NOW HEAR THIS (a US Navy Term)

I’m Paul Edwards, and as a former member and treasurer of the OpenMPE Board of Directors (2003-2008), I have several major issues with the current BOD that are of great importance to the HP3000 user community. These issues are no business plan, incomplete tasks, no usable minutes, no treasurer’s report, no hope of future success, and lack of leadership.

A need for a comprehensive and realistic business plan was discussed in BOD meetings for years. None has been produced. A proper business plan is vital for the success of any real corporation. The OpenMPE organization is not a business corporation. There are no products, no employees, no corporate facility, or steady income stream. It is essentially a volunteer users group. The original advocacy purpose of the organization is now gone due to the abandonment of the HP3000 and any liaison to the group by Hewlett Packard.

Several major tasks undertaken by the group include acquiring the source code for the MPE/iX operating system, as well as providing an HP3000 server to host the Invent3k environment, the Contributed Software Library, and the Interex Conference Proceedings. A donated server hasn’t hosted the items listed above as promised by Matt Perdue several years ago.

The source code has been acquired from HP, but only in a read-only format. Therefore, a new build of the operating system can’t be accomplished. So, any enhancements and fixes have to be done via patches.

The last BOD minutes posted on their web site is June 24, 2010. That was two months ago. That leads one to think that no meetings were held by the BOD. Looking at a few of the existing minutes on the group’s web site show minutes that are void of any real content. There aren’t any notes about why so many BOD members have resigned over the last year. There must not be any agenda for the BOD meetings, since that would normally be reflected in the minutes. So, I conclude that when BOD meetings were held, nothing was accomplished.

When I was Treasurer of the BOD, I gave a financial report at each meeting, kept the BOD members up to date on the group’s bank statements and tax status, and the information was published in the minutes. Since I don’t see any traces of that continuing in the minutes after I left the BOD, I assume that no financial information is being relayed to the user community by the current treasurer. This is not the way to run an organization.

Because of these issues, it appears that there is no future for the organization. Unless there is a radical change in the way the group is organized and managed, there is no hope of success. It must be remade into a full blown corporation with a realistic business plan, focus on proper organization and management, profit producing products, employees, and proper legal status. There seems to be a total lack of leadership by the BOD.

In conclusion, I feel that the OpenMPE organization should be dissolved by the end of the year 2010. All assets acquired from Hewlett Packard and Client Systems should be returned to them. Any money left should be given back to the persons who made loans to the group. It is time to close the doors.

CDR Paul Edwards USNR Ret.

OpenMPE Director 2003-2008

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5 Responses to NOW HEAR THIS (a US Navy Term)

  1. Ken Sletten says:

    As yet another long-ago refugee from the OpenMPE BOD (and from MPE), I read Paul’s post with a (somewhat surprisingly, in a way) sense of profound regret; remembering what many of us once hoped might be possible for a continued life for MPE after HP’s exit.
    BUT:
    I respectfully submit that in his above Paul has provided what is probably the best ruthlessly objective and comprehensive summary of the real-world situation I have read for a long time (including anything I ever wrote);
    i.e.:
    Facts and reality are stubborn things.
    It does indeed seem to be ”closing time” (and then some).

    The time for things to happen, that would have had to happen for MPE to have had a serious shot at the overall ”ecosystem” being viable even moderate-term post-HP-exit, has past us by at least a few if not several years ago:

    *IF* shortly after HP 1st publicly announced end-of-life for the 3000 a decade ago (like maybe within the 1st couple years or so, post-announce), HP would have:

    1… Formally, firmly, and publicly committed to transfer ALL ownership rights to MPE AND its associated test & support software to OpenMPE after HP reached end-of-support (that HP had exclusive rights to, at least); AND:

    2… Would have included in (1) above the firm commitment to provide an unrestricted right to run MPE not just on HP hardware, but ALSO under
    3rd-party emulators on Windows, et. al.; AND:

    3… Would have included the right for OpenMPE to create NEW MPE licenses on additional platforms (both HP hardware AND running under emulators):

    *THEN* **MAYBE** MPE could have had a considerably extended and viable niche life for a fair number of additional years.

    The MPE user world has moved on; if for no other reason than given HP’s actions it HAD to. The people who are still running MPE in production just haven’t for one or more reasons been able to make the jump yet.

    Wirt’s long-ago words on the future of MPE come yet again to mind:
    ”It has no future.” (prophetic, for a pure scientist.)

