What's Up, DOCumentation? 1995 #4


Jul 24, 1995

To: Users of Robelle Software
Re: News of the HP 3000 and HP-UX

What You Will Find in This News Memo:

News Tidbits

PKZIP Virus Alert.

PKWARE Inc., the makers of the popular PKZIP data compression and archival software for PCs, inform us that someone has created a trojan horse program which masquerades as PKZIP. The filename is PKZ300B.EXE or PKZ300B.ZIP, which makes it look like a new PKZIP. The trojan horse program will wipe your hard disk if you execute it. PKWARE says that the current version of their product is 2.04G.

SYMTOOL: Windows Front End to Suprtool

Symple System has announced the release of Symtool 1.0. Symtool provides a Windows-based front end to Robelle's Suprtool. Symtool presents a series of screens which, when completed, produce a use-file containing syntactically correct Suprtool commands. The use-file can then be transferred to a HP3000 host for subsequent execution, all without leaving Symtool. If you are an experienced Suprtool user, the interface should be fairly evident and after a few test sessions should become second nature. If you are not an experienced Suprtool user, Symtool is a good way to become proficient with Suprtool.

Symtool uses WRQ's Reflection for Windows to download IMAGE schemas into its data dictionary and to upload the use-file for easy testing. Priced at $995 per installation this product shows a lot of potential. For more information on Symtool contact Dan Lawson of Symple Systems at (608) 276-7937.

Iworks merges with Interex.

Interworks, the HP-UX Workstation users group has decided to merge with Interex to provide a single focus for HP-UX users. Iworks, as it is also known, is noted for its vast library of contributed software and for its annual conferences. These conferences were well attended by HP Lab personnel and provided a great atmosphere for learning. It is retaining it's unique identity by becoming the InterWorks Technical User Forum. The Forum will focus on workstations, technical servers, and X terminals as well as significant technical markets, including CAD/CAM, software engineering and electronic design automation. In addition, the Forum is responsible for preserving and expanding current services provided to InterWorks members.

On August 1, InterWorks members will become affiliate members of Interex. InterWorks members who attended the annual InterWorks conference in May in Phoenix, Arizona, will receive a complimentary one-year contributing membership in Interex, with all accompanying privileges.

MPE CI Enhancements

It looks like Jeff Vance and his MPE Labs team at HP have been pretty busy lately. He recently posted on the Internet HP3000-L discussion list some enhancements that are scheduled for the Express 3 release of MPE/iX 5.0. This should be available for request around mid-September. It is really encouraging the way Jeff involves users in shaping the features being added to MPE. Much discussion flowed back and forth on the HP3000-L about the requests shown below and others.

The Redo command will soon be able to upshift and downshift characters and words, you will be able to delete words and even delete characters up to some defined delimiter. This processing is also possible for both 'at end-of-line' and 'to end-of-line' by using the '>' character.

For command file processing there will be these new evaluator functions:

        REPL for string replacements
        DEBLANK for removing blanks in a string
        DELIMPOS for determining the position of a delimiter in a string
        WORD for extracting 'words' from a string
        PMATCH for testing if a string matches a specified pattern

In addition, look for changes to the RHT and STR functions that will allow you to specify index numbers rather than number of bytes.

In another posting, Jeff mentions some new CI variables. We have installed Express 2 release and here are the new HP variables since MPE/iX 4.0.

        HPFILE =           {identifies current command file name}
        HPLASTJOB = #J4796
        HPOSVERSION = B.79.06
        HPPIN = 151
        HPRELVERSION = C.50.00
        HPSYSTIMEOUT = 0

Technical Tips

Store/Restore Bug.

In the last issue, we told you about a bug in the MPE/iX store/restore mechanism. The simplest workaround so far -- which avoids the problem completely -- is to Store the files on the 5.0 system using the ;TRANSPORT option. When the files are restored onto the 4.0 system using Restore;Account=, the GUIDs do not become corrupted, because the files on the tape do not contain any GUIDs at all. If you run into the problem, Paul Taffel of VESOFT reports that MPEX can correct the faulty file labels.

Windows 95, Ready for Prime Time?

We have been using Beta versions of Windows 95 for several months. If you are considering upgrading to Windows 95, here is some common sense advice.

Be absolutely, positively certain that every piece of your hardware and software is compatible with Win95, or will be upgraded to work with Win95. Win95 is a significant upgrade from Windows 3.1. Although Microsoft has done a good job of providing compatibility with existing hardware and applications, not everything is compatible. For example, Windows software for input and display of Chinese characters fails, and some software installations that work on Window 3.1 crash on Win95.

