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August 2011

Bridgeware 2-week data store: no throwaway

Print-Exclusive Taurus Software is teaming up with Abtech and Quest Software on a new SystemBridger bundle. The package includes a non-3000 database server, stocked with a relational database and expertise needed to implement it within a 3000 installation. Bridgeware drives the heart of the solution, which can help create an operational data store in as little as two weeks, said Taurus president Cailean Sherman.

While the software has its uses in migrations, too — Ecometry uses it exclusively for all of their customer migrations — it also enables a staged migration. “It allows them some flexibility,” Sherman said. “Should someone want to straddle the fence and have some of their business on the 3000 and some elsewhere, we can keep these environments in sync.”

But the Bundle is aimed at the customer who has no immediate plan to leave the 3000 and wants Windows, or even Linux- and Unix-based analysis tools. The design is to let the 3000’s production maintain its current pace, even while customers are using the data for advanced business intelligence.

“It’s the biggest need we see, to get reports built in the open systems environments,” Sherman said. “It’s just so much faster to create analysis with those tools.”

Over time a BridgeWare user who’s got a Bundle can begin to start porting data to new applications on other systems. Data from the new applications can be bridged back to applications that remain working on the HP 3000. The technology can get deployed with minimal work from a homesteader’s IT staff.

Continue reading "Bridgeware 2-week data store: no throwaway" »

HP3000 Reunion opens ticket sales online

Dancing-with-the-hp-3000 Reaching for a different kind of user group experience, the HP3000 Reunion is opening up "ticket sales," instead of registrations, starting today. The Saturday night party on Sept. 24 is $49, with sales of the tickets available through a portal on the website. Credit cards and PayPal are the means to pay, unless attendees want to bring cash to the door.

(To be clear, the NewsWire is handling these PayPal transactions and passing them along to pay the bills in mounting a party and meeting. But like everyone who's involved in making this Reunion weekend happen, there's not a penny of profit in it. Quite the opposite, but that's the reward of being a volunteer and booster.)

The party's menu is online, alongside the "Add to Cart" button on the website. There's even a "Bay Area Unemployed" price to help out people who want to attend but are on a budget. That's a $25 ticket. Keep in mind that either ticket includes access to the Computer History Museum, where admissions are $15 per person.

We're staying updated on the latest to fill out a schedule of events over the weekend, but we're certain the Saturday party is 5-10 PM, with supper service and the sparking wine toasts between 5:30 and 9:30. But the CAMUS group is already assembling a good overview of the Thursday-Saturday scheduled events. An FAQ is due out soon.

Continue reading "HP3000 Reunion opens ticket sales online" »

HP shakes up its PR, sees its stock rise

An item at the Good Morning Silicon Valley website today notes that HP’s PR leadership has been, um, adjusted. Its chief communications officer has been reassigned and the PR team shuffled, according to Bloomberg, in the wake of a massive stock sell-off that drove the company's shares into the low $20s. The new PR leader is Bill Wohl, who worked with Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker at SAP. Wohl joined HP in January.

HP is facing many challenges as it seeks to shift its focus away from consumer hardware and toward enterprise software and services. Brandon Bailey of the Mercury News pointed out over the weekend that HP’s PC business, which it wants to unload, supports other important segments of the company. In addition, the tech giant’s other divisions are dealing with growth issues.

HPQAug29 All of this is important to the HP 3000 owner who's sticking with Hewlett-Packard in a transition. HP's stock is dangerously low-priced at the moment, considering how profitable the company remains. It all has to do with a price/earnings ratio, and on Aug. 19 HP's was just 5.2. That number needs to be higher. Low share price and high profits can indicate a ripe takeover target, as unthinkable as that might seem.

In a story passed along by HP 3000 open source expert Brian Edminster, a Wall Street Journal columnist outlines a one-year plan to kill HP -- from the inside. (Until Sept. 5, you can read it for free online.) The column includes a summary of the last 12 months of HP missteps that's accurate but somewhat wrong-headed, because the Al Lewis article insists that Mark Hurd was running HP well during 2010.

From former CEO Carly Fiorina's spectacular flame-out, and former chairwoman Patricia Dunn's illegal spying scandal, to Mr. Hurd's alleged sex scandal that apparently didn't involve any sex at all, this sort of dysfunction has become "the HP Way." It has been a year since HP fired Mr. Hurd. Jack Kevorkian couldn't have devised a better plan for euthanizing a company. But like the good doctor used to say: "Dying is not a crime."

HP's shares almost made it to $26 today. In the 10 days since the sell-off, it's managed a recovery of about half of the 20 percent it coughed up overnight on its no-TouchPad, PC division spinoff news. You have to go out into 2009 to find the shares as cheap as $26, and HP wasn't stumbling over a tablet or spinning out anything in March of that year. Perhaps a better spin on HP's changes can reassure investors and analysts.

