[NTLK] "Upgrading NIE" (the Newton is nearly dead)

From: Paul Guyot <pguyot_at_kallisys.net>
Date: Sat Jun 03 2006 - 10:45:39 EDT

> From: Adriano <adriano.angelillis@gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [NTLK] [wwna-board] Re: [ANN] Einstein Platform 2006.6
> Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2006 12:43:00 +0200
>
> Einstein is a great project, but i also love the MessagePad as is.
>
> I can't imagine why after nearly 10 years it has been killed by Apple,
> people wouldn't love to continue developing on it as is.
>
> Apart from that, would you gently spend some minutes of your time
> to explain a bit more in deep what could be done to upgrade NIE?

Adriano,

Your plan with NIE is obscure and vague and the most concrete part is
that you're collecting money (http://u.nie.notwen.com).

You do not define what you mean by "Upgrade the Newton Internet
Enabler (NIE) to meet actual web standards."

Let me guess.

Newton Internet Enabler is only part of the problem. It's rusty, old
and it never delivered its promises. Obviously, NIE was built like
the Newton communication stack, for Newton to Newton/Mac
communication, and it doesn't cope with modern networking. For
example, it deals extremely badly with binary connections. All you
can do is doing it with arrays of integers, which is memory consuming
and slow, or with text interpreted as MacRoman, which is often
inadequate. The constraints are such that Simon Bell dropped POP
support in its Mail software because the POP protocol is difficult to
handle at a decent speed with NIE limits.

NIE is old also means that it cannot deal with IPv6 which will be a
problem tomorrow.

Besides, the Newton lacks SSL. This makes it useless on most WiFi hot
spots. SSL wouldn't be part of NIE, but it's very difficult to
implement considering both the limits of native code on NewtonOS
(it's hard to port most open source software such as OpenSSL or other
SSL libraries) and the limits of NIE (SSL is based on binary transfers).

Finally, the Newton lacks modern Wifi because it has PCMCIA slots
that are not CardBus compatible. This is a hardware limitation.

To fix all these problems (except the hardware one) would require a
HUGE amount of work. While it's theoretically doable, I seriously
doubt that it will be done. If all these problems are fixed, more
limitations will appear. You mention web standards (instead of
Internet standards), so maybe your "Upgrade NIE" plan should include
a modern web browser capable of logging to webmail applications. And
flash support.

You say you love the MessagePad, then please accept it the way it is.
The MessagePad never connected properly to the Internet and it's
getting worse because the technology evolves faster than the
remaining Newton developers can cope with. It's really great we have
Bluetooth and first-generation Wifi. But despite Simon Bell's
excellent work, the Newton simply cannot handle a modern mail flow.
Web browsers cannot render most websites. You mentioned Raissa, but
it cannot parse modern syndication formats. Etc.

I believe the only future of the Newton (if any) lies in the Einstein
project. This is why I work on this and not on NIE or all other
problems that remain to fix.

The Relativity project once targetted both Einstein and existing
Newtons. It could have been a way to run OpenSSL and other open
source libraries directly on existing MP2x00 and eMates. But I
abandonned this part of the project in favor of focusing on my
priority: Einstein itself.

Please accept the Newton is nearly dead. Looking at NewtonTalk
archives, the last software announced for it, except for e-books, was
"Rocket Science beta 1", published in December 2005.

A new NIE is not going to happen.

Regards,

Paul

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Received on Sat Jun 3 10:45:44 2006

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