June 14, 2012

Open Sourcing Access to Linux or Windows from MPE/iX

DSLINE is a classic networking access service provided for HP 3000s. The software is so classic that HP once charged separately for NS3000/iX Network Services. One user wanted to employ DSLINE to make connections, starting from MPE systems and into remote Linux and Windows servers. Sending commands was the task to be performed.

"I currently use a Reflection script to do the job," said Krikor Gullekian. "However, we are moving away from that and creating a JCL for it. I am using FTP to create a file on the host system which is activating commands to run, and that works, but it's a little cumbersome. That's why I was wondering if there were any other way."

Another community member pointed to using the ssh client included on the HP 3000. In theory, so long as the Linux and Window servers have an ssh server, then Gullekian should be able to run remote commands via ssh. But there's some hurdles to overcome in using ssh on a 3000 for remote command execution.

Brian Edminster of Applied Technologies, who's maintaining a repository of these sorts of open source tools for 3000s, warns that ssh needs some improvements to let it perform the same level of work as Linux or Windows versions of the remote access tool.

Unfortunately, the available ssh client for MPE/iX is none too current, and is essentially 'broken' with regard to remote command execution. As I recall, it has something to do with SELECT being busted on MPE/iX. It works well enough to support scp and sftp though, but that's pretty much it.  

Edminster has created workarounds for anyone who needs password-free invoking of secure remote scripts, however. What's more, it appears that the MPE way of writing such received files to disk is more secure than the other platforms' FTP services.

"What I've had to do in environments," Edminster says, "where I want passwordless secure remote script invocation (ala ssh) is to have a scheduled task (via cron or whatever) that looks for and executes specifically named scripts, one that then removes the script when done executing."

To avoid having the remote cron beginning to execute a partially sftp-put file, I'd send it with a '.tmp' suffix, and then rename it upon successful completion of the put and/or chmod the file to make it executable when I'm ready to have it run (rename and chmod being atomic operations). This is necessary because, unlike MPE/iX, many systems FTPd (and likewise, sftpd) will start writing the received content to disk as soon as it receives it -- making a partially received file 'visible'.    

Yes -- we've been spoiled in MPE/iX Land. 

For what it's worth, on my bucket list is either an update to the OpenSSH port (with an attempt to fix remote command execution), or port of other, simpler ssh implementations. If the OpenSSH implementation for MPE/iX is what you want to try, you can get the necessary files either from the fine folks at Allegro (from their website), or from www.MPE-OpenSource.org.

I'd be happy to work with anyone that needs help getting this OpenSSH port installed and operating -- including how to get around some of its limitations.

Over at the Allegro website, Edminster's MPE OpenSource site is named as the best destination for such software.

Those looking for MPE/iX ports of Open Source software that were formerly hosted at HP’s “Jazz” and other sites will appreciate http://www.mpe-opensource.org. Currently the site offers an updated all-in-one package of the components required to implement the SFTP Secure File Transfer Protocol on MPE/iX 6.5 or later. This package includes Perl, the Gnu Compiler Collection (GCC), as well as GNU tools, SSL, SSH, and required dependencies.

With that said, Allegro's Donna Hofmeister did point out that the company has a great whitepaper on using SFTP, as well as accompanying downloads. Look for "SFTP" on the Allegro whitepaper page.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:42 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

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June 12, 2012

ODBC provides link to analyzing data stores

An essential database feature of the HP 3000 is still providing the means for advanced analysis. A new alliance between the top-rank ODBC provider for MPE and a data analysis firm is also delivering better access to the value of deep data on HP 3000s, as well as other servers in the enterprise.

VisualAnalyzerTomorrow MB Foster and InfoPlanIT will show off tools and practices to make operational data stores and warehouses more valuable to companies. InfoPlanIT has been working with manufacturers who use HP 3000 and MANMAN for more than a decade. MB Foster created the bundled ODBC driver in MPE/iX, ODBCLink/SE. That product has evolved to become the UDA Series during the 15 years since HP wired ODBCLink/SE into the 3000's data services.

The June 13 Webinar at 2PM EDT (11AM Pacific) will show how to monitor the vital signs of a business by combining the InfoPlanIT Visual Analyzer. The companies say that the Visual Analyzer is "web-based and works with virtually every desktop, laptop and mobile device." It can be fed with data from ODBC sources, not to mention the ubiquitious SQL Server, Oracle, DB2, MySQL, MS Access, SQLite and even Excel.

MB Foster has created report templates that streamline integration with the Visual Analyzer capabilities. The 45-minute program will also show the benefits of using an operational data store or a data mart. You can sign up online for the presentation, which is free.

Business applications such as MANMAN are especially reliable IT resources, but the reporting elements often can use help. There's been a healthy cottage industry that's grown up to serve ERP and MRP apps like MANMAN. The better ones make an offer to simplify analysis using connection wizards and templates for data. The InfoPlanIT product has got both of these. Visual Analyzer's very deep web page says the product can let users skip Excel skills to get business insights into circulation among managers.

The beauty of using InfoPlanIT Visual Analyzer is that there is no need to take your data to Excel. InfoPlanIT Visual Analyzer has a lot of built-in functionality that enables real time visual analysis. If you do find that you need to take your data into Excel, there is a built-in export for that.

The product also ships with a Microsoft Office Add-In that allows analysis results to be easily embedded into PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, and Word documents. Using this add-in, users can simply choose a layout from their drop down and add it to their report. Next month, they simply have to update the chart with the latest numbers.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:34 PM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 11, 2012

Learn more about the drop-in DB for IMAGE

Marxmeier Software is hosting the first in a series of instructional webinars about its Eloquence database today. In dozens of independent software vendor customer bases, and hundreds of other HP 3000 sites, Eloquence has been praised as a drop-in replacement for IMAGE/SQL when moving to Linux, Windows, and even HP-UX.

Full Text Search is the most prominent enhancement to Eloquence in the new 8.20 version. FTS offers new ways of searching the contents of Eloquence databases beyond what key, search and index items allow.

We will discuss FTS concepts, use cases and benefits and show practical examples of setting up full text indexes and using them in your application without the need for extensive code changes. You will be surprised to see the flexibility and speed of FTS searches.

The webinar from the company's HQ in Germany, led by Eloquence creator Michael Marxmeier, begins at 11:30 EDT/8:30PDT today. You can register for the free class at a GoToMeeting page. Marxmeier is using VOIP audio as a default for the meeting, but you can also dial in via telephone. If you change the audio option to use a telephone, the GUI will then display dial-in numbers, an access code and an audio pin for you to use. There's more details on the process for the webinar at the Marxmeier help page for the event. Another webinar is scheduled for two weeks from today, same time on June 25.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:43 AM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 31, 2012

Roomy HP Cloud considers Unix vs. MPE

WorldofWebWe're moving into a world where great-grandma's photo scrapbooks are virtual and HP proprietary servers live in clouds. With a little patience, one of those servers will be an HP 3000 this year. In an odd omission, this month the HP Unix servers don't qualify for cloud status with one supplier — Hewlett-Packard.

The HP Cloud (hpcloud.com) has been open in a public beta this month. It's a spot where Windows and Linux computing services are available using virtualized servers. HP's got ProLiant boxes racked up and sliced up into customer-sized computing pieces in HP Cloud.

No, it's not free — but the cost starts to approach the fabled "too cheap to meter" claims from last century's nuclear-powered electricity rollout. Especially if you compare it to ownership of the iron. A Standard Large Instance costs 32 cents an hour. That gives you a 4-virtual core system with 16GB of RAM and a 240GB disk for um, $230 a month. A server you won't pay to power up, or ever have to move. Add bandwidth charges and you get $300 monthly. So HP will put your 4-core server into its cloud. Just not an HP-UX server.

One well-connected PA-RISC developer explained that HP's clouds are pretty much a non-starter for existing long-time HP customers. You can't host HP-UX apps in HP's cloud, just Windows and Linux. Long-time customers have both proprietary and industry standard apps. HP has a chance to change this, though, so long as it can find a way for HP-UX to live on Intel Xeon chips in the cloud host. Maybe an Itanium emulator is required.

Meanwhile, the users of HP 3000 MPE apps will have a cloud option available to them by the end of this year, so long as Stromasys has its way with the new HPA/3000 Charon technology. The most affordable instance of this emulator is in a non-host configuration, run from a cloud. There's talk about using Amazon's EC2 as the computing host provider. Some 3000 managers are still leery of relying on security over networks so remote. But other companies will be keen to get the high-powered iron out of datacenters, even as they continue to rely on high-powered MPE apps.

The power of such a worldwide web of networks extends all the way to my mom's table in her room at the Franciscan Care Center in Sylvania, Ohio. It's a modest and comfortable place that I'm visiting soon, but there's a limit to how much space she's got for scrapbooks. And with three great-grandchildren all under age 3, there's a torrent of pictures to share. We once mailed her paper photos and handsome albums, but now we send it all to a digital picture frame, one plugged into her phone line. Updates of the latest grandbaby pictures arrive in that frame, one that needs as little infrastructure management as the very best cloud computer. Meaning someone else is doing it, and including the admin in the cost.

No, it doesn't mean the picture frame and the network will take those pictures of Noah, Bree and Paige. Or even that it will load them -- that's our job as grandparents. But it will do the rest, so we can share with less effort. My wife Abby and I can spend our energy creating those picture-worthy moments — like you might spend energy improving an application or extending its reach into wider worlds, up in the clouds.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:56 AM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 29, 2012

Easier scripting in Windows a migration task

Windows 2008 is a popular platform for 3000 sites making a move off the platform. Less popular? Finding an intuitive way to do job and process scripts for Windows. But existing 3000 tools providers keep cooking up new tools to replace those well-polished MPE scripts, once a customer gets ready for a Windows migration. Or they've expanded old tools into new territory.

Windows scripts might not seem easy. Reports from customers making transitions show that the MPE/iX batch and job-stream functions have been duplicated using a wide array of solutions. It's not unusual to see such job control replacements require some customized coding of scripts. MB Foster's going to show off a tool to simplify this MPE-to-Windows migration challenge, tomorrow (May 30) at 11AM Pacific/2 PM Eastern Time.

The software is UDAXpress, a tool that's grown up from its origins as a system data extractor. Migrations which still haven't been started could easily have advanced MPE scripts to be migrated. The Do It Yourself manager of IT is the kind of person who's got scripts to automate the daily, weekly or monthly processes. Taking a DIY approach to a migration might benefit from a tool to bridge the MPE to Windows gap.

The demo of key features in UDAXpress is being handled by Raymond Bilodeau of MB Foster's Professional Services program as well as the company's CEO Birket Foster. Clever and seasoned system managers have scripts that make the 3000 self-reliant. Our columnist Scott Hirsh believed that anything you'd do often ought to be automated.

System admin tasks are naturals for scripts, according to the former chair of the SIGSYSMAN special interest group. "If you can script it or put it in a job, you should," Hirsh said. "And then you should schedule it. You should not be doing this stuff by hand. If you can automate a task you should, however you do that. You should manage by exception to cut your workload down."

MB Foster calls UDAXpress a tool "for power users, system administrators, developers and programmers who want to leverage the power of scripting, and perform both minor and complex tasks. Once you learn the basics, you'll see they’re not all that difficult to operate, and there is practically no limit as to what you can use it for."

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:54 PM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 25, 2012

Paper passes on primers on MPE, and more

Imagine it's your first day managing an HP 3000. You don't have to travel in a time machine to find that kind of event. However, a magic carpet of the past ensures the delivery of time-tested fundamentals. The carpet is paper, where so much MPE lore first unspooled for your community. If not for articles on paper, much of the 3000's wisdom would never have made it to the web.

As for that first day, an IT manager at Disston Tools in South Deerfield, Mass. has had that date arrive just this month. He's a total newbie, taking over for a veteran who's leaving this manufacturer. Everybody's a newbie at something. It's just like publishing news: if it's something you didn't know, then it's news to you.

NewsprintNot many Interweb resources call themselves publishers, but we do. We started with ink on paper, my partner Abby and I, initially for a cross-platform IT publisher before the NewsWire was first delivered from our own offices. This week we delivered our 155th print issue. The May edition will be available to our community newbie, as well as one veteran that community icon Vladimir Volokh scouted out in Los Angeles. Vladimir hand-delivers print issues on his consulting trips, much to our delight.

With all that print heritage, I took note of a retrenchment in printed news this week. The daily newspaper in New Orleans will be daily no more. The Times-Picayune is going to three times weekly in print and everyday online. This is a newspaper that won two Pulitzers for its Katrina reporting. Sadly, the caliber of content doesn't bulwark many publications anymore. Advertisers, like our fine sponsors, determine how often the presses roll.

In the alternative, of course, there's the Interweb. I use the jokey term for online news because it's completely pervasive and so up to date that the future seems like yesterday if you bury your head in links. Knowing where to look, however, becomes a great mission for printed publications. We always hear that people have found our reports for the first time when they get a print issue of the NewsWire. It's nice to have that outpost, and essential to who we are and how we deliver. But for printed pages long gone, it's great to have host sites that preserve things like George Stachnik's instruction about using files in MPE, and much more. It's one of 21 articles in a series he wrote for the now-departed InterACT magazine. All are preserved for the education of newbies, as well as the rest of us.

Chris Bartram at 3K Associates has collected Stachnik's articles, as well as many other papers, at the 3k.com website. (Think about how long that site has been around. It's so fundamental it's got a two-character domain name. Fewer than 1,300 of those in existence.) Our community is lucky to have the riches of several of these kinds of sites. Open source software, at mpe-opensource.org. Tech papers at robelle.com, adager.com, allegro.com.

But most of those papers started out on paper. Because MPE's preserved its roots, even an article like Stachnik's written more than a decade ago will be useful at Disston Tools. The company's covering its MANMAN support needs with service from the Support Group, Inc. Terry Floyd there gave us a heads-up about the new IT guy, and we're glad to send the new member our printed May issue.

Print-ExclusiveSponsors in your community still believe in the power of paper, even while they buy Adsense keywords from Google and build Twitter feeds and pursue Facebook Likes. We're always mindful that the NewsWire depends on support as well as new readers and faithful followers. We once led off with print reporting and archived it on the Web. But about the time Katrina was hitting New Orleans we switched out our lead horse -- with some exception. Every printed issue carries content that's only available in paper as an exclusive, for awhile. If you'd like your own printed copy in the US, we'd be glad to send it to you. (Click on the icon above to send us a message.) Our non-domestic web-only readers, thousands of them, have access off the page. Like the Times-Picayune, we're working with a blended model of the old and new, even as we link wisdom from the elders to our new readers.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:50 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 16, 2012

Eloquence fast indexes on display Thursday

Eloquence logoThe Eloquence database and language gets a curtain call tomorrow (May 17) at 11AM PDT (2PM EDT) in a Webinar devoted to the speedy enhancements for the 8.20 version of this drop-in replacement for TurboIMAGE. Creator Michael Marxmeier led a Webinar late in April in conjunction with Birket Foster of MB Foster. That program was so popular it was fully subscribed before it began -- a rare thing in the online training world.

The fast indexing features included in the newest release "is like Google-class searches, but on text databases," said Foster. "If you use COBOL, Fortran, or Powerhouse with it, for example, it allows you to do very graphic text indexing. It allows flexible ways of dealing with data. If you have a description of a part, every word in that description becomes a pointer back to that record." 

The work from Marxmeier's team is now in beta status until July's full rollout. This latest Eloquence brings the performance of an IMAGE indexer such as Omnidex to this replacement for IMAGE, a tool for any migrator who needs a database that requires no changes to a 3000 app's database calls. These are changes that carry no extra charge for current customers of the database. Eloquence was at the heart of the Summit Technology Spectrum/3000 credit union customer migration. Its new indexing is power a developer can understand and love easier than any C-level executive -- who will be glad to learn it's very fast.

Instructible SpeakersRegistration for the free Webinar of 45 minutes with Marxmeier and Foster is at the MB Foster website. Audio is being offered both as Internet VOIP worldwide, and also as a toll-free call in North America. Attendance at the last webinar included Eloquence users who have never had a 3000 relationship, Foster said. The customers already deploying Eloquence are excited about these changes, too. "You can create new queries that are kind of Google-like," Foster said.

"You can find entries in your database in new ways," Foster says. "For example you can find all customers who had a transaction > $10,000 in a date range (May 1, 2012 - May 15, 2012) without doing a table scan. You can also index each word in a text field or description -- it could be looking for all customers with city = 'Dallas' or with the word 'shipping' in the transaction description." 

To get this kind of retrieval very little change needs to be made, and a program or even QUERY/3000 can use this capability. "Little work, new flexibility in retrieval, means lots of new possibilities for our customers," Foster said. DBFINDs, DBGETs, and DBINFOs have extra commands and new modes.

