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July 1999

No. 40 (update of June 1999 issue)

Welcome to our 40th edition of Online Extra -- the e-mail update of our articles in recent issues of the 3000 NewsWire, plus items that have surfaced since we mailed our previous First Class issue (June). We e-mail subscribers this file between the First Class issues you receive by mail, updating the stories you've read and adding articles that have developed between issues.

If you're not getting the Extra by e-mail, drop us a note with your updated e-mail address to subs@3000newswire.com


Amisys parent company fixes financials, fires HBOC chief
Get MANMAN reports on the Web with Sheetmate and byRequest
Patch repairs 3000 network printing bug
CSY hires Bixby for its lab after many contributions
Manage patches automatically with a contributed tool
Going to 6.0? HP is telling customers to wait for Express 1
SolutionStore 3000 goes live this weekend
Using Bootp? Better set it, or it dies automatically
HP stock rises as analysts see shift to higher-profit products
The second generation MPE porting paper is online
Newest Java is ready for 3000, but it doesn’t Swing yet
Delay in Merced release raises questions about chip's IA-64 role
TraceRoute goes live in a beta test for MPE/iX

Amisys parent company fixes financials, fires HBOC chief

The company that holds the leash on HMO software provider Amisys had to revise its financial figures this week, after questionable accounting practices at HBO & Company had caused a $8.6 billion sell-off of stock in a single day.

McKesson HBOC this week announced it had revised three years of earnings reports downward, after it fired Charles McCall, its chairman of the board, in June. The restatement wiped out more than $190 million in profits over the last three years of McKesson HBOC reports.

McCall was chairman of HBOC before being named chairman of the board at the new merged entity McKesson HBOC early this year. Amisys was acquired by HBOC in 1997.

McKesson HBOC CEO Mark Pulido admitted in April that at least $42 million in sales at HBOC were improperly booked during 1998, using the controversial "bill and hold" practice. The practice is used when companies record sales that are not likely to be paid for or shipped for many months. US District Attorneys and the SEC are investigating the earnings restatements.

When the practices were revealed, McKesson HBOC lost 47 percent of its share price on April 28. The stock remains in the low 30s.

Amisys customers, who make up one of the fastest-growing parts of the HP 3000 installed base, have purchased their software from HBOC's Payor Solutions Group, which is now part of the McKesson HBOC Healthcare Information Technology Business. McKesson HBOC says the ITB's revenues have slowed, which will contribute to the company missing analysts' profit projections for the quarter that ended in June. McKesson HBOC maintains there is an industry-wide slowdown in healthcare software.

Get MANMAN reports on the Web with Sheetmate and byRequest

Last month we reported that HP 3000 sites using MANMAN and QUIZ reports are looking for a ways to get those reports up on Web browsers. We've found another way to do this, one we didn't know about, from longtime HP 3000 solution provider Hillary Software (732.974.8484).

Hillary provides HTML output capability in both its Sheetmate and byRequest products. Chuck Nickerson at Hillary said he's got about 100 MANMAN sites using his products for various reporting needs, including QUIZ reports. The Year 2000-ready version of Sheetmate (6.2), available as an upgrade included with a current support contract, includes a few pieces of Hillary's latest byRequest product. One of these is the ability to output reports in HTML. Taking delivery on the Year 2000 version of Sheetmate "is like buying a piece of byRequest," Nickerson said, for the cost of a support contract. Sheetmate has interpreted Cognos subfiles for many years, he added, and it supports SUBFILE 0, 3, 5,and 6.

Patch repairs 3000 network printing bug

While HP works to make its 3000s communicate about page-level recovery with the new LPQ Series of printers, other problems exist with MPE/iX network printing. Customers report that the %2xx and %3xx control codes are not interpreted correctly. This can be fixed by placing "SERIAL_PRINTER_SIMULATION=TRUE" in NPCONFIG.PUB.SYS. This is available with patch MPEKXF7B. The patch is reported to be included in the forthcoming Express 1 release of MPE/iX 6.0, but it's not in PowerPatch 7 of MPE/iX 5.5, despite what the HP Communicator says.

