[NTLK] OT (a bit anyway) The Ninety-Nine Cent Emate

From: Dale Raby <daleraby_at_gmail.com>
Date: Fri Dec 29 2006 - 07:51:50 EST

Good Morning Newtonians (Newtonites?),
It is refreshing to see a community, even in the country of Cyberspace,
where people are not afraid to say "Merry Christmas" for fear of offending
somebody. Since I missed Christmas by a few days, I will instead wish you
all a Happy New Year. Now, to the point of my post....

A week or two ago, I noticed an obscure little ad on Ebay for an Apple eMate
300. The opening bid was ninety-nine cents... and nobody had yet bid. Now,
I looked it over and noticed things like "as is", "no power source",
"untested", a shipping charge of $15.00 and so forth which probably scared
off the other bidders. But, I reasoned that if I nobody else bid, I would
have an eMate that I could practice surgery on, perhaps install a Gumstix
motherboard and run DamnSmallLinux, and if nothing else, have an actual
eMate to physically handle with my bare hands and find out exactly what they
are all about. So I bid one dollar.

I looked at the auction a few times, but took no joy that nobody else was
bidding. Being a somewhat experienced Ebayer, I knew that most bids go down
in the last minute or so of the auction. So one morning, I was pleasantly
surprised to see the following message in my email:

Dear daleraby,

Congratulations! You committed to buy the following item:
   *Apple Newton Emate 300 OS 2.1 - Sold As
price: $0.99 Quantity: 1 Subtotal: US $0.99 Shipping & Handling: US
Postal Service Priority Mail: US $15.00
   Insurance: (included) Sales tax: (none) View
 | Go to My eBay<http://cm.ebay.com/cm/ck/1065-29392-2357-0?uid=41746809&site=0&ver=EOIBSA080805&lk=GotoMyeBay>

So I accessed my PayPal account and paid for the item, expecting a battered
refugee from the junk parts bin that would be DOA. Yesterday, a box
arrived, postage due $1.45. I grumbled a bit, but scrounged up the spare
change and paid the postman.

Upon opening the box, I saw that, yup, it was an eMate. There was no power
source, no cards, no CD, or owner's manual, though there was a plastic
stylus. I dredged up the power source for my old OMP and plugged it in,
surprised to see that the charging light came on. I opened up the clamshell
and pressed the "light" button. The screen was instantly illuminated, and
shortly after, the setup screen appeared.

Gradually, it began to seep into my brain that I did not have a DOA pile of
spare parts encased in green plastic, but in fact I owned a living,
processing Apple Newton eMate 300.!

So, now what to do? My plans for experimental surgery went out the window,
so I quickly put away the hammers, chisels, crowbars, Milwaukee Sawzall, and
anvil (What did you expect, jeweler's tools? I'm a blacksmith!) before my
new "child" could see what I had planned for it.

It mounted my 4MB flash card read-only and when I restored the backup
installed on that card, I gained a notepad function, lost the alpha-numeric
password option and gained a pin number login, among other things.

Since then, I have discovered that the batteries will allow me to run the
machine for at least a couple of hours with the screen lit. I have explored
the arcane world of "Teacher Setup", and managed to delete my spreadsheet
software from the Works package somehow... probably one of those icons I
deleted that didn't do anything actually did something.

All sorts of scary things are running through my mind. I now have to worry
about rebuilding the batteries, fixing the dreaded screen ribbon cable
problem, and getting some new software for it.

I feel like a new father. Well, at least I can get an operator's manual for
this child.

Hmmm... screen cable replacement... where did I put my Sawzall?

Dale the Packrat

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Received on Fri Dec 29 07:51:52 2006

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