The UDA Central extract, transform and load (ETL) tools at MB Foster are being prepared to employ the new indexing, he added. On July 25-27 a three day, $950 workshop is scheduled for full training on Eloquence, hosted at the MB Foster HQ in Southern Ontario outside of Ottawa. It's designed to help developers do the database architecture based on the kinds of retrievals they'd like to do. Details on registering for that training -- which culminates with Foster's annual BBQ on July 28 -- are available from Foster at 800-ANSWERS.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:23 PM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 15, 2012

Link-In, to put 3000 over the 500-pro mark

LinkedInPeopleWe're now very close, up on LinkedIn. The HP 3000 Community on the business social network counts 497 members as of today, a collective of hundreds of developers, managers, consultants, employers and software suppliers. After four years of connecting, we're just three members short of the magic 500+ mark for this group. You can put this group into the special ranking, by simply joining it. LinkedIn ranks members of 500-plus groups higher when searches are returned. Searches like someone pursuing experience, expertise, or a skill like coding business applications.

The members of the HP 3000 Community have all of that. So many of them come from the ranks of 3000 IT development and management pros. An IT manager leading a group that maintains and develops apps for a hotel chain. A support manager for a vendor who's still got 3000 customers using a document management tool. The inside sales manager at the largest remaining COBOL vendor in the market.

Join us, and become better connected to your colleagues and employers.

LinkedIn is free at its basic level, which is all you need to join the HP 3000 Community. And for a modest upcharge of $20-$30 monthly, LinkedIn will send your mail directly to other members that you'll find in groups like this one. LinkedIn even guarantees a response to its InMail (by providing you with an additional InMail, if your first goes unanswered.)

Another advantage to joining a large group: you have more people to link with elsewhere, because you've got something in common -- group membership. These personal links also boost your profile, according to job recruiter Linda Tuerk.

Tuerk told the members of the CAMUS users group that getting to the 500 level is important to making LinkedIn a successful tool.

Link with as many members as you can. Some experts say that you will only show up in search results for your skillset only 3 percent of the time if you are linked to fewer than 200 people. That incidence is supposed to climb to 90 percent if you are linked to "500+." Look for "Open Networkers" and LIONs that will link with everybody. Drop them later if you like.

Add Groups related to your professional field. You are allowed 50. Concentrate on ones that have thousands of members at first, then add local ones that seem relevant and have at least 100. Check them out, and as you near your 50 Group maximum, drop some that are less relevant and add the most relevant for you. Most have jobs tabs. Link to Group members you like or that have 500+ connections. Find jobs on Discussion tabs also.

There's more details on how to use a group membership and LinkedIn to improve a job search at Tuerk's post here in the NewsWire blog. LinkedIn group membership is a great way to stay in touch with a community that can seem smaller, if you believe some reports. Let us hear from you.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:48 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 10, 2012

Intrinsic Advice: Finding HP's 3000 Savvy

While I fine-tuned (okay, corrected) yesterday's report about the current lifespan for MPE date intrinsics, my associate technical editor Vladimir Volokh suggested we include HP's documentation page for HPCALENDAR. That's the intrinsic HP wrote for the 6.0 and 7.x releases of the 3000's OS, a new tool to solve an old problem. Alas, HPCALENDAR is fresher, but it's only callable in the 3000's Native Mode.

But poking into the online resources for MPE Intrinsics, I stumbled on HP's re-shelving of its 3000 docs. No longer available at the easy-to-recall docs.hp.com, these manuals are at HP's Business Support Center. And just about nowhere else within a 10-minute search across Google's search engine. (Bing did no better.) So where are the guidelines to intrinsics for MPE/iX?

The Intrinsics Manual for MPE/iX 7.x is a PDF file at MMM Support. Independents like that support company help the community in using HP's resources for 3000s these days. It used to be much simpler. In the 1990s the Interex user group ran a collection of well-written white papers by George Stachnik. We're lucky enough to have them with us today, cut loose from ownership and firewalls. One is devoted to the system's intrinsics.

By the time The HP 3000--for Complete Novices, Part 17: Using Intrinsics was posted on the 3K Associates website, Stachnik was working in technical training in HP's Network Server Division. He'd first written these papers for Interact, the technical journal devoted to 3000 savvy for more than two decades. Even though Interact is long out of print, Stachnik's savvy is preserved in multiple web outposts.

Stachnik explains why intrinsics tap the inherent advantage of using an HP 3000.

When an application program calls an MPE/iX intrinsic, the intrinsic places itself in MPE/iX's "privileged mode." The concept of privileged mode is one of the key reasons for the HP 3000's legendary reputation for reliability. Experienced IT managers have learned to be very wary of application programs that access system internal data structures directly. They demand that MPE/iX place restrictions on HP 3000 applications, to prevent them from doing anything that could foul up the system. This is what led to the development of the intrinsics. Application programs running in user mode can interact with the operating system only by invoking intrinsics.

Even if your company has a migration in mind, or doesn't have an unlimited lifespan for the 3000, knowing how intrinsics work is an intrinsic part of learning 3000 fine-tuning that might be inside classic applications. Tools can help to hunt down intrinsics, but it helps to know what they do and what they're called. You can fine-tune your 3000 knowledge using Stachnik's papers and HP's Intrinsic documentation.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 02:20 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 03, 2012

Eloquence assembles more DB advances

MB Foster filled up its room for yesterday's webinar about the advances in the new Eloquence database and language. The drop-in replacement for IMAGE at migrating 3000 sites has been popular -- in part because of its pricing, but also because Eloquence's creator Michael Marxmeier has been persistent about updating the product. One of the highlights will be full text search in the database.

The updates don't cost extra for customers currently on support, which is not always the business model software providers use. Some vendors such as Cognos like to charge for upgrades just between performance tiers of computers. Marxmeier follows the path of the most reliable tool suppliers in the 3000 market: revenue via support.

That doesn't mean there's no good reason to make an initial Eloquence investment. A beta test period is underway for the 8.20 release of the product. Full release will come this summer, and the MB Foster webinar took 45 minutes to walk through new features. The online meeting was popular enough to schedule a second show on May 17. Signup is at the MB Foster site; Marxmeier will be on the call along with Birket Foster.

"Due to the high volume of attendees trying to get in at the last minute, we have decided to repeat the webinar on May 17 at 2 PM EST," MB Foster's sales director Chris Whitehead reported. "You can register at http://www.mbfoster.com/aboutus/events_detail.cfm?On=78." Once the database is in place, users can deploy the Eloquence language in development. For example, WebDLG is an Eloquence component which enables dialog-based Eloquence programs to use a web browser as a user interface.

Foster said that the 8.20 beta starts in mid-May with a release in July, and "documentation is coming soon. These are the high level items that were discussed:
Database full text search functionality
Major language enhancements
PCL to PDF conversion
Improved WebDLG
Improved JDLG

Eloquence's Ruth Schurrle said that after the summer break, they will offer a bi-monthly training webinar to explain aspects of Eloquence functionality in depth. The first webinar is scheduled around beginning of June. Keep an eye out here, or at the Marxmeier Software website, for more schedule details and registration on those Marxmeier training webinars.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 12:44 PM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 23, 2012

Federal program helps 3000 IT pro re-train

ExcellentMachineGroupHP 3000 IT pros have a challenge to overcome in their careers: how to add modern skills to the classic tooset they learned managing 3000s. Those between jobs must handle the costs to train, too. Craig Proctor has been spending time to learn the likes of C#, Java and Visual Studio. After a year of study, he hasn't been spending his own money.

"I took a dozen different classes," Proctor said. "The Trade Act paid for it all. It's possible to take one class at TLG Learning, or work with them to design a series of classes."

ProctorProctor worked with a 3000 for more than 20 years at Boeing, as a Configuration Management Analyst and Business Systems Programmer Analyst. He left Boeing in 2010 and began a period he calls Updating IT Skills in his resume at LinkedIn. TLG, based in Seattle, gave him training that he will blend with the business analysis that's so common in 3000 careers. He understands that by drawing on his recent education he'd accept at an entry level IT position. "You get the merger of an experienced analyst, using new tools," he said of his proposal to any new employer."

Last year an extension of the Trade Act was signed into US law by President Obama in one of the few bills that escaped the partisan logjam. A federal website describes it as a way for foreign-trade-affected workers to "obtain the skills, resources, and support they need to become re-employed." $975 billion in federal funds have been sent to states like Proctor's in Washington, adminstered by each state. Furloughed workers file a petition for training, job search and relocation allowances. These pros have an average age of 46, which is the younger side of the HP 3000 workforce.

Proctor didn't believe that his 3000 experience helped in gaining more modern IT skills -- except for his years as an analyst.

I wouldn't say that the HP 3000 skills helped, but the analytical/programmer skills did. All 22.5 years at Boeing were on the HP 3000 (Fortran) and I had a couple of years on it before. as well as Burroughs (now Unisys) using COBOL. The hardest class for me was C#; COBOL and Fortran were so similar, but C# was nothing like that. The other classes were interesting and fun for me -- challenging, but still fun.

Like anybody well-versed in system management and coding under MPE, he'd like to land a job in a business using a 3000. "With so much HP 3000 experience under my belt, I'd feel a lot more comfortable and ready to dive in with another HP 3000 shop," he said. "I also have all the soft skills -- investigative, detail oriented -- that I need."

Learning what Proctor called "21st century technology" can help 3000 veterans who've seen their positions eliminated. There's a LinkedIn Group devoted to HP 3000 Jobs with more resources and discussion. It's a subgroup of Bill and Dave's Excellent Machine, devoted to the HP experience. Like the HP 3000 Community Group, (now 475 members strong) you request membership -- but a 3000 pro sees nearly-automatic acceptance in these groups.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:32 PM in Homesteading, User Reports, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 02, 2012

OpenMPE still open for some downloading

April is the time of year when a new OpenMPE board of directors was being seated, at least from 2002 to 2009. The count of volunteers listed as board members stands at three as of today. Birket Foster, Tony Tibbenham and Alan Tibbetts make up the tightest group in the 10 years that OpenMPE has been at work. This month marks the end of the second year of stasis for a volunteer group that's still serving up bits which are relevant to homesteading HP 3000 users.

The chairman Foster told us that there's still work to do on licenses for any software which will operate under the Stromasys HPA/3000 emulator. "We ran that emulator project in conjunction with HP," he said in February. Hewlett-Packard came up with the only paid-license project for an enterprise OS running on an emulator, sparked by board direction from OpenMPE. With that HPA/3000 now being shown off in sales calls this spring, it's easy to forget the whole concept wouldn't have existed without an OS license for an emulator.

There's still an Invent3K public access development server online, thanks to the volunteer efforts of the group, as well as supporters like the Support Group Inc. There are proceedings available on that server which contain papers that could help train a replacement generation of managers at homestead sites.

On more everyday matters, the OpenMPE website still hosts some code and scripts useful to a 3000 manager. Scripts by the ever-helpful ex-CSY guru Jeff Vance, Donna Hoffmeister, and others are online today. It's part of the Jazz project on OpenMPE, but the open source dreams of the group are being realized in another web outpost.

OpenMPE began as a push to get the source code for the operating system deeded to the customers who'd be using the 3000 for an unlimited future. Over a five-year period, OpenMPE began to turn toward sparking an emulator with licensing and policy requests to HP. Hewlett-Packard never got the open source religion for MPE, but over at the MPE-OpenSource.org site, software that can help is available for downloads, too.

Brian Edminster, who stocks and curates that website, sees a connection between the emulator and the needs of a 3000 community which is making a transition. Even 3000 sites which have definite plans to migrate could find an role for the emulator to play.

"For migrations that are really replacements rather than just re-hosting," Edminster said, "it could well be a lot cheaper to keep a emulated instance of the application at time of conversion -- rather than try to mothball a server, and hope it'll come up okay later."


Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:36 PM in History, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 29, 2012

Community links in on migration, emulation

A lively discussion of migrating off the HP 3000 is on the LinkedIn HP 3000 Community discussion boards. (We're bearing down on the magic 500+ member count for that group; joining such a group makes your profile on LinkedIn rise up for people seeking IT experts.) Members in the discussion included developers of the MM/3000 MRP application built for MPE/iX -- maintained by HP until it was sold to eXegeSys -- and then revamped as an independent app. Others sharing their experience included consultants from Speedware and MB Foster migration teams, plus some advice about the hardware emulator alternative that might pump more useful years into such an MPE app.

Randy Thon of Cessna Aircraft said that “one of the main reasons we are still on this application and platform is that it is cost effective and solid, and all development and management of the system is within the Maintenance Department. But this year we as a company are looking at moving from the HP 3000 due to supportability, mainly due to hardware.”

Advice below followed a line of study about size of migrations as well as other alternatives.
Randy, why not move to the newer A-class hardware? It supports native fibre for high speed fault tolerant arrays. Plus it would run circles around the KS969.
- Craig Lalley

You could also consider using MB Foster to migrate the same application over to Unix.
- Tony Ray

Tony, the eXegeSys team spent years trying to migrate MM/3000 to Unix and ultimately gave up and sold the intellectual property. 11.7 million lines of COBOL, SPL, and Pascal is a big beast to move.
- Jeffrey Lyon

Ah, the COBOL is not a problem, but re-creating the SPL and Pascal would be the problem. I understand. It is quite unfortunate that the HP 3000 had to stop. There will never be a better machine. I have worked on them since 1976 and know that several are still running. I own two myself.
- Tony Ray

The SPL and Pascal can be done; the issues are with the tight integration of the application and the hardware platform. There were many things done in the application that cannot be replicated on other platforms. I am sure with enough time and money these could be overcome or replaced. But the size of the application is daunting.
- Scott T. Petersen

Scott, correct me if I'm wrong, but it wasn't its integration with the e3000 the made the MM/3000 port difficult -- it was its integration with MPE. I seem to remember you explaining to me that there were MPE system calls which were provided specifically for MM/3000.
- Jeffrey Lyon

The 11.7 million is not that big. I did a migration at Speedware; think it was about 4 million lines of COBOL and 300,000 Pascal and SPL in about a year. Our team was 14 members and we started not knowing the app. A bigger team, knowing the app, could get the MM/3000 migration done in under two years.
- Brian Stephens

Jeffrey is correct, the integration with MPE and the features of the platform increased the complexity of the problem. And also having special features built into the compilers just for the application did not simplify the issue, either.
- Scott T. Petersen

Technical possibilities aside, what really happened is that eXegeSys management realized that a fully migrated MM/3000 would not compete for new sales in the then current market and de-funded and, thus, terribly hampered the effort late in its cycle in the hope of developing a new technology ERP. I'm pretty sure that Scott et. al could have gotten it done, but the new sales market was uninterested and the existing MM/3000 base was tired of waiting.

We'll be having this same conversation about SAP 20 years from now.
- Jeffrey Lyon

Any thought of trying the Charon-HPA/3000 product from Stromasys? Seems like your 969 license would qualify for for the emulator. Then hardware would no longer be an issue.
- Tracy Johnson

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:35 AM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 16, 2012

IBM's legacy platform grapples with future

20i2IBM has risen on the radar of the companies supplying expertise to legacy tech users. While "legacy" has a distinct sound of a sneer coming from a pop-tech provider, these legacy systems like HP 3000s, AS/400s and mainframes drive a lot of business in our modern day. When you drive even deeper into legacy to consider COBOL, the population using it swells to a majority.

The situation in IBM's legacy world bears a close look, so you can see how a vendor the size of Big Blue is handling less-trendy tech customers. IBM has continued to update the server system that's viewed as a close cousin to the HP 3000. However, a lot of the customers who use what's now called "System i" haven't updated anything since the servers were called AS/400s. As it turns out, the term AS/400 is considered a sneering epithet, according to a report at the System i Network. Trevor Perry, a consultant in that market, explains.

The debate is not about the name, but how we perceive the platform. If we see it as an AS/400, we will use it like it is 20 or 30 years old. If we see it as IBM i on Power, we will use it like it is a modern platform. IBM i can do so much that AS/400 could not, yet much of the community is still using old technology, old techniques, old standards, and writing outdated applications. If the community were more aware of IBM i, and what it could do, our platform would have an improved reputation out in the community and in the industry at large. What a fabulous thing that would be.

The definition of legacy extends to whatever technology can be out-featured by a more popular solution. Unix trumped by Linux. IBM z mainframes trumped by Unix big iron, the kind that HP yearns to sell to find new HP-UX customers. Legacy is stable technology and cost-effective. But even a vendor of legacy tech like IBM wants those customers to advance their abilities by installing newer System i "legacy" releases.

