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October 2002

Taking a turn up Hope Street

NewsWire Editorial

The non-stop jet set us down in a warm LA morning, a day with scant traffic around LAX and plenty of parking near our downtown hotel. While we waited for housekeeping to finish up our room at the Hyatt, I strolled uptown a few blocks on Hope Street. Although I walked unaccompanied on that Los Angeles street, this year’s HP World saw many 3000 customers crowding the curb on the community’s hope street, the path to OpenMPE’s homesteading future. We were relieved to see what we found at the LA Convention Center: HP’s team from the virtual CSY, ready to admit that a share of customers are sticking to the 3000 for the future.

I strolled up LA’s Hope Street to tour the city’s Riordan Central Library, a grand old masonry palace for books that goes back to 1926. Those great, wise mottos you expect on public buildings of the art deco era didn’t disappoint, either. The first one I spied from Hope Street reported that books admit all, and restrict none. Memories of cool, boyhood afternoons in the weathered wood chairs in Point Place’s branch library washed around me as I skipped up the stairs.

While the public library’s volumes admitted all, the same could not be said for the user group’s HP World sessions of this year. For the first time since I began covering your community in 1984, someone tried to turn me away from a meeting covering HP 3000 news. Although I had the same press badge that Interex had issued me 17 times before, this year the meeting’s roundtables were supposed to be off limits to reporters and editors.

It was a black moment in an otherwise illuminating trip, but one that sketched the post-merger changes in your vendor with alarming clarity. At that roundtable door I took a deep breath and plunged past security, hopeful that the group of HP 3000 users inside wanted us to work at their show. Moments after I sat, seasoned user group members echoed my hope at the microphone. After the roundtable, HP’s “virtual CSY” panel members apologized for the misguided policy, even though they had nothing to do with it.

Down at the Central Library branch I had followed my nose to get to the building’s history, much like a reporter’s sense in pursuing a story. I was looking for the smell of old cotton rag paper, the scent of well-polished maple tables and oak chairs. In a few minutes I found myself in the Children’s Room, having gaped on the way through the rotunda at the stunning, translucent blue-glass globe chandelier with hand-painted continents. The 48 lights around its rim represent the number of US states when the building opened.

I stopped in the Children’s Room and looked up to see concrete beams, painted in colors to match those in the scenes from “Ivanhoe” on the walls of the room. Near the back I found what I was after, the books not allowed to circulate because of their vintage. I pulled down a copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, circa 1913, and smelled the essence of its pages before opening to “Cinderella.”

The story was no less dramatic because it was on pages nearly 90 years old. The color plate covered in tissue still projected an image of the princess-to-be. It’s only a four-page story, but I savored the experience of reading it just like thousands of others had from the very same book. Like your data, the story didn’t care about the vehicle which transported it.

There seems to be little hope for Cinderella near the end of the tale. The stepsisters are selected, first one and then the other, to ride on a pony behind the prince’s carriage. Little birds alert the prince to the fraud each time, until he finally chooses the true beauty.

Downtown at the Convention Center, HP admitted hope to the homesteader’s ball for the first time in a public place. There will be an emulator to make a PC behave like a 3000, once you can no longer buy new 3000s. New licenses will appear if you’re bound to carry on with your MPE applications. HP will continue to recommend migration, but it sees a share “less than the majority” of customers who won’t make the move.

That the hope took almost 11 months to arrive just made its arrival more dramatic. There will be companies to support homesteaders, just as surely as there are suppliers to help you migrate. The next step is to let MPE grow. The HP 3000 community admits all visions of the future for its customers, and bars none. Working out the details of how to make a commercial venture of this hope is the challenge for OpenMPE, which now needs a lab. In the meantime the migration camp is marketing hard, awaiting more participation.

Open access for all ideas can be a challenge in this era of IT. HP made much of its size at this conference, then swung its weight around to try to censor the flow of information. A wrong turn off LA’s Hope Street could quickly lead to unsavory parts of downtown. Customers can keep this New HP on the right path, so it doesn’t turn telling of its tales to grim business.

— Ron Seybold 

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