Posts tagged “wifi”.

Getting your Newton eMate wireless

May 11th, 2009


Mark Hoekstra describes how to get a Newton eMate 300 connected to a wireless network over at Geek Technique.

Why? “Well, impress your friends!” he says.

Hoekstra uses a WaveLAN Orinoco Silver network card, Newton Connection Utilities, a custom-made serial cable, a few package files, and a driver to get his eMate running on a wifi network. He takes plenty of pictures and goes into detail through the whole process.

Almost as cool? Using his Mac SE as a media center monitor. Hoekstra loses points for throwing Windows on that beautiful machine, however.

One of these days I’ll attempt the wireless eMate project. But for now, Hoekstra’s breakdown should give you a good head-start.

First anniversary: the Newton Poetry manifesto

October 11th, 2008

Today, Newton Poetry celebrates its first anniversary. From its simple beginnings it’s grown and developed and changed into something not too far removed from the original idea.

A year ago, Newton Poetry started as a blog about poetry that I scribbled into my Newton MessagePad 110 and the translation that came out of the Newton’s handwriting recognition technology. Misspellings, garbled text, weird syntax – it was all par for the coarse, and tons of fun to read. I got my inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s famous “Jabberwocky” poem (hence my sub-headline) and the story behind it. But after a while, the act got old. I got bored, and I wanted to explore the history and mechanics of what made a ten-year-dead platform exciting and still relevant. What is a Newton? Why do people still devote free time to this machine? How can it be useful in this iPod Touch and iPhone age? Is Apple working on a new, revised Newton platform? How do you use a MessagePad in today’s OS X environment, a system never designed to handle the Newton’s serial-based connection?

There was something there, and there was a (admittedly small) audience. While the poetry stuff garnered plenty of views, it was mainly from search traffic; searchers were probably looking for meaningful analysis of the poem they were looking for, not some weird, misspelled translation. Whereas posts like getting an original Airport card working in a G3 iBook, or fixing up a PowerMac G4, drew tons of attention and discussion and comments, the poetry just…sat there. No love at all. Despite early experiments, no community formed around the idea of (a) submitting a poem, either famous or amateur and then (b) having some 15-year-old PDA spit out random text based on that poetry. And really, scribbling a poem and waiting for the response is tiring. It’s no fun anymore. Therefore, posts with poetry have dropped off. I just haven’t felt like doing them.

Posts on Newton history? Those I love.

Maybe it’s that I’m interested in poetry, and I’m interested in the Newton, but I’m not interested in the combination. At least not any more. There are no volunteers who are willing to do Newton poetry (that I know of), and I’ve given up on the idea of training apes to do the work.

Result: no more Newton poetry.

Merlin Mann’s post on blog pimping and writing about what you truly love hit a nerve with me. Those poetry posts generated plenty of hits. I didn’t write them because I wanted Google-trafficked attention, but I took a shot on building something out of a goofy idea. If I wanted a money-maker, or an attention whore, I could post a Newton poem a day and sit back as the hits kept coming.

But that’s not what I want to do. What I want to do is explore the Newton platform, and experiment with it, and run fun little projects on classic Macs, and eke out an blog existence that where I appreciate and enjoy spending time messing around. I look back at those Newton poems and…golly…I just don’t get misty eyed reading them, you know?

Newton Poetry might become a self-hosted blog. I have a goal to achieve before that happens, but it’s something I’ve spent more time and research on. Taking a trip into blogland is one of the last great experiments I can pull off with this thing. The idea makes me nervous, but I look at the blogs and sites I love reading, and all of them have benefited from the kind of modifications and customization that make a self-hosted blog worth doing. Graphics and a unique domain and tweakable CSS – I have no idea what I’m doing with any of that. But the question is: how else can I learn? How else can Newton Poetry grow?

There lies the rub, friends. What’s next? Where do we go from here?

