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September 2011

Global manufacturer emulates 3000 schedule

Measurement Specialties, one of the most extensive users of HP 3000s and MANMAN in China, the US and elsewhere, has adopted MBF Scheduler to manage its Windows batch job scheduling. The MANMAN user has been busy managing growth. The director of business systems Terry Simpkins couldn't attend the recent HP3000 Reunion because he was installing a system in France.

I really wish I could be there, but there was just no way.  We are installing the MANBAR 'add-on' to MANMAN at one of our sites in France. [Director of IT] Bob Andreini and I are both members of the CAMUS board of directors (which also met this week at the Reunion), while the two of us are both here in France this week.

The company is headquartered in Virginia and does business in 65 countries, producing sensors. They include fluid property sensors, photo optic sensors for medical applications, temperature sensors, position sensors to help control a Segway, pressure sensors to measure inches of water, chemical properties and salinity; and rotational position sensors for Gilbarco fuel pumps to measure the flow of fuel.

Andreini has a staff of 32 to help him manage operations. Simpkins is responsible for ERP implementation and support with primary focus on the MANMAN manufacturing app. Using Windows, MBF Scheduler is able to emulate the HP 3000 scheduler. The Measurement Specialty team immediately understood the concepts -- it talked the same language they did.

The company was using internal resources to manually manage Windows batch jobs and living within the constraints of Microsoft's Windows scheduler. The pain was compounded as Measurement Specialties developed other processes and internally grown systems with similar job scheduling needs.

Andreini and Simpkins said MB Foster and the Scheduler stood apart because of MB Foster’s responsiveness. "The way they have reacted to questions, problems and requests was outstanding," Simpkins said. "They made our team feel like they had a dedicated support team, and that we had guys that were really paying attention and wanted us to succeed and wanted the product to work for us." 

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HP girds for battle with activist investors

Sachs A report in the Wall Street Journal yesterday notes that HP has hired investment bank giant Goldman Sachs to create a strategy to hold off "activist investors." These are insitutional shareholders who vote as a block to force changes in a corporation's board of directors.

No such group has announced itself yet, but HP's lost $60 billion of valuation over the last year since the Mark Hurd ouster. After Leo Apotheker's firing, HP's valuation is now down to $46 billion. That would make it a large takeover target by a single firm (like Oracle). But investors could take over control of the board with much less than that figure in stocks. HP acquired Comaq for about $25 billion in a friendly 2002 takeover.

Quoting an unnamed source, the WSJ report notes

H-P has felt vulnerable to possible activist investor pressure amid questions about the company's performance and strategic direction, the people said. The concerns intensified earlier this month when Leo Apotheker was ousted as chief executive and replaced by Meg Whitman.

As a result, Goldman was recently brought on board to help H-P formulate defenses in case it becomes the target of shareholders seeking change, the people added. Typically, companies with such a concern put in "poison pills" – shareholder rights' plans that make takeovers more difficult for activist investors.

Hiring Whitman immediately to replace Apotheker -- then hearing Whitman rubber-stamp HP's strategy -- has investors worried. Meanwhile, HP's customers are pulling back on large deals. HP 3000 sites are only tied into HP plans if they're migrating to an HP environment, using HP's gear elsewhere, or still buying HP support for 3000s and MPE. Those are all long-term relationships, however.

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HP board picks the wrong woman once more

Livermore Mug And what makes overlooking Ann Livermore for a fourth time worse? Livermore is now a member of the board which chose Meg Whitman. So let the wisecracks about Whitman's eBay legacy begin -- like her being a natural to run a legendary firm now selling off its assets, considering her eBay CEO experience.

Livermore is a lifer at HP. She's never held a job anywhere else in almost 30 years of working. She wanted to lead HP after Lew Platt was invited to step down as CEO. Carly Fiorina was ushered in by Dick Hackborn's board with stock analysts in tow, then proceeded to marry HP to a computer business it now wants to divest. People are saying that Carly's impact on HP will be undone when the HP PC spinoff is renamed "Compaq."

Later, after Carly irked the board with no desire to share power, these HP leaders chose a man over Livermore, who was then running the largest part of HP's business at the time, services and enterprise technology. Mark Hurd went on a mission to burn the furniture at HP to keep the accountant's offices warm, slashing tens of thousands of jobs and R&D down to a level best suited for a company the size of eBay.

Which brings us to the latest HP managment error, the ascent of yet another wrong woman into the HP driver's seat. Not Ann Livermore, because now-dumped CEO Leo Apotheker had kicked Ann into the boardroom earlier this year -- during his brief honeymoon while the board was letting the software exec have his way with WebOS and other buy-ups. Hey, you couldn't promote anyone from the board to CEO, because that's never been done in the history of HP, right?

