From Pen Computing Magazine #14, February 1997

Newton Notes

The Soup Nazi

©Copyright 1997 David MacNeill

Every time I sit down to review a new piece of Newton software I try to clean out as much old stuff as possible. I strive to eliminate as many variables as I can when I look at somebody’s newborn product. It’s only fair to give these hatchlings a safe environment in which to do their stuff. But I have finally had enough of my faith and guesswork, stone knives and bearskins method of cleaning up my MessagePad. I need an absolutely reliable, repeatable procedure that’s fast and easy, so I’ll actually do it and not sleaze off.

Old method: Scrub out any old software lying around in the Extras drawer, check off the soups in Storage and delete them, reset the MessagePad, then back up to my memory card and to the Mac. Sounds thorough, right? Wrong. All kind of weird stuff can and will work its way back onto your ostensibly clean Newton, with unpredictable consequences.

Time to get scientific, I reasoned. Some soups and autoparts just don’t seem to show up in those checklists when you backup or restore. Any of them can make life miserable, so they must die.

The order of events was the key, I conjectured, so I had to think it through before proceeding. (This required an unusual level of self-discipline for me; I generally just start bashing away until I get what I want.)

The Soup Nazi
I call this method the Soup Nazi after the funniest Seinfeld episode of all time. This approach has only been tried on a MessagePad 120 and a MessagePad 130, both with Newton 2.0 ROMs. I didn’t try it on an older Newton. It goes like this:

1. First you must be sure you have installed the latest rev of the operating system. There is a terrific table listing all the various versions for different MessagePads at Apple’s Newton Solutions page <>. Get the latest for your device and install it before you do anything else.

2. Plug in the AC adapter, then reset your Newton using the button in the back, behind the battery door. This will free up enough heap memory to ensure a good, clean backup.

3. After the reset, backup your internal memory onto your memory card, making sure that the All box is checked so you get everything.

4. Perform a complete backup to your Mac or PC using Newton Backup Utility. Make sure that you have the All box checked so you get everything. WARNING: Do not skip this backup step or bad things will happen to you. Yes, it takes practically forever, but into each life a little rain must fall. Do it. If you skip it and disaster strikes don’t email me your tale of woe.

5. Next you will totally erase all the internal data in your Newton except for any operating system patches you have installed and the contents of your memory card. Turn off your Newton, remove the battery door, press and hold the reset button, then immediately pull and hold the on/off switch on the side. Remove the stylus from the reset button slot, continuing to hold down the power switch until you see the "Do you want to erase data completely?" message. Tap yes, then confirm that you want to totally erase all data from your Newton with the OK button you now see. Poof, all internal memory is gone, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

6. Close the card window by tapping the X box. Realign your pen and screen as requested, but you can ignore the rest of the setup stuff by tapping the continue buttons until they go away.

7. Tap the Extras button, then tap Card. You will now totally erase your card by tapping Erase, then Entire card. The card is now pristine along with your Newton. If you take your rig for a spin you will be amazed at how much faster it is. Enjoy this while you can, since it will slowly degrade over time.

8. Tap the Extras button, then launch Connection and fire up NBU on your computer. Once connected, either click on NBU’s Restore button on your computer or the one on your Newton, it doesn’t matter which. Choose the name of the backup file you wish to restore (presumably the one you created earlier in this session).

9. What follows is the critical operation of the Soup Nazi method. Proceed with caution. Remember, you have a complete backup -- right? -- so the worst that can happen is that you’ll have to start the procedure all over again.

Since NBU saves the memory card store and the internal store separately, you’ll have to look at both of them individually. Each restore operation will present you with a list of information and/or packages to restore. Carefully check only those items that you definitely want, leaving the nasty old stuff unchecked. On your card store be sure to uncheck the Card Backup item. You don’t want that old one because it contains all the stuff you’re trying to dump!

You now have a lean, mean Newton, a trim memory card, and a clear conscience. All those old bit-gremlins that you have been meaning to clean out are history. You’ve upgraded your system to the latest and greatest. If you are lucky your Newton runs faster now, too. You carry only what you need, like a true techie nomad. Now try to keep it fast by installing only the stuff you really use.

-David MacNeill -<>