From Pen Computing Magazine #13, December 1996

Newton Notes

What's on your Newton, Part II

©Copyright 1996 David MacNeill

I must say I was more than gratified at the quantity and quality of your responses to my "What’s On Your Newton?" column. Apparently, the collective Newton-using public is a very inventive and enterprising lot. Albert Einstein said, as one reader reminded me, "Why clutter your mind with things you can look up?" In this edition of Newton Notes I’d like to share with you the words of some of these uncluttered minds, along with definitions for some of those weird Newton terms.

The Newbie
Mark Vucinich <> is a recent convert from an HP-100LX who had owned his MessagePad 130 for only two weeks at the time he sent me his response. "I thought it would be appropriate that I respond to your article using my Newton MP 130 and my now five minute old Newton Keyboard," writes Mark. "I’m actually writing this in the mall foodcourt and will be sending it off when I get back to work using my ISP and GoFetch Shell Transport." Mark is a Windows 95 user and chooses his Newton software with compatibility in mind. He uses Notion 1.5 with Notion Connect to transport QuickFigure Pro stationery to Excel 7.0. He uses proCalc EX ("gotta have my HP calculator"), and uses modules from both the NewtCase and Newt Tools utility suites. For games, Mark prefers Battleship and Mahjongg. He has a long wish list of goodies he’d like to buy but he just got married and claims his wife wouldn’t approve. (Hint: buy her a Newton, then you can buy yourself, er, the family, all the stuff you want.)

The Researcher
Rod Tiangco <> has a lot of notes to keep in his lab book. He is moving all his handwritten notes to his MessagePad 120/2.0, which he has equipped with a 10MB memory card (!) and a 14.4Kbps modem to fax and email colleagues from wherever he may be. Here are some of the things he carries everywhere: diary and work record; experimental results and follow ups; meetings and appointments; serial numbers, passwords, and PINs; ideas for next business venture; quotes and sayings collected over the years; schedules of submeetings and agendas; contacts and supplier info; library references for eventual lookup; thesis references; phone log; startup procedures for his Macs and PCs; important web sites; time and billing sheet; and, of course, his grocery list. Rod keeps all this stuff organized and accessible with MoreInfo, PowerNames, X-Port, Life Balance, Newt Tools, BackDrop+, Pocket Money, MPG, Notion, and CIS Retriever. He claims he uses the thing everywhere, even on the throne!

The Artist
Kate Gladstone <> of Handwriting Repair in Albany, NY has packed her MessagePad 130 with an eclectic toolkit. In addition to reference materials in Newton Book form, she carries "a LOT of apps and zillions of extensions." She uses Digital Gourmet; IR TimeSync from Apple; Ben Gottlieb’s BackDrop+, KeyMan, and Clipper; and a shareware spell checker called Speller. She also uses the fonts Monaco and the Minico. She wants to know when she can get a utility that will download her favorite TrueType fonts to the Newton, and that makes two of us.

The Developer
John White <> uses his MessagePad 120/2.0 to keep track of the ten thousand things a developer must have at his fingertips, including: the history of the DogCow; an AppleScript command reference; AOLnet access numbers; air times of cool TV shows; software serial number/version database; money loaned; neat stuff to buy when he has extra cash; dream computer notes; and the indispensable fax order form to Whataburger in Houston. In the personal folder, he keeps a Newton Book version of the Kama Sutra "Just a moment, honey, let me get my Newton..." John has created two Newton books available at:

Newton Terminology 101
Vance Walker <> took me to task for assuming all my readers are familiar with terms like "soup" and "heap memory." He’s right, of course. It’s easy to forget that a fresh crop of Newton owners are coming along all the time, and for many this may be their first computer. So I’d like to elaborate on a few common Newton-related terms.

Heap is the finite portion of your Newton’s memory that holds the operating system, as well as information on each package you have installed. If you have too many packages installed you will frequently "run out" of heap memory, forcing you to restart your Newton so you can use it up again. Which reminds me of...

Freezing. Under Newton OS 2.0 you can selectively disable, or "freeze," any package, thereby freeing up a little bit of heap. Frozen packages can be "thawed" and launched any time, it just takes a little longer. And speaking of food...

Soup is the name given by Apple to the data file structure used by Newton applications (packages). It is roughly equivalent to saying "file" on a conventional computer, although soups have database-like qualities that are lacking in traditional file structures. On the subject of holding things...

Drawers are what pop out when you tap the Extras button. These are distinct from folders, which are exactly like the ones in Windows 95 and the Mac OS, except on the Newton you can only create a dozen of them and they cannot be nested.

-David MacNeill <>