Wrong, by this week. Right alongside Livermore's seat on the board was perched Meg Whitman, the former eBay founder who paid $45 per voter (of her own money) to lose the California governor's race last fall. After 12 years of failing to do so, Hewlett-Packard has finally promoted from within once again. Just not very far within. It only matters to the declining share of companies who still believe HP's got a future in enterprise computing. If you're not yet migrated, it's not too late to change your target to a vendor with fresh gusto for enterprise computing. That might be Sun, by the looks of this week's processor news -- being made by Hurd.

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Networking legacy-style lifts toasts, smiles

DSC_0800 Eight-score friends and relations of the HP3000 gathered at the Computer History Museum last weekend. Some of them have known the system and the community since 1970, even earlier. Others only arrived in the 1980s (like me) or even later. But we felt like we'd arrived just in time at the Great Room of the fine building in Mountain View.

DSC_0750 Supper was on service through much of the night, catered for both meat eaters with massive burgers and hot dogs and vegetarians with tasty beans, salads and veggie patties as large as I've even seen them. Outside in the courtyard patio, the bar served up refreshments hard and soft. Those who came for these several hours of a Saturday arrived early and stayed late. They had stories to serve up and news on which to catch up.

DSC_0771 Many of these people were delighted to see the guest list while they picked up custom badges. Then they signed the commemorative "Dancing with the HP 3000" poster (go ahead, click on it for high details) marking down the year they first became aware of and worked with the HP 3000. A wide swath of the poster listed years in the 1970s. Even Vladimir Volokh came in behind these vets, because he'd arrived in the US later in the decade. Like so many at the party, he was celebrating the time of his life.

DSC_0765 History was on tour during the event, led by museum docent and community icon Stan Sieler. The Engima machine and a computer whose results were calculated using mercury were in the early stages. The crowd of veterans which Sieler led had their own memories of history. They carried their tales into the Great Room, eager to revisit with old friends, or meet people in person for the first time. Some were at the Reunion because they wanted to gather before it might be too late -- not for the server, but for those who served. Absent friends of several kinds were toasted.

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Small emulator box raises large hopes

CharonFrontShot One HP 3000 veteran leaned over to whisper in my ear during the HP 3000 emulator demo this weekend. "I feel like I did 37 years ago," said Eric Sand, "when I saw the first HP 3000." He was talking about the public debut of a box only a little larger than your typical satellite TV receiver. The box runs MPE/iX, creating an HP 3000 for $600 worth of Intel processor, SSD disk and countless hours of patience.

The CHARON-PA/3000 emulator was demonstrated on a laptop over this weekend, too. But the smallest bit of its hardware technology comes from a USB dongle plugged into its faceplate to deliver an HPSUSAN number. Stromasys has the legal and technical ability to write those HPSUSANs onto those dongles, so long as a customer has a valid MPE/iX license. That ID is crucial to using MPE software and applications -- almost as essential as the license agreements which software vendors will need to deliver to the community if Stromasys hopes to make the CHARON a real option for the future. Whether that's a future of just a few years, because a migration isn't complete, or unlimited use in homesteading, the length of the 3000's tomorrows looked like it can change now.

But vets like Sand and a dozen others in the Cupertino Inn suite were also calling the product a game-changer for the years to come. Not everybody in room 336 was attending that evening's HP3000 Reunion celebration, but most were friends of the the computer starting decades ago. It was a suite of skeptics that soaked up the specs of this Stromasys product started in 2002 and revived three years ago.

HP's emulator license fee for transferring MPE/iX to the CHARON is almost as high as the cost of that hardware, but it's still inexpensive compared to the product's price scope. The fee is $500. The emulator could run from $10,000 to more than $100,000 if Stromasys follows price points for its Alpha and VAX emulator product line. Even at that level, the CHARON is cheap enough to land in 3000 shops within 12 months.

Continue reading "Small emulator box raises large hopes" »

What we might expect from Reunion reports

Reunion Logo News of a new Eloquence database release, the latest in migration strategies, and the delights of the Computer History Museum's exhibits are sure to be on hand at the HP3000 Reunion. The wild card will be demonstrations, both Friday and Saturday, about the new Stromasys HP 3000 emulator. Top tech management and in-trench experts will talk about a product that could open up new years for the the 3000's useful lifespan.

Some larger customers, and some not so large, could use the product much sooner than later. Over at Boeing, Ray Legault says that the product "would buy us time. We will see if we throw dollars at a conversion project first. Then it depends on the cost, licensing from HP and the third-party product issues." Boeing drops back to two production systems and two DR 3000s by year's end, he added.

Questions to be answered will include handling HPSUSAN numbers -- Stromasys has said they've got a plan for these, and the third party tool vendors could well be moving along into transfer-for-support payment arrangements. That would mean things like Adager, Suprtool, byRequest or UDACentral could be hosted on Intel hardware. There are bigger questions out there for an emulator like supporting TurboStore, for example, and especially the big-name application companies such as Infor (MANMAN), or Cognos/IBM (PowerHouse) and the like. What users at the Reunion will see is a laptop running MPE/iX, run atop Ubuntu Linux. That sight alone might be worth the few hours of Saturday morning at the Cupertino Inn starting at 10.

