Posts categorized “software”.

Newton 2010 bug wiki posted

February 18th, 2009

Just a heads up: Eckhart Köppen posted a wiki on his site, 40hz, that describes the 2010 Newton problem and some possible solutions. He also posted a wiki on patching the Newton.

Köppen is a Newton developer as well, and has posted some thoughts on how to do GTD on the Newton.

The good news is there are really smart people working on the Year 2010 issue, and Köppen seems to think getting a patch up and running will require “less black magic than anticipated,” as he told the Newtontalk list.

How to: take screenshots on your Newton with Newton Toolkit

February 16th, 2009



Many months after getting my hands on a Newton eMate 300, and after taking “screenshots” with my Canon PowerShot digital camera, I’ve finally figured out how to take a real-live screenshot using Apple’s Newton Toolkit.

More… »

Valentine to Steve Jobs, from the Newton community

February 14th, 2009


The Newton 2010 bug is rearing its ugly head again – this time prompting some Newton users to draft a petition to Apple asking for the release of Newton code to fix the problem.

But would a petition work?

It started on the Newtontalk list, after BobR posted a few experiments trying to see if his Newtons were affected by the 2010 bug. Then matthiasm posted a draft petition to the group, asking Steve Jobs to release Newton code to the community.

Newton users seemed to fall into two groups: one excited about the idea of lobbying Apple, and the other thinking the petition was a waste of time. The latter group seemed to think that focusing on the software and finding a fix was the most important to-do before 2010 hits.

Matt Howe (a tried-and-true Newton developer) thinks a petition is at least worth a shot:

I agree that there is a small chance this will work. I don’t believe that a petition of 100,000 signatures would move Steve Jobs to do something. And I agree that he may not even be in a position to help. But, that does not mean we should not try. People have been trying to bury the Newton line even before it went out of production. And since Apple killed it we have been considered a quaint oddity. But we know how hard we and those before us have worked to continue the platform. This is the least we can do to perpetuate little green friends.

Unfortunately, I can’t speak much to the coding side of things – for that, I would recommend checking out Tony Kan’s description of what’s needed to fix the bug.

But I will say that I agree with both sides of the argument: the software needs to be fixed, and the Newton community needs to ask Apple for some assistance. What can it hurt?

Newton users have an interesting relationship with the rest of the Apple and Mac community. There are some, like Leander Kahney, who give us a bit of respect for hanging on to our forgotten MessagePads. Meanwhile, other jackasses relegate our community to “weirdo” status, and tell us to give up our “dead” platform.

It feels like there is some sympathy to our cause, somewhere out there, and that’s why I think a big PR push – a petition, a big-name signatory (Woz?), a comprehensive engagement of the Mac media – could help. Draw attention to our plight, while the software wonks try to fix things on the back-end.

A combination of approaches seems best. After all, we’ve only got a year or so before things start really getting weird. If the Newton community doesn’t find a solution soon, our beloved Newts may become extinct next New Year’s.

matthiasm’s request – that Apple release some Newton code as they did with older versions of the Mac OS, an open-source version of Newton Toolkit, and some ROM source code – seems modest enough. Plus, Apple could score big warm-and-fuzzy points through publicity. The problem? They won’t make any money off this project.

And with Steve Jobs out for the foreseeable future, any petition or letter-writing campaign would need to reach the right people.

The important thing is to do something, and I think the best approach is to try all approaches. Hit Apple with some petitions, get the media to publicize our cause, draw some attention to the 2010 bug, and have smarter people than me work on the patch.

Who’s with me?

Keep your resolutions: Newton as a workout tracker

February 9th, 2009


It’s right about now that people start to forget about that New Year’s Resolution they made in the weeks leading up to January 1. Exercise, diets, less boozing and puking in back alleys – these are the kinds of behaviors Americans swear to uphold with the coming of the new year.

I usually don’t make any resolutions except general ones, like trying to make this year better than the last. But I have changed one part of my daily routine: I joined a local gym. It was hard to resist. A $10-a-month postcard promotion was all it took to get me to become a member of my local Planet Fitness.

Fitness professionals and die-hards usually tell you to keep track of your progress. Weight, reps, body mass – all these things should be cataloged, the experts say, leaving nothing to chance. And since you don’t want to be seen as a Quitter by your friends and family, sticking with a fitness routine will ensure you’re carrying out your New Year’s Resolution until 2010.

The best part? You can use your Newton.

