One Man, One Shop: An Independent
Less than a year after HP announced its end of support
for the 3000, you joined the board of your local user group. Why did
you get more involved with the community?
I felt like being vice-chair for MPE that I could make a
difference. We were preparing for our November 2002 conference. Then
our RUG president hooked me up with the IBM guys. They thought it
would be pretty neat to bring IBM into an HP show, and I agreed with
What kind of response have you gotten from the users, and
from HP, once the iSeries showed up on the GHRUG show floor?
Once we confirmed IBM was coming, I was able to talk some
customers who werent planning on attending into coming to the
show. Since the announcement about discontinuing the 3000, they were
disillusioned, I guess. They asked why go to a RUG meeting, or even
have an MPE track? I pointed out some of the things that the iSeries
has in common with the HP 3000. First its an AS/400 renamed
with new features, and runs Linux, Windows, and OS-400 with DB2,
which was designed for OLTP, as was MPE and IMAGE. Its really a
good option, if youre going to move away from HP, and you want
all the stability and reliability that MPE has been giving us for
Your other choices are pretty much Unix and Windows, and
neither one of them were designed for mission-critical business
applications. Neither of them are completely integrated, especially
Unix. Its all piecework on Unix and Windows.
How has HP been interacting with the RUG over the past
year or two? What changes have you seen in the way HP treats its user
There was a letter that CEO Carly Fiorina wrote that
talked about how important these regional groups were for business
and networking. At the time she wrote the letter, HP was not
supporting us at all. The liaison to HP on our board was never around
but after that letter came out, he was able to use that as
ammunition with his superiors to spend more time with our group.
Does the prospect of inviting non-HP vendors to the user
group meetings seem like it has benefits for the GHRUG
The GHRUG is first and foremost for the users of
Hewlett-Packard computers. Many of our HP 3000 members feel abandoned
by HP and as a users group we must acknowledge this. It was
interesting to get IBM at the conference, just to give people another
option. Especially for people who like that big company support, a
one-stop complete integrated solution. After all, the AS/400 as
always been considered cousin to the HP 3000.
What have your investigations shown about alternatives to
the 3000, for both your own career and the organization you work
The iSeries is my number one choice; Id like to get our
app vendor to port the 3000 software to that. Other than that, I like
the open source solutions, the Linux and the open source databases.
Its a direction I want to go in personally. I think it will be
something that will be marketable in the job market Im in. Also
the Microsoft solutions; it looks like .NET will be around for
I dont like to jump on things that have just come out,
and are brand new. Perl, and Java, Ive played around with them.
I think Microsoft is going to be around for the long run, as well as
the open source solutions, and the iSeries supports both.
What kinds of skills are you working on, or hoping to
accumulate, during these transition years?
Im trying to work on some of the open source databases
and connectivity with Windows clients, .NET has got my interest, and
some of the XML database stuff. Then it doesnt matter what your
back-end database is. Im kind of on the fence with open source
and Microsoft. Im trying to learn as much as I can about both
Can you get time to go to classes for these, or do you
have to train more informally?
Ive been working on getting classes, but with my
schedule its difficult. For the summer Im working a
four-day a week schedule of 10 hours a day, and then I do contract
work on the side for a company in Houston. They have an accounting
application written in FORTRAN 66 running in Compatibility Mode, and
it still uses the old HP-REAL format in the IMAGE databases. They
call me to work on it. Ive been working on converting some of
it into HP 3000 COBOL, so when the day comes they can move it to
another platform. The only big problem was that COBOL doesnt
know how to address real numbers, so I wrote a program that converts
the old HP Real to the IEEE Real, and then to packed decimal for
The company I contract with is a company I worked for before
coming to my present organization. It was a good education working
back there, because they didnt buy software. If they needed
something, they wrote it. For example, the old Classic 3000 needed to
be networked with the Sun/Unix machines, so we wrote the equivalent
of FTP and inetd on the old classic HP 3000.
What would you say is special about an in-person user
group meeting that Web access or e-mail cant duplicate?
Thats kind of obvious. You interact with people and
communicate with them, get to know their personality to network with
them. Thats real important, to network with people. E-mail is
one thing, but actually meeting face to face is much better as far as
getting to know one another.
Have you been able to attend any of Interexs
conferences, or do you have other plans for your travel and
I have not been able to make it to any of those shows. Last
years was out in California and I wanted to go, but I was too
busy. I make it to some of the Speedware conferences and to the
Carter-Pertaine conferences that more directly apply to me. With my
workload its difficult to justify going to something
thats strictly HP.