What can you also count upon? That the legends and founders of the system are making their stories available in person. One party-goer was on the original hardware team that created the Series I HP 3000. Another has served for more than two decades keeping MPE on the improvement path. Everybody will have a story, even if HP's George Stachnik won't be able to re-form his band for a 3000 theme song. But then Orly Larson, HP database advocate, will be at the party and could be induced to lead a song from the HP songbooks of the 1980s.

Continue reading "What we might expect from Reunion reports" »

3000 emulator heads into beta on i7 PCs

Stromasys has announced that its Zelus project, launched to create a virtual version of the HP 3000, "has achieved its goals." The company issued a brief press release today in advance of the first public exposure of its emulator at this weekend's HP3000 Reunion. Stromasys reminded the market that HP 3000 is more than 30 years old, although the emulated systems are from the HP Precision Architecture era which started 24 years ago.

It only seems that long that the community discussed the holy grail of an emulator. It's been long enough that Zelus is now the name of the project that created "the CHARON-HPA/3000 virtual system." HP changed naming conventions three times while it created its Itanium processors, so a single name shift seems minor. "After multiple years of development, the CHARON-HPA/3000 virtual system executes the unmodified MPE/iX operating system, its applications and even HP 3000 hardware diagnostics on an industry-standard server. The CHARON-HPA/3000 virtual platform has been released in Beta test on September 7."

“The power and versatility of our CHARON virtualization architecture clearly demonstrates that users of business critical legacy HP 3000 systems have now a very compelling alternative to a costly and lengthy migration” said Robert Boers, Corporate Technology Officer and Founder of Stromasys. The company's statement reminds the 3000 community that Stromasys has a heritage of emulation in the Digital market, where that CHARON brand is better known. "The decision last August to transfer the results of our Zelus projects into product development has rapidly resulted in a new member of our CHARON virtual system architecture," Boers stated, architecture "proven in an installed base of over 4,000 virtual VAX and Alpha licenses worldwide.”

The product requires, "at minimum, a dedicated 3.4 GHz Intel Core i7 system with 8 GB of memory." The virtual system emulated is an A400 Class HP 3000, presumably one that does not have its processing power hamstrung as was done to HP's A400s. Perhaps most significantly, the emulator requires the 7.5 version of MPE/iX. Upgrading a 6.5 or 7.0 license to 7.5 "is a matter of HP," a company document stated.

The new HP 3000 product is set to launch in January. Stromasys described it as "a virtual version of an HP e3000-A400 server, executing the unmodified MPE/iX operating system, database and customer applications on a standard Intel/AMD server or as a VMware client. With a simple re-installation of the software, not requiring code or data conversion, the longevity of MPE/iX customer applications is guaranteed, without significant migration costs. For more information, go to" The company has also made a Q&A PDF available online.

Continue reading "3000 emulator heads into beta on i7 PCs" »

Reunion's events roll out to Saturday's toast

Dancing-Logo The HP3000 Reunion has now arranged nearly all of its scheduled activities for the Thursday through Saturday evening gathering. It will be largest HP 3000 meeting in more than five years, including some original HP 3000 engineers and some of the best-known advocates and entrepreneurs for the platform.

Among those leading the way will be Allegro Consultants VP Stan Sieler, who's leading a tour of the exhibits on Saturday evening. Stan, who's a docent at the museum, starts his tour at the cafe in the museum at 6:30. He says there's a special prize for the first person who can spot the only direct reference to an HP 3000 on the exhibit floor. The prize is a signed copy of Beyond RISC, the seminal book -- now out of print -- on the HP 3000 of the modern era. This is a tour not to be missed. Supper is available between 6-8:30, so there's plenty of time to tour and grab some grub. Details on the menu are at the Reunion's website, Check there for updates through Saturday.

Most of the Reunion's meetings take place in the Boole Room of the Computer History Museum, 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd in Mountain View. The CHM is located just off the 101 freeway (directions here). While the 3000 members celebrate and extend learning about a computer first built in 1972, most of the events are just a quarter-mile down the road from the Google-plex empire.

Thursday's meeting is the Eloquence User Group conference, hosted by the database's creators Marxmeier Software. Starting at 10 AM (reception open at 9 with coffee and refreshments), the meeting will update recent Eloquence enhancements. It will show how to make best use of the Eloquence database over a range of tasks, including backup and recovery, replication, database security. The meeting, open to all, will also review the upcoming Eloquence 8.20 release.

"Most important to us is getting in touch with our customers," said Marxmeier's Ruth Schürrle, "and we are happy to include additional topics of interest."

Thursday is also the first evening of discounted hotel room rates at the Reunion's official hotel, the Cupertino Inn. Thursday's nights are $149, while Friday, Saturday and Sunday are $99 nightly. One lucky attendee will receive either a free room night, or a free ticket to the Saturday night party. Tickets remain on sale online at $60 through PayPal. Friday's events span both the CHM and the Cupertino Inn, as do those on Saturday.