Be prepared to add memory to your PC. Microsoft has said that Win95 will work with only 4Mb of RAM. In practice, consider 8Mb as the minimum. Having 12-16Mb is even better, because Win95's performance is much better with more memory. [Dave Lo]

Prose Bites Programming the CI

With the last issue of What's Up DOC? we included two papers printed back to back, one of which was Programming the CI. A few people spotted a couple of typos and were kind enough to report them. In three examples @'s were missing. You can blame our text formatter, Prose, which loves to eat @'s if there is no preceding &. An @ indicates a hard space. The following table shows how the examples should look.

    Example    Current                       Should be

    checkjob   showjob job=j;exec >sojfile   showjob job=@j;exec >sojfile
    sja        showjob job=j;exec >sojfile   showjob job=@j;exec >sojfile
    jobhist    showvar jobhist    >jobhist   showvar jobhist@    >jobhist

Creating Compound Variables in the CI

If you ever wanted to create a CI variable by combining a literal string and the contents of one or more variables, read on.

Assigning a value to a compound variable is slightly different, depending on whether you are assigning or referencing them. Assignment (the left hand side of the setvar or input command) can be done simply by concatenating the names of the variables. i.e.

     setvar myvar!cnt 5

Reference - using the compound variable on the right hand side - is a bit more difficult. You must do some clever variable de-referencing to get it to work. The format would look like

        setvar  some_var  !'myvar!cnt'

In other words, the format is made up of an exclamation mark, a single quote, the prefix variable name without an exclam, followed by any variables that may make up the variable name, all terminated with a single quote.

After reading my CI programming paper, Jeff Vance of HP, sent me these details with the remarks, "...we do this kind of thing all of the time...". [Ken Robertson]

Modem Inactivity Timeout.

Last month we got our phone bill and were shocked by a $750 phone call lasting over 25 hours. This was on one of our modem lines that we use for dialing out to customers' computers. The only explanation we can think of is that the remote HP 3000 did not drop the Data Terminal Ready (DTR) modem signal when we logged off, so the modem did not know to hang up the phone. Alternatively the remote modem might have been set to ignore DTR, which is a common factory default setting. Luckily we were able to convince the phone company to drop the charge (Thanks, BC Tel!), but they warned us that they would not drop such a charge again.

Since then we have discovered that our USRobotics modems have an inactivity timeout feature that will disconnect the call after a specified period of inactivity. For the USRobotics Courier modems we set register 19 to the desired number of minutes. E.g., ATS19=10 for hangup after 10 minutes of inactivity. Other brands of modems may also have this feature, activated via a different command sequence. [Mike Shumko]

Book Review: BUGS in Writing

by Mike Shumko

BUGS in Writing: A Guide to Debugging Your Prose by Lyn Dupre, Addison Wesley, 1995. ISBN 0-201-60019-6

I'll start by admitting that I am fond of books about words: I have half a shelf of dictionaries, lexicons, thesauri, and style handbooks which no matter how formal they are, I read for fun. My newest book is BUGS in Writing, which is really fun to read. It even has a style that makes it more useful than similar books I have seen. This book contains over a hundred little sections of a few pages, each section a discussion of a specific idea or principle. Each principle is demonstrated with plenty of examples: Good, Bad, Ugly, and occasionally Splendid. By looking at the examples, you get what author Lyn Dupre calls an 'ear' for what sounds right or wrong. You can read each of these short articles like a bedtime story, then reflect on the ideas. Or, you can use it as a reference book whenever a point of writing is troubling you. Either way, you do not have to read this book from cover to cover to benefit from it.

What makes this book particularly valuable to What's Up DOC? readers is that much of the material is geared towards writers of technical prose, such as user manuals, procedures, and on-line help files. Lyn has worked as a technical editor, cleaning up documents after computer nerds and scientists had filled the pages with wordy, passive sentences. Lyn highlights the mistakes commonly made by such writers, which makes the book particularly useful to proofreaders and copy editors of technical documents. Nevertheless, everyone from the novice writer to the established author, can benefit from Lyn's thoughts. Get this book; read it; apply it. Your readers will thank you.

SLIP Connections from Home

by Paul Gobes

For the last few years we have been enjoying the benefits of our office LAN: increased speed, multiple sessions, connections to different hosts, integration with PC programs and lately Internet access. All of our programmers work from home and they have had to dial-in via modem to a DTC and then 'dsline' or 'vt3k' to whichever host machine they needed to work on.

This all changed last month when we bought a Livingston PortMaster communications server. This device looks like a DTC with your incoming modems connected to the back, but it works differently. It initiates a SLIP connection that extends your office LAN all the way to your home PC.

SLIP stands for Serial Line Internet Protocol and it 'packetizes' your serial modem dataflow to resemble LAN traffic. On the home PC side we installed WRQ's 3000/Connect (RNS), selecting the SLIP option (not the ODI or NDIS protocols). Your home PC does not need a network card nor does WRQ require that you purchase a separate copy of RNS as long as your office PC is licensed for RNS.

