May 25, 2018

Fine-Tune: Locking databases into lookups

Editor's Note: Monday is a holiday to commemorate Memorial Day, so we're celebrating here with time away from the keyboard. We'll be back with a new report May 30.

Lock files databaseWe’re migrating from our 3000 legacy applications to an ERP system hosted on another environment. Management has decreed the HP 3000 apps must still be available for lookups, but nobody should be able to enter new data or modify existing data. Should I do the simplest thing and change all of the databases so that the write class list is empty?

Doug Werth replies:

One way to do this is to write a program in the language of your choice that does a DBOPEN followed by a DBLOCK of each database (this will require MR capability). Then the program goes into an infinite loop calling the PAUSE intrinsic. Any program that tries to update the database will fail to achieve a lock, rendering the databases read-only. Programs that call conditional locks will come back immediately with a failed lock. Unconditional locks will hang.

This has been a very successful solution I have used on systems where a duplicate copy of the databases is kept for reporting and/or shadowing using IMAGE log files.

Steve Dirickson agrees with the poster of the question:

Since very few developers write their apps to check the subsystem write flag that you can set with DBUTIL, changing the classes is your best bet. Make sure you do so by changing the current M/W classes to R/R so the existing passwords will still work for DBOPEN, and only actual put/update/delete operations will fail.

The Big Picture: If protection is required for the database, that protection should reside in the database if at all possible. As mentioned, this is easy with IMAGE.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:09 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

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May 23, 2018

Wayback: Web prospect put songs in hearts

Web GuitarEarlier this week, a call went out for musicians who know the HP 3000. The June reunion of 3000 experts and veterans includes a couple of notable ex-HP members, GM Harry Sterling and former songwriter/engineer Orly Larson. Dave Wiseman, who's leading the band on the June 23 afternoon, has asked around to see if anyone will bring an instrument to accompany Orly's 3000 songs.

That request brought a guitar to mind in a happy time for the 3000. George Stachnik strummed one on Navy Pier in the steamy air of August to lead the 3000 faithful at the 1997 Interex show in Chicago. That was a summer of some hope and relief, too.

In 1997 the fate of the 3000 was brightening. Much of the middle 1990s was a slow time for the rate of MPE/iX enhancements. Once the World Wide Web, as we first called it, broke through in 1995, every computing platform needed to have a story about how the WWW was employed. IBM's AS/400 and Digital's VMS didn't have stories any better than MPE's. That didn't matter as much to customers using those systems. Theirs were not under the gun like the 3000 was, trying to outpace HP-UX and Windows NT in the HP salesforce.

Stachnik strummed and we perspired on Navy Pier, the Chicago venue where the 3000's 25th Anniversary party was being held. He'd passed out the songsheets and I looked around the crowd. Those who weren't singing along were grinning. Your average datacenter manager is less likely to sing in public, but the songs were in the air as Stachnik delivered them with gusto. 

The smiles were as wide as Lake Michigan at HP World, faces beaming with the hope that only HP could bring to the party. I hadn't seen such good feeling since 1991, the year after the Boston Interex uprising. Sure, it was fun celebrating the 25th birthday of the HP 3000 out on the end of Navy Pier on the first night of the show. But the real celebration started the next day, when the HP 3000 division showed its customers proof that the HP 3000 has a real future.

Y2K was already warming the mid-'97 air. First it had driven up wages and contracts for 3000 experts, and then HP announced it would have a Web server for sale on MPE/iX. Programmers with nothing but good COBOL skills could command $55 an hour and Southwest Airlines was frustrated: it couldn't find administrators for its 3000s, whose footprint was growing there.

The future wasn't so bright there was a commitment to make MPE/iX ready for the new Merced chip architecture that was HP's next step for enterprise systems. The 3000 was getting some Internet attention at last, though. Some of that engineering is still ready for today's networking prime time, too.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 21, 2018

Second generation of migration begins

Synergy for DummiesHP advertised the transition off of 3000s as a migration in 2002. The changes and replacements took place throughout the rest of that decade, culminating around the time HP was closing off its support operations for MPE/iX in 2011. That was generation number one for migration at 3000 shops. The second shift is underway.

