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October 2004

Net.digest summarizes helpful technical discussions on the HP 3000 Internet newsgroup and mailing list. Advice here is offered on a best-effort, Good Samaritan basis. Test these concepts for yourself before applying them to your HP 3000s.

Edited by John Burke

Last month saw HP back out of the HP-UX on Itanium workstation business (see story, page 1). At the same time HP cried foul over Sun’s published position of “We absolutely think HP-UX is dead.” HP demanded that Sun stop publishing these “misleading and factually incorrect statements. We want our customers to know we’re committed to HP-UX for the long term,” said Don Jenkins, marketing VP for HP’s Business Critical Systems group.

Déjà vu, anyone? During the dot-com boom, one of the popular phrases used to describe the pace of the IT market was Internet time, the implication being that time was somehow moving faster. I figure that HP’s “long term” in Internet time is about three years. Anyone want to bet HP stops investing in HP-UX by the end of 2007, citing an eroding ecosystem?

Off-topic political rants continued unabated on 3000-L with a nastiness that becomes increasingly distasteful. To those of you responsible, and you know who you are, give it a rest. While difficult to find amidst all the political wrangling, there were a few amusing off-topic posts. Thank goodness for Alfredo Rego, someone who still seems to have a sense of humor. Recently, he posted a link to a story about a Mini in Belgium cited for traveling more than three times the speed of sound. The Mini is a car with a miniscule market share, but with a devoted following – sort of like the HP 3000. Craig Lalley posted the URL of a Web site that will tell you what happened on a specific date, who was born on that date and the prices of common everyday items (www.dmarie.com/timecap). Ian Fleming and I share the same birthday, while actress Sondra Locke and I were born on the same day in the same year. In that year, the average house cost $13,000, the Dow stood at 181 and — I particularly like this — the Magic 8 Ball was introduced.

Although probably not meant to be humorous, I found it funny when, as it has happened several times lately, individuals post to 3000-L from HP corporate e-mail addresses asking questions about how to do something or another with their HP 3000. The most recent e-mail had someone inquiring, “Does anyone have a list of MPE servers with their Unix equivalent? Looking to perhaps sex change a couple of old Unix servers, to replace some aging MPE boxes.” I wonder — what is the critical business case in that part of HP for the 9000-to-3000 “sex change?”

I always like to hear from readers of net.digest and Hidden Value. Even negative comments are welcome. If you spot something on 3000-L and would like me to elaborate on it, let me know. You can reach me at john@burke-consulting.com.

FOS Store-to-Disk: Do you have it? If not, get it.

Basic store functionality is included with FOS, and has been since the beginning of MPE. The TurboStore/iX II product added such things as store-to-disk and compression in one version, and store-to-disk, compression and online backup capability in another. When these extra-cost products were introduced, FOS STORE was enhanced to read files created by the store-to-disk option of TurboStore/iX II. After much prodding from users, and because it just made good sense, HP eventually enhanced FOS STORE with the store-to-disk capability previously only available in the extra cost TurboStore/iX II products.

This enhancement was made available as a patch for MPE/iX 6.0 (MPELX57A and supercedes) and MPE/iX 6.5 (MPELX57B and supercedes). The capability was included with the MPE/iX 7.0 and MPE/iX 7.5 base releases.

As we approach end-of-(HP) support for MPE, it is important to be sure to have store-to-disk capability. As noted, if you are on MPE/iX 7.0 or MPE/iX 7.5, or if you have one of the TurboStore/iX II products, you are covered. If you are on a release below MPE/iX 6.0, you are out of luck. If you are on some version of MPE/iX 6.0 or MPE/iX 6.5, you may already have store-to-disk. The easiest way to check is to simply try to store something to disk. For example,

File std=stortest;dev=disc
Store hpswinfo.pub.sys;*std;show

If the above works, you’ve got it. If it does not work, then go get your patch at the HP ITRC. Note, you do not need a support contract to download patches.

What Did You Just Say?

