[NTLK] Thanks for all the responses so far!

Aron Hsiao leapdragon at gmail.com
Fri Nov 2 00:18:16 EDT 2012

Hi again all,

I seem to have subscribed in digest mode, and it's been so long since I 
used a listserv that I can't remember how to reply to individual posts 
when using digest. So sorry for the combined response, and there are 
probably some replies to me that I haven't seen yet.


Thanks for the welcome back! Yes, many years ago I was an NTLK poster 
and user and was surrounded by friends, family, and co-workers that I'd 
personally sold on the Newton as a platform. I think I even contributed 
a couple of meaningless packages (wallpapers and other fluff). All the 
friends/family that I sold on Newton have now moved on, and I have a 
completely separate universe of co-workers that have for the most part 
never even heard of Newton, but it's quite nice to return to an old 
haunt like this one and find that it isn't empty.

The thing gets me about the Newton 2x00 series is that, despite the 
truth of what you say about its age, the user interface remains in most 
ways ahead of its time even today as a personal companion device. As you 
can see by my original post, I often have the pangs of lost 
functionality these days, particularly when I come across a task that 
I'd have used my Newton for a decade ago. A couple of times I've pulled 
it out and tried to do some work on it, but awareness of the fact that 
I'll have some difficulty just getting the work off of the device (and 
that it's largely disconnected from the main information flow of my work 
and life) keeps me from investing too much energy in Newton-based tasks 

Then I go back to my iPad, grumbling a bit.


Thanks for the rundown on Einstein. I'm going to be a horrible 
open-source hanger-on here. I have nothing to contribute to this 
project, unfortunately (either in time or in useful skills) but I'll be 
cheering all the way.

If and when it reaches a level of accessibility and functionality at 
which I end up using it regularly, count me in for PayPal donations in kind.

It actually sounds as though things are almost there for me, Pareto's 
"last 20 percent" problem. I don't need Newton OS for web browsing or 
multimedia (that's what the rest of the device running Einstein is for, 
right?) but specifically for the personal archival / information 
management functions. After Newton I went to Palm, then to Windows CE, 
then back to Palm for the late Treo and Centro lines, then finally to 
iOS, but nothing has compared to the Newton PIM apps both included and 
that I'd purchased in terms of usability and flow, so I wouldn't be 
surprised to find myself using Einstein on a Galaxy Note or something in 
the future (if that's plausible/planned/becomes possible/etc.)


You've got it exactly right--I simply work better with my Newton. As 
someone that (like so very many others these days) does a lot of 
cognitive or conceptual work for a living, I've come to the conclusion 
that Newton helps me think better. People have tried to sell me on 
various mind-mappers and note taking apps, and various personal 
databases, but in all of these, I feel like it takes twice the work to 
come up with half the useful thought-work than it did on the Newton. 
Everything on today's devices feels slow and cumbersome in 
comparison--not in terms of responsiveness, but in terms of the ability 
to work with information.

Going back over my massive inventory of notes in HyperNewt, for example, 
makes this only too obvious. :-(


I got an iPad early, too. I was very mixed on it at first and for some 
time, but I have to say that I now absolutely love it. It has gradually 
become the center of my work and entertainment life in so many 
ways--really in every way *except* the one that I first expected, which 
was basic personal organization and mind management. For that, it seems 
as though the iPad (to be blunt) sucks.

I seem to do all of the stuff on my iPad that everyone says you can't--I 
code on it (Textastic), I write professional documents on it (Daedalus 
and Pages), I manage an academic library (Sente) and research database 
(DevonThink) on it, etc. It's a real workhorse these days, and also 
holds my video library (rips of the complete Northern Exposure, for 
example) and does all of the (these days very little) gaming that I do.

But I've basically resorted to a hodgepodge of apps and a significant 
component of old-fashioned ink pen and note paper for much of the 
personal information management, brainstorming, note-taking, and so on 
that I do, because iOS and Android, to date, really get that stuff 
wrong, so far as I can tell. Their UI is designed transactionally (run 
an app, watch a movie, edit a document, enter a contact, make a call) 
rather than (to use the wonderful Newton metaphor) to serve and organize 
a more or less continuous soup of thought and information with minimal 
effort and maximum visibility/malleability.

Have you tried the Nexus 7 with a capacitive pen + Einstein? If not, why 
not? And how does Einstein run on it, in general?

One of the things I miss about the MP2x00 as an iOS user is the form 
factor--big enough to see lots of information comfortably and have a 
real writing surface (there's really no point to a pen on an iPhone) but 
small enough to be carried everywhere (which an iPad simply isn't). iPad 
Mini sort of addresses this, but may still be just slightly too large. 
I've often thought that some of the later generation Android phone 
devices with large screens may be ideal here, but I haven't yet tried to 
live with any of them.


Thanks for the Evernote suggestion! I actually did use Evernote for a 
while and even subscribed for a year, but in the end, while the 
feature-by-feature capabilities were interesting (except the critical 
pen-based HWR and drag/drop note layout features of Newton OS), the UI 
was much more like that of the Palm or the CE applications like 
PhatNotes than the Newton UI, and in the end I realized that I was using 
it like a database, not like a notepad.

Like you, I gave up on my Newton when I finally just couldn't sync 
properly. I remember having a day when I tried to sync and/or backup for 
hours. Every bitrate. Virtual machines with different versions of 
Windows installed on them. Hardware serial. USB-RS232 converter. Then I 
installed Basilisk II (a classic Mac emulator) and installed OS 7 on it 
and set up an entire environment to sync my Newton and a workflow to 
move my data back and forth between OS 7 in Basilisk II and my main OS.

Then I sat back, realized what I had just spent hours doing, and decided 
that the Newton's time had come. :-/

The next day I had a Palm in hand and was learning Graffiti and being 
amazed by just how poor Palm was in comparison, and how ironic it was 
that despite the utter unfairness of the comparison, it was the Palm 
that could do something basic like sync to my computer and the Newton 
that was a dead-end.

A little bit of innocence died on that day. :-P (And the Palm died about 
a week later, though it was quickly replaced. Cheap as dirt, they were, 
which probably explains the rest.)

More information about the NewtonTalk mailing list