FOREWORD to the 1st edition of Eugene Volokh's book THOUGHTS AND DISCOURSES ON HP3000 SOFTWARE (the collected works of VESOFT, 1984) by Alfredo Rego, ADAGER (Library of Congress call number: QA76.8.H173 V65 1989, 4th ed.) Compatibility is the key issue in any relationship. Two good entities, if they are incompatible, can cancel each other out and become nothing. Two average entities, if they are compatible, can grow together to greatness. Two entities that are great to begin with, if compatible, can grow together to unsuspected heights of achievement. The issue of compatibility applies equally well to chemicals, to software modules, to computer peripherals, and, of course, to people. I have certainly suffered my share of violent explosions in the Chemistry lab, in operating systems, in hardware, and of course, in human interactions. All due to incompatibility. And I have, luckily, also enjoyed harmonious gourmet meals, intelligent software, effective computers and marvelous friendships. All due to compatibility. Why are we compatible with some people and incompatible with others? I do not know. Ideally, we should avoid incompatible relationships. Unfortunately, the universe seems to have other plans for us. Except in rare cases. For me, one of these rare cases involves the Volokh family. Whenever I have met with any Volokh (Vladimir and Anne, the parents, or Eugene and Sasha, the sons) I have also managed to, somehow or another, become a better human being. In the specific case of the Hewlett-Packard software world, I have certainly enjoyed many pleasant discussions with Vladimir and Eugene. We are users of each other's software, and, through our sometimes frustrating experiences, we have contributed to the evolution of our products. We agree on many things and, naturally, we disagree on some. But, as Fred White says, we disagree agreeably. General compatibility even in the presence of a specific incompatibility here and there! I am glad to see some of Eugene's ideas collected in this volume. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I enjoy them. And I hope you will take them and create new and better things as a result. After all, that is the whole idea of compatibility! A BOOK REVIEW by Robert M. Green, ROBELLE Consulting Published by The HP CHRONICLE, May 1984. "The Collected Works of VESOFT: Thoughts and Discourses on HP3000 Software", by Eugene Volokh, is a collection of presentations made by Volokh during a period from 1981 to 1984. Included are such classics as "The Truth About Disc Files" and my favorite, the wildly funny "Adventures of Wilfred Harrison, Intrepid Programmer." The book addresses an amazing range of areas, including narrow technical problems, broad management concerns, esoteric theory with a light-hearted approach, and practical tips that you can apply tomorrow. In 1982, I was pleased to publish one of these papers, "The Loader Error Messages According to VESOFT," in my own little blue book - the SMUG II Proceedings. It was subsequently reprinted by others and may even make it into the next version of the MPE HELP subsystem. The following are typical of the book's contents (the commentaries are my own): * "Determining disc space used by files given file parameters" (Just what I need to fix that bug in the Keep Command) * "There is a way to highlight the security violation messages on the console" (That is a good idea for our system - printing logon errors expanded). * "A different approach uses an undocumented feature of the FOPEN intrinsic" (Could I use that feature to hide a password more securely?) * "Never :RELEASE a program file that exists in a group which has PM capability!" (Oh my gosh, I do that all the time...) * "Every vendor must have spent many a sleepless night worrying that if his product was so wonderful and sold so well, wouldn't it just be a matter of time before HP stepped in and tried to sell a similar product?" (Isn't that the truth) * "The VINIT Command cannot be used in a :STREAM, so we do a :RUN PVINIT.PUB.SYS. (I forgot that Eugene was the one I heard that trick from...) * "COMMAND ABORTED DUE TO IMPOLITE REQUEST (CIERR 989)" (These computer-friendly commands are amazing.) About VESOFT VESOFT, Inc., a Los Angeles-based software house, was founded in 1980 by Vladimir and Eugene Volokh. Since then, over 6000 HP3000 installations have become users of one or more of the company's major products, MPEX/3000, SECURITY/3000, VEAUDIT/3000. Eugene's expertise and knowledge has marked him as one of the leading specialists in the field of the HP3000 software. Vladimir Volokh is a computer scientist and author of books and articles on pure and applied mathematics. Book Review by Vernon W. Dunn Published by The SUPERGROUP Magazine, Sep-Oct 1984. "The Collected Works of VESOFT: Thoughts and Discourses on HP3000 Software" by Eugene Volokh is a collection of speeches, papers, presentations and user group meeting proceedings (some of which were previously published in SUPERGROUP Magazine) and a collection of "Winning at MPE" columns previously published in Interact Magazine (November 1983 to April 1984). All chapters 1983 to April 1984). All chapters deal with topics of interest regarding HP3000 software. Ten chapters deal with topics covered in papers and speeches given to user group meetings or published by them. Two chapters promote VESOFT products. And the last six chapters are the "Winning at MPE" columns. Since the book is collection of articles, it is not design as a textbook, but rather as a