[NTLK] My screed on MacSlash about making the iPod into a 'PDA'

From: James Witte (jswitte_at_bloomington.in.us)
Date: Wed Mar 06 2002 - 17:34:52 EST

  If you missed it, someone out there came up with a way to rearage your
contact information so that the iPod would think it was a navigable bunch
of MP3's So now you can at least *look* for caral's phone number you
forgot, but you can't *add* anything to it. The title of my screed was
"This is cool, but it AINT programming Pixo.." Does anyone here have
anything to comment?

Jim Witte

 think the idea of rearraging a bunch of contact data into a folder
structure that the iPod can naviage is great, if limited.

 The bigger piece of the pie, the one that Apple never game us with the
Newton (and still hasn't) is a complete description of how to use the
iPods Pixo embedded operating system to program other functions which are
more familiar to PDA-people like: sorting, searching data enry via FW
keyboard, or FW stylus if you could figure out how to make the display
touch-sensative, being able to tell the machine "Make me an appointment
with Carol at 5:00 next Tuesday for 2 hours, to ring 45 minues before",
and it would auomatically look up Carol in the adressbook modules, check
you calendar app to make sure there are no conflicts (and alearting you in
that case), then placing the datbook entry, changing the ring parameter
to "45 minues before meething" I dont' know if Newton Intelligence (built
into the final MP2100) could do quit all that, but it might.

 Right no, people trying to extend the iPod past "just an MP3 player" are
stuck with the system the iPod has now - basicall a file browser. If
Apple would release the lower-lvel APIs to access the hardware and compile
C programs down to assembly (for porting Sphinx and Festival, as well a
WICKED fast BrickOut game)

 Apple did, after some pressure from the Newton community, release the
in-house plug-ins and header/libray files for their MPW compilation
system (God, what a beast) From the released stuff, people are starting to
do some really cook stuff with it, as the recent beta test of an ATA card
driver for the Newton by >a href="www.kallisys.com">Paul Guyou has shown,
as well as the port of Waba for the Newton [gmu.edu] by Sean Luke. One
person figured out how to do assembly language code programming for the
StrongARM chip in Newton, and used this as the basis for a MOD file music
player. Another project is aimed at porting an MP3 player to the Newton (I
don't know if this is in working beta state yet, but I believe it it)

 But many if not all of these endevours "going behind NewtonScript" would
be much easier (and faster) if Apple could be persuaded to release all
the appropriate headers, memory maps, memory proctection schema in public
view (with a licence that says you can't use this in a competing product
- althought that would have to be clarified as Apple to my knowledge has
never definitively said yea or nea on ever producing a PDA again.

 If the QuickDraw hooks were available (the Newton uses a stripped down
SE-vintage quickdraw), then program like Waba, instead of using
NewtonScript bytecode to do the drawing, which is slow, it could draw
directly do the screen. Having the interface to the "Inker Port" which
runs the pen input device, would make getting taps and drags to activate
the applet faster, as you would have to go though NewtonScript to get them
as is done now. If the full specs relating all the communications claases
in the "below-Newtonscipt" layer were known, it would be easier to access
the serial port, eternet cards from down there.

 Some people call for the entire source code to be released, but from what
I've heard it was an enourmous mess of speghetti code. But the headers
and glue files for the current machines (100,120,130,2000,2100 I believe)
could help access these lower level features, which seem to be becoming
more an more important as the few Newton users left push their machines
to their limits and face compatibility problem with desktop systems.

 I don't know about Apple releaseing the entire source code. On one hand,
if they released the whole thing, we'd have it but no roadmap; on the
other hand, if they cleaned in up, took out the headers and glue, wrote
some more comments, it would be VERY expensivive for them (especially as
most of the original Newton people are gone from apple) However, in the
case that they released EVERYTHING, a community of developers would
quickly develop I'm sure to try to figure out what the code does, what
should be thrown away in a new implementation of a PDA, and what would be
of use to current Newton developers.

 Persuading Apple to release the source to the connectivity applications
(Newton Book Maker, Newton Tool Kit, and Newton Connection Utilities)
would also help, as these apps are the ONLY apps that can interface with
the Dock application built into the Newton's ROM. The authentication
protocol used includes a DES-encrypted challenge-respononse. This is a
BIT of a hitch to making new connectvity apps that can work with the
native Dock (as you'd have to after you'd wiped the Newton clean)

Have you checked the FAQ lately? http://www.guns-media.com/mirrors/newton/faq/
This is the NewtonTalk mailing list - http://www.newtontalk.net
To unsubscribe/manage: visit the above link. Questions: victor_at_newtontalk.net

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Apr 02 2002 - 14:02:18 EST