I find myself once again in the deserts of the Middle East. I have been here a long time and am almost ready to go home.
One of my best friends (other than my wife, who I talk to through emails and Skype) is my Newton. I have both my PowerBook G4 and my black MacBook, but what I carry on me as part of my gear is my MessagePad 120. This is my second deployment with it, and I have it custom painted tan to match my old desert camouflage uniform.
In one sentence, I am waiting for Apple to replace the Newton.
The iPhone, with its email and Internet capabilities, is great, but most of Iraq doesn’t have cell towers. I need an Apple-based PDA. The new iPod touch seems good, but it’s still missing email, fax, text editing, and handwriting recognition like my Newton can do.
My Newton doesn’t have a WiFi card, but it has a good fax/modem card. I haven’t tried to get my Newton to work with Mac OS X, but it’s simple enough to store everything I need on hand in this hectic combat zone.
Things I have on my Newton:
- Email contact list
- Phone numbers
- Serial numbers
- LEM articles brainstorms
- A letter in case something happens to me
- Unclassified job related notes
- Training notes
I also have a few games that keep me busy.
My Newton helps me do my job better, and I keep backups of documents on my 5G iPod.
GIs love it when I pull out my Newton while I’m instructing or troubleshooting equipment; they often ask what the NSN (National Stock Number) – commonly know to civilians as a part number – to order one. People don’t believe me when they see the Apple logo up close and I tell them its not a piece of military gear.
I want Apple to simply update the software on the iPhone and iPod touch to have these capabilities. I would go out right now and buy both and simply take the iPod touch with me overseas.
Sadly, my Newton’s screen got crushed a few weeks ago when I had it in one of my cargo pockets and had to get in the prone position unexpectedly. I know that many people believe that the Newton is obsolete and that the only ones worth using were the 2000/2100, but I loved my MessagePad 120.
I got my MessagePad 120 in the summer of 2000 after a successful summer at the business I was running. I paid around $100 and really wanted something better, like the 130 with its backlit display or the all powerful 2000/2100, but that was all I could afford back then. And I just got used to it and never upgraded.
I already mailed my Newton with a bunch of other things home while I am in the process of redeploying. If anyone wants to say hi to boost morale, feel free to email me at mulderbean (at) gmail (dot) com.