From Mac Monthly, January 14, 1994

Newton Notes:

"Do you really use it?": A day with Newton

©Copyright 1993 David MacNeill

Scene: Buckthorns cafe, drinking French Roast to upgrade my morning brain’s single-digit clock speed. An attractive Asian woman approaches me as I peruse my to-do list.

"Hey, that’s a Newton, isn’t it?," she says.


"Do you really use it?"

"Absolutely! I live out of this little guy."

I wanted to tell her all about it, but there wasn’t time, so I’ll tell you instead.

After scanning my to-do list, I tap the calendar button to check the day’s schedule. Hmmm, no class today, one consulting appointment this afternoon. Cool. That will give me time to catch up on my MacWorld research. With a few taps, I rearrange the priorities on all my to-do list items related to MacWorld. Now I can clearly see the day mapped out before me. The java must have kicked in because I’m actually looking forward to going to the office now.

After hanging up my coat and docking the Duo, the first thing I do after arriving at the office is check PeeWee (all Newtons have names, don’t they?) for any unfiled notes I may have scribbled since yesterday. Could be something time-critical that I need to discuss with one of the other instructors before they begin the day’s teaching, or perhaps some new tasteless joke to share with Mel. Ah, something here about a PhoneNet PC batch file…Right, it’s the fix for our Windows printing problem that I wrote down last night! I dash into Classroom B to make the change on the 486 just in time for Leslie’s PageMaker Intermediate class.

Back at the desk, PeeWee’s alarm reminds me to call Will at Intelligent Newton magazine, who beamed me his card at the show. Since I don’t remember whether I filed it under last name or company name, I use the Find button and search for Will. When his card comes up, I tap his number so PeeWee can dial it for me. Will asks me about continuing my courseware development ad in the magazine, so I check PeeWee’s calendar to see where a six month commitment puts me. I tap 1994 to see the eight-months-at-a-glance calendar, then tap on the day I want to go to. Timing looks cool for the Biz-Tec show, so I book ’em.

What’s this on my to-do list about a class description? Oh yeah, I wrote a blurb on my new Introduction to the Internet class for the next IconoClass calendar/newsletter. Hmm, must be in here somewhere…Of course, right here next to my notes with Tomasso’s hours on it; I must have written it while waiting at the restaurant. However, this is no time to talk about calzone.

I don’t feel like re-typing the class description, so I jack the cable from the Duo into PeeWee’s printer port to synchronize the data on the two machines using Apple’s Newton Connection software. Once synched, I double-click the note with the description, copy the text, then paste it into PageMaker’s story editor. Done.

After my consulting client departs, I draw a vertical line in PeeWee’s calendar view representing the appointment’s duration, then jot a note to remember to beam it to Sarah’s Newton so she can send out a bill. (I wonder if Sarah has named her Newton yet?)

Mel’s class is over, so I head to Classroom B to check out yet another Windows printing problem. To eliminate the possibility of a flaky LocalTalk cable connection, I jack the PhoneNet transceiver into PeeWee’s printer port, then tap on NetNames. NetNames is a useful little shareware application for Newton that gives you enterprise-wide access to all your AppleShare network’s server volumes, printers, and other resources. This time everything shows up as it should, so the problem must be in Windows (what a surprise.) I scrawl a note to call Microsoft tomorrow.

Captain Picard missed his big chance to destroy the Borg: he should have given them a site license for Windows 3.1!

As I prepare to head for home, PeeWee chimes to remind me to check my mail, so I plug in the phone jack and log onto NewtonMail. There’s a letter from an On The Go reader sent from an Internet address. He says he tried a Newton at Macworld, loved it, and wants one badly, but he’s not sure how useful one would be on a daily basis.

I jot down a quick reminder to send him this article.

Dave MacNeill is a teacher, consultant, marketing director, and mobile computing fanatic for the IconoClass, a Macintosh, Windows, and Newton training center in Sacramento, 916-443-2527. He can be reached on NewtonMail at davemacneill, or on the Internet at