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Recent News and Tips


Drag-and-Drop File Open

Windows offers a way to quickly open a file from an application. Assuming you can see the file and the application, you can use one of three methods: Drop on Desktop Icon, Drop on Qedit Application Window, or Drop on Taskbar Button. All three of these work in Qedit for Windows. For full instructions and more Windows Tips, visit the permanent location of this article.



Check Web Page Addresses

Recently, as a result of our articles on checking email addresses, Hans Hendriks in Robelle Tech Support received an inquiry from Kurt Sager of SWS (kurt.sager@sws.ch), the Robelle distributor in Switzerland, asking how to verify a large number of web addresses automatically:

In some databases we have many Internet URL's, mostly links to home pages, or an html page inside a web site.

It happens that such addresses contains typing errors, or the web site disappears ... we all know the problem!

We can easily and automatically create a flat file, say once a month,containing one URL per line, possibly many many thousands lines. We need a utility to check the validity of all the addresses, possibly write a new file with the invalid adresses for other actions to take.

To find out Hans' solution, read the full article.


Consultants: Fluent Edge

We continue to build our directory of consultants who are knowledgeable in Suprtool. This time it is Fluent Edge, creators of MICE, the COBOL to Suprtool Define generator. Our growing directory.

Company Name: Fluent Edge Technologies Inc.
Speciality:Custom solutions for HP 3000 users, with emphasis on SGA's MACS systems.
Description:Suprtool and Qedit for Windows experience.
Contact:Tom Clarke
Contact:Cliff Looyenga
Location:Coeur d'Alene, ID
Web site:fluentedge.com
Links:COBOL to Suprtool Generator
Notes: Fluent Edge Tech provides MACS internals training as well as Suprtool classes. These are normally conducted on-site.


VISIMAGE Interface to Suprtool

VISIMAGE is a visual report writer for the e3000, marketed by VitalSoft. Users have been using Suprtool extract files with VISIMAGE for years. Files built by Suprtool are exactly like VISIMAGE self-describing files. Since Suprtool is faster on single dataset extracts, it makes sense to use Suprtool as a first pass in a VISIMAGE multiple pass Report. Suprtool can dramatically improve the overall performance of your reports, particularly on large datasets that contain millions of records.

However, in the past, it has been somewhat tedious to integrate the Suprtool extract with the VISIMAGE report. It was necessary to create the Suprtool extract file first and then manually open that file in VISIMAGE. The new version of VISIMAGE brings a level of integration that is unmatched in previous releases. All of the above problems have been eliminated. It is now possible to enter Suprtool commands in the VISIMAGE List Designer – Selection Criteria Window. When the List is executed, VISIMAGE calls Suprtool and passes it all of the commands.

For more information, read the Vitalsoft announcement.


Checking Logical Consistency

Ole Nord (ole@OleNordAB.se), Robelle's representative in Scandinavia, liked Neil's article about using Telamon's mail program so much, he implemented it in one of his jobs. Click the link above to see a job that uses the ASKPLUS tool from Vitalsoft to check a data base for logical consistency such as invoice details must exist for invoice header, current maintenance contracts must have been invoiced etc. The job is run every night and if there is output, it is mailed, if not everything is OK. www.olenordab.se


Consultants Corner

We have started building a list of consulting resources for our customers - people who know Suprtool and Suprtool-based applications. We will feature them on our home page as we discover them, and catalog them on our Consultants Corner web page.

Company Name:Hire Experience, Inc.
Description:Ecometry/MACS experts providing reports, extracts, interfaces, bug fixes, modifications, system review, EDI, XML, and more.
Contact:Taylor Lumkpin
Location:Delray Beach, Florida
Web site:hire-experience.com
References: AB&C Group, Eve Olson
Another Universe, Tom Stinson
Baileys, Katie Mantis
BaseBall Express, Dave Perlstein
Best Uniform, Paula Szkotak
.... many more


Customize Your Qedit for Windows Server

While working with Quayne Green (Qgreen@thecreek.com), Paul Gobes gave this helpful tip:

Is there anyway to take advantage of Command Files when using the File - Host Command feature of Qedit for Windows? Maybe Qedit does not honor the HPPATH command ?

No, it does honour HPPATH, but that variable may not be fully set yet. Do a showvar hppath at the host commands window, it will show only the default value set by MPE.

Here at Robelle we have a logon UDC that invokes a command file to set all the system file equations and variables including HPPATH. Unfortunately, this logon UDC is not invoked by Qedit for Windows (due to features/restrictions of HP's RPM code). So as a workaround, we added the following code to Qeditmgr.Pub.Sys

  if qedservmode=1
Now at the host command window, the HPPATH variable and all our file equations are properly set.


Format Date as yyyymmdd?

