why standards are important

yes, [HTML5](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML5) is essentially a diluted buzzword for “something shiny on the web that doesn’t use flash” – BUT – by using standards, you get to have content used in ways you haven’t predicted. For instance, [Grant Hutchinson](http://www.splorp.com/) has been playing with a [Newton-powered webserver](http://splorp.com/newton/) (not linking directly to the server to spare it from the network) for years.

Today, he fired up the web browser on one of his Newtons, and pointed it at the [Apple HTML5 showcase site](http://www.apple.com/html5/). What happened? Fireworks? Crashes? Missing content? Plugin Required error messages?

Nope.

newton html5 via newtscapeGallery

The content displayed just fine, as best as could be handled by a 15 year old handheld computer. Sure, some of the bells and whistles are missing. But the site is usable.

Standards, especially ones that support graceful degradation of presentation by devices at runtime, ensure we have access to our content long after it’s built, on devices we didn’t have in mind when we built it.

If Grant were to try to view any of the content I built years ago using Director/Shockwave, or any of 47 terabytes of content built in Flash, the poor little Newton would have barfed violently.

Opaque, proprietary formats are bad. Open standards and degradable presentation are good.

eMate 300 has arrived

The eMate 300 I ordered on eBay finally arrived this afternoon – the mailperson decided to leave the package on my front step in the rain/snow.

I fired it up, and aside from the battery being dead (it’s only a decade old), it works great! The previous owner left it in Classroom Mode so I had to perform the ber-hard reset (hold down the power key, tap the reset button on the bottom, and keep holding until the reset prompts come on screen). That got it back to factory condition – but I lost the installed copy of Works, and there were no install CDs provided. Doh. Off to unna.org…

I have to say – Newton OS 2.1 is pretty darned sweet. The thing just hums along nicely, and everything just seems to work as expected. The handwriting/printing recognition is nearly flawless – and when it has problems, it’s obviously a result of my less-than-legible printing.

The form factor is pretty sweet, too. It’s slightly smaller than a 12″ iBook, with a shorter screen. The built in keyboard is pretty nice, and would make long writing sessions (or just correcting the occasional recognition error) go quicker. The backlight is nice, too. My MP120 doesn’t have one, and it makes it nearly unusable when not in a very brightly lit room.

It must have been pretty sweet to have a classroom full of these puppies, with the classroom dock and charging station, and each student having their own eMate (and private account on it, too). I haven’t seen anything quite as well thought out since. That’s a bit of a shame in and of itself.

I’ll post some pics to Flickr when I get the chance – probably after installing some apps on it to show what it looks like. Evan’s going to LOVE this thing, since he can draw on it, as well as practicing his new letters. That should be fun. And it’s supposed to be rather ruggedized, so it might survive more than 30 seconds with The Boy.

Playing with Newton OS 2.1 has me wanting a full MessagePad 2100, though. Man, that would be sweet. 10x faster than the eMate, in a hand-held form factor for easier handwriting. Slap in an 802.11b card and you’re online, too. I’ve got to start rummaging through my couch cushions for some spare twonies for eBay…

This post is brought to you by the words “pretty” and “sweet”, apparently. Man, do I need a Reader’s Digest subscription. Ways to Enrich Your Word Power, anyone?

The eMate 300 I ordered on eBay finally arrived this afternoon – the mailperson decided to leave the package on my front step in the rain/snow.

I fired it up, and aside from the battery being dead (it’s only a decade old), it works great! The previous owner left it in Classroom Mode so I had to perform the ber-hard reset (hold down the power key, tap the reset button on the bottom, and keep holding until the reset prompts come on screen). That got it back to factory condition – but I lost the installed copy of Works, and there were no install CDs provided. Doh. Off to unna.org…

I have to say – Newton OS 2.1 is pretty darned sweet. The thing just hums along nicely, and everything just seems to work as expected. The handwriting/printing recognition is nearly flawless – and when it has problems, it’s obviously a result of my less-than-legible printing.

The form factor is pretty sweet, too. It’s slightly smaller than a 12″ iBook, with a shorter screen. The built in keyboard is pretty nice, and would make long writing sessions (or just correcting the occasional recognition error) go quicker. The backlight is nice, too. My MP120 doesn’t have one, and it makes it nearly unusable when not in a very brightly lit room.

It must have been pretty sweet to have a classroom full of these puppies, with the classroom dock and charging station, and each student having their own eMate (and private account on it, too). I haven’t seen anything quite as well thought out since. That’s a bit of a shame in and of itself.

I’ll post some pics to Flickr when I get the chance – probably after installing some apps on it to show what it looks like. Evan’s going to LOVE this thing, since he can draw on it, as well as practicing his new letters. That should be fun. And it’s supposed to be rather ruggedized, so it might survive more than 30 seconds with The Boy.

