Thursday, August 26, 2004

A New Creature for My Amusement

Lunch time:

We are now proud owners of a TI-84 Silver edition calculator. My daughter's school requires them for all students entering her grade level. On the surface, it is a graphing calculator with a USB port. However, the screen is fully graphic and controllable and programmable, so it is really a specialized hand-held computer.

I was hoping to find someone offloading theirs cheap on eBay, but apparently nobody there has heard of accumulated depreciation. In fact, some were selling theirs for $30 more than it costs new. Ouch!

Also, it is programmable using the TI BASIC language. This version of BASIC has none of the bells and whistles demanded of good, pure programmers like functions or objects...or even subroutines. It uses line numbers and Goto statements. Just like the old days! I think it uses the old Z80 processor (circa the '70s) which explains alot. Nonetheless, it appears that an array of graphic games is out.

Previous TI calculators have Windows and Mac emulators out. The TI-84 is too new for that, so I guess I need to make sure I don't crash the calculator wiping out all my daughter's schoolwork. There shouldn't be too much danger of that. With all my standard Visual Basic programming for work, I am also training on the new Microsoft .NET programming platform and learning RealBASIC so I can write for the Mac and Linux as well as Windows.

Something tells me I won't have much time to mutate the TI-84, but I will be thinking about it.


DewKid said...

I remember my first graphing calculator. The first thing I did was write a missile trajectory game, emulating the design of one Snabby and I wrote years ago in BASIC on an 8086 PC!

Glad to see that Texas Instruments is still the leader in this field!

Don Snabulus said...

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Anonymous said...

Relatively Exact:

Your daughter's school REQUIRES her to own that specific model of calculator?

That reminds me of my (ill-fated) chem major days at Oregon State. In my third-year experimental chem lab class, the arrogant professor said to us, "Now, to complete the experiment we're about to do, you have two options. One is to buy yourself a Hewlett-Packard calculator of one of the models on this list, allowing you to finish everything quickly and easily. The other is to use a calculator made by any other manufacturer, necessitating several hours of tedious work to get it all done. The choice is yours, but I will remind you that the OSU Bookstore sells HP calculators at discount prices."

What a coincidence! There's a Hewlett-Packard plant right there in Corvallis!

Whatever happened to separation of corporations and state?

Silkenglider said...

Ho - ly - Mother! - that's an expensive calculator!

Every student entering her grade? Dang. The only ones that had to use them when I was in school were the kids who were in the class they were used in, and that wasn't every kid in the grade. AND the school provided them for us to use. (Small school, smaller class, and I don't think we were allowed to take them home. It's been awhile and I have a hard enough time remembering what I did last week, let alone back in high school.)

Don Snabulus said...

It is a private school (which we can only afford thanks to a hefty staff discount), so I think they assume we parents are all doctors, lawyers, ex-governors, timber barons, etc rather than a computer programmer on a permanent pay freeze to avoid getting outsourced. They really do push her to excel, so a $130 calculator is probably a small price to pay (esp. when compared to tuition).

Not to mention the fact that you gotta love a calculator that can play Space Invaders and Galaxians. :)

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