The simplest way to see your date values in yyyymmdd format, regardless of the format in which they are stored, is to use the $stddate feature of Suprtool. For example, if you have date-A in "SRNChronos" format and date-B in "calendar" format, here is how to list them in standard format:
define anydate,1,4,int
get dataset
item date-A,date,SRNChronos
item date-B,date,calendar
ext anydate = $stddate(date-A)
ext anydate = $stddate(date-B)
list standard
Tip courtesy Dave Lo, Robelle Technical Support.


holding down the shift key

Windows Startup Trick

Sometimes when you logon to Windows, you don't want to run all your Startup items.

For a faster Startup, keep the Shift key pressed down, from the time you enter your Windows password until the hard drive stops chattering. Because this can take some time depending how slow your PC is, you can put something on the Shift key to keep it pressed down.

For more Windows tips, go to the permanent location of this story.


Selection Based on Day of the Week

Lynda Bechel from Meyer Distributing asked:
"Is there a way to pick dates that will include only the dates between the last day of the month ($date(*/*-1/last) and the prior Monday? This is for a report that looks at only the days from a Monday to the last day of the month for partial week. "
Well, yes there is. To find out how, read Hans Hendriks' article.


HP e3000 Sales Conference in Europe

Schluchsee, Germany – January 20 - 23, 2001

Many Robelle distributors will be attending this conference. HP aims this event at CEOs and IT decision makers of HP's Channel Partners, HP Sales Reps, HP Partner Account Managers from Europe, the Middle East and Africa. They have lots of news about the e3000 to share with the partners who make the machine a success.


Finding 'Junk' in Data Fields

A customer phoned who needed to isolate records where his operators had entered junk characters like carriage returns and line feeds. If you know which column they are in, then Suprtool can find specific characters. If you don't know the column, Qedit can find them with the List command.

But this customer didn't have Qedit (yet...) so we found the a Posix shell solution which finds any lines in the file called DATAFILE that have non-printable characters: Read the full article by Paul Gobes, our tech support manager, to see all three solutions.


How To Link Variable Count Records?

Hans Hendriks of Robelle Technical Support was given an interesting challenge by Vic Ferrara (from The Wine Enthusiast). Vic had a file containing EDP-NOs and keywords, with multiple records (up to 12) per EDP-NO value. He needed to combine the records so that each EDP-NO value had only 1 record, with all keywords for that EDP-NO shown on that record.... In other words, he had to change:
  edp1 keyword1 keyword2
  edp1 keyword3 keyword4 keyword5
  edp1 keyword6
... into
  edp1 keyword1 keyword2 keyword3 keyword4 keyword5 keyword6
Find out how they solved the problem with Robelle software: read the article. You will be surprised by the answer.


What's Up DOCumentation

Robelle's famous newsletter, the "What's Up Doc", was published today and posted to our web site. You can read the January 2001 issue on the web, or read the email copy you will receive if you are on the email list, or read the printed copy that will come to your site if we don't have your email address.

Stories in this issue include:

Suprtool's Powerful New String Functions
Cleaning Up E-mail Addresses in Ecometry, by Chris Bartram
WOW! 17 X Performance Improvement with Suprtool!
Schedule: February Is Action Packed
An HMO Tries the "e" in "e3000", by Eben Yong
Robelle-L Discussion Group Has Moved, Now on Web
Using Qedit For Windows to Test Suprtool Jobs
Is Your Disc Being Eaten By MPE?
Do those sound familiar? If you have been following the news and tips published on our home page, they should sound familiar. All the stories appeared here first!


How to Change Suprtool's PRN Format

There is no way to change the format of the delimited file created by Suprtool's "output ,PRN" option, but Robelle would not leave you stranded. STEXport, which is a module that comes with every copy of Suprtool, allows you specify exactly what the format of your delimited output file should be. Change your Suprtool task to create a self-describing output file ("output foo,LINK"), and then run that through STEXport
   $ input foo
   $ quote none
   $ {any other options}
   $ output foo2
   $ exit
Tip courtesy Hans Hendriks, Robelle technical support.


Next Suprtool Training Course

When: March 8th and 9th
Where: Tech Group University Hagerstown, Maryland.
Instructor: Jeff Kubler
Details at: Tech Group University Website


How to Check 1.2 Million Email Addresses

In a previous article, Chris Bartram described strategies for verifying the domain name in email addresses using WHOIS and NSLOOKUP. Paul Gobes of Robelle created a job to check the Robelle database and found a few invalid domain names that needed manual followup. However, he also found that it took 2-3 seconds per domain name to do the Internet lookup.

Chris Bartram's database has 1.2 million email addresses, so using this simple job would have taken 53 days!

Together they created a smarter job that remembers the domain names that have already been checked and eliminates duplicate domain names. The lesson is that even though you may have "solved" a problem, it doesn't always scale up for all organizations without extra work. Scroll down to the bottom of this article to see how they scaled up this idea.


