Dumbstart's Daily Apple Newton

Serving up Newton news and software for 12 months and counting, thanks for your support to every one of the 7000 visitors.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

taking back the Newton.

To further the goals of Newton users worldwide, I'm going to begin reviewing older Apple Newton software that is no longer being developed but its use is still viable. I'm going to include screenshots and simple steps to use the software. If enough people find the programs useful then I would like to gather support in an attempt to get the source released back into the wild. The problem being if it hasn't been updated in almost 10 years, it would be harder to contact the developer than it would be to convince them to release the source code. Even if we aren't successful in releasing one piece of software, hopefully I can introduce some of the Newton’s past projects to the Newton users of today.

Bowser - Mini-Review #1

Bowser is (still) a revolutionary handheld decision-making program utilizing user-created branching pathways. Bowser was last developed in 1995 by Don Miller M.D. (a doctor no less) and is compatible with any Newton with 2MB of space or more. Whatever stopped development between now and then is anyone's guess, but Miller hinted that any further development depended on the Shareware response, so that may be part of the cause. The fact that the program is almost 10 years old doesn't change its effectiveness as a tool for use in today’s world. Whether you are following mandated guidelines for medication in the field of medicine (as Miller originally planned), trying to find the root of the problem in technical support, or are in any kind of decision making environment, Bowser can be of help to you. Now, on with the mini-review . . .

When you first start Bowser, it brings you to a screen where you are able to choose an existing Bowser tree or begin to create a new one on your own. The window shows the available tree. Miller included a Sample Tree to demonstrate the process one would use with Bowser. Also of note is the ? (question mark) brings up an About screen. An excellent addition to the About screen is the ability to click on the picture to have it remove all additional files created by Bowser, tucked neatly out of accidental reach while allowing easy access to total removal. The Edit menu allows you to delete, modify, and create new Bowser trees while the Go menu begins the decision making process.

Once you have started your Bowser tree, you are then presented with a question and as many as five different paths to take. In the Sample Tree you see on the right (which I will walk you through its creation in a few moments), the question is posed, "Does the patient complain of abdominal pain?" At this point you would decide which path best fit your situation. But first, let's talk about the extra options that are found on each card. In the upper-left hand corner, the arrow pointing towards the line brings you back to the beginning of the decision-tree. In the upper-right corner, the arrow point up moves you one card backwards in the tree. In the lower-left corner, the screens with a checkmark shows all the different decisions that have been made so far. In the lower right hand corner, the asterisk shows a more complete overview of information concerning the current card. Follow the tabs at the bottom to determine what the best course of action is for the current Bowser tree.

You have quite a few different options to choose from when you are creating a Bowser tree. After naming your tree and entering the reference material for your Bowser tree, you then choose the number of tabs for the current card from as few as 1 to as many as 5. Node(s) refer to the number of user-created cards and Depth shows how far down the tree the card actually is. The cards and tabs are filled out with the question and possible decisions using the Newton's HWR. By clicking on the arrow below each tab, you create a new card linked to the card you are currently on. Bowser also comes with some limited formatting, allowing you to choose two different font styles for the main card. Choose the large A or small A to switch between the two fonts. Instead of creating cards one at a time, you can add existing Bowser trees to a card by selecting the flow chart icon at the bottom. You return to adding single cards by selecting the card icon to the right of the flow chart icon. You delete cards, and all cards linked below that card, by using the Delete Node button. It will prompt you to make certain you want to delete the card before it does remove it from the Bowser tree. The down arrow in the bottom right corner will change the layout of the card, switching between a top alignment and a center alignment. The asterisk opens a new window allowing you to create a more in depth description of the card. With all these options, you are able to create a flow chart that can fit many varied needs. This is just a very skin deep introduction to Bowser and I hope I've been able to introduce you to a little known part of the Newton's history of development.

Friday, March 26, 2004

any suggestions?

I'm looking for suggestions for additional stats to track with nControl. As of this writing I have calories, fat, carbs, and sodium. I was thinking of adding fiber and saturated fat, allowing you to choose exactly which nutritional content to track on your own. I will hopefully have a release for later next week, so start looking forward to changing your life once again using your Apple Newton.

This is the first time I've done this, but I'm going to try and find the good news and bad news of the moment for the Apple Newton. Today, I'll start off simply with the Newton revival which is an often talked about, always prayed for, but has yet to happen moment.

Good News - Apple prototypes making the rounds
Bad News - Apple prototypes not making the rounds

It's good or bad depending on who you believe. Let's all say a quiet word for the passing of the Newton OS and hope that it will live to see a new life in today's world. At the very least, that developers will still continue to strive for the best and make the Newton easy to sync to your home computer, cell phone, laptop, and wireless access point. Dare to dream that I could eat a Krystal Chili Cheese Pup and surf the web wirelessly on my Apple Newton.

If you have any good news or bad news links, email me at dumbstart@satx.rr.com. I'd love to hear some good news for the Newton community, of course it would have to be served with some bad news, no yen without yang, no handwriting recognition without a mispelled word, no Public television without People Like You.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

new program on the horizon.

