Posts categorized “community”.

Earthquake-proof: Tony Kan’s Newton

September 9th, 2010

Tony Kan from My Apple Newton:

The initial quake carried on for nearly a minute.

But it’s the aftershocks that have caused more stress. Occasionally one bumps through and the “here we go again…” thought comes to mind…

Schools are closed until Wednesday. All water needs to be boiled. Power, communications and water are restored to 90% of the city. Airports open. Railways closed. Reports of pools of quicksand appearing in one part of the city immediately after the earthquake. One woman fell into it and was up to her ears in it before her husband heard her cries for help and dragged her out.

Tony describes the scene from Christchurch, New Zealand’s recent earthquake. But if you know Tony, you know he’s got his Newton MessagePad ready.

Tony’s My Apple Newton is the premier Newton blog out there. Unlike Newton Poetry, which strays into Mac geekdom and random bits of culture, My Apple Newton is all business when it comes to the MessagePad. And here lately, Tony is on a much more prolific posting schedule than I can ever be. If you want to know more about how to use your MessagePad or eMate, and what makes it tick, Tony’s blog is the place to go. He’s the Newton user’s Newton user.

And in the middle of this natural disaster, Tony’s still rocking the Newton in posts like “Surviving the Christchurch Earthquake“:

Guess what was an indispensable tool in the aftermath? My Apple Newton. During the odd quiet moment I could relax by journalling what had happened and then email the updates to friends and family when power and communications were restored.

Even his updates are posted with his Newton, thanks to (I imagine) nBlog.

Pretty remarkable that something as “obsolete” as the Newton can come in handy during a crisis. It’s a tough little beast, and when the right kind of person wields it, the Newton remains a go-to tool.

All the best to Tony and everyone in Christchurch.

[Via Riccardo Mori at System Folder.]

On the dead and gone web

June 3rd, 2010

404 Error!

I first got a glimpse of how non-permanent (as Buddhists would say) the Web is while compiling my list of Newton-related sites. Maybe 40 percent of any Newton site are now dead and gone.

It’s not just archival, dead-platform sites that suffer from 404-itis. Relatively modern blogs leave a trail of links that are, today, dead ends.

For fun, I like to browse through John Gruber’s Daring Fireball Linked List archives, just to see what life was like in the Mac world before 2005, the year I switched. Most of the links back to Dan Benjamin’s Hivelogic blog are gone. And one, an explanation of FTP from Panic’s Steven Frank, is a non-starter. Searching for these posts is an exercise in futility. The only available option is archive.org’s Wayback Machine (where I finally found Frank’s post – love his old blog design).

The Web’s hyperlinks are the key to its success and openness. You find stuff because other people find stuff, so you click a link to find what they found. But when what they found is gone, or missing, it’s frustrating.

For blogs, the switch to a new platform can make all your links, maybe hundreds gathered over the years, non-functional. That’s what I imagined happened with Dan Benjamin’s Hivelogic. Or Steven Frank switching to Tumblr. I, too, switched to Tumblr for my personal site, leaving behind a Blogger-hosted weblog. All my old links are still available because the Blogger blog is still around, an abanonded building in a shoddy neighborhood. If there was an easy way to transfer all those blog posts to Tumblr, I would do it in a heartbeat. But still, if I shut down the old Blogger blog, all my old hyperlinks would become dead ends.

WordPress makes it a little easier, with XML exports and domain name serving. I exported the WordPress.com-hosted Newton Poetry and imported it into the new, self-hosted version. A lot of my pictures were left behind, but the text and links work decently (Thomas Brand’s words still haunt me to this day).

Now, if you write regularly, maybe you produce so much content that your old posts don’t matter as much. There’s plenty of new content to overwhelm the old stuff. But it seems to me, as a writer, that the old stuff – the really good stuff – is just as important and should be preserved in some form.

For instance, I (foolishly) kept a Myspace blog and wrote a ton of material for a few years. But when I left Myspace and deleted my account, all that material disappeared. To prevent a total erasure of memory, I copied and pasted all of those posts into my Blogger site. Not like blog to blog, but post to post, individually. It was such a chore. But I felt that a lot of the material was too good to let go. What’s a real shame is that I had no choice but leave comments behind.

There’s no easy way to take your written material with you when you make a switch. There are ways to do it, but usually they’re incomplete or, like my Myspace-to-Blogger example, a mind-numbing project.

And it’s not just that words that are the problem. The missing or incorrect hyperlinks will still be out there in the ethernet ether somewhere, a collapsed barn in some weed-riddled field. If you don’t keep your domain name maintained, or stop paying your web hosting bill, kiss your links goodbye.