Data store bundles to speed report set ups

Taurus Software, Quest Software and Abtech Systems are teaming up for a product which plays by a 3000 homesteader's rules: Migration is too costly in a legacy environment.

Print-Exclusive The new SystemBridger Bundle combines the BridgeWare software from Taurus and Quest Software with systems and integration services from Abtech. The goal is to get a real-time operational datastore running in lock-step with a 3000 — and the hook is to accomplish it in as little as two weeks.

Taurus President Cailean Sherman said the Bundle allows 3000 sites to take advantage of homesteading by leveraging state-of-the-art reporting tools. The combination of the software and hardware is designed to bridge an open systems environment with legacy systems.

"Over the years we've been working with a lot of companies who are either homesteading, or taking their time migrating off the 3000," Sherman said. "But they also want to take advantage of all the open systems tools to perform ad hoc analysis."

This type of analysis wasn't feasible for some homesteaders, because the access took its toll on the production performance of IMAGE and KSAM databases, she explained. A combination of recent projects, BridgeWare enhancements and discounting led to the partnership with Abtech. The result is a data store, including the relational database license and hardware fully implemented, priced between $10,000 and $75,000.

Continue reading "Data store bundles to speed report set ups" »

Reunite the eggs of the 3000, pre-chickens

You are a social group. When I have tried to describe what’s unique about the HP 3000 world, the eyes roll as I begin with “computer people.” I stop. I explain that you’re a very social bunch, unlike most of the wizards and experts who tend to computers. “They’ve known each other for years, some even decades,” I explain. The stories I’ve heard and told are at least as much about people as their beloved machines.

So a reunion is a classic event for your social group. Many of us have attended reunions, usually from high school because as they say, “high school is never really over.” My only reunion before this fall was a 30th anniversary of the Class of 1974 at Central Catholic High. I hadn’t seen my former schoolmates in three decades, and hoped I’d reconnect to remember. I was disappointed at the small turnout that didn’t include my cohorts, or a lack of goofy awards and name tags with yearbook pictures like in the movies.

CCHS Reunion04 Then I walked into the gym alongside the class president and homecoming queen. We stood together in the quiet with the lights shining off the high gloss of the wooden basketball floor. Those years, the failures and triumphs and the curious notoriety of life as a nerd rushed at me. In that room my classmates heard a favorite teacher report at graduation assembly, “He’s an alternate to West Point, and he’ll keep trying until he gets in.”

Only a small bit of that impossible challenge came true, my Army enlistment. But the experience of a setting with more than 100 people, all who shared those rows of blue lockers where the freshman got stuffed and the chat-ups with our steadys went down, that was special. I took pictures of the setting and the characters on hand. In less than an hour that reunion touched me. “I’ve come this far, learned that much, become someone better through my mistakes,” I thought on the flight back from Toledo. Talked as an equal with the class president and the queen, woo-hoo.

Your Reunion, four weeks from today, celebrates that same kind of journey. The characters in the rooms of the Computer History museum will remind and refresh you about what you have learned in 15, 20 or 30-plus years of 3000 experiences. Some of that knowledge and experience serves you today, maybe like the ability to fix poached eggs remains with my partner and wife Abby.

Continue reading "Reunite the eggs of the 3000, pre-chickens" »

Current events echo strategic thinking at HP

Commentary by John Wolff
CIO, Laaco Ltd.

The HP TouchPad (now effectively designated the OuchPad) enjoyed the briefest exposure to the marketplace that I have ever witnessed at the hands of HP management. Customers, especially IT managers, expect at least a little commitment from their vendors when they risk their dollars (and quite possibly their jobs) on a product or a product line.

Update: Bloomberg analysts identify HP, enterprise business as takeover targets

Marked down TouchPadAs if this wasn't bad enough, in one fell swoop HP management simultaneously calls into question their entire line of PC products by publicly airing their musings about what the corporate disposition strategy might be for the Personal Systems Group (PSG). The damage to shareholder value was nothing short of stunning; i.e. 20 percent in one day (I own no HP stock and am not short on it either.) This company seems capable of changing long term strategy on a dime with almost no warning and no real plan as to what the next move should be.

One cannot help but compare this shocking move (except for the compressed time period) to the decision that ended the HP 3000 line. In this case, however, HP was even the PC market leader and profitable. The sheer size of PSG provides parts pricing benefits to their other product lines, as well as a soup to nuts product strategy -- one which HP's CEO earlier this year hailed as a cornerstone of Hewlett-Packard's success.

Continue reading "Current events echo strategic thinking at HP" »

Jobs resignation shows different succession

JobsPresent Steve Jobs, 56 years old and on his third medical leave, has resigned from his CEO job at Apple. He also left the company with a heritage and credo that can only be compared to Walt Disney’s. Jobs did Walt’s exit even better, naming Tim Cook as successor to the CEO position. Jobs is also remaining as Apple’s Chairman of the Board and a director.