Continue reading "Reunion's events roll out to Saturday's toast" »

Report suggests CEO Leo may be dismissed

A story on the Fortune website, and repeated up on Financial Times, says that HP's CEO Leo Apotheker may be replaced as early as today. Apotheker came to the job of leading HP less than a year ago, chosen during September, 2010 and going to work on November 1.

Ever since those days, the HP stock didn't recover its losses from the Mark Hurd fiasco that led to Hurd's ouster as HP CEO. Since HP announced it wants to spin off or sell its PC business -- as well as focus on enterprise computing and software -- the company's share price has hovered near all-time lows. Shares dropped to $22.21 until the rumors of Apotheker's replacement surfaced. If he leaves, HP may gain its second female CEO.

Whitman The replacement, according to the rumors, could arch a few eyebrows. Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who after a failed gubernatorial campaign became a current HP board member, has been mentioned for the job. The last two times that HP dumped a CEO, it went outside both the boardroom and the corporation for new leadership. That led to Hurd (NCR) after Fiorina, and then Apotheker (SAP) after Hurd.

HP's stock rose on this news that came from "a person familiar with the matter," the nouveau reference to an unnamed, insider source. Shares climbed into the $24 range before HP's board was supposed to meet on the decision this afternoon. Whitman has been an HP director since the start of the year. Unlike Carly Fiorina, she earned her stripes before coming to HP. Whitman built eBay into an $8 billion company before leaving. A Fortune poll named Whitman the Most Powerful Woman in Business in 2004 and 2005.

Apotheker, while unlike either of the last two CEOs, might have been too out of step with HP's 21st Century passion for PCs and other low-margin consumer goods. The heart of that Compaq merger was being excised by the moves announced around WebOS, the TouchPad, and then the cancellation of the latter, plus a $10 billion deal to acquire SaaS software firm Autonomy. The Financial Times quoted its unnamed source as saying that Apothker "is like an organ transplant that didn’t take." (Full FT story here; watch out for the paywall barrier.)

Invent-ing a value of $99 for MPE tools, help

Hp3000tatto A cruise by the OpenMPE Invent3K server, as well as the website, shows that director Keith Wadsworth has resigned -- quietly and with the assent and good wishes of the remaining board. This leaves five directors volunteering for a group that negotiated the release of MPE source code during 2002-08.

As we suggested earlier this year, that Invent3K server's now become the focus of this group. Its chairman Jack Connor says that "We're in the process of regrouping and gathering our focus. Right now, making Invent3K a repository for the community is the primary focus." The group is thinking that "$99 a year to maintain access to all the 3000 tools is not too much a burden for the benefit."

That might be true. A $99 price target for MPE/iX development accounts, existing on the same 3000 server as CSL and Jazz programs, is a good goal. A yearly subscription of $99 is not simple to sell in 2011. That $99 sub wasn't easy for us in 1996, when the 3000 Newswire was growing up. We figured subscriptions would be the biggest revenue stream for our newsletter. But sponsors made this resource a reality, along with the readers who we still count upon today.

Our advice here -- to remaining board members Connor, Tracy Johnson, Birket Foster, Alan Tibbetts, and Tony Tibbenham -- is to do a complete inventory of the software they have to offer, and then put the list up on a webpage. It seems they'll need to do a listing of which CSL programs they've got, too. Maybe a complete tour of using the Invent3K development account services -- why not do a YouTube mini-tour?

Yes, it is heavy lifting to highlight all that Invent3K has to offer. Today, the Invent3K webpage says the server "is for the use of member accounts to compile and test their own programs. It is NOT for the downloading of HP SUBSYS material, that is why FTP, DSLINE, PCLINK2, and WS92LINK are locked down."

HP is not making it easier to find documentation on the HP 3000 hardware. So documentation is another area where access to Invent3K might offer value. There are limits there, like HP's restraint of documentation until 2015, or sooner. Client Systems and Speedware have signed on to distribute those docs for free, now that HP's cut down on manuals. But and other places post HP docs that the vendor doesn't even serve up any longer. Plus, finding what you need in the new HP Support Center website is not simple, by now.

Continue reading "Invent-ing a value of $99 for MPE tools, help" »

HP-UX upgrade hops-up 3PAR links, SAP

Bunny Why would a migrating shop even consider HP-UX, given that it's got a lifespan limited by the market's interest in Unix? The HP-UX migrator of today is following HP's lead, or they need more enterprise-scale management plus administration that's hard to deploy in Windows and Linux. Simply put, HP-UX is a business-grade OS that's more mature than Windows or Linux.

As HP 3000 customers know, maturity is a double-edged feature. This environment can be better at what a business needs. But it's older and less popular with app providers, not to mention that it runs on exactly one chip: the oft-maligned Itanium powering Integrity servers.

But we've reported enough about the one-bedroom house where Itanium lives. There's the ongoing lawsuit between HP and Oracle, the latter being a pretty key player in most HP Unix shops. Oracle wants out of the Integrity/Itanium bedroom. There's also the Intel view, where Itanium has a future of at least two more major releases, and refutes Oracle's claims of an impending demise.

