX. Some of the operating system's functions cannot be included, since independent companies licensed elements to HP like the Mentat streaming faculty or the MKS Posix shell. All of the programming that drives every HP 3000 environment, written in languages such as Modcal, SPL and other esoteric dialects, cannot be modified or extended by any of the seven source licensees.

The licenses open up the internal workings of MPE/iX and TurboIMAGE, even if they fall short of the drive launched in 2002 by OpenMPE for open source version of MPE/iX. The license for read-only access is the best that HP will offer. The application and approval process took 15 months from HP's 2008 announcement that it would review applicants. Within a few weeks the code will arrive on a DVD, considering the size of the transfer, at offices across the US, Europe, and South Africa. The next step will be to verify what HP is sending and understand the potential of those parts, a task that presents the first challenge for a licensee to make the source useful.

Documentation on the source remains an element that no party has discussed in public. During 2007, OpenMPE worked with HP to help test the ability to build MPE/iX releases, but those efforts were preliminary. HP cut off the collaboration short of OpenMPE’s goals, which were to see if an independent entity could manage to cut a fresh release of MPE/iX without HP assistance.

But even if Hewlett-Packard curtailed that experiment with independents, HP has reached into the pool of licensees in the past for help in creating and maintaining elements of MPE.

One licensee, Allegro Consultants, has performed projects for HP to create IMAGE/SQL features released over the last 10 years. When Hewlett-Packard was still making improvements to the 3000 source, such outside engineering was commonplace, but also protected under confidential disclosure agreements. Any outside contractors would obviously have documentation at hand to understand that section of the source.

Adager Corporation, whose products have been on HP's corporate price list for decades, has worked closely with HP's TurboIMAGE labs over the years to resolve data corruption failures that could impact tens of thousands of companies. The most recent corruption bug was documented first in Adager's labs, which has also worked with the vendor to test large-scale repairs to TurboIMAGE.

Many of these companies acknowledge that the source licenses may turn out to be more symbolic than ground-breaking. Technical experts in the community such as Adager and Allegro say that MPE/iX source might be useful in resolving problems with IMAGE/SQL or 3000 bugs. Nobody will know until the code is in the labs of licensees. And HP has been clear that using the source code before next year is a breach of the license agreement.

About the only action that is certain to take place is that HP will release source code this spring. News of the licensee schedule emerged after the vendor wanted to see a November NewsWire article disappear which updated the OpenMPE license funding drive.

Jennie Hou, the final e3000 business manager before HP closed up its development labs around this time last year, commented on a NewsWire blog post to add information about the release of license holder names. That Nov. 19 story updated the fundraising drive that OpenMPE is pushing to come up with the money for the license.

“HP is working with multiple third parties who wish to procure from HP the read-only source code license for MPE/iX and TurboIMAGE/XL to provide system-level technical support services,” Hou said in her comment to our article. “HP intends to publish the names of the approved licensees in the first quarter of 2010 on the www.hp.com/go/e3000 Web site.”

The balance of that message reminded 3000 owners that there are many places to procure support for an HP 3000 when HP leaves the community on Dec. 31. The source code has the potential to be an asset that those independent support providers can use — if they honor HP’s terms.

“Customers will have multiple options for MPE/iX assistance after HP exits the Worldwide Support business on December 31, 2010,” Hou stated in her comment. “Regardless of when the announcement of licensees takes place, they will not be able to use the MPE/iX source code in the delivery of system-level technical support until January 1, 2011.”

Although the fee for the license has not been leaked by any applicants, discussion at the recent e3000 Community Meet indicates it’s a five-figure expense.

It’s unclear how HP would be able to determine if any third party company was already using the read-only source code to deliver support services. In the publishing business we sometimes use “seeding” of names in a licensed use of a subscriber list — so if an issue of a publication arrives with a special name on the label  that includes a middle initial, we know who’s used it.

HP will more likely rely on the integrity of the licensees rather than actual monitoring of support solutions from the independent firms. While the corporation’s intellectual property arm HPDC is rigorous about intellectual property infringements, this kind of support solution policing would be nearly impossible without voluntary reviews of third parties’ support fixes and workarounds.

That kind of review might be contained in the terms of the license — information that HP has not revealed, and has no plans to share.

In addition to the source having no guarantee of being a useful tool, community members have raised concerns that there’s no provisions for source code licensees to share information about what they learn.

HP made the communication provisions clear when it revealed its intentions about source licenses more than a year ago. It did not factor in any coordination requirement among licensees. Making any licensee’s patches consistent among the community’s sites is up to the licensees.

“We won’t be imposing any kind of organizational structure on the community in terms of how they choose to operate,” said Mike Paivinen, an ex-HP engineer working on contract for HP on the project in 2008. “We’re going to be creating agreements between us and individual companies."

10:00 AM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 24, 2010

HP announces source code licensees

The usual suspects — leaders among the HP 3000 development and support communities — made up the list of MPE/iX source code licensees announced today. One developer of 3000 database utilities, suppliers of healthcare and ERP applications, four independent resources for HP 3000 and MPE/iX support, and the OpenMPE advocacy group filled the list of companies who will receive read-only access to most parts of the 3000's operating system source.

Adager and Ordat -- the latter a European supplier of IMAGE wrapper technology and ERP systems, the former the market leader in IMAGE tools -- were among the software development companies, along with healthcare application supplier Neil Harvey & Associates. Pivital Solutions, Allegro Consultants, Beechglen Development and Terix will employ the source code in support of their HP 3000 customers who use non-HP service. And OpenMPE Inc., the advocacy group which plans to build patches for sale to the support companies, is also receiving a license for the source to MPE/iX and TurboIMAGE/XL.

The licenses will deliver code that cannot be used in the marketplace until January, 1, 2011, the first day that HP will no longer offer HP 3000 support services. HP described the read-only licenses as a means for "delivery of system-level technical support." It also termed the holders of these licenses "HP e3000 End-of-Life Licensees," a curious description that made one last attempt to define the end of 2010 as the end of the 3000 -- when all that's happening is HP is leaving the marketplace.

The HP announcement also included a note on the companies which can distribute the HP 3000 documentation as of the start of next year. Speedware and Client Systems will be able to let the community download manuals and HP Communicator issues hosted today at the docs.hp.com site.

HP reiterated the few terms that it has made public in these confidential license agreements, using a posting at its e3000 Web page.

Hewlett-Packard announced in 2008 that they would create a limited number of fee-based source code licenses that will allow third parties to use MPE/iX source code as reference material for providing technical support to HP e3000 customers, where technical support includes investigating problems, developing workarounds, and creating instruction-level, binary patches. The license is targeted at those third parties whose business model is to provide technical support on HP e3000 products. HP worked with interested parties and we are pleased to announce the HP e3000 End-Of-Life Licensees.

As always, this announcement does not reflect a change in HP's continued strong recommendation that customers proceed immediately with planning and implementing transitions off the e3000. However, we recognize that some customers may still need some level of MPE/iX support after HP exits the HP e3000 Support business on December 31, 2010. Thereafter, customers will have multiple options for MPE/iX assistance by contacting the applicable source code licensees.

