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January 2013

Minisoft directs its e-forms, okays emulator

A few weeks after its founder okayed the use of the 3000 emulator with its middleware, Minisoft announced a 9.0 version of its eFormz package, one that generates forms on Windows 8 and Mac Mountain Lion clients, using data from servers including an HP 3000. 

A new Director module in 9.0 consolidates all eFORMz toolkits and print monitors into a centralized service, one which uses a new Web App for management and configuration. Minisoft says the the Director "can execute and manage multiple print monitor configurations. Processes can be selectively paused, reconfigured and resumed without affecting other output processes."

Its founder Doug Greenup checked in after the Stromasys freeware A-202 version of the 3000 emulator rolled out late last month. He says his lab staff has passed the technology and will recommend it to customers.

We got access to the freeware edition a little early. Neal Kazmi downloaded it and ran it through some tests with our ODBC, JDBC, OLEDE middleware drivers for MPE/iX and TurboIMAGE. It worked perfectly! We also tested it with our HP terminal emulator for Windows, Macintosh, Linux and Java. The connections worked as expected. So from our perspective, Stromasys has done a nice job. We will be recommending this HP 3000 emulator to our customers.

Continue reading "Minisoft directs its e-forms, okays emulator" »

Trends in Retailing on Wednesday Webinar

RegisterRetail users once made up the hottest part of the HP 3000 user base. Hot in terms of their rate of growth, in their visibility by delivering major brands' recommendations about choosing MPE. And hot in terms of handling large data stores and building the most crash-proof applications.

Several dozen customers of the Ecometry multiple Point of Sale technology are waiting to make a switch to another platform. In the meantime, the sector has a lot to teach any manager who's obsessed with uptime and high performance. Few datamarts are larger than those in retail.

The 3000's position in the retail market is shrinking, but the leading edge nature of the sector remains as potent as ever. On Wednesday Jan. 30 at 2 PM EST, data mart solution provider MB Foster shares what they've learned at the most recent National Retail Federation conference. The one-hour webinar intends to pinpoint what mission-critical enterprises are doing with current technology.

MB Foster provides critical technology to leading retailers throughout North America, and Europe. To insure our customers have the right technology and infrastructure to maximize their sales, we review and write about leading conferences in retail incorporating ideas into our vision and roadmap for our solutions.

The National Retail Federation puts on the “Big Show” a conference in New York as a showcase for innovative trends in retail. In this webinar, Birket Foster, CEO of MB Foster, shares his insights on those ideas that retailers can use today to increase customer engagement, build brand, streamline operations, and increase sales.

Registration for the free event is online, as is the content itself. You can have the company's automated phone technology dial your line for the audio portion, of listen to it via a very complete and intutive web interface.

Five years after, which environments died?

Five years ago this month, the OpenMPE volunteer group was running another slate of directors for its election. Micro Focus had assimilated Acucorp in its mission to become all things COBOL to all platforms' users. The Greater Houston RUG was releasing details for its 2008 conference, one that would feature Alfredo Rego as keynote speaker. At HP, its 3000 lab savants were starting up their final year of development of patches.

Meanwhile, Windows XP users were lobbying Microsoft to save their OS from extinction. An InfoWorld article reported that a group of users had launched a petition.

With Microsoft saying it will stop both OEM and shrink-wrapped sales of the OS come June 30, the clock is ticking. But we know lots of you want to keep XP alive, to not be forced to upgrade to the less-than-stellar Vista. Millions of us have grown comfortable with XP and don't see a need to change to Vista. It's like having a comfortable apartment, one that you've enjoyed coming home to for years, only to get an eviction notice.

XP Market ShareWindows XP just dropped below a 40 percent market share last month, according to Net Applications. That firm uses signatures from Web browsers to calculate these figures. Windows XP patches are still available for free. So are patches for MPE/iX. XP has not changed any more than the 3000's OS during these five years — so they have that in common, too.