Projects like the upcoming links page and the how-tos have helped develop Newton Poetry into a beast all its own. Newton fans and users have to have a home base in this day and age. Luckily, they have several. But as time goes on, more and more of those “page not found” messages will creep up. Newton-focused web sites are disappearing, and it’s up to a few of us die-hards to keep the tradition alive.

I don’t know how to program with NewtonScript, and I don’t know how to make a Bluetooth card work with a MessagePad 2100, and I sure don’t have the length of years behind me to remember when John Sculley first released the Newton MessagePad onto the thirsting masses. But boy I have fun with my Newton. And I know you do, too. Most of you give two shits about what happens with Apple, too, and many of you have iPhones to play with, and you wonder about the connection between today’s iCal and the MessagePad’s Calendar. You hit “send” on the the e-mail you just scrawled with a stylus or tapped out with the on-screen keyboard, and you understand how a non-physical input method can be a boon in today’s crazy world. You waste time playing Newtris on your Newton and the new Tetris on your iPhone, and you check out great sites like Blake and Arn’s TouchArcade and you remember when some of those simple games (chess, blackjack) first appeared on your monochrome Newton screen. And God Almighty, you curse the day Steve Jobs hit the big Reset button on the whole Newton ideal.

If any of that sounds like it might apply to you, then I hope you’ll find that Newton Poetry serves some purpose in your hectic life.

This whole thing was a shot in the dark a year ago. Everyday I watch that “today’s views” number creep up as some geek who just bought an eMate off eBay finds out how to connect his or her new toy to their iMac and a whole new world opens up right before his or her eyes. That’s what this site should be about. That’s my audience. That’s where I see this site going in the future. Because while I haven’t yet purchased a 2×00 MessagePad model and connected to the web via Wifi, I will, and I’ll explain how the heck I did it. Maybe that’ll help someone. Maybe it’ll just confuse others. Whatever. It’ll be damn fun to try.

It’s a new day, Dear Reader, with a more focused direction. File this in the “What Does It All Mean” folder, and read on. We have plenty more to talk about.

Update: iMac G4 still humming (quietly) along

October 1st, 2008

Ah, the G4 iMac

Since grabbing a like-new condition 15″ iMac G4 off eBay a few weeks ago, it’s become my main web browsing, e-mailing, and iChatting Mac. It’s held up like a champ.

My wandering eye, however, has been shopping for a 1.25 Ghz 20″ model – the last of its kind, the ultimate incarnation of the G4 iMac. A 20″ would fall just below the power of my lowly 1.42 Ghz iBook G4, which is just now starting to show its age.

I have updated the iMac with the latest install of OS X 10.4 Tiger, the newest Firefox, iLife ’06, and iTunes 8 (networking my iBook’s music collection over a shared library). I can access my iPhoto library through an external hard drive, and my Airport shared disk works just fine – even without an Airport card installed.

The iMac handles everything I throw at it. My only wish is that it had a USB 2.0 card installed so I could sync my iPod and iPhone 3G. It would become my primary machine, in fact, if it weren’t for the lack of high-speed USB ports and an Airport Extreme card. This won’t stop me from synching my Newton, however, once I get my hands on an eMate or an affordable 2×00 model.

As I mentioned before: owning an iMac G4 has been a dream of mine, and this one doesn’t disappoint. The G4 series will go down as my favorite of all the Macs (although the G5 PowerMac looks like a badass), and the iMac helped kick-start my fascination with Apple. That, and everyone who pays me a visit asks about it.

This iMac has taught me that a desktop Macintosh is the way to go. My iBook G4 has done a fantastic job since I bought it in 2005, but to be able to sit down at the same spot everyday, with a full-size keyboard and mouse, and an adjustable screen – the iMac has spoiled me. When it was released, it was called the “digital hub.” If only that were still true. But I may look in to doing some of my own upgrades in the future.

I still haven’t made a firm decision on what to do with it. It’s either sell it and surely get all the money back I paid, hang on to it until I find a bigger, better version, or just be content with my good fortune and enjoy it. Maybe all of the above.