Aside from all that, we see today's news about the September 2011 release of HP-UX v 11.3. HP has at least adopted a major-release schedule, every six months, to keep its Unix in front of the one from Oracle/Sun, or the biggest competitor in IBM's AIX. It gets a little troublesome to see the HP-UX improvements if you're new to Unix, however. HP's got plenty of technical/marketing details online already. If you know that your corporate parents will push you to Unix, that is. Several of these upgrades will only matter to the large-scale enterprise. But to keep things simple, HP's invoked a reference to an ad which the company once used to tout MPE/iX -- the Energizer bunny.

Continue reading "HP-UX upgrade hops-up 3PAR links, SAP" »

Winning the Race for the Longer Haul

Ad_BTI_8000_OutperformsHp3to1 Back in the 1980s, computers were all feeds and speeds and technology advantages. The kinds of things that only a DP expert could understand, because they were in charge of purchasing. Or in the case of the HP 3000, not always, because an office manager might be in charge of that task.

We spotted this gem above as a result of a Google Alert trot-line which looks for HP 3000 materials on the Web. This is probably more advertising than HP splashed around on the Series 68, which was a 3000 running out of gas for larger customers when this ad emerged.

BTI? Now a former systems provider, the UK company is in the observation business. Monitoring, cameras, mostly in use at computer rooms. Watching over the kind of systems they used to sell. The HP 3000? Still running some publishing company operations, projects at Boeing, and e-commerce retailers.

Today it's about a lot more than 3:1. You need user interface prowess and apps. Web security. The kinds of things not easily conferred by cartoons. Well, maybe one below, about the latest Windows football. (Click for a closer look.)

Win 8 Cartoon


Tickets to talk up memories: still for sale

It's beyond 7 PM in the East of the US, and beyond midnight in the European regions of the HP 3000 Community. More than 60 HP3000 Reunion tickets have been sold at the best-value, early-bird rate. In addition to that threescore group, others will be on hand for next weekend's gathering of 3000 veterans, experts, users and devotees.

There's only a few more hours left to buy a Party Ticket at the best price of $49 -- but they will still be on sale right up to the evening of the party. Online at $60, or cash at the door.

CAMUS users are starting early with their own reunion at the official Reunion hotel, the Cupertino Inn. These users of MANMAN and ERP software will meet at 6:30 Friday around the hotel's pool.

Others heading to the Reunion site at the Computer History Museum include users, prospects and those researching the Eloquence database from Marxmeier Software. A User Group Conference on Thursday, Sept. 22 marks the start of all the activities. The very concept of meeting in person is a throwback as well as a look to the future of this community. This is a group that needs memories, the kind that are sparked by in-person talk.

At this time in the life of the HP 3000, the computer’s community doesn’t need a user group or even organized advocates (although the latter could help.) What we need is memories. We need to remember the skills and savvy to keep this computer a lively IT tool. Or we don’t want to forget what the answers taught us about our abilities to learn.

Continue reading "Tickets to talk up memories: still for sale" »

Get paid, get a chance for free Reunion party

Organizers of the HP3000 Reunion have offered a sweet deal to encourage payments for Party tickets. A random drawing will select one winner of a free hotel night at the Cupertino Inn, or a free pass to the Sept. 24 party.

You must pay by Friday evening at midnight to qualify for your free ticket or hotel night. Alan Yeo of ScreenJet said, "As a little incentive to purchase your ticket by Friday, we are going to do a random draw of all those who have paid by close of business Friday. The winner will get one night's hotel room rental for the Cupertino Inn on the Saturday night if they've already decided to stay there -- or alternatively, a refund of their Reunion Party ticket charge."

Emails have gone out to those who have pre-registered, or registered but haven't paid for a ticket.  "We need to give the caterers fairly accurate numbers by close of business this Friday," Yeo explained. "So we need some feedback from our registrants."

Attendees are bringing family members, too. The entire Hoffmeister family -- Donna of 3000-L fame, James of HP's networking support team, and their son Tyler -- will be at the Computer History Museum next Saturday night.

Ticket payments are being processed through PayPal and the 3000 NewsWire's Reunion accounts. Get paid and get a chance for a free ticket today. Tickets go up to $60 on Sept. 17.

Where to Get Your OpenSSH Starter Kit, Free

Brian Edminster has been making open source tools an avocation while he's consulted for HP 3000 shops. His consistent message is that these programs can make a difference in keeping an MPE/iX system current and vital. He's been working on a repository of such programs for quite awhile.

Now Edminster is offering a starter kit as an introduction to the SSL/SSH security tools and Secure FTP (SFTP) which companies like Rodale Press need for their 3000s.

I have an ''OpenSSH quick-start kit'' -- which is essentially all the bits and pieces necessary to install OpenSSH -- in a 'store-to-disk' file, and I can make it available to anyone that needs it. I've got a 'Reflection Labels' format version, a 'binary' version, and I'm working on getting something that'll work with Minisoft's terminal emulator as well -- all to make it easier to transfer from 'here to there' (where 'there' is the target 3000).