CSY hires Bixby for its lab after many contributions

Mark Bixby, a tech support staffer at a California college whose contributions to the 3000 community include Apache and Domain Name Services, announced he has accepted a position in the HP 3000 Commercial Systems Division (CSY) labs. Bixby, whose work on porting Unix tools and utilities to the 3000 was so prolific CSY loaned him an HP 3000 for testing and porting, posted a message to the 3000-L mailing list on Friday announcing his new job in the division's Internet and Interoperability Solutions Team. In 1997 CSY general manager Harry Sterling presented Bixby with the HP 3000 Contributor Award at HP World in Chicago.

CSY's lab managers have had an open search for talent of Bixby's caliber since last year. In addition to BIND/iX -- the heart of internet Domain Name Services for the 3000-- he has been essential in the movement of the Apache Web Server to the 3000, maintaining releases and migrating functionality to the system. Other ports to the HP 3000 he's authored include the highly flexible language Perl, the Sendmail mail transport system and XNTP, a time synchronizing utility. All are mainstays in the Unix environment, and have helped the HP 3000 gain an equal share in networked sites where 3000s must work alongside other systems.

Bixby has posted more than 100 Service Requests designed to improve the HP 3000 to CSY's labs over the years, according to lab engineer Jeff Vance. An advocate of the Open Source software movement, he recently notified the 3000 community that a Perl seminar in the Open Source Software Convention Aug. 23 will include discussion of MPE/iX Perl techniques.

Bixby's additions to the CSY lab staff seem especially well-placed on the Internet and Interoperability Team. His home page includes this statement: "Take a look around you, both inside and outside of cyberspace. Do you see things that can be incrementally improved? Be evolved to the next logical step? Be completely revolutionized in ways that nobody else has thought of? At one time or another, every one of us has thought "If I were in charge we'd do it THIS way and life would be great". Using the Internet, you CAN do it your way. Turn your creative ideas into reality and share them with the world. Let the satisfaction of making the world a better place be your primary motivation."

Manage patches automatically with a contributed tool

Mark Bixby's Patchman freeware utility that checks for new HP 3000 patches has been updated to Version 1.2. The software is a patch analysis SH script available online at http://www.cccd.ed u/ftp/pub/mpe/patchman-1.0 or ftp://ftp.cccd.edu/pub/ mpe/patchman-1.0

Bixby said that "Patchman has two modes of execution -- report and download. In report mode, Patchman analyzes your installed patches and tells you:

- which installed patches have been marked bad
- which installed patches have been superseded
- which installed patches are unrecognized (probably alpha or beta patches)

Patchman then suggests which new patches you might want to download and install:

- which new patches supersede your installed patches
- which new patches are for FOS or your HPSWINFO patched products
- which new patches are available for other subsystems

In download mode, the same reports are produced, but you are given the opportunity to add the listed new patches to a candidate list. You can then download the entire candidate list, or make individual yes/no selections. Any downloaded patches are automatically unpacked into /SYS/PATCHXL.

Patchman supports proxy ftp servers as well as alternate FTP clients such as socksified /SYS/ARPA/SFTP."

Bixby adds that Patchman isn't a substitute for "exercising your own good judgement or talking to the HP Response Center." His 1.2 version adds the -t option "to cache all patch description text files with one huge FTP download. Gives better performance if you're going to display many patch descriptions later during the patch selection process.

The script also has "an improved patch selection dialogue. You can now mark individual patches or download as all three patch classes (superseding, FOS, other) are listed. A unified, sorted listing of all marked patches is still presented just prior to starting the actual download, and you can still accept or reject the list in its entirety or make individual selections."

Going to 6.0? HP is telling customers to wait for Express 1

If you have any doubts about the pedigree of the base release of MPE/iX 6.0, listen to what HP 3000 manufacturing sites are hearing from HP about moving up to the new release. Customers report that HP is telling them to wait until the Express 1 release of 6.0 is available. "At the free Migrating to MPE 6.0 seminar, HP themselves strongly recommended we wait until the next patch to MPE 6.0 is out," said one customer.

