Monthly Archives: July 2006

Keeping the Green

Keeping the Green  

NOTHING is more time-consuming than poring over a newly-acquired or otherwise newly-repaired gadget.

Or at least for a drunkard of my age, temperament, ability, and, for the lack of a better term, social status.

While your geeky, garden-variety, zit-faced, testosterone-infested male adolescent would rather surf the web endlessly for revealing pictures of say, Maureen Larrazabal and/or Aya Medel, deadline-beating drunken bums such as myself are simply content to fiddle with our equipment (Freudian references unintended). 

Which is what I have exactly done in my spare time in the last few days.

Early this month, my Apple eMate 300 was resurrected, after its heretofore dead rechargeable batteries were recelled, thanks to the experts at the Cubao branch of Battery Specialist.*

And as soon as the new set of batteries were installed and charged, I have not stopped from appreciating the beauty and simplicity of this pre-millennium gadget, the world’s first personal digital assistant (PDA) that came with a keyboard. Faintly resembling a proto-clamshell iBook, the Apple eMate 300 mostly came in green (even as there are sightings of black and pink eMates) and with software allowing the transfer of files to and from Mac and/or Windows-based computers. 

While it was made for American schoolchildren — Apple salespeople reportedly dropped the eMate from a building’s fourth floor to show its durability — it was deemed to expensive for the educational market at $800 apiece (circa 1997). Nevertheless, for its time, it was as good as a PDA can get.

Using additional third-party devices and applications, the eMate allowed email and wireless web surfing. Despite its unique form factor, the eMate remained the progeny of the Apple Newton, a handheld device with an operating system of the same name, and most importantly, the world’s first PDA. It featured handwriting recognition which, while criticized for its failures, has turned out to be one of the best in the industry. 

Unfortunately, in 2001, Apple pulled the plug on the platform, four years after it introduced the eMate and eight years after it launched the Newton.

Nevertheless, the so-called Newton faithful remain steadfast. To this day, in an age dominated by Treos, Palms, and Blackberries, Newton users — who encourage each other with slogans such as “Keep the Green,” — remain active in what may well be one of the oldest mailing lists in the world,

Besides featuring discussions of Newtons, eMates, their various issues and incarnations, the list proposes ideas for future third-party applications and latest rumors regarding Apple’s plans to relaunch the Newton, exchanges of which can be viewed online. Among those who belong to this mailing list include this drunken bum, perhaps one of the only two Newton users based in the

Like most members of the Newton faithful, I’m doing my best to keep the green in this part of the world.  

Which is why this blog entry was written on the eMate, the best little green gadget ever to come out of the world’s greatest computer company. Now if only Apple would think about launching the Newton once again… 

From the awards department. This space sends its congratulations to Fritz Dacpano, currently an understudy at the Manila office of the Agence France Press, whose work was chosen as one of the finalists of the Jaime V. Ongpin journalism awards. Dacpano, for some reason or other, remains one of the few readers of this blog.  

*As implied by its name, Battery Specialist not only recells old batteries, it also sells batteries of old gadgets, including obsolete cellphones such as Nokia 5110s. Service is quick and excellent especially after the staff agreed to follow battery recelling instructions indicated in Frank Gruendel’s website, Battery Specialist has branches all across Metro Manila.


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Alecks Pabico sent me here

Attended a Quezon City surprise party – the second one I’ve been to this year – where I met Alecks Pabico, webmaster nonpareil of the PCIJ. He said I should transfer to if I want to continue blogging. So here I am. Thanks, Alecks.

N.B. Currently addressing concerns re: transfer of data between the Apple eMate 300 and a slightly temperamental PowerBook 2400C. Once that’s done, I’ll be blogging all the time. That is, if I have the time.

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