Client Systems and Speedware were also the only companies listed who can host HP's content from the former Jazz server for freeware and shareware tools. OpenMPE was not listed as a resource for Jazz programs. Speedware was the only company listed who's hosting HP's MPE/iX training materials for migration.

07:42 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Redundant resources recover reels of data

TapeDriveOpen Many HP 3000 customers have been using their systems so long that their data archives include reels of tape. Plenty of these sites have mothballed their open-reel tape devices, such as the HP 7980, long ago. This artifact of lengthy 3000 service poses a problem: what if the answer to a query lies on storage media you can't read onsite anymore?

Moving data forward onto newer media is a constant task for enterprise IT operations and business critical computing. Even the DAT tapes of the prior decade are looking aged by 2010, and DAT didn't ever have the data reliability that reel tapes exhibited from the 70s onwards. The 3000 community counts on multiple resources to make that data migrate onto newer media.

Ted Johnson at Wake Forest University noticed more than 10 years worth of important data in his shop and started looking for a service supplier to migrate it. "We have over a decade of W-2 information sitting on this media that we have no method of reading," he said. "We'd like to get the information onto a CD or DVD." All 15 tapes' worth of data would fit on a single CD or DVD, Johnson figured.

The single best place to look for this kind of service is at reeltapetransfer.com, a Web page operated by Keven Miller, who consults for 3000 sites from his 3k Ranger company. It's $25 a reel to convert to raw ASCII for moving to a newer medium. But Miller, who once worked on the development team for HP's MM II ERP software, also includes links to other 3000 service companies who migrate data away from reels.

Allegro Consultants also has tape recovery services on offer, a link that Miller is happy to share from reeltapetransfer.com. (Allegro's services include some insider knowledge of the 3000's STORE format to help extract data from problem tapes, as well as troubled disks.) Mark Ranft's Pro 3k consultancy also performs this kind of data transfer.

Migrations can start in many places, from older 3000 hardware to newer models, or at an operating environment level where the application code remains largely unchanged using the AMXW emulation suite from Speedware. The Support Group will migrate a 3000 system out of your datacenter and into theirs, so the management and maintenance of a 3000 becomes TSGi's work. But at the most basic level, archived data needs to keep moving to supported media, regardless of what environment you've built your IT around.

The redundant nature of this kind of service is typical of the 3000 community. The IT pros who take care of data from the 20th Century understand the belt-plus-suspenders kind of practices that generated backups that are still sound enough to restore more than a decade later -- so long as the media has been kept up to date.

01:27 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 23, 2010

HP promises Tukwila Integrity boxes by May

In a Connect Webcast many of you may have missed, an HP marketing manager for HP-UX predicted the vendor will have Integrity servers powered by the new Tukwila chips available by May.

MJ Vazquez, the HP-UX and OpenVMS Marketing Manager, told user group members that the processor scheduled to roll out of Intel fab foundries this spring will launch a new line of Integrity systems before summer.

"HP will ship products based on that chip within three months of the Intel announcement," Vazquez said in a January HP-UX briefing. Intel announced it completed Tukwila in the first week of February, so a 90-day window would yield the newest HP systems before the end of May.

Integrity systems have taken the lead in HP's Unix server sales to HP 3000 migration customers. The Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges project is being built around Integrity servers, rather than the PA-RISC-powered rp line that's so common in the migrated sites to date.

Vazquez showed a roadmap for HP-UX during the Webcast, one whose audio Connect's user group members can hear at the group's Web site. (Be warned: The Webcast's slides run only in Windows Media Player, and you will need to visit the Citrix Web site to ensure you've got the needed G2M3 codec loaded to see the slides. Such is the result of using GoToMeeting for a Webcast.) She reported that the Gabriel Consulting Group recently surveyed "the customers of all the top vendors... and Unix is rated as the strategic high-end platform."

That survey result will reinforce the platform choice for sites making a migration to HP-UX. A report from the group appeared at the CTO Edge Web site, authored by Gabriel's founder Dan Olds. The article is worth a look to see what questions were being asked of IT managers the group surveyed last year. Olds summed up the role of Unix by acknowledging that x86 systems, such as HP's ProLiant line, have overtaken much of the less critical computing needs. But systems such as HP-UX, still run the larger enteprises, he asserts.

Unix systems are typically the backbone of most mid-sized and larger data centers. Our results consistently tell us that Unix boxes are a critical component of medium-sized and large data centers, and that the pundits who regularly predict the operating system's demise are – well – just wrong.

Olds adds that 91 percent of the companies surveyed call Unix a mission-critical component of their enterprise and "close to 70 percent of participants report their use of Unix is growing."

HP's most recent sales figures for its Integrity line appear to push back on the optimism in Gabriel's survey. The Business Critical Systems unit reported another consecutive quarter of declining revenues, so maybe the installed base is keeping the Unix flame burning at HP.

"Based on the survey, we can see that more customers are looking at Unix as their strategic high-end platform," said HP's Vazquez. "They expect to buy more and larger Unix systems, and are expecting to put larger application loads on their systems."

11:42 AM in Migration, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 22, 2010

Fresh sparks sought for OpenMPE's flame

There was a time when OpenMPE's logo was fraught with flames. That was back in the fiery days of blue-sky hope for bold action to help HP 3000 homesteaders, the years of 2002-2005 when the group was meeting once every two weeks and more, while talks were active between HP and the group's advocates.

Back in those yesterdays, this stubborn band of volunteers knew about your tomorrows. HP thought the community's migration would be so swift that 2007 would be the year we all looked back on our 3000s. Not even HP could manage to keep up with that schedule. OpenMPE knew there would be more afterlife than expected, because of the unexpected: government regulations, disappointing software, unforeseen audits, budget crunches, failed rewrites.

The list of things that OpenMPE has prepared HP to face goes on and on, like the list of the community members who've served on the group's board since 2002. Now that the final year of HP activity is upon the 3000 market, OpenMPE mounts an election for its board once more, starting next week.

The most important week for the group's leadership is this week, however. You can apply to run in the 2010 election with an e-mail to director Tracy Johnson. Until Thursday night, applications are still open for candidates to fill five board seats. Jack Connor of Abtech and Keith Wadsworth of Orbit Software are in the running so far, along with two incumbents. These contributors of time are often the election winners.

Widely-contested elections for OpenMPE's board seats ended in 2007, unless you count the seven candidates running for six positions in 2008. The 2009 voting became a process to ratify candidates, since the number of slots equaled the number of open seats.

But a serious group of some of the best HP 3000 minds have served on an OpenMPE board. There's been vendor representation of directors from MB Foster, Ecometry, Pivital Solutions, Genesis Total Solutions, Lund Performance Solutions, Strobe Data, Speedware -- even HP, when Jeff Vance held a board seat for a few years. In all, we counted 24 individuals who volunteered their communication skills, programming efforts, Webmaster skills, fundraising and lobbying of Hewlett-Packard since January 2002, when Jon Backus formed the group.

There's also been tech gurus, a former Interex director, seasoned consultants to the community, customers of more than three decades, and even a member who doesn't own or operate an HP 3000. Tony Tibbenham is a current director with a formerly operative 3000 at his UK site. The board has been nothing if not creative in casting its net for help.