But obtaining your free MPE/iX patches might take quite a bit of waiting on hold with the HP Response Center now, five years after HP stopped creating the patches. In a bit of special handling, MPE/iX users got a free pass, literally, on patching, a savings that users of HP's Unix, VMS and NonStop do not get. It's just that acquiring the patches means explaining you want a patch to an enterprise server, not an HP printer.

Continue reading "Five years after, which environments died?" »

Raise your stock, maybe, with emulation

StocktickerYou might not have any COBOL running at your 3000 installation. We just heard from a customer who was in this unique position, this week. He is also a candidate to let the Stromasys emulator take over for his 3000 iron -- even at the regular production-grade emulator price of $25,000.

We haven't seen much of this yet. Most of the inquiries are "will it run?" or "how can I get it for less?" or "what promise do I have my software can be licensed on it?" That last one is the least predictable, unless you have your own application in-house, and use only MPE utilities from third parties. No problems there.

Apparently in that in-house situation, a Maryland IT manager asked me if it's feasible to let the emulator make him a hero, by raising his stock in his career at his company.

Continue reading "Raise your stock, maybe, with emulation" »

How record sales, profits cost you billions

Unlike Hewlett-Packard, Apple reported record sales, record growth, and record profits for its latest quarter yesterday. The company has more than $100 billion in cash reserves. Its latest products are outselling the records set by preceding models.

And Apple just lost $60 billion in market cap in today's stock trading.

These are the rules of stock shenanigans that have kept scuffling companies alive while rocket-ships get pelted by analyst eggs. Nothing is more important than beating the estimates of these students of business. Beat them all, too. So if a company sells only 22.9 million tablets in 90 days -- a quarter-million iPads a day  -- instead of 23 million, that's a "miss." Not just beat the estimates of profits, where Apple posted $250 more than the outrageous $13.55 a share estimate. It needs to exceed all estimates, not just slam out a $13.81 per share mark.

GovThe coverage is being couched in terms of analyst estimates, and they need to protect their “phoney-baloney jobs,” as Mel Blanc’s Governor said in Blazing Saddles. Today’s fallout from the wiseguys’ reports were great news for the analyst clients who want to climb on board the stock at $450, I suppose. There’s been too much hype to withstand the “knock-em-down” counterpunch that always follows a brilliant run-up of anything.

For contrast, recall that HP's entire stock price is $17 today -- and it spent much of the latest quarter priced at the value of Apple's profit per share. HP is looking at a quarterly report in about a month that may determine if the company needs to break up the band. Back in the days of its hits like the 3000, it spun off Agilent and continued to grow. Agilent, the old instrument arm of HP, is where the HP Way went to live and thrive.

What does $60 billion in lost market cap matter? A lot compared to HP. That would be two times the value of all of today's HP cap. Destined to split itself in two, the former rival for personal computing will then have an enterpise business market cap of one-fourth of just what Apple lost today. Just for some perspective, folks.

HP got cuffed around not long ago in the same way by analysts -- but after it announced a fleecing it took in the Autonomy deal, plus reporting record red ink. What matters for any customer is still black ink, and not the kind that propped up half of HP's profits, flowing out of the printer division. Profits fuel R&D, unless a company is buying up its innovation. Even with a $60 billion hit, Apple will still be funding innovation tomorrow after 52 million shares changed hands today.

Continue reading "How record sales, profits cost you billions" »

Developer tools for 3000 redux, not re-dos

We asked 3000 veterans what they're using while they do development in the MPE environment. Several steady and stable solutions emerged, over and over. Like a lot of life in the 3000 world, there's a lack of surprises that contributes to higher productivity. Just because there are more elaborate developer tools on migration platforms doesn't mean that the MPE tools don't serve 3000-caliber needs.

For example, Tracy Johnson of Measurement Specialties uses three editors to maintain and develop on the 3000.

I'll use whatever editor suits my need for the moment. Qedit lets me edit a file that someone else may want to open at the same time. (I only need single user access when I need to do a KEEP.) Especially those pesky SECURCON or STREAMX config files that something else may open for less than a second. Saves me the extra step of having to make a copy then edit the copy. Then their full screen feature lets me use the arrow keys.