    Sort of SIDEBAR:
    Once HP Corporate made the decision to kill the 3000, from a strictly self-interest point of view you can see why they did what they did: They wanted to do whatever they could to ”convince” MPE users to move to other **HP** platforms; to continue the hardware, software, and support revenue streams. But they realized that as much as possible they needed to do that without causing a total break, riot, and public insurrection by the MPE user base. So for years they deliberately (IMO) didn’t flat-out say ”NO” to any of my 3 above core points, they kept users hanging on in hope; stretching it out further and further; figuring that without users having something solid to hang their hats and their computing future on, sites running MPE for business-critical apps would have to move sooner or later; and the sooner the better.

    They were right. . . .
    Well, about moving, at least:
    This user moved, but NOT to HP…..
    Well, O.K.: I moved to ”I’m retired, having a good time is my job”.
    But if I WAS still working for a living as a software engineer, it would NOT be on anything HP.

    FOOTNOTE: Please note I am NOT blaming any of the good, hard-working technical-level people at HP (well, who USED to work at HP, at least) for the way MPE was ”encouraged” to die (again IMO) by HP Corporate.

    I now return myself to ”retired” status. . . .

    Ken Sletten
    Former Member, OpenMPE BOD

  2. Scott Petersen says:

    Paul, you have done a good job formalizing my concerns about OPENMPE. The relative lack of content (of any kind) in the minutes does not bode well. In the past I was told that there were confidential discussions with or about HP. That does seem to be the current issue or even the need anymore.

  3. Jim Phillips says:

    I say “Right on, Paul!”. However, I look for more of the status quo, and very little change. Every time someone pops up to question why there has been so little progress in the many years of OpenMPE’s existence, they are condemned as heretics to the “cause” and browbeaten for not helping do whatever it is that OpenMPE is doing. This, to me, is indicative of a closed, almost gnostic, organization as the usual explanations are “These things take time” or “You don’t understand the intricacies of negotiating with HP” or “We would like to tell you more but we can’t” – with the implication being that you’re on the outside and not privy to the “secret” goings-on. Sounds like The DaVinci Code with secret societies and hidden information.

    I had hopes that the minutes would be better than they were before and, in fact, there have been more minutes posted this year than is usual which is a great improvement. The problem has been the content:

    Meeting Called To Order
    Went Into Executive Session
    Meeting Adjourned

    Not much here, so move along.

  4. John Dunlop says:

    Congratulations to Paul Edwards for writing what I, and possibly others, have been thinking for quite a long time but no-one has had the guts to express. I’m sure that the various BODs of OpenMPE have always worked with the best of intentions and have given freely of their own time and resources, but the latest announcement by HP about charging for patches has really brought the focus back to questions about what the OpenMPE organization has actually delivered over the years it has been functioning.

    I maintained the OpenMPE website for a couple of years, mainly because I questioned OpenMPE’s progress early on and got told to help rather than hinder. So I did. However, I got very embarrassed having to post so many “Minutes” on the website with zero content and no progress reports of any kind. When I got frustrated and decided to let someone else take over the maintenance of the website, I received a very informative email, which I can’t reproduce here, telling me about all the very interesting and exciting things that OpenMPE was about to deliver but because of the NDAs, I couldn’t be told the details. Well, that was well over a year ago and nothing has materialised except the read-only source code and promises from some software companies to produce an emulator. Now HP has seemingly shafted OpenMPE and made the previously free patches chargeable.

    I’m afraid I have to agree with Paul Edwards that OpenMPE has outlived it’s usefulness and should be dissolved.

  5. Jim Rogers says:

    Actually I find it amusing that a member of the former board for so long, that accomplished so little has the gall to stand up and yell. Reporting finances was easy. Nothing plus nothing equals nothing. Meeting Adjourned.

    The time to keep and grow the HP3000 has past, while I don’t blame the Open MPE board of old, they most certainly did very little to stop it. Lots of talk, little or no action. HP never took them seriously, because they never really generated any decent plans or revenue ideas. Just a lot of wants.

    Once upon a time I used to serve on multiple boards at User Groups and Interex levels and published in HP Professional. After years of the same people making promises, and shooting down any ideas or actual action plans, I quit volunteering. Their loss became Boy Scouts’ gain. (11 year Wood Badge trained leader, and boy got his Eagle Scout).

    Go for it new board, glad to see you doing something with the old contributed library, and actually setting up a place to train people. Would still like to see a PC based HP3000 Emulator, but I doubt it will happen, HP really doesn’t want a resurgence or extended life on this platform. They will milk it until it dies.

    When I started at HP at age 18, Bill and Dave still walked the halls, and the HP Way was a 2-day course, focusing on Great Engineering and Superb Customer Support. Now HP way is 2 hours that they sleep through and HP is just another AT&T selling perishible goods that are meant to dry up whether you use them or not. Not my idea of great products or customer service.

    We lost a lot when we lost Hewlett and Packard…. and their way of doing business.

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