Playing with Newton OS 2.1 has me wanting a full MessagePad 2100, though. Man, that would be sweet. 10x faster than the eMate, in a hand-held form factor for easier handwriting. Slap in an 802.11b card and you’re online, too. I’ve got to start rummaging through my couch cushions for some spare twonies for eBay…

This post is brought to you by the words “pretty” and “sweet”, apparently. Man, do I need a Reader’s Digest subscription. Ways to Enrich Your Word Power, anyone?

Got my MessagePad 120

My Newton MessagePad 120 came in the mail yesterday (well, it almost came on Friday, but Mail Dude decided to not even try my house, and left a card in the box to come get it the next day after 1pm. nice.)

It worked out of the box – needed AA batteries, but I knew that. I’ll be picking up a new internal backup battery asap as well. It turns out that it was very handy having an antique PowerMac 8600/300 still running in the home office, because installing the Newton Connection software (and connecting the old school serial cable) was trivial.

I had the exact same model of MessagePad back when I worked in the Faculty of Nursing (we were going to be working on PocketNurse – an offshoot of PocketDoc, which was one of the big medical Newton apps at the time). We actually had a few Newtons around, some of which were upgraded to Newton OS 2.0 (but mine never was). I think my memories of using the Newton must have been tainted by the times I used a 2.0-infused 120, because I distinctly remember a different font, and having the text insertion caret on screen – neither of these are present in Newton OS 1.3.

I also remember the handwriting recognition being much better and faster – but that’s likely an illusion imposed by memory over time. Like the way I remember the F/A-18 Interceptor flight sim on my Amiga 1000 as being photorealistic and realtime, but when I actually fired it up again, a couple of years ago, it was like 512×384 and 5 frames per second. I have a tendency to idealize memories. Not sure if that’s a common thing or not.

Anyway, I’ve downloaded a couple apps onto the MP. It’s been hard finding apps for it, since most of the apps that are in the online archives are for Newton OS 2.0. At the bare minimum, Evan’s having fun drawing on it. That’s worth it right there.

The handwriting recognition is really not that bad – the “training” process is, I think, more for myself than for the MessagePad, because I’ve noticed my spectacularly godawful handwriting and printing getting marginally more legible as I go through the process.

I’m looking forward to playing with the eMate 300 when it gets here. It comes stock with NewtonOS 2.1, so that will clear up any false memories. I might have to keep saving and spring for a MessagePad 2100 – one I was tracking on eBay just went for almost $400, though. I can’t justify that yet.

My Newton MessagePad 120 came in the mail yesterday (well, it almost came on Friday, but Mail Dude decided to not even try my house, and left a card in the box to come get it the next day after 1pm. nice.)

It worked out of the box – needed AA batteries, but I knew that. I’ll be picking up a new internal backup battery asap as well. It turns out that it was very handy having an antique PowerMac 8600/300 still running in the home office, because installing the Newton Connection software (and connecting the old school serial cable) was trivial.

I had the exact same model of MessagePad back when I worked in the Faculty of Nursing (we were going to be working on PocketNurse – an offshoot of PocketDoc, which was one of the big medical Newton apps at the time). We actually had a few Newtons around, some of which were upgraded to Newton OS 2.0 (but mine never was). I think my memories of using the Newton must have been tainted by the times I used a 2.0-infused 120, because I distinctly remember a different font, and having the text insertion caret on screen – neither of these are present in Newton OS 1.3.

I also remember the handwriting recognition being much better and faster – but that’s likely an illusion imposed by memory over time. Like the way I remember the F/A-18 Interceptor flight sim on my Amiga 1000 as being photorealistic and realtime, but when I actually fired it up again, a couple of years ago, it was like 512×384 and 5 frames per second. I have a tendency to idealize memories. Not sure if that’s a common thing or not.

Anyway, I’ve downloaded a couple apps onto the MP. It’s been hard finding apps for it, since most of the apps that are in the online archives are for Newton OS 2.0. At the bare minimum, Evan’s having fun drawing on it. That’s worth it right there.

The handwriting recognition is really not that bad – the “training” process is, I think, more for myself than for the MessagePad, because I’ve noticed my spectacularly godawful handwriting and printing getting marginally more legible as I go through the process.

I’m looking forward to playing with the eMate 300 when it gets here. It comes stock with NewtonOS 2.1, so that will clear up any false memories. I might have to keep saving and spring for a MessagePad 2100 – one I was tracking on eBay just went for almost $400, though. I can’t justify that yet.

Wahoo! I’m a Newton owner again!

