Posts categorized “OS X”.

WWDC ’09: Chinese HWR in Snow Leopard

June 9th, 2009


Lots of good stuff from Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (including a new iPhone 3GS), but the part that caught my eye was the ability of OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard to recognize Chinese symbols through handwriting recognition on Mac trackpads:

You can now use a Multi-Touch trackpad to draw Chinese characters in your documents. They’ll appear on the screen in a new input window, which recommends characters based on what you drew and lets you choose the right one. The input window even offers suggestions for subsequent characters based on what you chose.

The iPhone had this ability first, but now it’s an OS X-wide feature. Pretty cool.

Us Newton users are always curious to see how Apple uses handwriting recognition in our post-MessagePad world. The technology lives on in Inkwell, but would it be useful to have English handwriting recognition on Mac trackpads?

Apple’s tablet vs. the Newton: what will it take to make the switch?

March 17th, 2009


Let’s say the improbable happens during the iPhone 3.0 media event today and Apple releases the rumored 10″ iTablet.

Are we then looking at the proper heir to the Newton MessagePad?

Back when I first started Newton Poetry, a few months after the iPhone came out, people were talking Newton 2.0 in the form of a larger-form iPod Touch: 10″ screen, iPhone OS, touch-screen input, etc. Even before that, as far back as 2002, rumors told of the Return of the MessagePad in some form or another.

Now the rumors are back, with evidence to boot, and meanwhile the iPod Touch/iPhone gets an update from Apple that could make its usability as close to the Newton’s as ever before.

Think about it: cut and paste, to-do and notes syncing, some kind of premium app store for business-centric applications.

Perhaps the only questions that remain are which rumored features will Apple leave out and wait to install next time? Over time, the iPhone will surely eclipse the Newton in its feature set (it may have already).

For us Newton users, how many features does it take for us to accept the iPhone as the successor to the Newton?

There are still Newton-like features missing on the touch screen platforms: a wide-open application base, handwriting recognition, innovative file system, and kick-ass battery life. Newton users never have to worry about Apple rejecting a great app, or of losing service thanks to AT&T’s sub-par network.

But still. Eventually, Newton users will have fewer and fewer excuses not to make an upgrade of some kind. If the very thing Newton die-hards are looking for – a bigger iPod Touch with full PIM capabilities – comes out in the next few months, will a lack of handwriting recognition be enough to hold off on making the purchase? What will be left lacking?

The Newton has more personality than devices twice its size and half its age. Part of it is its pioneering spirit, and part of it is its clever UI. Is that enough to make people hang on to their eMates?

Granted, no solution works for everyone, which is why some Newton users will never accept a system that (a) doesn’t allow for HWR and (b) features a crap-tacular battery life. The simplicity and intuitiveness of the Newton OS has lasting power, too. Apple may have had a hard time figuring out what to do with their device, but Newton users have no such hesitations.

Hell, with an iTablet, we still don’t know if we’ll get some kind of watered-down Mac OS X or a beefed-up iPhone OS.

Maybe some of my co-MessagePad fans can shed some light on this thing for me. Is this idea of the giant-sized iPod Touch enough to satisfy what you’ve been missing since 1998? Does anyone think an Apple tablet/netbook thingamabob gets released at this iPhone 3.0 event? Will some Newton users be forever locked in a world that existed 10 years ago?

Let me know in the comments.

Success networking with an OS 9 Mac

February 18th, 2009


This is a small, personal victory, but I’ve always wondered how to network my lone OS 9 Mac, an iMac G3, with my OS X Macs.

One day, it just worked. And I still can’t explain it.


Let me tell you how cool it was, though, to have full access to all my iMac’s files – even access to the CD-ROM WarCraft game I had in the iMac. All through a simple AirPort Extreme base station.


In fact, the connection worked so well, I was able to run my iMac’s SimCity 2000 game on my OS X Mac. Now that’s a connection.

After my OS 9 iMac went to sleep, however, I’ve lost the connection and haven’t been able to network the two Macs again. But I’m going to keep trying, and do a little research to see if I can keep the network up for longer periods of time.

