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Microsoft Computing: 8 iSeries Access PC5250 Tips

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Sometimes, I just get in a rut with certain programs. I may use these programs every day, but since they're simply tools to get the day's missions accomplished, I don't really pay attention to them. iSeries Access PC5250 (from the product family formerly known as Client Access) is one of those programs. Aside from the excitement of a name change, PC5250 is often little more than a means to an end. However, over time it has evolved into quite a flexible program whose features can save you time and trouble.

With that in mind, here are eight iSeries Access PC5250 tips. These are collected from usage and observation. Although some of them may seem obvious to some of you, I hope you find them useful. If you have any tips you'd like to share, hit the link at the end of this article to post 'em. Share and share alike!

Record and Replay Repetitive Input Tasks

You can record repetitive input tasks in a macro for easy, rapid playback. iSeries Access will record your keystrokes and create a macro file as either a "Macro File" or a "VBScript File." Both file types are standard text files that can be edited with Notepad or your favorite text editor. The VBScript option records files in standard Visual Basic Script, which opens up a lot of possibilities for complex logic and interaction with the user and other aspects of the system, if you feel like delving into code. Even if you don't, playing back recorded macros can save you time on things you do over and over. To record, hit Actions/Start Recording Macro, or hit the Record button on the toolbar. In the following dialog box (Figure 1), enter the file name to record to, adjust any other settings you might want, and click the OK button.

http://www.mcpressonline.com/articles/images/2002/8%20iSeries%20Access%20TipsV400.png
Figure 1: Choose your options for recording a macro. (Click images to enlarge.)

With the settings shown above, iSeries Access will record keyboard input as a VBScript program with the name of mynewmacro.mac. When you are finished with your recorded actions, hit Actions/Stop Recording Macro.

Once a macro is recorded, you can assign it to hotspots or keystrokes. Note that it's full VBScript, so you should be able to do all kinds things. (If anybody can point to some current docs on this on the IBM site, please hit the "Discuss this article" link below and post a message).

Customize the Toolbar

You can tweak the 5250 toolbar to make it more functional for you. iSeries Access offers some useful buttons that aren't included on the default toolbar. In addition, you can remove buttons that you don't use and change the appearance of the toolbar to match your tastes. You can even create your own custom buttons to call your macros.

To customize the toolbar, right-click anywhere in the toolbar to bring up the menu shown in Figure 2. The Tool Bar Style menu item brings up a screen where you can change the size and appearance of the toolbar. The menu items below that allow you to manage the items (buttons) on the toolbar.

http://www.mcpressonline.com/articles/images/2002/8%20iSeries%20Access%20TipsV401.png
Figure 2: Right-click to customize the toolbar.

Select the Create Item option and click the Window tab to bring up the screen shown in Figure 3. Click the JumpNxt button to add, and then click OK. Repeat for the JumpPrv button. Clicking these buttons on the toolbar will quickly jump between your open sessions.

http://www.mcpressonline.com/articles/images/2002/8%20iSeries%20Access%20TipsV402.png
Figure 3: Add the JumpNxt and JumpPrv buttons to jump between multiple session windows quickly.

If you want to remove a button from the toolbar, simply right-click the toolbar and select Delete Item (Figure 2).

After you modify the toolbar, when you save the session settings, your settings will be saved in a file with the .BAR extension in the directory you specify. The default is IBMClient AccessEmulatorprivate, which is the same place other customization files are stored.

Keep Up with Service Packs

This is, of course, the most obvious tip, but it's also the easiest way to save you some frustration, and it's the first thing support will ask you to do when you encounter problems. If there's something that's not working right with iSeries Access, hit the Client Access Properties icon to see what service level you are at. Then, jump to IBM's iSeries Access Web page and compare the service level with the latest service pack PTF number for your version (Figure 4). If they're different, download the PTF and install it to see if the problem is corrected.
http://www.mcpressonline.com/articles/images/2002/8%20iSeries%20Access%20TipsV403.png
Figure 4: Check the service pack level and compare it with the service packs available on IBM's site.

You can keep up with PTFs on all your iSeries Access PCs by installing the appropriate PTF on your iSeries and then selecting Check Service Level. This is the easiest way to automatically distribute PTFs to all your clients, because iSeries Access is configured to automatically check for new versions periodically. You can change the location where the files are checked from by clicking the iSeries Access Properties icon in the iSeries Access program folder and selecting the Service tab. When a new version is encountered, it can even be installed "silently" (i.e., without user intervention) if that option is selected.

