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July 2011

A Full Day of Free 3000 Networking Advice

In a flurry of under 24 hours, six HP 3000 veterans chipped in advice this week to help a 3000 manager who's weathering poor network response times. All of the consulting was free, offered though the 3000's ultimate community resource, the HP3000-L mailing list and newsgroup.

Kevin Smeltzer, an IT Specialist in MPE Systems at IBM's Global Services group, said he was watching his development N-Class responses slip into unusable measurements. "Today was so bad that test programs could not stay connected to a Quick program," he reported at 4 PM yesterday. "Linkcontrol only shows an issue with Recv dropped: addr on one path. This is a known issue with some enterprise network monitoring software that sends a packet that the HP 3000 cannot handle. Even HP last year had no solutions for that issue."

Donna Hoffmeister, Craig Lalley, Mark Ranft, Tony Summers, Mark Landin and Jeff Kell all came to Smeltzer's aid in less than 24 hours. Hoffmeister, Lalley and Ranft work support and consulting businesses, but nobody wanted to collect any fee. Summers and Landin chimed in from veteran 3000 manager status. And Kell, well, he founded the 3000-L, and headed the System Manager's special interest group for years. Like the others, he's steeped in the nuances of HP 3000 networking.

So long as the 3000-L is running, no one has run out of places to ask for this kind of help. There has been a thread of 16 messages so far, back and forth emails with long dumps of NETTOOL reports, examinations of TCP timer settings (Hoffmeister wrote an article for Allegro about this on its website), and discussion of switch port settings. "Do I need to shutdown and restart JINETD or restart the network," Smeltzer asked this morning, "to have my TCP changes in NMMGR take effect?"

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File Eloquence's Conference under Reunion

Marxmeier Software has announced that it will host a North American Eloquence User Conference on Sept. 22. The event is part of the HP3000 Reunion weekend, Thursday through Saturday.

CHM Meeting This Eloquence conference is a great example of how 3000 community members can use the September Reunion as a rendezvous point for other meetings. CAMUS and Speedware are also gathering users and community members during the Sept. 22-24 event in the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

Marxmeier will be hosting an Eloquence User Meeting for those former IMAGE users who have migrated to Eloquence, as well as for those who are considering Eloquence for their migration.

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3000 events often meet for one last time

The HP3000 Reunion will be meeting eight weeks from tomorrow, a Thursday-Saturday gathering that looks like it's bringing in some classic members of your community. This week Vesoft's Vladimir Volokh, now working in his 70s and still visiting customers, chipped in his pre-registration. Vladimir's conference visits have not been a common occurrence lately, although he was ubiquitous in meetings early in the 3000's history.

But the 3000's "one last meeting" has frequently been scheduled. The community has a way of getting back together to trade information and history. We used to call it networking even before the mysteries of the TCP/IP stack became part of the 3000's OS.

Here's a report from a July seven years ago, at the advent of another meeting of the 3000 community.

In the meantime, this month’s conference will marshal the remains of the 3000 community one more time. Benefits of attendance have tilted toward networking for 3000 manager and vendor — even with tech sessions like a four-hour hands-on tutorial about migration to IMAGE-workalike database Eloquence on the schedule.

Eloquence training is also part of the Sept. 22 meeting day of the HP3000 reunion, coming up in eight weeks. That training session from seven years ago was at the final Interex conference, held in August of 2004. The next summer a luncheon hosted tech luminaries and everyday managers when HP World 2005 went bust. HP took over the meeting business that year, but couldn't sustain 3000 gathering at the Technology Forum. So the 3000 community has been preparing to gather for a closing ceremony ever since the World Wide Wake of 2003 that marked the end of HP's 3000 sales. That event was organized, in large part, by the sparkplug of this year's Reunion, Alan Yeo.

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A Bridge to Extract, Clean, Transform & Load

By Birket Foster

The trouble with today's growing investment in IT that everything is integrated -- and this makes the HP3000 an island of data in your organization. In order to bridge between this platform and others, several things need to occur. The obvious items have to do with what data needs to be moved, when and how often. The technology stack in such a solution will need to address these issues:

  • How to connect to and select from the database
  • How to move the data across a network to a target database
  • How to add to or create the database on the target platform
  • How to deal with data type differences (precision of numbers, item name length, table name length)
  • Endian differences (the byte order for integers can differ on different platforms)
  • What to do with dates (SQL has strict rules around date and date-time fields)

For a one-time move -- perhaps a special project to get certain information on a group of customers who bought a product over the past two years -- the scope is easy and the target can just have fields that are selectively populated.
For a continuous feed of data -- perhaps to an ODS (Operational Data Store), datamart or to another application -- the problem becomes more complex. After all, the need to move data between platforms is becoming a business driver. We have customers taking advantage of our J2EE technology to integrate into a Java environment with JINI, EJB, JTS and SSL support. All of this has allowed the HP 3000 to play as an equal in the Enterprise Data Bus Architecture. But where to start your bridging sparks a good set of questions.

