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July 2003

net.digest summarizes helpful technical discussions on the comp.sys.hp.mpe Internet newsgroup and 3000-L 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

If you monitored 3000-L over the last several months you would certainly not get the impression that the HP 3000 was a machine going away anytime soon. The number of quality technical threads continues to increase at a surprising pace. I easily had enough material for two or three month’s worth of this column, as well as my Hidden Value column. It has been several years since I could say that.

Of course this could simply be because there weren’t any big issues like war, religion or gun control (which is sort of a religion to some, I guess) being debated. However, it could also be that the hype over migration has died off with many organizations deciding to hunker down for the time being and get back to the work of running their business. Time will tell.

I always like to hear from readers of net.digest and Hidden Value. Even negative comments are welcome. If you think I’m full of it or goofed, or a horse’s behind, let me know. If something from these columns helped you, let me know. If you’ve got an idea for something you think I missed, let me know. If you spot something on 3000-L and would like someone to elaborate on what was discussed, let me know. Are you seeing a pattern here? You can reach me at john@burke-consulting.com.

Let’s all come to HP World to praise MPE, not bury it

From August 11-15 Interex will be holding HP World 2003 at the Georgia World Conference Center in Atlanta, Georgia. As co-Chairman of SIGMPE, I’d like to invite, even implore, everyone possible to join me and my co-Chair Donna Garverick at the last SIGMPE meeting before end of sales for the HP 3000.

It might possibly be the last SIGMPE meeting ever. I hope that is not the case, but it is up to those with a continuing interest in MPE to keep the flame alive. We know that many sites plan to continue running the HP 3000 for years to come. Let’s try to make this the biggest SIGMPE meeting ever. SIGMPE is scheduled to meet Wednesday, August 13 at 2:50 PM, smack dab in the middle of the conference, so there is no excuse not to attend SIGMPE if you make it to HP World 2003.

One major topic of discussion at SIGMPE will be the 2003 (and possibly final) Systems Improvement Ballot (SIB) and HP’s response (more on that to follow). At our SIGMPE meeting HP will officially report on its progress. At this year’s HP e3000 Solutions Symposium, Mike Paivinen of HP strongly suggested that virtual CSY would continue to work on specific enhancements even after October 31, 2003 if there is obvious value to its customers. So, there is at least a chance we will have another SIB. The SIGMPE meeting is your best opportunity to lobby on behalf of your favorite enhancements.

HP World 2003: Welcome to the world of Big Brother

While I’m on the topic of HP World, let me note a few differences this year. From the home page for HP World we hear that it is “produced by the Interex and Encompass user groups in partnership with HP.” It appears that this little phrase is having big implications. For the first time ever, at least that I am aware of (SIG Softvend excluded), some Interex conference sessions will be covered by Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). That means that if you do not have an NDA on file, you will not be allowed to attend those sessions.

But the Big Brother strategy really enters the game this year to reign in speakers. I note that there is exactly one technical session in the MPE track about MPE homesteading. Virtually everything else is about migrating. There’s also unprecedented control over those talks. Here are some highlights from the “HP World 2003 Presentation Guidelines.”

Final presentations are due Monday, July 14 (and may be cancelled if not provided by this date) and cannot be changed. They will be run from an Interex-supplied computer in each session room to enforce the “cannot be changed” provision. It will be a first if all HP presenters actually submit their presentations by July 14. HP’s speakers have often turned in too late to make printed proceedings, and sometimes not at all.

Speakers are urged to use the Interex-supplied PowerPoint template. No word on what will happen if you do not, and I find it hard to believe HP presenters will use the Interex format.

“Do not add any company logos to the HP World 2003 template.” So what if you do not use the Interex template?

“Any presentation which is found and determined to be a sales pitch will be returned to the submitter for a rewrite.” Ah, a breath of fresh air amidst all the paranoia. Of course, of the 22 MPE track technical sessions not given by HP employees, 19 are by vendors, two by consultants and one by an actual end-user of HP systems.

“Any session found to be a sales pitch will be stopped and cancelled by a program committee or HP World staff member.” My guess is this does not apply to HP.

“Each final presentation will be reviewed by a content manager for accuracy. The content manager may request changes to the presentation if necessary.” Or does not follow the party line?

