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

The good news for this month is that I have another job. I hope that Interex remembers to change my bio. On to this month’s news.

Well there have just been all kinds of rumor’s coming out of HP these days. I hear that Hitachi is finally coming out with their PA-RISC clone soon, I didn’t have any details, but it should be cheaper than the equivalent HP unit. Also HP has made an announcement that lowers the price of the 9×7 series of computers. From one source I was told that the 937 was going to become the bottom end machine and be priced around the current 917, and that the 977 was going to be marked down to 967 levels. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I am writing this at the end of June, early July, so by September we should all know the answer.

The folks at Zebra Software have an even newer version of Frontender (which I just reviewed in the June Interact). The new version will actually generate the windows screen for you, this means that most of the tedious work is done. This is a great addition to an inexpensive and powerful product.

If you recall the announcement that Kemp Software decided to donate their batch scheduler to the CSL, you will be interested in this. He has written a nice long article on how to use it effectively, kind of like a tutorial. I understand it will be published in the Interex publication for the CSL. It was going to originally be in Interact but someone felt that it wasn’t an appropriate place for it. So if you were thinking about trying out the scheduler then you should call Interex and find out what issue it is going to be in.

I got a call from a company called N.A.Hills the other day asking if I would like to review one of their products. What it is, is something that will create C structures for you from your TurboImage data base’s. The real trick here is that they will create structures that align on 32-bit boundaries. As any techie knows, this is critical to ensure that you don’t have problems. There appears to be all sorts of neat things in there too. So I will be doing a review of it in the next month I imagine, look for it in an upcoming issue of Interact.

I am sure we have all heard recently how HP is restructuring their sales organization, and how this will help them reduce their costs and supposedly help us order things more easily. Well I want to tell you about a some friends of mine that were just ordering a 917 for development. First it was almost impossible to get a hold of their sales person at HP, second, once they did the sales person was asking questions about which options, but she herself had no idea what the different options were and while my friends tried to get information from her were promptly informed that she didn’t have time for this so could they call back later after they had it figured out. Now I am amazed that HP doesn’t seem to have time to sell hardware anymore, or the knowledge to help their customers make the right decision. I don’t know if this is an isolated incident, but if any management at HP is interested who they were having a problem with, just give me a call and we can talk about it. In the past I have always been impress
ed with HP in this regard, so I was a little shocked.

There has been a lot of talk about MPE/iX 4.5 lately, and not a lot of it good. I have been doing my own little research, and from what I can gather 4.5 is a very solid release of MPE/iX. It is not however a very stable release of the POSIX shell and utilities. From what I heard this version was never supposed to hit the streets at all, only to beta sites. Which makes me wonder why HP is shipping it with all their new machines lately. I know that they guys in the labs are working their butts off and doing a damn fine job, so how about a round of back patting next time you see a lab guy. I do hear that 4.7 will be available early 94 and will have some enhancements to native mode KSAM files to optimize the way that they are using disc space.

I just had an opportunity to install the latest 3.0 version of Omnidex and upgrade a version 2.08, and I have to tell you I was absolutely blown away by the difference in speed and size. I had a batch process that took around 2 hours to load drop down to about 10 minutes. The index sizes dropped from 170k sectors to around 5k sectors. No offense to Superdex, but I haven’t worked with it enough to know how it compares. I do know that this new version of Omnidex is light years beyond what they had before. The new maintenance program is really easy to use as well.

I have been having a lot of conversations lately with people about things like Client/Server, Open Systems, and UNIX. A lot of our managers hear these buzz words about Open Systems and UNIX and get paranoid that they are tied to a proprietary operating system like MPE. Now I am not sure what they hope to gain by making a migration to UNIX since everyone’s implementation of UNIX makes it almost as proprietary as UNIX. I don’t think you really need to be concerned what the underlying hardware or OS is. If you have a system that is doing your business then why change? I mean I love to stay on the bleeding edge, but if you really want to become platform independent then go for a portable 4GL like SpeedWare or Powerhouse, etc, and use ALLBASE or IMAGE/SQL as your DBMS. How you have a language that is portable, and you have data that is easily portable as well. Worse case you would have to unload and load your data onto the new platform, but that is a fairly simple task. Start to use the POSIX extensions in MPE/iX and see if you are getting something that you weren’t getting before. I guess what I am trying to say is, if you were hired because you knew what you were doing, then do your company a favor and don’t let the people who don’t know what they are talking about make the decisions on your hardware and software. Stay informed, and show some numbers.

I have been getting some heat lately from people because they think I am expressing my own opinions on subjects, but I wonder whose opinions I should express if not my own. We are getting to a point where we can’t say anything that might offend anyone because they will run out and get a lawyer and sue you instead of just trying to work it out. I have been fortunate (?) enough to find out about some situations with a couple of vendors recently who think they can control what we read by making threats that involve money. I think that is a very sad state for us as consumers and as users, and I hope that these vendors will start to do us the courtesy of letting us making our own decisions. The government is already trying to make to many for us, we don’t need corporate america to do it as well.

I hope I get to Interex this year and get an opportunity to talk to some more of you folks. If you see me, please come up and say “HI”, just don’t smack me in the back of the head.