Until then, here are a few fun iMac G4-based links:

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?

11 Ways Newton is STILL better than iPhone

September 22nd, 2008

So you went to an Apple store, made your purchase, sold your soul to some wireless carrier, and now you have tons of free apps downloaded and your voicemail is all set up. You’re an iPhone 3G owner. What makes you so special? It might be that you don’t have an Apple Newton MessagePad to play around with.

Here are ten eleven reasons to sell your 3G and take up the ten-years-abandoned Newton platform for fun and recreation:

  1. It’s cheaper. The Newton MessagePad 1×0 series may cost you $15-30, while the 2×00 series might cost you $100-200. But that’s it. Except for wireless cards and the extra stylus, there’s no “plan” or “rate” to buy in to. You pay for it once. That’s it.
  2. The batteries last longer. Way longer. Like, weeks longer. I’ve noticed that my 3G iPhone can last up to two days with light usage, but in the end I still have to plug it in. My Newton 110? I’ve lasted a month on the same Sanyo Eneloop batteries. No color and no wifi help, of course, but the point still stands.
  3. You can fax. Faxing may be on its way out, or at least moving to the electronic world, but the MessagePad’s ability to fax – with the special modem – can be an advantage if (Steve forbid) wifi or cell towers ever went down. It could happen, and faxing lets you use the tried-and-true phone lines to do your communicating. Someone may release a faxing iPhone app, but in the meantime, your MessagePad has the market covered.
  4. No in-store activation required. No lines, either, and if you use eBay, it’s not as scarce as you think.
  5. It’s more rugged. Drop your iPhone and step on it. Now drop your MessagePad and step on it. Which would survive the fall and subsequent stomping? Place your bets.
  6. Newtons qualify as “underground.” Retro. Rare. Counter-culture. Whatever you want to call it, the Newton fills the “not-everyone-has-one-so-mine-is-cool” gap the iPhone 3G left behind. Before, the iPhone 1.0 was the rare species, eliciting looks and whispers when someone whipped one out. Now, Apple is selling tons of them. Which means, like the iPod, the “coolness” factor dips a bit. Not so with your MessagePad. You could probably count on one hand the number of people who own one in your 50-mile radius. Kids these days love their retro and throwback technology – what serves that purpose better than a Newton?
  7. It still has fun games on it. Every cell phone in the world has Tetris and chess and tic-tac-toe. So does your Newton. If your gaming style is “simple” over “Crash Bandicoot Racing,” keep your Newton around. Many games can be had for free.
  8. You’ll never have activation problems. Maybe an error message now and again. But nothing on the scale of the “iPocalypse.”
  9. You already have a system that works. Why switch now? If your MessagePad fits your GTD needs already, switching to the iPhone involves setting up a whole new system. I, for one, am still trying to decide on what flavor of to-do app I want to use on my 3G. Save yourself the hassle.
  10. No AT&T involved. This goes along with point one, but really – any situation where you can avoid giant nation-wide media and communication carriers is a chance to show your shutzpah. Those of us who settled on buying an iPhone are still grappling with the catatonic depression that goes along with signing up with AT&T. And the fact that we had to wait in long lines to do so only strengthens the insult. Do your own thing. Hold your Newton tight.
  11. Your Newton is a “project” device. This is what originally drew me to the MessagePad. Setting up wifi and Bluetooth, sending and receiving e-mails, playing around with third-party apps and games, even syncing with OS X – the Newton gives you weekend projects that satisfy your inner DIY’er. The iPhone? Too easy. Unless you’re an app developer or a jailbreaker – in which case, Mr. Jobs would like to have a word with you – the iPhone is a device of convenience and comfort. You don’t even need Apple’s permission to make applications for the Newton. All you need is knowledge of NewtonScript, an inner drive, and a mild case of masochism.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m loving my iPhone. Just the camera and the GPS are worth the madness that I lived through that Friday in July.

