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Flash Drives On a Calculator

kdawson posted about 8 years ago | from the fat16-should-be-enough-for-anybody dept.

122

aawm writes with the following news for graphing calculator fans. "As the result of a group effort between Michael Vincent, Brandon Wilson, and Dan Englender, msd8x v0.94 has been released, which allows you to use ordinary USB flash drives with a TI-84 Plus. With the appropriate cable, you can browse, modify, and copy (in both directions) files between a flash drive and the 84 Plus's RAM and/or archive."

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And? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16125389)

Wow, not even worth First Post referring to Beowolf.....

Re:And? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16125679)

LOL Hans Reiser murdered his wife for engaging in drugged BDSM with other men and you are discussing flash drives? /LOL

Great! (3, Funny)

JimXugle (921609) | about 8 years ago | (#16125390)

So I can use it to help me on my Algebra test tomorrow! Damn those equations!

Re:Great! (3, Interesting)

Korin43 (881732) | about 8 years ago | (#16126014)

I don't know if any consumer flash drives have enough space for all of the equations they want you to memorize..

So, to do this you... (4, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 8 years ago | (#16125414)

Strap a dodgy home made looking cable out of the back of an innocuous calculator going into what could be described as a small cell phone receiver (remember, as a TSA guard you don't have too much time...).

Good luck on the plane to see your parents.

Re:So, to do this you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16125798)

Honestly... the main reason some other, smarter, people haven't done this already is precisely because it's so incredibly useless. Who uses a graphing calculator??? It's such a pain in the ass to resize windows if you want to see graphs, and there are so many other software applications that can do all a graphing calculator can do AND MORE. Plus, you get the benefit of being able to use a mouse or having a real graphical interface.

Re:So, to do this you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16127297)

What, like "Zoom - 0"?

Re:So, to do this you... (1)

TheRecklessWanderer (929556) | about 8 years ago | (#16127453)

I hate to say it, but how many times did DOS crash? Well, not very many. Can you imagine some grade 3 kid punching in 3 X 4 to find out the answer is !#$!^%$#^!%@ And then the inevitable viruses in calculators. MMM.. Cool.

Re:So, to do this you... (1)

benplaut (993145) | about 8 years ago | (#16126319)

Oh, cmon... those cables aren't too dodgy --
seriously, they come with most mp3 players and a few PDAs

I miss my graphing calculator (2, Insightful)

bit trollent (824666) | about 8 years ago | (#16125423)

I haven't really used my graphing calculator since I graduated from college. I miss using that ti-89. Ahhh the nerdity...

Re:I miss my graphing calculator (0, Flamebait)

ShadowFlyP (540489) | about 8 years ago | (#16125688)

Real nerds use HPs!

Re:I miss my graphing calculator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16125944)

HP48GX FTW

Re:I miss my graphing calculator (1)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | about 8 years ago | (#16126457)

Bah, who used that newfangled GX model? I much preferred the SX model with some software upgrades (like Metakernel.) Also good were the earlier models like the 42S and 15S. Sadly, I sold or lost my older models, and now only have a 32SII and a 49G. I might go for the recently released 50GX, though, as it looks like a decent successor to the 48SX, but these days I don't have much need for that much power. My 32SII tends to be plenty. Even its limited programming is sufficient.

Re:I miss my graphing calculator (1)

Starker_Kull (896770) | about 8 years ago | (#16127954)

Yah, but you aren't a REAL nerd unless you programmed the HP48GX in System RPL - I still have the intro to SysRPL programming by Jim Donnelly. I used to tutor kids in Math and Physics for a living, and that calculator was a work of art and a pleasure to use. >. I loved that thing....

Re:I miss my graphing calculator (1)

rnash (530673) | about 8 years ago | (#16126437)

Real nerds use HPs!
I no longer use my real HP49GX, but I use an emulator on Windows (Emu48) and on my Palm TX (Power48). Both are way better than the integrated ones, even for simple calculations.