Keyspan adapters page found

January 29th, 2009

[Update 3.8.09: Reader Ivan found an archived page with the correct links. Also check in the comments section for more links.] Keyspan logo

Thanks to a reader, the almost-original Keyspan drivers page has been found.

Torner left a comment on my post about Tripp-Lite purchasing Keyspan. Keyspan makes (err, made) serial-to-USB adapters that us Newton fans use the heck out of, but after they were purchased their drivers download page disappeared.

The new Keyspan drivers page looks just like the old one, but with a new URL, and is much easier to use than Tripp-Lite’s version.

Good sleuthing, torner!

Keyspan bought by Tripp-Lite, drivers relocated

January 26th, 2009


[Update: Ivan, in the comments, found the original Keyspan driver page.]

Last week, Leon pointed out that the pages containing Keyspan serial-to-USB adapters were nowhere to be found.

It’s true. Above is the page I landed on when I tried my own hyperlink. The page where Keyspan kept its USA-28x adapter driver was gone.

It turns out that a company called Tripp-Lite purchased Keyspan in May 2008 and dumped all the drivers somewhere else.

Keyspan USB adapters are considered the best in connecting your Newton MessagePad or eMate to Mac OS X. After a quick driver install, you can plug your Newton’s serial cable in one end of the Keyspan adapter, then plug in the adapter into your OS X Mac, and boom – full connection. If Newton users can’t find the Keyspan drivers, they can’t use the adapter.

And the new company, Tripp-Lite, doesn’t make it easy to locate the drivers. There’s a driver search page, and the USA-28x page, but it all takes some sleuthing.

This means that, after several blog posts on how to connect a Newton with an OS X Mac, I’ll have to update the Keyspan driver link. That’s not a big deal.

The big deal is Newton users struggling to find what they’re looking for.

[A big thanks to the Newtontalk gang for helping me locate the new driver pages.]

How to: connect your Newton to OS X with NCX

December 15th, 2008

NCX - Home screen

Of all the Newton connection utilities designed to sync your MessagePad or eMate with OS X, I looked forward to trying out the Newton Connection app the most.

NCX is an application designed by Simon Bell to mimic the original Newton Connection Utilities functionality in the pre-OS X days. As you can see from the home screen above, it offers tons of options for your Newton data, including backup, package installation, Newton Works import and export capabilities, and Mac keyboard functionality.

As with previous connection apps, you want to have a way to connect your Newton with your OS X Mac. NCX gives you the option of using Ethernet or serial-to-USB to connect. I opted for the serial option, using a Keyspan USA-28x serial-to-USB adapter. To get started, you need to download a Keyspan driver [Note: link updated] and restart your Mac.

Download NCX on Simon Bell’s page, and drop the NCX folder in your Applications folder on your Mac.

For this project, I’m using a Newton eMate 300 and an 800 Mhz iMac G4 running the latest install of OS X 10.4 Tiger.

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Installing Newton packages with NewTen

December 8th, 2008

iBook G3 clamshell with Newton eMate 300

Last week I successfully connected my Newton eMate 300 with my iBook G4 running OS X 10.4 Tiger using Escale. This week, my project was attempting to connect the eMate with my iBook G3 blueberry clamshell, running OS X 10.2 Jaguar, using NewTen, another Newton connect app.

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Mobile OS X: are the pinstripes back?

July 31st, 2008

In the G3-G4 Mac era, pinstripes were everywhere.

Look at the front of a G3 iMac, or an Apple Studio Display (CRT or flat screen), or even OS X up until Panther. Even the classic Mac OS had pinstripes on the tops of windows, and the pre-Power PC Macs had pinstripes as a rule.

We shouldn’t be surprised, then, to find pinstripes creeping back into the Mac OS. But the iPhone OS X? Take a look:

I found that shot in the Contacts app, but pinstripes can also be found in the iCal app (try adding a new appointment), the Settings, and even the Clock (the map in the background). Now the iPhone’s pinstripes are a little thicker and more prominent than OS X’s. Check this preference pane from Jaguar:

Takes you back, doesn’t it?

