Duane's Newton Page
(NOS 2.1 and MessagePad 2100)



What does Duane do with his Newton MessagePad 2100?
1. Track out of pocket expenses: I record expenses in Pocket$ and at the end of the month generate a summary, which I save in Notes and also transfer to Quicken on my Mac.
2. To Do List: Before the Newton, I never kept a To Do list and I regularly forgot things. I still forget things, but I have my Newton to remind me.
3. Notes: I jot down notes on all sorts of things, including random ideas, shopping lists, reminders (with alarms), minutes of meetings, bug reports, software registration codes, expense reports, my running log, etc.
4. Address/Phone Book: Newton Names is the most extensive address book I've ever had, including multiple (typed) phone numbers per person, birthdays, email addresses, home page URLs, ICQ numbers, signs of the zodiac, etc.
5. Calendar: All the meetings I want to (or have to) attend are recorded in Newton Dates with reminders, as needed. The Dates program also shows me birthdays that I shouldn't forget. My Newton calendar and To Do list are synchronized with the ClockWork day planner program on my Mac.
6. Calculator: I have a convenient scientific calculator on my Newton for the occasions when I need one.
7. Games: I'm not much of a games person, but I do play Backgammon and Chess on my Newton occasionally, winning the former and losing the latter.
8. Movies: I always have the current list of Pittsburgh movies and show times with me in Paperback format on my Newton.
9. Books: I always have a book to read on my Newton, usually one of the many literary classics that have been reformatted as a Newton Book from an existing digital version. And since I have plenty of storage, I carry several documents for reference purposes.
10. Alarm Clock: Oh, yeah, I almost forgot, my Newton wakes me up every morning with an increasingly insistent chime.
Some people use a Newton for email and web browsing, but I haven't done that. Others use a Newton for word processing, but I haven't done that either. My desktop computers both at work and at home are more suitable for these sorts of things. I really do treat my Newton as a PDA rather than as a general purpose computer.

Recommended Software

Avi's Backdrop 1.24 by Avi Drissman
Avi's Backdrop is a lightweight but very useful backdrop application that, among other things, displays upcoming birthdays and provides a place to scribble quick notes on the background. With the addition of the scribble feature, Avi's Backdrop excels over the NU Backdrop. Free.
Calc++ by MacSOS
Calc++ is a basic scientific calculator. Free.
ClockWork 1.0.5 by Century Software
ClockWork is a Macintosh application that manages your calendar and synchronizes the information with your Newton. It does not yet support contact management, but that feature is promised.
Deep Green by J. Bondo, J.M. Bengaard, and S. Ludwig
This is the best Chess program for the Newton. Free.
Drop To Do by Stand Alone, Inc.
An enhancement of the standard Newton To Do list.
Newton Underground Backdrop by the Newton Underground Software Division (i.e. Jake)
The extras tabs at the bottom of NUDrop are incredibly convenient and so is the space to write notes. Free.
Nick's BattMon by Nick Müller
Displays the status of the batteries on the button bar. Free.
Paperback by David Fedor
Turns text files into a package that can display itself on the Newton. Paperback books take up very little space, because only one of them need include the embedded reader application. This is the program I use to create a Newton readable version of the "This Week in Pittsburgh Cinemas" movie listings. Free.
Pocket Money by Catamount Software
A nifty little personal money program that I use to track my out of pocket expenses. It can export transactions to Quicken.
Super Notepad by Stand Alone, Inc.
A significant enhancement to the standard Newton Notes application. It lets you filter your notes, lock them, and attach alarms to them, among other things. It also enhances the ways you can view your notes and improves scrolling through them.
Wake Up Call by Five Speed Software
This neat little alarm clock wakes me up every morning and it works very well.

Things I have Created for the Newton

Pittsburgh Movie Listings
Listings of movies showing in the Pittsburgh area in Newton Paperback format, updated weekly from the "This Week in Pittsburgh Cinemas" web site. Free.

Backup Strategy for "Oversized" Memory Cards

Newton backup programs only claim to support flash memory cards up to 4MB and trying to backup a larger card is likely to result in errors. I have a 20MB Pretec flash memory card which I have sometimes successfully backed up using the following strategy.

Insofar as possible, I store all my personal data on the 4MB internal store which NCU can backup without problems. I also keep original copies of all non-builtin packages on my Mac. It is therefore not necessary to backup packages at all. Not backing up packages greatly reduces backup time and if only packages are stored on the external card then it doesn't need to be backed up.

If it is necessary to store original data on the external card, it may be possible to backup the card by telling NCU not to backup packages on the card. One thing to note is that doing a backup of the internal store to an external memory card puts a large amount of non-package data on the card that will be backed up when the card is backed up, even with package backup turned off. To reduce the size of this "card backup" data, turn off package backup when backing up the internal store to the external card if you plan on later backing up the card.

Some people have reported fewer problems with backup when they do full rather than incremental backups.

Recommended Books

Newton Programmer's Guide: For Newton 2.0
An essential guide to programming the Newton with NOS 2.0, but rather expensive. Includes a CD ROM.
Newton 2.0 User Interface Guidelines
A useful detailed look at the components of the Newton UI

Where to get Newton News

Newton Underground
The best place on the web for information about the Newton. It has a wonderful bboard where people can usually get answers to their questions from other friendly Newton users.
NewtNews
This site puts Newton News up front, but it's also littered with news about many inferior PDAs.
Mike's Newton Page
A page similar to this one, but created by a more experienced Newton user, with more extensive reviews of the programs he uses and likes.
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Copyright © 1998 Duane T. Williams. All rights reserved.
Last updated on 16 June 1998.
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