Promedica is the largest employer in Toledo, Ohio, a non-profit corporation which used 3000s to manage provider operations running the Amisys software. Tom Gerken is still an analyst at the organization, after many years of managing the production HP 3000s. Now the healthcare firm is shifting off of its Unix version of Amisys, after taking its 3000 computing and migrating it to HP's Unix.

"We did continue using Amisys," he says. "We moved to HP-UX in the second half of 2006. The data transfer to the Oracle database went smoothly. It was really sad seeing the HP 3000s go away."

At Promedica the changes are leading into another generation of migration. "We most likely aren't staying with Amisys much longer," he said. "We have begun the search for a replacement system. I think Amisys is still in the running officially, but I hear it's a long shot to make it into the finals."

Out at the City of Sparks, Nevada, another longtime 3000 manager is shifting into a fresh generation of computing resource. What was once MPE/iX, and then became a virtualized Windows datacenter, is becoming even more virtual.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:32 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 18, 2018

Fine-Tune: Setting up a 3000 as file server

I would like to set up an HP 3000 as a file server. In one of my accounts I want to have a share for my 100 users pointing to a separate directory in this account. The homes section in smb.conf normally points to the home group of the user, which is the same for all of them and is not helpful. Is there another way of solving the problem, or must I configure more than the 100 shares?

Mark Wonsil replies:

I saw a clever little trick in Unix that should work on MPE:

[%U]
path = /ACCT/SHARES/%U

This creates a share name that is the same as the username and then it points the files to a directory under the SHARES group.

How do I set my prompt setting in the startup script?

John Burke replies:

Here’s what I do for my prompt:
SETVAR HPPROMPT,”<SASHA: “+&
“!!HPJOBNAME,!!HPUSER.!!HPACCOUNT,!!HPGROUP> “+&
“!!HPDATEF !!HPTIMEF <!!HPCWD>”+CHR(13)+CHR(10)+”[!!HPCMDNUM]:”

This yields, for example,
<SASHA: JPB,MGR.SYSADMIN,PUB> THU, FEB 20, 2003 11:15 PM </SYSADMIN/PUB>
[7]:

A disk drive has failed on a user volume. How can I determine the accounts and groups on that user volume?

John Clogg replies:

Try REPORT @.@;ONVS=<volset>

Jeff Woods adds:

In addition to the suggestion to use “:REPORT @.@;ONVS=volset” (which may fail because it’s actually trying to look at the group entries on the volume set) you can do a “:LISTGROUP @.@” and scan the listing for groups where HOMEVS is your uservolumesetname. The advantage of LISTGROUP is that it uses only the directory entries on the system volume set. You may want to redirect the output of LISTGROUP to a file and then search that rather than trying to scan the listing directly.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:43 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 16, 2018

Wayback Wed: Charon's coming out, at a pub

Tied House 2013Springtime in the Bay Area is a good time to gather in support of MPE/iX. Five years ago this week Stromasys hosted a social mixer at the Tied House pub, a Mountain View venue just 10 minutes away from next month's 3000 reunion at The Duke of Edinburgh pub. There's something about good beer in cold glasses that seems to go along with the veterans who still have 3000 know-how.

In that week of 2013, a meeting room also bubbled at the Computer History Museum, a place where Stromasys spooled out more than six hours of technical briefing as well as the product strategy and futures for Charon HPA. The market needed an emulator to carry on from the end-game of HP's MPE/iX hardware, a need that began as early as 2003. HP stopped building new servers that year. The clock started running on HP's hardware aging. By ten years later the wraps were completely off Charon HPA.

By the time the emulator sparked those pours at Tied House, an HP licensing mechanism was in place for MPE/iX to operate under the Charon emulator. Then, as today, you needed to know how to ask HP for the required license.

Charon's HPA product manager uncorked the phrase that permits a customer to switch their MPE/iX from HP iron to Intel hardware,"an intra-company license transfer." If you don't ask for it by name, the standard HP transfer forms won't pass muster. Most Software License Transfers happen between two companies. HP might've wondered, who sell themselves their own hardware?

HP's SLT mechanism began to license emulated 3000s in 2012. The development of an emulator, slowed by HP's balky cooperation, cut off an emulator-only MPE/iX license at the end of 2010. The License needed an emulator for sale before a customer could buy a new MPE/iX license.