Quad has those convenient WHITEN and DEBLANK commands. The faux full screen seems easier for one-key page flipping than Qedit's real full screen.

EDITOR has LENGTH and RIGHT commands if I need to change the record width. Also, it is my editor of choice for mass changes with MPEX's hooked EDITCHG command.

Consultant Roy Brown of Kelmscott Ltd, describing himself as a hired gun, says "I'll use whatever the client possesses. Basic FOS tools, at a pinch -- Query, FCOPY, KSAMUTIL, etc." But he recognizes the better, third party favorites and wants to use them whenever possible.

Continue reading "Developer tools for 3000 redux, not re-dos" »

Older 3000 Birds, Earning New Wings

Since the 3000 community is full of veteran (older) IT pros, its members face a classic challenge. These old birds must earn new wings in some way, just to stay in flight. Most of us are consigned to a life of working without end -- because we love what we do, or because we must for other, practical reasons.

That means learning new technology and new approaches to information designs. Architecture meant something different while we moved through elementary school, but by college days your community saw it as design of systems. Today there are development tools that include architecture modules. They're not in use in 3000 environments, but they're waiting on the other side of a migration.

EdwardsFlyerNew wings come to mind as I read news about one of the older birds in our community, Paul Edwards. He announced that he's mastered a fresh skill at his 70-plus years (more than 40 of them in IT). It's technical in nature, because it engages a complex system: aircraft.

I now have a Commercial Pilot certificate with the following ratings:   

Airplane Single Engine Land
Airplane Multiengine Land
Instrument Airplane 

And I have had a solo in a Cessna 172R. Now I have to decide what to do with the certificate, and where do I go from here. Any suggestions are welcome.

Edwards also has skills in Suprtool and Speedware, to show a broader range of the tried and true.

Do you have a new certificate that helps you spread your wings in computing? Or even technology experience gained through modernizing systems, something newer than the HP 3000's Perl/iX? One notable 3000 shop that's building migrated 3000 software, QSS, has a deep bench of MPE veterans who've added new feathers to their IT wings over the years, making flights into a fresh environment.

Continue reading "Older 3000 Birds, Earning New Wings" »

Making Changes to Continue Vital Business

After enjoying the Inauguration's ceremony, pomp and poetry this morning, we turned to the business of the day here in Austin and elsewhere. Our local paper reports that hometown Dell is taking itself private, a serious change in financing that might spark some recovery for HP's primary PC rival.

InaugurationFinancial recovery will be at the top of the US political negotiations starting tomorrow. There's also recovery to consider in the 3000 community. Some of the businesses that remain as 3000 customers do so because the computer is still the best value for their business plans. Even without vendor participation, a server that works because its OS is stable and the hardware is durable looks like a better investment than making changes.

But some businesses are not so fortunate. A recent article in Computerworld tells the tale of several corporations which build change into their plans. They're in high-competition markets, these customers, the kind where even fractions of a dollar per transaction can help turn red ink to black. One example is Hertz, where the HP 3000 held on for so long that Hewlett-Packard extended high-touch MPE support for years after the official end-date. At Hertz, there was no 2009-10 limited support plan.

The Computerworld story comes from the CIO's office, so it's short on details like legacy servers (the CIOs like to call older systems legacies) such as the 3000. But a few notes stand out on this day when changes in the US are now underway, even while the President's strategies strive to continue vital business growth. Like including more middle-class citizens in a recovery. Ironically, if the US economy launches into a robust recovery, more small businesses might be able to follow in the Hertz footsteps -- and afford to make changes which will fail, which lead to changes that succeed.

Continue reading "Making Changes to Continue Vital Business" »

Bridges to Cross Before Useful Emulation

It's been a month since the community got its hands on a freeware version of the Stromasys emulator. Some reports from these freeware testers have emerged. But the next installment of this saga comes from more installations and software license agreements. An MPE license is in place, but the subsystems such as COBOL II are not covered. More bridges lie ahead for this software to bring some homestead systems back to the future.

