Posts tagged “text”.

Using a Newton eMate 300 as a journaling device

February 23rd, 2009

Since my eMate 300 arrived at the end of last summer, I’ve struggled with ideas on how to use it. I bought mine mainly as a testing machine; my MessagePad 110 could only run Newton OS 1.x applications, and I wanted to experiment with more recent Newton apps. Also, eMates don’t have the portability and flexibility of their MP2x00 cousins.

So, what to do? It’s only recently, as I think back to the eMate’s original use (education, writing, word processing), that I’ve thought of a practical use for the little green machine: a journal writer.

I’ve been a writer as long as I can remember. As a kid, I used a typewriter to hammer out short stories. When I discovered the computer, it opened up a whole new world for me. I grew up to be editor of my high school and college newspaper, earned my degree in journalism, and went on to be a professional public relations writer. I live and breathe the written word.

A few years ago, I picked up journaling after a long hiatus. A plain notepad and pen have been the victims of random thoughts since I graduated college in 2003. After using a keyboard for so long, though, I notice my hand fatigues after only a few paragraphs. It’s no laughing matter.

I thought about using one of my Mac SEs as a journaling machine, just as an excuse to turn on of the little guys, but the SEs lack the true portability I was looking for. Laptops are fine – I have two iBooks – but finding excuses to use my classic Apple hardware was the goal. The eMate was just what I was looking for in a writing machine.

At home, the eMate works fine. But the rechargable battery is dead, and it’s not like a standard MessagePad with replaceable batteries. The eMate’s battery is wired in. So my next project is to find a usable eMate battery and replace my dead one.

When that happens, the eMate’s portability will be good enough to carry with me on vacations, trips to the coffeeshop, and even local performances or exhibits, where I can type down my thoughts. The smaller eMate keyboard will take some getting used to, but I’ve used it a few times already, and it’s not that big of a change.

In the meantime, I’m going to use Newton Works (with, perhaps, a few add-ons) to keep an electronic journal. I may search for other word processor apps, just to test the options, and implement a folder structure by year for organization. Now that I have Newton-to-OS X syncing down pat, I can even export my entries as text files – just in case any of them work as a blog post.

It’s hard to justify owning an eMate just for testing and projects alone. Over time, I can think about other uses for it other than journaling – like recipe-keeping (that old cliché) or even Twittering. Who knows?

All this will give me an excuse to poke around the Newton 2.0 interface a bit more, try out some apps, and goof around with my newest Newton. Stay tuned – the next Newton Poetry post could be typed out on an eMate keyboard.

iPhone 3G: It’s the little things

July 17th, 2008

It’s typical of an Apple product to delight and amaze the more you use it. The iPhone 3G is no different. It’s been a ton of fun to use and explore in the week I’ve had it.

First, I discovered this blog looks good on the iPhone’s screen, both in vertical (above) and landscape mode.

Other blogs out there are helping me discover new things.

Lifehacker shows how, by holding down the “.” and “.com” buttons in Safari and Mail, you get more options:

First, in Mobile Safari, just hold down the .com button for a second to see other domain options (namely .net, .edu, and .org). Second, when the keyboard has the @ symbol but no .com key, you can hold the ‘.’ (period) key to get the same domain shortcuts – something that comes in especially handy when you’re manually entering email addresses or filling in login credentials in new apps.

Just the “.com” in Safari was enough to make me smile. But this? That’s handy.

Wired’s How-To Wiki taught me how to avoid SMS charges (I opted for no text plan): plug your contact into AOL’s free iPhone AIM client and text to your heart’s content for free.

I’ve tested it, and it works great.

To Do apps, however, were another story. I struggled with the multitude of options out there: free apps, pay apps, voice note apps. I hate to sound cheap, but I was mostly looking at free solutions, and the reviews were of little help because they went either way. Finally, a new app popped up in the App Store – Dobot’s To Do app – so I downloaded it on a whim. And so far, it suits my needs pretty well.

I was never a big fan of the Newton’s solution to to-do lists. The easiest way was to sync the Newton with Newton Connection Kit and type up the list on my iMac. The keyboard made the whole process more comfortable and quicker. But on the road, you have to scribble a note, highlight it, have Assist interpret it, and the it appears in your to-do list. Way too complicated, and awkward when all you want to do is have a list of check-off items. In fact, it’s one of the key gripes that I have against the Newton. I’m sure there’s another to-do app out there, but I’m limited with my Newton OS 1.0.

If Dobot’s To Do app fails me, I can always spring for app that costs actual money. What I’m hoping, however, is that somehow Apple includes some sort of iCal to-do list sync.

My experiment is to try and use only the iPhone for lists, to-dos, and calendars for the next few weeks. By forcing myself to one platform, I can get to know its ins and outs, and find out what it lacks.

Retro Kindle: eBooks on Newton

June 26th, 2008

Newton was the original eBook reader

Depending on who you ask,’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 Matt Howe recently offered the Newtontalk list a free copy of Robert’s Rules of Order for anyone who asked. Even the venerable 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 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.