Cook doesn’t have to move anything into a new office, because he’s been running Apple as CEO in fact for much of the last three years. Cook, 50, has been performing CEO duties since the start of this year. He’s been a constant presence in the Apple analyst briefings about the spectacular quarterly results the company has posted for more than six quarters by now. As Jobs’ resignation letter confirms, Apple had a succession plan in place for this day. The succession was swift, unlike the last three changes to the CEO position of Hewlett-Packard. Cook’s election to the CEO post was immediate by the Apple board, based on instructions in the brief letter Jobs used to file his resignation.

As the news of HP's past seven days confirms, change is arriving on swift waters in this industry and in our world. In essays across the Web, Jobs is seeing his confirmation as an innovator who built, dreamed and lured talent over three-plus decades to leave his company in stellar shape. His name is being uttered today with tones like two that we know: "Bill," and "Dave." Jobs' impact on Apple is indelible by now, the result of 35 years serving in a time very different from the 1939-1978 CEO leadership of Hewlett and Packard. What's Different, an element Apple liked to promote, is Jobs' mark on computing -- which is likely to extend almost as long after his departure from the CEO office. In an essay on my Bites of Apple blog, I look back at a dark point in his life that crossed part of my journalism career, and how it showed hope for those who thrive on being different.

The HP 3000 has always been just as different as Apple was in the 1980s, and they both continue to be three decades later. Choosing a 3000 to run a company wasn't safe like selecting an IBM minicomputer or mainframe. But it was better, even continues to be so for some customers even eight years after HP built the last one. It feels like a lifetime since we've been hearing about Steve Jobs. That means the 3000 has a lifetime-plus in our memories, while the HP of Bill and Dave has become a memory. We'll have commentary on that later today, from a community member who's worked with and advocated for 3000s even longer than Jobs has been on the job.

HP3000 Reunion sparks visa for emulator

Veterans of the 3000 community have become some of the hardest-working men and women in the show business. With the HP3000 Reunion starting less than a month from today, the three-day event that includes the CAMUS user group show has snagged a speaker from so far away that he needs a visa -- and will cross 11 time zones

We're not talking the Visa credit card company here, but travel documents to transport the 3000 lead developer Igor Abramov from the Moscow officlink service providers with application providers, so customers can have application deployment alternativese of Stromasys, where the Zelus HP 3000 emulator is being built. Abramov, who's fluent in English while he's been learning the deep language of MPE, will be speaking and taking questions during the Friday CAMUS meeting at the Computer History Museum at 4 PM on Sept 23.

An emulator is a vital part of keeping some HP 3000 ERP operations in production. The Support Group's president David Floyd has said that MANMAN -- which is at the heart of CAMUS member sites such as Ametek Power Instruments, Crane Electronics and century-old Fasco Motors -- can be supported through 2020. Ametek has a shutoff date of 2024 for its 3000.

An emulator like Zelus appears to have a secure place in the future of MANMAN. CAMUS director Terry Floyd says, "I think CAMUS will be happy to dedicate the entire Technical Presentation part of our meeting to Stromasys. [Abramov] can have over an hour, including the Q&A with [Stromasys CTO] Dr. Robert Boers."

Continue reading "HP3000 Reunion sparks visa for emulator" »

Zipping Files on Today's HP 3000s

Although the code for compressing files on HP 3000s is more than a decade old, like a lot of things on the system, it continues to work as expected. A customer recently asked how to Zip and Unzip files to move things between the HP 3000 and other servers.

Tracy Johnson, who manages the Invent3K server operated by OpenMPE, noted he's using the MPE/iX Posix shell's compress and uncompress. "It creates a file that ends in capital Z. Seems the compressed format is compatible with both GNU-zip and Winzip programs or any other *nix machine."

Lars Appel, who ported the Samba file sharing tool to MPE, offers a comprehensive answer. He points to software that resides on his own development server, open to the public.

You can pick up the InfoIP zip/unzip programs (in a tar file) at The link in that webpage that contains the zip/unzip programs is


Transfer it to the 3000 in bytestream or (fixed) binary format and then unpack with :/bin/tar "-xvzopf FILENAME". Place the two programs where you like; I typically have them in /usr/local/bin or (with uppercase filename) in a group or directory that is part of my HPPATH settings.

The web page also contains a tar.Z file with /usr/local/bin/gzip


(gzip -d decompresses; creating a symbolic link gunzip is also useful)


Prescient humor hopped up around HP in '10

HP's TouchPad strategy has been the butt of plenty of jokes since the company announced it would stop manufacturing the product. The HP 3000 community got an early start on the humor, more than a year ago. In the very week when HP announced it would purchase Palm and the TouchPad's WebOS, HP 3000 developers and veterans cracked wise about how long it might take to give WebOS the same kind of demise that HP lashed onto MPE.