More… »

Why Things for Mac rocks

February 4th, 2009

Shawn Blanc, in his review of the Mac and iPhone versions of Things:

I don’t think the new spins on productivity software are because we have yet to witness the creation of the Ultimate App and Workflow. These unique and diverse apps are being written because people are unique and diverse.

Each of us has our own way of dealing with responsibility and our own expression of productivity. Tinkering and then switching is usually not the fault of the software. We’re not looking the best app, but rather the best app for us.

I use the desktop version of Things, and have since the 0.8 beta version, and I love it. I haven’t purchased the iPhone version yet, however, but plan to in the near future. Of all the things that are most Newton-like about the iPhone, it’s Thing’s sync-ability between the iPhone and Mac apps that most excites me.

Since Apple can’t get off its dead ass and provide iCal to-do syncing, leave it to third parties to fill the gap.

And Shawn is right: I’ve tried a few to-do apps, and none have really caught on. Things caught on, and I think it’s because it gloms onto whatever your style is. Hardcore GTDer? Scatterbrained lightweight? Things is for both of you.

[Via Daring Fireball]

Poor Man’s Newton: MessagePad emulator on your Classic Mac

February 2nd, 2009


Apple’s HyperCard stack-based programming tool continues to astound me. This time, it’s the Poor Man’s Newton – a HyperCard stack that lets you muck around with Newton-like features on your Classic Mac desktop.

Download a copy off UNNA, open up the stack, and bam – a fun Newton OS emulator that uses HyperCard buttons, input fields, and drawing tools.


While it lacks the handwriting recognition of the real Newton OS, Poor Man’s Newton does let you store contacts and scribbles, and search your PMN database. Says the creator, Joseph Guy Cicinelli:

Poor Man’s Newton is a HyperCard stack that contains address and telephone information and generally behaves like Apple’s new Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), the Newton MessagePad. If you are like me and you can’t afford to buy one of these high tech tools, here is your chance to own a virtual one that can used on your Macintosh.

At the time, cost was a real issue. These days you can find a quality working Newton for $30-$100 on eBay. But Poor Man’s Newton? That’s free.

You don’t get the full MessagePad experience. PMN’s “Dates” functionality only shows a calendar – you can’t save appointments or reminders. If it did, Poor Man’s Newton could serve as a stripped-down version of Claris Organizer (also available at UNNA, for Mac OS 9 and older).


Poor Man’s Newton offers a few other functionality items: unit conversions, a telephone number dialer, and plenty of printing and sorting options to keep a well-organized contacts list.

The HyperCard stack itself dates to a few years after the OMP was release (above), but it holds up remarkably well after all these years. It sweeps away everything else on your Mac desktop, acting as a distraction-free, Einstein-like app for those without a Newton ROM or a bunch of free time.

Super fun to play with if you have access to a Classic environment, Poor Man’s Newton is very small (at 1 MB) and very affordable (free!) – and you don’t need a version of HyperCard to run it.

Newton 2010 bug strikes a whole year early, thanks to ‘fix’

January 13th, 2009


Microsoft Zune users weren’t the only ones suffering when 2009 arrived. Many, many Newton users were afflicted by the new year as well, thanks to an alpha-version “fix” of the infamous 2010 bug.

The problem hit the Newtontalk list on January 1. Jon Dueck described the situation that would become well-known to most Newton users who downloaded the Fix2010 patch: when his Newton clocked over from December 31, 2008, it immediately jumped to January 1, 2025. When he tried to change the date to 2009, as the Newton should have done at midnight, his Newton chose a July date in 2012.

Other users noticed the same bug. When some switched the date from 2025 back to 2009, everything worked fine. But for others, the system clock would register the correct date while the Dates app would display a 2025 date.

By process of elimination (and through a lot of e-mails traded back and forth), the list figured that Avi Dressman’s Fix2010.pkg was the culprit.

First, some background. The Newton 2010 bug has been well-known since at least 1998. My Apple Newton does a good job of breaking the bug down. Basically, Newtons running version 2.0 and above start getting weird dates behavior past the year 2010.

Avi Drissman’s Dates/Find BugFix extension (his other software is on his Newton page) was created to fix the 2010 bug in the Newton’s Dates application. His other “fix,” the “highly-experimental” Fix2010 package, originally released in September 1998, was meant to fix the 2010 bug system-wide.

Even Avi warns users:

Are you crazy? This is ALPHA-quality software. It has undergone almost no testing. It has not proved itself. It will not become useful for another 12 years. I wouldn’t recommend installing it. Period. Still want to install it? Back up your Newton. Totally. More than once. Do not install this on mission-critical machines. Really. Ensure that packages are installed on the internal store. Use the Newton Connection Utilities program that came with your Newton device to download the included package.