The active history of the group, as told by its minutes, is complete only through 2008 at the OpenMPE Web site. Once HP shuttered its labs and ramped down its liaison activities in 2009, meetings became less weighted with impact. And yet, here in the ninth year of OpenMPE activity, there's something at great stake in 2010 for an advocate to direct while serving on the board. An OpenMPE source code license is on the bubble for OpenMPE, the prize the group formed to win once HP announced its departure.

OpenMPE once couldn't see a role for itself if that source code couldn't be modified. In June of 2004, the group considered four levels of license including read-only access, and noted "We could not see that OpenMPE would have any role here" in a read-only scenario. But times have changed along with HP's license terms. OpenMPE is not the only entity to be applying for a read-only copy of the source.

There's one seat certain to be open in this year's election. Donna Garverick Hofmeister, who's served since 2003, resigned her position late last year after six years of intense work for the group. Other than chairman Birket Foster, Hofmeister was the longest-tenured director at OpenMPE.

Other directors whose seats are up for re-election are John Wolff (current co-chair), Matt Perdue (current treasurer), Tracy Johnson (current secretary) and Walter Murray. Johnson posted a note a few weeks ago in seeking candidates that explains you only have to be a member of the group (free) to commit to volunteer for the community:

If you would like to be a candidate, please send an e-mail expressing your desire to seek election along with a brief discussion of your qualifications. There is only one requirement for becoming a BoD member (aside from being a member of OpenMPE) -- a commitment of time. The BoD generally meets bi-weekly and the participation of the entire board is critical.

2010 is going to be the first year that serious funding -- well, five figures' worth -- changes hands under the OpenMPE logo, should the group get a source license. The source code, if it arrives, will be the first tangible asset to share and preserve. If you've been waiting for something material to prompt your involvement, even though HP has dropped its discussions with the board, now looks like the best time yet to share your talents and time.

And if you're wondering who's been leading the group to this point, here's a list of those two dozen hardy advocates whose shoulder has been against the MPE wheel:

Jon Backus, Birket Foster, Christian Lheureux, Ken Sletten, Ted Ashton,  Mark Klein, Jeff Vance, John Marrah, Chris Miller, Steve Suraci, Paul Edwards, Ron Horner, Matt Perdue, Alan Tibbets, John Burke, Chuck Ciesinski, Bill Lancaster, Jennifer Fisher, Tony Tibbenham, Anne Howard, John Wolff, Tracy Johnson, Walter Murray, and Donna Garverick Hofmeister.

07:26 PM in History, Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 19, 2010

3000 community, let's go to press

February 2010 print Just an hour ago, my partner Abby delivered the 138th issue of The 3000 NewsWire from the printer. We hurry up the delivery of this newsletter carried through the postal service, trying to put the freshest stories in our readers' hands by sometime next week. We still believe in the concept of a printed newsmagazine, even as the world defines journalism with new delivery conduits like tablets and smartphones.

Simply for the asking, you can receive your own printed copy of this February issue, compete with a roundup of the open source license campaigns, details of the massive migration in Washington state of 28 HP 3000s, even the editorial and Wide World of Web columns. All these haven't been posted here on the blog, not yet. We still believe in delivering some news and analysis by print first.

We believe in it because Abby and I started our lives in the printed publication era, she in magazines and I in newspapers. The glossy and newsprint worlds ran on different clocks than today's post-and-read today timetable (this blog) or the immediate feeds of Twitter tweets or social network messages. Even in 1996, though, we'd send an Online Extra with fresh news out once a month by e-mail. Digital delivery has been a part of our process since the 1995 launch of the NewsWire.

Why bother with print anymore, you might ask? The experience of settling in with a printed magazine or newsletter is unlike anything you will ever see in an iPhone app, off a Zinio Web site, or even on an Apple iPad sometime this year or next. Print invites you to immerse yourself in a story, while it erases the digital distractions.

Our print edition won't ring while you're reading it, or report that its battery is low, or beep at you to remind you of a fresh e-mail, tweet or Web page update. You get to focus on print, a skill that our readers have polished long ago. Short attention spans and wandering are for the Web and the like. A printed news source keeps you engaged on the page, until you decide to turn it.

There is a lot of weight being thrown behind digital delivery of journalism, and with good reason. The new economics of bypassing print, or tapping new audiences with the likes of the iPad, empowers independent voices and starts to level the state of play among publishers. Design remains important, maybe even more so, while you transmit an issue of Esquire or Wired to an iPhone or an iPad. (The former is already arrived, while the latter is expected to debut this summer.)

But design alone is only a part of the toolbox to tell a tale. The experience of reading off paper with ink is a sensual one, something no tablet is going to match in emotional impact. Most of us grew up reading paper to learn and see stories. Digital devices, no matter how sleek and interactive, won't sound the claxon call of news the same way that staples, glue and ink can when applied to paper.

Last week I came back from Macworld Expo 2010 with a relationship renewed. On the show floor of a 20,000-attendee conference I reconnected with Hal Goldstein, the man who founded The Portable Paper in the 1980s that tracked HP's first portable computer community. "Even after HP cancelled it," he said of the HP 110, "we had readers and sponsors and a marketplace. The aftermarket was healthy."

HP-110-portable This year Goldstein is publishing iPhone Life, a magazine printed quarterly about the most advanced mobile device of today. The iPhone owes so much to the innovations of the HP 110, even though the Hewlett-Packard device only boasted a 16-line screen and weighed 8.5 pounds. HP loaded it with its Memomaker word processor and Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet, much like Apple ensures there's a mail client, Web browser and more shipped with the iPhone. The 110 even had a RAM disk, way ahead of its time and a lot like the multi-gig memory storage of the iPhone. Like the HP 3000, the HP 110 was abandoned by Hewlett-Packard long before the user base left the computer. It was innovative and at $2,995, a remarkable value for an era where a Compaq "luggable" was 25 pounds and built in a metal case.

The 3000 NewsWire owes a lot to The Portable Paper, because it was a simple black-ink newsletter, stapled in its spine, full of user and vendor reports and founded on the attraction of good content. Glossy, photo-jammed publications were the big dogs of that day, but I could find more to investigate in any issue of the Portable Paper than two or three Interact Magazines of that era.

These days, Goldstein's iPhone Life has many lives beyond the Spring 2010 issue of "96 pages-plus-cover," as we used to describe print issues. He has an iPhone app for the news and features, a Web site and series of editors' blogs, and he even hinted at plans to ensure the iPad readers can enjoy his publication. But even with all that digital push going on, he knows the difference between push and print. In his editorial The Print Magazine -- So 21st Century, he writes

If you are holding this magazine, you likely appreciate its sensuality. The tactile and visual nature of the magazine adds a dimension that cannot be replicated digitally. Whether in bed, in the tub, on a commute or in that favorite chair, readers enjoy paging through a magazine letting words and pictures grab their attention.

These vehicles are simply a means to convey stories, but being at press or in print is still something special that we're devoted to, even in an era when postage and printing costs move in the opposite direction of digital delivery. Printed pages lift up the stories to a different level than we can give them in our blog. We hope you can make time and space in your mailbox, to enjoy the bedrock of our storytelling history.