MANMAN customers are ready to move to the 11.4 version of their software, and some want to get onto 6.0 at the same time. HP's advice has them waiting for Express 1 of MPE/iX 6.0 before making the move. One MANMAN site reported a successful installation of 11.4 with the MPE/iX 5.5 PowerPatch 7, which began shipping in late June.

SolutionStore 3000 goes live this weekend

After a couple weeks of testing, our new all-3000 product and service directory, SolutionStore 3000, goes online as of this weekend. We've got more than 600 free and paid listings already covering the full range of HP 3000 products, all available through a search engine and hosted on an HP 3000. You can use the service for free by browsing to http://www.solutionstore3000.c om.

SolutionStore 3000 also is now open for paid directory listings, starting at $99 a product. A couple of our directory products qualify for links to 3000 NewsWire articles related to the product, if we've written about it. If you're a supplier of HP 3000 solutions, you can buy a listing online with a major credit card using a secure page. Go to the store to check out the options for paid and free listings.

If you're a supplier and spot anything that needs an update in your Free Listing (we've done our best to work with available information), drop us a line in the Feedback Section of SolutionStore. We believe this hybrid of paid and free listings provides the best e-service to the 3000 community. If you know of a solution that should be on SolutionStore 3000, you can nominate it. Send us a note in our Feedback area, and our editors will get it included as a Free Listing. We'll also publish the SolutionStore contents twice a year in paper.

Using Bootp? Better set it, or it can die automatically

HP customers report that using the bootp services under MPE/iX requires a customer to set the software to run without interruption, to the services will expire automatically in 15 minutes.

MPE's bootp interacts with printer JetDirectEX devices. Mark Bixby of the California Coast Community College District said when his JetDirect devices have power restored to them after maintenance, "they fail to bootp. If I :ABORTJOB JINETD and then restart it and then recycle the power, the JetDirects will bootp okay."

Another customer said the bootp services need to be specifically configured for continuous service. Kevin Newman said the HP manual "Configuring and Managing MPE/iX Internet Services" says that a customer "can change the way that bootp operates by entering the bootpd command (:BOOTPD.NET.SYS) followed by the command line option -t, which changes the timeout value for bootpd. "The BOOTP daemon starts when the first BOOTP request arrives. If no other boot request arrives within the default period of 15 minutes, bootpd ends. If you specify a timeout of 0 minutes, the server will not die until you abort JINETD or JINETD ends in an error statement."

HP stock rises as analysts see shift to higher-profit products

Stock analysts are reporting signs that HP's sluggish revenue growth is rebounding back to double-digit figures, and its profits will rise because the company is focusing more on server products like the HP 3000.

The company's stock was all the way up to a year-long high of $113 per share this week, after news of an analyst raising his estimate of HP's third quarter profits to 77 cents a share. The stock has made a steady climb from $90 a share in early June, when another analyst predicted Year-2000 related, weaker-than-expected hardware sales in the calendar fourth quarter of 1999. The analyst said in June that sales would be boosted in the calendar third quarter for the same reason: Y2K. HP stock was trading in the low 70s as recently as April.

The Financial Times said Credit Suisse First Boston's Michael Kwatinetz raised his estimate of HP's operating margin because he sees a shift toward higher-margin products. The Times report noted Unix servers as one of those products, and didn't mention the HP 3000 in specific. But analysts frequently can't get specific about the HP 3000 business results, since HP lumps all its server business into a single category.

Kwatinetz's report said the HP business looked solid worldwide, including Asian operations.

HP CEO Lew Platt reported the company gave a forecast of double digit revenue growth for its third quarter, which ends on July 31, to securities analysts. The increase in revenue growth would follow several quarters of virtually flat revenue increases at HP.

