Posts tagged “UNNA”.

Updates, uploads coming to UNNA

August 27th, 2010

UNNA updates

The United Network of Newton Archives, or UNNA, is looking at clearing the cobwebs and hosting new Newton-related software after long last.

Morgan Aldridge, UNNA wrangler since 2007, gave the above hint on Twitter – a sneak peek at the Recent Additions page. It shows the latest 25 uploads to UNNA through a moderated database, says Morgan.

“Any new files uploaded and existing files that have new descriptions added get added to a moderation queue,” he said in an e-mail. “If it’s just a description, it’s just a matter of tweaking and approving the description. If it’s also a new upload, the moderation tools support publishing the file to the final destination as well.”

The previous UNNA moderator, Victor Rehorst, stopped taking new UNNA submissions in 2004, and then handed off UNNA’s hosting to Morgan. Finally, he says, he’s getting around to adding new stuff to the archive.

“In the past few years a number of Newton-related sites have disappeared for good and I and others have become increasingly worried about preserving all of this data,” Morgan said. “The least I could do is get UNNA opened back up. So, a couple months ago I started moving forward.”

Between some detective work, trying to figure out how Victor managed all the data, and some version control issues, Morgan plunked away at the project a few hours at a time. Now the Recent Additions page is his way of testing out the uploading and moderating tools. UNNA has preserved Newton sites along the way.

The idea is to keep the Newton software and sites in a downloadable vault to keep it from vanishing. As I’ve found, more and more Newton sites are disappearing. The same can be said for software: companies go out of business, people move (or die), computers crash.

Morgan says he doesn’t get a whole lot of submissions these days, but new entries trickle in every few months. Mostly, he says, Newton users have expressed “discomfort with the state of UNNA.” So he’s going to start fixing that. One of the first new entries: Brian Parker of Sealie Computing is submitting full versions of his NewtChat, NewtGlider, and MathFaster packages, and mirrors of the web pages.

“He’s still looking to see if he has the NewtGlider source code and such, but I’m already happy to have this work preserved,” Morgan said.

UNNA is an indispensable resource for any Newton user. I find packages in the archives that I try out just for fun, and Newton Poetry has only been possible through a lot of that old software. It’s great to hear we’ll be getting some new stuff up and available for download.

[Via UNNA on Twitter. Follow Morgan's own Twitter stream, while you're at it.]

For Newton users, UNNA is our App Store

January 21st, 2010

While the original iPhone was a hit, some would say the success came when Apple offered the App Store – a one-stop shop for everything from games to to-do applications.

The Newton never had such a place. In the ’90s, if you wanted a Newton app, you could either get it in a box, or as shareware, with some software developers offering their wares on the web. But there was no encyclopedic interface for app shopping.

In later years, however, the United Network of Newton Archives (UNNA) has served as a modern day app store for Newton owners. Here you’ll find most of the available Newton apps in one easy-to-browse site (complete with eWorld icons). It’s an organized database that makes finding an app easy. Instead of hunting down an obscure app, you can visit UNNA and probably find what you need.

There are other sources for Newton software, sure. But UNNA offers the most App Store-like interface for Newton apps.

That got me thinking. With all the comparison between the rumored tablet and the MessagePad, how closely could UNNA offerings match what Apple’s App Store offers? Discounting iPhone social media, photo, or video apps, where do UNNA and the App Store reach agreement?

More simply, what can you find in the App Store that you can also find in the Newton app world?

Here’s what I found.

NewtORhythm

Interested in mapping our your biorhythm cycles? You shop around on the App Store, or you could check out NewtORhythm for your MessagePad or eMate. These apps are for plotting your physical, intellectual, and emotional…uh…potency (?) on any given day based on your birthdate. NewtORhythm would be more helpful if it labeled the plot lines (or if the Newton could handle color), but you get what you get.

The App Store offers plenty of GPS apps, now that iPhones contain a GPS receiver, but so can the Newton with a few add-ons. App-wise, look for GPSView, a landscape-only app that works with a DeLORME Tripmate.