BridgesOne example reported to me came from a manager of healthcare 3000s, all doing work with customized code in a healthy-sized datacenter. The company hears the clock ticking on the life of their MPE commitment. The veteran manager there, already experienced in the consulting world, says some more time needs to elapse with success stories and production testing before his employer would consider HPA/3000 as a new path toward some extra years on the 3000.

He approached the freeware release with gusto. I heard from him more than two weeks before the pre-Christmas unveiling of the A-202 version, crafted to two users only and licensed for non-commercial use -- unless you're evaluating it for production purchase. "I downloaded the emulator as fast as I could the Monday that it became available," he said two weeks ago.

I've been playing with it since, and am currently looking for a new (to me) computer to host it.  My current computer is an Intel i3 Core with 6GB of memory. The emulator runs fine on it, but I'd like to find a computer that I can dedicate to the emulator, so that I can have my desktop PC back.  

So far I'm happy with what I've seen and have run into only one issue. That being, accessing a remote tape drive.  I'll get back to that issue later and gather more info, because I'm not sure of the cause.

I hope to get a copy for my customer so that we can demo it, and hopefully get them to buy a license. But we've got a ways to go before that happens.

Continue reading "Bridges to Cross Before Useful Emulation" »

Battleship HP clears the $17 waterline

Hewlett-Packard's share price opened and remained above $17 per share today for the first time in more than three-and-a-half months. The last $17 day was October 2, when CEO Meg Whitman delivered a devastating report to investors and analysts about profits and sales for HP's year to come.

HP shares fell 13 percent on that day, one marked by the admission that Hewlett-Packard's profits would sink by 10 percent in fiscal 2013. Rock bottom for the darkest quarter in HP history came about six weeks later, when the news of fiscal shenaigans by the acquisition of Autonomy drove shares below $12.

That rugged news now behind HP still must be balanced by the company's Q1 performance. Sales close in two weeks, HP's first full quarter without the FUD of Oracle's pullout from the Itanium server line. Stronger sales in the Business Critical Server unit will signal a better investment target for migrating customers -- at least the ones who want to choose HP-UX for the systems to replace HP 3000s.

The HP quarterly Earnings Conference Call will take place on February 21. HP hasn't released any signal that it will spin out its enterprise business from PC operations, a move which investors are calling for.

Retailing is up, according to NRF leaders

CEO Birket Foster of MB Foster has just returned from the largest annual conference of retailers, and he's filed this early report on trends that will help shape IT plans to meet rising consumer activity.

By Birket Foster

Retail has become the economy's recovery engine. That's what the National Retail Federation NRF (NRF) touted as its theme at the Big Show in New York this month. Among other companies, Ecometry sites, including some using HP 3000s, have a strong interest in retail trends. They are in a time of change with the software which they consider an ERP application.

They might be encouraged to make such IT changes because business in retail is on the rise. The 102nd version of the NRF show -- what's new in the retail industry -- reports that the sector is creating jobs, careers, community and innovation. Speakers at the Big Show provided insight into the role retail will play in the economic recovery of 2013.

The retail industry (restaurants included) was touted last year as providing 25 percent of the jobs -- and triggering plenty of the votes -- in America. The NRF became active in addressing US candidates and the legislators to send advocacy messages on policies, ones that advance jobs and growth in the retail sector. These included tax reform, retail fairness, workforce flexibility and even healthcare.

During 2013 it is still about changing America, but this time taking a leadership role. The NRF wants to get retail leaders to take action and make plans to help the economic recovery happen. Some of those plans will involve commitments in IT, in expansions or migrations.

The message is clear: retail needs to take a leadership position and set an example for all of America and get everybody to look at how they can help with recovery. Even Newswire readers can be thinking what they can do -- personal consumption is an easy way to boost the economy. [Editor's Note: There's also local consumption in our IT community to consider -- by shopping local for services and software from 3000-savvy vendors.]

At MB Foster we are tracking the trends, and leading a January 30 Webinar on Retail, all to provide more details.

