Posts tagged “HTML”.

Apple’s HTML5 showcase on the Newton

June 8th, 2010

HTML5 Showcase: VR by Splorp

Maybe there’s some chicanery surrounding Apple’s HTML5 showcase being “Safari only,” but Grant Hutchinson has proved one thing – the thing is still usable with the Newton MessagePad 2100′s ancient browsers.

His Flickr set, HTML5 vs. Newton, shows that the HTML5 examples render even on the Newton’s modest Courier and Newt’s Cape browsers.

Says Splorp:

Keep in mind that both browsers were developed prior to the existence of HTML5. While neither piece of software supports the advanced interaction or layout effects afforded by JavaScript and CSS3, the clean HTML5 markup is completely accessible.

That’s called gracefully degraded content.

There are no actual VR demos or typography playgrounds, of course, since the Newton is stuck in mostly a text-only, sliders-free environment. But still. The page they sit on looks just fine, with standard links and formatting.

As Darcy Norman says, web standards ensure a smooth transition from old to new:

Standards, especially ones that support graceful degradation of presentation by devices at runtime, ensure we have access to our content long after it’s built, on devices we didn’t have in mind when we built it.

If Grant were to try to view any of the content I built years ago using Director/Shockwave, or any of 47 terabytes of content built in Flash, the poor little Newton would have barfed violently.

And we don’t want to see any barfing Newtons now, do we?

The day may come when HTML is no longer supported by anything. But then there will always be the classic hobbyists, who ensure that everything gets backed up to something and that there’s a spare Mac around to read those old files.

[Photo courtesy of Splorp at Flickr under the Creative Common License, and link help via Newtontalk on Twitter.]

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.

The shape of things to come.

December 16th, 2008

Finally getting a chance to grasp what a fun and delicate beast WordPress.org-based blogs can be.

Here’s a little hint at what Newton Poetry might become, someday:

newtonpotest1

You can click for a larger image.

I’m finding that little things, like inserting Newton graphics next to the sidebar headers, is more difficult than I thought. Already I’ve noticed how different it is compared with my original concept. Part of it is the theme I chose to mess around with, but it also highlights my general noobishness when it comes to CSS. PHP? Don’t get me started.

Mark your calendar: 2009 is when it will happen. I’m close enough to my 500-a-day goal that I can justify making the switch to a full-on, self-hosted blog.

So – what do you think so far?

Make your own iPhone app with HTML

November 26th, 2008

Pretty cool: an app called PhoneGap lets you turn your web site into an iPhone/iTouch app using nothing but your site’s existing HTML and JavaScript. PhoneGap is:

written in Objective-C and allows developers to embed their web app (HTML, JavaScript, CSS) in Webkit within a native iPhone app. We’re big advocates of the Open Web and want JavaScript developers to be able to get access iPhone features such as a spring board icon, background processing, push, geo location, camera, local sqlLite and accelerometers without the burden of learning Objective-C and Cocoa.

Right now, PhoneGap gives your almost-app access to the iPhone’s accelerometer and geo location services, but camera and vibration options are pending. Head to their Google Group to learn more about the project.

Seems like a neat idea to me. There are already PhoneGap success stories, where Apple has approved their App Store submittal. Is there any way to create a Newton-like shell on a web site (kind of like this blog does) and then throw it onto the iPhone with PhoneGap? One can dream.

[via Webmonkey.]

Google’s Chrome comic nods to the original iMac

September 5th, 2008

Just read through Scott McCloud’s excellent comic about Google’s new web browser, Chrome (maybe you’ve heard about it?).

On page 25, Google gives props to the original iMac (above), circa 1998, and how it was an original “internet device” from the old HTML days. But what’s up with the dancing moon?

I haven’t tried Chrome out yet, because they haven’t released a Mac version, but it’s got me curious – and it has received glowing reviews from a lot of the sources I’ve read. Have you tried it?