04:19 PM in History, Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (1)

February 18, 2010

Wanted, to hire: Interim 3000 IT manager

FRSA The Florida Roofing, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors Association runs a Self Insurers Fund, one that's in urgent need today of an HP 3000 pro to manage the company's Series 937 and maintain its Cognos/Quiz apps. Michael Ricker, the CFO at the Orlando-based FRSA, called this morning and hoped to put a notice into our jobs section. The story is worth more than a listing, because it illustrates both hope for employment as well as a caution on preparing for another kind of disaster: the loss of a key employee.

At FRSA that's Ed Harms, who was diagnosed with and died of cancer so quickly that a scant six weeks had elapsed before he passed away. Like so many HP 3000 customers, FRSA employed one person who knew the details of its systems written in-house. Harms has been working on 900 Series 3000s there since the early 1990s. Back in 2008 we got an update from Harms on the ongoing migration at FRSA.

"Since the [HP 2001] announcement we have gone through three vendors to rewrite our software," he said. "We are doing it in-house and should be done next year."

But the State of Florida keeps changing insurance regulations, Ricker said, which has kept delaying the migration's completion. Ricker said his opening looks like six months of full-time work, some onsite — just enough to maintain, patch and repair 3000 apps until FRSA gets onto its Windows migration system, also being written in-house. You can reach Ricker at [email protected] to inquire about this interim opening. In the meantime, he's making his own skills do the work that his expert performed in a fraction of the time. His biggest need is ongoing contact with the FRSA staff.

"I need somebody inside the walls of this building," Ricker said, "because we have meetings and you'll need to talk to people." Talking to people, as it turns out, is a 3000 skill set that retains significant value.

Few people would hope for a death to get hired, but opportunity makes itself appear in many ways. The 3000's experts and veterans are women and men of a certain age, one that raises health issues to a more serious level of concern. Migration suppliers and homesteading consultants agree that a sustainability plan is good insurance to maintain service levels for any site still running a 3000. Rather than focus on the cliche of a key staffer "stepping in front of a bus," most of these advisors talk about "winning the lottery, and then walking away."

At FRSA's Fund, the 3000 was already supposed to be mothballed by now, but Florida state law has delayed this project. It's a modest operation, according to Ricker, just one PC expert doing the migration work while Harms managed the production systems. Now Ricker is working overtime to try to accomplish what his expert knew, but didn't get documented soon enough.

There's work available here for a 3000 pro who wants to live awhile in Orlando, a nicer place to spend time than the northern states still frozen today. A Cognos veteran who's been laid off might be a good match, and Ricker is hoping that nobody's going to have to move into Florida to take on the work. Beechglen is doing third party support at the Fund, so there's 3000 support already in the picture.

IT operations have been pared back everywhere during the same downturn that had furloughed plenty of computer pros. HP has cut operational costs every quarter to maintain its string of profitable periods, especially in units where the sales are slumping. This is a common business response to a recession. The choice keeps an organization solvent and running, but it carries the potential for risk. Lean staffs make the remaining players more crucial, which should spur a drive to have existing work documented.

That kind of effort can get sidetracked in the name of more urgent tasks, like satisfying state auditors or building a replacement application. There are many delayed HP 3000 migrations, the kind that create interim homesteaders like the FRSA. It's common enough to call the next three to five years the Interim Era, as companies try to complete migrations while HP's 3000 resources have disappeared.

If you're qualified and interested, Ricker would like to talk to you at 407-671-3772, extension 267. If you've got a similar IT staffing model, some documentation and a plan to replace an in-house pro look like essential components of your sustainability plan.

The tricky part of this equation at FRSA's Fund is the need for in-person contact. "They'll need to be here for a month or better just to get a grasp of what we do," Ricker said. "Basically, we're an insurance company. I need somebody in this building to work with the staff in order to get the necessary business understanding."

Business understanding in among the most common skill sets for a 3000 pro populace that's been dinged for inexperience with newer technology. However, the knowledge of .NET or PHP can pale in comparison to knowing how a business process works. They called the 3000 vets programmer-analysts when I started to report 3000 news back in the 1980s — because analyzing a business is at least as important as coding. Your older skill set is still in demand.

12:25 PM in Homesteading, Migration, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (1)

February 17, 2010

HP boosts 2010 Q1 earnings 25 percent

But Integrity unit's numbers decline vs. 2009

HP rolled out financial numbers for its 2010 first quarter today, happy overall news of an upward jolt for sales and profits. The Enterprise Storage and Servers (ESS) unit, home of the HP 3000 migration target systems, notched an 11 percent gain in sales. HP even raised its estimates for total 2010 sales and profits.

ESS Q1 Slide

 Unfortunately, the ESS increases arrived entirely from sales of HP's Industry Standard servers, those powered by the Intel Xeon-Nehalem chips and largely running Windows and Linux. The Business Critical Server group clocked another declining quarter with a 22 percent sales drop off 2009's Q1. Even though the ESS blade systems rose by 24 percent, the BCS figures, which include sales of HP's Integrity servers running HP-UX, can't even claim a drop because of the economy's free-fall. The 22 percent drop is compared to sales of November through January of 2009, a dark period for HP systems revenues.

Overall for HP, the news was improved on most other product line fronts. Imaging and Printing saw a slight sales increase, while Personal Systems rose a healthy 20 percent, lifted by a 26 percent increase in PC shipments. Services weathered a virtually flat quarter, as the EDS balloon finally stopped rising off 2009 levels. Software had a flat quarter as well, but HP's lending operations increased revenues by 13 percent.

ESS reported total revenue of $4.4 billion, about 14 percent of HP's total sales for the quarter. Storage revenue declined 3 percent with the midrange EVA product line down 5 percent. HP's juggernaut of cost cuts ensured the ESS operating profit of $552 million, or 12.6 percent of revenue, up from $406 million, or 10.3 percent of revenue, in the 2009 Q1.

The news that BCS sales continue to fall identifies a missed opportunity for HP-UX. Sun's Unix solutions have been stalled for much of 2009 as it got digested by Oracle, but apparently new customers haven't made the Integrity line a popular Sun alternative.

HP's CFO Cathy Lesjak called the report a result of "solid performance across the businesses," despite the declines at BCS -- because the ESS unit as a whole posted increased results.

More information on HP's quarterly earnings, including additional financial analysis and an earnings overview presentation in PDF format, is available on HP's Investor Relations Web site at www.hp.com/investor/home.

04:42 PM in Migration, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 16, 2010

Itanium revs up HP-UX sites awaiting refresh

ItaniumInside The HP Integrity systems might have waited an extra year to get to Tukwila, but the freshest Itanium processor is stirring up customer interest and demand. An expert from an HP reseller's tech staff told us that news of the speed boosts has got some large-scale HP-UX customers eager for these latest rx-family units to ship. It couldn't happen too soon for this server line that is the preferred target for 3000 sites migrating to Unix.

HP hasn't said much in specific about Tukwila-based Integrity servers, other than its overview about how the newer line will have faster processing, more advanced virtualization and believe it or not, more stability. There was a time when the headline on Tukwila was its power advantages, the unique value you'd see as a reason to choose HP-UX. HP has been talking about this generation for more than two years.