Continue reading "Retailing is up, according to NRF leaders" »

Foster looks into IT crystal ball Wednesday

Crystal-ball 2013Journalists like me are always a sucker for trend stories. People expect a message of the future to emerge from analysis, and IT consumers look farther ahead into the future than most buyers. You're expected to be ready for change at the moment it occurs. I enjoy it when somebody else is doing the trending.

That's why it will be most interesting to see what Birket Foster and his team at MB Foster have to say about IT trends tomorrow, January 16, starting at 2 PM Eastern Time. This is the first Wednesday Webinar of the new year for the company. They're reaching out to predict what will happen in a wide array of 10 sectors:

  1. Virtualizing
  2. Mobile
  3. Big Data
  4. Architecture
  5. Social Media
  6. Analytics
  7. Integration
  8. Video
  9. Security
  10. Sustainability

Registration for the event is free, at the MB Foster website. The webinars usually take less than an hour, including questions and answer sessions.

Continue reading "Foster looks into IT crystal ball Wednesday" »

Could migrations be sparked by fresher development environments?

In a recent poll I conducted about the tools of the 3000 developer, I found a lot of classics. Finding classics at work is common among the 3000 community. And just because technology is steeped in legacy doesn't make it a fool's tool. Micro Focus likes to tell customers who are using its COBOL and development environment software, "Just because it's old doesn't mean it's not gold."

FreshSolutionsHowever, nearly all of the three dozen veteran coders -- architects, designers, maintainers and more -- use something first released in 1980s. And only one who replied to our December poll mentioned any change management or version control software as part of coding and creating for MPE. Perhaps everybody works with code they created, on a small team --perhaps as slim as just themselves.

So when these experts said their software toolset runs to Qedit, QUAD, EDITOR/3000, MPEX, Suprtool -- or in one gruesome report, the bare-bones vi -- we assume they're using what they grew up getting adept with. Success breeds habits, and then practices. It's a good strategy for decades if nothing much changes. But when a corporation acquires other companies and IT environments, it eventually gets a datacenter architecture too big for a few favorite tools and nothing else. These kinds of companies and corporations are on the path to migrations away from the 3000. What they'll use to create systems on the new boxes will be designed to embrace change while it feeds multiple-platform developer teams.

The question is, can these advanced and high-productivity tools ever push a maybe-migrator across to engaged status? Put another way, can the likes of Visual Studio, Eclipse, or InDesign sell a company on Windows PCs, Linux enterprise servers or networks of iMacs? Can a toolset lead a company to modernize its enterprise environment? Perhaps it can, when you consider what IDEs yield: application software, the element that's supposed to trigger all enteprise platform decisions.

There's a nifty IDE primer online at the Mashable website, but it's more of a way of understanding what types of IDEs are out there. It admits it's only a sampler of everything available for enterprise developers.

Continue reading "Could migrations be sparked by fresher development environments?" »

What If: Fault lay not in the 3000, but in HP?

In the early years of my HP reporting career, the company tried to sell PCs against IBM. It had innovative technology in touchscreen HP 150s with strong links to enterprise office software via those PCs. HP's ad slogan began with an invitation to a customer to imagine something more connected to the customer than IBM: "What If?"

ReporterNotebookIt's a good question today, nearly 30 years later, especially when used to evaluate HP 3000s. HP lopped off its futures with the server in 2001, less than a year before it attacked the PC market by purchasing Compaq. Some products had to go, if HP hoped to convince institutional shareholders that a $25 billion acquisition was good business.

Touchscreen 150So the 3000 was derided and deprecated by HP. The server had a failing ecosystem. Customers wanted other HP products, like PCs for businesses, running Windows. Over a few more years, HP acquired even more love of outside products. It changed itself as a company, while it fled from the challenge of asking customers what if about its unique technology like the HP 150. Now there are calls for HP to return to the company that it was before it became a consumer-obsessed, low-touch customer service juggernaut that's careened into a financial ditch.

