[NTLK] [LONG] The life on the dull side of OS 1.x (was: Interest in Newton 110?)

From: Matej Horvat <redjazz_slo_at_yahoo.com>
Date: Tue Apr 21 2009 - 14:45:15 EDT

Actually I do have a few years of BASIC/Visual Basic experience, and I have a copy of "Programming for the Newton using Windows", but that doesn't cover using the serial port (which is crucial for using a modem) and the only communications it covers are 2.x-only transports. Here is a very long note I wrote on my MP120/1.3. Because there's no POP3/SMTP client for 1.x, I had to "send" it the following way:

1. Write the message during school breaks.
2. Sit through a zillion classes in school.
3. Get home.
4. Synchronize.
5. Export to RTF.
6. Open the RTF document.
7. Copy.
8. Paste to PC's email client.
9. Send.
10. There is no step 10.

A pretty long procedure, isn't it? Just to send a damn message... Anyway, here's the lengthy note:


Hello list members.

I love this community. The fact that there is still such a strong user base for a platform and devices discontinued more that eleven years ago is simply astonishing. I'm glad I chose an Apple MessagePad as my solution for everyday life. I love the way it works and I think that it is truly a magnificent work of art that is still unmatched.

But I have quite a lot of complaints.

Whenever somebody mentions Newton or MessagePad they are always referring to the MessagePad 2100 with Operating System 2.1. And that's the problem here. The community is so 2.x-centric. It's so 2.x-centric that it violates the whole purpose of Newton: a platform for communications that has handwriting recognition. And this is right where the 1.x world fails. I can't email with my 1.3 Newton, for example. A lot of people are curious about my Newton because obviously it's probably the only Newton they will ever see in their lives. They ask a lot of questions about it and when I tell them it can print and fax and cook dinner and that no data gets lost when you turn it off they're amazed. but when they ask "But can it do email?" I answer with "No". And then they immediately lose all interest in Newton. Because there's no way you can use electronic mail with oh-ASS one. Sure there's that thing called UniMail/eNotes, but if only supports shell accounts anyway.
 And it's nowhere as convenient as the built-in NewtonMail software or any of your fancy 2.x-only email transport solutions. Sure, I could select the Action button, then Mail, and then Show Text and then copy it to eNotes/UniMail/whatever but that's a pretty long procedure just to send a message! I'm not asking for gigabit Ethernet or Wi-Fi, but simply for a way to use my cigarette pack modem for something. (Heh, I'm probably the only one of my age - 13 - that's satisfied with a dial-up connection and doesn't need a GB of RAM to write a document)

Now let's talk about handwriting recognition for a minute.

It's the most praised and also the most controversial thing about Newton but that's not what I want to tell you. My complaint about it is that, damn, it's been 15 years since OS 1.0 was released and STILL nobody has made a hack or a patch to change the word list limit to more than just a thousand words? I would expect that from a community that made a patch to fix the 2010 bug (which is only for 2.x anyway, but who cares because 1.x Newtons aren't affected by it anyway), made a million packages that change the way built-in software operates (i.e. MoreInfo & HyperNewt), and even made a hundred hardware drivers (of which 90% are only for 2.x anyway), somebody would make a hack like this, but noooo. The Newton OS doesn't support my native language, Slovenian, so I made myself a package that adds about 950 Slovenian words to the word list, but that doesn't help, because Slovenian is a language that requires about 8000 words even for basic functionality. I do
 have a Newton Keyboard, but that defies the whole purpose of the MessagePad: to be a handy HANDHELD device.
I don't even want to think about hardware. 99% of non-Apple hardware is only for OS 2.x.

Maybe I should switch to a Palm Pilot. But I don't want to. There are so many great applications, the large screen, the overall design, and just plain coolness in a Newton device. And besides, you can't play Columbo's Mystery Capers on a Palm Pilot ;)

I thought that the purpose of having a community for discontinued platform is to develop new software for it so it can still hold up with the modern times. But was there some fine print that said Newton 1.x devices are excluded from this? Is Newton OS=Newton OS 2.x and Newton OS 1.x=nil? Because 1.x devices haven't seen any new software for them since, like, 1995. There are very few post-1995 software packages that work on OS 1.x, and even those that do usually have limited functionality. (OK, so maybe NewtTest is an exception. But others aren't. Oh, wait, even NewtTest shows very few info about the system on 1.x. But that's just because it has to rely on hacks to supply the info, so, it's really an exception.)

Should I stay or should I go?

-Matej Horvat

PS: To end this already long message in a nice way, I'll make it even longer by (sort of) quoting Ryan Vetter from when he got his MP100:

"Despite its limitations, it is still a very nice device to work with."

Well, Ryan, contrary to what others may tell you, the MP100 does not have any limitations. The Newton community does. Do you really think it's the MP100's fault for not being able to do modern electronic mail?


Thanks for reading this.

-Matej Horvat

----- Original Message -----
That is a good point . . . in a way. Look in the mirror. Have you developed
any software for the Newton? You may not know how, but that can be remedied.
Get books, start reading. I remember the day I first sat in front of a TRS
model 1 with a book and typed
10 Print "Hello"
20 goto 10
And now, years later, I am a full time professional programmer. I have
written Windows apps, and Newton apps and many other apps for many
platforms. All of this I did by reading and trying it till I figured it out.
So how bad you want 2.x apps on your 1.x device is directly proportional to
how much effort you want to put into learning how. There are a great number
of people here that have been down that road and are willing, even eager to
help you. But till you have walked that road . . .

Matt (Ducky) Howe

M. Horvat wrote
You know what, if today's active Newton programmers weren't so lazy it would
be possible to do everything on 1.x that you can do on 2.x.


The NewtonTalk Mailing List - http://www.newtontalk.net/
The Official Newton FAQ - http://www.splorp.com/newton/faq/
The Newton Glossary - http://www.splorp.com/newton/glossary/
WikiWikiNewt - http://tools.unna.org/wikiwikinewt/
Received on Tue Apr 21 14:45:22 2009

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