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They Call It NoSQL for a Reason

Facebook and companies who gather massive data off Web interfaces are leading the movement to NoSQL databases. These are data repositories which migrating HP 3000 sites might be hearing about as they look for a replacement for IMAGE in a new environment. Brian Edminster, the open source expert who is helping 3000 sites employ such solutions, explains that NoSQL has some things in common with IMAGE.

They're basically databases that are no-frills, high performance, can handle very large volumes of data, and are generally not SQL-compliant in one way or another. They're more aimed at data capture (usually from websites), or high speed retrieval for shared reads (again, often serving data on the Web). While most can do concurrent read/write to the same pool of data across many users (rather like IMAGE, or even KSAM), unlike IMAGE, they're really not designed to be used effectively for complex highly concurrent transaction processing database applications.

SQL has been something of a common aspect in specifying databases, so the NoSQL entries are creating a new category of database. Even IMAGE gained a SQL interface by the middle 1990s. Databases like Cassandra, CouchDB, MongoDB, Redis, Riak, Neo4J, and FlockDB have broken away from the Cadillac budget (Oracle), Windows acolytes (SQL Server) or under-budgeted shops (using MySQL or Postgres). Infoworld offered a great roundup of these seven NoSQL databases.

Choosing a database is as much a platform decision as picking any operating system. NoSQL may be an appropriate choice for the apps that don't need concurrent processing of transactions.

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It's time to change your 3000 timers

Allegro Web logo Allegro Consultants has offered a new white paper that deals with an old and common issue of 3000 management: TCP timers. The support company's Donna Hoffmeister, who has posted a passel of tips about 3000 administration on the 3000 newsgroup, wrote A Discussion of MPE TCP Timers. These timers are a management subject every 3000 owner should discuss with their admin folks. They establish how quickly your system responds to network traffic calls.

These values control how a 3000 reacts in the event it needs to re-send (retransmit) a packet ("chunk") of data over a TCP/IP network. These values were established at least in the MPE V days (and possibly before that) – back when only big, important computers were trying to talk to each other. (Unlike today, when even your refrigerator thinks it needs to "yack it up" over the Internet!)

The important thing to understand about these values is that they are perfectly fine and do not need changing because they are never (or rarely) used on an optimally-performing network.  However, given that

1. These days, networks rarely perform optimally, and
2. HP Network Engineers described the above values as "way out of whack"

you should change your TCP values.

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Education post-migration: Web resources

Migration is a serious project for HP 3000 managers. But the after-effects of changing your environment can be significant as well. There are often questions about operations or architecture that arise once an HP 3000 is finally shut down.

HP is addressing migration education online, but there have been no recent additions of web resources for migrating away from a 3000. Instead, the HP training and tool briefs cover migrations of HP 9000 applications. Hewlett-Packard has devoted a website and new tools for moving onto the Integrity line of HP-UX servers. For the customers who "prefer to protect their investments in applications deployed on HP 9000 systems," HP offers the new HP Containers, software that employs the HP ARIES translation system.

It transparently executes HP 9000 applications on Integrity systems and, therefore, saves considerable time, effort and costs for HP customers by avoiding costly recompilation and porting. Move your entire HP 9000 application ecosystem to HP-UX 11i Integrity system and execute it in a Secure Resource Partition compartment under ARIES. Avoids the need to know the application dependencies or rediscover it manually.

HPUX Gems HP also has posted a series of 3-5-minute "HP-UX Gems" from its technical experts; one of the speakers is billed as an HP Distinguished Technologist. These are summaries for the IT architect who needs to prove that Unix is the right choice for a business enterprise. Lately, HP's been getting more questions about whether HP-UX or Oracle should be the bedrock of IT services. For the Oracle bedrock shops, the road often leads to Windows. There's Web-based help for that destination, too, according to a former 3000 system manager.