What if the fault lay not in the HP 3000's starry design, but in HP's leaders themselves? When Steve Jobs takes a walk through the neighborhood of Palo Alto to counsel an ousted CEO of HP, you can be pretty sure that a great deal had changed for HP, and none of it for the better. And that walk took place more than two years ago. Jobs believed that Mark Hurd should've never left HP.

That's how completely Hewlett-Packard had faulted from its enterprise line. A leader who slashed R&D, and rubber-stamped even more pell-mell pursuit of the consumerist strategy, was now the bulwark. Proof enough HP had changed completely, and offered in a story this week from the Apple community.

Continue reading "What If: Fault lay not in the 3000, but in HP?" »

Tech countermeasures protect migrators

Editor's Note: HP 3000 shops migrating will encounter new challenges to security. Whether it's a move to Windows, to Unix, or to Linux, all non-3000 environments carry greater risk of breaches. the issues are current, even for existing 3000 sites continuing to homestead. One manager of N-Class servers was seeking backup tape encryption solutions this week, after his auditors required it.

After showing the penetration testing required to assess the risks in yesterday's article, Certified Information Security Professional Steve Hardwick explains tech countermeasures to secure enterprise servers. Passwording always has been a skill in the 3000 community. Entering the commodity systems world makes password practices even more critical to security.

By Steve Hardwick

Second in a series

There are always problems with passwords. Using easy to guess passwords -- especially dictionary words -- creates a vulnerability in any authentication system. It allows a hacker to streamline a brute-force attack (applying specific password attempts to determine the actual password). One way to mitigate this is to develop a password construction rule. For example, a password would have to contain an uppercase/lowercase letter, a number and a symbol, be 6-8 characters long -- and be changed every 90 days. The length is chosen so users can remember the passwords but they are not too short to easily guess. Unfortunately, this approach creates a new vulnerability.

LockonkeyTake an example of a 4-character password. If no rules are applied and any of the 90 standard printable keyboard characters are allowed in passwords, the number of possible combinations is 90x90x90x90 or 65,610,000 combinations. If the above algorithm is used one upper case, one lower case, one number and one symbol, then the resulting number of combinations is 26x26x10x28 or 189,280. This gives a hacker an advantage: if the password rules are known, then the number of allowable password combinations is reduced significantly. This is the basis of Rainbow hacking. Pre-computing these various password combinations, using a Rainbow table, can be fairly straightforward and save a lot of time guessing. In fact, there are websites dedicated to producing Rainbow tables

Then there is always social engineering: tricking someone into giving you their password over the phone. A typical method is to masquerade as a trusted user. For example, a call into the IT department pretending to be a senior manager and explaining that you have forgot your password. With the right amount of verbal threat ("I'll report you to HR for insubordination") it may be possible to have the IT support tech change the password to something that the hacker gives them.

One of the most publicized security breaches was the loss of system backup tapes. In 2011 an SAIC employee had backup tapes containing 4.9 million healthcare records stolen from their car. The backup tapes were not encrypted. Similarly, many IT departments routinely create system backup tapes that include a copy of the password files (full backup). Very often these backup copies are not encrypted and can provide an easy way to get access to password files.

One other countermeasure to stop brute force or rainbow hacking is to limit the number of password attempts. For example, after three incorrect password attempts are made, the user is locked out of the account until the account is reset. But this has a nasty side-effect. A denial of service attack can be launched that will deliberately use invalid password attempts to block out a user. Although this may not compromise any information, it can cause a lot of frustration and require considerable resources to correct. A disgruntled employee may resort to this type of tactic as a parting gesture.

The next countermeasures fall under Change Management -- an area of security concerned with ensuring that the software platforms are maintained to a specific security standard.

Continue reading "Tech countermeasures protect migrators" »

Secure the Enterprise: Understand, Pentest

Editor's Note: HP 3000 shops which are on the move will be encountering greater challenges in security. Whether it's a move to Windows, to Unix, or to Linux, all non-3000 environments carry greater risk of breaches. Certified Information Security Professional Steve Hardwick explains the investigation and penetration testing that will be needed to secure any enterprise that's migrating away from the obscure-but-less risky MPE operating environment.