In April of 2010, the 3000-L mailing list veterans commented on the prospects for a new OS at HP. The company hadn't even announced a TouchPad at that time. But the skepticism seeped swiftly from a group of people who'd seen the worst happen to an HP product. "What a handy way to wipe out WebOS," started the comments. "Can HP actually go anyplace with WebOS?" Tracy Pierce asked. "The old HP could have, but the old HP seems to have been dead for at least 10 years."

Olav Kappert, who's now offering 3000 consulting at $35 an hour, lobbed out first with "Now if only HP could put MPE or Unix on them. Or should I say, when will HP discontinue support for the new OS?"

Duane Percox of K-12 software vendor QSS had a few more details to consider, all of which look crucial in hindsight, 16 months later. To start, Percox pegged the Old HP's spotty record in software.

Continue reading "Prescient humor hopped up around HP in '10" »

MBF Scheduler gets subqueues in v 3.1

MB Foster is announcing the immediate release of SUBQUEUES in version 3.1 of its MBF Scheduler. The Windows-based product was created at the company to give Windows enterprises -- especially those migrating from HP 3000s -- the kind of robust scheduling built into MPE/iX.

The Scheduler now gives administrators fine-grained control over queues and delivers the 3000-like robust job scheduling features required to automate daily, weekly and monthly processes for Windows Server customers. The product, which customers can try for free for 30 days, gives complete visibility and control over data processing jobs.

Such an enterprise-grade solution makes it easier for system administrators and operators to manage running jobs, view job output, schedule jobs, view the queue of scheduled jobs, and maintain complex dependencies and relationships between jobs.

"Ever since our June 20th HIPRI and RUN NOW release, we have been asked by numerous industry leaders for this type of capability," said Birket Foster, MB Foster CEO. "The Scheduler's newly added SUBQUEUE enhancements ensure that we're meeting our customers’ evolving needs to deliver a solution that fits their batch job scheduling requirements.”

The MB Foster website lists additional Scheduler enhancements. The company will arrange for a 30-day evaluation version, schedule a webinar, or deliver more information with an email to [email protected].

That Hitler meme enters HP's history

Hitler TouchPad The outcry and public lashing over HP's stock and its tech choices has been scorching over the last three days. After the company yanked the futures out from under the TouchPad and WebOS (the former is dead, the latter is looking for somewhere to recoup HP's $1.2 billion Palm buyout), HP sold off its own tablet stock on the Web this weekend at $99 a TouchPad. Sold them quickly, too.

But just as quickly, the Hitler-Tech-Ranting meme made an entry into HP's modern history. A great foreign film which won an Oscar, Downfall, has been used as a satire seedbed for so many technical mistakes and missteps like the one HP's committed. The crisis scene in the Berlin bunker, late in the movie, is swiped by tech world commentators and hijacked with fresh subtitles.

HP has now gotten the same treatment as Apple (for its iPad naming, and the iPhone Antennagate), Google (for the demise of Buzz and Wave) and other high fliers. This latest version (unsanctioned by either the filmmakers, or HP) includes a reference to Stalin using an iPad, plus some ominous cheer at the end about how Hitler still believes HP still makes the best PCs. HP is looking at every option for the future of its PC business, including "the potential of a non-transaction," according to CEO Leo Apothker. It's a mystery how any tech leader can announce its PC business might be for sale, and then not sell it.

YouTube has been diligent about yanking these off the Web, in due time. The Downfall clip has been used for everything from burger chain kids getting fired, to Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson's breakup, to Michael Jackson's death. (Largely because of the great acting; check out the film to see a fabulous performance by Bruno Ganz.) See the TouchPad version while you can, unless you feel nothing about Hitler could be funny in the least. Nobody can be blamed for holding that belief -- or that HP's got little future selling anything other than enterprise computers and their software, HP services, and its printers. Gone are the days of HP flatscreen TVs.

Investors are returning to the stock this morning, which is almost up to $25 with more than 20 million shares traded during the first hour. 128 million shares traded on Friday.

HP Q3 numbers no joke, TouchPad ads aside

HP made computing history yesterday. And only part of the legend concerns the brilliant-comet flameout of the company's killer -- and now dead -- HP TouchPad. The rest of the company report on its third quarter was tragic as well.

One possible headline out of the numbers HP reported yesterday: Hewlett-Packard Reports Higher Q3 Earnings. The Associated Press actually used that one, along with "Details on HP's businesses: drop, keep, sell?" There's a question mark on that second one because, unlike the swift sword dropped on the TouchPad and Palm line, HP hasn't decided on whether it will cut loose its PC business, PSG.

