This page is meant to be a resource to those with an interest in the Windows CE 2.0-based Nino 300 series Palm-size PC from Philips. Since this page came online back in mid-January, I've become aware, through e-mail, newsgroups, and chat forums, of the large degree of interest that this little unit has generated. Now that the Nino has been released and users have started to get them in their hands (I've got two!), I intend to continue reporting items of interest and relevance to those that care to hear about them. I am very pleased with what Philips has brought to market with the Nino and have no doubt that, down the road, the next incarnation of the Nino will again be the superior device in that arena--and I will be here to cover it. If anyone discovers any news of interest out there that might have a place on this page, please e-mail me, Blake Patterson, at blake@blakespot.com and let me know.



Put this page in your pocket!

I am sure many of you have heard tell of Microsoft's recently announced revolutionary, resolution-enhanced font rendering techgnology for LCD displays known as ClearType (see the press release). Basically, ClearType improves the quality of a rendered on-screen font, on an LCD monitor, by 300%. While Microsoft refuses to release white papers while their patent is pending, there has been a lot of information out there explaining just how it is that they're getting these results. Hearing the description of their technique, and I'm not exaggerating, indeed brought to mind a similar technique that I used to see used on the Apple II, back when I was first getting into the whole computer scene (my first Apple being the Apple //c back in 1984). Well, an individual who you might have heard of if you were computing in the early 80's, Steve Gibson (of the Gibson light pen fame), has set up a page that explains how Microsoft's latest and greatest technology is exactly the same technology that Steve Wozniak used in the display of the Apple II machines. Apple patented this technology back in 1976, and in 1993 it dropped into the public domain. So, Microsoft's latest and greatest font rendering technology is indeed great, but is actually about 22 years old and it does not seem likely that a patent would be granted them. Happily. It is great thet they've brought it back into the limelight and that it will likely be implemented on many different platforms as a result. Steve Gibson, himself, is very close to releasing a freeware font renderer for Windows that uses this technology to improve font display.

Be sure to check out his Inside Microsoft's ClearType web page for a very clear and well stated description of the technology and the situation surrounding it. There's even sample graphics that, on an LCD monitor, will let you see the results for yourself. (Users with Trinitron CRT's (tubes with an aperture grille rather than the common shadow mask) can likely see, to a very slight degree, the benefits of this technology as well.)

Wow. Rough few months for Microsoft.


Well, as I've been packing to take the 3 hour trek to spend Thanksgiving with the family, I've been scanning the list of Nino Web-Ring sites (see bottom of page) and I'm just quite impressed with the number of Nino-related web sites that are out there. I remember when I had the only one :-). It's great to see that. The Nino is the best selling Palm-size PC out there, and with good reason. Judging from the massive display that Philips put on out at Comdex--which several commentators have called the most impressive vendor display of the entire show, it's clear that we've definitely been backing the right horse. I think the future holds a great deal of innovation coming from Philips Mobile Computing Group. Anyway, just a few thoughts as I'm heading out the door. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.


Take a look at my Review Page to catch my review of the brand new Op/Tech USA Soft Pouch - PDA/Cam - Macro, made specifically for the Philips Nino.


No, this is not horribly related to the Nino, but since I'm going to be using it with a Mac here shortly, and this page will hear progress reports of that transition, I thought I'd mention some notable info I just picked up on the web. Take a look at a snippet of a recent CompUSA press-release (check out a full article on the issue, with link to the full press-release):

    DALLAS, Nov. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- CompUSA Inc. (NYSE: CPU), America's Largest Computer Superstore(R) retailer, reported record iMac sales for the second time since the product's retail rollout on August 15. Last weekend's iMacs sales were the largest since the product's initial launch in August, making iMac the best selling personal computer in CompUSA's history.

It looks like I'm not the only one who has decided this is a good time to go ahead and jump platforms. One of my big motivations for the move is the forthcoming MacOS X which will use the NeXTSTEP processing core (the BSD Mach kernel) as it's new kernel, an improvement that you'd probably have to be an OS-freak like me to appreciate. I guess the significantly enhanced performance will come as a nice surprise to recent buyers as '99 rolls in!


Well, I was just informed of a page that has eased my mind a bit. Take a look at this PDA Dash article which chronicles the successful installation and use of the Nino with a Macintosh. This is exactly what I've been intending to do when I purchase a Mac after the turn of the year--quite a nice find. Apparently there's no problem using one of the PC emulator packages to run CE Services, Outlook, etc. and get full functionality out of the Nino. Just as I'd hoped and expected. This is good news--I've not been holding my breath for MS to release a Macintosh connectivity package.