GuitarTuner

For musicians, the App Store offers everything from metronomes to chromatic tuners. On the Newton, you need a good ear for Guitar Tuner, a “Simple wave based guitar tuner that plays individual samples of a guitar in standard EADGBe tuning.” No fancy dropped-D tuning, but if you want to tune a guitar you haven’t touched in a while (I’m guilty of this), Guitar Tuner is a useful app.

NewtGrocery

The App Store has no shortage of list management apps, including grocery list apps that help organize your next trip to the supermarket. The Newton comes with its own default to-do list app, but for food you can use Newt Grocery. There are other list management apps, like the (originally-named) Lists, so you can find something you prefer.

For the weekend chemist, the App Store features plenty of affordable periodic table apps (and games) to satisfy your inner iodine. Periodic Table for Newton OS 1.x devices.

Power Translator

Parlais Parlez vous Francais? Non? iPhone language translator apps are great for traveling overseas or in your nearest city’s Chinatown. The Newton has Power Translator, with 60,000 words in English, Spanish, German, French and Italian. You can even add and alter words in Power Translator’s dictionary – great for foreign language students looking for a more colorful vocabulary.

SmallTime stop watch

For fitness training or food eating competitions, you can pay $0.99 for a stop watch app on the App Store, or you can use the free and super-simple SmallTime (above) – an app so small I almost didn’t spot it. To start the timer, simple tap the little circle with your stylus and the countdown begins. That’s it. Nothing fancy.

And speaking of fitness, the Newton offers a few exercise apps to get your New Year’s resolutions off to a good start.

StarChart

Night sky gazers have a wealth of apps to choose from through iTunes. If all you need is a simple star chart, the Newton’s StarChart.

The iPhone is the perfect personal information management (PIM) tool, but before the iPhone, the Newton carried Apple’s PIM title with all kinds of apps.

And if you need the simplest of simple tools, the iPhone can help with flashlight apps. So can the Newton if pointed in the right direction.

nBattleship

Feel like having some fun? The iPhone has become a competitive mobile gaming device. Back in the day, however, the Newton had its own selection of fun, monochrome gaming titles – like nBattleship (above).

Deep Green for Newton

Some games, like the Newton’s Deep Green chess app, made a successful transition to the iPhone.

There are a ton of other examples, from Newton system utilities to apps for getting online and getting some work done, where UNNA mirrors the App Store – even if UNNA offers neither the breadth nor depth of available software.

On the other hand, the openness and flexibility of Newton developers, plus the lack of an approval process from Apple, leaves the doors of the Newton app world wide open. Here we are, more than a decade after Apple killed off the Newton, and smart people are still developing software for the MessagePad. No app store makes Newton software harder to find, but at least it’s still there to discover. Apple can’t leave the latest version of NCX floating in approval process limbo.

Minus a jailbrake, will that be possible after the iPhone is gone?

Newton quote of the week: retail boxes

October 27th, 2009

“Efforts by Palm, Microsoft, and Symbian to encourage the development of third party software for their mobile platforms, much like Appleā€™s early 90s attempt to market the original Newton MessagePad, largely just copied the desktop PC software model of letting developers ship retail boxes of software on their own. The result was less successful than the PC desktop, with generally poor quality and often unfinished software titles available at only relatively high prices.”

- Prince McLean at RoughlyDrafted Magazine.

The early days of the Newton featured this boxed-software model, but as the Internet came of age Newton users could find apps online. Now sites like UNNA.org (and sometimes eBay) are the only places to find available apps for the Newton.

These days, if you want something for your MessagePad or eMate, you’ve got to hunt for it.

Everyday examples of Newton use

September 14th, 2009

newtonyoucanuse

For probably one of the most fascinating explorations of every day uses for your Newton, visit the conversation kicked off by Chris C. at the NewtonTalk list (hit the “Next in thread” link to go from e-mail to e-mail), called “A Day in the life of…”

For a down-and-dirty view, see Don Zahniser’s story. He talks about running a small farm and using Dateman (for to-dos), Notes (grocery lists and garden yields), Works, and more.

Morgan Aldridge has a good breakdown, too, showing which apps he uses throughout the day – everything from PocketMoney to Bills To Pay.