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Pre-registrations pile in for Reunion

Members of the HP 3000 community are getting more serious about meeting at this fall's HP3000 Reunion. The event's blog logged had more than 60 subscribers last week. Now the pre-registration tally has started to mount for the Sept. 22-24 gathering at the Computer History Museum in the Bay Area.

If you're reading this on the Reunion's blog and haven't pre-registered yet, it will help the organizers to know which parts of the event you'd like to attend. The three days are just about free, with the exception of a nominal charge for the Saturday evening party. If you haven't signed on at either the blog or the pre-reg webpage, follow this link to learn more about the Reunion and to pre-register (look for a pre-reg link on the Reunion blog's right column).

A good chunk of the 50 members who've pre-registered call Silicon Valley home, so travel's not an issue for them. But there are overseas trips being scheduled for the party, migration training, the CAMUS meeting and more. Some pre-registrants are coming from Hewlett-Packard, too. The HP company ID makes up the largest single group of pre-registrants.

Loree's Epicenter Grief Considering how close the 3000 rests to the Hewlett-Packard's business computer roots, the intentions of HP staff are not surprising. The decision to stop creating and selling HP 3000s happened far above the divisional level. Long after the HP exit plan was announced, staff inside the vendor's labs continued to work for the customers who were remaining, either for the long term or until a migration could be completed. In the photo above taken during 2003's World Wide Wake, HP's engineers gather at the "Epicenter of HP3000 Grief" at Loree's Little Shack in Roseville -- a town that was home to the 3000's manufacturing and a haven for its labbies.

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Ask: Should I Stay, or Should I Go?

The question above has been on the minds of 3000 owners and managers ever since 2002. While many have resolved it with a migration, it's not been an easy question to answer. Tomorrow you can ask it during an 11 AM PDT Wednesday webinar with yes, MB Foster, who's been offering these advisories at mid-week all during 2011.

ArrivaCal Sometimes the question can be answered more than once. At Arriva London, the question was first answered in 2004 when the London Transport system decided to go to Windows, .NET and IBM's Intel-based servers. Transoft did the work at the time. "The HP 3000 will cease to be supported by HP from 2006," said Alan Ricot, IT manager at the time. "Migration has reduced not only the cost of ongoing maintenance of the legacy system, but also the business risk of being reliant on a platform nearing end-of-life."

However, now comes word that Transport for London (TfL) has signed on to use Software as a Service from Asite to manage contracts. "TfL staff as well as their entire construction supply chain will use Asite's Contract Administration applications to manage contract change and to provide real-time visibility of their actual schedule and cost position against budget," said the SaaS provider this week. Some of those migrated servers have been kicked off the job.

MB Foster's CEO Birket Foster said these kinds of choices -- to skip a migration and just let service providers offer the IT -- were on the horizon, years ago. "We're in the middle of convergence, but it's not going to take 30 years," he said at a conference about the time Arriva was going to .NET. "Small to medium-sized businesses can't afford traditional IT infrastructure."

Of course, Arriva isn't an SMB. The webinar tomorrow will include "stay" or "go" answers. But for some of those going, the question will be how far away do you go today, and how far later on?

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Spicy Remembrances of a Curious OS

We got a bite on one of our hooks in the Web's stream today when Google alerted us to a question on Up on this developer and IT pro forum, a member asked if anyone remembered the HP3000. The question indicated that this member knew the history and current status of the server.

It ran a curious operating system called MPE and had an in-built database called IMAGE. It is the only server I have seen boot after a 20+ foot fall onto concrete (the video is on YouTube) and featured legendary reliability: 10+ years without a reboot, provided you kept the power on.

I inherited one of the oldest and smallest HP3000 servers when I took on this role. It still runs MPE/iX 6.5.

It's not very unusual to see MPE/iX 6.5 running a production HP 3000. Any Series 9x7 server would be frozen on that release. HP prevented 7.0 and later from booting on the 9x7s. That hardware can be had for the price of shipping these days. The support of those systems is a budget item, or should be. The OS might be locked down, but any issues with administration which arise need an escalation chain for that "legendary reliability."

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Retiring software no easier for Microsoft

The world's most widely installed computer environment, Windows XP, is getting its death notice this week. But Microsoft has been learning how slowly software expires in enterprises. Especially software that's not broken and is working in mission-critical operations.

We'd like to be forgiven while we include mission-critical and Windows in the same sentence. The truth of the matter is that Windows XP is running in about 60 percent of the world's enterprises, by some accounting. About half of all of the world's Windows computers run XP. This is an operating system that was released about the same time HP began trying to retire MPE/iX. Hewlett-Packard was doing it the same way as Microsoft -- announcing an end of support date for MPE/iX security software patches. Like Microsoft, HP extended its end date a few times.

