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Altered States with ALTs

By Steve Hammond

Inside VESOFT covers tips and techniques you can use with VESOFT’s products, especially MPEX.

My short- and medium-term memory is beginning to go. I am at an age where I only give my age in hexadecimal. (“Why, yes, I am in my 30s.”) That also means that I am a child of the era whose formative years were the late 1960s and early 1970s. Hell, I almost bought a ticket to Woodstock! (That’s another story we won’t go into.)

Anyway, whenever I break from playing Solitaire or Mah Jong to try to write a column, I come up with an idea and then have to think, “Did I write about that before?” I often worry if that “altered state” of my formative years is catching up with me. I think it was Robin Williams who said, “Anyone who remembers the 60s clearly, really wasn’t there.” Well, if I ever repeat myself, just blame it on my altered state after effects.

And just as my generation altered itself, MPEX has some powerful tools to alter many things on the HP 3000. I have written in the past how one of my favorite MPEX commands is ALTFILE. (See, my memory comes and goes.) One can manipulate a file in any number of ways with ALTFILE. I sometimes wonder how I lived without it. Hell, the MPEX manual devotes 20 pages to that one command!
But there are several other ALTs out there to play with and we’ll look at some of those. Probably the most popular of these is the ALTSEC command, which allows you to alter the security of files while retaining the ACDs, and like everything else in MPEX, it allows you to modify the security on groups of files, rather than a single file. (Hey, I remember the days of playing with LISTDIR5, so I’d think anything like this is an improvement.) The syntax looks pretty familiar: %ALTSEC MYFILE.group.acct; (R,W,A,L,X:CR). But you can also try %ALTSEC ST@.group.acct; (R,X:AC;W,A,L:CR) to modify the security on the files beginning with ST in that same group and account.

You can use any of the other file attributes, although the most important may just be %ALTSEC @.group.acct(NOT HASACD); NEWACD=(R:@.FIN;W:MGR.FIN). This allows you to select only the files in the specific group and account that currently do not have an ACD and set the ACD for them. Since EDITOR’s KEEP function resets the security matrix and removes any existing ACDs, this is a valuable function to ensure security on your system.

We’re always playing with spool files, or at least the operator is, and MPEX offers some help with %ALTSPOOLFILE. The security on this command is the same as working in SPOOK5 - anyone may work on their own files, account managers may work on files in their account and anyone with SM or OP may work on any file. The command itself has incredible flexibility:


The SPOOL.xxxx is a file attribute specific to spool files. Therefore, you can pick any of the STDLISTs that have as the job name COMPILE as in this command and change the priority of those spool files to 3. But you just as easily can pick an attribute like ISREADY or ISOPENED or even ACCOUNT or JOBABORTED. That’s a nice one — every morning you print out all the STDLISTs from the jobs that aborted overnight with:


If you’ve got a job or jobs out in SCHED state, %ALTSCHED let’s you modify those scheduled parameters. You can change the run time, scheduled time, day, etc. You can select jobs by name, account or job number. Here’s an example:

                                                :showjob job=@
                                                JOBNUM  STATE  IPRI
                                                #J1781     SCHED
8  10S LP         3/17/04  3:00             LSTNSTRT,MANAGER.SYS
                                                1 SCHEDULED JOB(S)
                                                MPEX/3000  31N20512
(c) VESOFT Inc, 1980  6.0  03:06915  For help type 'HELP'
                                                %altsched #J1781;at=04:00
                                                :showjob job=@
                                                JOBNUM  STATE  IPRI
                                                #J1798  SCHED
8  10S LP         3/17/04  4:00              LSTNSTRT,MANAGER.SYS
                                                1 SCHEDULED JOB(S)

I altered the job LSTNSTRT so that it will start at 4AM, rather than at 3AM as originally set. Note that the job number went from 1781 to 1798 when it was altered. If you select a group of jobs, MPEX will prompt you for to confirm that you want to modify each job before it proceeds. You must reply with a “Y” to confirm the changes. You can add “:NOVERIFY” to the command to eliminate this step, although you will still be shown the job numbers as they are altered. You can turn that off by adding “;QUIET” to the command.

And now it’s time for me to go into QUIET mode and fall off to sleep with the sounds of Jimi Hendrix in the background.

Steve Hammond, who works for a professional association in Washington, DC, believes the 1970s was a great decade, if only he could remember it!

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