The entire thread is great for discovering apps you’ve never tried out, and practical uses for them in day-to-day life. I found a few I want to try. Browse around the United Network of Newton Archives (UNNA.org) to download some of the apps.

Back when I used my Newton for personal information management (PIM) and notes management, I stuck to the basics like Notes, Dates, To-Dos, and a few games here and there. That’s what is nice about the Newton: you can pick it up and use it as-is.

[Via NewtonTalk.]

Another update to the Newton Sites page

May 14th, 2009

I finally updated the Newton Sites page by adding web sites I’ve found through referrals, NewtonTalk, Tony Kan’s My Apple Newton blog, random Google searches, and links provided by current Newton sites.

The eMate 300 popped up more often than not. I think it’s because, now that I have my own eMate, the proto-netbook was my focus for how-to articles and project ideas.

The Salon.com article I added is particularly good because it expresses what a lot of us Newton users feel: our platform died much too soon.

In adding the Geek Techniques wireless eMate breakdown, I also came across a problem – namely, how to categorize all these Newton posts efficiently and logically.

The idea behind my Newton Sites project was to archive many Newton sites that are no longer maintained, and to provide a resource for people who are looking for Newton how-tos and historical information. Now I’ve made it a point to Delicious-ize everything that I come across under the “Newton” tag, and leave the sorting for later.

The problem is, a lot of these web sites fall under multiple categories. I have an “Archive” section, but what happens when that archived page explains a Newton software product? Which do I put it under?

And really, “How-To” could be its own category since most of what I uncovered since the last time I tackled this project fell under that heading. Like some arcane classification czar, or a taxonomist of the Newton, the struggle is in fitting sites in certain silos.

That’s where ideas like tags come in real handy. At Delicious or Flickr, when something falls under multiple categories, you simply add all that apply. A blog post on installing an eMate battery tray could be labeled both “How-To” and “Blogs” under my classification system.

It’s enough to boggle the mind.

So for now, the categories will stay:

  • Maintained: sites that are kept up-to-date
  • Abandoned: sites that haven’t been touched in years, but still have good Newton info
  • Software: repositories of Newton packages, drivers, and emulators
  • Blogs: web logs that focus or feature the MessagePad
  • Reviews: classic reviews of the various Newton models
  • Articles: random reviews, how-tos, and discussions about the Newton platform
  • Misc.: the catch-all category.

What we really need is a site or a resource, like the mirrors.unna.org project, that can either host or link to this site list. The problem, however, goes back to my original complaint, which is that many Newton-related links are 404. I found there were so many dead-end links that I got frustrated and built my own resource. That turned into Newton Sites. But maybe someday someone can collect all these great, historical sites and give them their day. My project is simply a hobby.

I’m all for suggestions, so if you find something missing or incorrect, please let me know. Also, there are people way smarter than me when it comes to organizing and classification – so here’s your chance to shine. You’ll get your reward in heaven.

Or, if we ever meet, a beer.

This modest project, combined with Ryan Vetter’s Newton Knowledge Wiki, Morgan Aldridge’s UNNA, and Grant Hutchinson maintaining the NewtonTalk list – along with all those folks still working to maintain and improve our beloved device – should ensure the Newton remains in the public mind for years to come.

The quest to save Geocities Newton sites

May 6th, 2009

newtongeocities

When the news broke that Yahoo! was shutting down its free Geocities web-hosting service, Newton fans wondered: what about those MessagePad fan and software sites?

Tony Kan put out the call: save those web pages!

Morgan Aldridge offered to host any that could be saved on the United Newton Network Archives (UNNA) mirror site – and, one by one, the Newton community is doing just that.

Sites like Newtonium-62 and Newton Ressurection are all being saved from the Interweb trash heap. Without this effort, a lot of Newton history, stories, and knowledge would be lost forever.

A few of the sites I have up on my own Newton Sites page will have to be re-routed to the new, UNNA-hosted URL. But it’s so worth it.

If you find a Geocities Newton site out there, lost at sea, be sure to contact Morgan.