This seems like the perfect project for Google, or for the Smithsonian. It would be a heckuva lot more useful that archiving Twitter. The problem would be the server space to host all those images, videos, text, and PDFs. But if anyone has the muscle to tackle a Web-wide archive, it’s Google.

The Web is too democratic to be under a for-profit business’s lock and key, however. It needs to stay public, whatever – and however – that means.

Another voice for the MessagePad

April 26th, 2010

Forrest Buffenmyer created his new site, Newton Phoenix, as a way to contribute to the Newton community.

“I created Newton Phoenix because I wanted to give back some of the support I’ve received on the NewtonTalk list and various websites in the past,” he says. “Or – perhaps I should say – continue or pass along that support.”

Buffenmyer’s post on overclocking your Newton, say, helps him add to the sum of Newton knowledge.

“The only rule as to content that I’ll be following is not to completely duplicate material found at other websites, but try to incorporate my own experiences,” he says.

Newton Phoenix joins a small cadre of MessagePad-devoted sites that keep the thing alive. What I like about Buffenmyer’s site is that he’s undertaking fun projects to keep his Newton going strong. These days he’s using an upgraded MP2000 (modded to an MP2100 by Apple) as his every day Newton for scheduling, contact management, and note taking.

“If I had a way to better sync the Newt with my Mac then I’d use it even more,” Buffenmyer says. “NCX doesn’t offer ‘true’ synchronization, and NewtSync gives me an error when it tries to sync my calendar.”

(These are problems I’ve seen myself.)

Buffenmyer is a gadget geek in general:

I have a Data General One (early laptop), two Data General One Model 2Ts (one with working 30 MB hard drive!–rare for the early 80s), which are both early PC architecture. I have several older PC laptops (Packard Bell, Toshiba, HP OmniBook and IBM ThinkPad), and a newer Dell Inspiron 8600 that I use when I need XP…but I am definitely a Mac guy–or, maybe I should say, Apple in general. A short list: Apple IIgs, Apple IIc…Macs: a Classic, a couple 7600s (one was my first Mac!), a couple Beige G3s, an iMac Indigo, a PowerBook 3400c, a Titanium PowerBook G4 (15″ 500MHz)…and my main Mac, an Aluminum PowerBook G4 (15″ 1.67GHz). I also have an Apple QuickTake 250 digital camera, an HP iPAQ rx3715 PDA and a Sharp Zaurus ZR-5800 (very similar to the Newton).

A stellar list, to be sure, and he cut his teeth on a Timex-Sinclair 1000 writing BASIC and Star Trek games.

I wish Buffenmyer a lot of luck with Newton Phoenix, and I hope he keeps the Newton DIY projects coming.

The hello Show, featuring Grant Hutchinson

March 11th, 2010

It was with tremendous pleasure that David and I got to speak with Grant Hutchinson, aka Splorp, during our show this week.

Since I first discovered the Newton, and in all the research afterward, Grant’s name kept popping up in all these different and helpful places. His FAQ, his Flickr library and group, his Newted Community – it was all kind of a “welcome to the party” for an up-and-coming Newton fan.

I’ve been lucky enough to talk with Grant about the Newted crash and resurrection, and David was wise enough to invite him on the show for a talk full of retro Mac and Newton goodness (among other things).

What’s neat is that Grant has been an Apple guy from the early days, when he got an Apple II in 1978, and saw his first OMP in Boston at a trade show. The clean, efficient Newton interface was appealing, and now here he is herding the cats of the Newton community, sharing his collection, and embarking on typography projects in his “free” time.

We should feel honored because Dan Benjamin and John Gruber of the thoughtful (and sporadic) podcast The Talk Show were going to invite him on. Grant, during some technical difficulties in recording our show, told us that he sent a spare Newton for Dan to try out. That’s pretty cool.

I think about how much free time Grant spends on a 11-year-dead PDA platform, or dinking around in his retro tech collection, and it helps me to feel that maybe I’m not so crazy after all.

So thanks for that, Grant. And thanks for being on our show.

[Photo courtesy of one Sir David Kendal.]

Newton quote of the week: userbase

February 24th, 2010

“Part of what makes the Newton so great are groups like these. I certainly would never have bought my two Newts if there wasn’t such an active community out there. Working with retro-tech like the Emate or MP130 can be a wonderful challenge.

Newton fans certainly seem to some of the most active and vocal user groups. The fact that we’re still developing for a platform that’s been ‘dead’ for over a decade is impressive.”

- Bjorn Keizers, a newbie to the Newtontalk list in December.

Newton year in review for 2009

January 5th, 2010

Tony Kan has posted his annual Newton year in review, a nice wrap-up of the big stories of 2009.

He’s also kindly posted an archive of past developments for those who missed them.