Between that store-to-disk file, and the existing instructions on Beechglen's site, any site that wants to install SFTP on their 3000 has just about all they need (my quick-start kit eliminates the first several steps -- just restore the contents and pick up at Step 3). Let people know that I can email the 'quick-start' kit to them, but there's a catch: it's approx 70Mb. Many email systems can't handle that.

And so comes the need for Edminster's repository. We hope to have more on that later on this month. Meanwhile, you can email him with your request for that quick-start.

Migration partnering webinar airs today

MB Foster has spent every other Wednesday teaching the principles of HP 3000 data management, best practices which customers are still using to structure their IT transitions. At a webinar this spring, one attendee said his company has been talking about migrating from the 3000 "ever since I've been here, 13 years," he said. "From our standpoint, the first decision that has to be made is, 'What platform?' "

Today the company is taking a new approach to the subject by focusing on partnerships in migrations. In this webinar they'll outline partnering skills, strategies for organizations thinking of migrating legacy applications and best practices for major components of a legacy or data migration project.

The webinar is today at 11:00 AM Pacific/2:00 PM Eastern. You can register for the event at the MB Foster website.

Publisher seeks security to homestead 3000

Print-Exclusive Securing file transfers is a task on the critical path to keeping an HP 3000 in service at one of the larger publishers in the US. An IT pro there who's managing a 3000 at the corporation said the company is using an N-Class server and is nearly complete on PCI compliance.

"We are PCI compliant on everything except FTP," she said, "so we are looking at SFTP. We don’t allow anyone to come into our system, so I think we can use what is out there, if I can get to it."

The manager added that she’s trying to get to the components OpenSSL, OpenSSH, perl and a GNU C compiler for MPE/iX. OpenSSL was ported to the 3000 by HP, and the rest were developed and ported by volunteers in its community. Ken Hirsh, an early user of the Invent3K development server, worked his way through porting many pieces of the OpenSSH security package, but his development work dates back to the start of the prior decade. That work needs updating to remain suitable for a production environment, according to open source expert Brian Edminster.

Continue reading "Publisher seeks security to homestead 3000" »

2001's 3000 sales didn't bother HP's Prather

WinstonDalmations It was somber day yesterday, looking 10 years back. But 10 years ago, less than one week off 9/11, HP also announced its plans to acquire Compaq. The merger would mix product lines from twin competitors in enterprise (Compaq's Digital unit, and HP) and in personal computing (Compaq and HP). The blending meant elimination for some enterprise products from Digital (its Alpha processors) and pruning some from HP. Two months later, the slow-growing branch of the HP 3000 got its pruning orders off of HP's futures.

Early that same year, the general manager of HP's 3000 business expressed no worries about 3000 sales running well behind HP's Unix. Winston Prather had other things to think about in January of 2001. He'd been running the group for about 14 months.

The fact that the 3000 business is a much smaller business than the 9000 portion is a fact of life. It doesn’t bug me. I understand that there are people who wish that wasn’t the case. But it just doesn’t bother me the way it bothers some people.

Customers are much less concerned about this than when I read 3000-L. That’s a whole different world. They are not representative of the majority of our customers. They’ve very vocal and adopt new technologies much faster than the rest of our customers. They are leading edge, and lead customers to new technologies. I can get highlights of issues that might come up from reading 3000-L, but those issues never seem to come up when I talk to the CIOs.

That was a January interview. By November, just beyond that merger announcement, Prather was announcing the demise of the 3000's ecosystem. His November reports included worries about that ecosystem heard from HP customers. These must have been customers Prather didn't know 10 months earlier.

Continue reading "2001's 3000 sales didn't bother HP's Prather" »

World of Web opens new pages, years later

Print-Exclusive I couldn’t be happier to feel the heartbeat of the NewsWire pulsing on our blog. September marks the month when our news services for the 3000 first went to press. But we had our eyes online from that very first month of Fall, 1995. This new forum here for news felt like a risk 10 years later, because my partner Abby and I learned our trade amid a passel of papers. From our first days in '95 we'd put news onto a website, post-print. Shortly after, we emailed mid-issue updates in Online Extras. Even while the dot com bubble rose, those mediums felt like enough for awhile.

But by this month I’m delighted to be conductor of three blogs that serve some part of the 3000 community. In addition to the NewsWire’s web address, I’ve administered OpenMPE News ( Since the summer began, I’ve been stocking There’s nothing like being able to blog onto a story as you hear more of it. The echo of updates has helped to draw scores of veterans to that in-person party, only about two weeks away (so get your Party tickets today).