The latest talk tries to put the feeds and speeds numbers in business perspective. Lorraine Bartlett, VP of Marketing and Strategy for HP's Business Critical Systems business unit, promoted the new servers with this language in an HP blog:

There will be lots of Ghz and Mbytes numbers that we as vendors love to talk about, but when we talk with customers they don't share the vendor love of clock rates and latency, and want to talk about the business results the systems enable.  How the system can accelerate application deployment, deliver any application anywhere, deliver predictable service continuity and quality — these features, these business performance features are really the design center of our next generation systems.

Another benefit from HP's Integrity-Tukwila offering: a concept called Converged Infrastructure. It will seem familiar to any HP customer who studied HP's Adaptive Enterprise from five years ago, one where you could dynamically allocate processor power among varied environments.

If you need more reasons to embrace the newest processors, Intel has a Tukwila Webcast replay you can watch, and perhaps show to your tech-oriented management. The whole message package about what Intel calls the Itanium 9300 is online at the top of HP's main Integrity page.

The snag here for the HP-UX customers is the additional wait for Tukwila in the datacenter. The new Integrity units won't be available until the fall, by standard scheduling, "and then nobody wants to be in the first wave of release for this size server," said our contact in the reseller community.

But a refresh of the Integrity processor line, which is going to include a big presence in the bladed systems, will be welcome among HP's Unix customers. HP 3000 shops might not be pressing the outer envelope of current Integrity servers with their performance needs once they migrate. On the other hand, if you can hold out until 2011 to take delivery on hardware, you're going to get something with another four years of vendor-best performance. Or deal earlier, and ask for discounts on the current Integrity server lineup.

04:45 PM in Migration, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 15, 2010

Post-HP vision needs blind faith, deep breath

OpenMPE is recruiting for directors on its board, a campaign that includes a secret ballot and a secret budget. The former is a tradition of elections, but the latter is HP's will imposed upon a cadre of volunteers.

This is the season when OpenMPE elects directors for its advocacy group, a rotating assembly of users, vendors and 3000 experts who've been working since 2002. But this election is different than any before now. Within a few weeks of getting members on its board, OpenMPE will learn if it has acquired a license for MPE/iX source code.

It's the cost of the license that's a secret, an element HP insists upon as one of the license terms. The secrecy itself is one of the few license terms that anyone knows about, because Hewlett-Packard is shrouding nearly all of the source arrangement in a Confidential Disclosure Agreement. Tell anybody how much you're ready to pay for the license, and you can save your money. HP won't grant you one.

The CDA is familiar turf for OpenMPE, which negotiated and met with HP's 3000 managers for seven years under a Cone of Silence to work out details of post-HP 3000 ownership. The homesteading community, both interim and indefinite, owes a lot to a group of directors that needs new blood. What the community doesn't need is unreasonable requests to make the source license transparent.

This isn't a school board meeting. Nobody's sending tax money to the OpenMPE treasurer. Any license that OpenMPE may get is a private transaction between HP and independent support organizations. One of those organizations gives you a way to participate outside of a support commitment and sometimes can talk about what it does -- especially when it's trying to raise money to purchase one of those licenses.

OpenMPE didn't ask for these terms. It's endured them, along with the unsavory carping and genuine misunderstanding over how HP set the rules and conditions to help anybody homestead.

The last public report on the OpenMPE fundraising -- which probably didn't please HP -- said the group was about two-thirds of the way to its goal with about two months to go. This is much more real cash and pledges than the group has reported in past efforts. This time, there is something very real to buy.

Well-established support providers are also going to receive source licenses, but nobody expects to hear a word from them about cost of their purchases from HP. Not even the providers' clients. Some of that grace is given because these providers have been in business since the 3000 was in short pants. OpenMPE is new to business, even though it's been working at advocacy for more than 20 percent of the HP 3000's lifespan.

The community is already supporting the drive for the use of source by paying support contract fees to independent companies. In addition to that, some companies who don't need a support contract, or want to ensure there's ample sources for this 3000 resource, are contributing thousands of dollars. We're one of them, because it looks like OpenMPE needs the help. 

I've communicated with most OpenMPE directors since 2002, ever since the very first breakfast meeting I watched founder John Backus take with HP's Dave Wilde. It's been a thankless job, almost literally, to have to quiz HP and listen to its plans that have needed the real-world practices of 3000 owners to amount to anything but PowerPoint slides and phone charges. HP has thanked OpenMPE when the vendor's labs left the field last year. It's time to follow that lead with your thanks and support -- and stop venting high dudgeon while expecting genuine business performance from a group of volunteers.

There was a time for outrage and sarcasm in this marketplace, but it was 2002, not 2010. Everybody has the duty to examine whether they can afford to help this community. Ben Franklin reminded some another resistance movement that if we don't hang together, we'll all hang separately. You will want to resist governmental-level auditing of a project whose budget wouldn't even cover the cost of two Windows business servers. Secrecy of contracts is as common as oxygen in our atmosphere. Let your energy breathe life into a future post-HP. More of you need a whiff of that 2011 vision than you realize.

11:01 AM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 12, 2010

Micro Focus adds COBOL remote development

Migration-bound sites, or those who have recently arrived on the shores of Linux or Unix environment, make their transitions for many reasons. Improved toolsets and new development muscle through technology is one payoff, although this kind of upgrade usually follows a reduced-risk step of Lift and Shift. 

Micro Focus announced a new product that illustrates what is waiting for the COBOL user in other environments. The vendor unveiled Server Express Remote Developer Option (RDO), a new version of their Server Express development platform that enables companies to drastically reduce time and costs for companies building/maintaining COBOL applications on Linux and UNIX servers.

"Server Express RDO is the first COBOL development tool to enable developers to create and maintain applications on a remote server while sitting on a local machine," said Peter Anderton, Product Solutions Director of Application Development at Micro Focus. Anderton was on hand at last fall's e3000 Community Meet to update 3000 users on the new life given to ACUCOBOL.

The RDO for Server Express "allows customers to keep COBOL programs and the source-code on the target server, removing the costly and time-consuming need to transfer code between the development environment and the Unix or Linux server on which the application will be tested and run," Anderton said. "This helps organizations redeploy IT personnel while delivering significant productivity gains in the development process."

Some of the best tools for debugging and testing applications exist in the Windows environment. Anderton believes this Server Express RDO opens the door to more closely emulating the production environment.

“It is critical that organizations debug and test applications in an environment that is as close to production as possible," he said. "In the past, this has meant sacrificing powerful tools when that platform was Unix or Linux.”

Micro Focus has more information at the company's Web page for Eclipse, its development environment.

10:30 AM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 11, 2010

Back up the directory, plus the data

Yesterday our Homesteading Editor Gilles Schipper gave sound advice on the use of buldacct and store while backing up -- to ensure that a restore puts files in the correct places on a 3000. He also advised we wait to hear what 3000 pro and Allegro Consultants support expert Donna Hofmeister has to say about doing an INSTALL, which Shipper concluded yesterday was a better option. 

Hofmeister ran 3000 IT operations for years at Long's Drug. She says, "As long as you are somehow and routinely backing up your system's directory, you're doing the right thing." She's got a document that details steps on how to do a weekly full backup, with buldjob files. She's shared that with us (a Word document).