Anything I haven’t thought of? Have a different point of view? Let me know in the comments.

NewtMail: Newton MP130 connects to OS X

September 2nd, 2008


I did a search about Newton and I ended up on your great article. I have just bought an old Newton 130 (above) and I was wondering how you have it sync/connect with Mac OS X 10.5.4? I want mine to work with my MacBook and I think I need a USB serial adapter and the serial cable. None of that came with my Newton. Do you have any recommendations? How do you do it? Would be great to hear from you.

Thanks for your time.


Hi Marcus,

Sad to say, I haven’t actually connected my Newton with OS X – I can’t because it’s a MP110, and runs Newton OS 1.3. You need at least OS 2.x to connect.

I found my USB serial adapter (for hooking up with OS 9) on eBay, so that’s the first place to try. A serial cable might be harder to come by, however. Luckily mine came with my Newton, but you could try some online sellers like J&K Sales or, again, eBay. I’m working on getting an updated Newton so I can actually try it out.

…Marcus, who lives in Brazil, wrote back several times to keep me up-to-date on his progress:

Hello Dave,

Thank you for answering! I went ahead and I got 2 serial cables and a Belking USB to serial adapter for Mac (for OS X). I found on Sourceforge that someone wrote a OS X version for this series of adapters, so I HOPE it might work. I don’t intent do get a classic Mac just to sync my 130.

I also found out my backlighting wasn’t working. I saw on eBay someone selling 2 screens for it, new, for $19.95. Already have taken my Newton apart multiple times, but it is scary!

Thanks again for your reply and I liked your blog.


Later, Marcus wrote me with more to say on his project:

Hello Dave,

I don’t think I got it to work. I spent all afternoon looking for drivers and trying to hack the existing one. Problem is I did not even find the sourcecode of it on the Sourceforge project page, it’s gone. The F5U003 refuses to run with the Sourceforge driver under 10.5. I think it only works up to 10.3.

I know someone did make it work with Intel and Mac os x 10.3.4 using the driver for the F5U103 (really identical inside), but the hack he did to the kext can not be found anywhere. And since I have Intel and Leopard that solution is out of the question. I just have the instructions, but they are useless without sourcecode.

So now I went ahead and got a Prolific chipset USB to serial adapter, I know they have Mac OS X drivers for Leopard actually that are current on their website. I should have it by end of the week and will give it a new try. Wish me luck! This just might work. If I get it working I will put up something on my own blog. By the way, this is my site and blog. In the meantime my 130 is sitting on my table waiting to talk to my new world MacBook, I still have hopes.

Thank you,


He’s quite the DIYer, isn’t he? Marcus then sent along a final, successful e-mail – with pictures!

Hello Dave,

I have managed to connect my Newton 130 to my MacBook Core 2 Duo via USB! I have attached a few pics of my wiring setup. Works like a charm.

I will probably do a blog entry with nicer photos about this when I have some time. The USB to Serial 232 adapter has a Prolific chip inside, and that driver they are providing for Mac OS X works like a charm. There is a Sourceforge generic driver for all kinds of other adapter brands, but OS X wanted me to remove the generic one and the prolific driver does the job very well. The first software I tried and that works just like the old Apple OS 9 Connection Kit is NCX 1.2. I will try Escale and the others ones as well.

Just thought you liked to know how it is going.

My next venture will be to try and get a WiFi card working in this Newton. :-)


Nice job, Marcus! Here’s a picture of his serial-to-USB setup:

Blinking Airport Base Station says ‘give me new firmware’

August 23rd, 2008

And I tell it to go screw itself.

My Airport Extreme Base Station has been blinking amber for three days now. It’s blinking because, as you can see above, it’s wanting me to download the updated firmware and Airport Utility software.

You know what? Tough luck.

After all the trouble this base station’s firmware has given me, and now that it’s finally working right, I’m not going to let a little blinking yellow light stop me.

Airport Base Station fix: revert your firmware

August 18th, 2008

Our Airport Extreme Base Station connectivity issues are over. Life can begin again.

