Third Party Watch
Shawn M. Gordon
President of S.M. Gordon & Associates

Well is everyone set for Thanksgiving? I haven’t eaten in weeks so I am
starved. I mean between writing this column and doing reviews for Interact
every month I’ve hardly had time to do anything. I sure hope somebody
besides my wallet appreciates it.

By far the most interesting thing to happen during the time I was writing
this was Interex. It was a close call with Hurricane Andrew, the original
satellite photos that I saw showed it aimed right for New Orleans.
Fortunately it went farther west and missed. From what I have heard the only
had to close the show early one day, and only one party got canceled. On
Tuesday everyone had to stay in their hotels, but since the hotels are also
the evacuation centers it turned out they were in the best place they could
be anyway.

For those of you who don’t know, it turns out that the big announcement from
Bradmark at Interact is that they will be giving away Superdex level one.
I imagine they will be recouping some of this expense by charging a support
fee, which is only fair. I don’t know what exactly is included in level one,
but it seems like a pretty strategic move now that third party indexing is
supported directly by Image. I wonder how DISC is going to react to this.
Hopefully their new version 3 will be shipping by now and will give them some

I hope this news turns out ok by the time you read it, but Vladimir Volokh,
the V in VESOFT recently had some sort of heart bypass surgery. I am not
sure of the specifics, but he wasn’t doing to well initially. Although
Vladimir isn’t religious my prayers go out to him for a speedy and full

For the last month I have been seeing these cryptic ads talking about some
backup strategy called Roadrunner. Well I finally found out that it is the
brand spanking new version (maybe entirely new product) of BACKPACK from
Tymlabs, now Unison/Tymlabs. Like it’s name it is supposed to just scream,
I can’t tell you exactly what the performance is like since I haven’t used
it. I don’t know if it uses the same disk image backup strategy that Orbit
pioneered on the HP a couple years ago. Since I only have a venerable series
70 I can’t really try it out either.

Design/3000 has or will be announcing version 3.5 of their Callback/3000
PHASE III product. The information that I have make this look like a major
upgrade. You can now issue MPE console commands and UDC or Command file
commands remotely. There is a hard drive and video monitor, and an option
for and Ethernet card for monitoring a PC network. You can now use their
Spoolscan on MPE/iX 2.1 and later to execute macro files against spoolfiles.
They have also started using a lot more off the shelf hardware instead of the
custom stuff they were using. This should make it easier to maintain and
support, good move. I don’t know how much farther they can take this
product, but it is sure helping in the lights out operations environment.

Well in a previous column I mentioned that Bob Andrews from DISC had moved
from their remote office in Northern California back to the corporate office
in Colorado. Well around the middle of office he left DISC and is now
working on his own as the worldwide distributor for Post Haste and Mail
Messenger, the electronic mail package from WRQ. Now that Bob and I are
competing in the e-mail race it will be interesting to see how it affects our
friendship. Good Luck Bob, NOT!!! (haha)

I heard a saucy little tid bit today that I am still working on verifying.
It seems that TurboStore/iX from HP has had some bugs in it since XL 2.2 and
are still there as of iX 4.0. These include, so I am told, the rather
fascinating feature of being able to back up a file but not restore it, and
file corruption. Funny, I had the same problem with Central Point backup on
my PC earlier this year, maybe they are connected some how.

Well my last bit of information doesn’t have to do with anything new, but
rather something that has been around for a while that not a lot of people
know about. Namely, third party support service for the HP 3000, this will
typically be a replacement for the AMS support offered by Hewlett Packard.
I know of only two people that currently offer this service, one is Gilles
Schipper up in Ontario Canada, the other is Michael Hornsby of Cincinnati
Ohio. While I doubt that HP is particularly thrilled to have people taking
this business from them, it seems as though you could get some very nice
personalized service this way. It would be nice to see HP encourage and
support these types of services since in the long run it would make them look

Ok, I just got a copy of the letter that HP sent out regarding the bug in
TurboStore/XL II. There is “a 1 in a million files” chance of having a
problem with restoring a file if your compression is set to 16k or 32k
buffers. However 8k buffers seems to increase the risk. Now in this
letter HP says you shouldn’t use 8k because you don’t get any benefit
anyway, so why do they give it as an option? The are recommending that
you don’t even use compression at all until they get it fixed.

They are trying to get something put together so that they can at least
recover any lost files. They may just want to try calling Steve Cooper
at Allegro, he has gotten quite adept at recovering data off tapes.

I just can’t believe that HP has a bug like this in a product that competes
with other third parties, and then have the gaul to trickle out the
information necessary to write one of these products to the third parties.
I am referring specifically to the hard time HP gave Orbit Software when
they were trying to get the AIF’s from HP that they needed to get their
NM version of the backup software working. Orbit finally resorted to
telling every magazine in town about it, then finally HP called them

While the AIF’s are nice in theory, they give us a supported way of
getting low level routines, they can also be used to strangle hold anyone
that may try to compete with HP. Not to mention the fact that you are
dependent on the questionable coding abilities of someone else to give
you this interface. I don’t know what the solution is, I am just glad
I haven’t needed any AIF’s yet. Of course after this months column HP
probably won’t let me have any anyway, hahaha.

Gosh darn it, now I have to think of some clever way to end this months