The advice has been polished and improved by Hofmeister, former OpenMPE director Paul Edwards and Shipper. It started its life as an HP document. And so the third party independent community again improves on what HP has created and documented. That might provide solace for anyone who worries about the decline of HP's 3000 interests.

09:15 AM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 10, 2010

Directions on Using Store vs. Buldacct

Editor's. Note: 3000 experts have been asking what would our Homesteading Editor Gilles Schipper do while using the 3000's store directory option, rather than invoking the buldacct program to make clean backups. He weighs in with some sound advice.

By Gilles Schipper
Homesteading Editor 

The confusion surrounding the use of the ;directory store option versus the buldacct directory creation program is common. I believe it stems from the fact that in order to benefit from the store ;directory option, one has to utilize the option almost perfectly in both the store and the restore following a system INSTALL.

Consequently, it becomes much easier to fall back on the buldjob options to re-create the directory -- although that option is inferior.

In order to be able to effectively utilize the directory option, the first thing that must be done properly is to ensure that the appropriate ;onvs= option is also used in the case where user volumesets are utilized. Otherwise, the non-system volumeset directories do not get restored after the INSTALL since they are not on the tape.

But even if the store part is done correctly, the other opportunity to go wrong presents itself during the reload process.

The proper procedure during reload is as follows:

1. perform INSTALL
2. restore ;directory from tape
3. re-create disk and volumeset environment via VOLUTIL

Then -- and this where many go wrong,

4. Again restore ;directory from tape (this re-creates the volumset directory environment on the master volumes for all user volumesets for those utilizing it)

and then

5. restore files
6. reboot with start norecovery (to enable network functionality)

Of course, for those that do not utilize user volumesets, the directory option becomes much less error-prone. And, for those that utilize third-party backup utilities, the ;directory option -- as utilized in the MPE store command -- is generally replaced with a similar option in the various backup utilities.

However, the bottom line is that for those that utilize the MPE store command to perform their backups, the properly-used ;DIRECTORY (and, if appropriate) corresponding ;ONVS= options) -- together with correct restore procedures as indicated above -- will get the desired result 100 percent of the time.

Notwithstanding, of course, any tape issues occuring, which would be problematic no matter which directory re-creation option is used.

The bottom line is that the proper way to perform a full backup if using the MPE backup facility:

:file t;dev=tape
:store /;*t;partdb;directory;onvs=mpexl_system_volume_set,big;

Of course, upon further reflection, and better than the store command: use sysgen to create a backup tape that not only contains all files, but also the SLT -- so that this one tape alone can be used to INSTALL and RELOAD your system. The use of sysgen for such purpose will require use of an indirect file.

08:51 AM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 09, 2010

Itanium gets fresh future with Tukwila

Not to be outdone after IBM's POWER7 rollout, Intel released the next generation of Itanium on the same day, unveiling the Tukwila 4-core generation of the processor. Tukwila is destined for HP Integrity servers, the only systems which run the HP-UX alternative to the HP 3000.

The Itanium 9300 has twice as many cores as the predecessor powering today's Integrity line. Intel is claiming an 800 percent interconnect bandwidth and up to 500 percent improvement on memory bandwidth. What the chip will lack in application and market reach it can make up in speed.

The chip has been delayed by more than a year due to Intel's design changes to the processor. That's permitted IBM to rollout out two POWER releases, which run IBM's Unix as well as other environments, while Intel finished the Tukwila work.

More important to the HP-UX prospect? The announcement of Intel's commitment to at least two more generations of Itanium. Of course, the chipmaker will also roll out an eight-core chip this year built upon the Xeon and x86 lineage. That's Nahalem EX, which will be out in less than 90 days.

The future of Itanium is a factor in choosing a replacement environment for the HP 3000's MPE/iX. Intel has been building two lines of chips for nearly 15 years, but the ones that are emerging as Nehalem power most of the most advanced Windows computing. IT departments with speed needs are tracking Nehalem by now, rather than the slower track of Itanium.

The Intel reloads for Itanium are scheduled for two years from now, and then another in four years. Analyst Dan Olds of the Gabriel Consulting Group is quoted in IDG News as saying Intel needs to hit its roadmap milestones to keep Itanium a legitimate choice."Intel discussed a four-year road map for Itanium today," he reported, "saying that they'd be delivering new chips about every two years. It's important that Intel hit those milestones."

03:47 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 08, 2010

Blades may shore up Itanium futures

IBM has announced a new generation of its POWER processors, news that has sparked a breathless report from Clabby Analytics about the future of the competing Itanium chips which power HP's Integrity processors. Although HP has been enjoying a lift in its HP-UX customer base at the expense of Sun's market share, Joe Clabby's report suggests that Itanium could see even fewer iterations from Intel and HP.

Currently, HP’s operating environments are all tied to Itanium architecture. If Itanium becomes a low-volume, specialty processor, then HP’s operating environments (more specifically, HP-UX, NonStop, and OpenVMS) ultimately become low volume specialty solutions.

What will spur this low-volume status? Clabby, whose mantra has been to tout POWER and IBM since a change of heart over Itanium, thinks Intel's Xeon models will push Itanium deeper into a niche. Consider this while investing in Itanium-based Unix servers: Blades could be the refuge for the only architecture that HP-UX can call home.

Clabby has his biases, as every analyst does. He believes that the technological advantages of POWER, coupled with IBM's ardor for architecture it controls, lift POWER into the realm of Xeon acceptance. Just because it's an IBM solution, he surmises, POWER will outlast Itanium. His report from last month speculates this much.

The overlap of Xeon multi-cores with Itanium could prove catastrophic for Itanium in the general purpose processor market because Xeon multi-cores are expected to become the “industry standard” for 64-bit computing ─ relegating Itanium to the class of “special function processors” (such as IBM’s zIIP, zAAP, and IFL). These specialty processors are designed and optimized to perform certain tasks such as Java or database processing well ─ while more mainstream processors such as x86, POWER, and z processors are designed and optimized for general workload processing.

IBM says as little about POWER acceptance as HP does about Integrity business. But IBM is in control of its Identity Solution, as I like to call any technology designed and sold through one vendor. HP must accept whatever business decision Intel makes about the cost of improving Itanium, since Hewlett-Packard must pay for processors built by Intel.

Clabby believes HP is invested in design costs for Itanium's future chips, and he's probably correct. The list of vendors supporting Itanium is short about HP's purchases. Intel is likely to be requiring HP to help fund any advances its HP-UX, VMS and NonStop customers require. Clabby even has a scenario for how HP will manage the expense of maintaining the Itanium line.

To reduce design costs, HP may ultimately be forced to use its blade chassis as the only system design for
Itanium-based servers. Releasing Itanium-based servers in a blade form factor would make a lot of sense
because HP is already investing heavily in blade design to support its x86-based server line ─ so adding
Itanium-based specialty processors to existing blade chassis would minimize HP’s Itanium-based
system/server design costs.

The bottom line is to insist on a blade implementation for any Integrity server you'd buy in a migration. It might seem like a no-brainer solution. But hardware costs can be an element that a packaged solution supplier would try to reduce, selling a non-blade Integrity. HP has five models of Integrity systems it sells for HP-UX that aren't in a blade form factor. The vendor has a concise Integrity Systems Family Guide which explains the range of this HP Identity Solution. POWER7 may help tip the scales of market share more toward IBM. HP's blade commitments will make its bladed chassis the most weighty part of Integrity's counterbalance.