Re:I miss my graphing calculator (1)

strstrep (879828) | about 8 years ago | (#16126785)

The HP-49g+ has a secure digital card slot. It's part of the calculator as manufactured (no ugly soldering jobs or hacks, and SD cards are fairly inexpensive, very small, and relatively high-capacity).

I really enjoyed my TI-89 until I got one of those. Less expensive, more functionality, and RPN make it a better deal, in my opinion. (Yes it supports the non-RPN notation, too.)

Re:I miss my graphing calculator (2, Informative)

garcia (6573) | about 8 years ago | (#16125723)

Get off my lawn! My TI-82 and TI-85 pwn you.

I'm too lazy to search for ot, but there were plans and code available for a flash drive via the TI-85 sync cable port (headphone jack) way back in the ZShell days.

You couldn't use the data live, it was more of a swap in and swap out type thing, but it worked.

Re:I miss my graphing calculator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16126229)

Yeah, I feel the same way, and I know I'm not a nerd like other people have said, heck I'm a doctoral student in computer science! mailto:csguy@faenus.com [mailto]

Eureka! (5, Funny)

spiritraveller (641174) | about 8 years ago | (#16125429)

Now I can....

wait... what can I do with this?

Re:Eureka! (2, Informative)

taricorp (987706) | about 8 years ago | (#16125457)

Basically the best use for it is to expand the memory of the calculator by a good hundredfold. Of course, a hardware mod with putting the innards of a flash drive in the calculator and soldering the connections to the internal USB port would be even better.

Re:Eureka! (3, Insightful)

pantherace (165052) | about 8 years ago | (#16125790)

It'd be relatively easy to do. The back of the calculator, is mostly just empty space filled with a grid of plastic. One could remove that, and store it there, with little to no visual evidence. I'd be surprised if the weight change would be noticible.

Re:Eureka! (2, Informative)

taricorp (987706) | about 8 years ago | (#16126017)

True enough. It's been mentioned, but it requires some precision soldering due to the proximity of the pins within the calculator.

Re:Eureka! (1)

kevlarman (983297) | about 8 years ago | (#16125558)

nethack!!! (seriously, i always wanted nethack on my calculator, but it doesn't have the memory required for this)

Re:Eureka! (1)

Scoth (879800) | about 8 years ago | (#16127260)

It's not quite Nethack, but there's http://calcrogue.jimrandomh.org/ [jimrandomh.org] available for a few calcs. It's more than just Rogue as well with some nice extras. I've enjoyed it a lot (at least when I had time to play. I don't use my calc that much anymore and have better and more interesting things to do than play games on one)

Re:Eureka! (1)

kevlarman (983297) | about 8 years ago | (#16127352)

i have it, but it doesn't really compare to the depth of nethack (i have had so many times when i thought "omg, how did they think of that"). and it takes a lot less to get bored of calcrogue than of nethack, i easily beat calcrogue now, but i have trouble making it very far past the quest in nethack

Re:Eureka! (5, Funny)

The Real Nem (793299) | about 8 years ago | (#16125583)

What else does one do with a device fixated with a small screen and potentially gigs of storage space?

Monocolor porn!!!

Re:Eureka! (1)

TheSpinningBrain (998202) | about 8 years ago | (#16127427)

Who says we can't have grayscale [ticalc.org] porn?

Re:Eureka! (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 8 years ago | (#16125625)

Make a really shitty mp3 player....kind of serious here. I remember back in 97 downloading a TI-86 assembly program that a Green Day song(can't remember which, but at that point in time it didn't really matter) which played with played really, REALLY horrid quality. We made a special device to hook up a pair of headphones using the link port IIRC. More exciting than what was going on in the class....

Re:Eureka! (3, Insightful)

Zarel (900479) | about 8 years ago | (#16125683)

Or a not so shitty mp3 player [ticalc.org] , for that matter.