Start Multiple Sessions All at Once

You can open multiple sessions (displays and/or printers) with a single click and even automatically sign on to them all. When you connect to the iSeries, you configure and connect with a session. Session settings are stored in Workstation Profile with the extension .WS, and they determine things like your device name and type and other aspects of the emulator session.

To start multiple sessions at once, first create your sessions as you want them to be, or use one or more of your existing sessions. Provided your device names are unique (which you can control when configuring the session), you can load multiple instances of the same session. Save the session settings in a location you can remember (the default is IBMClient AccessEmulatorprivate).

iSeries Access provides a tool called Multiple Sessions that lets you create a batch file that, when executed, will launch the workstation profile files you specify. To use this tool, from the Start menu, select /Programs/IBM Client Access Express/Emulator/Multiple Sessions. That brings up the screen shown in Figure 5.

http://www.mcpressonline.com/articles/images/2002/8%20iSeries%20Access%20TipsV404.png
Figure 5: Configure multiple sessions to open at the same time.

Double-click the workstation profile (.WS) files that you want, and they will be added to the Batch File Entries list. As mentioned, you can add the same one multiple times, as long as the device names are unique. When you are finished adding the session you want, hit File/Save. When you do that, it will ask you if you want to save the file to a folder. Click on Yes and then select your desktop in the folder browser that subsequently appears; an icon will be placed on the desktop. Double-click that icon to launch the sessions you've set up.

If you've specified Bypass Signon when configuring your display session settings and your iSeries is configured to allow it, you'll be signed on to the sessions automatically after the connection is established (which may cause a password prompt). This can represent a security issue (if, for example, an unauthorized person double-clicked on the icon), so if you do allow the signon to be bypassed, be sure to take the appropriate steps to keep your workstation settings secure.

Secure Your Communications

When you sign on from home "just to check that job real quick," how do you know your password isn't being intercepted? Can you afford to take that risk? When you're on the Internet, it's practically impossible to know who might be listening in between you and your destination. What could someone do with your user ID and password? If you don't encrypt your communications, you might find out the hard way!

Fortunately, the iSeries, iSeries Access, and Windows 2000/XP have good support for securing your communications so that, even if they are intercepted, they will be encrypted and therefore virtually useless. The two main types of secure communications are Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and virtual private network (VPN).

SSL is a widely used secure transmission. SSL-enabled applications talk to SSL-enabled servers, which usually means that both sides must explicitly support SSL communications. SSL support has been included in OS/400 and iSeries Access for most server applications for a long time now. This includes the big ones: the HTTP server, the Telnet server, the FTP server, and the other iSeries Access for Windows applications like iSeries Navigator (formerly Operations Navigator), and ODBC (click here for the list).

In contrast with SSL, traffic on a VPN is secured at the network level, so most (if not all) applications will work without any specific configuration. This includes iSeries Access, of course. Network-level security is an advantage because all traffic is secured automatically, and your applications behave the same as if they were on the LAN (performance differences notwithstanding).

The process of securing network communications is beyond the scope of this tip, but there are some good resources out there to assist. Below are a few that I know of. Post a comment to this article if you know of any others.
--IBM Info Center: Virtual private networking
--IBM Info Center: SSL
--Apar: II11791
--Redbook: Set Up a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to Securely Manage Your AS/400 Across the Internet

--"Configuring SSL for Use With Client Access"

Change Your Screen Colors

Many people (myself included) still rather like the good ole green-on-black screen colors, but those colors don't look so good when screens are captured as bitmaps for printing or documentation. (For more information on screen capture, see "Screen Capture Software For Windows." Luckily, it's easy to change the colors of your emulation sessions.

To change your colors, change the default colors for your setting by hitting Edit/Preferences/Appearance/Color Mapping (as shown in Figure 6), or by hitting the Setup Display Colors button ( http://www.mcpressonline.com/articles/images/2002/8%20iSeries%20Access%20TipsV405.png ) on the iSeries Access Toolbar. That button brings up a dialog that allows you to click on various areas of the screen to change the colors. Changing the background to a light color and the text to a dark color improves the appearance of captured screens in print.

http://www.mcpressonline.com/articles/images/2002/8%20iSeries%20Access%20TipsV406.png
Figure 6: Changing your sessions makes the screens easier to read and capture for printing.

