Posts categorized “y2010”.

TUAW jumps the gun on Newtpocalypse

June 16th, 2009

Yesterday, the Unofficial Apple Weblog announced that 2010 would be a dire year for Newton users. Some strange Year 2010 bug was bound to make MessagePad fans drown in tears of obsolete sorrow.

It’s too bad TUAW’s Steven Sande jumped the gun, because – as of a few weeks ago – Eckhart Köppen released a patch fixing the Y2010 bug. A quick browse through the Newtontalk list or, shucks, even this modest blog, would’ve brought Köppen’s patch to light.

Sande later fixed his oversight, but attempted to cover his tracks by making fun of Newton users.

“Frankly, considering the caveats listed on the update page, I think it would be a much better idea just to get an iPhone, guys!” he wrote.

Frankly, Steve, we’re doing just fine, thankyouverymuch – even if we don’t qualify as “mainstream consumers.”

What’s weird is that TUAW, at least twice in the last year or so, has reported on this exact same story, offering incremental updates on the situation. Both articles (along with the other Newton articles TUAW has posted, which help to keep the Newton in the public’s eye) are easily found using the blog’s Newton tag.

Do they not discuss Newton matters at the TUAW office before posting on them?

I appreciate that Sande gave an update on his error, but the little dig at the end is what got me.

Also, I can’t help but feel “Newtapocalypse” – as TUAW’s headline reads – sounds clunky. The “a” stuck in the middle adds an unnecessary syllable to the phrase. I much prefer “Newtpocalypse,” if only because it sounds more like the original “apocalypse.”

Four syllables. Rolls off the tongue nicely.

[Thanks to Newtontalk for the heads-up.]

Newton 2010 bug fixed; users rejoice

May 28th, 2009

Thanks Eckhart

Eckhart Köppen has come through once again for the Newton community with a patch for the 2010 bug.

Köppen released Patch 71J059, a patch for the bug that had Newton users dreading New Year’s Eve (this year and next). This incredible piece of DIY engineering helps extend the life of our MessagePads. And the download-and-install procedure is very simple and straightforward.

While the patch is for MP2100s only, Köppen says, “German and eMate versions are still in the making.”

Earlier this year, many Newton users were affected when a previous 2010 solution went haywire. Since then, Köppen has been working on a solution to both the 2010Fix problem and the 2010 Newton bug.

The 2010 bug only affected Newton OS 2.1 devices, meaning MP100-120 users are safe.

Newton users sang the praises of Köppen’s Patch 71J059 after making the announcement. Köppen is careful to point out, however, that installing the patch is not a risk-free project:

NOTE: THIS PATCH IS PROVIDED WITHOUT WARRANTY. DUE TO THE COMPLEX NATURE OF SYSTEM PATCHES, FAILURE TO INSTALL PROPERLY MAY RENDER THE NEWTON UNUSABLE, RECOVERY REQUIRES A TEMPORARY ROM BOARD SWAP, AND WILL RESULT IN THE LOSS OF ALL DATA ON THE NEWTON!

But this means that the year 2010 can come and go, and Newton users can still carry their MessagePads with pride (and without resorting to a clumsy solution, like setting the Newton’s date and time to some year in the past).

The project speaks to the resilience of the Newton community (err, cult). With no help from Apple, but tons of help from Newton users, Köppen and others have shown what a dedicated group of hard-core enthusiasts can do.

Removing the Fix2010 bug, and testers needed

April 22nd, 2009

Eckhart Köppen, the whiz behind the Y2010 Diagnostic tool, has come up with a simple four-step process to get rid of the problematic Fix2010 packge:

1. Install the Y2010 Diagnostic Tool
2. Launch the tool and Tap “Clear Alarms” – note, you will lose all alarms in Dates and need to set them again!
3. Delete the Fix2010 patch package
4. Reboot the Newton

Now Köppen is looking for volunteers with MessagePad 2100s to help him work on a solution to the 2010 bug. His patch testing is a four-step process, as well. If you have a spare MP2100, and you want to help contribute to the Y2010 fix, contact Köppen to help with his testing.

Y2010 Diagnostic is first aid for bug

March 12th, 2009

Does the Newton’s 2010 bug got you down? Eckhart Köppen, the same Newton developer who created a Wiki on the 2010 bug, has issued a Y2010 Diagnostic application to help relieve some of the symptoms.

Köppen told the NewtonTalk list:

This small application lets you diagnose the content of your soups, and check which kind of alarms you have set. It should clarify what exactly might go wrong in the future instead of second guessing and brain wiping the Newton without proper reason…If you’re hit by an infinite alarm loop, you can if you’re lucky launch the Y2010 Diagnostic app and use it to clear the alarms.

Köppen suggests anyone who installed the problematic Fix2010 patch should remove it, and says that a fix to the whole issue should be out “well in time before 2010.”

[Thanks to NewtonTalk on Twitter.]

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.

Newton quote of the week – 2.17.09

February 17th, 2009

“One way to think about the NewtonOS is as a particular way of working with words, ideas, and so forth–kind of a particular way of imagining the world. If there’s no way to interact with a Newton after the coming year, this way of imagining / interacting with the world is more or less lost to us, and that’s a very sad (cultural / ideational) loss.”

- Jonathan Dueck, on the Newtontalk list, regarding the fight to get the 2010 bug resolved.

Valentine to Steve Jobs, from the Newton community

February 14th, 2009

dearstevejobs

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?

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

January 13th, 2009

fix2010pkg

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 SourceForget.net, 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.]

2010: Newtpocalypse without an update

September 10th, 2008

Turns out, the end is nigh.

For Newton users, the year 2010 poses a serious problem. It’s put simply by NewtonTalk’s tweet, but Marisa from the list says it like this:

The problem is that the Newton stores numbers as 30-bits instead of 32, and in 2010 the number of seconds since the “epoch” of 1901 or whatever date it is runs out of bits to keep track of the date.

Newton users have reported everything from date screw-ups to total crashes when they try to set their date to 2010 and get anything done.

Remember Y2K? This is Newt2K+10.

Avi Dressman developed a fix, which he describes in detail here, and you can find the package patch on UNNA (though Avi warns of the patch’s Alpha development stage – so be warned) [Update: Don't download Dressman's patch. It helped lead to the 2010Fix bug in January 2009].

Some who have tried setting their Newton to 2010 have had it crash everything from a MP110 (with OS 1.x) to the 2×00 series, but the bug mostly effects OS 2.x Newtons. So for gosh sakes, don’t try it at home.

But if you plan on using your Newt in 2010, by all means download the patch and prevent Newtpocalypse.

[Update 2: Eckhart Köppen, with help from the Newton community, developed a patch that fixes the 2010 bug. Use this instead of Dressman's patch.]