Um, no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16126599)

Not even close. RealSound uses basically all of the CPU doing its sound thing. (Remember, the CPU needs to generate the proper waveforms itself by toggling the link port.) There's no time left to do such things as decompressing MP3. There may not even be enough time left to do such things as reading data from a USB disk.

I very much doubt that a 15 MHz Z80 could decompress MP3 in real time anyway.

Re:Um, no. (1)

Zarel (900479) | about 8 years ago | (#16127963)

Well, when I said "MP3 player", I mean it in its colloquial usage: a portable music player (at least that's what we call them here in China). I didn't mean to imply that it would be able to play MP3s without first converting them into a usable format.

Re:Eureka! (4, Funny)

paralaxcreations (981218) | about 8 years ago | (#16126087)

I remember back in 97 downloading a TI-86 assembly program that a Green Day song(can't remember which, but at that point in time it didn't really matter) which played with played really, REALLY horrid quality.
something tells me the calculator wasn't responsible for the quality.

Re:Eureka! (1)

Zarel (900479) | about 8 years ago | (#16125666)

Well, the last time we had a Slashdot article on TI calculators, we mentioned that we could probably get Linux working if we had a bit more memory to work with...

Re:Eureka! - cheat on math exam (2, Funny)

Adeptus_Luminati (634274) | about 8 years ago | (#16125846)

Now I can cheat on my math exam, by uploading OCR'ed versions of my math text book into my calculator's flash drive. Geez, some people have no imagination. :P

Is this really a high-priority activity ? (-1, Offtopic)

yubbers9 (1003392) | about 8 years ago | (#16125463)

I mean, the USA and UK are becoming police states, with surveillance everywhere and even (in the USA) concentration camps everywhere, and these guys are wasting their time doing this?

9/11 was an inside job

http://home.comcast.net/~plutarch/911.html [comcast.net]

No more graphing calcs on tests (1)

mrcaseyj (902945) | about 8 years ago | (#16125467)

So all someone has to do now is just squeze the flash drive into the calculator case and make the connections directly to the wires inside and they'll be able to bring a scan of the entire text book with them for the test. Great I guess that's the end of using graphing calcs on tests.

Re:No more graphing calcs on tests (1)

Shadyman (939863) | about 8 years ago | (#16125486)

There's already no more graphing calcs because you can get a "Word-like" program to store text files.

Re:No more graphing calcs on tests (1)

Gerzel (240421) | about 8 years ago | (#16125603)

As I recall on my SAT they just forced us to clear the calc's memory before the test started, and the proctors DID know how to do this on the major brands and they did check.

Re:No more graphing calcs on tests (3, Insightful)

andreyw (798182) | about 8 years ago | (#16125656)

...which cued about a 1001 different "memory clear" hacks, ranging from ones that looked like the real thing and mimicked the behaviour, to ones that actively hacked the OS to simulate a memory clear while just hiding the files.

Re:No more graphing calcs on tests (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 8 years ago | (#16127184)

i wrote my own for the TI-86 not becuase i was cheating, but because i didn't want to lose my games and high scores

Re:No more graphing calcs on tests (3, Informative)

oggiejnr (999258) | about 8 years ago | (#16125487)

In the UK any calculator capable of displaying stored text is automatically disallowed for GCSE and A-Level exams. Any calculator capable of storing programs on it has for wiped in front of a invigilator for the exam and anything that can do symbolic algebra is banned. Of course this requires that the people administering the exams know what they are doing. Unfortunately mine did so I wasn't allowed my Ti-89 anywhere near the exam hall - you could have fitted a fair amount of info in plain text on it 2.3Mb internal memory and it even has a basic e-book reader for it.

Re:No more graphing calcs on tests (1)

Zarel (900479) | about 8 years ago | (#16125489)

I'm guessing you're joking, but if you're not:

There's no room inside a calculator to do that. Either way, it'd probably be easier to take apart the calculator and replace the internals with, say, a PDA.