Kramden"Why not just spin off PSG right now?" asked analyst Shannon Cross at the quarterly briefing yesterday. "Why leave it with the overhang of some other potential strategic move? Since you're getting rid of WebOS, how do we consider that you were going to push WebOS further into your PCs?" HP's answers from its CEO Leo Apotheker started with the fact that WebOS is not dead yet. Moving into a Ralph Kramden "hummina, hummina" tone, the CEO said

We've decided to look at all of the strategic options around PSG. All of them. The announcement of today will allow us to look at it more closely, including all the synergies and aspects of that operation. Over time a decision will arise about the appropriate way for PSG to go forward.

The gallows humor of translation jokes -- "We need to find the talent inside PSG and offer it a chance to stay before we announce a sale" -- isn't the worst of a black Friday for the darkened HP futures. The company fell back to calling itself an enterprise computing firm yesterday, at the same time SFO Cathie Lesjak delivered "the most difficult outlook I've had to give" during a tenure that's lasted more than four years. The markets reacted by selling HP down by almost 20 percent over one day.(below). That won't help the Dow.

HP's other businesses are showing scant growth now, and the most enterprise-like of its efforts, the Enterprise Server, Storage & Networking unit, must carry the dead weight of Business Criticial Systems around its neck. PSG, the largest chunk of HP revenues and the only group to show any increase in operating profits, is now being examined like a weak movie from TouchPad spokesman Russell Brand. Does HP now take PSG straight to DVD? It outsold HP Services as well as servers, but posted the smallest operating profit share of any HP group. Meanwhile, sales of Business Critical Systems running 3000 migration target HP-UX have dropped 9 percent. The stock lost 10 percent of its price overnight on the report's numbers, and another 6 percent on news of the historic short lifespan of the TouchPad. WebOS looks like it's on life support.

Continue reading "HP Q3 numbers no joke, TouchPad ads aside" »

HP WebOS, PCs: All to become history?

Sector breakout Q3 2011 Hewlett-Packard will spin off its PC business, and the future of WebOS is now looking dark indeed, according to reports in the PC press. The sauciest headline so far has been "HP to PCs: Drop dead." As part of an HP press release about an acquisition of a UK software firm, the company leaked out early results from its Q3 (scant revenue growth, but beating analyst estimates on profits.) It showed that PCs are the biggest slice of the HP revenue pie (above, click for detail). Never mind that May-July action, though.

HP also reported that it plans to announce that its board of directors has authorized the exploration of strategic alternatives for its Personal Systems Group (PSG). HP will consider a broad range of options that may include, among others, a full or partial separation of PSG from HP through a spin-off or other transaction.

In this karma-coming-home moment, the half of HP's shareholders who said in 2001 buying Compaq was bad business -- well, now HP believes they're probably right. What HP got out of that decade was Compaq's ProLiants, which probably will remain in HP's Enterprise Servers, Storage & Networks division. Even though they're Intel Xeon-based Windows systems, most of them.

What's dead looks to be WebOS, and for sure its hardware. "HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward." By the end of October that's the end of the HP TouchPad as we know it, and the Palm heritage of smartphones, too. HP hasn't had a flameout of a computer this quick since, well, never -- not even the crude launch of the 3000 in 1972, the one that made Dave Packard swear he was right about not needing to be in the computer business. At least the 3000 got 90 days or so before HP backed it out of the market.

(A swing through Costco today showed plenty of TouchPads on the shelves at $479 for the big-storage 32GB model. HP wanted to sell a TouchPad tablet with half as much storage at the same price just six weeks ago. You're glad there's an easy return policy at Costco, if you've shopped there today. Imagine the markdowns to come.) At least HP got to attempt comedy with its Russell Brand commercials. Nobody in financials was laughing at the silence of sales, however.

Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal were both guessing this morning that PCs will be a prior HP product very soon. As I pointed out yesterday, products like a laptop, a tablet or a printer can help an enterprise vendor get a foot in the door. That's what HP's been saying all year while beating the WebOS drum. The laptop world is working well for HP right now, and you can read about the TouchPad troubles in yesterday's story. WebOS still belongs to HP now. It looks likely to be licensed to anybody who'd want it. HP may sell off its PC operations, just like IBM did. Many years ago.

Continue reading "HP WebOS, PCs: All to become history?" »

HP's quarterlies await after negative Touch

TouchPad for Biz Under the heading of This Might Not Help, the HP TouchPad tablet has a take-them-back return order from retailer Best Buy. According to a story at, 200,000 units of the newest HP computer are sitting on Best Buy shelves. The head of HP's PC business Todd Bradley is in flight to Best Buy HQ to talk the retailer off the ledge. HP's stock has dropped 5 percent today, perhaps in reaction to the news. The vendor has said that it will make the TouchPad's WebOS a serious part of its enterprise strategy over the next year-plus.

Hewlett-Packard at least needs to hope that's the reason for today's stock decline. Tomorrow the vendor will release and discuss its quarterly numbers at 5 PM EDT. A drop in a company's stock usually happens after negative financial news -- although there's no telling for sure if the Thursday afternoon news will be good or bad.

