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What's Up, DOCumentation? 1996 #3


July 15, 1996


To: Users of Robelle Software
Re: News of the HP 3000 and of HP-UX, 1996 #3

What You Will Find in This News Memo:

News Tidbits

Come Visit Us at HP World in Anaheim

Robelle is looking forward to attending HP World '96 in Anaheim, California, from August 4-9, 1996. If you would like to learn more about using our products, you won't want to miss our popular conference tutorials and papers. From August 6th, Bob Green and David Greer will be on hand at our booth in the Vendor Exposition, where they and Robelle staff will be happy to answer your questions or demonstrate our software. Find out about what's new at Robelle, and you'll have a chance to win some nice prizes. For more details about our special HP World promotion, see the enclosed information sheet. It includes special discounts, information about the newly-released SMUG Book, our Anaheim Events Calendar, and more. If you need another copy of the promotional information sheet, call us and we'll fax it to you. See you in Anaheim!

Building a Better Mousetrap

The 3M Company is known for their innovative products, from ScotchGuard to Post-Its. Now 3M has built a better mouse pad. The 3M Precise Mousing Surface provides better traction than the traditional foam or plastic pad, with a special surface made of tiny hills and valleys. This surface reduces slipping and mistracking, common complaints of power users. The pad is only 1mm thick, so you can't fall off a cliff if you go too far. I have been using the 3M mouse pad for a few months now, and I definitely notice a difference when I have to use a computer that has an ordinary pad. [Mike Shumko]

The SMUG Book, Version 7.0

We have enclosed a printed copy of SMUG VII, the latest compendium of MPE/HP-UX Useful Things To Know, with this issue of What's Up DOCumentation?. Did you know ... that it's also available in electronic form? You can look at the SMUG Book on-line with a Web browser at or download the WinHelp version for local access. We are constantly updating the on-line version, of course, because "if it's on paper, it's practically obsolete!"

Technical Tips

Windows 95 Share Where?

An excellent Web resource for Windows 95 users is located at Created by Steve Jenkins, this site has tons of excellent information about Windows 95, as well as pointers to all the best shareware. This graphically-oriented site displays its main icons like a Windows 95 screen, complete with clickable taskbar and Start button. It is well organized into logical categories and topics. You can download the latest 32-bit drivers and shareware, walk through a guided tour of Windows 95 in the New Users section, or link to Jenkins' on-line magazine Win95 Magazine.[Editor's Note: The on-line magazine has been discontinued.]

The shareware entries that are recommended by the reviewers have a "GET IT!" icon, and the best entries receive the "WINner 95" designation. That is where we found DUNCE (Dial Up Networking Connection Enhancement), a freeware application that automatically presses "Connect" for you on the "Connect To" dialog and supports auto-reconnect. There is also a shareware CD-ROM, which is probably a good idea because can get pretty busy during the day. The CD, which is updated every three months, contains hundreds of megabytes of shareware.

The bottom line: this a very useful and relevant site for Windows 95 users. Highly recommended.

Where's That Dang Windows Key?

If you're used to using a Windows 95 keyboard equipped with the "Windows" key, you'll probably miss it when you run Windows 95 on another not-as-well-equipped computer. Instead of just whacking the Alt key, hoping that the taskbar will pop up, you can enter the keystroke combination of Ctrl+Esc to make it appear. For lots of other keystroke shortcuts, take a look at

Pscreen Available for HP-UX

The Pscreen utility, which has been a cornerstone utility on the HP 3000 for many years, has been ported to HP-UX by Stan Sieler, its creator. Pscreen allows you to dump what is in terminal (or Reflection memory) to a disc file or printer. This is extremely handy when trying to debug program behavior. PscreenUX is available on the Web from http://www/

Robelle Calendar of Events

August 4-9

HP WORLD '96 Conference and Expo; Anaheim, California. This promises to be an excellent conference, with thousands of HP users sharing their experience, and hundreds of vendors showing off their latest products. As in past years, we'll be presenting a plethora of tutorials and papers.

The complete schedule is available in the form of either a table or as text.

Please note that Mike Shumko's paper, Migrating Data from MPE to the World, has not been listed in the HP World schedule mailed by Interex. Have no fear! Mike will be bouncing off the podium, handing out important tips on getting your data from the HP 3000 to other platforms. For the most up-to-date information about Robelle and HP World, you can stop by our booth (#615) or visit our Web page at

August 12-14

APS Users Conference; Austin, Texas. Marie Reimer and François Desrochers will be traveling to the biggest state in the union to parley with the APS users. Don't miss François' Suprtool presentation on the new features of Suprtool 3.8. [Editor's Note: APS has closed its doors this year to 3rd-party vendors, so we won't be going after all.]

October 28-31

SRN Users Conference; Reno, Nevada. Come and chat with Hans Hendriks at the Software Research Northwest annual user conference. Meet him at the vendor's table, and attend his talk on using Suprtool.