Re:No more graphing calcs on tests (1)

toddestan (632714) | about 8 years ago | (#16127507)

Flash drives are not that big, and while I have not had a TI-84 apart, there would be plenty of room inside of the TI-83 or TI-85. Even if the TI-84 is packed to the brim in the case, I would get a small 6V battery (all that would be required is enough juice for 1-2 hours), and then use the room freed up by removing the 4 AAA batteries to cram a flash drive into the case.

Re:No more graphing calcs on tests (1)

Zarel (900479) | about 8 years ago | (#16127976)

I don't believe they are packed to the brim; I meant that one could not fit a flash drive in the space they did have. Other posts suggest otherwise, so perhaps all the flash drives I've seen were larger than average.

Re:No more graphing calcs on tests (1)

spacefight (577141) | about 8 years ago | (#16125505)

We used to type all sorts of text cheats into our TI-85 calculator, like for geography where we had to calculate some things and could use the calculator. It was very unfortunate though, when the teacher caught me and a friend copying the files over the link cable from one calc to the other..

Re:No more graphing calcs on tests (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 8 years ago | (#16125543)

And that's why you should've gotten an HP48g instead of making fun of the kids who did. No link cable. Nifty IR port though...

Re:No more graphing calcs on tests (1)

spacefight (577141) | about 8 years ago | (#16125785)

True we were making fun of eachother. The TI was the decision by the teacher though.

Re:No more graphing calcs on tests (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16125613)

Maybe your "teachers" should be giving you tests that require you to think, rather than just regurgitate canned information from the textbook?

Just a thought.

Re:No more graphing calcs on tests (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16125855)

thats why i hate open book exams where u can take in as many notes as you want...they are much harder than normal ones that are really just a memory test.

Re:No more graphing calcs on tests (2, Funny)

Kamineko (851857) | about 8 years ago | (#16126806)

Pshh... real Slashdot geeks build their own calculators, and they look much more haphazard than the one in TFA, and they correctly simluate the Pentium math bug.

way old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16125482)

this was on hackaday a few days ago

Re:way old (1)

taricorp (987706) | about 8 years ago | (#16125491)

And the project has been around for even longer that that. It's still a great achievement.

Re:way old (1)

Zarel (900479) | about 8 years ago | (#16125502)

Ah, yes, I remember MV saying they had the ability to interface with a flash drive done half a year ago, and they were just working on getting its interface to a usable state. But as for the finished program, it only came out five days ago, which isn't that long.

Re:way old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16125958)

Steve!? Is that you?!

crap (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16125496)

this article is why i read digg now instead of slashdot.

Wow, what's next? (1)

Flimzy (657419) | about 8 years ago | (#16125507)

Cell phones that play MP3s?

Hey, pretty cool. :) (4, Insightful)

nhaines (622289) | about 8 years ago | (#16125520)

Well, this sounds like fun. Mostly just "because you can", but on the other hand, I know the TI-89 eBook reader was pretty nice. Maybe this would be useful for something like that. Maybe some new project will come along now that an external flash drive is available. Everyone makes fun of these types of projects, but I think the entire thing's just good fun. I used to use calculator games or books to occupy my time between classes in college when I didn't feel like (or need to) study or work on homework. Today when I have a little downtime I just use a Nintendo DS, but the principle's the same.

And anyway, it's good electronics and hardware interface and programming practice for the developers. Congratulations to Michael, Brandon, and Dan!

Nathan
nhaines@ticalc.org

NO 89T support.... (2, Funny)

kungfujesus (969971) | about 8 years ago | (#16125528)

what no ti-89T support? lame

Re:NO 89T support.... (3, Funny)

no_such_user (196771) | about 8 years ago | (#16125571)

Not even 99/4A support! Bah!

Re:NO 89T support.... (2, Interesting)

glarbl_blarbl (810253) | about 8 years ago | (#16125987)

Damn! 32kB certainly isn't enough RAM... and no hdd... Though I guess I could hook up a cassette recorder to it for backup...