Retro Kindle: eBooks on Newton

June 26th, 2008

Newton was the original eBook reader

Depending on who you ask, Amazon.com’s Kindle is a either a hit or a waste of electronics. The free web and book browsing, where you can find it, is a good thing. The outrageously-priced electronic books, however, are not good. And some think the Kindle won’t actually make people read more books, but simply attract those already-book-readers that have been dying to clear some shelf space. At most, the Kindle is a handy “information device.”

For those who aren’t willing to shell out $399 for a eBook reader, you can rely on your Newton to do the same darned thing – for free.

You see, before there was e-ink or Wikipedia, there was the Newton eBook. Every Newton released has the ability to read an eBook: a Unicode-based, read-only electronic document that supports tables of contents, some images, and internal links.

Downloading Newton eBooks is as easy as downloading a “.pkg” file from a site that provides eBooks, like Newton’s Library or StillNewt.org. Matt Howe recently offered the Newtontalk list a free copy of Robert’s Rules of Order for anyone who asked. Even the venerable UNNA.org has a list of available books.

Applications like Newton Press allow you to make eBooks and package them as “.pkg” files for download (here’s a handy tip site).

Now you don’t even need a Newton MessagePad to read your eBooks. Newton’s Library has provided a Firefox extension that allows you to read them on your browser. The effect is pretty cool:

Newton\'s Library Firefox eBook reader

The Firefox extension lets you read Newton eBooks in a little window, and converts the “.pkg” files to readable text.

The Kindle has the ability to seek and find free eBooks as well, as Merlin Mann over at 43folders.com points out (after he did so on the terrific podcast, MacBreak Weekly). Plus Project Gutenberg is a worthy project that is putting its library of 100,000 eBooks (HTML or plain text) into the hands of readers. All they ask is for a donation.

So if you’re looking to dive into the world of eBooks, you have options. Yes, you can opt for the Kindle – a modern, capable book reader that has a steep up-front cost but freebie options available. But this is Newton Poetry, and for more of a “project” or unique feel to your eBook reading experience that’s sure to turn heads, opt for the MessagePad version.

NewtCard: HyperCard for the Newton

June 4th, 2008

A greener HyperCard

Leander Kahney’s profile on Bill Atkinson, the original designer of Apple’s super-cool program HyperCard, has some folks feeling nostalgic for easy programming and cards arranged in stacks.

Which is cool. Stories about companies keeping inventory and invoicing duties on HyperCard – still to this day – remind us that old-school Apple is still usable and practical.

But how about for the Newton? Well, there’s NewtCard.

For $99, NewtCard

lets you put text, drawings, pictures and sound into a stack of smart cards. Add buttons to navigate, fields to collect data and scripts to bring your project alive with the tap of a pen. NewtCard is a Hypercard-like environment for Newton devices.

This according to NS Basic’s FAQ.

I’ve only played around with HyperCard on my Mac SE, but it seems HyperCard was an earlier version of HTML forms. In fact, Atkinson laments that his hyper-creation didn’t involve networking, or else it could’ve become the first (hyper)Web.

“Support is definitely limited,” George Henne of NS Basic says. “Still making NewtCard available makes absolutely no sense commercially, but it’s one of our favorite products of all time.”

A hundred bucks seems like a steep price for something to play around with on your Newt, but what the hey – HyperCard still has paying fans. Why not for MessagePad users?

Even better? NS Basic is offering a package deal: NewtCard AND NS Basic/CE for $99.95. Order it here.

“Please understand that it’s been years since we looked at the code,” Henne told the Newtontalk list. “We’ll do the best we can to help with support, but our memories are limited.”

Blogging as a Newton.

November 8th, 2007

Holy moly.

There’s a blog I just found, called simply “My Newton Blog,” that’s shaped like a Newton.

Shaped. Like. A. Newton.

The only part I can’t figure out is how to scroll down through the individual blogs. Going from blog to blog is easy. But reading a blog that’s continued past the viewing point is beyond me.

Thomas Brand, the blog’s author, asks a great question – about the need for a walk-through for modern Newton users like me – and maybe that’s something I can get to. A step-by-step process for getting a MessagePad up and running, from purchase to everyday GTD.

I’ll contact Thomas and learn more.