The vast majority of HP stock is traded by institutions, but these companies have a vote with dollars about what Hewlett-Packard does in the future. The HP 3000 never generated this kind of dip, or bounce, because that HP of the '70s and beyond didn't know how to draw widespread attention to that enterprise server.

Although HP has no link to the TouchPad on its main products page, a lot of shareholders will be paying attention tomorrow to see if the new CEO -- and his affection for software -- has the magic touch. HP needs it to lift its stock beyond $31 a share, while its enterprise rival IBM trades at $170 without a tablet.

Continue reading "HP's quarterlies await after negative Touch" »

Where to Go for the Manuals You Know

LaserROM Hewlett-Packard was proud of putting out information digitally in 1988. By 2011, it takes some hunting and revising of browser bookmarks to keep track of HP 3000 documentation. The website, well-known by the community, became at HP two summers ago. (And that address redirects to an even longer URL today.)

Two years ago, HP licensed the 3000's documentation to Client Systems and Speedware for re-hosting. But Speedware's director Chris Koppe said during the 2009 Community Meet that HP won't permit these partners to host the manuals for public access until HP clears the materials from embargo. HP said at that meeting it will host the documentation through 2015. That is, if you can find it; HP's support website has been in a "pardon our dust" state since June.

MPE Docs While it negotiated for an "open" future of MPE, the community was adamant about the HP 3000 documentation flowing into third-party hands. The two companies above have a full set of manuals ready to host, and it's a good thing -- because the 3000 server manuals appear to have vanished from HP's web archives. Search for "HP 3000" at the above address and you'll get a long list of 3000 server links. Every link reports "There are no technical support documents for this product relating to manuals, guides, supplements, addendums, etc." (Tip of the hat to Donna Hoffmeister, former OpenMPE director, for the heads-up about disappearing 3000 documents.)

While those browser interfaces (above) still link up fine for MPE/iX 6.x and 7.x software, the elusive hardware manuals almost make you wish for the days of CDs -- when Hewlett-Packard boasted of "Delivering Information at the Speed of Light" with HP LaserROM. Those faster-than-ever deliveries couldn't disappear so easily. Today it takes and the to shed light on the hardware docs.

Continue reading "Where to Go for the Manuals You Know" »

HP Support Center chokes up info delivery

The Grand Opening at the HP Support Center this summer is closing down access to entitled requests, according to users and support providers. Donna Hoffmeister of Allegro Consulting has been stymied on multiple occasions since HP's ITRC website got its makeover during June.

She reports that her particular rants on the Center include

1. My repeatedly getting locked out from entitled (knowledge base) documents.  I'll go for weeks with no trouble, then “poof” I suddenly can't get in.  

2. Access support for the Support Center is very hard to locate (it's buried under several non-obvious links). Plus, there doesn't seem to be a way to actually get a human to talk to, if you finally figure out how to ask a question. When you do, you get a boiler-plate reply (from some offshore person).

There's more -- but we'd like to know what your experience has been with the new website for HP support. Rants or just reports, we'd like to hear them all. We'll anonymize your identification, if you'd prefer.

Continue reading "HP Support Center chokes up info delivery" »

Reunion nears 100 with bonus, hotel rate

Organizers of the HP3000 Reunion report that the pre-registraton is mounting -- quickly enough that a bonus is in order. For the 100th attendee to complete the form at the pre-reg site, the Reunion will comp that person for the Saturday night party. The Reunion has also selected a nearby hotel, reserving a block of rooms with a special rate for the event.

J Wines The Sept. 24 soiree is going to include some premium sparkling wine for a few toasts, according to Alan Yeo, head honcho of the event. A deal is being arranged to get sparkling brut rose from J Vineyards and Winery. The winemaker uses winery management software that was first sold for and developed on HP 3000s by AMS.

A registration code for a special rate at rooms in the Cupertino Inn, just a few miles from the event's Computer History Museum venue, is "HP3000REUNON." Friday-Sunday nights are available at $99 for Reunion attendees; Thursday night stays are $149. Call the hotel at 800.222.4828 (408.996.7700 from overseas) to get the Reunion rates and book your rooms.

As of this weekend, the hotel is booking at Reunion rates for its Standard Queen rooms, with two queen beds. But if you ask and it's available, you can get a Standard King with a single, bigger bed. Be sure to tell the reservation agent that you're booking a room in a Group, so they can find the exclusive rate.

Widespread COBOL still gaining technology

IsCOBOL This just in: You're still working with COBOL. It's especially true for 3000 shops, migrated or not, who use their own applications. Even the apps that once belonged to third party vendors; some of that source code has been bought by companies years ago, modified and re-tuned to special business needs.

If you're working toward a migration of COBOL code, then the makers of isCOBOL have news for you. COBOL is still in vogue. Veryant reported to me today in a press notice

COBOL is still very widespread, found in thousands of corporate data centers and government agencies. It is estimated that there are still some 200 billion lines of COBOL code running. While new, user-friendly front ends have been added to COBOL, since 1959 it has been the corporate workhorse of behind-the-scenes data processing.