Memories... I actually learned to spell "print" so I could make my TI 99/4A print my name on the screen.. If only I had restrained my 5 year-old self from spitting upon my little brother, then our babysitter wouldn't have had a reason to yank the cartridge out with the power on... I'm still somewhat bitter about that.

Calculators suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16125604)

Who would want to use a flashdrive with your calculator? Ever hear of a PDA or even a laptop? Gosh guys... this is a cool achievment for the people who worked on it, but lets face it: modding calculators is no longer cool.

power use (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | about 8 years ago | (#16125643)

how long do the bateries last when powering a flash drive?

Re:power use (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 8 years ago | (#16126401)

It depends on if you're using a 'portable' 5600 rpm drive, or the higher performance 12000 rpm drive.

HP? Anybody? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16125655)

I'm not trying to troll or anything, but does anybody use hp calculators anymore?

The 49g+ and it's replacement the 50g have SD card slots. Makes this achievement look rather petty.

Still, the ticalc community has done a lot with those z80s.

Re:HP? Anybody? (1)

ettlz (639203) | about 8 years ago | (#16125697)

I still use my trusty HP 48. Many other people I know in my Physics department also love theirs and wouldn't dream of using another calculator. Back at Sixth form all I'd ever hear was "TI this", "TI that"; they were educational units. My HP is a professional's tool — they were always leagues ahead in terms of robustness and features. All that live object orientation was astounding given the hardware limitations. HP got there first.

Sharp EL-5100 (1)

tygt (792974) | about 8 years ago | (#16125803)

26 years, and going strong. I think it's on its fourth set of batteries...

Let 'em know there's a "there" there (1)

MrPlastic (897702) | about 8 years ago | (#16127746)

HP got there first.
Yeah, but they appear to have put forth very little effort telling people just how cool "there" was. When TI got "there," they began aggressively marketing to schools, getting key-by-key use instructions into textbooks and other classroom materials, giving the schools a free calculator for every n calculators bought by students, and creating nifty teaching aids like overhead-projector display panels, sensor interfaces, and Win/Mac TI-84 emulators.

HP, on the other hand, even before the board went crazy trying to find out who called who when, seems to have forgotten that it even has a calculator division.

Don't get me wrong: My first "real" calculator was an HP 11C, and I have an HP 28S that I still prefer for personal use. When I teach high-school chemistry and physics, however, I use my TI-84.

Re:HP? Anybody? (2, Interesting)

gatzke (2977) | about 8 years ago | (#16125778)


RPN is hard.

I still use my 48sx from the early 90s. And I have a 15C somewhere that still kicks butt.

HPs are tools, the TIs feel like toys.

These days, for simple stuff I use google as a calculator (and unit converter). http://www.googleguide.com/calculator.html [googleguide.com]

Re:HP? Anybody? (1)

GreggBz (777373) | about 8 years ago | (#16126896)

I just checked e-bay and HP 48gx calculators are selling for $200 to $400!
I love mine. At 13 years old, it's still the absolute best tool for so many jobs.
They'll have to pry "Hewey" from my cold dead hands... :-)

Re:HP? Anybody? (1)

robinesque (977170) | about 8 years ago | (#16127551)

I wish the TI had an RPN mode. I miss the stack, it was so much fun.

In Other News... (1)

SteevR (612047) | about 8 years ago | (#16125661)

...my HP calculator has had an SD card slot and USB port for 4 years. This is news? On Slashdot?

This isn't Digg or anything...

Re:In Other News... (1)

pyite (140350) | about 8 years ago | (#16125676)

And furthermore... HP calculators have supported some sort of expandable memory for some time now. Further proof that HP makes better calculators.