ChrisawardsmThis kind of advocacy is called championing at IBM. The vendor devotes a webpage to System i Champions, culled from the customer and consultant community. HP used to do this for 3000 users with its annual e3000 Contributor of the Year award (2006 winner Chris Koppe of Speedware, shown above), whose final recipient in 2008 was the entire customer community. But every one of those winners mounted the stage past 40 years of age. The System i user group COMMON sees a need to try to connect with younger IT pros -- but there's not much online evidence that it's finding the target.

IBM calls its younger turks the Young i Professionals. At a webpage dedicated to this mashup of recent IT graduates and younger-than-usual legacy managers, the youth movement is described.

The Young i Professionals are an international group of technology professionals that represent all “young” entrants into the job market or “young” users of IBM i, iSeries, System i, and AS/400. While already simple due to the nature of the system, we want to help make the process of learning the both basic and advanced topics of IBM i administration, development and management a little more accessible.

The lack of a youth movement in legacy systems is one of the biggest springboards for renovation and replacement of computers like the HP 3000 and the System i. Somehow, at a vendor just as serious as HP about serving the enteprise, IBM is at least paying webpage-service to the concept of grooming a new generation. Reading lips for IBM's System i, however, has become a practice as common as handicapping MPE system improvements during the late '90s and early Oughts -- a period when HP was still awarding prizes for 3000 system advocacy.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:33 AM in Migration, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 09, 2012

Some 3000 time services labor to serve

ClockforwardEditor's Note: Daylight Saving Time takes hold this weekend in most of the world. The 2AM changeover can give a 3000 manager a reason to look at how the server manages timekeeping, including the potential for the open source tool ported to the 3000, XNTP. Our Homesteading Editor Gilles Schipper is working on an article to address some of the laborious steps needed to utilize it. His research took him to a few experts in networking and open source over the Web, Chris Bartram (our first webmaster, and creator of the DeskLink and NetMail apps) and Brian Edminster (operator of the MPE-OpenSource.org website.)

Chris: As I recall, ntp services never worked well on the 3000. It won’t work at all as a server for other clients, I believe. And as a client it seemed a waste; my vague memory says it had issues because you couldn’t set the time with the resolution it wanted. It ended up oscillating.
There’s a very simple standalone NTP client, ntpdate, though that you can run from the command line -- that’s what I use on my systems. I simply run it a couple times a day – it pulls the time from whatever NTP server you point it at and sets your local clock. We even shipped a copy with every NetMail tape. Look for ntpdate.sys.threek if you have a NetMail/3000 or DeskLink equipped system available.

Brian: The latest version of XNTP was the 4.1.0 version hosted on Jazz, and ported by Mark Bixby. It includes both ntp client and server functionality. Through the magic of the 'Wayback Machine' there's a link to HP's install instructions and other resources. The bad news is that HP put the actual download link behind a 'freeware agreement' page - and that download link wasn't wasn't saved by the Wayback.  Some community members who 'archived' Jazz that might have that download package.

However, there is an earlier v3.5.90 version from October 2008 hosted on Mark Bixby's site -- and although Mark's took site down after his departure from HP, the 'Wayback Machine' comes to the rescue with a downloadable install file.

This Bixby website archive has Mark's excellent install instructions, and it well documents the 'time update granularity' issue that the XNTP client has on MPE/iX. In short, it can cause the time to drift if left running continuously -- where it's trying desperately to update the time, but cannot do it to its satisfaction due to the precision it expects to be able to use.

The workaround for xntp is to run it periodically, perhaps daily, for a single update. Mark wrote about this on his xntp page, and even put in a SR with HP to get the underlying MPE/iX internal issue fixed.  And no, it didn't get done in time.

Edminster noted two other server time-sync tools (both ntp clients):

nettime -- a program created Brian Abernathy of HP.  Source and binaries are included, and can be found on Speedware's Jazz page. Note: this program has the name of the time server 'hard-coded' as 'time-server'. But since source is included, it can be changed and recompiled with HP's C compiler for MPE/iX.

timesync -- a 'client only' solution from the folks from Telamon, Inc. It's a binary-only distribution, but it works quite well, and apparently was designed to work with their network engines too. I have a copy of this and can email it to users and managers as a Store to Disk file.  It's the simplest way I've found to get time synchronization for your 3000s. It's literally just a 'restore and run', and has a 'preview but not do' mode to ensure you've got it configured correctly.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 02:19 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 07, 2012

Windows Tools from HP 3000 Experts

Google Cloud PrintSpooled printing and scheduling are a pair of features tough to duplicate for migrating companies. A pair of software programs floated into our spotlight today, each offered by a developer with decades of HP 3000 experience -- and now serving Windows enterprise users. In expanding their lineups, these companies are making products that create a more productive experience on this platform where migrating 3000 shops are headed.

From the notable spooling and printer developer Rich Corn of Software Devices comes Cloud Print for Windows. Corn's used his expertise at RAC Consulting, attaching print devices to HP business servers, to help create software that helps Windows systems employ the Google Cloud Print virtual printer service. So long as your printer's host can connect to the Web, Cloud Printing can be accessed from other desktops online.

Cloud Print for Windows then monitors these virtual printers and prints jobs submitted to a virtual printer on the corresponding local PC printer. In addition, Cloud Print for Windows supports printing from your PC to Google Cloud Print virtual printers. All without any need for the Chrome browser.

People expect Windows to be a more affordable platform per desktop, but the costs can add up. Employing cloud services can keep things more manageable in a budget. Cloud Print for Windows costs just $19 a seat.

Another 3000 stalwart is demonstrating its new Windows solution for scheduling today. MB Foster is running a 45-minute Webinar starting at 2 PM Eastern Time to show the extensive feature set of its MBF Scheduler. The Webinar is free, and registration is live on the Web.

MB Foster created the product, which made its debut in 2011, based on the insights from enterprise customers who needed HP 3000 power in their scheduling. Windows has a Task Manager included. But it's limited in the number of jobs that can be controlled at once.

The MBF Scheduler GUI gives administrators fine-grained control over schedules and automating windows processes such as operator notification. The GUI interface is also an enabler for job submission, monitoring and review. MBF Scheduler will not increase sales or reduce your budget. What it will do, and where you will gain the most, is in maximizing productivity and in efficiencies when processes have been automated.

The company adds that the Scheduler was built to extend legacy [3000] job scheduling ability to Windows. That's still the transition platform being chosen by most 3000 migrators.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:17 AM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 05, 2012

Telnet opens 3000s with a key cut long ago

Print-ExclusiveEngineering from the past permits us to take the future for granted. In your community the connections between past and present run strong, ties which are now lashed tight by the links of the Web. Programming from long ago stands a chance of tying tomorrow’s computers with the 3000s put into service on a distant yesterday. This technology lay under-appreciated for years — which makes it a lot like the 3000’s design.
Once the executives and sales wizards and marketing mavens grab their tablets and go into your offices, they’ll want to use their iPads to work with information residing in safety on the HP 3000. This year the conduit for the connection is telnet, a protocol given the pshaw in the '90s when nobody could see a tablet anywhere but Star Trek episodes.
I remember telnet gaining traction in feature lists for connectivity software from WRQ and Minisoft. The access method got strongest praise from Wirt Atmar at AICS Research. His engineers were building their own 3000 terminal emulator, QCTerm, and the NS/VT mysteries were not the primary path for data through that free software. (It hasn't been tested on Windows 7, but the software runs on XP -- which is still running 46 percent of the world's Windows PCs.)

The engineering choice of Telnet at AICS rose up in the face of enabling access to the oldest of 3000 programs. A wide majority of MPE applications used block mode in the '90s to exchange data with terminals and desktop clients, largely because telnet was deemed too slow. Atmar, however, took exception to the accepted wisdom about telnet. The protocol was a standard and vendor-neutral, something NS/VT would never be — and network speeds and bandwidth were on the rise. QCTerm even used an Advanced Telnet setting to take full advantage of a faster network whenever and wherever available.
Now the world’s networks pulse at a common rate we couldn’t conceive just 15 years ago. No, the block mode interfaces written in the 1980s are not going to transmit data this year to mobile tablets. A more extensive project needs to pass that protocol to the latest of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) computers. But in the meantime the 3000 can prove itself worthy of a spot in the IT future, so long as it can link some of its programs to a tablet. Telnet never got much respect from the developer ranks of your community in the era of the terminal emulator. But now telnet feels like a piece of 3000 engineering which is finally no longer ahead of its time.
Once networking standards swept through the industry, the gamble that HP took to break open 3000 connections became essential. This was catch-up engineering that followed the magic of PA-RISC emulation. There’s other fundamental technology that’s been built or ported to make the 3000 a web-capable database host. The miracle that paves the way into tomorrow is that there is any Perl, or telnet, available for an environment first launched 40 years ago. In a fall when America still hadn’t felt the pulse of disco, a computer took its first steps on a path that would lead to tablets.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:20 PM in History, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (2)

February 29, 2012

A Rare Birthday for Eugene Today

He was once the youngest official member of the 3000 community. And he still has the rare distinction of not being in his 50s or 60s while knowing MPE. Eugene Volokh celebrates his 44th birthday today, and the co-creator of MPEX must wait every four years to celebrate on his real day of birth: He was born on Feb. 29 in the Ukraine.

150px-Eugene_VolokhAlthough he's not the youngest community member (that rank goes to The Support Group's president David Floyd, a decade younger) Eugene probably ranks as the best-known outside our humble neighborhood. After he built and then improved MPEX, VEAudit/3000 and Security/3000 with his father Vladimir at VEsoft, Eugene earned a law degree as he went on to clerk for US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor -- en route to his current place in the public eye as go-to man for all questions concerning intellectual property on the Web and Internet, as well as First and Second Amendment issues across all media. He's appeared on TV, been quoted in the likes of the Wall Street Journal, plus penned columns for that publication, the New York Times, as well as Harvard, Yale and Georgetown law reviews. You can also hear him on National Public Radio. When I last heard Eugene's voice, he was commenting in the middle of a This American Life broadcast in 2010. He's a professor of Constitutional law at UCLA, and the father of two sons of his own by now. Online, he makes appearances on The Volokh Conspiracy blog he founded with brother Sasha (also a law professor, at Emory University).

In the 3000 world, Eugene's star burned with distinction when he was only a teenager. I first met him in Orlando at the annual Interex conference in 1988, when he held court at a dinner at the tender age of 20. I was a lad of 31 and listened to him wax on subjects surrounding security -- a natural topic for someone who presented the paper Burn Before Reading, which remains a vital text even more 25 years after it was written. The paper's inception matches with mine in the community -- we both entered in 1984. But Eugene, one of those first-name-only 3000 personalities like Alfredo or Birket (Rego and Foster, if you're just coming to this world), was always way ahead of me in 3000 lore and learning.

ThoughtsAndDiscoursesBurn Before Reading is part of a collection of Eugene's Thoughts and Discourses on HP 3000 Software, published by VEsoft long before indie publishing was so much in vogue. (We've got copies of the 4th Edition of book here at the NewsWire we can share, if you don't have one in your library. Email me.) The book even had the foresight to include advertisements from other members of the 3000 indie software vendor ranks. His father reminded me this month that the Russian tradition of Samizdat was a self-publishing adventure born out of the need to escape USSR censorship. These Russians created an enterprise out of the opportunities America and HP provided in the 1970s, when they emigrated.

Eugene got that early start as a voice for the HP 3000 building software, but his career included a temporary job in Hewlett-Packard's MPE labs at age 14. According to his Wikipedia page

At age 12, he began working as a computer programmer. Three years later, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Math and Computer Science from UCLA. As a junior at UCLA, he earned $480 a week as a programmer for 20th Century Fox. During this period, his achievements were featured in an episode of OMNI: The New Frontier.

His father Vladimir remains an icon of the 3000 community who's still on the go in the US, traveling to visit some of the 1,700 VEsoft customers to consult on securing and exploiting the powers of MPE. The Volokh gift is for languages -- Vladimir speaks five, and Sasha once gave a paper in two languages at a conference, before and then after lunch. I expect that this entry will be eagerly proofed and then corrected by Vladimir, just as he's provided insight and corrections for the next edition of my new novel Viral Times. It's a sure bet that Thoughts and Discourses will remain a useful tool at least as long as Viral Times stays in print. (I've got copies of Viral Times I can ship, too -- but that's an offer unrelated to the 3000's history.)

At 37,000 words, a single Q&A article from Eugene -- not included in the book -- called Winning at MPE is about half as big as your average novel. The papers in Thoughts and Discourses, as well as Winning, are included on each product tape that VEsoft ships. But if you're not a customer, you can read them on the Adager website. They're great training on the nuances of this computer you're probably relying upon, nearly three decades after they were written. Happy Birthday, young man. Long may your exacting and entertaining words wave.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 02:46 PM in History, Homesteading, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 22, 2012

ERP migration advice on tap over lunch

Birket Foster, who's been practicing and preaching on the subject of 3000 system migrations for a decade, is leading a 45-minute talk on the Best Practices for Application Migration today. ERP systems, some of the most complex and most prevalent in the HP 3000 community, serve as the example for sharing these application practices.

Many companies are struggling to support legacy ERP solutions that haven’t kept pace with new ERP technologies. Others may be looking for the right ERP solution to deploy for the very first time. With the cost of maintaining a legacy environment increasing, companies reach out to learn and understand alternatives and possibilities.

The MB Foster webinar starts at 11 AM PDT, 1 PM CDT and 2 PM EDT today. It's free and you can register online at the MB Foster website. Foster likes to use Commercial Off The Shelf as the nameplate for replacement software. COTS has challenges if a company chooses that migration route instead of a migration. But the typical ERP installation has so much customization after a decade or two of service that this kind of migration needs special attention. Maybe even outside help from any service or support provider which has helped migrate a manufacturer.

The migration stakes are high for any manufacturer using their HP 3000, as they have done for many years. (There are very few HP 3000 ERP users who are new, although we've heard of just a few who've adopted the platform as part of being acquired.)

Kenandy CloudFoster says he'll "hone in on common application replacement mistakes," plus tips and advice for "proven, risk mitigation strategies that will help you get started." He also adds that it's stressful to try to sell a new, replacement ERP system to top management. But people are doing it, and a few are even exploring options like the new Kenandy MRP application suite based in the cloud and built off the salesforce.com designs. Foster's webinar covers "a flexible long term enterprise infrastructure that will match the application to the business’ vision, goals and growth expectations."

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:53 AM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 14, 2012

String some perls on a day for love

PerlheartThe HP 3000 has a healthy range of open source tools in its ecosystem. One of the best ways to begin looking at open source software opportunity is to visit the MPE Open Source website operated by Applied Technologies. If you're keeping a 3000 in vital service during the post-HP era, you might find perl a useful tool for interfacing with data via web access.

The 3000 community has chronicled and documented the use of this programming language, with the advice coming from some of the best pedigreed sources. Allegro Consultants has a tar-ball of the compiler available for download from Allegro's website. (You'll find many other useful papers and tools at that Allegro Papers and Books webpage, too.)

Bob Green of Robelle wrote a great primer on the use of perl in the MPE/iX environment. We were fortunate to be the first to publish Bob's paper, run in the 3000 NewsWire when Robelle Tech made a long-running column on our paper pages.

Although you might be dreaming up something to bring to your sweetie tonight, you could grab a little love for your 3000, too. Cast a string of perls starting with the downloads and advice. One of HP's best and brightest -- well, a former HP wizard -- has a detailed slide set on perl, too.

The official perl.org website has great instructions on Perl for MPE/iX installation and an update on the last revision to the language for the 3000. First ported by Ken Hirsch in 2000, the language was brought to the 5.9.3 release in 2006.

An extensive PowerPoint presentation on perl by the legendary porter Mark Bixby will deliver detailed insights on how to introduce perl to your programming mix. Bixby, who left HP to work for the 3000 software vendor QSS, brings the spirit of open source advocacy to his advice on how to use this foundational web tool.

As an example, Bixby notes that "it's now possible to write MPE applications that look like web browsers, to perform simple HTTP GET requests, or even complicated HTTP POST requests to fill out remote web forms." It's no box of Godiva, or even the classic blue box from Tiffany's, but perl might be something you love to use, to show that 3000 isn't a tired old minicomputer -- just a great sweetheart of a partner in your mission-critical work.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:07 AM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 09, 2012

Third Party Futures Revisited, Maintained

CessnaEarly this morning I went on a search for modules of HP's Maintenance Management/3000 software, known as MM/3000. A new member of the LinkedIn HP 3000 Community posted his user profile on that group (425 members and counting), and Randy Thon identified his shop as an MM/MNT user. The software that's running at his HP 3000 site was first installed in 1988. Thon explained that the program suite is still functional and efficient today.