By the way, if you are going to HP World and are still around on Friday morning — and I manage to negotiate the minefield that is the above-noted Presentation Guidelines — come hear me give an unbiased presentation: “Build, Buy, Port or Stay? Choosing a Winning Strategy for your HP e3000 Transition.”

SIB: If this were baseball, a .400 average would be great

In early June, Jeff Vance reported HP’s response to the 2003 Systems Improvement Ballot (SIB) top 10. “We have a positive response for 40 percent of the top 10 items: We plan on continuing our PowerPatch process through end-of-support, we will keep our documentation on the HP net or allow third parties to host it, we will ensure that large disk drives and FTP’ing large files work on MPE/iX, and we plan on implementing CI functions.” This generated a negative reaction from several people on 3000-L. The complaints prompted my response to 3000-L:

Putting my SIGMPE co-Chair hat on, first, I would like to thank Jeff Vance and all the folks in virtual CSY who worked hard to provide a response to the 2003 SIB. We (SIGMPE, etc.) have been pushing to get a response well in advance of HP World 2003 and they came through. Considering the results were available only three months ago and the two Solutions Symposia also occurred during this time period, I think having a response now is very impressive and shows the commitment to customers that still exists in what remains of CSY. I think Jeff Vance was being a little too self-critical by claiming only a 40 percent positive response. I consider the responses to 2, 3, 7, 8 and 10 basically positive (note that when the SIB was conducted, HP had not committed to providing ANY PowerPatches, let alone two per year). This gives a 50 percent positive responsive.

As for the remaining five items, let me give a little perspective. Item 5 (gigabit LAN connectivity) was a late addition to the SIB. We reasoned that this might not be too difficult and would aid some of the larger sites. Finishing fifth indicates there was certainly some interest in this among the user community. I’m disappointed HP has not committed to taking this one on; however, the fact HP has responded with “no plans” does not necessarily consign this item to the scrap heap forever.

If HP had responded positively to any of items 1 (remove CPU throttling), 4 (license SS_CONFIG to third parties), 6 (enable MPE/iX 7.x to boot on 9x7s) and 9 (bundle all of Allbase with IMAGE/SQL), I would have been shocked — dancing in the street perhaps, but still shocked. We in SIGMPE do not believe HP will agree to any of these items, if at all, until after — possibly well after — it ends HP 3000 sales. However, we wanted to keep these items on the table so they would not be forgotten. “No plans,” while not positive, is certainly much better than “not unless hell freezes over.” If we hold another SIB, I will campaign to again put all 5 “no plans” items back on the ballot.

Some CI fun and games compiled from three separate threads

Q: I’m wondering how to change the default delimiters for WORD/XWORD? By the way, where is it documented?

Q: I came across a situation where the QUOTE function would be perfect, but I’m getting an unknown variable/function error. It is sort of documented in the HELP system; i.e., you can find it in the text, but HELP QUOTE does not work. What is going on here?

Q: I wrote a long command file today, then tried to execute it from my typical environment (Qedit) and got


Command not programmatically executable. (CIERR 12) However, if I instead use :XEQ ABORT4BU.OPERATOR, it works fine. What is going on?

Jeff Vance, CI Architect provided the answered you cannot change the default delimiters for WORD and XWORD, that is, you cannot create new default delimiters, but you can override them by specifying a string value for WORD’s or XWORD’s second parameter. Examples using WORD and XWORD can be found in Jeff Vance’s CI Programming paper available at jazz.external.hp.com/papers/SolSymposium_03/ CIProgramming_files/frame.htm. WORD() first appeared in MPE/iX 5.5 (base release) and it is described at jazz.external.hp.com/papers/Communicator/5.5/ci_enhancements.html. XWORD() first appeared in 6.0 (base) and is described at www.docs.hp.com/mpeix/onlinedocs/


The QUOTE() function was introduced late in 5.5 (maybe PP 5?). The documentation for QUOTE() was removed in MPE/iX 6.0 base release, and the code was removed in MPE/iX 6.0 Exp 1. The REPL() function should meet your needs.

The character “4” is being interpreted as a terminator when MPE does the parsing and the command thus becomes “ABORT” not the implied run you were expecting. For MPE V compatibility reasons the MPE/iX CI uses the same command name parsing rules as the old MPE V CI.

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