This, friends, is a new day. Thanks to one lost, but helpful, Apple support site, the issues I had with connecting to my Airport Base Station’s wifi signal and USB hard drive have been solved.

The trick, like anything else, is knowing where to look.

If you’re having issues like I was (Mac wouldn’t connect to base station’s wifi signal, air disk support was totally lost, etc.), first open up your Airport Utility app. I’m using version 5.1 after finding 5.2 to be too problematic (many others found this too – browse the support discussions at sometime). Double-click on your base station (above), which will bring up the more detailed manual window.

Then, select the Base Station menu at the top, and click on “Upload firmware…”

You’ll see the options above, thanks to a drop-down menu. I selected firmware version 7.3.1, which was the previous firmware download. In essence, you’re overwriting the firmware – version 7.3.2 – already on your base station with the previous version. Out with the new, in with the old.

After you select your version and hit “Okay,” Airport Utility will download the firmware and automatically replace the 7.3.2 firmware.

I reset my base station a few times, with Airport Utility, just to make sure everything was a-okay. But when Airport Utility recognized the fresh old firmwared-version of my base station, I saw that it worked:

Hoo-ha. Version 7.3.1. We’re now running on the old software in both Airport Utility and on the base station itself. And see that little button with the 7.3.2 update on it. Don’t dare touch it. We know better now.

Hey, if Apple can’t came out with great new stuff, we’ll just use the old stuff that works, right?

But now came the test. Would my iBook find the base station’s Airport signal? Could I connect to the USB drive and actually save some files and open my iPhoto library?

You bet. Everything now works as normal. I can connect to wifi, and my USB drive’s wackiness comes to an end.

So lesson learned: wait longer than normal on things like firmware updates. And when you can’t find a solution, revert back to the old way of doing things. This is a problem, though, when security issues are addressed in new software updates. If you revert to the old version, do you risk leaving yourself open to attack?

Shame on Apple for not fixing the Airport Extreme Base Station firmware and Utility. We just have to do it ourselves in a roundabout way.

NewtVid: Wireless Newton demo

June 3rd, 2008

I like how the creator uses the Newton to speak with the audience. Also a cool demo of the wifi capabilities of the MessagePad 2000 – complete with Apple sticker.

I’ll tackle the wifi project when I nab a 2100 sometime this summer, but in the meantime you can learn how to send a fax with your Newton.

NewtMail: Taking a clamshell iBook to China

April 15th, 2008

The twins.


I was just reading your Sunday project to install a wireless card in your iBook. It seems relatively easy to do and was exactly what I wanted to know about.

I just wanted your opinion. I’m in grad school and am going to China for 2 weeks in May on a school/business trip. I want to bring a computer but I’m too nervous to bring my MacBook Pro. I found a clamshell laptop on ebay for a really good price. Do you think if I buy a new battery for it and install the wireless card it would be a good laptop to take with me? I haven’t bought it yet. I just wanted someone else’s opinion first. I pretty much just need it for internet and word processing. I figure it would be a rugged computer to take on such a long trip.

Any tips, advice, opinions would be great.


Hi there, Amy,

Good question! In fact, that’s exactly what I bought my G3 iBook for – I drove Route 66 a few summer ago, and felt too nervous to take my then-new iBook G4. So I did what you did: shopped on eBay and got a cheap clamshell. I stored all my photos, sent all my e-mails, and kept my travel journal on the G3, and it was perfect. I just wish I had my Airport card then, because just about everywhere I went there was wifi.

I think it would suite your needs perfectly. They’re rugged as heck, and the wireless standard Airport uses is pretty universal. You should be able to hookup just about anywhere.

The battery part may be a bit trickier, but I know there are some online retailers that sell them. You could find one on eBay, too.

Good luck on your trip, and good luck clamshell shopping!


[Have a question or comment? Leave it in the comments, or e-mail newtonpoetry AT gmail DOT com.]