The HP 3000 is still the core of our application. We're running on a Series 969-420 and rebooted two months ago -- we last rebooted five years ago. So far the application has been very robust, averaging production application changes weekly, allowing us to change at the speed of thought to accomodate changes in the manufacturing workplace and reductions in workforce. One of the main reasons we are still on this application and platform is that it is cost effective, solid and all development and management of the system is within the Maintenance Department.

That's the maintenance department of the Cessna Aircraft Company, the world's largest manufacturer (by aircraft sold) of general aviation airplanes. Not exactly a small enterprise, and there's clearly no software problem in Cessna's maintenance group. (Thon, by the way, is looking for fellow users of MM/3000. You can link in to him via the HP 3000 Community.)

The ease of integration which lets Cessna "change at the speed of thought" is enhanced by a third-party piece of software that improves MM/3000. Products like the eXegeSys eXegete client, a front end for the MM/3000 software, have made using 3000s to drive a big company a safe long-term investment. It's been that way for more than 30 years in your market, but there was a time when any software sold outside of HP was a budding enterprise. I located a link to illuminate this pedigree at the Adager website, where long-term 3000 resources have always had a generous harbor.

On the Adager site you can read "The Future of Third-Party Vendors In the HP3000 User Market." The paper written by Eugene Volokh of VEsoft at the end of 1983 does some in-house forecasting. Third parties are going to do well in the world of 3000 owners, Eugene figured, because the system vendor would always be missing out on improvements, innovation, or competitive pricing on software. This might seem like a no-duh theory now. But in the world of 1983, independent providers of computer solutions were anything but a slam-dunk in the world of enterprise IT.

Volokh, Adager and Robelle are among the group of software solution "Improvers" that Eugene cited in his historic paper. In essence, after 3-4 years of success from these companies the case was pretty well proven that a solid product like MPEX, Adager, Qedit or Suprtool was going to win a lot of business away from the systems makers.

But the point that you might overlook in the paper is that these three companies continue to make long-term investments in 3000s possible and profitable, even after three decades. Eugene was just taking note of a software trend that remains true today: innovation from outside the system creator builds a lifelong community of support.

In a recent talk with Birket Foster, whose MB Foster Associates celebrates 35 years of continued business this year, he reminded me of where the community turned for new ideas in the early 1980s. The third-party vendors such as Foster, Adager, VEsoft and Robelle turned out papers, published books and newsletters, and spoke at in-person user group meetings. "There was no Internet back then, so you had to meet with somebody or talk to them to get solutions," Foster said.

A user community that grew up before the Internet has stronger links to innovation and assistance than groups that grew in the 1990s (Windows) and later (Linux), member for member. I like to think that every member of your Community carries several times more power and prowess than those from younger communities. As we've grown older things have changed a lot for the prospect of independent software and service providers. Yes, HP cleared out of your market. Its departure is even making companies like Cessna revisit how long they'll use the 3000 hardware no longer built by Hewlett-Packard. (There's a virtualization opportunity to replace HP's gear in the Stromasys product.) But HP's exit has also opened up the field for those Innovators and Improvers. Just look at how the world's change reveals itself in Eugene's survey of manager purchasing habits. One retired relic of that market: The Single-Vendor Shop.

Many HP customers have an almost blind loyalty to HP. In my years as an independent vendor, too often have I heard "sorry, we don't buy third-party products." This attitude, although sometimes justified by the desire to have a more easily supportable system, is usually quite incorrect because it deprives the user of the many advantages that can be derived from independent vendor products. However, condemning it won't make it go away, and every third-party vendor must live with the fact that a substantial part of the HP3000 market is forever barred from him.

Forever turned out to last less than 30 years. The change in the third-party vendor picture, whether selling software or services, has delivered a brighter opportunity for anyone who wanted to buy from more than HP. If an application enables your company to "change at the speed of thought," then the exit of the system vendor won't inhibit the useful lifespan of that application. Now there's only two parties in this ecosystem -- you, and anyone who can enhance and support your speed of thought. The third parties have become primary players with HP's exit. Since they created their places with innovation and improvement, I prefer to to call them independents -- or indie vendors, to borrow a term from the movies. The studio system isn't turning out as many great releases 30 years later, in either cinema or computing.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 12:16 PM in Homesteading, User Reports, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 08, 2012

3000 group links up to LinkedIn job advice

LinkedInJobsEditor's Note: The 3000 Newswire has become the official publication of the CAMUS user group, a service we're happy to perform for these MRP and ERP sites which use the classic MANMAN application. Michael Anderson, a board director of the group, asked us to pass along these tips from the group's last meeting -- advice on how to make LinkedIn work best for you. Anderson says, "As our systems migrate to new platforms, so do our associates and coworkers migrate to new jobs.  The easiest time to build up your professional network is while you're working on a migration project."

We like LinkedIn as the Facebook for the professional set; there's an HP 3000 Community Group on LinkedIn that's got more than 420 members, ready to network with you on jobs and share advice. The article below was written for the group by Linda Tuerk, executive director of siliconvalleysearch.com. Tuerk notes that adding groups (like that 3000 Group) helps you rise up in the LinkedIn searches.

Your goal is to keep up with your professional friends quickly and easily. LinkedIn can do this.

Your goal is to have a modern version of the business card; you want to appear professional and up to date when clients look you up prior to an appointment, meeting, conference call, or interview. LinkedIn can do this, too.

Your goal, if you're job seeking, is to show up in the first 100 profiles when someone is searching for someone like you. The real goal is to be in the first 10, since that is all that shows per page. Shallow profiles rarely get found. Deep public profiles are searchable on Google/Bing. And internal corporate recruiters and execs are looking for you too. The following are the steps you can take on LinkedIn to raise these odds.

1. Use LinkedIn for interview preparation and business prospects. In a "people" search, type the name of the company; all the employees will come up that are in your network within three levels of separation. You might have to pay LinkedIn $20-80 to see all the names and full profiles. It's probably worth it. You can always do it for just a month.

2. Wordsmith your Headline, Summary, and Specialties sections. They all have maximum allowed spaces. Play with them. Use keywords and titles to describe yourself. Review position descriptions and ads of jobs you want, and pepper your profile with the most frequent, relevant, and desirable. Review peer profiles. For more on this subject, see booleanblackbelt.com and befoundjobs.com. You can also use wordcloud apps like wordle.net to create relevant word clouds.

3.  Turn off your LinkedIn member feed, profile and status updates from the settings page, found on the popdown menu under your name. Wait a few hours, maybe overnight. You may want to keep some of these off most of the time, depending on how much you want others to see who you are connecting with, etc.

4. There's a new section, Skills. These are pre-selected. You can have 50. These are very important as of late. Some say this section has surpassed keyword density in relevance.

5. Consider job seeking status on a monthly basis. Pro: You end up listed first. Con: You look desperate?

6. Link with as many as you can. Some experts say that you will only show up in search results for your skillset only 3 percent of the time if you are linked to fewer than 200 people. That incidence is supposed to climb to 90 percent if you are linked to "500+." Look for "Open Networkers" and LIONs that will link with everybody. Drop them later if you like.

7.  Add Groups related to your professional field. You are allowed 50. Concentrate on ones that have thousands of members at first. Add local ones that seem relevant and have at least 100. Check them out, and as you near your 50 Group maximum, drop some that are less relevant and add the most relevant for you. Most have jobs tabs. Link to Group members you like or that have 500+ connections. Find jobs on Discussion tabs also.

8. Check settings for your public profile. This is searchable by Google, Bing and Yahoo, and there is a huge recruiter subculture using Google strings.

9. Now, turn your privacy settings back to "broadcast mode." Consider whether you want your member feed showing, but you do want your status updates showing, and you might want to update your status 1-2 times per month.

10. Join discussions on your groups, follow the threads that seem to have good content. Comment where appropriate, get your name out there. This is a chance to impress. When you appear knowledgeable in your field, others will come forward and ask to be linked to you. Likewise, you will notice people that you like and can ask to link with or "follow." Check out group events, especially local networking opportunities.

11. Use a good basic headshot for your photo. It gets you three times the responses, compared to no headshot.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:01 PM in Migration, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 07, 2012

Managers report on mobile access to 3000s

Put a problem or a possibility in front of HP 3000 veterans and they will share what they know about solutions, usually on the 3000 newsgroup and mailing list. As we first noted last week, the problem of connecting the iPad or iPhone to a 3000 -- or the possibility of enabling this most mobile of clients -- sparked some tests and suggestions from your community.

"I've had a couple of requests from sales people wanting to log on to the HP 3000 to do lookups," said Randy Stanfield of Unisource. It's a company using the HP 3000 in support of its business selling printing materials such as papers, facility supplies and equipment, and packaging materials and equipment.

Telnet, as we noted yesterday, is the state of the art for apps to communicate with the 3000. A telnet client will most probably not know anything about HP escape sequences, so the app access will be nothing more than character-mode.

ZatelnetConsultant and security expert Art Bahrs reports he's found a couple of telnet emulators, and wondered if WRQ might have one that runs on iOS. Alas no, and WRQ became a part of Attachmate years ago. Its Reflection line still offers NS/VT and telnet links to 3000s. Attachmate has no iOS apps, a fact that's easy to confirm because the Apple App Store is the only source of apps that don't need a jailbroken phone or pad. Jailbreaking adds power and options to these devices, but deploying jailbroken iPads to a sales force is a strategy that can change a career.

Then Bahrs checked back in to report on zaTelnet v 3.3, from zaTelnet. Bahrs and other 3000 vets are running tests to see if an iOS device can manage a 3000, access that's a few steps short of user-grade interfaces to 3000 applications. 

Bahrs said that he was able to test the free version of the telnet iPad app zaTelnet. Many apps are free in this category, with a more fully-featured complement for a few dollars more. "It definitely would work for a quick and dirty trouble shooting session, or to check on a job, or support a user with an abortio or such," he said.

Security is another testing point. ZaTelnet is a SSH2 client for iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches. It  emulates terminal VT100 and partially xterm  -- enough for  console programs. ZaTelnet supports SSH2 authorization by plain password, interactive password and private key file.

"SSH is an option," Bahrs said of the secure shell handler on ZaTelnet, "and it did work successfully both ways. There are times that good old fashioned telnet really does come in handy when doing testing, so I test both."

Mocha Telnet, which we mentioned yesterday, gets the job done for 3000 management. "It works perfectly on my iPhone," said support provider Gilles Schipper, "even the Lite (free) version. I can even run HP Glance on it. While it doesn't look too pretty, one can decipher the output. I set the termtype to "hp," rather than the default "vt220."

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:37 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers, User Reports, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 06, 2012

Telnet offers a 3000 link via tablet app

"Our reps connect via the Internet and laptops," said Luen Miller on the Eloquence newsgroup. "But they are all dying to walk around with the iPad." A typical situation for IT to handle: Some of your most persuasive and eloquent users, making a case for bringing their own devices to connect with your corporate server.

Ask a few mobile-savvy consultants about how to marry an iPad with an HP server and you hear the word telnet. One manager reported that the iOS app Mocha Telnet has 700/92 emulation. Of course, there's a bit of the 3000's world missing from that solution -- NS/VT.

MochaTelnetNow it might be an odd match to require a 3000 app that's old enough to use NS/VT to link with a mobile tablet that owns more than 95 percent of the tablet marketplace. A 3000 system probably designed in the 1980s, still being delivered to a mobile device that didn't even exist two years ago. If that's the challenge, the full range of 3000 interfaces -- including some of the oldest block mode response -- is not yet being served directly. (The Splashtop Remote Desktop app offers the best chance of that, since it controls a PC desktop over a wi-fi network link.)

But if your 3000 can be accessed via Telnet? Well, then the app Mocha Telnet is an app worth taking a shot towards. It's only $5.99. There's even a Lite version that's free.

The IT manager using Mocha will need to know telnet well enough to configure a telnet server. If that's your HP 3000, good for you. But telnet might be managed from another server. It's entirely possible that a free Windows client is doing the traffic management for telnet-enabled hosts.

If it's an all-3000 solution you need for the 3000, there's a great telnet webpage on the 3k Associates Technical Wiki (Twiki) for the server. The page covers the details of using an indie bit of software, the contributed NQTELNET program written by Eric Schubert of Notre Dame. NQTELNET is a host-based telnet server which will handle basic terminal operations.

What's this about a Twiki for the HP 3000? It's a tech resource set up years ago to capture as much tech expertise as possible from community 3000 managers such as Schubert. You'd be surprised how much is online at the site managed by 3k Associates founder Chris Bartram. But then you might have been surprised to learn that telnet is the interface that keeps on giving to the 3000, even while the community waits for a block mode tablet app to touch all of the MPE/iX apps.

For a better background on the possibilities of the HP 3000's connectivity, comparing telnet to NS/VT, have a look at the 3000 connectivity webpage at AICS Research. One of the great gifts that AICS gave to the community was the free QCTerm terminal emulator. There's top-grade telnet support inside that product, so much so that the freeware recognizes two levels of telnet access.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:09 AM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 01, 2012

Links last longer in latest survey for 3000

What's NewWe continue to move through the state of links on the hp3000links.com site, a way of checking up on the web pointers presented at that longtime 3000 community resource. The P-S group of pulldown links on the busy main page has a higher share of valid links than any we've surveyed so far. It may just be the luck of the alphabet, but this group seems to spell stability better than the rest.

First the dead ends, 11 of them. Premiersoft has nobody home at the URL of the same name; the company sold OSCAR, the Online Services Catalog and Application Repository to let HP 3000s host enterprise-wide server objects. (Object tech may have been too many steps ahead of an MPE market sweating out Y2K in 1999.) Retriever Interactive is gone along with its DataAid/3000 for data lookup and manipulation, which was even integrated with Suprtool. Also dead are Riva Systems (referencing exegesys.com, which now points to a French casino machine website); SeraSoft's link, though the company was migrating 3000 sites as of 2010; Software Licensing Corp.; Software Research Northwest, gently retired by founder Wayne Holt, who published the first PA-RISC hardback; Software and Management Consultants; Spentech; Starvision; Symple Systems, and SolutionStore 3000.

We know a lot about that last one. SolutionStore was a 3000 NewsWire project during the late 1990s, our effort to sell and report vendor listings for the 3000 community. In a way it was a precursor to the vendor list of hp3000links.com. A web administrator melted down while he took down the site with no warning. Such madness happens, but it was a serious gaffe to us at the time.

But then there are a dozen survivors, most thriving, some surviving. Pro 3K still leads you to consultant Mark Ranft, tending to servers and also managing the world's biggest fleet of N-Class servers at Navitaire. Productive Software Systems, Quest, Quintessential School Systems, Rich Corn's RAC Consulting, Robelle, Speedware, Solution-Soft, and STR Software, the last still supporting FAX/3000. Syllogize offers support for HP 3000s. Synowledge supports MANMAN, according to the IT Services page on its website, through six offices. There's even a valid link to Shawn Gordon's S.M. Gordon and Associates webpage, listing 3000 software of advancing age.

Gordon, one of our hardest-working reviewers, has gone into the Linux business long ago, founding theKompany.com. (Products include Kobol, to take the place of COBOL for customers entering the Linux world.) Quadax is on the hp3000links list because it sold billing apps for healthcare, but the company migrated all clients off the 3000 more than two years ago. Summit Systems still sells credit union solutions, but not for the 3000 any longer. It's all Unix over in the Oregon company, the former turnkey app provider to 3000 owners.

Toting up for this list, we get 12 valid web links to 3000 vendors, 11 fully deceased, and two which lead to places where 3000 is spoken no longer. There's much more that can be done to sort through some of those survivors; we know a website falls short of vetting a company for active 3000 work. But considering that the hp3000links.com resources were built more than a decade ago, and last updated in the spring of 2010,  a little under 50 percent is a respectable survival rate.

We'll look at the final 15 entries in this snapshot of 3000 Vendors and Consultants next week. Time moves at a more casual pace in your community, so we don't expect any more deaths in the family over the next seven days.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:49 PM in History, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 25, 2012

More changes resound at 3000links.com

H-L vendorsWelcome to another installment in the historic saga of the HP 3000 resources tracked by hp3000links.com. In our last episode we discovered that about a third of the vendor listings A-G were dead links, while about half of the remainder didn't do 3000 business any longer. The H-O group showed a lot more promise to lead toward active resources. But it's also a strong record of a bygone environment.

Still operating as usual, off the addresses on the links' list, are Horner Consulting (now also Publishing), Ideal Computer Services, MPE/iX Administrator's Guide author Jon Diercks, Lars Appel, Lund Performance Solutions, MB Foster, Cort Wilson's MANMAN Resource website, Mark Bixby of 3000 porting fame, Melander Consulting, Minisoft, Nobix, Opin Systems, OpenSeas and Orbit.