Okay, I've been gone but I've actually been thinking about my Newton. I even took it on vacation. I wanted to show it the world to thank it for showing me a new world. Ah, sweet talking my PDA! You don't see Palm users doing that. Hopefully, my girlfriend won't read this and get jealous. I'd hate to have to choose between them.

During all this thinking about my Newton, I've come up with nControl which is a weight management program that will allow users to track their daily intake of calories, carbs, sodium, and other health conscious values. To start, the user will be asked a series of questions to help the program decipher their individual health goals. Then daily the user will enter information about what they have eaten and any exercise that was done. Based on this information, the program will monitor how well the user has stuck to their daily goal by providing them with a one word rating such as Average, Good, Excellent, or Bad. Hopefully, once I finish nControl it will be as simple to use as it is to try and describe. I do have a screenshot to help make it more clear what nControl actually is and, as always, it will be free.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

been a long time gone.

Sorry to all Newton users. I took my little green friend on a trip back to my homeland. Where is that you ask? Georgia. It's not really where I was born, but it is where I saw my first Newton and the love affair began. Who knew that 10 years later I'd write Newton programs that at least one person (besides myself) actually use!

I'm hard at work providing some new Newton-related material (especially the commercial). I took some pictures on my trip that I am hoping to use, so stay tuned for more information as the story develops.

Speaking of releasing something soon, I think I'm just going to have to quit if this is what I have to compete against. And for those of you behind on your Newton rumors and history, please follow me this way.

Friday, March 05, 2004

the newton death conspiracy.

I've found some very troubling pictures. All of them are very similar to the Newton (proportions and shade of green are both correct). I have come to the conclusion that Steve Jobs didn't kill the Newton, but the International Adult Neo-Corporate Cartoon Conspiracy did! Just a quick look at the facts-Gary Trudeau had an extensive biting commentary on the Newton (even though he never owned a Newton), Dilbert was against most of what Apple stood for during the time of the Newton (as seen here Dogbert using one to lesser effect), and the Simpsons is the voice of the common man (commanding us to Eat up Martha...strange that the Newton did get the capitalization correct though). I'm going to do more digging on the Newton and its downfall, which could be the result of a secret plot enacted, in part, by cartoon studios around the world.

speaking of small updates.

Suprnova.org finally posted my torrent for Newtendo support files (listed under the Applications heading), including many files not found anywhere else such as Elevator Action, Millipede, Ice Climber, Mega Man 2, Loderunner, Ms. Pacman, Nobunga's Ambition (if I could only get a refund for the time I spent trying to conquer all 50 fiefs), Qix, RC Pro Am (which is extemely playable), Skate or Die 2 (another surprise), Snake Rattle and Roll, as well as everyone's favorite Win, Lose, or Draw (what didn't they make into a NES game?). Please enjoy and remember to let the torrents work by leaving it up once the download is complete.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

too many small updates.

Newtendo as you like it. Here's 80 different (half working, half not working) Newtendo Roms in one torrent. Thanks to torrents.com for posting the Newtendo torrent here. Try again and don't forget to check out the absolute latest (at least by the time this was posted) version of Newtendo at its home page.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

now try moving again.

Okay, I see what I did...or at least what the problem was for level 18 on Rush Hour. Go ahead and download the latest version of Rush Hour with some tweaks and the level 18 fix. Enjoy fellow Newton users and look for Planks in the near, near future.

better late than never.

Hello one and all. I've put together a bittorrent link to 80 different Newtendo files. Newtendo Torrent. If you have any questions about using BitTorrent, check out the FAQ and a few of the bittorrent clients like the official OS X version, instructions for using BitTorrent on OS 9, and Torrent Storm for Windows.

Apparently, there is a problem with level 18 on Rush Hour. If anyone has encountered it (or if they have NOT encountered it), please leave a comment. I played through to level 20 and haven't had any problems, so I need to find out if I (without remembering well enough) created a newer version that isn't suffering from the level 18 problem or if it is indeed a problem that just isn't affecting me.

In case you haven't seen it yet (even though this is highly doubtful), Eagan has the latest version of Newtendo up on his home page. This latest version (must still be played in Landscape mode) incorporates the Newton keyboard into its controls (credit was given to Daniel Padilla for the creation of the keyboard controls). Thanks for all the hard work going into Newtendo. I speak for all Newton owners when I say that we appreciate all your efforts. Also, congratulations for the Slashdot mention. Great stuff for the entire Newton community.

Ideas in the works include remaking one of the original Newton commercials. Who is Newton? Newton keeps your wife company while you're at work. Newton makes your cubicle seem almost as big as it is, etc. . . I just think it would be fun to do. If you aren't familar with the Newton commercials, check them out at here. The commercials remind me of the first time I'd ever heard of the Newton..great moments in history I tell you. Other things on the horizon include actually releasing Planks with real levels, more Newtendo games, a memory-clone, the final revision of my Newtonscript tutorial, and who knows what else.

Check back soon for updates.