So there's performance gains to be had by using isCOBOL. Speedware's Nick Fortin has been tracking this compiler for awhile, although so far it's not a tool being adopted by migrating 3000 shops.

Continue reading "Widespread COBOL still gaining technology" »

Healthcare systems heading to waiting room

Bruce Conrad, a longtime HP 3000 developer working at Dell's Services group which was formerly Perot Systems, provided a check-up on the Amisys apps he's supporting for US clients. Oracle is making a beachhead at the 3000 shop, where Conrad works on an EDI claims system. It's been a long transition, but that 3000 will be making its transition before too much longer.

"Amisys is still the heart of the system, but it'll be headed to God's waiting room soon," Conrad said. "I'm sure the HP3000 will still be around for a while. We have so many feeds/extracts going in and out that it's going to take a while to dismantle them."

Conrad says the transition to Oracle Health Insurance is still underway, and will be for some time. "I think we are doing some major migrations soon, though. I haven't seen the app yet, but we use Oracle's database, eBusiness, FMS and other stuff, so we're becoming a big Oracle shop.

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ProLiant's speed, price spur 3000's exit

ML 150 HP put a new model of ProLiant server on sale today at a starting price of $599. This isn't a laptop. It's an ML 110 G7 system which can run either Windows or Linux, and it includes a quad-core 3.10GHz Xeon processor and 2 gigs of memory. The total cost to acquire will run under $1,000, including drives and support. If you want to step up to a bigger ProLiant, the ML 150 (shown at left) running the prior-generation G6 chip, with Windows Small Business Server 2011 preinstalled, is priced at a shade over $2,000.

Comparing this HP hardware has never been fair to the HP 3000, because the ProLiant -- created by Compaq and so popular that the brand survived the 2000 HP-Compaq merger -- was built for the commodity market. A $2,000 Series 979 on Amazon is about as close as a business-grade 3000 will get to commodity status. It's also an unfair comparison because the 3000 gets some of its oomph from using an integrated OS-database, pairing MPE with IMAGE/SQL. Microsoft, of course, has been working with Oracle to capture some of that same kind of oomph.

But this analysis is one reason that companies to move on from 3000 hardware built before 2000: the hardware's hard numbers, in GHz and dollars. There's more to compare. Duane Percox of K-12 software vendor QSS compared COBOLs six years ago. Those performance numbers have gotten nothing but more persuasive for Windows- or Linux-bound migrators. (Percox will be on hand at the Sept. 24 HP3000 Reunion. He's helping to arrange the Reunion's menu -- just as he did for the first 3000 meeting outside of a user group, a few months before he benchmarked those COBOLs on 2005 Intel chips.)

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HP once had a system it would sing about

In the wake of the news that HP's newest computer has been marked down already (now $399 for a TouchPad), it's worth a moment's thought to remember that other nouveau HP systems had rocky starts against established competition. Like the HP 3000.

HP Songs 2 Paul Edwards, former board member of Interex and OpenMPE and an independent consultant since the 1980s, sent along a few songs that HP warbled about its business computer while that machine was still in its teens, less than half its current age. The songsheet at left, (detail if you click) and after the break, includes notes about New Wave, new technology that HP was pressing as hard as the WebOS operating system which drives that discounted TouchPad.

The HP 3000 weathered as rough a start in its launch during its first quarter 38 years ago. Not only was there severe discounting going on during fiscal 1973, HP was replacing the servers with 2116 units where they could, and pulling the computer back into the labs for better development. On that occasion HP's problem was not with the operating system -- MPE was called the "golden saddle on the back of a jackass." Big problems came from trying to fit the OS into a too-compact memory stack. There was entrenched competition a-plenty in those days, just like in today's tablet market where an established iPad is calling the tune to which the TouchPad must dance.

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An HP 3000 on Amazon: How low to go?

Amazon 979The world's leading retailer has added a posting for a higher-horsepower HP 3000. has a page this week where a Series 979 is on sale by IT Equipment Express for a shade under $2,000. There's four processors in the system, so it has a performance rating higher than the more recent A-Class servers, or even a lowball N-Class.

HP 3000s have shown up on eBay up to now, some at far lower prices than this near-top-end Series 900. Four years ago, even an HP reseller was giving away Series 918s with a purchase of an N-Class. But when a computer shows up on an Amazon page, it's a sign that it may have passed into commodity status.

Years ago, while the HP 3000 community was lobbying Hewlett-Packard to push 3000s into new customer sites, a system of this price was proposed. In 1997 the software vendors of longest standing, such as Adager, QSS and AICS Research, were slashing license costs to the bone for a Series 908. This 3000 model was never released by HP, but it failed to scrub the concept from some marketing documents that got leaked. In those days, a 3000's price was tied to a user limit. The 908 would have been a just a 4-user system, but 14 years ago it still could have sold in the range of $5,000 and raised interest.

