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What's Up, DOCumentation? 1996 #5


November 25, 1996


To: Users of Robelle Software
Re: News of the HP 3000 and of HP-UX, 1996 #5

What You Will Find in This News Memo:

News Tidbits


Robelle Consulting has a new toll-free number. By taking advantage of the huge number-space made available with the new 888 toll-free area code, we were finally able to get the number we always wanted, 1-888-ROBELLE, aka 1-888-762-3553. This number is available now, from all parts of Canada and the U.S. The old number, 1-800-561-8311, is still working, but will eventually be phased out, so be sure to update those speed-dials. If the new 1-888-ROBELLE does not work for you, check that your switchboard is not blocking calls to the 888 area code. If that's not the case and you still cannot use the new number, give us a call (on the 800 number) and we'll look into it. [Mike Shumko]

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WinQedit Development News

Here at Robelle, work continues on the new client/server version of Qedit. Creating a Microsoft Windows software product up to the usual standard of Robelle excellence is hard work, so it's taking a little longer than we had originally hoped. Watch for the next issue of What's Up, DOCumentation? for more news. [David Greer]

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Suprtool now has its own discussion group. This is your chance to contribute to the design decisions of the developers and technical support staff at Robelle. To join this discussion group please send an e-mail message to
The body of your message must contain the following line:
   Subscribe Suprtool-L Your Name
You will receive some e-mail back from our listserver software giving you further instructions on how to send messages to the list. [Neil Armstrong]

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Oracle Open World

For the first time ever, Robelle attended the Oracle Open World conference. This is Oracle's showcase conference, and Robelle had a booth right in the middle of the show.

The big announcement of the conference was the new Network Computer being promoted by Sun and Oracle. Lew Platt, CEO of Hewlett-Packard, gave a keynote address to the packed audience on Thursday morning. Compared to Oracle and Sun's keynote address, HP's was more down to earth. Data warehousing was another hot topic, with Lew Platt stating that HP has an internal 600 gigabyte Oracle data warehouse used daily for decision support. In addition, the Web and Java were mentioned everywhere. In fact, it seemed that every new product announcement had something to do with the Web.

Many of the presentations at the conference were less technical than what I'm used to. Sometimes speakers issued a warning that half-way through a talk source code would be presented: when the source code appeared, 20% of the audience would leave. Many talks covered aspects of Oracle's Web strategy. However, there were also talks on performance and client/server strategies; for example, ODBC (nicknamed Slow DBC) versus Oracle's OO4O (Oracle Objects For OLE) and how they work in the Visual Basic environment.

More Oracle users work on HP-UX than on any other single platform, which gave us a great opportunity to show off Suprtool's high-speed sort performance and Qedit's new full-screen interface. The 15,000 people attending Oracle Open World seemed to get a lot out of conference, and for our part, we enjoyed meeting many of them in our booth. [David Greer]

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DBinary is DBroken

Recently a customer reported that Dbedit was allowing invalid data to be updated to an item if the field being updated was a J2 item.

I was able to duplicate the problem quickly by updating a J2 item with 12345678910, which when converted to a number with the dbinary intrinsic, should report an overflow condition. Dbinary just converted my input to some strange negative number.

I called the HPRC and submitted SR 5003-323774 to request a fix for the dbinary intrinsic. Apparently it doesn't work because the algorithm was changed so that it will not do overflow checking. The algorithm converts the string to 96 bits regardless of the size of the input string.

My solution was to use Stan Sieler's Fastlib routines which are fast replacements for the following MPE intrinsics: Binary, Dbinary, ASCII, DASCII and Ctranslate. These intrinsics are available from Lund Performance Solutions, at (941) 926-3800 or

[Neil Armstrong]

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Distributor Meeting

Robelle Distributors Meet in Anguilla

On September 28th our software distributors converged on the Caribbean island of Anguilla for an update on Robelle's activities and an opportunity to tell us their concerns. This choice of location was very convenient because our CEO, Bob Green, just happens to live in Anguilla. Bob and his wife moved out of their house and into the Frangipani Resort on Meads Bay, along with Robelle's local employee Griffin Webster, and two representatives from Robelle's head office, Marie Reimer and Trevi Spronk.

Software distributors and their wives came from all over Europe, and included Ole Nord of Old Nord AB in Sweden, Marius Schild of Samco in Holland, and Kurt Sager of SWS in Switzerland.

It was great having everyone together in the same place 24 hours a day. We were able to bring them up to date on our work with WinQedit, VT-screen support, Suprtool and relational databases, and with our new sales initiatives. The dealers were very excited and had many great suggestions that should improve Robelle offerings for ALL our customers. They said it was our best distributor meeting ever.

Speaking of travel, why not visit these Robelle-related web sites?