People in your industry also have taken to blogging to have their voices heard. This summer I heard from Dave Elward, creator of 3000 software from 1987 onward, about his personal blog where he’s polishing writing skills. That’s the craft I teach evenings and weekends and spread through another blog, English is as rich and complex and confusing as writing in COBOL. In 1977 I took the fork down a road to writing in sentences instead of modules because I wanted a bigger readership. I can’t say for sure it’s turned out that way, but the English writing at least touches a more diverse set of readers than server CPUs.

We crossed the blog’s 1,650-article mark this week.This entry was a column in our August printed NewsWire, because that's its label in print. Here I’d call it an entry in the blogosphere. It’s longer than a tweet or a Facebook status update, although @ronseybold has been a way to tweet news about writing and storytelling. @3000newswire does the job for IT compatriots.

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HP sets record straight about PSG futures

Hp-pc-spin-off-ad After HP installed a new head of communications, the company dished out plain-talk emails today that described "HP's bold new direction. The facts." This vendor which is either a large part of migrated 3000 customer operations, or a candidate for those who haven't moved, pushed its own story about leaving the PC business. The vendor calls it "the new PSG--whatever form that may be." HP has innovated with a full-page ad in major newspapers to stem the talk of a Hewlett-Packard computing decline.

HP says it prefers to spin off a $41 billion business -- which would be one of the biggest spinoffs in business history -- because business computing has become its business focus. "HP is implementing a plan to fundamentally transform the company to better focus on its strategic priorities: cloud solutions and software for the enterprise, commercial and government markets," it said in its emails.

HP also invoked the "ecosystem" word while it described the future of an operating system, never a good sign based on the MPE experience 10 years ago. The vendor said that despite killing the future of TouchPads, the tablet's webOS never looked better.

The webOS ecosystem is stronger than ever. We received an overwhelming response from consumers to the recent price reductions for the HP TouchPad. Many of our retail partners and online stores sold out of the devices within hours. More than 90 percent of purchasers are new to webOS and we are excited about the increasingly growing webOS community.

Even though no one can buy a TouchPad at the moment, "Application downloads are hitting record highs, which further reinforces that customers are enjoying access to content they want and need." Customers are backing away from their wants and needs of HP's PCs, according to industry reports. One columnist noted that "Confusion is never a good business strategy." Thus, today's emails.

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Partiers nab low-cost 3000 Reunion tickets

PaidRegPicture 3000 community members are Going Green on the roster by buying their HP3000 Reunion Party tickets this week, filling up a room at the Computer History Museum with people who have helped make history. The party is Sept. 24 at 5:30 PM, but the lowest-cost $49 tickets will only be on sale (at this link) until Sept. 17. After that date it's a $60 admission -- so there's less than 10 days left to buy your way into an evening of food and fun, plus a couple of sparkling wine toasts. More than 120 community members have registered as of today.

Buying a ticket to the Party also earns another discount -- an all day Saturday admission to the Museum for just $10, rather than the regular $15 ticket. If you'd like to tour the museum during the party itself, it's being re-opened for the Reunion group from 5:30 to 8:30, included with that $49 party ticket.

Some attendees want to spend part of Saturday afternoon enjoying the exhibits which track the rise and miracles of your industry, so they're going to go to the museum reception desk and say, "I'm on the list for the Reunion Party tonight." Everybody wants to be able to say, "I'm on the list" at some point in their life, right?

Saturday morning will offer an in-depth review of the Zelus HP 3000 Emulator for the more technically-inclined, according to the emulator maker's CTO Dr. Robert Boers. That 10-12 briefing is at the Cupertino Inn and it's free, just like nearly everything else for the weekend. Another Zelus overview will be part of the Friday CAMUS meeting at the History Museum, Friday 4:30 to 6. But you'll want to register, to be sure the organizers know you're coming -- and then buy your party ticket now, when it's at its best price.

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Suprtool opens to Linux, ready for Windows

Print-Exclusive Robelle is extending its bedrock 3000 data tool to popular migration targets. When HP 3000 companies consider moving to other environments, Robelle has opened up options for any who need Suprtool to stay in place. The creators of the key data management solution are releasing SuprtoolOpen, revamped to run on Linux and Windows environments.

Up to now, Suprtool was available only for HP's MPE/iX and HP-UX servers. HP told customers during the previous decade that Suprtool was responsible for a large share of migrations to HP's Unix instead of Windows, or other Intel-based environments such as Linux. The software has been a key element in the multi-channel commerce solutions from Escalate/Ecometry, among others.

It’s all about the Endians. Big Endian software runs on HP’s PA-RISC and Itanium, and that’s been the focus for Suprtool. The alternative is Little Endian environments such as the Intel Xeon line. Robelle has completed the engineering if people want Windows. But so far more of them want to go to Linux on Intel from a 3000 environment, if they have a need for a Little Endian version. Suprtool lead developer Neil Armstrong said the Linux-Intel interest drove SuprtoolOpen.

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Fresh Witness Protection for an HP OS

It's a slow news day in the US (Labor Day here) but I spotted this report on HP's operating system futures. Four of Hewlett-Packard's OS's have met the end of their life at HP, though none have had an afterlife like the one of MPE/iX. HP killed off Rocky Mountain Basic, RTE, Tru-64 and tried to retire the HP 3000's OS. Now the newest HP OS, WebOS, has been "removed to a secure location," as they like to say in the spy thrillers.