This was the self-titled thread that asked the question “How can I review the last message from a program running in a batch job, while still in the job?” It seems this is a huge program that is not easily changed. During any given run it produces thousands of lines of messages. The last message indicates whether it terminated with an error or terminated correctly. If it terminated with an error, the questioner would like to re-stream the job and wondered if there is a way for a job to read its own $STDLIST.

This is a classic problem usually solved by redirecting the output of the program to a temporary file that can then be searched (or the last line read in this case), with the result determining what to do next. If you need to search an entire file for something, grep is an excellent choice (you can run it directly from the command line). If the only thing you care about is the last line, then redirect the output of the program to a circular file with only one record.

MPE/iX 7.0 vs. MPE/iX 7.5: Where Should I Park?

The question was a simple one, “Is there a compelling reason to update from MPE/iX 7.0 to MPE/iX 7.5?” The questioner received several responses, two technical reasons and one procedural reason. One technical reason to move to MPE/iX 7.5 is its support for more than 4GB on LDEV 1. Another technical reason to move to MPE/iX 7.5 is the increase in the number of user loggers for a single process from 1,140 to 2,851. This is of particular importance now that we are operating under the aegis of Sarbanes-Oxley, where many are starting to implement IMAGE logging for the first time.

The procedural reason to update to MPE/iX 7.5 was presented by HP’s James Hofmeister: “I will give you a resounding vote for MPE/iX 7.5. I perceive that a greater percentage of our support customers, some of whom are in the process of migrating and some homesteading, are running MPE/iX 7.5 with PowerPatch 1 as their parking release. Some of these customers are still pursuing urgent fixes as necessary, some are installing PowerPatch 2, and some are also installing the new features of MPE/iX 7.5. Take advantage of this customer testing by choosing to install MPE/iX 7.5 with PowerPatch 1 or PowerPatch 2.”

Presented Without Comment

One poster said, “We are on MPE/iX 7.5 with IMAGE C.10.03. Thus we are able to go beyond the limit of 1,023 items for a database (the new limit is 1,200). However, DICTIONARY version A.03.01 appears not to have been updated since 1998 and cannot handle these new limits. We are getting an error using the utility DICTDBC to create the IMAGE schema. Looks like some old dogs are going to have to learn some new tricks.”

Speaking of Old Dogs Learning Kewl New Tricks…

Robert Mills reported on a perl module that can be used to format reports created on the HP 3000 as Excel attachments to email sent via sendmail, also on the HP 3000. “You will need to install Perl (download from HP’s Jazz) and a module called Spreadsheet::WriteExcel (download from Comprehensive Perl Archive Network [www.cpan.org]). Here’s an extract from WriteExcel’s README file: “The module can be used to create a cross-platform Excel binary file. Multiple worksheets can be added to a workbook and formatting can be applied to cells. Text, numbers, formulas, hyperlinks and images can be written to the cells. The Excel file produced by this module is compatible with Excel 5, 95, 97, 2000 and 2002.” I have not yet had a chance to try it myself, but SIG-MPE co-chair Donna Garverick reports, “It’s way kewl.”

HP’s Gone Fishing

This last item sort of makes you long for the days when people claimed HP would sell sushi as “Cold Dead Fish.” At least it did not misrepresent. I just received an e-mail addressed to my business the purporting to be from the Director of Sales for the HP Technology Forum (name of the author withheld to protect the guilty). Said HP Technology Forum is HP’s new, run-by-the-vendor, for-the-vendor, conference intended to replace (at least in HP’s mind) HP World. It is scheduled for mid-September 2005 in New Orleans, right at the height of the hurricane season, and about one month after HP World 2005 (which will be held in San Francisco).

The message had seven sentences and at least five grammatical errors. It seems to be written in a form of English with which I am not familiar. It continues the fantasy, first introduced in the press releases announcing the conference, that the conference is “the largest North American event for the HP community,” despite the fact it has never been held before. The e-mail also calls it a “new collaborative conference model” – which sure sounds like HP World to me.

Maybe I should play along with HP, and see how long it takes someone to realize that for the last two years I have been vocally advocating that those users who feel it necessary to migrate off the HP e3000 should move to the IBM iSeries. For the record, HP World 2005, a true collaborative conference, still gets my vote, and my support, over the HP Technology Forum.

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