It appears that speech-to-text technology has made it to the Palm-size PC. NCC, Inc. has made a deal with Everex to release the PalmScribe Freestyle, which will be shown at Comdex. NCC's software allows the user to speak into the microphone of the Palm-size PC and have his or her speech converted to text in real-time. I was a bit surpised to see that the Palm-size PC is physically capable of meeting the hardware demands of such an endeavor, but if the Freestyle can do it, then the Nino and all other Palm-size PC's should definitely be able to pull it off as well. Will this technology be made available only to those who purchase a PalmScribe Freestyle? That is yet to be determined.... (Read all about it here.)


First, I'll say sorry for the page length. I need to create a few more months' worth of archive pages to clean this page up--will get that taken care of in the next day or so. Secondly, someone tipped me off to a picture of a very unusual looking Nino in, of all places, Playboy magazine. I was skeptical but intrigued, so I went out and picked up a copy. Thumbing through the pages I turned to quite a striking image indeed. A few pages later, I found the Nino picture I was told about. The little blurb-description fairly accurately describes a Nino 300, but the image is rather perplexing. Take a look by clicking on the thumbnail below. Just above the Nino logo are the words "Digital Clock, Thermometer, Calender." ??? I don't see how this could accidentally have just happened. Well, enjoy. Maybe this is a sneak peak at Philips take on the eventually forthcoming Wyvern device.


Many have taken an interest in my intention to use the Nino with a Macintosh. Everyone seems quite curious as to just how to connect the Nino's serial port to the new Macs' USB port. There seem to be several devices on the way that will provide a "standard" serial port on a USB network, but there's at least one out there now. Visit Momentum's web site to find out about uConnect, a USB-to-serial adapter that lists, among other things, a number of PDA's that will work with it. The combination of this device and VirtualPC (or, perhaps, one of the other PC emulators) should do the trick. Again, it will likely be February before the new high-end pro Mac is available for purchase (it should be announced in January) so I'll not be reporting on my actual experience with this attempt for some time. But, a G3 Mac (233MHz or better) can easily run Outlook 98 under Windows emulation fast enough to use as the primary desktop PIM and connectivity point, so I'm quite pleased with my "chances" of making it all work together. Well, I'll keep those fingers crossed anyway, as I've not seen anything better than the combination of Outlook 98 and the Nino to keep myself organized, and I'm going to be disecting my PC to put the Mac together, so there's little "going back!" (Read more about this and the info on the new Mac's soon on my other site when I finally get it on-line sometime in the next couple of weeks.)

Since I'm yammering on about Mac's, let me take this opportunity to point out that one can now purchase a new iMac from Apple for $1 per day. They're letting you pay $29.95/month for the machine. This deal just kicked in and I will actually be making use of it shortly to purchase an iMac for my mom (ideal for her to write e-mail, browse the web, etc.) Basically a relatively low-interest loan that is quite easy to qualify for, the deal seems a very good idea for Apple. Anyway, enough about that on this page. Cheers!


Well, I've been thinking about a lot here recently. Well, aside from the whole wedding situation (the wedding and Ireland (and London) were beyond description--I'll throw a photo or two on-line here in the next day or so). I am about to switch platforms. I am going to jump from the Win98 PC to the Mac. Amazing, eh? Well, I was surprised at the decision, but with what's going on at Apple, I think it will make for an interesting year or so, to adopt a Mac. I am going to go for one of the new Professional Macs due out in late January or so which are in the spirit of the iMac, but with a bit more power and expandability. (But they'll be translucent!) Some of my reasons: the slated release of MacOS X (developer release in March) which replaces the current (old, poorly structured) OS kernel with that of NeXTSTEP (the BSD Mach kernel) which is about the best example of a robust kernel that can be found, the "spirit" of Apple today under Jobs' current reign, the excellent attention to industrial design, etc.

What's particularly interesting, perhaps, is the fact that I am still going to use the Nino every bit as much as I do now, but under Win98 emulation on a Macintosh. A PowerPC G3 333MHz machine can emulate Win98 quite swiftly--definitely fast enough to use Outlook 98 as my day-to-day scheduler, and that will make life just as it is today, on the Nino. I am about to setup another page (which can be accessed via the main blakeSPOT page) which documents this transition and will cover just how I will have gone about mating the Nino with the Mac in a happy way (both here and there I suppose). Actually...if Unreal (one heck of a fine game) and the Voodoo2 were not currently available for the PCI-based Mac, I must say the decision to jump across would be a far more difficult one. :-). So, stay tuned for more. I should be getting heavy into this quite soon (and I've got some Nino software reviews in the queue to get on-line here soon).