HP Technologies is a programming house that once tended to Amisys healthcare sites and alternatives like the IBM-based Facets. It's all alternatives by now, including the Amisys Advance replacement. Holland House is now at hollandhouse.com, but Holland House has been a member of the Solipsis Group since 2006. Unispool is still for sale there. HP 3000s, or any other specific platform, are not mentioned at the website. Idaho Computer Services became Evolve and then joined Harris Group as it left its municipal 3000 app business. Impact Digital Solutions has dropped off the map and taken down its Discover/3000 search tool.

It's interesting to see how businesses evolved in the turmoil of the post-2001 3000 shakeout. Infocentre's Canadian reservation systems business has become a development house for hotel software, web design and marketing-ecommerce solutions. Operations Control Systems moved its MPE/iX job scheduler to Unix. Instead of a 3000 consultant, the Jim McCoy linked on the site now does bookkeeping and accounting.

Then there's the blindside group, where a link like Interactive Software Systems now leads to a Columbian swinger's club, complete with pounding techno music on its website.

Bad links to still-operating 3000 providers are common at hp3000links.com. It's a serious chore to keep up with the comings and goings of web locales. Links among this group even include Iomit International (Olav Kappert, proprietor, has volunteered to help clean up hp3000links). An HP partners webpage lists his current details, as well as a listing on the OpenMPE news blog.

Domains for sale or dead -- and so taking companies into the shadows of the web -- include HiComp, Homestead 3000 Consulting, IT Consulting Consortium, Lancaster Consulting (Bill is four years removed from any 3000, he reports), Managed Business Systems, MIS Resource Group, Monterey Software Group, Omnisolutions and Opus.


Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:57 PM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 06, 2012

TSG taking MRP into the cloud during 2012

No-ERPThe Support Group hung out its shingle for cloud-based manufacturing solutions this week, posting webpages that outline how it will integrate the new offering of the Kenandy replacement for MANMAN and other 3000-flavored suites. TSG calls this migration target Social MRP, and it's been chatting up the potential for the Chatter networking feature inside Kenandy's software.

It's early in the social-cloud evolution cycle, but TSG wants to be one of the charter Kenandy Consulting  Partners. The business model calls for migration, implementation and customization of a new manufacturing system. TSG's reminding the market that the vendor was the original third-party support company for ASK’s MANMAN system developed in the 1970s -- software that's still running a few hundred manufacturing companies around the world.

Kenandy's Rob Butters told us back in September that one objective of the cloud-based solution was to start with a clean page to serve small companies that want streamlined operations to get the most from their manufacturing apps. ASK's founder Sandy Kurtzig has steered the Kenandy designs to get a simplified approach to manufacturing software systems. Small companies that fill the ranks of 3000 owners have a surprising array of unique manufacturing workflows and business rules. 3000 users who need to move onto a new platform are in a position to leverage the transition into a new way of thinking about MRP.

One key to the success of this adventure is using a guide who knows the landscape the customer is leaving behind. TSG's already got 18 years of third-party support experience for MANMAN users, plus the extra two decades that founder Terry Floyd and his team supply from the '70s onward.

TSG calls the concept "Hide the Complexity." The approach couldn't be more different from the over-engineered solutions from Oracle and SAP. In particular, the mainframe foundation of SAP -- with "10,000 software switches" by several IT managers' counts -- puts migrations and outsourcing and clouds way out of the reach of the smaller IT shop. But Oracle and SAP become the default options for a migration, following the "nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM" strategy of the '80s.

In contrast, Social MRP is "software that fits the way you do business, not forcing your business to fit the way the software works," said company president David Floyd. Once the company customizes the look and feel for each individual in a company to hide that complexity, it "follows up on a monthly basis with each individual user as they learn more and expand their productivity."

Manufacturing is a bedrock app in the 3000 world. Small companies that couldn't afford a mainframe in the 1980s picked HP 3000s instead, relying on cost efficiency. With the cloud moving IT's capital costs off the books, and fine-tuned app services from a veteran development staff, Social MRP has the potential to give migrators a new value model -- one that won't need large-scale elements that the big IT shops seem to crave.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 02:59 PM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 04, 2012

Tracing 3000links to Their Breaking Points

BrokenRobotOnce upon a time there was a vast and charted territory of HP 3000 websites and webpages. The resources that appear on hp3000links.com still include some detailed, straight-line jumps to companies still serving 3000 sites. Or at least companies which still have support customers for software products, or contracts to migrate companies off the server.

We rolled up our browser sleeves and waded into hp3000links this afternoon to see what's gone past its sell-by date. If you've been in the marketplace long enough you'll recognize the list of vendors that pops up on the site's front page -- even if some of those company names are all that remain of community resources. More than a dozen out of the first third of the list's vendor links are landing on dead pages or websites that have evolved into other ventures.

VendorList 3-GFor example, 5 Diamond IT Consulting drops you onto the diamonds.com website, where fine jewelery is sold. The old Diamond Optimum Systems once gave HP 3000 users "the Windows interface to MPE management," but the company was merged with Serena Software. Computech's address has become a racing parts website, CSI Business Solutions' a maker of jars for the cosmetics industry. But the 3000links page pop-up (click for detail) still mainlines directions to community stalwarts like 3k Associates, Adager, DIS International (Mark Klein's consulting), G. Schipper and Associates and even Gainsborough House in the UK -- one of the few places where you can read about MPEX from a supplier of the product. (VEsoft doesn't do websites, just the now-rare customer visits.) At 3k Associates, you'll find a Tech Wiki that traces the last known 3000 businesses across a vast list of companies -- and you can contribute what you've learned yourself, wiki-style.

Gainsborough is also handling Surveillance/DB, Surveillance/OS, DBControl-Online, GUI3000, Security/3000, VEaudit/3000, and is an outpost for Bradmark's DBGENERAL, DBAUDIT and Superdex. The 3000links pointer to the Bradmark website directs to the Bradmark main page. Another click or two and a scroll down to the bottom of a products page reveals a small pop-up menu with links to the MPE products. Many more references to SQL databases abound on that website.

Other notes we've gleaned from this first pass and data check of the 3000links.com's Vendors and Consultants menu:

• Advanced Network Systems, where David Thatcher developed the ADBC database middleware, lands on a "not found" 404 page.
• The Aldon Computer Group, which once offered 3000 COBOL tools, has no 3000 notes among its products.
• Carolian Software, Computing Solutions Ltd., Education & Training Consulting Services, Computer Financial Services, Cosmos Technology and Fioravanti Redwood Inc. all point to links that are in hibernation (addresses ready for sale) or retired links.
• Carter-Pertaine's link doesn't lead anywhere, but that's because the maker of school systems long ago merged with K-12 vendor QSS.
• Cognos connects to PowerHouse products, after three clicks
• Crawford Software Consulting is still doing HP 3000 services for MANMAN, GrowthPower, and lists itself as a reseller for Minisoft and MB Foster products
• Former support powerhouse Datagate Incorporated closed at the end of 2010 after 32 years. Datagate Systems LLC was formed by some former engineers and managers from Datagate’s Defense Systems Group. The new, leaner Datagate lists 9GB A4910A disks in its inventory. But that's not a novelty; a refurbished 9GB disk is available on Amazon for $82.76 (from IT Equipment Xpress)
• DataNow now points to Evolve, selling "software for municipalities, utilities and co-ops"
• Denkart NV still includes a link to ViaNova 3000, which as it has for years promises to "transfer entire customer-developed environments from HP 3000 to Open Systems like HP-UX or Linux."
• DISC's Omnidex supported-platforms page does not mention HP 3000 or IMAGE. Only the "Generic ODBC" interface holds any hope of support for MPE/iX databases. Oracle, SQL Server and MySQL are listed as supported database technologies.
• Easy Does It Technologies was acquired by Integrated Information Systems in 2003.
• Entrix Computing looks to be still run by Kim Harris, but it now "specifies solutions for Internet access requirements over mobile phone networks and wired broadband and offers a vast range of fibre to copper media converters."
• eXegeSys has been pointed at Azurri, which bills itself as one of the "UK’s leading IT support and implementation companies." The definition of support follows other indie suppliers. It says it is "committed to supporting the HP 3000 MPE/iX product range beyond the manufacturer's support withdrawal date.  New and existing customers can be assured of our continuing support services for HP 3000 range, built on our 20 years experience."
• Glassman Consulting Services reports on its migration progress. Its client Genesis Health System’s Precision 2000 system "is finally getting decommissioned along with the legacy HP3000 hardware platform that it resided."
— G.R. Helm still points to Adager and Robelle on its own links page, but it also lists Interex.org as a resource.

Then this list pops up dead links to an HP 3000 Consultant List and an HP 3000 Vendor List. We'll keep up the digging to help renovate the 3000links.com to some useful extent -- plus point out more current resources on the web, too.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:08 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 03, 2012

Happy New Year: Now we're 400 or so

Most of our in-boxes are full and the calendar planning is in overdrive today. It's the first full day of office work for the new year in many companies, what with the Jan. 2 Monday being a holiday all over. But there's already expansion afoot in the HP 3000 community.

Specifically, the LinkedIn HP 3000 Community now numbers more than 400 members. Fresh faces include Peter Prager, whose company sells XML solutions that work with MPE/iX; AMISYS/3000 developer Blanchard Carter; Lendy Middendorf, Senior System Administrator at Smurfit-Stone; Gavin Scott, VP of development at Allegro Consultants. Some are homesteading, others have moved to new platforms. And sure, there are recruiters in there, but they do have a line on jobs.

LinkedIn is a go-to destination to expand your career options. One of our favorite members, Scott Hirsh, used to manage the HP 3000 System Manager's Special Interest Group. He's long beyond the 3000 community these days, tending to cloud computing storage needs at Nirvanix. But Hirsh said that showing a strong LinkedIn profile with plenty of connections scores you higher when an employer or partner researches you.

If you don't belong to the group, join today. There's hundreds of people there who will make good contacts for you, as well as a news feed and discussions about 3000 issues and the future we're headed for in this new year.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 02:57 PM in Homesteading, Migration, User Reports, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 23, 2011

Holiday Gifts and Promises for All

On Wednesday we took note of some of the first response we received concerning the Stromasys HPA/3000 emulator. One former OpenMPE volunteer said that a $25,000 emulator wouldn't serve his needs. Martin Gorfinkel said he doesn't have his Series 9x9 3000 turned on much anymore, and he'd like to have an archival replacement.

Cloud-computing-for-dummiesJ.P. Bergmans of Stromasys added his reply. "He is absolutely right," Bergmans said. "But I would say that almost whatever the price of the emulator and the equipment would be, a better answer to a need like this is a cloud-based HP 3000/MPE compatible service, billed on usage. This would be a far better solution, and we are indeed looking at that service model."

So we think of that as a present for the new year to come: a brand-new usage-based 3000 solution for our community. Maybe not so brand new, if you want to think of time-sharing of the 70s as the same idea, but certainly refined and turbo-charged for 40 years later.

Here at the NewsWire my co-founder Abby and I are taking the next three days off to celebrate Christmas; even the banks aren't open Monday. We count as our gifts for this year, and the ones to come, our faithful sponsors who make these reports possible: at present, Adager, MB Foster, Speedware, The Support Group, Pivital Solutions, Robelle, ScreenJet, Marxmeier Software, Hillary Software, Genisys, Applied Technologies and its MPE-OpenSource.org web resource, and Taurus Software.  We'll see you all on Tuesday.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 12:58 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 16, 2011

Opening Resources for a Long 3000 Future

EdminsterMug4BlogBrian Edminster makes an open secret of his sharing practices. The consultant, developer and advocate for the HP 3000 and open source software has combined those last two items into a new resource this fall. MPE-OpenSource.org is amassing a collection of public, free-use software that can improve 3000 health and longevity, one porting contributor’s portfolio at a time. His first contact with a 3000 was in high school on a Series II, hacking over dialup using an HP2640A terminal. He started programming on a 3000 in 1978 for an HP Value Added Reseller, going on to work with a 3000 graphics software vendor, with MM II Customiser software, computer administering for the UPI news service, developing and managing an Amisys healthcare system, as well as jobs managing the HMS retail apps used in airports — plus diving outside the 3000 to rewrite and rehost to AIX, Informix, Windows Server, SQL Server, and Oracle.

It’s not common to find a 3000 pro of 33 years who still has the gusto that Edminster displays. He’s been a fulltime independent contractor and consultant for the last 10 years, operating Applied Technologies. Some of the work involves using open source tools to extend 3000 ability. He’s a proponent of the idea that HP 3000s can still pass PCI security audits. And he’s also sponsored OpenMPE with contributions, a very rare profile in the community. We emailed our questions to him after his website just got publishing permission from Lars Appel — an open source porting legend who moved Samba to MPE/iX, among other projects.

What prompted you to start a repository of open source software?

Well, at the risk of being flippant – because no one else was doing it. With the demise and only partial reviving of Jazz, much of the free content was dwindling. Yes, Chris Bartram’s www.3k.com site has some open source apps, and so do some others – but many of them cheated and only linked to the software on Jazz. So when Jazz went offline, so did availability of that software.

Also, www.MPE-OpenSource.org focuses on just that: Open source software. I’m working to host software when I can get permission, and link to it (with backup copy kept) in other cases. I’ll host scripts and freeware (code that’s free but not open source), but that’s not the site’s primary focus.

I am still actively looking for contributions. If you haven’t talked to me yet, and you’d like to host software on my site — even if you have no intention of supporting it — drop me an email.

What would you say are the three most useful open source tools for a 3000 site doing its own administration?

One of my short-list projects for MPE-OpenSource is getting MPE/iX clients published for management systems like XYMon. I’m also playing with some Perl scripts that are designed to make managing disk space easier. “Which 3 tools” is not as important as just making sure that MPE/iX can play nice with whatever an enterprise is using to monitor/manage their other systems.

What non-3000 experiences and engagements have helped you in managing 3000 site issues?

That’s almost funny. If anything, it’s the other way around. Even though the system is nearly legendary in its robustness, I’ve come to the conclusion that the real reason that the 3000 has served so reliably for so long is because the people that manage it are careful. I call them the Belt and Suspenders crowd. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

What’s the non-3000 technology that you have found most fun to use?

I’d have to say use of PCs as workstations, in spite of the love-hate relationship I have with them. All kidding aside, we’ve come a long way since the days of DOS and Windows 3.. Using workstation-based IDEs (like ProgrammerStudio) have revolutionized programming productivity. Even something as simple as having a terminal emulator with a display longer than 24 lines makes a remarkable difference. Also, use of data analysis tools on the workstation (even tools as simple as Excel) have changed the way we follow the data. It makes identifying trends and patterns in data significantly easier to recognize.

Why did you donate to OpenMPE during its fundraising drives?

Two reasons: Because I could – and this was primarily because of the 3000. MPE/iX’s been Very Very Good to me. And like my website, it’s a way of giving back to the community.

Secondly, because I want this platform to live on, until the ease of administration and robustness in operation commonly found under MPE/iX application systems is so common as to be taken for granted in any other system.

In many ways, the 3000 was quite a bit ahead of its time, and can still lead by example with regard to how robust a system can and should be. I believe in what OpenMPE was trying to do in those efforts, regardless of where it is now, or ends up in the future.

How far would you estimate, in years, an HP 3000 site can take a production system?

There’s a lot of comments along the lines of “Running them until the wheels fall off.” So I guess you’re asking how long it’ll be until that happens. The answer is: it depends, but from a practical perspective, quite a long time. The parts that wear out are mostly the moving parts (disk drives, tape drives, and cooling fans). It’s already getting difficult to find SCSI disk drives under 9GB.

Ultimately, we’ll have to start using interface adapters, and unless someone gets clever and figures out how to partition a large physical disk into multiple smaller logical disks, we’ll end up wasting the majority of the drive’s capacity (the maximum space addressable by MPE/iX version 7.5 on a single drive is 512GB, and under v 6.5 only 300GB). Really, the only thing we need a tape for is using SLT/CSLT tapes, when replacing a system volume set. Backups will become nearly completely store-to-disk or equivalent with FTP or some other transfer method to an external storage mechanism or provider.

The next software gotcha is the limit of the date intrinsics (at the rollover from 2027 to 2028) but I trust we can deal with that in a similar way to how Y2K was addressed. From a practical perspective, I’d venture to guess that the hardware will outlive the business need for some homegrown software systems, unless they continue to grow — and that’s an especially exciting possibility with the new Stromasys emulator coming available.