I placed a couple of bids on Newton Messagepad auctions on eBay this weekend, thinking I might be able to pick one up relatively inexpensively, since they are discontinued and a decade old. Man, is there an active community of folks still lusting after these bad boys.

The auctions for the MP2100 quickly grew too rich for my blood, but I was able to win both an eMate 300 and a Messagepad 120 with a bunch of accessories.

Now, to negotiate shipping and handling, then eagerly await the boxes in the mail… Can't wait to get my hands back on a Newton. I had a MP120 for a couple of years in the late '90s, and really miss it. The eMate should be cool too. Oh, and to figure out how to connect these beasts to a modern Mac (although I still have my 8600 running at home…)

eMate 300Newton Messagepad 120 + Accessories

I placed a couple of bids on Newton Messagepad auctions on eBay this weekend, thinking I might be able to pick one up relatively inexpensively, since they are discontinued and a decade old. Man, is there an active community of folks still lusting after these bad boys.

The auctions for the MP2100 quickly grew too rich for my blood, but I was able to win both an eMate 300 and a Messagepad 120 with a bunch of accessories.

Now, to negotiate shipping and handling, then eagerly await the boxes in the mail… Can't wait to get my hands back on a Newton. I had a MP120 for a couple of years in the late '90s, and really miss it. The eMate should be cool too. Oh, and to figure out how to connect these beasts to a modern Mac (although I still have my 8600 running at home…)

eMate 300Newton Messagepad 120 + Accessories

Google Calendar is almost Newton Calendar

I played with the new Google Calendar yesterday (great timing – we had just finished a meeting at the TLC where we were throwing ideas around to improve our timesheet and project tracking systems, and a calendar UI was high on the list).

At first, I thought it was just a web based iCal knockoff. But, I just played a bit more, and now I realize it’s a web based Newton Calendar knockoff. That’s meant as a very high compliment. Maybe, 10 years later, we’re ready to get back into data soups and intelligent assistants…

Try this. Log into Google Calendar, and hit the “Quick Add” link. A text box pops up. Enter “lunch with elvis tomorrow at noon for 2 hours at the bellagio in las vegas

What you get is a calendar event created, at 12:00pm, blocking the calendar for 2 hours, with location “the bellagio in Las Vegas” (including a link to a Google Map showing where the Bellagio is). I’m assuming if Elvis was in my Google Contact List, he’d be automatically added and invited to the event.

The UI is also by far the best calendar UI I’ve seen on the web. It feels completely like a desktop application. Want to create an event from 1pm-2pm? Just drag a selection on the calendar, and it creates an event – then prompts you for details. Just like a good desktop calendar should. But it’s a web app.

Calendars can also be shared, either publically or with a defined set of individuals – for free, without having to pony up for a .Mac account. And you can subscribe to standard calendars published in the iCal format. I subscribed to the Calgary Flames schedule right away 🙂

This is pretty cool stuff. It’s going to be tough reverting back to Oracle Corporate Time™ for use on campus. Now I have to put in for a schwanky graphics tablet so Google Calendar can have handwriting recognition like my old MessagePad did…

I played with the new Google Calendar yesterday (great timing – we had just finished a meeting at the TLC where we were throwing ideas around to improve our timesheet and project tracking systems, and a calendar UI was high on the list).

At first, I thought it was just a web based iCal knockoff. But, I just played a bit more, and now I realize it’s a web based Newton Calendar knockoff. That’s meant as a very high compliment. Maybe, 10 years later, we’re ready to get back into data soups and intelligent assistants…

Try this. Log into Google Calendar, and hit the “Quick Add” link. A text box pops up. Enter “lunch with elvis tomorrow at noon for 2 hours at the bellagio in las vegas

What you get is a calendar event created, at 12:00pm, blocking the calendar for 2 hours, with location “the bellagio in Las Vegas” (including a link to a Google Map showing where the Bellagio is). I’m assuming if Elvis was in my Google Contact List, he’d be automatically added and invited to the event.

The UI is also by far the best calendar UI I’ve seen on the web. It feels completely like a desktop application. Want to create an event from 1pm-2pm? Just drag a selection on the calendar, and it creates an event – then prompts you for details. Just like a good desktop calendar should. But it’s a web app.

Calendars can also be shared, either publically or with a defined set of individuals – for free, without having to pony up for a .Mac account. And you can subscribe to standard calendars published in the iCal format. I subscribed to the Calgary Flames schedule right away 🙂

This is pretty cool stuff. It’s going to be tough reverting back to Oracle Corporate Time™ for use on campus. Now I have to put in for a schwanky graphics tablet so Google Calendar can have handwriting recognition like my old MessagePad did…