Apple may have given up on the Newton platform, but the news keeps coming.

Newtpocalypse: the final countdown

December 28th, 2009

Newton users have a deadline approaching: January 5, 2010 at about 6:48 p.m.

That’s when Newtpocalypse is scheduled to happen.

The bug strikes because of how NewtonScript handles dates with repeating appointments and other apps/settings, says Eckhart Köppen:

The overflow happens in all NewtonScript functions which use seconds as the resolution. In contrast to the 32 bit unsigned integer used by the C++ functions, NewtonScript integers are only 30 bit wide. While the C++ functions can handle times from 1904 until 2040 without an overflow, the NewtonScript functions had to be designed with a smaller range of applicable times due to the limited precision.

The seconds-based functions are implemented by taking the value of the real-time clock, subtracting the offset to January 1st 1993, and converting the results to a NewtonScript integer. This limited range causes an overflow on Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 6:48:31 PM.

But fear not. If you’ve installed Köppen’s patches, and uninstalled the Fix2010.pkg, you should be safe for the New Year.

I prepared for the Y2010 bug in August when I installed Patch 73J186 on my eMate 300. For MessagePad 2000 and 2100 users, you have your own patch.

The Newton’s Y2010 bug got plenty of airtime in the Mac world earlier this year. And for a while, Newton users were nervous that we’d have to resort to setting our clocks back to avoid the trouble.

Thankfully, Köppen went right to work and saved the day, with some help from many testers in the Newton community.

It’s a great retro technology story, filled with villains and heroes and a community coming together behind a cause.

So come January 5, 2010, Newton users can use their pioneering PDA with reckless abandon. They have themselves to thank.

Grab your Newton desktop wallpaper

December 21st, 2009

'Newt' by Grant Hutchinson

A little Christmas present for you: Grant Hutchinson has created a Newton-ized desktop wallpaper for your computer over at Simple Desktops.

Splorp has posted a few other simple desktops on the site, too – be sure to look for them.

Thanks Grant!

Other Newton bloggers out there

December 16th, 2009

It’s rough writing about the Newton. There are only a few things that pop up, here and there, that are considered “news” in the MessagePad community. Like fans of the Amiga or Commodore, Newton users try to relive the glory days and make their devices applicable to modern times.

Though with the Newton, it’s fun. It’s such a sweet platform.

As far as I knew, there was only me and Tony Kan out there blogging at least semi-regularly about the Newton. But sometimes other sites pop up on the radar.

The Unofficial Apple Weblog often posts news and updates on happenings in the Newton community – more than the regular, echo-chamber type posts that appear every where else.

Every once in a while, something random will pop up. Like High Caffeine Content, a blog from Irish iPhone developer Steven Troughton-Smith, creator of Lights Off and Chalk, an upcoming Twitter client.

There’s also Johs Burker and his Blog of Musings. Burker works in education and uses his MP2100 and eMate for real life stuff, like calculating gas mileage and computing on the road. His post on getting RemoteCam working on his eMate is amazing.

As for blogs that look like Newtons, you can’t beat Thomas Brand’s excellent Egg Freckles blog. It really speaks for itself.

The Newton platform attracts die-hards, hobbyists, and everyone in between. It’s nice to see some of those folks writing about their experiences. As more new technologies are released, leave it to the MessagePad user to figure out a way to make it work with Apple’s PDA.

If you’re a Newton blogger, or you know of someone who is, let me know.

Newton Connection Tools helps UNNA

December 14th, 2009

Newton Connection Tools

Andy Galluzzi, developer of Newton Connection Tools for Windows, is now giving the full $45 registration cost of his software to support the United Network of Newton Archives (UNNA).

The Newton Connection Tools license key and the donation to UNNA are intertwined, Galluzzi says on his web site:

The first time you connect, the software will disconnect immediately and you will see the newton information screen. Here you have to export your newton information data (a file nwi will be created) and send me that file . Morgan (administrator of UNNA) gonna tell me who has donated money, and with your newton information data and Morgan confirmation of the donation, I will send you the license code.

A bit complicated, but at least it’s in support of a site we all need and rely on.

Newton Connection Tools is much like NCX, but for Windows, allowing for Outlook syncs, package installation, and backups. Newton users with Macs have a few options to sync their MessagePads with their computer, everything from Apple’s original Newton Connection to NCX, Escale, and more. Windows users, from what I understand, have fewer options with their Newtons – especially with the newer versions of Windows. There doesn’t seem to be a bit support base, at least developer-wise, on Windows – as opposed to the Mac, where enthusiasts are everywhere.

Taking all that into consideration, Galluzzi’s efforts are even more appreciated.

[Via NewtonTalk mailing list.]