Something I’ve discovered is software/systems are like sharks. They’ll die if they stop moving. Even when a businesses’s needs are relatively static, technology isn’t. Eventually, there’ll be a ‘better’ way to solve the business need with newer technologies – unless the software integrates new technologies, as appropriate.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:57 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 15, 2011

Renovating Links for the 3000 Community

Hp3000linksLong before HP decided the 3000's future would be limited at that vendor, the computer had plenty of Web attention. Interex, HP, Client Systems' 3kworld.com website -- all were delivering 3000 web resources right alongside the 3000 NewsWire web efforts.  All of these have gone dark by today. Interex.org now belongs to an insurance firm in Germany, 3kworld.com bounces to a vague "Computer Training" page that looks like a placeholder. Former magazine HPProfessional.com now lands in Japan without a trace of English on the page. HP's links to Jazz specialties have survived in part on the Client Systems and Speedware web enterprises. There are still holes remaining to fill in those resources, however.

Then there's hp3000links.com, the one-stop webpage created, cultured and nurtured by John Dunlop. Filled with pop-up boxes and dozens of links, the site was a destination for the 3000 user in the 1990s, and then became one for those who wanted to bypass the slanted results of Google searches. New links appeared and a raft of 3000 vendors and suppliers had their own pull-down addresses. They still do, because hp3000links is still operational. It's just in need of renovation. Dunlop's done a tremendous job of hosting this and keeping it up for many years.

Along with IT consultant Olav Kappert, we've chosen to help spruce up and weed out hp3000links.com. The concept is still pretty sound: One Internet domain where a bookmark could help you locate that HP 3000 Relative Performance chart created by AICS, or the Perl Programming on MPE/iX slide set [thanks to Client Systems] from developer Mark Bixby. The former link is right where hp3000links says it should be. But those Perl slides have now slid to a newer HP address -- a PDF file of a master directory which tracks such 3000 resources [which you can download right now from our files, if you need it].

A Google search might do the trick to circumvent these shifty links, but why let Google know even more about your desires than it already does? Doesn't the 3000 still deserve its own landing page?

Speedware's posted a nice chunk of the Jazz contents on its site, thanks to the rehosting license the company signed with HP back in 2009. But the route is twisty to get to something called "PDF and HTML versions of many of the MPE manuals." One click takes you to a PDF file that HP is still hosting. Then you search for MPE/iX on that PDF page, and then click on a link that takes you to the 6.0 or the 7.0 manuals fork along HP's documentation road.

Would you like a speed-dial to the current location of those manuals? It's the kind of thing that hp3000links did with selected resources. Dunlop acted as an editor while he maintained the site for more than a decade. Now it's becoming a community project to clean out, like that pretty neighborhood park that got overgrown until those peculiar old fellas started to come by to weed and hoe and plant.

We'd like to see our readers visit hp3000links.com to check out the renovation, offer some catcalls and heckling, and suggest alternative links. The webpage, which is hosted by 3000 IT manager James Byrne for at least a few more months, even has a submission box for suggesting links. You might drop us a note on updates inside that box -- which is at the bottom of the very busy webpage. We'll be busy awhile, too.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:09 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 14, 2011

Stealing or Scrapping Older HP 3000s

Owners of older HP 3000s have an end-of-life issue in front of them, sooner or later. Sometimes, as is the case at Cygnus Publishing, a 3000 is going offline to be replaced by a Windows server. What to do with the remaining hardware, usually so old that using it as a production box is not an option?

Subscriptions won't be processed any longer using the Datatrax app on the 3000 at Cygnus, said Eric Sedmak. He's been put in charge of moving the system out the door. The company is based in Wisconsin, and Sedmak wasn't sure which model was being turned off at the end of this month. We suggested contacting support providers in his area. Someone like Preferred Systems in Minnesota might pick up a box in neighboring Wisconsin for spare parts.

(MB Foster has developed a program and practices for decommissioning HP 3000s. The company held a webinar this afternoon on its practices. We'll have an article here soon on the advice that was given.)

Series70On the other hand, if you're collecting old HP 3000s, a Series 70 HP 3000 Classic is on eBay until next week. Refresh Computer in Orlando is trying to get takers for this "vintage and loaded" system. As 3000 vets know, this is a beast of a piece of iron, one that might be placed in a garage to aid in heating during the winter months. To be certain, HP engineered the 70 to survive such harsh conditions. Hey, it's got four 4MB RAM modules (probably LP-sized boards) for 16MB of main memory, plus it includes an HP 150 Touchscreen PC for a monitor. (That's Touchscreen, not TouchPad. The Touchscreen had a lifespan of at least three years of sales, instead of the TouchPad's three months.) the Touchscreen alone is a steal, since there's just as much vendor software coming for the 1980s PC as that TouchPad.)

We're not sure if you can call a Series 70 a holiday gag gift, since some support companies might want one of these to test against customers' systems. But as the first Series 70 we've seen on eBay, you might think of it as a steal.

The comment stream on selling this item -- it's on offer for the third time -- reflects how much has changed in 3000 ownership and stewardship. It also shows some realism as well as nostalgia.

• Can anyone in Florida save this HP 3000? Not mine but I would love to see someone with the space grab it and at least store it and save it from the scrapper. I know there are/were a few big iron HP fans here. This is the third time its been listed. Cheap enough now for a local scrapper to profit from it. Probably won't be a 4th listing.

• I've been watching this too, along with the 7937 hard drives and the 7978 tape drive, simply because I used to work on these systems. The Series 70 is a beast of a machine, and requires 220V for power. I'm not in a position to rescue it though, either in terms of proximity or space.

• Honestly, to me, these machines have no real value beyond what I could auction it for, as they're nothing that I have a personal connection with, and they're too archaic for me to enjoy recreating the past. I think that the retro-computing/emulation things are ways for people to wax nostalgic and enjoy the things that they used to enjoy.

• I'm really tempted. I'll actually be in the area around Xmas. Is it worth renting a van? What would I even do with this?

• Just Do It. The opportunity won't come again and you'll be kicking yourself for years to come.
"Don't it always seem to go
    That you don't know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone" (BANG )

• Pretty neat server. You'll have to get a few friends a few beers to go along with ya when you pick it up, though. I can only imagine the weight of that thing.

• Not too many people that have that much space in their house. It would be just as bad for someone got it and put it in a shed or garage with no climate control. You would probably need a forklift to move it around. Could you even fit it through the front door of a house?

• Besides the power requirements, you'd still have to find a copy of MPE to run on it.

On that last score, the HP Computer Museum website can provide a copy of MPE V/E for use on this Series 70.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 02:32 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (1)

December 08, 2011

Alas, Oracle, you've blown off HP's Unix

HP-UX sites which run Oracle have no idea if Oracle's 12G database, scheduled for next year, will run on their Integrity hardware. HP has said on its last two quarterly conference calls that the uncertainty about Oracle has driven down sales of the Business Critical Systems group.

This one risk that a vendor takes when it decides to partner closely with a third party, instead of the old-school model of including a vendor-built database like IMAGE. This isn't meant to slam any third party database maker, because there are some good ones out there. Even Oracle has lots of fans.

SpinnakerBut Oracle has used its database as way to sell its own Unix, Solaris. And now it appears there's saucy language about the man leading the sales charge for Solaris servers, Mark Hurd, inside Oracle's dramatic lawsuit language. We know, "dramatic lawsuit language" are not three words usually found together. But Oracle led by Ellison has always filled its sales with lots of breezy boasts. To the point, one stretch of the lawsuit against HP claims there are lies, and the truth, about Integrity servers.

The contrast between what HP was discussing internally — the truth — and what it was telling the market and its actual and prospective customers — blatant lies — could not be more stark.

It's not often you find marketing prose in a lawsuit, which might start hearings in April -- after HP has closed two more quarters. That will make a full year of Oracle pullout messages for HP's Unix customers.

HP says Oracle is contributing to the decline of HP's Unix line. HP's started to fall back on EnterpriseDB, which is extending its product line to include a new Postgres Plus Cloud Server. A webcast one week from today will include a demo -- but first, an outside analyst will explain the differences between cloud databases. The analyst is unlikely to compare lawsuit language between these warring vendors, both of whom are aiming to capture HP 3000 migration business. (And there's a more focused webcast for HP 3000 users one day earlier, on Dec.14 when MB Foster explains 3000 Decommissioning plans.)

IT managers who register for the EnterpriseDB webcast on Dec. 15 will hear

Matt Aslett, senior analyst enterprise software, 451 Research, examine the difference between databases running in the public cloud, and databases that will be used to power private and hybrid clouds. He will provide an overview of the functional requirements that separate database running in the cloud from true cloud databases.

It might not matter as much as you'd think if Oracle stops supporting HP-UX. That's the view from Michael Marxmeier, who offers the IMAGE alternative Eloquence for HP-UX, as well as Intel-based servers. (He says he's doing lots of Linux business by now.) More on that tomorrow.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 12:10 PM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 05, 2011

Two Dev Editors for One Classic Platform

Brian-EdminsterAs we created our November print issue of the 3000 NewsWire, one of the Q&A subjects, Brian Edminster, gave us a photo of himself in front of a pair of monitors. Each had a different development editor: Robelle's Qedit for Windows, which hardly needs any introduction to 3000 users, who've deployed Qedit since the 1980s and continue to support it in its Windows incarnation; and Programmer Studio -- which, alas, saw its creators Whisper Technology go dark several years ago.

Edminster, who's stocking the HP 3000's community's open source repository, told us he likes both tools, enough to have a paid license for each. (Programmer's Studio had a free trial option that created a lot of shadow customers.) Using his HP 3000 terminal emulator from WRQ, Edminster notes

I've got two Reflection windows open to sessions on different systems on the left monitor, and Programmer Studio on the right (yes, it's kinda like MPE/iX -- no longer maintained, but it works just fine), and about a dozen other apps either web-based or other. I can't even imagine working on a traditional 'green-screen' to do programming anymore. There are good features of both -- but Qedit for Windows is more like a stand-alone editor that uses the Windows GUI. Each has its strengths.

Edminster gave us a rundown on his toolbox for development in 3000 environments and beyond.

Programmer Studio is much more like a conventional IDE -- something that programmers from other platforms (especially Windows) would find more familiar. Both it and Qedit do syntax highlighting/coloring. I like the one-button compiler integration with PStudio (where it can display the source code and after a compile with errors -- position you at each error so you can fix them, then f4 to take you to the next error, etc). It also, for certain languages (C, and COBOL, at least) shows a structure of the program in window on the left allows very easy navigation of the source.

The Regular Expression searches capability is really great too -- not just within a file, but across entire directories of files. I use this often to find references to variables across an entire source library. The results are shown in a 'find results' window. If you double-click on the found line, it'll open the code in another tab, positioning the cursor to that line.

By the way, for people that have to edit files on servers that don't allow FTP access, but do allow ssh/sftp access, there's a third party add-on I found called ExpanDrive (www.ExpanDrive.com).  It's a tool that works on both Macs and Windows to allow 'mounting' file systems on your workstation - and just about any workstation software can then access them.  This has allowed me to use PStudio in places where I wouldn't have, otherwise.   I've mentioned this on the 3000-L a while ago.

I haven't had a chance to play with it yet, but there's a multi-platform open source IDE that's functionally similar to PStudio called Eclipse, a Java-based IDE with plug-in architecture (allows adding functionality/features) that runs under Linux, Mac OS/X, and WIndows.  Unfortunately PStudio is not extensible via plug-ins like Eclipse is -- even though it does have a 'tools' menu -- to allow adding limited integration of external tools. Eclipse is designed such that plug-ins are fully integrated, and can essentially transform how the tool works. Pretty amazing stuff. And yes, there are a number of plug-ins that facilitate working with COBOL, as well a multitude for Java and other more recent languages.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:22 PM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 02, 2011

HP Connects users on power and cloud

By Terry Floyd
The Support Group

The HP Connect users group sponsored a luncheon seminar meeting in Austin a few weeks ago, with two diverse speakers and topics. Kristi Browder, Executive Director and COO of Connect, lead the meeting and introduced the speakers.

Print-ExclusiveClyde Poole, of TDi Technologies, talked about “What you Should Know Before Moving to the Cloud.” It was not a sales pitch for his Plano-based company; rather, the presentation was a generic and informative speech. Clyde spoke from years of data center experience as he covered the “gotcha’s” of cloud computing. He discussed three or four definitions of “the cloud” and gave examples of each (SalesForce, Amazon, etc.). It was a speech intended to urge caution when moving data to the cloud, covering legal and security issues and their inherent risk exposures.

Clyde’s best tip was to visit wiki.cloudsecurityalliance.org, a site where the CSA describes issues concerning cloud deployment. There you learn where Clyde got some of his ideas about the major Service Models: SaaS (Software), PaaS (Platform), and IaaS (Infrastructure). On that site is also a great piece on Public vs. Private clouds (and Hybrids) and about required characteristics of clouds, such as Resource Pooling, Broad Network Access, Rapid Elasticity, Self-Service provisioning, and what Measured Services means.

David Chetham-Strode, an HP’er of 15 years, spoke on “Power and Cooling”, introducing innovations the invent brand has introduced in the last year or two. He spoke about new power distribution products that have come out of HP’s own data center projects. David spent a lot of time discussing power loss and what Hewlett Packard has done to increase efficiencies from 90 percent to as much as 98 percent, big savings in electricity in big data centers. He revealed secrets of air flow and “cooling from within the row of servers” instead of from above or below.

David also mentioned the “chimney” products and why they have no fans (not just that they are not needed, but that they disrupt the flow). Did you know that the new rear doors on the solidly-built HP cabinets have more holes than their competitors’ cabinets? This presentation was interesting to me, even the minutia about power cabling, the explanation of why blue was used for the A/C connections’ color coding, and the fact that HP is working on eliminating A/C and going with D/C for the most efficiency possible.

A couple of dozen people attended the free seminar and I’m sure all agreed that the meal was excellent. Everyone received a 1GB USB storage device with HP’s name and a Connect koozie. I won one of the two door prizes, a bag of goodies including the ever-present and very high quality HP mouse pad, as well as two different mice, another 1GB thumb drive, and a pedometer (in case I wanted to know how many steps it was back to my car – several hours later it is up to 2,245).

I learned a few useful, interesting items and met some nice people, including four Connect employees and four HP people. It was a good effort and worth my time to try to re-connect with Connect. But it’s lonesome for an MPE guy in this world. I identified Compaq and Non-Stop people, but HP-UX was probably in the majority of the crowd’s resumes.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 12:20 PM in Migration, News Outta HP, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 28, 2011

Making it Easier, One Decade Later

Print-ExclusiveThe tools of my trade have come a long way in a decade of work, just as yours have in computing. Actually, there's an intersection there between us, since the tools of computing have changed the way I can tell stories. Journalism is sometimes called literature in a hurry, and there's nothing like the rush of big news to put a scribbler in a rush.

That's what was happening in November, 2001, when I got my rock-your-world report from my partner Abby about our newsletter and the HP 3000 and the future of both. We knew HP's future in the 3000 that night, when it was likely to wind down and how serious they were about ending it. We also knew there was another side of the story to tell about the community that the vendor was leaving. HP was already at work telling their tales about migration and a declining ecosystem. We had to get busy to catch up.

It all seems so antique now. The long ride on the train with an open notebook on the Eurostar table, writing out question after question. Getting a hotel with a good phone system booked in London, for HP had promised a con-call to brief me less than a week before they'd tell customers. Shopping for a portable cassette tape recorder, plus an acoustic mic pickup, to make recorded notes for such a crucial story.

Then afterward, at 8 PM Euro time, when it was just lunch in California, I trek off to the EasyNet Internet Cafe. A spot that any tourist or pilgrim could use the Internet to write stories I would email to Abby, via AOL, so she could set them in print for our newsletter. We'd held the presses, yup, and it all depended on how fast I could get quotes out of that tape recorder and its cheap earphone, writing up the news I'd heard, and then another piece on what I thought it meant.

I got lucky that night. There was a problem with the Cafe's billing, so everybody's Internet time was free. It was one less thing to think about, so I could let the muse lead me to call the non-migrators "homesteaders." When you create something that's swell and durable, you must thank the gods for good fortune that rewards the practice your craft.

You've probably felt that kind of luck in creating something during your careers -- that insight that turned out to be right and make the whole program run without any error on the compile, or the magic of making connections between two things the makers never intended to work together. You try to remember how it felt, because you want to believe in the luck for the next time you're batting at the keys in cafe where it's about to snow outside and you're not dressed for it.

Skip ahead 10 years, and you don't worry about which COBOL to use or whether that's the right SCSI cable and terminator. Or if you've got time on the Internet or the hours to skim through tape for one quote. As I tapped out a blog story about the great Steve Jobs, how he admired Hewlett and Packard, and stop that HP PC snickering, he said very near his own demise. They built a company with a legacy, and he wants that for Apple.