Newton Knowledge Wiki launched

March 3rd, 2009

newtknowledgewiki

Thanks to Ryan Vetter from This Old Mac, we now have an up-and-running wiki for all things Newton: the Newton Knowledge Wiki.

Ryan’s heart is certainly in the right place:

The whole purpose of the site is to allow new users of the Newton to get going quickly, and to give experienced users a repository of useful information that may have been forgotten with time.

Instead of searching through the NewtonTalk list or the semi-available Wiki Wiki Newt, Ryan’s wiki can serve as a home base for how-to articles.

Writers have already started to post articles, such as how to connect your MessagePad with Windows, or making and reading eBooks. Ryan is looking for more articles and more writers, so if you’ve got some how-to in you, head to the wiki and start posting.

WikiwikiNewt is back online

October 31st, 2008

Hurray – WikiWikiNewt is back up and running.

The wiki’s administrator, Morgan Aldridge, received enough requests through the NewtonTalk list that he took another stab at posting it. Now it’s back up, with some conditions:

Okay, I took another look at it and was able to at least get rid of
the permission errors.

Known issues:

  • It’s possible some content is missing
  • You may or may not be able to log in
  • If you are able to log in, you won’t be able to modify any pages
  • We’ll start getting comment spam again, I believe

All that’s left to do, says Aldridge, is upgrade/update his version of PHP. It’s a heckuva resource for Newton users, and it’s nice to see it back up.

Live from the Web: Newton sites rediscovered

October 13th, 2008

On the big to-do list of Newton Poetry projects, we can check off the “Create page of still-live Newton site links” item.

After many, many months, lots of web surfing, a bit of HTML work, and a mish-mash organizational system, you can now view the Newton Sites page above to see a list of Newton-based web sites that are still viewable.

I found, long ago, that browsing through Newton sites was a hit-or-miss occupation. There were tons of “page not available” hits. In this post-iPhone world, not many web page creators or Newton enthusiasts want to spend the time and money to maintain a web presence. Who can blame them? Newton web traffic isn’t what it once was, not when the iPod and iPhone have demanded so much of the Apple news attention.

But with so many sites still out there, and few resources available to catalog and list them all, it was a project I had to take on before any more sites disappeared.

It was interesting to browse through the Newton sites Google’s 2001 search experiment offered up. Many sites that are long gone now were still around then, so I at least got a sneak peek at what they looked like. But I didn’t include any of those long-gone sites in this list.

There were several resources that were a tremendous help during this production. Splorp’s Newted site, when it was up, was a great list – though some of the links were dead-ends. The Newton Webring (remember those?), UNNA.org, and tons of ghost sites with “links” pages also helped point the way, and simple Google searches helped uncover hidden gems in the mines of the Internet. Luckily some Newton users have kept their sites alive, if not active, all these years later – allowing me to prowl through their pages and grab all the info I could.

If you’re interested in Newton MessagePads at all, some of the sites listed are “no-duh” sites. Everyone knows UNNA, Kallisys, and a few others. A few more, however, were listed out of a simple desire to remind us what a thriving, exciting project the Newton was. There are a few articles about the Newton Community after Steve Jobs killed the device, as well as a few random blogs and FAQs from the proto-days of the Internet.

The whole project was a hoot. I wish there was a way to keep some of this stuff from disappearing completely (maybe a simple copy-and-paste operation?). It would be a shame to lose any more resources, and the destructive effects of non-renewed domain names have already decimated tons of once-popular Newton sites out there.

In the meantime? Browse, link, enjoy. There are some sites that are absent, I know, so if I missed your favorite one, please let me know in the comments. I’ll give you lots and lots of credit for finding something I didn’t.

11 ways iPod Touch beats the Newton

September 29th, 2008

By popular demand (“popular” being the two comments I received on my original “Newton-vs.-iPhone” post a week ago), today we’ll explore how an iPod Touch beats the Newton MessagePad in a war of handheld Apple devices.

This kind of thing has been done before, but never have the iPod Touch and Newton gone head-to-head in a clash of styles and features. Clearly the iPod Touch has advantages, thanks to modern touch-screen technology and miniturization, that were but a gleam in the Newton’s monochrome eye in the late ’90s.

