We live in an age of ubiquitous information and communication, so distractions have never been more pervasive. We have too many choices of what to look at or focus attention on. The internet is a glittering carnival of diversions, and that’s wonderful – until you need to get some work done.
So what does he do to help? Work on an eMate, of course.
A great read on distraction-free productivity using classic hardware.
Head over to Wired.com for a lovely write-up on the 20-year-old Newton Community from Cade Metz:
After its debut in early August 1993 — twenty years ago — the Newton was widely derided as a flawed machine that no one wanted. The Simpsons made fun of its handwriting-recognition software, as did Gary Trudeau with a Doonesbury gag. In Trudeau’s cartoon world, the Newton recognized “Catching on?” as “Egg Freckles?” — and the die was cast.
All in all, it’s fun experiment: take a tech journalist who has no direct experience with the Newton, and have him use it. Even better, McCracken’s MessagePad was practically new out of the box.
This section on battery life caught my eye:
20/20 hindsight may make the MessagePad’s screen look worse than it seemed in 1993; its battery life, however, benefits from a couple of decades of diminished expectations. Back in the 1990s, people squawked that the MessagePad H1000 drained its four AAA batteries too quickly. I found, however, that I could go for a couple of weeks on a set. In an age of smartphones that conk out after less than one day, that was more than enough to keep me happy.
Isn’t it something how our expectations have changed?
In honor of today’s iPad announcement, here’s another Newton appearance on a “worst of tech” appearance — this time on Bloomberg’s Tech’s Biggest Broken Promises slideshow:
Known as Newton, the name of its operating system, the line of Apple handhelds set out to revolutionize computing with its touch-screen and handwriting-recognition software. The technology was so bad in the $700 debut models that it became the butt of “Doonesbury” jokes: “I am writing a test sentence” became “Siam fighting atomic sentry.”
Right. Bloomberg throws the Newton a bone by lumping it in with other “heavily hyped products that were ideas ahead of their time” — the like Betamax.
While there’s clearly a range of active third-party development going on to bring handwriting recognition to the iPad, unfortunately in my tests they’re far from the quality and accuracy offered by the last version of the Newton OS.
Mikol reviews several stylus options and a few iPad apps, looking for a potential replacement for his Newton in the iPad. His advice: try the free apps first, then spend money.
Davis Remmel shows that hard-driving spirit that Newton owners are known for, especially after discovering the price of battery trays for his Newton MessagePad 2000:
The two clips on the front AA battery tray, the ones that hold two of the batteries in, were very damaged. One was missing entirely (!), while the other was broken on one side and about to fall off. Yada yada yada, I went online to buy a new one, and the only place that had them priced them at “ONLY $95!”
THAT is absolutely ridiculous, so I loaded up trusty ‘ol Inventor and started modeling a new one to be 3D printed.
Amazing what today’s 3D printing technology is capable of doing, but be sure and heed Remmel’s advice and actually try the thing.
The Newton programming application, although flawed, gave us a taste of what software development could be – faster, more efficient, allowing us to focus more on ideas and design and less on mechanics…I think the end result is that we will continue to pursue handheld applications, but not with the gusto, and certainly not with the enjoyment, that we once did.