I'm right in the middle of this, when HP calls a pop press conference with its new CEO. Decides that PCs are still its game. I listen right along with every other business writer, get a story posted online along with the Merc in San Jose and the Journal. Just luck along with tools that make stories leap through time, another kind of Easy Net. Thanks for the work you've done over the last 10 years in your industry. It's making it easy.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:45 AM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 23, 2011

As holiday looms, research migration today

The US Thanksgiving weekend -- the only guaranteed four-day holiday all year -- will be upon IT departments in just a few more hours. Watch the "out of office" auto-messages pop up on your email replies. But if it's before noon on the West Coast, or just short of the traffic jams on one of the worst commuting days of the year, you can learn more about data migration from an MB Foster webinar today. (Thanksgiving is an October holiday in Canada, where MB Foster is headquartered.)

The vendor reminds us that it's been in the migration business for decades by now, since migrating data has been a principal enterprise there. "Data generated and consumed by applications is driven by multiple business requirements, which in turn are supported by business processes. The approaches taken to the migration depends on those requirements. Data migrations and associated tasks are usually performed programmatically to move and map old system data to the new system," MB Foster says in an invitation to a 11AM PST / 2PM EST webinar, Data Migration, Conversions, Integration.

It's that data that is the most crucial element on 3000s still running companies. At the end of the process is decommissioning, a service the vendor is ready to help migrators prepare for.

In this webinar we will outline database migrations, data conversions and data integration approaches. We will also be reviewing data challenges that could possibly impede a successful migration and decommissioning.

There's still time to register online for the 45-minute briefing.

We'll be taking tomorrow off, with a little bit of coverage on Friday, to celebrate the holiday here and give thanks for your constant interest and our sponsors' support. Have a safe and sumptuous weekend

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:00 AM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 11, 2011

Take a search into our print issues, online

Ken-DoMar97Every three months, The 3000 NewsWire returns to its roots and arrives in paper and an envelope. It's a format that we first delivered 16 years ago. No matter how fast the Web can update us, there's a different pace of education and insight that comes off the printed page. We're fortunate to have the support of community sponsors to keep our print issue alive. (Frankly, it would be hard to get me to stop creating it, coming from a "stop the presses" heritage at newspapers here in Texas.)

But onward to my point: You can read those printed issues here on your PC or laptop, created as PDF files. The latest one is always available from a click at the top left corner of our main website page on this blog. We also have an archive which is summarized below, with links for downloads.

This month marks the start of our 17th Volume, as we old-timers say in the publishing business, each of those volumes one year of printed editions. Our volumes begin in the fall, when the 3000 NewsWire was born. As it turns out, November became a pretty important month for the 3000 -- but that's a story for next Monday, Nov. 14.

One advantage of creating a PDF file of these print issues is that they can be searched with a PDF reader. All of these articles are included in our blog, after selected stories get "Print Exclusive" status -- first available only in paper. But if you want to enjoy the print presentation -- a magazine style, if you will -- click below. If you'd like to have a copy arrive in your postal mailbox at the soonest date, send an email to me at the NewsWire and I'll ensure you're on the mailing list for premium paper. Be sure to include a mailing address.

So we'll see you in the papers -- you never can be sure whose picture or name was in the news on a page that's printed. It's worth a look; collect 'em all, as they used to say in the comic books. Maybe there's a place for a Ken-Do revival in 2012's printed NewsWires.

August 2011
May 2011
February 2011
November 2010

August 2010
May 2010
February 2010
November 2009

August 2009
May 2009
February 2009
November 2008

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:01 AM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 10, 2011

HP puts down Oracle, which puts up Solaris

Hewlett-Packard summoned a market analyst to tell its HP-UX customers "Unix is not going away in the near future," said Dan Olds, founder of Gabriel Consulting. "Probably not even past the near future."

OS qualityThese kinds of assurances are needed in a marketplace where Linux has all the buzz and Windows all the populace among environment choices. Sure, the apps drive the OS choices, but a company's got to ensure it can retain and train the IT pros who keep apps alive and moving, instead of stalled. As one example, the replacement-for-IMAGE database Eloquence keeps growing "to keep your applications from stalling," said founder Michael Marxmeier.

Eloquence runs on Windows, Linux and Unix. It the last arena it becomes a player in the ongoing saga of What Will HP Do About Oracle? Oracle sells one of the biggest competitors to HP-UX, Solaris. Last week HP said that Oracle's Unix, Solaris, is a distant third in customer support and deployment to HP's Unix. This week Oracle announced a Version 11 of Solaris, which will be marketed as a cloud-friendly OS. It's also got tighter integration with Oracle's database, a strategy HP once used to great effect in the HP 3000, with MPE plus IMAGE. Here's a telling passage from a Computerworld story on how the link-up works for Solaris: "By controlling an entire stack of software, the company can make holistic decisions over which part of the stack would be best suited to tweak to gain performance improvements."

That's not in the field to be surveyed today, and perhaps not even this year. The message during the one-hour HP webcast relied upon a 2010-11 Gabriel survey of companies already using some kind of Unix. Prompted by HP's Katie Curtin-Mestre, Olds said that Oracle is well behind HP and IBM in categories like OS Quality, Patching Quality, availability as observed by a user base, plus a lot more. Olds -- whose 15 years in IT includes nine years of marketing consulting for hire -- said it's a two-vendor race for commercial Unix, where "Oracle is not as competitive as they would hope, or we expected. In some areas, since Oracle took over Sun and stabilized it, they've lost some ground."

HP would be happy to learn that continues to be true. The Gabriel survey was taken during the first six months of work by Mark Hurd, former CEO, who has led the Sun/Oracle rebound culminating in a fresh Solaris and refresh of the SPARC chips. How this webcast chest-thumping by HP will imact its wish to get Oracle to love Itanium/Integrity once again -- well, that's anybody's guess. But it's hard to portray the webcast as an olive branch.

Observed performanceOne thing feels certain: when you use red as the color to depict a vendor on a PowerPoint slide, it's never a friendly label. HP's customers are observing that Solaris is much slower than HP-UX, but HP's Unix is just 1.3 percent faster than IBM's Unix. This may be a two-horse race in observations and speed. But HP needs Oracle to keep its customers on HP-UX servers, and coloring the company red looks as combative as suing its rival to keep supporting HP's Unix.

Other high points of the HP-Gabriel survey (Olds calls the study a Vendor Face-Off):

"It will be interesting to see what happens, now that Oracle has released some new systems. We'll see if they resonate with customers." (We're not certain how Oracle will participate in the new Face-Off, but the vendors don't need to be part of the polling. Some vendors do pay for webcasts of the results, though.)

This kind of report is no new tactic in getting customer loyalty pumped up. The objectivity comes under scrutiny when an outside consultant says, "It's clear that the commercial Unix market is primarily a two-horse race between IBM and HP. Oracle hasn't managed to turn Sun around in any significant way."

Olds said, "Customers are still using more Unix capacity than they used the year before. There's a lot of churn, as they move stuff to x86 and take out Unix platforms. But they're also adding Unix platforms. The amount of capacity shift is more than what's being turned off." So the Unix advocate is now looking at capacity rather of footprint. They've lost the war on server counts, although HP continues to report its Unix servers lead that sector in market share.

"The [capacity] growth isn't as fast as it was back in the day of the early-to-mid '90s," Olds said. That's the period where HP is plundering the HP 3000 base for converts to HP-UX, and Windows doesn't have any traction as an enterprise environment. Linux was little more than an experiment back in the day. Olds then asserts that "nothing's growing like it was back then." That will come as news to Red Hat, SUSE and the other Linux providers.

"Unix has moved to a different place; it's become that mission-critical platform," Olds said. Right on the money, from the reports of the former 3000 sites who've turned to Unix. None of them report that Unix is any more mission-critical than the 3000, but we don't have a superb window into the largest of Unix customers. For the most part, that size of site didn't use the 3000.

Fewer shipments, larger systems, greater uptime needs: Some of this sounds like the HP 3000 situation of the late 1990s, when footprints of MPE/iX were being overtaken by Windows and Unix. Nobody knows the future for sure, even when a vendor tells the tale: witness the assurances of HP World 2001 about the 3000 vs. the pullout just three months later. But the future of Unix is now tied firmly to big systems and mission-critical capacity. It's hard to see how that competes with the nimble and smaller options from the cloud, even if HP says Unix is a part of its cloud computing plans.

HP's Curtin-Mestre said "we get a lot of questions about Integrity [servers] and Itanium, and to add to your point, the Itanium market revenue is larger than AMD as a whole." That's a lot of sales, but now the vendor is comparing its Unix business to a smaller subset of the Windows x86 alternative. "This whole conversation reminds me of the old adage from Mark Twain, that 'rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.' "

Exaggeration2It was a "report" rather than rumors that Twain replied to, for those who admire the humorist's accuracy. He lived another 13 years after his handwritten note to Frank Bliss. The note sprang from reports Twain had died, but it was his cousin who'd been ill. People like to think of operating environments as having a lifespan, especially HP, which encouraged the thought that MPE/iX was dying, along with the HP 3000 and for that matter, IBM's AS/400. We'd rather consider Twain's writing about death in 1906 in Mark Twain in Eruption as a means of getting the most honesty from the departed.

I think we never become really and genuinely our entire and honest selves until we are dead--and not then until we have been dead years and years. People ought to start dead, and they would be honest so much earlier.

Perhaps as the MPE/iX OS moves into its 11th year of being "dead," HP-UX can hope for a similar future. If nothing else, the vendor won't need to hire outside analysts to prove people are still using and choosing its proprietary OS.



Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:33 PM in Migration, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 03, 2011

Is it a test next Wednesday, or the real thing?

By Birket Foster
MB Foster Associates

Remember growing up where a test of the emergency alert system would periodically come on the radio with a piercing noise, and inform you that this was just a test, and in the case of a real emergency further instructions will follow? It's coming back, sooner than you think. We expect to hear it just minutes before our next webinar.

CivilDefenseFor the first time ever, the FCC and FEMA are conducting a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). It will happen at 2 pm Eastern on Wednesday, November 9 -- just 2 days before binary day (you know, 111111, or November 11, '11).

Will our children even know what this is about, as they get home from school and have their favorite TV show interrupted by an emergency signal? Will housewives everywhere worry about the “national emergency” that will appear to be happening? Maybe it will have the same impact on society as the radio play of HG Wells  “The War of the Worlds,” a timeless science fiction classic of the invasion of earth by Martians.

Our live demonstration of MBF Scheduler, and the recently announced enhancements of HIPRI, RUNNOW and Subqueues, will take 45 minutes -- but during the first two minutes we will see how the world reacts to EAS, and then carry on from there.

Wikipedia reports that the EAS is a national warning system in the United States put into place on January 1, 1997, when it superseded the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS), which itself had superseded the CONELRAD System.

In addition to alerting the public of local weather emergencies such as tornadoes and flash floods, the official EAS is designed to enable the President of the United States to speak to the United States within 10 minutes, but the nationwide federal EAS has never been activated. The EAS regulations and standards are governed by the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau of the FCC. Each state and several territories have their own EAS plan. EAS has become part of IPAWS, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, a program of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). EAS is jointly coordinated by FEMA, the FCC, and the National Weather Service.

So next week for two minutes the airwaves of America (which are broadcast by satellite around the planet) there will be a two-minute alert where the president or at least the White House will interrupt the day for 2 minutes to prove that in the case of the a national emergency you could hear the President – it would just be text and a voice over – no pictures … maybe the lowest common denominator isn’t the best way to go but all radio and TV will be part of the test.

How will you business handle this – are you forewarning people that this test is coming up … At MBFoster we have a webinar scheduled for November 9 at 2pm … it will be about Automating Windows Processes (using MBF Scheduler) … it won’t be a test – it will be the real thing J complete with demonstration … it will take 45 minutes but during the first 2 minutes we will see what the world reaction to the of the EAS is and then carry on from there.


Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:30 PM in Migration, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (1)

October 31, 2011

After one strike away, to return another day

One Strike AwayHere in Texas we're learning that there's no crying in baseball, except for in the World Series. Our Texas Rangers were only one strike away from winning the world championship -- not once but twice -- but we saw our heroes of 50 years' efforts fall out of the trophy column. A final effort at that strike (above) let the St. Louis Cardinals bang out a hit to erase a "Roy Hobbs homer" from Josh Hamilton that might have won that Series. It was a Series so epic that it sparked TV ratings unmatched since the Red Sox won their first title in 86 years. The penultimate loss in that Game 6 took 11 innings to complete. A 7 PM game ended nearly at midnight.

It builds character to continue to love something that falls short of ultimate success often. In the computer markets this kind of product gets shuttled to the museum instead of trotted out for another sales cycle. Success gets determined by business managers who can always go about building a new team of products. In baseball, the losing players lace up cleats and swing the bats again after a requeim for the death of this year's dream. Heartrates at my house got worn out Thursday night, the game nearly won when those two almost-champion moments came, and then went. This is the second straight year Texas has lost the Series. It's been nearly 20 years since a baseball team lost consequetive World Series. We will see what becomes of the Rangers in about 22 weeks, when a fresh season dawns. They're already calling this Series historic.

EpicenterIn your community of 3000 users, today is an important day in your history. Eight years ago this afternoon, the last official sale of a new HP 3000 was accepted by Hewlett-Packard. In memory of that milestone, thousands of community members, industry icons and gurus, and HP engineers and managers threw local parties to mourn and remember the glory of a great HP product. The computer continued to be a product for years afterward, but not a product which HP built new any longer.

ScreenJet's Alan Yeo organized, through inspiration and outreach, what was called the World Wide Wake. As a celebration of a passing, the day was a success that might rouse the dead. As a predictor of the obituary of the HP 3000, the images of glasses hoisted and gallows pictures, the event was something else. It served as another marker of the slower timeframe that a computer known as a mainframe can employ for a lifespan.

We've created a Flickr photostream from the Wake pictures that were sent to Yeo's website back in 2003. He was kind enough to leave these memories in our keeping. They represent that one last strike that the computer failed to get on HP. But like those Rangers, there's always next year to buy new HP 3000 hardware. An emulator has given the HP 3000 a set of new seasons for many years to come.

Virtualized hardware took more than eight years to arrive in this marketplace, but it will deliver for many more years to replace the 3000s HP no longer builds or sells. There's not an obvious baseball comparison to what a virtualizer does, but maybe a rejuvenation of a late-game pitching staff, or a robust farm team system to grow new talents, will suffice. As a Rangers fan I expect to see both next year, just as I expect to see HP 3000s grown from fast and cheap PC hardware from Stromasys.

It's past closing time in Europe and the East of the US, even very dark in the 3000's heartland of California Across the International Date Line in Bangalore, India, where a few HP lab engineers toiled until the end of 2008, it's already Nov. 1. All Saints Day, we used to call the date back when I was a boy in Catholic school. Some community members probably think the 3000's survival in any number through 2011 is a miracle.

There are many saints who could claim some credit for the survival of 10,000 to 20,000 HP 3000s. There are also many systems that have been switched off, scrapped or dropped into deep storage over those eight years. The HP 3000 system populace could only decline from its census numbers of 2003. However, it's easy to assert that more 3000s will be running after today — and into the Tenth Anniversary of The Afterlife — than Hewlett-Packard or its partners ever could predict.

A good share of the populace is running because migration was no two-year matter, or even four-year project at some sites. In these companies the HP 3000 is earmarked for a decommission, sometime in the future, near or far. The Afterlife is a land which is rich in the unknown. We cannot know for certain who's still running, who's making migration progress, and who has put their IT futures in limbo. For some customers, they live in the Afterlife because there's no place else to go.

Until now, when an emulator will give a new option to the companies who need to put the same proven players of MPE and IMAGE on the field. It's good to congratulate Unix and Windows on a victory over HP's executive strike zone, so very small in 2001. While the neighborhood kids' voices echo through my open windows tonight in Texas, however, I hear an echo of heritage and tradition of trick-or-treating for sweets. A new future is not right for everybody. This October, the 3000 homesteader can say of new systems the same thing us Rangers fans say in hope: "We'll get 'em next year."


Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:47 PM in History, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 28, 2011

Emulator query sparks private volume tip

In an example of the newest HP 3000 technology linking to one of the server's oldest, one question about a 2012 product unearthed advice about a feature introducted in 1978. Next year's HPA/3000 emulator received some upgrades to its SCSI periperals support this week, according to the product's vendor Stromasys. These improvements will make it possible to better answer a question about private MPE/iX volumes, and how well HPA/3000 can handle them.

BuiltToLastCraig Lalley, working with Stromasys on the MPE/iX aspects of HPA/3000, said he hasn't tested private volumes yet, "due to an issue with the SCSI interface. But I intend to." At the same time, a question about private volumes' use in the current era prompted some advice from Applied Technologies' Brian Edminster -- who had to miss the Reunion briefing on HPA/3000 due to pressing work to open up the new MPE open source website, MPE-OpenSource.org. (You can track updates to the project through its RSS feed, which can be viewed in Google's RSS Reader, among others.)