       Ole Nord AB:

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Suprtool Training Schedule

You can get Suprtool training at the Robelle office just outside of Vancouver, Canada. We offer a two-day course that aims not only to help you understand Suprtool's basic commands, their variation and syntax, but also to help you apply Suprtool in your workplace, where you can use it to speed up your applications and reports. New to the course this year is a module that covers STExport, a new feature in Suprtool that lets you prepare data in a variety of export formats for importing into another database or application on almost any platform. Here's the schedule of our upcoming courses.
        December 5 - 6, 1996 ...  Filled!
        February 20 - 21, 1997
        April 24 - 25, 1997
        June 26 - 27, 1997
        August 7 - 8, 1997
Robelle also offers private training at customer sites. For more information about Suprtool training, call Rosemary Van Poelgeest or Nicky Gunther at 1-888-ROBELLE or (604) 582-1700.

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MPE/iX 5.5 News

Block Mode Hangs

Recently on the HP3000-L UseNet discussion group, Duane Percox reported that Block mode hangs in the following situation:
We have experienced terminal hangs running vplus apps over DTC's when using MPE/iX version 5.5. This manifests itself when you have some switching between character/vplus modes. Our symptom was the inability of vplus to get a satisfactory terminal status read in vopenterm.

HP had a record of this problem, which was original call id A4295319 and SR 5003-321083.

A customer of ours reported a similar problem when entering commands from Qedit's Visual mode command line. It was reported like this in Robelle's bug tracking database:
They have just installed MPE 5.5 yesterday morning (Oct. 29). She was working on a Cobol program in Visual and tried to compile by entering the compile command on the command line. The program compiles correctly, Qedit displays Next Command [Visual] but then the terminal freezes completely.
Apparently a patch for MPE/iX 5.5 is available under the patch id of MPEJXB4. If you are interested you can place a call to the HPRC under the SR 5003-321083.

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CyberLaw Course

For some months now I have subscribed to a free, on-line law course called Cyberspace Law for Non-Lawyers, presented by two groups called the Cyberspace Law Institute and the Counsel Connect. Among the authors who prepare the courses is Vesoft creator Eugene Volokh, who along the way managed to become a law professor at UCLA.

This on-line course includes many short e-mailings that take about ten minutes each to read. The topics cover copyright law, libel, privacy protection, free speech, and so on, in particular as they relate to computers and the Web. The authors caution many times that the discussions are often simplifications of complicated issues. Nevertheless, the articles will get you thinking about law and may send you better armed to your next appointment with the lawyer.

Small business people will benefit from the information about copyright and trademark law: in the U.S. (and Canada too) you own copyright by the act of creating the document; you infringe on copyright primarily by copying too much of a document, or when the copyright owner loses money because of your copying. Similarly, in the case of a trademark, you own it by applying it to your product and then circulating that product so that people learn to associate that name with that product. Trademarks, however, are not universal. If your trademark happens to be the same as one used by a company in France, and you put your trademark on your web page, which is then brought up on a computer in France, are you in violation of trademark? As the authors say several times, the law has not always caught up with the advances in technology.

Because the authors are Americans, they treat mainly U.S. law, with several warnings that law elsewhere may be different. Still, it was interesting for me as a Canadian to see how little I really understood about U.S. law (in spite of all those American cop shows I watched as a kid). If my understanding of U.S. law is permeated with myth and wishful thinking, am I necessarily so clear about Canadian law?

For example, we assume that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects free speech of all kinds. As the course explains, the Constitution protects free speech only insofar as it prohibits the government from making laws that hinder free speech or free assembly: it doesn't prevent your boss from limiting what you say at work, or stop an Internet service provider from blanking out the four-letter words in your message. On the other hand, when the government is acting as a proprietor--when you work in an office owned by the government, on a computer owned by the government, then the government may have more control over what you say on its property.

Does the Constitution then seem to put a lot of power into the hands of the individual or the property owner? It probably does. The people who wrote the Constitution were intent on limiting the damage the state could do to the individual. I do not believe they wanted to meddle in the minutiae of how people conducted their lives or their businesses. Is the Founding Fathers' view workable in an era when so much diversity seems to have also begotten so much acrimony? It's an answer only the future holds, but in the meantime we can marvel at how the technology of the 21st century has got people thinking about fundamentals of law laid down in the 18th century.

To judge this course for yourself, check out the clean and bright web page, complete with other electronic communications law resources, at
[Margaret Ziviski]

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Donate Computers

Not only does Anguilla have over 30 beautiful beaches, it also has a computer club. The goal of the club is to develop computer skills in Anguilla, especially for children. Club meetings have drawn up to 80 people, so there are now two meetings a week: Mondays for those age 17 and older, and Thursdays for the younger computer enthusiasts. Club members range in age from 5 to 50. They are learning how to use the mouse to navigate in Windows, as well as how to write letters and draw pictures, how to type properly, how to create spreadsheets, how to use DOS--even how to use Microsoft Office.

The club has its own web site ( but, unfortunately, it does not have enough computers. Some people have donated old PCs through the "Anguilla Computes!" program, which offers a U.S. tax receipt and handles shipping to Anguilla. If you'd like to do this too, you can send your computer to this registered charity:

    Global Links
    4809 Penn Avenue
    Pittsburgh, PA 15224 USA
You must estimate the value of your contribution yourself, then Global Links can give you a receipt for your donation, together with their tax-deductible organization number. For more information, contact Liz Subin (

If you have an old laptop, even an 8086, that you would like to donate without a tax receipt, you can send it to Bob Green, care of Robelle in Canada, and he will carry it back to Anguilla in his luggage when he visits the office (next deadline: Dec 5th).