In contrast, the Series 979 listed on Amazon can accomodate hundreds of users. (OpenMPE's Invent3K server is hosted on such a system.) One of these servers was priced in 2007 on the used market at $14,000, including MPE licenses. This week that same piece of hardware is available from the world's online retailer, at a price below what the mythical 908 would have cost.

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Old veteran console tricks for PCs

Got a wheezing PC someplace in your IT shop? Believe it or not, even the creakiest of desktops can still serve your HP 3000: as a console, a la the HP700/92 variety. This is the kind of PC where, as one veteran puts it,"the keyboards have turned to glue."

...Trying to type a coherent instruction (or even worse, trying to talk someone through that task remotely) where random keys require the application of a sledgehammer to make them respond, at which point they auto repeatttttttttttttttt.

It's enough to give a veteran manager a pain in the posterior, but hey -- some HP 3000s (of the 900 Series) demand a physical console as part of their configuration. Can't you just hook up such an antique PC straight to the 3000's special console port and let it work as a console? Yes, you can.

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Being an Early Bird easier for 3000 alums

Hotel rooms up and down and all around the Bay Area Peninsula are booked solid for a fall computer meeting. No, it's not the HP3000 Reunion. It's Oracle OpenWorld, being held October 2-6 -- the weekend that follows the Reunion, an event also being mounted in the Bay Area. Whether you're attending either, the organizers would like you to arrange your lodging soon.

OpenWorld, we were told by Taurus Software's president Cailean Sherman, is now so big that the vendor who's battling HP in court and elsewhere rents out part of Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay for the weekend -- as just one venue booked by a company with an avid yachtsman for a CEO, Larry Ellison. Parties, bands, all are on offer at what's becoming the largest computer trade show in the industry. Good luck getting a good room in San Francisco in early October. Taurus, which has served the 3000 community since 1987, and a much bigger market since the 1990s, participates in OpenWorld.

OpenWorld is keeping its early bird registration open a bit longer, however, a sign that attendence is not yet what the organizers hope it will achieve. Until August 12 the price is $2,095 for the 2,000 sessions and 450 vendor exhibits, $500 off the walk-up rate. Now that Oracle has bought Sun, the JavaOne conference is held the same week. The website says, "An affordable San Francisco hotel? It's possible at OracleWorld." But that October weekend is starting to look booked.

Please be advised that Oracle OpenWorld and JavaOne 2011 events will be occupying the majority of hotel space in the San Francisco area. We recommend that you book your accommodations and flights as early as possible.

A lodging location for the HP3000 Reunion is being organized this week, but your community's event won't require you ride a boat to travel from your hotel to the event.

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More COBOL than meets migration's eye

KOBOL HP 3000 managers had it easy when they used MPE to develop apps. Nearly all of the work was done in COBOL, and the only COBOL with any serious use was HP's COBOL II. Now there's work to be done in choosing a replacement compiler, but there's more than just one flavor of Micro Focus or the new generation of AcuCOBOL to select.

For one thing, open source has made COBOL a fresh choice. Speedware started doing business in selling COBOL-IT. Although that product name is unfamiliar to 3000 sites, the technology leadership is pretty well known. COBOL-IT is run by former Acucorp managers. They've taken the OpenCOBOL source code, which is controlled by the General Public License (GPL) like most open source tools, and applied some nifty extensions to the compiler.

The GPL terms mean that the COBOL-IT work has to be made available to OpenCOBOL users. COBOL-IT, which has been integrated into Speedware's AMXW solution, is a commercial open source solution. That means that it is the support and the ongoing improvements you license, not the software. COBOL-IT is a free download.

There's an even more mature open source solution for non-MPE COBOL, one crafted by a former 3000 developer. From The Kompany, have a look at KOBOL.

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Online community grows to 350 members

3000commlogo LinkedIn, the Facebook for career professionals, has logged its 350th member in the HP 3000 Community group this week. The last 90 days have seen a remarkable uptick in membership; more than 15 percent growth has propelled this social business website since the beginning of May.

It's not easy to say why there's a surge of members joining the group right now. HP has dropped off the radar of most HP3000 issues and activities. The robust 3000-L mailing list still boasts more than 600 members, and its content is pointed closely at technical issues and repairs for 3000 faults, often contributed for free by consultants who charge at rates that start at $35 an hour.

But LinkedIn is different in a very significant way. Joining the site (basic membership is free) helps you network, gives you easy, direct communication with members, and best of all, is a way to get your work experience and resumes into play. Your members include owners and managers of some of the most established support and consulting firms. Just this weekend VP Stan Sieler of Allegro joined the ranks. Steve Suraci of Pivital solutions has long been a member. There is also a subgroup of the HP 3000 Community, HP 3000 Jobs.

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