Regular Expressions

You've heard the term, but what the heck are they? Let me tell you: They're an exponential leap in Qedit functionality. They make it possible for you to search for patterns that were previously inconceivable.
  1. Should you learn them? Yes!
  2. Do they look intimidating initially? Yes.
  3. But are they difficult to learn? No!
And regular expressions are found in many other software tools from many sources, so benefit from the investment in learning them for years to come. Make a start today, by reading Francois Desrocher's easy introductory tutorial..


Remote DBA For Ecometry

Anthony Ballo (aballo@ecometry.org) has taken Neil Armstrong's idea for automated remote DBA and converted it to work on the Ecometry databases. Nice job Anthony.


Watch Out For Web Page Editors.

In this recent article we described a way of making it harder for spammers to harvest email addresses from your web pages. Mike Shumko of Robelle suggests we also beware of webpage authoring software that embeds your email address in the document's <head>. tags: E.g., <LINK rev=made href="mailto:mike.shumko@robelle.com"> Mike has seen this done by NoteTap and perhaps by FrontPage as well. It seems like one of those automatic features that programmers would add to a product, not realizing that perhaps we do not want our raw email address exposed on the web page.


More On Emailing From the e3000

In a recent Robelle article, Neil Armstrong showed how to email a database analysis from the e3000 server to the DBA. On the Ecometry.org web site, Anthony Ballo has published an article on three methods of e3000 emailing and another article with detailed instructions for the free Telamon Mail program.


Suprtool Does Strings!

There is a new pre-release of Suprtool, version 4.3.03, which allows you to do many more processing steps in a single pass over the data, saving time and reducing task complexity. The key is new string functions for the If and Extract command which allow strings to be upshifted, concatenated and trimmed. It is now a snap to reformat the fixed address fields of a database into a standard mailing label in a single step. To test the new software on your applications, contact Robelle at 1-888-robelle or support@robelle.com


Fred White Retires.

One of the two creators of the IMAGE database for the e3000 has retired. Fred White is moving from the Adager lab to Arizona to spend more time with his children and grandchildren. Rene Woc of Adager tells us that Fred is 76 years old now and will be 77 in April. Fred is famous for his many conference papers, including our favorite, The Three Bears of Image. For another reaction to Fred's leaving, read the tribute to Fred by Chris Gauthier on 3kworld. Fred White and Jon Bale will long be remembered as the programmers who created one of the software pillars of HP's success in the commercial market.


Be Thankful You Have the e3000

Ron Seybold, editor of The 3000 News Wire, writes his thoughts on the Dublin Marathon and the HP e3000: what are the qualities that determine success?

It only took 30 minutes for the rains to begin after the starting horn in Dublin. Abby’s racewalk — about half the entrants walked some part of the 26.2 miles, many for charities like Abby’s Arthritis Foundation — lasted a little less than nine hours. More than half that time the rains poured. With a wind chill of about 31 degrees, this year’s race became known as “the day of suffering” in the Dublin papers, while TV commentators said “this race will feel more like 30 miles.”

The 3000 customers know a lot about a hard course, too. They hear from colleagues that their computer is a relic, or that Microsoft will conquer all, so why bother? Suggesting their systems can deliver e-service reliably and cost effectively is a good way to draw a scoff from under-informed consultants. Sometimes, even HP’s people don’t know the story of the 3000’s e-renaissance.

Read the rest of the editorial. Then consider subscribing to The 3000 News Wire for a source of e3000 specific news and in-depth technical reviews. Recent articles include: New Training Options, 6.5 Performance, HP Offering Lund's SCOPEUtil, Implement background jobs from MPEX, Autobahn test drive, ...


David Greer

David J. Greer is leaving Robelle on January 8, 2001, after more than 20 years, to pursue new opportunities. You can reach David at his new e-mail address david@davidgreer.ca

Founder Robert Green has resumed active management of all departments, and reaffirmed Robelle's committment to customers of its software products, Qedit and Suprtool. Neil Armstrong took over from David as primary Suprtool developer some years ago, and customers can be assured that Suprtool development will continue unabated. Version 4.4 is due for release in the Spring, and will again include significant enhancements.


What Can Suprtool Do That Query Can't?

Recently, Chris Goodey (CGoodey@egghead.com) of Egghead posted on 3000-L one reason why you need Suprtool even though you have Query:

From time to time I run into applications that use a character string to hold multiple values, perhaps a key made up from both an integer and text string, since Image doesn't provide for concatentated keys. Another common thing is to find a big buffer of like X100 filled with all sorts of binary data (packed decimal, integer, etc.) Sometimes the format of the data is dependent on a record type, which is easy enough to code in Cobol, but a real pain for use with ODBC, etc.