By Steve Hardwick
CISPP, Oxygen Finance 

First of a series

PentestingWhen making a move in the HP 3000 environment, your first order of business is to understand the security solutions that are currently in place. Many organizations conduct a security assessment in response to a specific regulation, such as a compliance initiative. However, using a broader risk assessment approach can result in a much stronger security posture. 

For example, a HIPAA assessment — common in the 3000 healthcare billing environments — may only be directed toward healthcare information. Other users may not be included in that assessment, so would pose as a target for would be hackers. Among the wealth of information regarding how to approach a security assessment — many auditors provide security assessment services — one good free tool is a publication from NIST, a guideline for the Federal government that’s been in place for several years. 

SP800-30 has just undergone a revision and a September 2012 version is now available at the NIST website. This document gives a good framework for a general risk assessment. It can form the basis of assessments for specific compliance projects. There is also SP800-63, a more in-depth overview of password and authentication methodologies and vulnerabilities. 

An important part of risk assessment methodology is testing. The next countermeasure to look at is penetration testing, or pentesting. Penetration testing actively seeks vulnerabilities within a security architecture.

Continue reading "Secure the Enterprise: Understand, Pentest" »

How to Make HP's Diagnostics Free on MPE

ComputerdiagnosticMore than two years ago when HP officially closed its formal HP 3000 support, the vendor left its diagnostics software open for use by anybody who ran a 3000. Throughout the years HP sold 3000 support, CSTM needed a password only HP's engineers could supply. But the CSTM diagnostics tools started to run on January 1, 2011 without any HP support-supplied password. 

However, managers need a binary patch to free up the diagnostics. Support providers who've taken over for HP know how to enable CSTM. The community has a former Hewlett-Packard engineer to thank, Gary Robillard, for keeping the door to the diagnostics open. Robillard says he is "the engineer who, last worked on CSTM for MPE/iX when I was still a contractor at HP back in 2008."

A 3000 site must request a patch to get these expert tools working. HP arranged for 3000 sites to get such patches for free at the end of 2010. We tracked the procedure in a Newswire story, just in case that HP link above goes dark.

One such patched version of CSTM needs a binary patch. This month Robillard was revisiting his binary patch fix, which can be a part of using these diagnostics, with the HP patch ODINX19A noted below.

Versions of CSTM [patched] with ODINX19A or ODINX25A allow the expert tools with no licensing, but you still have to issue the HLIC command. 

If you install ODINX25A/B/C (6.5,7.0,7.5) you won't need to do anything except issue the hlic command with any password. The HLIC command might say it was not accepted, but the license is activated anyway.

Continue reading "How to Make HP's Diagnostics Free on MPE" »

New freeware utility moves STD files

It's been more than two weeks since we've written about the new HP 3000 emulator, the Charon HPA/3000. While you were away over the holiday, wizards have been busy installing and extending the Stromasys solution for the future of 3000 utility. One even designed software to assist in moving data off a 3000's disks and onto the virtualized 3000.

Keven Miller of 3K Ranger found his setup of the freeware Charon virtualized system set back a little. As he described the problem, he announced a solution.

In the process of setting up my Charon HPA/3000 VM box, I noted that I could not put an MPE STD file into the LDEV7 file and restore from it. 

Not a huge setback, but one I thought someone might find a need for a solution. It would use TAPECOPY to create STDs from tapes, and have those STD files ready to restore from. This would create accessable backup tape-files. 

So I introduce a utilty for this purpose: HPASTDX - An HPA/3000 Charon utility. This will convert MPE's STD (Store-to-disk) files to/from HPA/3000 Tape Image files.

Continue reading "New freeware utility moves STD files" »

3000 Contracting Help Collected and Ready

About three weeks ago we reported on the needs of a HP 3000 site, searching for contracting help to run and maintain HP 3000s systems. Their servers were acknowledged as being at "end of life" by the customer, but to keep them running the company needed help to back up its 3000-savvy staff.

