Re: [NTLK] How do you use your Newton?

From: Jon Scordia <>
Date: Tue Aug 19 2008 - 06:36:00 EDT

Sorry guys, rather late to this party, and probably missed the cut for
the ebook, however;
Name: Jon Scordia

Occupation: Architect

Age: 42

Location: Glasgow, Scotland

Newton Collection: Now thinned down to a core of MP2000 (still with
original packaging) upgraded to 2100 motherboard with rebuilt battery
and serial board fitted (all courtesy of Frank), plus a charging
serial to usb cable (courtesy of Adriano).

My collection used to include a perfect hinge-fixed eMate with
additional memory, an MP120, a whole assortment of wifi, bluetooth and
memory cards, cases and other bits and bobs. Not to mention the other
PDAs I'd experimented with along the way such as a Psion 5mx. All
hopefully found good homes within this group.

You may remember my iWeb page of this collection:

I'd got away from the core benefits of the MP2(1)00, which I felt
where the hardware/software combo's fantastic flexibility in use, from
easy input of information to the way that information could be
manipulated and inter-related within an amazingly flexible suite of
software. A 'PDA' in the truest sense.

I'd spent far too much time getting away from that point and
struggling with trying to make the machine a wireless...everything!
Too much time messing with drivers, barely compatible wifi cards and
the like only caused frustration. So we're back to the core!

My (overly long) Newton Story: As a kid, a dream of a hand held device
that could tell me EVERTHING I needed to know about WHEREVER I was,
was definitely created by Douglas Adams! The Hitch Hikers Guide to the
Galaxy was so influential to me and my peers, however I think that
every handheld device that arrived in the decades that followed
disappointed in some way as a result of that Sci-Fi expectation.

When I was studying Architecture at University, computer aided design
and illustration was in it's infancy, but we started to get a glimpse
of the future at that time. The Newton was on the streets as I
graduated and the Architectural press were writing articles about what
it could do to assist us in taking information out onto the
construction site with us. Again it didn't really deliver on our
collective expectations because what we REALLY wanted was a device
that we could use to take CAD drawings out onto site and edit.

For my first post-university job I worked for a practice that
specialised in organisational change, space planning and interior
design for large corporate clients. They needed to find a way to
record key survey information relating to the way various departments
worked within each organisation while on the move. The Newton fitted
the bill perfectly and that's the first time I actually got to use
one. The trouble was that in a time of 'downsizing' and 'outsourcing',
the poor souls in each workspace were mighty suspicious of strangers
wandering around with black boxes apparently doing a time and motion
study!! I didn't enjoy that experience.

To set the scene, we were doing our day to day correspondence, site
instructions and space budgeting etc on the Mac Plus, my first taste
of using the Mac. Most drawings were done by hand, but we had two
massive dual monitor CAD workstations in the office reserved for the
more complex projects. Had I had more time to play with the Newton I
would have realised that it complemented what the Mac Plus could do
perfectly, but would have never helped with the CAD side of the office.

But then our London IT wizard came up to Glasgow a few times with a
Newton and we got a chance to properly play about with one and I
really got into the whole concept of the PDA. We had a few flash
clients who would produce a Newton at meetings just to show off,
(always a show stopper) and I built up a real desire to get one. It
seemed too expensive though at that time.

Then the Newton was killed.

I worked my way through a couple of Psions, which I really liked. I
would even read cursive text via a third party application, and the
inter-relationship between address book, to-do list and diary all
seemed to make a sort of 'Newtonian' sense.

Then just as the Psion was starting to get really good, it too was

The Palms looked like a step backwards as did the WinCE devices.
Simbian smart phones looked like a compromise between a clunky phone
and a compromised Psion 5.

So I reverted to paper.

Time went by and I was given my first office smart phone, a Sony
Ericsson P910i. It showed a glimmer of what I'd always aspired to.
This was upgraded to a Sony Ericsson M600i which was better, though
for some reason I never got the thing to sync to OSX properly. It did
talk to the office systems via Exchange pretty well.

For marketing reasons that I don't understand (I've had a lot of time
for Sony hardware over the years) the hardware was cheap and
disposable (like all phones) and the software was really REALLY poor.
In terms of functionality Symbian has regressed since Psion days, to
make way for the phone-makers obsession with cramming as many gizmos
as possible into their product.

The level of responsibility and complexity of workload had got to a
stage where I needed to find a better system to make this holy trinity
of address book, to-do list and calendar work smoothly together.
Nothing was out there.

Then I came across a mint, boxed Newton on eBay, cheap enough to risk
an experiment. I quickly discovered this list thereafter.

In terms of ease of use, and a logical useable relationship between
the key organisational functions it provided, the Newton was perfect.
I added Action Names plus a few other organisational apps and used
Blueprint extensively to organise around 15 people over 20 or 30
separate live projects. And I could do all this on the train!

I could sync to my office PC using Lookout, and I could write and
download text to both Mac and PC with relative ease.

Having been distracted by the idea that I could also wirelessly send
and receive email, surf the web and all those other nice things, I got
diverted from the Newton's core benefits and, for me anyway, wasted a
lot of time. Hence the thinning down of kit!

At the height of this enthusiasm for accessorising the Newt I got
totally carried away and started experimenting with a folding
adjustable lightweight stand. I wanted it to support either a 2x00 or
a 1x0 in landscape or portrait formats at different angles, with or
without a keyboard. Some of you may remember this...

The response I got back from the list was fantastic. I still have the
emails. In response I felt that I could have created a run of say 50
of these and sold them quite easily (once I had the design finally
sorted out). However the cold reality of the amount of labour required
to achieve this, versus the pressures of the 'day job', brought about
some cold hard thinking.

I don't know how the likes of Adriano can do what he does. I have such
admiration for the many people on this list who continue to push the
platform forward.

I hate to admit that one thing that diverted my enthusiasm from the
Newton was the iPhone. Particularly now I have iPhone 2.0 set up
communicating with my office via exchange and seem to have come off
lightly in the great MobileMe change over. Omnifocus and other to-do
applications seem to be maturing nicely, and I finally seem to have
found a tool flexible enough to manage my day to day work and personal
projects in a way that meets my objectives.

Having been on holiday to London with the iPhone recently where we
used it to navigate, book tickets, find restaurants and book tables,
meet up with people, clarify historical points using wikipedia, prove
that fellow diners were notorious celebs using google, watch movies
and even listen to music....I think I finally found my Hitch Hiker's
guide! I waited a while but got there when I was 42. If you're an
HHGTG fan you may see a significance...

I know that the iPhone cannot create any new documents yet, and when
it can it will not offer the flexibility that the Newton can as long
as it exists in the current form factor. But with iPhone in pocket and
Newton in briefcase, I have a pretty good set of tools.

The Newton still serves a purpose, though I admit to using it less and

It occurs to me that if I could form a better direct link between the
iPhone and Newton direct....but that's for another email!!!



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Received on Tue Aug 19 07:36:11 2008

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