Since Cobol can redefine anything, you may find code that moves in something like an integer account number, followed by a text field, all to a big field, then adds that to the data base. It would certainly have been better to convert the integer to character and made an all character key, but even this has problems of its own.

If you have Suprtool, you can dump Image records in hex and character mode, much like Fcopy. If you use Image and don't have Suprtool, you really, really should get it. I have decided I won't work anyplace that doesn't have Suprtool, as it makes life so difficult.

Anytime I suspect anything funny with a data base record, the first thing I do is dump it with Suprtool, and take a look at the data. In the standard Suprtool dump, non-printing characters are replaced by a period, so if I see any unexpected periods, I also dump it in hex and char, and see what is really going on. Permanent bookmark


Little Known Windows Tricks

Dave Lo of Robelle's tech support (dave.lo@robelle.com), has searched out some helpful uses of right-click and shortcuts:

In Windows Explorer, shift + right-click on selected file:
Opens the context menu that includes "Open With", which allows you to open the file with a program different than the default association.

Add a shortcut to the Windows\SendTo directory:
This will add that shortcut to the SendTo list in Explorer's right-click context menu. If the shortcut points to a program, this is a quick way to opening a file with a particular program (e.g. put a shortcut to Qedit for Windows there!). If the shortcut points to a directory, it will move/copy the file to that directory (copy if on a different drive, move if on the same drive).

Add a shortcut key to a program's shortcut:
Add a shortcut key via the Program's shortcut properties, which will - start the program if it is not running - switch to that program if it is running already For example, assign F11 to the Qedit for Windows shortcut, then Qwin is literally a keystroke away!

Copy the image of the current window to the clipboard. You can paste this image into WordPad, which is an easy to to gather information for technical support.

right-click My Computer, Properties:
Same as Start - Settings - Control Panel - System

right-click Desktop, Properties:
Same as Start - Settings - Control Panel - Display

right-click Network Neighborhood, Properties:
Same as Start - Settings - Control Panel - Network

Permanent bookmark and other Windows Tips


17 X Performance Improvement with Suprtool!

Recently, Robert Allen Green, of Long Reach, Inc., Houston, evaluated our Suprtool product on MPE, and was impressed with the results...

Robert took one of their existing monthly reports, "Activity to closed Work Orders", which uses Query to access 2 datasets in a database, selecting on date and order-status, and replaced it with a Suprtool job.

The Query job was run monthly, and took 2 hrs and 18 minutes to run. It also didn't include component costs, so users would have to manually lookup the part costs to compute the standard cost of each order. So in his Suprtool replacement, Robert included tasks to link in the component costs, so that the final report includes the computed cost per order. And, to top it all off, Suprtool creates an ascii output file that can be imported directly into an Excel spreadsheet by the user.

Total time to execute the Suprtool jobstream? 8 minutes. That's a 17-times performance improvement!

Way to go, Robert!   Permanent story bookmark


February Is Action Packed

There are four major e3000 related events in February 2001:
  • SigSoftVend, a meeting of vendors with HP.
  • Solutions Symposium: training for new and intermediate users
  • Sig/3000, a meeting of technical special interest groups such as Sig/IMAGE.
  • Performance Training Seminar in Florida.
Robelle plans to attend all four. Find out more about these and other upcoming events.


Deadline Looms

January 5, 2001 is the last day for submitting presentations for the HPWorld 2001 conference, which will be August 20-24 in Chicago. Robelle has submitted an abstract for a paper on building quality software and a tutorial on IMAGE database internals and performance improvement. You still have time to write a short abstract for a paper or tutorial - how about one on using Suprtool with your application.


Hard to Find a Domain Name?

Are you having difficulty coming up with a valid .com domain name. It may seem as if every possible name is already taken, but don't lose hope. The Domainator is a web site that really helps you find a name. You enter your keywords and it checks all combinations of those words for availability, foreign languages, rhyming words, dictionary definitions and existing trademarks!


Enabling Users Via Suprtool

Robelle programmer Neil Armstrong was consulting at an Open Skies site, when accounting users indicated their frustration in discovering whether a commission check had been made for a travel agency. The current inquiry screen did not allow search by record locator, so they had to scroll through pages and pages of entries to find out if the commission was paid, taking up to five minutes. Enter Suprtool and its List command. Neil wrote a simple command file that would run Suprtool with a Use file to list the needed information. The command file prompts the user for the Record Locator number and then uses Suprtool to list the information to the screen. Read more about enabling users.


Checking the Domain Name In Email Addresses

Last month we ran an article by Chris Bartram (Chris.Bartram@usmint.treas.gov) about using Suprtool to check for obviously wrong email entries in your database. In Part II, we continue with an "enhancement request": to check that the domain name in the email address actually exists.


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