Pop-Up Email Clients

I could never get Chris Tickner, the IT manager at Midrange Computing, to write about a neat trick he used in Client Access, but he gets the credit for showing me this technique. He had a macro and hotspots that made an email address shown on screen into a clickable button that popped up users' email programs. This is a cool trick for those who need to be able to quickly send email to people.

http://www.mcpressonline.com/articles/images/2002/8%20iSeries%20Access%20TipsV407.png
Figure 7: You can make email addresses shown on the screen into clickable buttons.

This trick is easy--all you have to do is hit Edit/Preferences/HotSpots (Figure 7), which brings up the screen shown in Figure 8. Then, select Execute URL and 3-D Buttons, and all URLs will be displayed as clickable buttons.

http://www.mcpressonline.com/articles/images/2002/8%20iSeries%20Access%20TipsV408.png
Figure 8: Select Execute URL and 3-D Buttons to make URLs into buttons.

One type of URL it will recognize is a "mailto:" URL. To make a clickable button that launches users' email clients, all you have to do is get the URL on the screen somewhere in the form "mailto:email address." When users click the button, their default email clients will pop up.

The Final Tip: Take Advantage of MC Press's Free Resources

Adding original content to the large pool of information available online from IBM and others, MCPressOnline.com has a ton of great Web resources available for iSeries Access. MC Press's Client Access Section hosts all the current articles from MC Mag Online and other items related to iSeries/Client Access. Also online are all the articles that were published in Midrange Computing and Midrange Network Expert.

I hope these tips prove useful and save you some time. Do you have a tip to share? If so, hit the "Discuss this article" link and share it!

When he's not riding across the desert or blogging, Brian Singleton is busy helping organizations make the best use of their ever-more-complex IT investments.

Brian Singleton
Brian Singleton is former editor of Midrange Computing. He has worked in the IBM midrange arena for many years, performing every job from backup operator to programmer to systems analyst to technology analyst for major corporations and IBM Business Partners. He also has an extensive background in the PC world. Brian also developed a line of bestselling Midrange Computing training videos, authored the bestselling i5/OS and Microsoft Office Integration Handbook, and has spoken at many popular seminars and conferences.

MC Press books written by Brian Singleton available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

i5/OS and Microsoft Office Integration Handbook i5/OS and Microsoft Office Integration Handbook
Harness the power of Microsoft Office while exploiting the iSeries database.
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  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

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    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.

     

     

  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • How to Meet the Newest Encryption Requirements on IBM i

    SB PowerTech WC GenericA growing number of compliance mandates require sensitive data to be encrypted. But what kind of encryption solution will satisfy an auditor and how can you implement encryption on IBM i? Watch this on-demand webinar to find out how to meet today’s most common encryption requirements on IBM i. You’ll also learn:

    • Why disk encryption isn’t enough
    • What sets strong encryption apart from other solutions
    • Important considerations before implementing encryption

     

     

  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.

     

     

  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

     

     

     

  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.

     

  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.

     

     

  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.

     

     

  • Node Webinar Series Pt. 1: The World of Node.js on IBM i

    SB Profound WC GenericHave you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.
    Part 1 will teach you what Node.js is, why it's a great option for IBM i shops, and how to take advantage of the ecosystem surrounding Node.
    In addition to background information, our Director of Product Development Scott Klement will demonstrate applications that take advantage of the Node Package Manager (npm).
    Watch Now.

  • The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security

    SB Profound WC Generic The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security
    Here’s the harsh reality: cybersecurity pros have to get their jobs right every single day, while an attacker only has to succeed once to do incredible damage.
    Whether that’s thousands of exposed records, millions of dollars in fines and legal fees, or diminished share value, it’s easy to judge organizations that fall victim. IBM i enjoys an enviable reputation for security, but no system is impervious to mistakes.
    Join this webinar to learn about the biggest errors made when securing a Power Systems server.
    This knowledge is critical for ensuring integrity of your application data and preventing you from becoming the next Equifax. It’s also essential for complying with all formal regulations, including SOX, PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA
    Watch Now.

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  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.