The second generation MPE porting paper is online

Lars Appel, who ported the Samba file sharing tool to MPE/iX two years ago, has posted the next generation paper on secrets of porting such utilities to MPE/iX. If you're a do-it-yourself kind of 3000 administrator, such porting can give you capabilities to match just about any Unix or NT server in your environment. Appel's paper, which stands on the shoulders of the first porting paper by Mark Bixby, is online at http:// www.editcorp.com/Personal/Lars_Appel/pgp-ix.html

Appel explains, "It gives an overview of the general porting process and then deals with several common (and a few exotic) porting issues and potential solutions or workarounds by discussing a real-world example." Bixby said that "This is a really excellent paper on the porting process. I strongly urge anybody who's curious about porting to stop and take a look." You'll find a link to Bixby's original paper of last year in Appel's paper. Between these two engineers, lots of important software has arrived on HP 3000s from other platforms.

Newest Java is ready for 3000, but it doesn’t Swing yet

HP announced that it has made the first 1.2 version of the Java Development Kit (JDK) available online at the HP Jazz Web server. You can download Java 1.2, which is considered beta test software, for your HP 3000 at http: //jazz.external.hp.com/src/java/jdks/JDK1.2Beta.html

The newest version of Java is faster than its predecessors, includes the HP Just in Time compiler and just about all of the JDK 1.2 functionality. Two exceptions are the AWT and Swing development modules. Swing is a graphical development component that gives Java developers the same kind of flexibility they enjoy in Visual Basic, but can be deployed over any client that supports a browser. HP 3000 Java guru Mike Yawn of the Commercial Systems Division showed off Swing last spring at the IPROF programmers forum, but HP is holding off on bringing it to the HP 3000 version for now. He said that "We're recommending users adopt a client server architecture and deploy the graphical components on the client side. We continue to monitor this as a possible issue, and are continuing to explore various possibilities for hosting the GUI functionality on the server side."

The installation at the HP Web site works with either MPE/iX 5.5 or 6.0, but the process assumes you have previously installed either JDK 1.1.5 or JDK 1.1.7. If you have not installed either of these, Yawn said "certain system level libraries will be missing from your installation (/lib/libm.sl, and possibly others)."

Delay in Merced release raises questions about chip's IA-64 role

Intel announced it was encountering another delay in delivering the first IA-64 processor, Merced. The delay is a matter of weeks to a few months, but it will put delivery of the systems using the chip into the late part of 2000, according to analysts.

While Intel denied that Merced was further delayed, CNET reported on speculation about a lag that could put off Merced's release by a few weeks or even months. The delay may help companies justify waiting for McKinley, the next generation of IA-64 chip, to put into systems. Merced, some say, will be a test vehicle for the efficiency and compatibility of the EPIC/IA-64 architecture. McKinley is supposed to surface in late 2001.

HP's outline of the future of IA-64 shows McKinley playing a much more competitive role against existing RISC chips (like Alpha and Sun's UltraSparc) than Merced ever will. HP's Microprocessor Roadmap shows that McKinley will better performance of the PA-8700, a chip expected to come available in 2001. Merced is only going to equal PA-8500 and PA 8600 based computers, according to HP's chart -- and being equal won't drive customers to a new architecture, with all the compatibility and test issues inherent in a new design. HP's roadmap also shows a PA-9800 chip that will be as powerful as McKinley, while IA-64 processors named Madison (performance improved) and Deerfield (price and performance improved) are scheduled beyond McKinley.

TraceRoute goes live in a beta test for MPE/iX

HP announced a beta test of a new trace tool for HP 3000 programmers, as it made TraceRT available for beta test through the HP Response Center. TraceRT is available for both MPE/iX 5.5 and MPE/iX 6.0. MPE/iX 5.5 users can now install the NSTFDD9 beta test patch, and MPE/iX 6.0 users can install the NSTFD97 beta test patch. Contact the HP Response Center and ask for the above patches, and reference FIX SR 5003442715.

For the moment, TraceRT is an unsupported tool. Once you install the appropriate patch, you can find TraceRT for MPE/iX 5.5 at TRACERT.XPT0505.TELESUP; for MPE/iX 6.0 it is found at TRACERT.XPT0600.TELESUP.

Have an opinion about any of these items? Send your comments to me. Include your name and your company, or just mail to me anonymously.

Ron Seybold, Editor In Chief


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