04:59 PM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 05, 2010

Carlyfornication revises HP's history in race

 Carly2010 For somebody holding a medieval history degree, Carly Fiorina has made a life out of rewriting reality. Mrs. Fiorina is a sharp part of the HP 3000's history, poking the air out of a storied balloon that had three decades of service to its credit. This week marks the five-year anniversary of her ouster from HP. She's celebrating by throwing a demon sheep into the Internet and tossing aside truths about her legacy at Hewlett-Packard.

Who else could spark anybody into creating the demonsheep.org Web site overnight? There's so much to say and report on the Carly for California US Senate race -- and how it reflects HP's fiscal policy of today -- that written words alone won't tell it all. There's a 9-minute podcast we've put online, with thanks to this exiled CEO-turned-politician's poor judgment in message and approach. At no extra charge we're including some history about her HP reign without the added revisions. But as she says herself in less than three minutes of HP revisionism, "This isn't about talking. It's about getting something done."

That approach will sound familiar to any 3000 customers who remember the HP corporate decision to end its profitable HP 3000 business. In 2001, while the stock languished and her beloved merger with Compaq loomed, Carly's leadership simply ignored any talk from customers and got the one thing done that changed your lives. No matter what former general manager Winston Prather says about having the ultimate decision about cutting off HP's 3000 life, he wasn't even a VP at the time. Getting something done required Carly's trusted circle to approve the move, the one that put everyone into Transition.

DemonSheep Carly has been through a transition herself, as the above photo shows. She beat cancer last year, and now she is beating the drum about how wrong everyone is about an institution she wants to join. It sounds so much like her mantra while dismantling the HP Way. This isn't working anymore, she'd say, and whenever anyone talked back, she didn't listen. Don't mistake this report for a US Senate political statement -- except to note that politicians behave like Carly did for more than five years while grasping HP's reins. The five that followed her forced resignation have shown the fault didn't lie in the stars, but in this brute herself.

Unlike the millions who will get to decide if Carly's career in politics gets even shorter, the thousands of 3000 community members didn't get a vote in 1999 when she joined HP, or in 2001 when her corporate gang cut off the computer. If the voters weren't paying attention now, Carly's demon sheep in a 3-minute political attack got lots of notice. Perhaps not the kind she was expecting. But it's the 150 seconds of her biography that deserve closer scrutiny to show the cautionary tale of a corporation's hard line on its bottom line, and some clues on how to plan for protection from hubris.

RemakingHistory We annotate and decipher campaign's ebulliant melange of Carly's HP history in our podcast, but you can see for yourself how political grasping requires some foggy memory and outright rewrites on that biography. This is a prickly way to celebrate an anniversary, but one with a message for community members either divorced from HP, or working toward a new relationship with the vendor's leadership. Just be glad you're smart enough not to be anybody's sheep.

06:21 PM in History, Newsmakers, Podcasts | Permalink | Comments (2)

February 04, 2010

On Safari for the Elusive CSL Utilities

For more than two years, the 3000 community has hunted for the contributed software it donated to Interex. The user group went belly-up in a puff of smoke during 2005, taking with it decades of history, training materials and the Contributed Software Library. The CSL started as Swap Tapes, collections of reel-to-reel and DAT tapes that Interex members brought to conferences. Contributed programs were on the tapes and everybody who brought a Swap Tape got one back with everybody's programs. Think of it as a open source program for the 1970s.

Three decades later, the practice of sharing includes some still-useful software. Or it would be useful if anybody could download it and load it up. The project is getting closer to appearing in the sights of the 3000 users. At least a few things about ownership of the programs are clear. They belong to everybody, with the exception of a few programs. These are genuinely free resources, and they might be freed up this year, at long last.

The best prospect for getting the CSL programs -- things like DISKSPC, which condenses/lost disk-space, or RDOWNTIME, which records and reports information about 'hard' down-time -- may be OpenMPE's server in waiting. Another community resource, 3k Associates, has also volunteered to host these open source tools. As a first step before the CSL is released, you can review a catalog of what's available today to see if any of it interests you. This catalog is hosted at another OpenMPE board member's 3000.

The CATALOG program is separated from the actual contributions for now, but CATALOG is the only piece of the picture that's visible at this time. Tracy Johnson is hosting CATALOG at the IP address (Telnet or VT in. Log in as HELLO USER.CSLXL; there's no password required.) "I only supply the Catalog, not the programs," Johnson said.

The catalog program came with the old CSL library tape. With it you could search by keyword and the CSL library summary for each entry.  If you were running it with the tape loaded, there was an option to install a CSL entry with the catalog number.

A quick check with a Telnet session revealed this menu for CATALOG

1 Main Topics of Interest
2 View/Print Files
3 UnSQUISH Files
4 View/Print the CSL/MPE Guide
5 Enter CSL/MPE INDEX System
6 Report on Different CSL/MPE Releases
7 List Installed CSL/MPE Programs
8 Get Some Help

CATALOG, of course, obviously looks like something written for minicomputer of the 1980s. Chris Bartram of 3k Associates said as much while he was volunteering to make the software downloadable in a 21st Century method.

Bartram's site, which has been a community resource since the 1990s, hosts a raft of 3000 tools, white papers and more has offered to make these programs available. He would love to be able to share the CSL from his public access 3k.com site.

"I talked with Chuck and others about hosting a copy of the CSL at 3k.com -- and the offer still stands if the legalities are ever resolved. We already have a large directory of public domain software hosted (or pointed to) on the site."

"The catalog front end was a cool interface for a 1990s minicomputer terminal, but if I can get hold of the actual contributions, I think I’d just put up standard Web links to it and let the search engines index it -- since that’s how everyone finds things these days anyway. And when my FIOS link is working, there’s plenty of bandwidth to handle any downloads that the ever-shrinking 3000 world would throw at it."

When we checked last month, OpenMPE volunteer Matt Perdue had a DVD of the CSL programs from former Interex board director Paul Edwards. Perdue said he will put these programs onto the invent3k.openmpe.org server whenever it goes online. The group wanted input on how to present the programs.

Volunteers like Perdue and Bartram have carried the contributed ball a long time. During the first few years after the Interex demise, volunteer Chuck Shimada had these tools and shared them by request. He gave us this take on ownership of the contributed tools.

"If anyone wants to take the last CSL tapes and make the contributions from the tapes public, there is not a thing anyone can to do stop them," he said in 2007. "However, Boeing Aircraft's agreement with Interex limits their contributions to Interex members only. So, I personally would not make any of the Boeing stuff available without a new agreement from Boeing."

It's an exercise for the reader -- and perhaps OpenMPE and 3k Associates -- to determine who is still a member of a user group that has been defunct since 2005.

Except for those Boeing programs, it looks like the rest of the legalities have been swept away. The CSL did not even appear on the list of assets disposed of by the US bankruptcy attorneys during the Interex meltdown.