Book Review: The Mythical Man-Month

Frederick Brooks' book The Mythical Man-Month (Addison-Wesley, 1975) was revised in 1995 for its 20th anniversary. This is a key book for anyone involved in a programming project. Brooks was a manager of OS/360, a project that consumed 5000 man-years of effort at IBM. He describes his book as "my belated answer to Tom Watson's [former CEO of IBM] probing question as to why programming is hard to manage."

The essays in this book are concise, clear, and eminently readable. Brooks has a way of forcing you to question your implicit assumptions. In the title chapter on schedule slippage, he drives the reader humorously, but relentlessly, to this conclusion:

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.
In another essay, Brooks points out:
Chemical engineers learned long ago that a process that works in the laboratory cannot be implemented in a factory in one step. An intermediate step called the pilot plant is necessary.

...In most [software] projects, the first system is barely usable. It may be too slow, too big, awkward to use, or all three. There is no alternative but to start again, smarting but smarter, and build a redesigned version in which these problems are solved...

Delivering the throwaway to customers buys time, but it does so only at the cost of agony for the user, distraction for the builders while they do the redesign, and a bad reputation for the product that the best redesign will find hard to live down. Hence, plan to throw one away; you will, anyhow.

The 20th anniversary edition includes all of the chapters of the original book, plus a lot of new material. The chapter "No Silver Bullet - Essence and Accident in Software Engineering" was first published in 1986. Brooks asserted that no single software engineering development would produce an order-of-magnitude improvement in programming productivity within ten years. While this paper caused a lot of rebuttal in the software engineering community, Brooks was right -- there has been "No Silver Bullet."

The other chapters discuss why this is so, and Brooks points out one of his mistakes in the first edition, "David Parnas Was Right, and I Was Wrong about Information Hiding." Brooks states, "I am now convinced that information hiding, today often embodied in object-oriented programming, is the only way of raising the level of software design."

If you create, maintain, manage, or are involved in part of the software engineering process, you must read The Mythical Man-Month. From the hard-nosed advice to the amusing anecdotes, you will enjoy this book. [David Greer]

About Robelle

What's Up, Mike and Marie?

Oooh, how time flies! As of last month, both Marie Reimer have been punching the clock at Robelle for ten years. Mike started off at Robelle by answering tech calls in a very hot farmhouse attic. (I can still remember his soporific voice lulling me to sleep while I tried to program -- but maybe it was just the heat!) The good 'ol days of M & M hockey are gone, and Mike now shares the Office Manager seat with Kerry Lathwell.

Marie started out as the do-everything person and, being an outgoing person, gravitated towards Sales. She is now juggling the jobs of managing the Marketing and Sales department along with being the Value-Added Reseller Liaison.

Mike and Marie have both spent a considerable amount of time on the phone at Robelle. Let's see, if Mike and Marie each averaged only ten phone calls per day, that's roughly 50,000 calls! Here's to another successful ten years to both of them! [Ken Robertson]

New: Suprtool Now Reads Allbase Tables

Sort Data Up to Twice as Fast as ALLBASE/SQL

Suprtool has added another database to the list of files that it can access. For years Suprtool has been the premier choice in data extraction tools for the HP 3000 and HP-UX, providing fast access and high-speed sorting of IMAGE/SQL databases on the HP 3000, flat files on both HP 3000 and HP-UX, and recently Oracle databases on HP-UX.

Suprtool 3.8.11 adds access to HP ALLBASE/SQL databases on both platforms by means of the familiar Select command. Suprtool can sort selected records up to twice as fast as Allbase, thus freeing system resources for other applications. For example, if Suprtool's Sort command is used instead of the SQL Select...Order By command, users can reduce their sort times by as much as 50%. The Allbase access module is available immediately as a pre-release, and will be priced as an add-on module to the basic Suprtool package.

Robelle Products: Problems, Solutions, and Suggestions

All Products

IMAGE Prefetch Bug -- But Which O/S Versions?

After recommending that you enable IMAGE prefetch in our last newsletter, we discovered that some versions of MPE/iX had some problems. One of our customers was getting "CORRUPT DBG DISABLED; POTENTIAL DAMAGE; ONLY DBCLOSE ALLOWED" messages. Pretty scary! HP said the messages were bogus and advised the customer to disable IMAGE prefetch. When this was done, the problem went away.

When should prefetch actually be used? As per Marguerite Bryan of the HP Response Center in issue #20 of the IMAGE Support Newsletter, you may use prefetch when

1. The system has adequate memory available to manage the increased data page locality as well as adequate processor capability to handle increased concurrency of processes.

2. The application makes numerous calls to DBPUT, DBDELETE, or most recently DBUPDATE to critical items. Other TurboIMAGE intrinsics only read or update data, not pointers or counters where multi-block access is a real issue.

3. As PREFETCH is intended to increase database concurrency, multiple users must be processing data before the benefit can be realized. Prefetching data blocks offer little or no benefit to single processes executing against a database.

The problems have been found in TurboIMAGE versions C.04.06 through C.04.08 on MPE/iX release 4.0. This problem is documented in detail in SR 5000-668673 and can be fixed by installing the patch TIXFX04 (TurboIMAGE C.04.09).

