Posts tagged “web”.

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’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 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., circa 1983

June 29th, 2009, circa 1983.

Imagine, if you will, an Apple Computer before the Macintosh, before the iPod, before the iPhone – shucks, before Steve Jobs was kicked out and brought back for Apple’s sprint to success.

This is Apple in the year 1983. It was, says Ted Friedman, a rough year:

In any case, by 1983, Apple was in danger. Their competitors in the emerging PC industry had been joined by IBM. Purchasers who’d chosen Apple out of necessity were relieved to be able to turn now to Big Blue. Apple’s first attempt at a next-generation product that could re-establish the company’s pre-eminence was the Lisa. A $10,000 computer designed for the business market, it was a flop.

Steve Jobs gives a keynote that warns of the danger of IBM’s dominance. A former soda-pop president named John Sculley comes on board. Apple sells its millionth Apple II computer.

And then we all know what happens in 1984.

I’m fascinated by how Apple’s web site has changed over the years. And because it has that iconic design, often copied, I thought it’d be cool to use it as a time-traveling template to take a peek into the past.

So with some randomly-available product pics and a bit of PhotoShop, I crafted the above mockup as it may have appeared in the year 1983. It’s not accurate, of course, because I took some embellishments on the iPhone prototype and the fact that some sort of World Wide Wide existed during the Reagan administration.

Whatever. It was me having a bit of fun with some Apple history.

What would be cool is if someone took a snapshot of as it would appear throughout the years before it’s actual launch in 1996. For instance, I’d love to see what the homepage would’ve looked like on the Newton’s launch day, or the first PowerBook, or System 7.

In the meantime, enjoy what could have been.

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 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 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


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.

Looking for more Newton-related web sites

April 23rd, 2009

Just a head’s-up: I’m looking for more web sites to add to my Newton Sites page.

Last October, I posted the page after collecting Newton-related web pages over the year. It was a lot of work, but way worth it. My fear was that a lot of these sites would be lost or forgotten, meaning we’d lose a lot of the history and how-to of the Newton platform.

Since then, however, I’ve been collecting more sites to add to the page – including a few more blogs, instruction sites, and old MessagePad and eMate reviews.

That’s where you come in. Browse through the page, and let me know if I’m missing something.

Revisiting the Newton web

October 15th, 2008

2001 wasn’t all that long ago. Thanks to Google’s month-long anniversary project, we get to explore what the web was like seven years in the past.

Head over to Google (with an exclamation point!) as it was in 2001, and you can search the web as it was then. The results shown are pretty remarkable, considering the iMac G3 was the newest consumer Mac available, the iPod hadn’t been released yet (not until September of that year), and we had a brand new president.

Google provides archived versions of web sites, which allows us Newton users to explore some of the long-gone Newt web resources.

The Newton Source, above, is now a link squatting site. But back in the day, I’m sure it was a pretty handy resource for MessagePad software.

During my Newton links project, I’ve found so many sites that have disappeared. But thanks to Google’s 10-year anniversary search site, I can dig back in time and find out what the Newt web looked like only four years after development stopped.

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?),, 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. the rough draft

August 28th, 2008

Newton Poetry on paper

Someday Newton Poetry will have its own domain name, after a certain goal has been reached.

Before that happens, however, I have to draw up a plan. So that’s exactly what I did. If and when Newton Poetry becomes, I’d like to stick with WordPress and do a customized blog. A Newton-looking theme would be great – not on par with some blogs, but sporting a MessagePad-ish theme would fit in nicely.

The rough draft above shows a basic outline of what this site could become.

  1. The overall site would look much like the Newton’s screen looks: a dock at the bottom, notes in between (the blog postings) and icons that mimic the MessagePad’s. Each day’s post could include the little Newton clock and date, with the envelope icon for comments. Something like that.
  2. My original idea for this site was to include the stylus somehow, but on it’ll be a must. But no green. The header, the site, the posts – all on a nice clean white. Maybe some of the icons can be green.
  3. Ah, the sidebar. It’ll have the requisite “archive” and “blogroll” and all the goodies, and maybe some space for an ad or two. This could, possibly, be the spot on the site where green plays heavily, just to set it off from the main body of blog posts.
  4. Here’s the dock. It’s a must, I think, and it could be a great spot for archives and such in place of the sidebar. It’s hard to find good, high-quality images of the Newton’s screen, but if I have to I’ll simply recreate the icons. This may be where I put links to the “About” page and my upcoming “Links” page.

That’s the plan so far. I’ll still have to learn a thing or two about installing WordPress on a host, and how to manage themes, but it can be done. And now I have a basic outline of how I want things to look.

Any suggestions?

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.”

MacSurfer traffic: the difference a link makes

May 28th, 2008

Thanks to the MacSurfer traffic

What a difference a day makes.

Yesterday’s post on garnered some welcome attention from We’re pretty small-time around here, resting easy in the 50-75 visits per day.

But 280? Cripes! That sets the new record for one-day visits at Newton Poetry.

This is the second time MacSurfer has graced us with their linkage (the first from my environmental piece), and we appreciate it.