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

From: Tony Kan <>
Date: Fri Aug 22 2008 - 21:50:09 EDT

Name: Tony Kan
Age: 44
Occupation: Investment Banker; Husband; Father; Closet geek.

Kit: 2xMP2000; 2xMP2100; 2 x Emates; 1 HP340 with IR adapter; 1 Bluetooth Pico
card; 1 Orinoco Silver Wavelan Wifi Card; Newton Keyboard; Stowaway Keyboard;
Newton Museum DVDs; 2 x Dongles; 1 x Serial Cable; 1 x Gem Newton Software
collection on CD. 2 x Newtontalk T-Shirts.

Most frequently used software: Moreinfo (PIM); Newtscape (Browser); Courier
(Browser); BBEditor (utility that overlays a panel of buttons at the bottom of
the screen which reduce the tap-count for text editing); ProCalcX (HP12C
financial calculator emulator); The Message (Bible Reader); World Clock (finding
out local time in different countries); Hiroshi’s wifi driver; Eckhart’s Blunt
Bluetooth driver;

Location: Christchurch, New Zealand.

I have been a regular diary keeper since I was sent on a Franklin time
management course back in 1989. But after a couple of years of keeping a paper
diary I found it tiresome copying over all my incomplete tasks across to a new
page every day, so I invested in an HP200LX palmtop in 1994.

This served me very well for many years but I discovered the Apple Newton whilst
surfing on a website about PDAs. Intrigued, I purchased my first MP2000 from
Gem Enterprises. After a couple of weeks I found that I was using the Newton
for around 6-7 hours per day compared to a measley half an hour a day on the
HP200LX. This was because thumb typing on the keyboard proved too tedious to
carry on for any length of time; so the Palmtop was limited to its PIM functions
(tracking tasks, appointments and contacts) and eBook reading.

The Newton had all that too but it allowed practicable note-taking during
meetings. Both units had over 9 hours of battery life but because the Palmtop
got relatively light use, it could go for a couple of weeks between charges. My
Newton usage was so heavy I was recharging every day and a half. This period
increased as higher capacity NiMh batteries became available.

I first bought a Newton in 2001. Since then I have gradually added to my Newton
collection out of a desire to provide some redundancy in case my primary unit
stops working and to upgrade to a 2100 to enable wireless connectivity.

I am a MoreInfo subscriber and this PIM works well for me as a Contact Manager
because it links tasks, appointments and notes back to the Contact. MoreInfo is
great for tracking projects and client relationships. I use the folders to keep
work and personal items separate so that my numerous obligations and tasks don’t
overwhelm me at any one time. I guess its another way variation on GTD’s
 “@home” and “@work” technique.

Like others, the Newton can’t be my only computing and email device because it
doesn’t support MS Office and PDF files. For that I have a T-Series Thinkpad.

As a means of backing up my PIM data, I used to spend a lot of time
synchronizing across a serial connection with a PC but this was time consuming
and often unreliable. This was a form of backup for me. It also allowed me to
use Outlook whilst on a desktop. Lots of fiddling with Slowdown; plenty of
frustration with transfers that might take over half an hour and then drop out
requiring a restart. In the end, I opted for a series of Linear Flash cards as
a much more efficient method and stopped using Outlook for PIMs but kept it as
my primary email client. This reduced the redundancy and complexity as I only
needed to focus on one device/application for a PIM.

Largely due to concern over the Interconnect Port’s fragility I have been trying
to go wireless as much as possible. Setting up the Wifi connection wasn’t as
difficult as I anticipated. I selected a Netgear WG602 as an Access Point
solely for its Newton compatibility.

So far I have managed to surf the Internet with Newtscape, thanks to Matt Howe,
set up an Internet Information Server (IIS) on my PC which allows me to download
a 1Mb Newton Book in a few seconds; really great compared to the slow crawl on
an unreliable serial connection which might need multiple restarts; no more
package installing over the serial cable either.

Now I’m more readily able to enjoy my collection of Newton Book authors: Stephen
Donaldson; Ursula LeGuin; Tom Clancy; Tolkien; Dostoyevsky; and Tolstoy. I’ve
set up a MS Word macro to hasten the process of preparing a Gutenberg text file
for conversion to Newton Book format. Happy to share any of these Newton Books
with anyone who wants it. For those still under copyright, I'll just have to
trust you've already bought the hard copies. The public domain texts are
already in the Temporary Newton Library and Newton's library. I also converted
the book introductions from the Nelson Study Bible so that it would be available
as a mobile resource.

On the wireless front, I have the capability to download but not to upload as
yet. I need to investigate NewtFTP as a possibility upload channel.

Bluetooth provided another means of wirelessly uploading data, and it has been
really useful for transferring vCards and Notes text to the PC; but only one by
one. It would be fun to be able to use a Bluetooth keyboard one day.
As part of going wireless and just for a play, I purchased an HP340 printer (NZD
20) and an Infrared Adapter. Only a couple of pages a minute and the HP33
cartridges aren’t stocked in the local retail shops anymore but still available
from Internet vendors.

My next greatest fear are the dreaded Jaggies. When you’ve got them, it just
makes using the Newton so frustrating; no more HWR input; almost back
exclusively to the keyboard. Many thanks to Doug Parker who replaced my
touchscreen for me and I haven’t suffered from the Jaggies for several years.

I (and others on the list) have also tried to contact various developers of
shareware of commercial ware in an effort to encourage them to release their
products into the public domain. Occasionally we have been successful.

Spreadsheeting with the Newton was explored and I managed to get QuickFigure Pro
’s connectivity add-in to work on MS Excel 2000. However the relatively dim
display, its small size and the dance to get one’s numbers to others to work on
makes it too inefficient for serious work.

Just to provide a means of recording the sometimes-complex dances required to
set up wireless connections and software, I set up a blog because the Wiki is
currently broken.

I can read the NIV bible on “the Message” it is a useful bible reading program
but lacks a note-taking capability as well as linked resources such as
commentaries and dictionaries. This, and GPS navigation are the two areas that
tempt me to look at other PDA platforms.

I looked at GPS Maps but if one thought getting IIS going was a complex dance
then creating a map for one’s local city looks 10 times harder. I wish there
was an easier way…

“Assist” is an application that comes built in to the Newton. It allows one to
write the phrase “time in Beijing” and voila the World Clock starts up and
displays the local time there. It can recognise lots of phrases such as “meet
Rob at 3pm” and it will fill out a new meeting slip in the Dates application.
Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to work with MoreInfo. I haven’t begun to explore
all the different phrases it can interpret.

After I got married, my Wife was attracted to my Emate so I got her one too.
Can’t have her touching my Emate can I? I still use the HP200LX because it is a
superior calculator; it has a numeric keypad with real keys. Its calculator
application allows one to enter lists of numbers to be summed which leads to
much less re-keying of figures if a mistake is made.

So there you go. You have a lot of patience if you got this far.

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Received on Fri Aug 22 21:50:27 2008

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