With its darker hue and thicker lines, the Mobilie OS X goes for a more professional and buttoned-up look, much like OS X 10.5 Leopard, than the lighter, “lickable” OS X of yesteryear. The pinstripe motif is mostly a simple backdrop to app screens displaying boxed areas of information (iCal, Settings). But also, the vertical stripes lend to the iPhone’s mostly vertical orientation. Granted, the pinstripes only appear here and there (I noticed the scheme in a few apps, like UrbanSpoon, too) – instead of everywhere with OS X 10.0 and beyond.

The more unified look of Leopard begins to break down in areas like this, much as Panther and Tiger only used the brushed metal design willy-nilly.

I agree with John Siracusa: using OS X 10.2 Jaguar on my iBook G3 is a “jarring” experience: the clunky finder, the toy-ish polish on buttons and tabs, and all those pinstripes.

Now they’re back, in iPhone form.

[Jaguar screen shot courtesy of Ars Technica.]

After iPocalypse: Apple needs to clean up its PR mess

July 14th, 2008

The above shot was taken on Sunday’s Macsurfer homepage. Just look at those headlines. If that isn’t a PR nightmare for Apple, I don’t know what is. This after they did such a super job before the iPhone 3G was announced.

Fortune talked about the perils of “event marketing” – how, yeah, a big huge event like this is fun and draws attention, it’s catastrophic when something breaks down. As it did on Friday. Apple is an expert at drawing press attention. That only makes the scrutiny laser beam that much hotter.

Despite everything that happened, it could’ve been worse. But I’m starting to wonder how. Just from personal experience, this week has been a bummer with my Apple gear. First, I updated my Airport Express base station’s firmware. Afterward, the thing crashed, and now I can’t use my external USB hard drive.

The update must have damaged my USB drive somehow, because I had to repair the thing in Disk Utility and now iPhoto crashes every time it tries to load my library from the disk. Even worse: my iBook and Airport Utility won’t even recognize the base station:

So much for a helpful “update.”

Then, after I thought MobileMe was actually giving me a chance to try it out (I set up my account, and could log in online), I find out that OS X 10.4 has issues connecting with MobileMe. In fact, the .Mac icons won’t even change over:

Just when it looks like MobileMe (or .Mac, or .Whatever) is going to sync my contacts and calendars and whatnot, I get this:

At least this is just the 60 day trial. If I were paying for this, I would not be a happy Apple customer.

And that’s just it. Even amidst Friday’s hellbroth during the iPhone 3G launch, I still played the dedicated Apple soldier. Most of the folks in line with me understood, too, that these things happen, and we were still a part of Something Special. But when the nuts of bolts of Apple’s operation start to come undone, that’s when you get people angry. People will stand in line for hours for the iPhone, no matter what activation issues are taking place, with a gritted smile on their face. That smile soon disappears, however, when basic things like Airport and “Exchange for the rest of us” (more like, “for the most patient of us”) start breaking down.

Apple has got a mess on its hands, it seems, and I wouldn’t want to be their PR department for the next week or so. The least they should do is offer some sort of apology, admit their mistakes, and fix their damn software. Those are the basics.

Do that, and we might forget our USB drive crashing through Airport Disk Utility. Might.

Project: upgrade a ‘Yikes!’ PowerMac G4

June 23rd, 2008

Look what I found at my recycling group’s most recent e-waste drive: a beautiful-condition PowerMac G4 and Apple Studio Display.

The guy who dropped it off said it “worked perfectly.” His family was simply upgrading to a newer Mac. All the volunteers at the e-waste drive immediately brought it to me and asked me if I wanted it. The answer to that one is obvious.

An older guy dropped off a Macintosh IIci and an Apple Extended Keyboard II, as well, but those are going to my friend Curtis, who helps me out with classic Macs.

Now, what to do with the G4?

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