Put plainer, if the IT manager who knows the 3000 retired, or was disabled, this company would need fresh help to keep their 3000s online. We reported that more than two dozen suppliers, both individual consultant-contractors as well as support firms, responded via the 3000 newsgroup -- where we first posted the notice.

We also got resumes, follow-up phone calls, plus a raft of emails at the Newswire asking for direct contact information for that prospective site. The customer didn't want their name used or spread out to these contractors, but we've forwarded the contractor names and resumes to the site. (It's just the way some companies who use the 3000 work -- they keep their operations under wraps. We respect this.)

That 3000 manager says he's contacted some of the leads we helped to gather. But he started off by asking if there was a webpage which listed available contracting suppliers. We've just finished updating such a page up on the OpenMPE News website, (That's a volunteer effort I began two years ago, sort of a skunkworks information outlet beyond the regular OpenMPE site.) There's a score of professionals and companies up on the OpenMPE news webpage, and no recruiters. It looks like there may be even more to come. Anyone available for contract work can add their information, using the comments section below the listings.

The 3000 Newswire is supported by sponsorship from some of these kinds of vendors. Pivital Solutions, the Support Group Inc., and the MPE Support Group serve 3000 sites, primarily in the support business. They also help make the Newswire possible. I'd be remiss if we didn't draw notice to those companies first.

Continue reading "3000 Contracting Help Collected and Ready" »

Panel producer pursues PDF processes

NorbordNorbord, an international producer of wood-based panels, runs some of its operations on an HP 3000. This $1 billion company with 13 operating sites around the world needed to create PDFs on its 3000, a task assigned to John Pickering of the company. He went to the 3000 newsgroup for advice on how to do this, working to discover free, online resources already stocked away by indie support companies.

Pickering began by pursuing shareware, which is can sometimes be the budget choice for 3000 shops. (There's a superior and tested PDF-creating solution from Hillary Software, byRequest, which does this for 3000s as well as other enterprise systems.) But if a site wanted to bale together shareware like the txt2pdf software, a manager like Pickering needs Perl to run.

I'd be happy to use the shareware txt2pdf, but I don't know where to begin. The Sanface web site indicates that Perl is required, but that isn't on this 3000, either.

Allegro Consultants, supporting 3000s and crafting MPE software even in 2012, ponied up the Perl that Pickering needed to run txt2pdf.

You can get perl from Allegro," said veteran 3000 expert Donna Hofmeister at the company. "You'll want to get a copy of our SFTP PDF whitepaper as well, since it discusses how to install perl."

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2012 Items That You'll See More Of In 2013

Some news signals an end, and other items signal starts of trends. HP probably won't be shedding 43 percent of its market cap in 2013. The HPA/3000 emulator has already had its only debut. But some other 2012 developments will continue to evolve this year to make the 3000 ecosystem appear changed and fresh.

Crystal-ballSupport interests will continue to make a clear path for indie providers. The HP 3000 owners and the system's managers will move even further away from HP-supplied support contracts, even for hardware. In many of the cases where we've uncovered HP support in a 3000 environment, it's the HP hardware such as disk units that remains under the umbrella of a site-wide service agreement. HP continues to move farther away from a comfort point with spare parts -- something that doesn't worry indie support companies.

It might be commonplace, but HP's exit isn't yet universal. Steve Suraci of Pivital Solutions told us that when he does run across HP trying to sell 3000 support, "it’s on a sales office-by-sales office basis, because that’s who’s doing support at this point. When you get your supported equipment list from HP today, there’s three things on it. HP’s being very selective about what they’re actually covering."

Tablet access signals a growing BYOD era for 3000s. Bringing Your Own Device creates new management issues for system administrators, but even HP 3000 users want to connect to the server via tablets and iOS phones. Allegro Consultants came out with the first management tool to collect 3000 data via an iPhone, iAdmin. Managers traded techniques on connecting to a 3000 via Telnet. As tablets replace laptops, expect to hear more about BYOD as it relates to MPE.

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