The first package Edminster added to site was SFTP quick-start, a bundle "which aims to make installing SFTP easier on MPE/iX systems. It is a std file which includes all the components necessary to install and configure sftp, scp, and keygen under MPE/iX, with links to instructions for the installation process."

Edminster is well-versed in the non-open-source tools for the HP 3000 as well. When Dave Powell of MMFab asked during a HPA/3000 discussion if anyone was even using private volumes on an A400 Class of server, Edminster advised that the 3000 sites where he administers or consults are employing this bedrock MPE tool -- one first introduced 34 years ago in MPE III, on the Series III.

I've always considered it a best practice to divide your disk storage up into several Private Volumes. Why?  When a non-mirrored spindle in a PV dies, it only takes that PV out with it -- allowing the rest of the machine to keep running (unless the PV is the mpe_system_volume_set, in which case you're going to be doing a system install).  If it's only one of the data volumes that goes down, the 'system' is still up, greatly facilitating recovery.

Data volume protection has always been at the heart of MPE's private volumes.

If you can't afford arrays that protect the 'system' volume-set, at least you can get something (even if it's only HP's subsystem software Mirror/iX for RAID-1) to protect the data volumes. And if you configure it properly,  RAID-1 is wicked-fast on reads, and pretty decent on writes.

Oh, and to answer your original question:  Yes, A400s can be set up this way.  At least, the ones I administer are set up this way. The drives inside the CPU chassis are set up as "system volume set," and an external mirrored array is the "data' volume.

Works great. If the system volume goes down, data isn't likely affected. If a mirrored drive fails, just swap it for a replacement. This has gotten my client near 100 percent up-time for this system, for almost 10 years now.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:14 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 26, 2011

HP, Connect to thump Unix drum soon, later

HP's Unix customers, or prospects for the HP-UX and enterprise solutions, are getting a couple of educational opportunities this week and next. The first makes a case for Unix retaining a lead spot in IT choices. The second introduces HP experts on power, cooling, and what you should know before moving to the cloud.

The settings couldn't be more different, a testament to the reach HP's enterprise arm is stretching. Tomorrow is a webinar "showing results from Gabriel Consulting Group's Unix preference study. Dan Olds from Gabriel will join," plus a HP speaker to present HP-UX specific results and commentary. "Come hear why users think Unix is still highly relevant and strategic for mission-critical workloads." You'll be coming to your browser, but you can sign up online for tomorrow's event.

In a couple of weeks HP takes its cloud-enterprise show into downtown Austin, at Sullivan's Steakhouse for a luncheon and talk about big-system product opportunities. Nov. 9 is lunchtime for HP's David Chetham-Strode, HP's product Manager for Data Center Power Solutions, and "cloud expert Clyde Poole, Chief Security Officer and Director of Professional Services with TDi Technologies. You can sign up for a lunch spot with Connect, which is sponsoring the HP event.

The briefings are the equivalent of attending a user conference keynote or session, but they're free. HP promises that Chetham-Strode will provide an insight into optimizing and adapting energy use, reclaiming capacity, and reducing energy costs. In this session HP’s latest advances in power protection, distribution, and cooling will be discussed and you will see how these new solutions save operational costs help extend the life of the data center.

You can save a spot for that steak lunch at the Connect website. HP said the Poole will tell you what to "learn what to ask yourself and your Cloud vendor before you sign a contract. This interactive session will define the cloud environment and then present some of these questions, along with what you should expect as answers from your vendors. Challenges Addressed: Compliance, Data Protection and Security Threats.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:48 PM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 21, 2011

Rare MPE admin gem glitters to lift careers

AdminBookThere's not much HP 3000 instruction and education that's still available in published book status. The IMAGE Handbook appeared in the 1980s; there was even a TurboIMAGE Handbook printed by Beechglen's Mike Hornsby, about the same time the market started to see printed anthologies of technical papers from VEsoft's engineers and alllies. Beyond PA-RISC offered a groundbreaking look at the 3000's architecture in 1987. HP engineer Mike Yawn led the publishing of The Legacy Continues, a 1997 book about developing with the 3000 alongside Windows NT and HP-UX. But six months before the end of HP's futures for the server, the first and only specialized and comprehensive book emerged about managing MPE/iX. Jon Diercks wrote the MPE/iX System Administration Handbook and it was published by Prentice Hall in 2001. It's nearly out of print by now; new copies are running at $200 at Amazon.com and used ones at $80.

But this book is still for sale in one way or another. Diercks even brought a few copies to the recent HP3000 Reunion. Author copies, as the publishers call them, and a signed one was given away as a door prize for attendees. Diercks said he sold a couple more to users on both ends of the MPE experience spectrum.

I was pleased that the buyers were at opposite ends of the spectrum. One was an HP veteran who was  responsible for the care and feeding of the MPE spooler for many years. I pre-emptively apologized for any inaccuracies, especially in the spooler chapter. He graciously assured me that he was confident I must have been faithful in my rendering of the material, and he was looking forward to reading the whole thing.

The other copy was picked up by a bona fide newbie, a young guy who had shared a table with me during the dinner and is picking up HP 3000 skills for the first time as part of a job that he just started. I was delighted to know that even 10 years later, the book still has new readers who want it not for nostalgia, but precisely for its original purpose. The price was personally negotiated for each sale. I believe the book has great value, but I didn't want price to be a barrier, not at that event, and not among this close-knit community.

There's another way to read the book: subscribe to Safari, the online reader service that gives you access to technical books for $27 monthly for 10 titles you can stock onto a virtual shelf. It's even got a free trial offer to let the technical pro see if the service is right for them.

Safari is a way to keep something in book format forever, simply by making it a digital title which O'Reilly Media and the Pearson Technology Group stewards on a set of servers. The greatest advantage to having a book sold or rented in digital format is that is never has a reason to go out of print. It's something like the HP 3000 PA-RISC architecture never going offline any longer -- because a virtualization of the chipset is being offered, based in software.

HP3000 EvolutionOnce HP cast its doubts upon the future of the HP 3000, HP 3000 Evolution was printed, sold and distributed by Robelle. It's probably the very latest dated paper book about HP 3000, with articles written by community leaders, included from the NewsWire, or revised for an era of migration and homesteading. (That Robelle Evolution link includes an impressive array of technical articles and papers from the community, as do others from Allegro, Adager and others.)

Diercks has his own website where he offers his consulting services as well as code samples from the book. Code samples have actually always been available for free on at diercks.net/mpe/code. And it's a good bet that with the right offer, you might be able to buy one of his remaining paper copies for less than $80. But what's more important is how much lifespan this technical resource deserves and the good work which it still has in front of it.

As for Safari, an all-you-want level of subscription even includes something called Rough Cuts, which lets subscribers "read drafts of pre-published manuscripts online. Interact with authors as they write about the newest technologies."

BeyondRiscSafari, Google Books and other e-book avenues are good means to keep technical expertise available throughout the lifespan of any enterprise server -- at least those rich enough to have books published about them. Brian Edminster, who noted those prices on the Diercks book as well as the Safari link, said that offering a tech title on an open license can help future-proof these published techniques.

"The only thing better would be to someday -- perhaps when Safari chooses not to carry it anymore -- release it as an e-book under an appropriate Creative Commons license. This is kind of like what Greg Lehey did with Porting Unix Software, which is why I'm able to host it on www.MPE-OpenSource.org. That's the license that enables another to update a book (or customized it for a specific platform) as long as the end-results aren't used for commercial gain. I'd still buy another copy of either book in 'dead-tree' format though.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:05 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 12, 2011

What’s It All About, Posix?

By Brian Edminster

Editor's Note: The origins of HP 3000 Posix go back to 1992, when it arrived as part of MPE. Posix was HP’s first effort at making MPE more standards-friendly. The engineering led to the potential for open source programs such as Samba, Apache and more to make it across the porting divide — and give the systems their first genuine cross-platform tools. The Posix work in MPE made GNU C for the 3000 a possibility, back in the nascent era of the open source movement. Brian Edminster, who's establishing a repository for open source HP 3000 tools, explains what Posix means to the 3000 administrator and owner nearly 20 years later.

It’s really pretty simple. Posix is an attempt to create common ground – to facilitate creating portable software. It consists of file-system, shell, and programmatic interface specifications to the underlying system (Un*x or not!).

Posix standards came about because it was getting more and more difficult to write software portable across the various Un*x flavors – as each vendor created more and more proprietary ‘features’ into their Un*x OS variant. And invariably, the features – usually added in order to give that particular version of Un*x a competitive advantage, made the systems just a little bit more incompatible. This might be by making certain functionality easier to implement on their platform, or to make administration easier, or just to improve performance.

The downside of all this, is that the various Un*x variants were slowly diverging – even though they might well conform the the ‘Unix’ system standard. It was also recognized that it was becoming more and more difficult to create software that is portable accross systems. Something needed to be done, and IEEE came to the rescue.

Rather than enforce complete uniformity accross various Un*x variants, the Posix working group defined a series of what are essentially ‘lowest common denominator’ standards for various parts of a system (file-system, shell, api’s, and so forth) that wished to be labeled Posix Compliant. By using these constructs, it became much easier to write software that is out-of-the-box portable. That is, the software will compile with little or no changes when moved between platforms that have the requisite Posix environment and compilers.

Yes, it was still possible to take advantage of 'platform specific' features, as long as there was a Posix way of doing that as well – or if it was okay not to have full functionality on non-native platforms. This is commonly achieved by use of 'compartmentalizing' platform specific code and/or by using conditional compilation directives. (I'll have more on that in future articles.)

The real boon to Posix, however: it is possible to make software originally developed for the Un*x environment available on any platform with a sufficiently complete Posix environment. Several excellent examples of this are MPE/iX, Mac OS X, z/OS, and some more recent Server editions of Microsoft Windows. There’s even a non-server Posix implementation for desktop editions of Windows called Cygwin – that makes much Un*x style portable software available for desktops as well.

So what does all of this buy? In effect, a very large pool of software that might be usable to solve problems that might have been prohibitively expensive to address via the traditional route of proprietary and/or custom developed software.

More importantly – since Posix was added to MPE (that is – when MPE/XL became MPE/iX), it too received the same benefits of improved portability and broader base of developers that other Posix systems enjoy. Porting efforts to bring open source software to the 3000 have come from both individuals (i.e. The GNU GCC Toolchain – bringing both C and C++ and related development tools to MPE/iX, plus: BIND, PostgreSQL, Perl, OpenSSH, and a broad host of smaller tools and utilities) as well as efforts from inside HP (Apache/iX, OpenSSL, Samba/iX, and SendMail – all of which became part of the FOS and/or available via patches).

The Posix filesystem was even used to enhance the TurboIMAGE/XL database system to allow ‘Jumbo’ datasets, spawning TurboIMAGE/iX. By allowing the ‘container’ files that carry datasets contents to be broken into file ‘chunks’ that exist in the Posix filespace – capacities far beyond what the ‘native’ filesystem could accomodate are now possible.

A secondary benefit is that most portable software is written to industry standards, using tools common across platforms. In short, it potentially makes it much easier for your MPE/iX based system to ‘play nice’ with other systems. By using this type of software, your systems will be more likely able to ‘inter-operate’ with the rest of your enterprise, and the world at large. By now having tools available that are common to the Un*x space (various shells, plus a plethora of command-line tools, utilities, and scripting languages), it’s easier to find fresh technical talent to assist with development and system administration tasks.

So, there are some interesting quirks that a Un*x admin or developer will need to know how to deal with when working on a MPE/iX system – but we’ll cover some of those, as well as some useful tips and tricks to make the best of both the MPE and Posix worlds, in later articles.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 02:07 PM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 11, 2011

Webinar examines 3000 sites' plans for 2012

MB Foster is putting together a 45-minute briefing, including time to pose questions, for planning 2012 IT projects. The "Planning for 2012" training session is scheduled for 2PM Eastern US time Wednesday (October 12). Signup is at the MB Foster website. Participants will be able to ask questions and discuss data management strategies and plans.

The company's CEO Birket Foster says the webinar is based upon the "big plans" his company has discussed with some customers.

Some of them are related to the synchronization of data between applications, Business Intelligence (BI) and dashboarding. In fact, we have even seen some substantial RFP requests for solutions that match this requirement.

In other areas, clients are looking to unplug legacy systems through decommissioning -- but quickly realized that there are processes that need to be followed for compliance, and where data needs to be available for warranty tracking, or sales tax audits.

The scope of the webinar series this year from MB Foster has been broad. The latest seminar looks at dashboarding as well as putting HP 3000s to rest. These are topics that can be related, since dashboarding is a concept built around improving data reporting for an entire enterprise, regardless of platform.

You won't hear much discussion about dashboarding among classic 3000 managers, but it's had management fans for as long as BI has been crucial to enterprise planning. BI is one of the top 10 strategic technologies companies are investing in for 2012, according to reports from agencies such as Gartner.

Dashboarding is essential to growing a business in a smart way. People are realizing that if they could be planning more proactively, doing reporting and getting to a "single version of the truth," they could stay on top of their business better.

One business consultant, Benny Austin, has posted a superior checklist to evaluate what the four types of user groups need from dashboarding tools.

• Information Consumers: The decision makers who drive change management strategies based on the information presented. (In certain cases Information Consumers could be the general public.)
• Power Users: Those who build and publish dashboards.
• Developers: Those who build and maintain the information sources for dashboards.
• Administrators: Those who manage and regulate the hardware, software and application infrastructure.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:23 PM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 06, 2011

Why Your Life's Work Deserves Praise

The news wires are full of praise and remembrances of Steve Jobs today, the first working morning since he passed away. Billions of people never used Apple products, however. Some swear they never will, just because they don't want to get sucked into Apple's sparkly universe.

Bicycle for minds,jpg But as a computer professional, you might consider how admired and revered your skills were by Jobs and his company. A 90-second video on YouTube shows an interview of a boyish Steve Jobs who is explaining why the computer is the greatest tool ever created by mankind. Because, he says, it's the bicycle for our minds. That's a sentiment that goes a long way in the NewsWire offices, considering how much time we're in the saddle to stay fit, or to help fundraise for surivors of cancer, or AIDS.

JobsWhiteboard Jobs was also plainspoken about stealing to create great products. The HP 3000's MPE bedrock was mined out of the Burroughs operating system, something that Allegro's Stan Sieler likes to remind us. Windows, of course, came straight off the Mac and now represents the most popular migration platform for 3000 owners. 

In another YouTube interview Jobs admits how theft propelled Apple. But he also reminds us that it's thievery with a heritage of beauty. "It comes down to exposing yourself to the best things that humans have done -- and then trying to bring those things into what you're doing," he said. If you ever felt like your developments for this "bicycle of the mind" should be considered as art, the "Good artists copy" 30-second interview is worth a look, too.

This morning, here in the offices where we're peeking into our 17th year of publication of the NewsWire, we're teary eyed. We've lost a genius on the level of Edison or Disney -- the latter especially so, considering that Steve Jobs died as the largest shareholder of Disney. But honor the memory of one who always allowed that death was the greatest change agent of all, because it sweeps away and clears room for something newer. His passing is a day of mourning for us, because from the earliest days of our publishing careers, Apple products have been our greatest tools. Thanks to people like yourselves, they are our swift and stylish bicycles of the mind.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:45 AM in Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 20, 2011

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

Hp3000tatto A cruise by the OpenMPE Invent3K server, as well as the openmpe.com 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 ManualShark.com 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.

That last item, the CSLs, is the most unique value out there. People could pay $99 a year to see five of those listings show up in their email each month, complete with downloadable links -- along with a running guide about what else is on the Invent3K server.

And if that sounds like a part-time job, well it probably is. For a volunteer. So maybe the first step is to advertise for an archivist-historian kind of unpaid intern on Craigslist. They don't even really have to be a current 3000 customer. This weekend we're going to host a healthy swath of 3000 veterans who are retired. Some miss the contact with the server's community. That's why they're spending some of weekend at the HP3000 Reunion.

As for the OpenMPE board, it's just five directors now, and that's the right size for a volunteer board anyway. They get a quorum with three, and a proposal passes with that many votes. Keeping the OpenMPE of 2011 a managable size with small kai-zen goal and rewards looks like a good plan for the near term.

In the future, another HP operating environment is going to need advocacy and a rally point. You probably know which one we think is closest to this ecosystem change. Maybe the best thing that OpenMPE can offer is some kind of downscaled template on how this can be done without a budget of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.


Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:00 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 14, 2011

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.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:11 PM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)