Getting Rid of Old Qedit Workfiles

If you have Set Work Perm turned on in Qedit, your work in your scratch file won't be lost if you exit out of Qedit accidentally. This setting is great if you're always losing your temporary scratch files! However, these files tend to accumulate.

Here's our job stream for cleaning up old (random, permanent) Qedit workfiles:

!job cleanqed,manager.sys;outclass=archive,1 !comment !comment 4 June 1996 HH Deletes old Qedit workfiles (QED) !comment !comment Run once weekly. !comment !run yespurge qed#####.@.@(code="QEDIT" and ACCDATE < today-1 & and not opened) exit !eoj

Suprtool Version 3.8

Suprtool and Netbase Problem

We have discovered a problem with our latest release of Suprtool/iX. The bug causes Suprtool to abort with a "prefetch'init'failure" message.

This problem may occur if you are using the Netbase product from Quest Software to access a file on a remote machine. Suprtool/iX 3.8 does not identify these files correctly. Select one of these three solutions:

1. Patch the program.

:run sp> open sp> mod get_open_file+290 get_open_file + 290 48960160 {must see this number} 44b60050 {you type this in} 48960160|44b60050 {double check what is returned here} sp> modify get_open_file+294 get_open_file + 294 d2d61ff0 {must see this number} 08000240 {you must type this in} d2d61ff0|8000240 {double check what is returned here} sp> exit Total number of patches being applied 1

2. Disable Prefetch.

Set Prefetch 0 {zero}

You can disable prefetch globally by adding this Set command to the Suprmgr.Pub.Sys file.

3. Request the latest version. The bug has been fixed in the latest pre-release, which is available on request. If you are already running a pre-release version of Suprtool and you need the patch, please call tech support for a new pre-release tape.

And They Said It Couldn't Be Done...

A challenging request from the administration department came across my e-mail -- they wanted to improve the readability of reports! In many reports, data is unnecessarily repeated in a column. Suprtool can remove duplicate data from a report (much to the surprise of David Greer, Suprtool's architect), which turns a daunting report into a friendlier version.

Here's an example of a daunting report:

ACCT CONTACT-NAME ADDRESS-TYPE 206J Fred Flintstone MAIN 206J Fred Flintstone INVOICE 206J Fred Flintstone TAPE 206K Freakazoid! MAIN 206K Freakazoid! INVOICE

We can simplify this report by complicating the Suprtool output phase. In this example, we'll need three passes to change the duplicate data into spaces.

Let's first get the records that are the originals by using Dup None. We won't forget to Set Squeeze Off so that we have enough room to append records in the second pass.

>get d-address >define my-acct acct-no >extract my-acct,acct-no,contact-name >extract address-type >output bigfile,link >sort my-acct >sort contact-name >dup none key >set squeeze off >xeq

Next, we'll get the records that are duplicates and extract the duplicate data as spaces. Notice that we are extracting the account number twice in order to preserve the sort information for the last pass.
 >get     d-address
 >define  my-acct acct-no
 >extract my-acct,acct-no=" ",contact-name=" "
 >extract address-type
 >sort    my-acct
 >sort    contact-name
 >dup     only key
 >output  bigfile,append
Let's take a look at our report.

>in bigfile >sort my-acct >extract acct-no / address-type >list standard >xeq ACCT CONTACT-NAME ADDRESS-TYPE 206J Fred Flintstone MAIN INVOICE TAPE 206K Freakazoid! MAIN INVOICE

And there we have it -- a much more readable report. Of course, we could also customize the headings, but I'll leave that as an exercise to the reader. [Ken Robertson]

Qedit Version 4.4

Sorting Data with Qedit

We received a call from a user with an unusual Suprtool request: he needed to sort the contents of a file, except the first and last records. In other words, he wanted the second through second-last entries rearranged into sorted order. He needed to do this in batch, and the files had up to several hundred records.

Our solution? Use Qedit's Lsort command instead of Suprtool:

/text filex,unn /lsort first+1/last-1 keys 1,10 /keep,yes

Changing Strings with Nonprinting Characters

Sometimes you want to change strings that contain a nonprinting character to something else. For example, changing a display attribute from <esc>&dJ to <esc>&dD. The Qedit Change command would be

/set decimal on /changeq '27"&dJ" '27"&dD" all

You must have Set Decimal On in order for this to work. You can also change strings composed of multiple values of nonprintables. For instance, you may want to append line breaks to your file so that it is compatible with a specific PC application.

/appendq '13'10 all {carriage-return line-feed}

It's probably a good idea to use the "quiet" option when you change nonprinting characters because you may get unexpected results. The terminal or terminal program can magically get its configuration changed when displaying an escape sequence. Worse yet, an escape sequence can even trigger a "transmit" function, sending whatever is on the display to the host computer. For example, the accidental transmission of rm * (remove all files!) is known in computer jargon as a "bad thing."
Updated MON, SEP 16, 1996. Comments?
[Robelle] [Qedit] [Suprtool]

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