WebOS goes into the OS Protection Program at HP's Office of Strategy and Technology. Shane Robison, who was once HP's Chief Technology Officer, leads the shovels in this product sandbox.

The executive team has decided that the webOS software teams will be best served joining the Office of Strategy and Technology while we investigate how to leverage the webOS platform and its ecosystem. This move also supports the teams’ continued efforts with over-the-air updates and the application catalog.

With our focus on business and technology strategy, OS&T will be able to provide these teams with the resources and support they need as we define the best monetization model. The webOS software employees join HP Cloud Services, Vertica, and Business Solutions as an incubating business group.

JonesWarehouse It's a little embarrasing to pay $1.2 billion for an OS and dated smartphones in 2010, then kill off the vaunted hardware flowing from said OS just 15 months after the Palm acquisition. HP shuttled WebOS into its Indiana Jones warehouse on the same day that reports surfaced of another tablet nearly a-borning: Amazon's Kindle, refitted to breathe its blessing on you through the cloud.

There's rich irony and a real lesson in seeing a massive retailer ready to deliver a cloud-driven consumer product while HP cannot leverage its own cloud technology to drive a tablet. In a few months, you'll even be able to buy a used HP 3000 over the newest Kindle. Commerce, after all, is the heart of the mobile hotspot. It's what has made the iPad the tablet to beat.

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It's Time to Ticket-Up for Your 3000 Reunion

Dancing-with-the-hp-3000 The organizers of the HP3000 Reunion have set a date for buying tickets to the Saturday night party. The $49 rate for tickets is only good for two more weeks. That's a midnight Sept. 16, Pacific Time deadline. After that, the Ticket is $60, payable online until Sept. 21. Then it's "cash at the door," as entertainers say. This week the Reunion opened up its Ticketing webpage (click to head there), the only place that anyone needs to pay anything for the weekend's gathering. The rest of it is free.

That $49 -- payable via PayPal account or credit cards on the webpage -- gets every attendee a private-party admission to the Computer History Museum, dinner, plus a few toasts of sparkling wine. Your purchase of Reunion Tickets is paying for that party, on top of the sponsor funding that's making this Reunion a reality.

It's important to pay now, sooner than later, so the planning and headcounts can go to party chefs and the Museum officials and all can be in readiness. If you haven't registered yet, the Reunion folks have made it simple. Go to the (pre) registration site and sign up, then head to the Ticketing webpage. Go ahead, go do it. We'll wait. (Use your email address and your password to sign on to the registration page.)

There, that was nice, wasn't it? Now everybody who's coming knows that you'll be there. If you're already (pre)-registered, be sure to update your registration to tell the organizers which events you will attend. It's a two-step dance, as we like to say in Texas. You register, then you buy your Ticket.

If you're coming from out of town, need accommodation for the events, the Reunion has negotiated a special rate at the Cupertino Inn for the weekday events, and an extra special rate of $99 for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday Nights. The booking code is "HP3000 Reunion," and the rate is available by calling the Inn at 800.222.4828 (408.996.7700 from overseas) to reserve.

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HP's Autonomy: You never had a database

It's just sometimes amazing what bona fide journalists can swallow and republish. We've been guilty of being hornswoggled ourselves. But when the Wall Street Journal can't get it right, we feel a little better. Except now, when it's worse.

Let's explain. Hewlett-Packard, still the company which a migrating 3000 customer is likely to retain as a vendor, wants to buy a software company. It plans to spend $10.2 billion on Autonomy, which makes software to sort through the "unstructured data such as the contents of an email or video or a picture." What Autonomy likes best about its parent-to-be: HP never had its own legacy databases.

Lewis So, while you tend to the nature of your legacy IMAGE/SQL on your HP 3000, patiently making a data mart, doing a real-time data store, or just pushing a report through the likes of MBF-Reporter or byRequest, you're working with something Autonomy knows nothing about. Or maybe the WSJ Europe reporter just didn't check much. He didn't check with WSJ columnist Al Lewis (above), who called HP's past 12 months a march to suicide while he ripped the Autonomy buyout.

That doesn't even count HP Eloquence (now a Marxmeier product doing nicely with the "HP" gone and repeatedly upgraded), or Allbase/XL, or IMAGE for the HP 1000. Mike Lynch of Autonomy is certain that HP needs no flip-flop to sell software for data management.

Mr. Lynch said there were two things that persuaded him to sell to HP. The size and scale of HP, and the fact that unlike most other software vendors, it has no database business.

"If you are a traditional software player, the chances are that you have spent the last 10 years telling customers why they need to buy a bigger database. It’s very difficult to turn round and say 'Well, all that stuff I told you? Well it’s wrong.' HP are one of the companies that do not have that problem. It never had a legacy database business. That clarity is very interesting to us."

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