reference manual. As a reference manual, it is a worthwhile introduction to the topics it covers. The book covers a wide range of subjects from the humorous "Adventures of Wilfred Harrison, Intrepid Programmer to the very technical "The Truth About Disc Files." "Adventures of Wilfred Harrison" is the fictional account of a programmer who needs to recompile 70 programs, but can get no help from his "magical" systems manager. In his despair, he goes to the local bar where he finds out about VESOFT's MPEX program, which makes him a super-hero in his own right. The book is not all fun and games. "The Truth About Disc Files" describes file space allocation, tells how to save disc space, discusses locking techniques, and decodes file system error messages including workaround suggestions. Included are 37 of the most common error messages, what they really mean, what causes them, and how to avoid them. This is of great value in understanding those HP error messages that only a cryptographer could decipher as they are explained in the System Intrinsics Manual. In this article the author proves that technical material can be made more readable by lacing it with just right amount of humor. "Burn Before Reading - HP3000 Security and You" discusses the critical yet frustrating area of keeping sensitive data safe from prying eyes that would use it to gain an unfair advantage or distort it to give the owner false data. While the author readily admits that the user is the weak link in many security systems, he does give a number of common sense hints that, if followed, will greatly increase the degree of protection afforded by any security system. The guidelines for tightening security are discussed in general in the article and then specifically in the appendix. The conclusion Volokh draws is that no system can give complete safety, but much computer crime that succeeds does so because security is neglected until it is too late. Other chapters address such topics as "MPE Programming", "Smart SYSDUMP", the author's opinion about "THe Future of Third-Party Vendors in the HP3000 Market", how to get rid of the fears and avoid the problems often encountered in using Privileged Mode programming, and more. The "Winning at MPE" chapters include several helpful pointers in programming, debugging, and using MPE software. These tips and suggestions were written in response to questions addressed to INTERACT Magazine. All in all, "The Collected Works of VESOFT: Thoughts and Discourses on HP3000 Software" is a reference manual worth much more than it costs. FOREWORD to the 4th edition of Eugene Volokh's book THOUGHTS AND DISCOURSES ON HP3000 SOFTWARE (the collected works of VESOFT, 1989) by Robert Green, ROBELLE (Surrey, BC, V3R 7K1 CANADA) In the HP3000 world, Eugene Volokh is one of the few people who are instantly recognized by all. He is so well known that you need only use his first name: "Have you heard the news? Eugene has written a new paper on MPE XL disc files... Be sure to come to the meeting, because Eugene is going to speak... I called Eugene and he suggests trying...." My first encounter with the Volokh family was a memorable one. During one of my 1980 training seminars, Eugene extracted from me the bulk of what I knew about the externals and internals of the MPE operating system. To celebrate surviving this ordeal, the Volokhs invited me home for a traditional Russian feast. This consisted of numerous delicious courses of food consumed over an entire evening in their back yard. (Anne Volokh, Eugene's mother, was in the midst of writing her now-famous cookbook at the time.) Between each course Vladimir and I tossed down a shot of flavored vodka from the freezer. And, somewhere between the borscht and the pirozhki, I expounded my theory on how to succeed in the software business without capital or connections. "Just find a small, practical, ignored niche, write a good piece of software, then hit the road to promote it at users' groups. Write papers that contain tips on using the computer and you will gain user attention, and credibility for your software." Well, I didn't say it quite so concisely after so much vodka. Eugene must have been taking notes. Soon I was running into him regularly at meetings, as he presented his latest papers on the HP 3000. I can still remember the stir he caused with "The Truth About Disc Files" and "Burn Before Reading." Eugene regularly uncovers useful (and alarming) secrets of the HP3000, and does it in an eminently readable way. Although I regret that this Fourth Edition had to drop a few of Eugene's older papers, I can strongly recommend the new: "The Truth (Almost) About MPE XL Disc Files" and "MPE XL Programming." Thank goodness VESOFT did not choose to include Eugene's monster paper comparing the SPL, Pascal, and C programming languages; that would have meant dropping the rest of the book! The story of VESOFT is an exciting and inspiring one: Russian immigrants start over in Los Angeles, father and son playing "entrepreneur" as comfortably as others play catch with a baseball (Eugene does the R&D and Vladimir does the marketing). They develop MPEX and SECURITY from simple, novel tools into essential complements of HP's operating system, and build from nothing a successful software firm with 30 employees and with products installed on 6000 sites world-wide. If this were a story and not fact, critics would call it "far-fetched and hopelessly unrealistic." What makes it believable? Eugene.
Go to Adager's index of technical papers