Well, I'm off today to Charlottesville. On Sunday I will be wed. Then it's off to Ireland for about 2 weeks and then back home, by way of two days in London. Quite a surreal time for me, as it turns out. Although it crossed my mind to do so, I'm not going to read my vows off of the Nino's screen during the ceremony. :-) I still can't believe how busy I've been with this and that here recently what with the new job, new digs, etc. It's killing me not to be able to put more time into this page right now, but I expect that to change as I get back from the honeymoon and things start to settle down a bit. Stay with me, people!

Anyway, until I get back, I wanted to pass on something I stumbled across on the web the other night. It's one of those "insane fine" things, I'm afraid, which likely means that I'm going to have to buy one. It is a WinCE device. I believe it is one of the Jupiter form-factor WinCE devices, or a close approximation thereof. Two vendors are displaying them on their sites. The first device is Vadem's Clio device, and the second is Sharp's Mobilon TriPad PV-6000 (click on the Product Info link on the left to find it). Pretty excellent industrial design. I've recently become aware of my obsession with superb industrial design. I guess that's a massive part of this "insane fine" mentality that I often speak of. This is part of why I so like the Nino, being clearly the most well-designed Palm-size PC out there. Take a look at AppleDesign, a book I recently picked up which explores years of work done by Apple's ID group. Really amazing stuff.

At any rate, we'll see if I can transfer e-mail on Ireland's phone services. Somehow I don't think I'm going to get that worked out. ...and an earnest attempt to do so might get me whacked by my wife!


Well, I've finally purchased a domain name! This page, as you've guessed, has moved to a different server and has is now accessible via my main page at blakeSPOT. Please direct all future e-mails to me at blake@blakespot.com. I hope that the domain name makes it easier for people to remember the name of my site and to visit me here.

I've also started another page which can be accessed through the main blakeSPOT page which I think everyone will find interesting--do check it out. Also, be sure to visit Philips' Nino page and take a look at the second installment of my Nino Diary, which should go on-line sometime within the next few days. Other than that, just keep an eye here--I'm working on some new items for this page and have finally reached the point that I can put a bit more concentration into my web stuff again. I tell you, moving to a new city, buying a house, switching jobs, and planning a wedding can really take over your life!


Ok, the first review is on-line on my new Review Page, and more will soon follow. I'm taking a fairly informal and conversational tone in these reviews, and I hope that agrees with everyone. Please check the link every couple of days or so -- I'm going to try to get a lot of products on that page for everyone, so do take a look.


I just wanted to drop a quick note here to let everyone know that I've just added The Review Page (see icon above) where I'll be reviewing as many Nino-compatible products as I'm sent by developers out there. Keep any eye on it--there's a number of reviews that I'm currently working on and will be placing on-line over the next few days / weeks. I also wanted to let everyone know that my brief hiatus is not indicative of my having lost interest in the platform. I've been very busy unpacking into my new house and trying to find an attractive job in the DC area. Today, the latter concern was taken care of. So...I'll have WAY more time to put into the page, with updates coming at the frequency my long-time web-watchers are used to. I'm also going to be doing a few new things with the page to make it a bit more interesting as well, over the next few weeks (and getting back to regular attendance with the on-line chats every Sunday and Wednesday). Please stay tuned--there's a lot happening out there now, and it's only going to get more interesting!


Ok...I should have my Click-On Modem by Monday or Tuesday and will post a full report of its ease of use, performance, etc. soon thereafter. In fact, I'm about to put a Review page on-line that will hold this and all future software / hardware reviews (which I plan to spend much more time doing, starting this week). Judging from the e-mails I've been receiving, a large number of people have theirs (lots of people receiving the 320's they ordered way back when) and seem to be using them without incident. Also, Philips has informed me that one should allow 6-8 weeks for delivery of a Click-On Modem purchased using the Nino 312 Special Modem Offer ticket.

I'm also determined to get my Nino working with local PCS digital, wireless service. I've had notable difficulty in determining the exact level of interoperability between a WinCE device, IR-equipped digital wireless phones, and local service providers (largely due to providers' customer support reps not knowing anything about what protocols they are using and/or the fact that they usually make you buy one of a very small number of phones that they sell, which invariably have a featureset too basic for the needs of that which I'm attempting here). When I get it all worked out, I'll let everyone know how it was done. (Digital, wireless communication on the Nino would not require the Click-On Modem.)




                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Nino WebRing

This Philips Nino WebRing site owned by Blake Patterson.
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