But now Microsoft has announced in its blog that the end of XP is less than 1,000 days away. "Windows XP had an amazing run and millions of PC users are grateful for it," said Stephen Rose, IT community manager for the Windows commerical team. "But it's time to move on."

This week Microsoft stopped shipping security fixes for the oldest service pack of XP. HP stopped shipping these kinds of fixes for MPE/iX at the end of 2008. And yet here we are more than two years later, watching publishers and manufacturers and healthcare allies continue to use their 3000s. Security patches do prod some retirements, and Microsoft's customers have it easier than 3000 users. At least there's a relatively-similar transition platform for XP applications that is available from the vendor. There's a price attached to that migration, too. To leave XP, PC hardware needs to be replaced along with software.

But Microsoft's transition platform has been for sale since Windows Vista, and then Windows 7, hit the price lists more than four years ago. Offering the next generation of OS hasn't changed the cost proposition for migrating those hundreds of millions of XP computers. In the spring of 2015, the last of the XP security patches will ship out. But if 3000 enterprise managers -- many of whom oversee XP systems -- are any indicator, XP is going to have a lifespan that will run through the end of its second decade. Software dies more slowly than anything except perhaps our drought-stressed trees here in Texas.

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Community considers upgrading essentials

Secure transfers of HP 3000 files, as well as the ability to compress and decompress them, remain projects in need of technical help. A Secure FTP functionality (SFTP) is still short of production-grade release by some managers. Using ZIP to squeeze and unsqueeze 3000 data requires a 14-year-old piece of software.

On the FTP front, a decent set of files and documents once was available on the Invent3K server which HP operated until 2008. Ken Hirsh did that work on OpenSSH, which is essential to making SFTP more useful on a 3000. But Invent3K operations and contents were transferred to OpenMPE recently. Hirsh doesn't have an active account on the new version of the server.

ZIP needs help as well. The current version of the industry default for compression has had several updates since 1997, but none have been ported to the HP 3000. Some managers at multi-3000 sites still use ZIP daily, and an upgrade (which by now would really be a port) will help compress and decompress files bigger than 2GB. That's how old the 3000's ZIP is today; IMAGE jumbo datasets to go beyond 4GB arrived in 1995.

System managers of the 3000s report they are willing to develop -- or pay an outside party -- to bring these industry standards in line with more modern verions. Independent developers, or the originators of the older ports, are available in the community to help, too.

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The Charms of Pretty Computer History

This fall's HP3000 Reunion is meeting at the Computer History Museum, a building where the roots of your industry are on display. The HP 3000 doesn't stand in any major sector of the Museum, but one of the system's best historians also volunteers a a docent at the Museum. Stan Sieler's tour for a group of 3000 veterans in 2008 illustrates what treasures await anyone who attends the Sept. 24 Reunion.

  743000AdIt's surprising to learn how many 3000 vets have never visited the Museum. About 35 who participated in a day-long 3000 software symposium got Sieler's tour that evening in June. (At left, one of the first ads for the system that in 1974 sold for $170,000, "about one third less than the cost of comparable systems." Click to read that nascent marketing pitch.) That tour 34 years later was a remarkable hour-plus in which the tour group not only appreciated nearly all of Sieler's references -- think of high-grade magic patter and you get the tone -- but the tourists could contribute stories of their own.

That's what's awaiting the Reunion's attendees. Organizer Alan Yeo reported yesterday that the meeting has not only has attracted close to 60 subscribers to the event's blog, but a surprising number have pre-registered, more than two months away from the Reunion's weekend. The meeting, which now has Friday and Saturday socials for CAMUS and 3000 users, is nearly free. Sieler will become part of the festivities, since he lives and works in the Bay Area, a region that includes the Mountain View site of the museum.

Cray1 To give you a taste of what a computer devotee delivers who's got humor and history on his side, listen to this 2-minute segment of that 2008 tour. Sieler explains why the Cray-2 supercomputers, which included seats around the main processor, was the "prettiest computer ever built." It's all about the bubbles, he explained.

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Data synch seminar teaches extending reach

MB Foster is giving the next in its series of webinars on Wednesday, July 13. The latest covers a task that's grown more crucial in a multi-hosted world: synchronization of data. You can get this feature in either batch or real-time on today's 3000 marketplace. Managers report that real-time synch is much more useful; secondary data warehouses run reports all day, and users want these reports as up-to-date as they can get them.