Re:In Other News... (1)

ettlz (639203) | about 8 years ago | (#16125721)

Disclaimer: I am an HP calculator fanboy. Perhaps the differences are more philosophical? TIs graphics have always had an educational bend to their design, whereas the HPs were traditionally marketed as professional tools. The manual was written in TeX — this was built by scientists and engineers for scientists and engineers. (You could probably do real damage to someone with a flying HP 48, and the HP would survive.) Of course that changed a few years ago when the likes of the 39G, 40G and 49G came in looking and feeling a bit like TIs and with a manual that looked like it was written in Word. Still, the 49G+ and 50G with the ARM CPUs (upclock to 200MHz, anyone?) are nice pieces of kit and there's enough of a software community built around them to keep them a firm winner with anyone who needs to do mathematics.

Re:In Other News... (1)

pyite (140350) | about 8 years ago | (#16125862)

I have a 49G that failed miserably (the power button stopped working and since it's a capacitive key... there's no real easy way to fix it). I replaced it with a HP 48GX, which I love. However, I thought it would be nice to have a newer one which is easier to load stuff on to (since my laptop and desktop don't have serial ports) and has more memory expandability. I just ordered a 50G last night after reading a lot of great reviews. I hope to be impressed yet again. It's nice they have SD.

Re:In Other News... (1)

ettlz (639203) | about 8 years ago | (#16125869)

Indeed. I think RPN could do with an overhaul at some point, e.g. add user-defined object types, and why can't you mount an SD card as a directory?

Re:In Other News... (1)

SteevR (612047) | about 8 years ago | (#16126828)

As a sophmore in high school, I used all my Christmas money in 1997 to purchase a HP48gx. It served me well, until 2002. Best. Calculator. Ever.

The 49g is a poor replacement. In it's default configuration, it lacks many of the keys in easy-to-access areas to make it useful as a RP device. As someone who heavily uses RPN (I find it forces me to use it more for arithmatic and less for the acctual algebra+calculus... it also made me check things like order of operations, etc.), this misfeature killed it.

You cannot tell me that they didn't outsource the UI/engineering factors for the device to non-users in India.

Re:In Other News... (1)

toddestan (632714) | about 8 years ago | (#16127516)

That's exactly why I still use my trusty HP-48G, but the 49G has been collecting dust for some time. The 49G is alright for the things that it can do that the 48G can't, but as a calculator the 48G simply has a better layout.

Why do schools use these? (4, Interesting)

PsychosisC (620748) | about 8 years ago | (#16125775)

I recently graduated with a BS in Mathematics. High school was not very long ago, and there we were required to use graphing calculators for Junior and Senior level math classes. To this day, I don't understand the purpose of having students buy graphing calculators.

Graphing calculators have the problem of really dumbing things down. Learning how to use the calculator is a bit of a hurdle... but once you do, you can get by without learning the quadratic equation, how to convert from moles to grams, what the relation between physical and kinetic energy is, &ct. It's expected that most of this will come with the calculator, but that which doesn't is a simple exercise in typing to fix.

Also, there is a problem of monetary cost. $100 may not be a lot to most people, but it is for a few. It's money that could be much better spent too. Think about it... $100 per high school student, in a system where you have roughly one math teacher for every two hundred students?

So what do we get in exchange for this? There's two productive uses of a graphing calculator.
The first, institutional use, is that kids will understand Analytical Geometry and Trig better if they can SEE equations. It's easy to imagine how this might help a kid understand how to push around equations like F(x-x0) + y0. It's just not a very useful thing to learn. I know calculators are capable of so much more, graphing Crossed Troughs and whatnought, but that's too far beyong what you learn in high school to be meaningful.

The other benefit merits a bit of appreciation... the student recreational use. If you give a kid a ball and free time, he'll kick it. If you give a kid a programmable machine and free time, he'll program it. Even so, very few students actually do this. It's encouraging to see kids compare their text adventures with each other, but but 95% of the student body, this toy is pearls before swine.

Graphing calculators, not wholly without benefits, do not outweigh the problems they cause. Ironically, the place they deal the most damage is probably math, because we end up with kids getting by without understanding order of operations or basic algebraic manipulation. Give schools robotics teams, not calculators.