12:57 PM in History, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (3)

February 03, 2010

MBF-Reporter serves up Integrity, Eloquence

MB Foster has released its MBF-Reporter tool in a version optimized for HP's Integrity Unix servers and the Eloquence database. MBF-Reporter is a report writing solution the company has tuned for high performance transactional environments. The new director of MB Foster's marketing and sales, 3000 veteran David Greer, said that more than a million answers a day are generated by MBF-Reporter.

The Integrity-Eloquence version of Reporter is being launched in a high-transaction, high-profile environment, where the products will transition more than 50,000 reports at more than 30 physical locations. "MBF-Reporter expands its performance capabilities for these customers," said Birket Foster, MB Foster's CEO. "MBF-Reporter will be rolled out throughout the organization during the migration to open systems, to provide seamless access to all reports."

Although Foster's team couldn't comment on the exact name of that organization, the profile matches up with the extensive State Board of Community and Technical Colleges migration in Washington state. The SBCTC posted a PowerPoint review of its migration plans that points to MB Foster's software as the essential first tool in a migration of tens of thousands of reports and millions of lines of code.

Integrity and Itanium support is new to the MBF-Reporter software, but the MB Foster data utilities support most open systems platforms in addition to the bedrock of the HP 3000 installed base. Integrity support is crucial to the longest lifespan for the HP-UX environment that the SBCTC has chosen for its migration. Eloquence, which has assembled a loud chorus of success from thousands of organizations — some of whom have migrated to the database from IMAGE — is the exclusive database supported by MBF-Reporter.

"MBF-Reporter makes it possible to analyze the vast stores of data in Eloquence databases to reliably produce information that enterprises need to satisfy their end users and executives," the company stated in its rollout release. The company says MBF-Reporter has the most customers supported on MPE, but it is also supported on Linux with Oracle. The recent announcement tracks the first customer using MBF-Reporter on HP-UX running on HP Integrity servers with Eloquence. Other MB Foster products supported on HP Integrity are products in the UDA Series and UDA Synch. The UDA Synch product supports IMAGE, Eloquence, Oracle, and Microsoft's SQL Server.

Greer said that the MB Foster products "provide critical information to hundreds of thousands of business decision makers around the globe. For any enterprise solution supplying in excess of a million answers a day, I would suggest that at least 10 percent of those queries and reports will be for business decision makers, especially over the course of a year."

06:25 AM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 02, 2010

3000 tips for autoload, net stats and more

I have a Certance DAT72 autoloader, configured on my HP3000 and have no problems reading from and writing to the unit. How can I configure it so I can  issue a command to load the next tape in the 6-slot magazine?

Denys Beauchemin replies,

To use an autoloader on the HP 3000 as an autoloader, you must set the device to be out of random mode and then enable autoeject with DEVCTRL. Certance was a spin off from Seagate in 2003 and was acquired by Quantum in 2004. Here’s the Web page on the Quantum site for the manual on this device. I would try the settings for HP-UX first, then Windows next.

I thought stopping and starting the network automatically reset the network statistics, similar to
linkcontrol @;status=reset
However, when I look, the statistics don't change. Why is that?

Gilles Schipper replies,

I think your command is correct - but your timing's a bit off.

If you re-issue the command, you will see all the numbers were actually reset, but the numbers you saw the first time were those just prior to the command taking effect.

"uname -i" will return the HPSUSAN on an HP-UX machine, just as "showvar hpsusan" would on an HP 3000. Calling HPCIGETVAR for the value "HPSUSAN" from within a program would allow me access to that value during a run. What is the equivalent on an HP-UX box?

Ken Hirsch replies,

If you're programming in Perl, you could say:

my $susan = `uname -i`;
chomp($susan);  # remove line feed from end
print "susan = '$susan'\n";

In C, it would be easier to call the uname() function:

#include <sys/utsname.h>
#include <stdio.h>

 struct utsname u;
 if (uname(&u) < 0) {
 } else {
   printf("id = %s\n", u.idnumber);
#include <sys/utsname.h>
#include <stdio.h>

 struct utsname u;
 if (uname(&u) < 0) {
 } else {
   printf("id = %s\n", u.idnumber);

In the “how would I know that?” category, if you look at the bottom of the “uname” man page, it says SEE ALSO: getconf(1), hostname(1), model(1), setuname(1M), gethostname(2), sethostname(2), uname(2), hostname(5).

Section 2 of the manual has system calls and Section 3 library functions, so that’s what you want for programmatic access. Just type “man 2 uname” at the shell prompt.

12:52 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 01, 2010

Samba breaches vs. features: UX vs. MPE

HP released a new security patch last week to block a back door in the HP-UX Samba software, one of many that surface for HP's Unix environment. The vulnerability in versions A.02.03.04 and vA.02.04 running on HP-UX B.11.11, B.11.23, or B.11.31 could let a remote user gain unauthorized access to an Integrity or PA-RISC Unix server.

HP has a software update available for download to block the breach. Meanwhile, the HP 3000 user who's employing Samba for file and printer sharing isn't affected by this vulnerability. The most recent Samba/iX is 3.0.22, one of the final projects released by the HP labs. Samba has been installed with any MPE/iX release newer than 6.0, and patches for Samba/iX to lift it up the 3.0.2 version are available for free download from the HP IT Response Center Web site. There's even a SWAT Samba administration tool that runs with Samba/iX. If you're unfamiliar with how SWAT makes Samba an even better tool, Samba.org has a SWAT primer online.

Samba has helped the HP 3000 join the standard networks of many heterogenous shops in the decade-plus it's been available. But the MPE/iX version is behind the current HP-UX release. This is a tradeoff for companies using Samba -- run it on the Unix servers and apply security patches, or use the HP 3000s and enjoy the security-by-design, but with fewer features and no bug fixes.

The 3000 version is not very many months out of date. In October of last year, the 3.0.37 version emerged for the community to add security patches. But the patches are aimed at more Unix-like environments, such as the Apple OSX, HP's HP-UX, as well as Linux.

The latest public release of Samba for the non-3000 world is version 3.4. The feature set that the 3000 version is frozen in includes these features, new in 2006 and ported in 2007:

  • Encrypted password mechanisms
  • A new password database back-end (since Samba's password databases are different from the MPE HPUID.PUB.SYS user database)
  • The account management tools sambpasswd and pdbedit
  • An enhanced "net" command which now works "just like those on Windows and DOS systems." (If you don't know what DOS stands for, grab the oldest IT worker you know and ask.)
  • But an official port for Samba on the 3000 is not linked at the samba.org page. HP did the work on the last release, but it hasn't been re-integrated with the releases of the worldwide organization. Now that the samba.org group has moved onward to 3.4, the interest must be generated by HP 3000 porting advocates.

    Choosing to use Samba under HP-UX eliminates the questions of whether the release is bug-fixed. The security breaches for Unix-based servers are an every-week occurrence. Sendmail versions 8.9.3 and 8.11.1 have been hit with a Denial of Service vulnerability, which HP has patched with an update.

    Inin 2007 HP wrote a white paper on bringing Samba from the 3.0.22 MPE/iX version to full compliance with the latest release. The paper says that it gives the techniques to

    1. Refresh a new version of Samba on MPE/iX,
    2. Apply future patches released by the Samba organization and
    3. Quickly fix defects in Samba/iX

    12:04 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)