In that May of five years ago, the process to earn an HP 3000-to-Charon license was not well known yet—which was one of the reasons Stromasys held its training and social event.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:13 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 14, 2018

Pub salvation in UK not needed at The Duke

Yesterday CBS News aired a Sunday Morning story about the fate of pubs in the UK. Pubs grew up in the country from the 17th Century. In recent years, though, their numbers are in decline. You can't smoke in a pub anymore in the UK, and the real estate has gotten pricey for watering holes. The downward trend means about one pub in seven has closed over the last decade. While that still leaves 50,000 UK pubs operating, it's become a little tougher to find a pint and fish and chips in Britain.

The Duke signThat trend might inspire a visit to the site of this year's 3000 reunion, the Duke of Edinburgh pub in Cupertino. The restaurant and drinkery opened for business in 1983, when MPE had moved from version IV to V, RISC computing was still three years away from HP's product lineup, and Apple hadn't sold its first Macintosh. The link between those two companies passes through the Duke. When the pub was once busy with HP 3000 experts, some were destined to make their way from HP to Apple. Mae Grigsby, who's arranged the reunion's tour of the Apple Park Visitor Center, shared a connection between the vendors' past and future.

Grigsby, part of the Apple Executive Briefing Program, said that some bits of HP's past are still on the site that's right next to the Duke.

Apple Park has a great history starting with your group. Some of the material of the HP buildings is actually still at the Park. Those were times. I started at Apple in June, 1986. One of my colleagues here at the briefing program started, right out of college, to work at HP in 1983 — at which time HP was THE company in Silicon Valley. 18 years later she joined Apple. Memories abound.

Other memories from HP are likely to be in the air at the Duke, which is in no danger of closing. Two of the RSVPs which reunion organizers have in hand are from high-profile 3000 alumni. Harry Sterling, former general manager of the 3000 division, has said he plans to attend. Orly Larson, the technical and community celebrity whose 3000 years include a sheaf of 3000-themed songs he wrote, has also joined the guest book. By my reckoning off of local maps, The Duke is the closest watering hole to Apple's spaceship HQ, just as it was the closest stop for those 1983-era alumni like Orly and Harry who worked at the 3000's HQ.

If you're inclined to join the group on that Saturday, you can register your RSVP (to help them plan) in a simple JotForm signup, at no charge or obligation.

As the Duke is a pub, perhaps a song will fill the air that afternoon of June 23, said organizer Dave Wiseman.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:12 PM in History, Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 11, 2018

How to Create Cause and Effect on MPE

Causality-iconHP 3000s took a big step forward with the introduction of a fresh intrinsic in 1995. Intrinsics are a wonderful thing to power HP 3000 development and enhancement. There was a time when file information was hard to procure on a 3000, and JOBINFO came into full flower with MPE/iX 5.0, back in 1994. "The high point in MPE software was the JOBINFO intrinsic," said Olav Kappert, an MPE pro who could measure well: his 3000 experience began in 1979. JOBINFO sits just about at the end of the 456-page MPE/iX Intrinsics Manual published in '94.

Fast-forward 24 years later and people still ask about how they can add features to an application. The Obtaining File Information section of an MPE KSAM manual holds an answer to what seems like an advanced problem. That KSAM manual sits in one of several Web corners for MPE manuals, a link on Team NA Consulting's page. Here's an example of a question where INFO intrinsics can play cause and effect.

I'm still using our HP 3000, and I have access to the HP COBOL compiler. We haven't migrated and aren't intending to. How can I use the characteristics of an input file as HPFOPEN parameters to create an output file? I want that output file to be an exact replica of the input file. I want to do this without knowing anything about the input file until it is opened by the COBOL program. 

I've tried using FFILEINFO and FLABELINFO to capture the characteristics of the input file, once I've opened it. After I get the opens/reads/writes working, I want to be able to alter the capacity of the output file.

Francois Desrochers said, "How about calling FFILEINFO on the input file to retrieve all the attributes you may need? Then apply them to the output file HPFOPEN call."

Donna Hofmeister added 

Have a look at the Using KSAM XL and KSAM 64 manual (Ed. note: link courtesy of Team NA Consulting). Chapters 3 and 4 seem to cover the areas you have questions about. Listfile,5 seems to be a rightly nifty thing.

But rather than beat yourself silly trying to get devise a pure COBOL solution, you might be well advised to augment what you're doing with some CI scripts that you call from your program.

Read "How to Create Cause and Effect on MPE" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:24 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

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