The MB Foster product that illustrates the synch ability of the 3000 is UDASynch. The software "supplies high performance and minimal system load synchronization services from server to server, server to website, and to operational data stores within your enterprise," MB Foster reports.

Minimal load means less than a 2 percent drain on your main 3000, whose apps are supplying the data to be synchonized. The seminar begins at 11 AM Pacific, 2 PM Eastern US. You can sign up for the 45-minute briefing on how to extend the utility of your 3000 to other environment at the MB Foster webpage for the seminar. It's free, and the content of these talks is as much strategy as it is presentation of software features.

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Sustaining support can maintain migration

More than a few 3000 sites are making a lengthy transition to a different platform. But the story from Viad Corp. shows that dropping 3000 savvy too soon can add expense to any change of environment.

GES Frank Surina reports that he's managing the task of making the company's 3000 data reliable once more. The mission has been complicated by the company's interim 3000 choices. Support for the system's backup software got dropped more than five years ago. Now the 3000's internals are jumbled so badly that a LISTF request for names of files spits out escape sequences along with the filenames.

Surina, who started working at the company in 1989 on the 3000 and returned after a hiatus, has been tasked to sort out the problems. He said its third party support firm hasn't been able to clear up the issues. It's an unusual implementation among 3000 profiles: the IT architecture uses all KSAM files. But unique 3000 software choices have been a part of this shop since the era in the 1990s when one of its groups was called Greyhound Exhibition Services, serving the trade show vendor base. Cerina was part of a team during that time that wrote an in-house Pascal to C converter -- not a typical in-house project.

Viad, an S&P SmallCap 600 firm which now includes a travel group managing Glacier Park tourism as well as the trade show marketing, appears to have lost its 3000 management for too long on the way to a migration. Surina said that Oracle Financials are now nearly complete in serving the company. But one last application that generates job numbers resides on a 3000. The server hasn't completed a full backup since last August, and a hot backup system has had the same data confusion problems exhibited by the main server. Not even the STORE command is working as expected.

Although there's a narrow group of support firms which have broad enough experience to solve the problems at Viad, Surina is pursuing the expertise he needs to repair the 3000 before his migration can complete. This final piece of the transition may have been less costly, if support contracts (for the backup software) and 3000 administration skills remained in place.

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3000 work still impresses at Master Print

HP 3000 expertise can be hard to hawk these days, but some companies are finding it hard to locate, too. Not long ago a Northern Virginia company took to Craigslist to find some HP3000 savvy.

Master Print is one of the largest commercial printers in its area (which includes Washington DC), and the company has used HP 3000s since the Series 9x8 era, prior to the N-Class. Even back while HP was busy cutting back its 3000 business, Master Print was doing more than $30 million per year selling printing. In many ways it's a typical HP 3000 shop, manufacturing at a run rate of under $100 million per year.

Last month Master Print was prowling for an HP 3000 expert, a person who wasn't being asked to help lead a migration away from the 3000. The company has always used Windows in its operations, but the skills sought in the Craigslist ad were classic: COBOL, IMAGE, even KSAM. Minisoft's ODBC middleware, some database management. More than 100 people work at Master Print, a company that's done business since the time the HP 3000 was first introduced.

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Oracle alternatives gain a newer HP-UX entry

EnterpriseDB-UX Any HP 3000 IT manager headed for Unix might see Oracle's no-Integrity ultimatum as a problem while considering HP-UX. These technology pros often want to host their database on the same environment as apps. HP 3000s, built with reliable enterprise attributes, always hosted TurboIMAGE, often on the very same server.

Oracle's got competition on the HP-UX platform, however. The first such database offered to migrating customers was Eloquence, from Marxmeier Software. Creator Michael Marxmeier once said some sites might move from IMAGE to Eloquence as an intermediate step away from the 3000. Oracle -- which knows very little about IMAGE database structures, unlike Eloquence -- could be their likely final destination on some migrations.

Nearly 10 years later after Marxmeier's talk, it's not Eloquence looking like an interim Unix choice, it's Oracle -- which now vows that Integrity and HP-UX will be dropped from future development, HP lawsuits be damned. So this week there's another Oracle alternative being billed as tooled for HP-UX. EnterpriseDB announced a Version 9.0 that's dubbed Postgres Plus Advanced Server. The graphic above from the EnterpriseDB HP-UX webpage (click the graphic for detail) shows HP-UX as blue and Oracle as red and advises against the red route. Postgres is the open source database now being supported by some 3000-savvy tool vendors such as MB Foster. But MB Foster is also a distributor of the Eloquence database, the Oracle alternative that also works well with Foster's UDA suite of tools.

