Several years ago, Apple Computer introduced its first Personal Digital Assistant, dubbed the Newton. Although not all of its capabilities were fully developed, Apple's vision was of a portable device that could be used for scheduling, note taking, and electronic communications.
I thought the Newton had potential for meeting planners, but what I really wanted to know was how it would work for on-site management.
During the fall, I used Sir Isaac (as I call it) for two 100-person meetings. Before each, I input all attendee information, agendas, meeting room set-ups, and menus. (There are several ways to input data, including the ability to link the Newton to either a desktop or notebook computer.) In short, the Newton contained everything I needed to manage the meeting.
Using the Newton as an electronic notepad was exceptionally convenient. Since I was writing notes to myself-and I can read my own handwriting-there was no need to use the handwriting recognition function, which didn't work well. Other positives were list management, long battery life, and, of course, portability.
Sir Isaac does have its limitations. On my model, its display can be difficult to see; there's a hesitancy to change screens, and some capacity issues. The bottom line for me, however: Sir Isaac has earned the distinguished title of Meeting Assistant.