There will be the die-hards out there that won’t believe a word here. But the march of progress goes on. Here we present the top 11 ways the iPod Touch beats the Newton to a smashed-circuit-board pulp:

  1. It’s smaller. No duh, right? But really, Steve Jobs’s obsession with smaller-is-better comes to life in the iPod Touch. It’s thinner, lighter, and smaller than the classic “iBrick” Newton, and holds enough computing power to put a 1997-era Mac to shame. You can fit it in your pocket, and it rests comfortably in your palm.
  2. Web browsing is better. Much better. In fact, besides Flash and Javascript, the iPod Touch’s MobileSafari browser is just about all you’d ever need. Browsers like NewtScape can’t hold a candle, or a CSS file, to the iPod Touch. Try checking your Facebook profile on your Newt. ‘Nuff said.
  3. It’s the best music player out there. Yes, it’s possible to listen to music on your Newton. But give it a try on your next 3-hour plane ride and you might wish for an old fashioned Sony Walkman. The iPod Touch is the most interactive music player out there. Plus it plays videos, movies, podcasts, and audiobooks.
  4. The games are way cooler. While there are tons of games available for your MessagePad, the iPod Touch offers those games and more. Browse through Touch Arcade sometime and you’ll come to realize that, with your iPod Touch, you’re holding a PS2-capable machine in your hands.
  5. Easier syncing with modern Macs. There are ways to sync your Newton with OS X, but it’s kind of a project. With the iPod Touch, you just plug it in and – BAM! – your Address Book, iCal, and Safari info is magically synced with your Macintosh.
  6. App writing is easier. That’s at least party true these days. Find a NewtonScript manual, boot up your text file, and start slashing away at a Newton app. Now do the same with an iPod Touch 2.0 app. Which is easier? Which has the biggest learning curve? Chances are, you’ll enjoy yourself a bit more with the iPod’s SDK. With the Apple App Store, people can find your app easier, too (though UNNA is a godsend to Newton users). Plus you don’t have to hunt down long-gone registration keys and long-dead software companies.
  7. It’s sexier. This one’s more subjective (like the “underground” argument I made in the Newton-beats-iPhone post), but it stands to reason: the slick metal and glass is many times more lickable than the Newton. “Slickness” is an adjective that has come to define Ive-designed Apple products these days. The argument could be made for the eMate, but since no new product designs have come from the MessagePad camp, this one’s an easy win for the iPod family.
  8. Wifi comes standard. Putting Wifi on the Newton takes some work. Not so on the iPod Touch. Wifi is in everything these days.
  9. Two words: full color. A cheap-shot, but the iPod Touch’s gorgeous full-color screen is a beauty. We can check e-mail in color, browse the web in color, and see all our contacts in full, gleaming, rainbow-splattered color. The Newton’s 320 x 480 antique black-and-green screen held its own back in the day.
  10. Two more words: more memory. Those flash memory cards sure were handy. But 32 gigs? Who can compete with that? I could store 90% of my music collection on an iPod Touch. Fitting two or three songs on a Newton, however, would be pushing it.
  11. It’s the future. Let’s face it: there are no more Newtons in development. There may be Newton-like projects in the works, but most likely we’ll never see another Newton MessagePad. Ever. iPods? They come out every friggin’ year. And they keep getting better. There are only so many hacks you can perform on a MessagePad, and it’s a losing fight. Apple pays people to design new iPods. Newton hackers? Not so much.

So there you have it. The critics can be happy now that I’ve given the iPod Touch – a device some would argue most deserves the Newton mantle – it’s proper credit, we can bow before the modern Apple machine. The Newton, being ten years older, doesn’t stand a chance in this fight.

I say all this with a lack of passion. What Newton user can blame me? I like to stick up for the Big Green Machine whenever I can, especially when the fight isn’t fair, and I learned that the Newton brings with it a community of passionate users. The iPod Touch? Any 15 year old can go to a Wal-Mart and buy one. Where’s the passion in that?