Migrating companies have more than one way to look at database replacements hosted on HP's Unix. They can select the database which will interoperate closely with existing 3000 database application logic, Eloquence. Or the migrators can choose a "commercial open source" database whose leading feature is behaving like Oracle. The latter choice supports the customer who wants to replace their off-the-shelf apps with Oracle-ready programs -- at the same time they change environments.

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3000 Reunion gains pre-reg site, momentum

The Sept. 22-24 HP3000 Reunion is gaining momentum this week, as organizers are counting on a new pre-registration site and counting up the subscribers to the event's official blog. now has 50 subscribers to its updates on the event, still more than two months away from kicking off at the Computer History Museum in the Bay Area. Easy subscription for these notices, delivered via email, is available at the site. Today the Reunion opened up its pre-registration website. 3000 veterans, alumni of HP's 3000 division, advocates and developers and longtime users from the US and Europe are showing interest.

Organizer and volunteer Alan Yeo's company has put up what it calls an "I Think I'm Coming" website. The site takes a user's name, company and email address, plus it records which of the Reunion's events the visitor hopes to attend. As a result, "Who's coming" can be viewed from the pre-reg site. Another poll of how many are interested or coming is available at the Reunion's blog.

The HP3000 Reunion is mostly free at the moment. The event is built around a Sept. 24 party at the Museum, one which Yeo and other organizers and sponsors have said will carry only a nominal charge to cover the bar and food. Notables in the community have signed on for the Reunion blog updates, including some Hewlett-Packard friends and champions of the computer from the past. Former GM Harry Sterling reports he was hoping to be there, but alas, a prior travel engagement will keep him away.

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HP Support Center bumps out into the open

June was a month of transition for the HP IT Response Center. But with July already into its 5th day, it looks like the online support database for HP's server products is still offering a bumpy ride.

The good news is that the new HP Support Center has transferred accounts to the HP Passport sign-in system. Our old account was recognized by the new website this morning. But today's trouble lies beyond user ID recognition. As of noon PDT today, information from the HP Knowledge Base "product selection is currently unavailable, please try again later." The search engine based on product selections is not working today.

HP 3000 questions and answers are located in the "General" category of the "Servers" group for the Support Center's Forum. HP9000 and Integrity and Itanium servers have their own listed categories. The fastest way to locate answers to 3000 issues seems to be to type "HP3000" (note the no-spaces naming of the 3000) plus the subject you're researching.

It seems a bit less than obvious to look for HP "e3000" technical help under the "HP9000" category, but there it is: Still other references can be found in the main part of the "General" category, like discussions about HP 700-Series terminals for the HP 3000 and HP 9000.

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New platforms need great user experience

TouchPad July 11 Today HP started selling its first new computer in many years. The HP TouchPad tablet is a $499 mobile device that wants a share of the booming tablet marketplace. Hewlett-Packard is finding the initial reviews tough on its tablet, but it has an longer-term advantage which HP 3000 customers will recognize. The vendor controls both the hardware and software, just like Apple does with the iPad. HP's even got its own App Store ready to supply WebOS apps for the computer. The vendor has the tools to control the total user experience. Windows and Android separate their hardware from the OS, in contrast.

Brian Edminster -- whose Applied Technologies firm specializes in open source solutions for 3000s and other HP computers -- sees this total user experience as crucial. Edminster advises on using Linux in enterprises including 3000 shops. Linux, we just heard from MB Foster's CEO Birket Foster, is becoming a serious choice for companies making migrations from the platform.

Edminster said that Linux solutions are still competing for the title of best User Interface, since there's a handful to choose among.

In spite of being an open source advocate, I agree about the issues with "user experience," especially those that a vendor without control of a system can cause. The Linux folks are still battling it out between several different GUI systems -- which of course, are not completely compatible, both from a programming interface perspective -- as well as from a user experience perspective. The die-hard open source guys say "survival of the fittest!" and they may well be right. But that doesn't make it any easier in the meantime on system users who aren't technically adept.

To celebrate the independence of the US from former owners -- much like the 3000 community has become independent of HP -- we're taking July 4th off. We'll resume our reports on Tuesday, July 5. But first, read more on independence affecting user experience, here after the break.

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