Can’t get a more dire warning than that, eh? But really, Avi’s message turned out to be more than a warning. It was pure prophecy.

Someone wrote Avi and asked him to release the source code for the Fix2010.pkg, which he did under BSD, so that others could work to fix the patch.

“It’s kinda freaky, isn’t it?,” Avi wrote back. “When I wrote Fix2010, 2010 was some abstract idea way out there. Now it’s looming, eh?”

Avi’s original source code has been posted to, and Eckhart Koppen started a Wiki to explain more about the problems from Fix2010.

“The fix should in the end work out fine,” Eckhart says. “The main issue seems to be the boundary condition of moving from one hexade (1993-2009) to the next (2009-2025).”

Dennis Swaney (who warned me on January 4 about this issue) offers a unique solution: set your clock to 1999. “Everything will be accurate except for the year,” Dennis says.

The Fix2010 bug had very real consequences. Jon later reported a problem with his To-Do dates setting to 2024, with repeat To-Dos appearing after he reset the date. L. W. Brown had two of his MP2100s turn into bricks trying to fix the problem. Only a full hardware reset (and a backup file) restored his Newtons to working order.

One Newton user, Lionello, said his MP2000 has displayed “wild
chime/popup activity” after removing the Fix:

This morning I think I’m facing a problem that I suppose is generated from the removed patch. In december I’ve set an Alarm for a birthday (for tomorrow), and I had set a 24-h warning. Now this morning I fired up my Newton and the popup appeared, but now the Newton seems to be in a loop, it chimes continuously, and if I try to close the Snooze/delete alarm popup, it closes, but in less than a second it pops up again with a chime.

Woody recommends resetting, moving Dates data to a card, perform a brainwipe, reinstall from a backup, delete all the Dates data from the backup, then move the data from the card to the MessagePad.

The best fix? Don’t install the Fix2010.pkg. Not until a patch is released. It may even be best to wait until January 1, 2010.

Fresh on the heels of the Zune meltdown, The Unofficial Apple Weblog broke down a few Apple bugs that have plagued users in the past, with – prophetically – heavy emphasis on Newton flake-outs.

The bigger issue with this 2010 bug is that, for us Newton users, a fix may never be found without a resourceful programmer pulling late nights to find and fix the problem. Apple will never release a patch to fix the dates issue. The Newton is dead to them from a support standpoint. The fix will be up to the Newton community.

We’re on our own.

Any readers have an issue with the Fix2010 package and the new year?

[As a side note, I dropped the ball with this one. I should have been on this story. Around Christmas, I stopped checking my Newtontalk e-mail as often as I used to. Sure enough, the minute I do that, the Newton world goes crazy. Lesson learned.]

Connection Tool syncs Windows to Newton

January 5th, 2009

Connection Tools Newton Outlook sync

I’ll admit: I don’t give Newton-to-Windows syncing its proper attention because I don’t have a XP/Vista PC to try it out.

But there is an NCX/NewtSync-like program out there called Newton Connection Tools that will help Windows users connect their MessagePad with a modern version of Microsoft’s OS. NCT helps with all the usual sync needs, like package installation, data backup, and Microsoft Outlook syncing, plus Newton Protocol tools that allow for further Newton software development. Pretty cool stuff for the Windows crowd.

You need to send $45 to Andrés Galluzzi to get the full NCT license code.

Any Windows users out there: I’d love to hear from you about how this works.

[Thanks to the My Apple Newton blog.]

Making the most of my iMac G3

December 29th, 2008

Man vs. Machine

Dan Knight over at Low End Mac posted a great article on how to make a G3 iMac useful. It’s no surprise that I’ve used Dan’s site as a tool ever since I got my own second-hand Bondi Blue iMac, complete with original keyboard and puck mouse, at a recycling e-waste drive.

This happened right after I got my first Mac, my iBook G4, and it gave me a chance to play around with OS 9 and the original Mac interface. It also kick-started my love of classic Macs. The Bondi and I go way back.

Mostly, it’s just nice to look at. The sloping curves, the aqua-green shading, the gum-drop shape – sometimes it’s hard to resist waking it up out of sleep to log on and play around with the OS.

In fact, it’s the one classic Mac I use on a regular basis. At least once a week I fire it up to do several things, both for business and pleasure.

More… »

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.

More… »