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February 2003

HP training worthy on Web site

HP’s free Unix training is worth far more than you pay

By John Burke

HP announced its free HP e3000 Transition Training program with considerable fanfare around the time of last year’s HP World conference. I’ve been curious whether it was worth taking. Was it something substantial put together with the specific purpose of helping people with an MPE background learn what they need to know about HP-UX? Or was it just something cobbled together from existing courses in an attempt to pacify HP e3000 customers and partners? I’ve been hoping it was the former and not the latter.

Since there has been a dearth of public comment about this program, I decided to allocate a long weekend to taking the courses and deciding for myself. Here, for readers of The 3000 Newswire, is my analysis.


Your adventure in MPE e3000 Transition Training starts at education.hp.com/curr-mpe-e3000.htm (Figure 1). Note that if you forget this URL, the site is just a few clicks removed from education.hp.com. This Transition Training page contains links to HP e3000 Transition White Papers, interactive cross-reference tools (take a look at these), the Transition Series Webcasts, Web-based courses, and classroom courses.

This article tracks the Web-based courses. They are available at no charge to all HP e3000 customers and partners, provided you sign up for them with a special e-coupon (more on this later). Clicking on “curriculum” in the “Web-based courses” box gives you Figure 2. Clicking on each course gives you a detailed description of the course contents.

In order to “purchase” the five courses, you must first create a user account, with password, within the HP Training and Education Center (education.itresourcecenter.hp.com). You can then proceed to “purchase” the five courses, though you must be careful to first click on the coupon icon and enter the code from your e-coupon. Total cost for the five courses with the e-coupon is $0. Total cost for the five courses without the e-coupon is $2,221. The whole process takes maybe 10 minutes, after which the courses are put into your “training area” under your user account, available for 24x7 access. If you have questions, there are several on-line tutorials and FAQs, e-mail feedback and the ITRC Helpdesk (888.351.4732).

The e-coupons were mailed to all customers and partners last fall. I got at least six. In case you were somehow missed in the mass mailings or you’ve misplaced your e-coupon, just e-mail e3000.training@hp.com to request one. (It would appear that all HP e3000 Transition Training e-coupons have the same magic code, so if you cannot wait for HP to mail you one, just contact a colleague for the code.)

At this point, you may wonder how long you have access to these courses and how many times you can take each one. So did I, but the answer proved somewhat elusive. It is not on the Web site. For some perverse reason I both called the ITRC Helpdesk and e-mailed e3000.training@hp.com to see if I could get an answer. The response from the ITRC Helpdesk was that the training courses would be available indefinitely and that you could take each one as many times as you wanted. The response to my e-mail was that the courses would be available for one year from the date of “purchase” and during that year could be taken as many times as you wanted. A year is probably more than enough for most people. If it is not, then once your year is up, you could probably just re-“purchase” the courses.

To access the courses you’ve signed up for, go to education.itresourcecenter.hp.com and sign on with your username and password. The training you are signed up for is automatically listed. Figure 3 is the home page for course U3104AAE, System Usage and Configuration. This course is very specific to HP-UX. I’ll note in my course-by-course descriptions below which courses looked to me to be HP-UX specific.

In taking these courses it is best to have direct access to either an HP-UX machine (preferable) or a Linux machine. A quick call to an acquaintance in the used system market turned up an HP 9000 A500 with 512Mb RAM, two 18Gb hot swap disks and a license for HP-UX 11i for about $3,000. This is a relatively recent PCI-bus system that would make an excellent crash and burn test system if you are at all serious about HP-UX.

Artistic Presentation

Courses u3103aae – u3105aae are narrated slide shows using something called the HP deskTV player. The player has STOP, PAUSE and PLAY buttons (though they are not labeled; you have to know the icons). There are also buttons that let you move forward or backward through the presentation.

However, moving backward using the arrow keys seemed to lose audio. The table of contents window seemed to work if you wanted to go to the start of a specific section. Finally, there are buttons that let you control the volume. Figure 4 is a typical course slide. Figure 5 shows one of the many eye-straining screen shots used in two of the courses.

It would be nice if there were a button that allowed you to print just the slide! Equally good would be the option to print out all the slides for a course, with room to take notes. Alternatively, if there were a way to download all the slides, this would work equally well. You can’t do anything this specific, though. You can print out the screen, which is handy if you want to create your own course manual. In my case, a reasonably high-end Deskjet set to black and white draft produced acceptable printout. You can use Windows features to print the specific graphic or save the specific graphic, but that quickly became annoying.

Course u1646aae uses a completely different player (see Figure 6). Actually, you have a choice of two players. One is Java-based, and the other is something called SmartForce. To use the Java player, Java must be enabled in your browser. The SmartForce player is not supported for IE 5.5 SP2 or above, so I could not test it.

All the players come with a recommended minimum bandwidth of 56k. I took them over a DSL connection and there was no latency. The size of the viewed image in the HP deskTV player is OK for the PowerPoint-like slides; however, for those slides containing screen shots of a terminal emulator screen (SAM screen for example), the image is so small it is difficult to read the text.

On artistic presentation, I give the courses a B-.


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