Re: [NTLK] A day in the life

From: Michael C. Wittmann <>
Date: Wed Apr 19 2006 - 19:47:51 EDT

Here's my story and how the Newton fits in. My recent wiki entry at
<> goes
into some of this, but here's more...

I'm a professor in physics, doing education research on the teaching
and learning of physics. I have 4 PhD students, anywhere from 3 to 5
master's degree students depending on how I'm paying attention and
who is doing their work, I teach 1 to 2 classes a semester, have a
few grants, and do some unfunded work that I hope will get me funding
in the future. I've published a few workbooks, so know the publishing
nightmares of the industry, as well.

Dates and ToDos:

My Newton serves as master calendar and task manager. If it's not in
my Newton, it's not going to happen. Because I have a desktop and a
laptop, I find the hassle of synchronizing calendars annoying. Also,
I find the battery life of a laptop insufficient. Finally, I don't
want to pull out a laptop for an appointment - what a hassle!

The todos are this long flow of ideas, mostly. I "store" them in long
Notes or checklists, waiting for when they are relevant. Things that
actually get done on a day (or need to be done that day) are in the
Agenda, nothing else. I have a zillion repeating appointments that
get changed on me, so much of my work day revolves around creatively
addressing my needs. The Newton lets me do that fabulously.

I tried a Palm for this, and it was nice. I was quickly enslaved to
the desktop. Also, I didn't find the management of my day as easy
when using that tiny screen.

To back up my data, I use DateSum to create a weekly "after the fact"
run down of what actually happened. This gets copied to Notes and
sent to the desktop using NewtSync or my new and very slick bluetooth


The Newton serves as my writing platform for raw thinking. I do
typing elsewhere (NewtWorks and the Newton screen have never been
enough for my tastes). I do spreadsheets and browsing elsewhere, too.
But I've found it impossible to collect my thoughts in outlining
software when on a desktop. On a Newton, it's natural to just write.
Think things through, collect ideas, use my moments of free time
(even in public or during meetings) to just take notes. As I've said
in many different places, the gesture interface of the Newton is what
keeps me with it. If only I could get a touch screen sensitive laptop
screen running OS X and inkwell! Oh, well, maybe never...

My Newton gets my notes during meetings with students, faculty, or
whatever. During any given meeting, I'm taking more notes than the
grad student who SHOULD be taking the notes. I have records or
minutes of things that other people never have (plus, I walk to my
ethernet cable and mail them out within minutes of the meeting
ending, so people have come to count on me). I plan my lectures and
write notes for class time - I can't do math on the Newton, which
forces me to do the math on the board and not copy it over, which is
always a good thing.

Time wasting:

Man, am I addicted to that sudoku game. I rarely can't finish one, up
to a point. There are some which are simply impossible to solve. Oh
well. I like the logic involved, I lose myself and "relax" that way
for a bit.

Jig is a pretty good game, too. I hate losing to the computer...

I've never really gotten into reading books on the screen. For that,
I need a larger font than most people provide in books and brighter
screen than the Newton has without burning batteries on the
backlight. I prefer PaperBack books because they let me play with
font sizes. Sure, I can't bookmark, but I rarely need that for the
documents I drag into my system. Reports, quick reads, and so on,
that I have. A few books of poetry, as well. Project Gutenberg has
been nice.

There you have it, my lengthy and possibly boring way of using my

Michael Wittmann

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Received on Wed Apr 19 19:48:14 2006

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