Configuring the PortMaster took a some trial & error but with a little help from our friends at WRQ, Allegro and Telamon we soon had it up. The device also supports PPP which we've heard is better but we'll wait until that's included in RNS before we try that. We are now upgrading our modems to 28,800 Kbps V.34 to take advantage of the greater speed capabilities. When we get our new T1 Internet feed in August I'm sure we'll see a lot of late-night Netscaping.

What's to come? We're looking into Norton's "PC Anywhere" which is supposed to allow us to run any program that can be run from our Office PC, but testing will show if this includes Windows for Workgroup applications like Schedule+. We've already had Mike from home connect to Neil's home PC and pickup a program via ftp. This stuff is amazing, the only question now is what to do with those empty DTCs?

About Robelle

Welcome to Robelle, Trevi.

Trevi Caroline Spronk has recently joined our Sales and Marketing department as an Account Representative. Right now she is learning all about our product line, but soon she will be taking care of customer inquiries and providing ideas for the marketing of our products. Before joining Robelle, Trevi has worked in technical support, in 4GL programming, in MIS as a supervisor and in the marketing of application software. In her spare time she enjoys long walks in Vancouver's West-End, hikes in the wilderness and is an amateur watercolorist.

Beyond the Call of Duty.

It was Friday night, and I was lying on the bathroom floor, a victim of the virus that became known as the Robelle Revenge. I had been worshiping at the porcelain alter for some time now, and I finally felt that I could go back to bed. I glanced at the clock. "Oh no, it's quarter to four," I thought to myself. "Oh well. At least I didn't wake up the kids."

I returned to bed, and finally began to drift off.


At this point my admiration for my wife, Aly, diminished slightly, - she picked up the phone and handed it to me without even waking up.

"Hello," I said, trying to sit up.

"Hi, sorry to call so late, this is the answering service."

Suddenly, a wave of nausea swept over me. I wasn't sure if this was from sitting up, or from hearing that this was the answering service. I ran to the bathroom, (luckily we have a cordless phone); the wave of nausea subsided, and I started to ask the answering service who had called.

My next problem was finding the right tools with which to write down the name and telephone number of the distressed computer operator. Toilet paper and my wife's eye liner were just not working, so I had to run to my office for pen and paper. As I retrieved those tools and was writing down the necessary information, I felt that I needed to be in the bathroom again.

I sat down on the bathroom floor and tried to collect myself and wake up some more. Ok, now dial the phone number. A voice as tired as mine answered, and quickly outlined the problem. I described the steps needed to make the problem better. The caller thanked me and hung up. Then, on the mats on the bathroom floor, I slipped off to sleep. [Neil Armstrong]

Robelle at Toronto Interex

This year's North American Interex conference takes place at the Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, August 14th to 18th. Once again, Robelle has planned a great selection of talks and tutorials. Featured speakers include Bob Green, David Greer, Paul Gobes, Hans Hendriks, and Ken Robertson. To help you with your conference planning, we have included Robelle's Handy Toronto Guide and Calendar in your delegate bag. The calendar includes spaces for session planning as well as a quick guide to some of Toronto's restaurants and night spots. Be sure to mark down some of the following Robelle sessions.


Time             Speaker        Topic
---------------  -------------  -------------------------------------------
 8 a.m.          Hans Hendriks  Speeding Up Quiz with Suprtool
10 a.m. (2 hrs)  David Greer    How Messy is My Database?
 2 p.m.          Paul Gobes     Ensuring Data Integrity with Suprtool
 3 p.m.          David Greer    Client Server, Internet, & WWW
 4 p.m.          Bob Green      Qedit Cookbook for Novices


Time             Speaker        Topic
---------------  -------------  -------------------------------------------
 9 a.m.          Ken Robertson  Programming the Command Interpreter
10 a.m.          Bob Green      Suprtool Tables, Keys & 3rd Party Indexing
11 a.m.          Hans Hendriks  Qedit's Forgotten Commands
 3 p.m.          Paul Gobes     Combining Data Files Without Keys
 4 p.m.          Bob Green      Qedit Master Class


Time             Speaker        Topic
---------------  -------------  -------------------------------------------
10 a.m.          David Greer    Suprtool Master Class

Enter to Win

Visit the Robelle booth (number 600) for contest details on how you can win one of four fabulous prizes. The draw will take place Thursday afternoon in the Robelle booth.

Special Interex Prices!

If you have been holding back on ordering Qedit or Suprtool, now is the time to take advantage of a special one-time Interex offer. Bring your purchase orders to our booth during the Interex conference in Toronto and save up to $800 on your order.

