Mr. Advisadero

Voice Card  -  Volume 30  -  John Card Number 2  -  Mon, Dec 20, 1993 3:14 AM

I am very pleased to announce that the book review I included in issue 29 was indeed published in the December issue of Wired Magazine (page 112). My name also appeared on the contributer's list as "editor of the electronic journal Archipelago." The icing on the cake is that Archipelago has now been mentioned in the pages of a major magazine. Who'da thunk it? Thanks again to Betsy for getting my foot in the door.

And now it appears I will soon see a second review published in Wired (probably in March). This time I did a general review of shareware for Apple's new handheld gadget, the Newton. Here is sneak preview of the draft I e-mailed last week:

Newton Shareware Review: Mr. Advisador WIRED Street Cred John Cartan - December 15, 1993

Many of the pioneers who rushed to buy in to the PDA revolution are finding a pleasant surprise in the Extras drawer of their Newton MessagePad. In the few short months since the release of the Newton, over a hundred innovative shareware programs have appeared on services like America Online and Compuserve.

The games range from arcade games like Tetris or Missile Command, to card games like Poker or Solitaire, to golden oldies like Hangman or Battleship. Dozens of utilities are available to smooth rough edges in the Newton interface or add new capabilities like a timer or a French vocabulary. And some offerings are just plain wacky like the tricorder, which Trekkers can use to emit convincing bleeps and blurps. All of these "packages" are free or dirt cheap and can be easily downloaded to a Mac or Windows PC and then transferred to the Newton via serial cable.

The first shareware program appeared within hours of the Newton itself. Mr. Advisador, a cadaverous mystery man who can lurk amidst the ethereal pages of your Newton notepad with all the patience and cunning of the infamous Macintosh Moose, offers wisdom and fortune telling to anyone bold enough to tap his blinking tophat. Creator Ben Sharpe was inspired by Posada's Dias de los Muertos style prints and thought it would be fun to make a digital assistant with a little spirit. His pallid prophet has attracted the beginnings of a cult following among the Newton Cognoscenti.

Also available online are shelf after shelf of "NewtonBooks," browsable hypertext documents complete with illustrations. Many public domain classics, like the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, have been uploaded as a public service by groups like the Online Book Initiative and Project Guttenberg. It is a surprisingly pleasant experience to curl up in bed with a Newton, an Itty Bitty Booklight, and "The Red-Headed League."

This sudden cornucopia is so rich and varied that utilities are already appearing to expand the size of the Extras drawer. All of this bodes well for the future of Newton development; today's shareware often matures into tomorrow's commercial software. As Mr. Advisador would say, "good things come in small packages."