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What's Up, DOCumentation? is Relevant!

In the September 16th issue of What's Up, DOCumentation?, we ran an article by Mike Shumko, "War of the Browsers Heats Up", wherein he compared the merits of Netscape with the newly-released browser Microsoft Internet Explorer. We later discovered that Time magazine of the same date contained several pieces that not only compared the two browsers, but also discussed the two companies who created the products.

We're kind of excited that our newsletter should cover the same topic in the same week as did a large, mainstream news magazine, because to us it shows just how timely and relevant What's Up, DOCumentation? is. Just as Robelle has always striven to make products that help customers solve real-life MIS problems, so we strive through What's Up, DOCumentation? to give you news you can use. We hope you've found this information helpful and even entertaining, and look forward to sharing timely and practical news with you again in the New Year.

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About Robelle

She's Back

Nicky Gunther has re-joined Robelle's Sales and Marketing department. Some of you may remember Nicky from when she worked with us in the summer of 1990 and in 1991-1992, making sales calls and coordinating the training schedule. Nicky completed her Bachelor of Commerce degree (specializing in marketing) in 1991. Her hobby is horse riding and training, which she was doing full-time before coming back to us.

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The Bells, The Bells

Something very new and exciting is that Jennifer Mollan got married on August 24th, and her new name is Jennifer Franklin. Congratulations to both Jennifer and her husband, Perry! (Congratulations also to all the Robellians at the wedding reception who successfully danced the Macarena without getting hurt!)

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Robelle Products: Problems, Solutions, and Suggestions

Suprtool Version 3.9

Sub-Totaling with Suprtool

Did you know that you can sub-total data with Suprtool, as well as determining how many records made up that total? For example, we can total the number of products sold by product and also total the dollars for each product.

The Duplicate command has a Count Option, whereby you can produce a new field in the output record with the number of occurrences of each key value. The Total Option allows up to 15 fields to be sub-totaled for each duplicate key. For example:

   >base store.demo,5,reader
   >get d-sales              {open a dataset}
   >sort product-no          {define a sort key}
   >duplicate none keys count total sales-qty sales-total
   >out salessum,link        {Output to a link file}
These commands produce a file with a summary by product-no (because that is what we sorted by). The file will contain a count of the number of records for that product-no, and totals for the sales-qty and sales-total.

The count field is called ST-COUNT and the totals have field names of ST-TOTAL-1 and ST-TOTAL-2, which are at the end of each record.

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Qedit Version 4.4

Getting Rid of Junk Characters

I was working on a file that was originally produced by a PC program (PPTIA, the PowerPoint Internet Assistant from Microsoft). I had transferred the file to my HP-UX system, and I needed to edit it (clean it up) before putting it up on our World Wide Web server. The file was not editable in Visual mode because many lines contained unprintable (non-printing ASCII) characters. These were shown as dots/periods on the Visual mode screen, and Qedit showed a question mark at the start of each line to indicate that there were questionable contents.

Question 1: What were these characters?

Question 2: How could I get rid of them?

Answer 1:

I used the Char and Decimal options of Qedit's List command to see the numeric values of the offending characters. For example:

qux/list $h $c 35
 0000: 0D3C 4832 3E52 6F62 656C 6C65 2043 6F6E 7375 6C74 .<H2>Robelle Consult
 000A: 696E 6720 4C74 642E 3C2F 4832 3E20                ing Ltd.</H2>
I knew the line should have started with <H2>, but it had an extra mystery character at the start, which was shown as a dot on the right side of the List output. In the example, on the left side we can see that the character has a hex value of 0D.

Answer 2:

We can use the Change command to change the offending character to a normal printing character so that it can be edited in Visual mode, or we can use Change to remove the character by changing it to nothing. You can specify strings in the Change command by their numeric values. The numeric values must be specified in decimal, from 0 through 255. We know the hex value, 0D. Using the handy calculator built into Qedit, we see that hex 0D is decimal 13:

Now we can change the character whose value is 13 to nothing. We'll do it in all lines of the file. First we put Qedit into "decimal mode", then we do the Change command:
   qux/set decimal on
   qux/change '13 "" all
      35     <H2>Robelle Solutions Technology Inc.</H2>
      36     </P>
      37     <P>  -->
   3 lines changed
There were a number of other mystery characters besides 0D/13. These I changed to other printing characters. When I had figured it all out I put together a Use file with the change commands, so that I could easily make the same change to all the files I created with PPTIA. The Use file had these lines in it:
qux/l ufix
    1     set dec on
    2     cq '9   " "     @   {HT tab}
    3     cq '11  "<BR>"  @   {VT vertical tab, new line}
    4     cq '13  ""      @   {CR}
    5     cq '145 "'"     @   {opening single quote}
    6     cq '146 "'"     @   {closing single quote, apostrophe}
    7     cq '147 \"\     @   {opening double quote}
    8     cq '148 \"\     @   {closing double quote}
    9     set dec off
[Mike Shumko]

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