All orders processed at the show will be eligible for 20% off the first CPU license. This offer will be available only until the close of the conference on August 18, 1995. If you are not attending the conference, contact the Sales Department for more information about how you can take advantage of our Interex promotion.

Toronto Tips

by Neil Armstrong

Since I lived in Toronto for years before moving to Robelle on the left coast, I know a little about the city where this year's Interex conference will be held. Here is this edition's tip for traveling to and around Toronto: Book Stores. Toronto has two of my favourite book stores. The first is Bakka which is found on Queen Street West. (This is a fun street to just walk down and watch some of the interesting people!) This is a used book store that specializes in Science Fiction, I highly recommend it.

If Science Fiction isn't your thing, you could always visit the World's Biggest Bookstore which is two HUGE floors of books and magazines. The store is found just off Yonge St. (the main street running North/South in the downtown core) and is one block North of Dundas. When you visit you will see terminals and PCs behind some counters, which are, interestingly enough connected to an HP3000.

Robelle Products: Problems, Solutions, and Suggestions

Suprtool Version 3.7

Delayed Installation tip.

When installing new versions of Suprtool (or Qedit) the usual steps are:

     1.)  Restore and stream Robelle.Pub.Sys
     2.)  Restore @.@.Robelle
     3.)   Stream  Install.Suprjob.Robelle    (or  Install.Qeditjob.Robelle)
     4.)  .... various optional steps

You can setup the account and restore the files (steps 1 and 2) while users are on the system using Suprtool, and defer the rest of the installation steps (step 3 onward) until the middle of the night when nobody is using the system. e.g.

       :stream install.suprjob.robelle;at=02:00

Validating field relationships.

The If command now supports arithmetic operations between fields, even fields of different numeric data types. This is useful in checking some of the 'business rules' that most applications have. These rules are usually included in the data entry programs but sometimes 'stuff happens' and the data gets messed up. Here is a simple task that uses this new feature to isolate records which are breaking the rule of "Invoice amount = price times quantity".

        >base   sales.db,5,reader
        >get    d-invoices
        >if     price * quantity  <> amount
        >list   standard title "Price * Qty not = Amount" device LP

Use this tip for month-end jobs that prints exception reports. [Taken from Robelle's Ensuring Data Integrity Using Suprtool tutorial scheduled for Interex in Toronto.]

Qedit Version 4.3

Editing PC files

John Conway from Stockton Unified School District really wanted Qedit to be able to edit PC files (he staked his whole $100 from the survey on this). Well, we have not accomplished this yet, but we did come up with this little command file that does allow editing of PC files. It makes use of the Reflect command which invoke WRQ's Reflection to do the actual up- and downloading of the file. Here is a listing of command file:

          parm pcfile
          purge mpefile
          /reflect send !pcfile to mpefile
          file edttext=mpefile
          run qedit.pub.robelle,basicentry;parm=4
          /reflect receive !pcfile from mpefile  delete

Keep this command file as PCTEXT, then you can invoke it from within Qedit like this:
          /pctext \windows\system.ini

Powerhouse 7.29c2 troubles.

Cognos have been distributing its latest "rolling bug fix" for HP3000s, version 7.29c2 which introduces a new problem for customers running QTP with the ";SUSPEND" option (as is done from within our supplied command file QP.QEDCMD.ROBELLE).

The first invocation of QTP works fine, but when the suspended process is reactivated, the Exit command returns the following error:

       > exit
       Code Trap  :
       *E* Memory fault (invalid address).
       *Fatal Error* *1359* Notify Cognos Customer Support

Cognos is aware of the problem, (the Ref # is 111002), and say it will be fixed in version 7.29c4. Meanwhile, we recommend that you temporarily remove the ";SUSPEND" option from the invocation of the UDC in our QP.QEDCMD command file.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a new tape when I get a new CPU?

Even though your new CPU will have a different HPSUSAN (or SPU) number than what is currently encoded into your Robelle software, it is not necessary to wait for a new tape. Simply call us and let us know the new number. We can generate the authorization codes that you then feed into a program that you already have. On a HP3000 it is Extend.Pub.Robelle, on a HP9000 it is /usr/robelle/bin/extend. It usually takes about five minutes.

How do I get this newsletter via email?

If you have electronic mail at your site and you are a Robelle customer on current support then you can get What's Up DOC? sent to you automatically via e-mail. E-mail versions work well in offices where many people want their own copy. Just e-mail us at support@robelle.com and let us know the electronic address where we should send the newsletter. We'd like to send it to only one central address, then that person would be responsible for distributing throughout your company. You will still also receive a paper copy through regular 'snail-mail'. Please also include your Company's Name when requesting this service.

Creation Date: Jul 25, 1995
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