Why use tools (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 8 years ago | (#16126328)

While I am not an educator by training, Ithink I can offer a little insight into why calculators (and other computer systems) are seen as Good Things, in the teaching of mathematics and physics.

The reason to use them in a classroom is because they're prevalent in real life. It doesn't make sense for students to slave over problems that nobody does anymore, once they've learned the critical concepts involved. Instead, that time would be better spent in class, learning more advanced material. Furthermore, it would be doing students a bit of a disservice to not expose them to the tools that are standard practice in the real world, and in higher-level academia. (We can argue about whether teachers effectively use the time that's saved by powerful tools to teach more advanced material, but that's more of a commentary on our educational system generally, and not on the tools involved.)

This argument is not a new one; half a century ago, we might have had the same discussion over the appropriateness of Comptometers in a statistics class, versus using pen-and-pencil or a simpler adding machine. Using the tool instead of doing something manually necessarily implies that you will become less practiced at the manual skill: the ultimate question being, which is more valuable? The experience using the tool, or the ability of doing it manually?

There are a lot of things, where I am not sure that the ability to do them manually is valuable anymore. For example, I think we're rapidly approaching the point where long division is obsolete. There's really no point in making students practice it until they're blue in the face, except as it makes learning some related and more-important skills easier. Once you understand what division is, and how it works, bring on the machines, and start teaching more complex material.

There are some places where students shouldn't stop practicing basic skills, and those are the areas where those basic skills are direct requirements for more advanced ones. For example, I think it's a mistake to let students use a CAS in their Algebra 1 class, because it might cause them to not understand the basics of symbolic manipulation, which is the key to much higher mathematics. However, more mechanical skills can be conveniently forgotten with little consequence, provided the tools are always available.

So in general, I think that once a tool has saturated our society -- and I think at this point, that computers and graphing calculators have -- it becomes appropriate to bring them into the classroom. Except where skills have to be done unaided for pedagogical reasons, I think our default approach to teaching should use all the tools that are commonly available. That way, students have a chance to cover more material in school, and are better prepared when they move on to higher education or the workforce, because they're familar with the tools.

Re:Why use tools (1)

Man in Spandex (775950) | about 8 years ago | (#16127333)

Hmm, you know 50 or 100 years ago, students didn't used calculators in schools to do math. No, they'd use a huge book to find the values or square roots!

Just because we have calculators today, does it justify that we should dumb students down? I'm sorry but whether or not in real life one should remember how to manually calculate whatever, shoving calculators to students at early age and getting them used to use it even in tests will turn them into less better mathematicians than the ones of previous generations.

When I finished high school four years ago, we were allowed for tests to have like half of a sheet which we could use to write formulas or anything that we might need to help, notes. Now, my cousin who's finishing high school they got full sheets and her teacher is like "If you got trouble with fractions, just enter them in the calculator and write the answer that's good enough". This in grade 11 is not right.

Why? Well, Math is all about practice, you practice more, you become more used to it, you become faster at solving problems but if you always have that machine next to you to help you find resolve problems, what good are you at math? I'm talking about the high school and college math courses like pre-cal and calculus, nothing advanced from universities where teachers require you to have a calculator because not using one will make you shit tomatoes. At some point ok a calculator will be needed but unless the teacher requires you to use one, I don't see why you should depend yourself to it.

But I'm not saying don't use calculators. I use a calculator to compare my answers with its answers and it is good to introduce new concepts, where visually seeing a function will greatly help a student understand how the function works but I'm saying, it's better to know what the calculator's doing before making it do the work.

HP Calcs Not Regional (1)

Gracenotes (1001843) | about 8 years ago | (#16125779)

Around where I live and go to school (some town in New York), HP-produced calculators are not prevalent in the slightest. I haven't physically seen one, ever. Everyone that uses graphing calculators either has some version of a TI-83 or TI-84, and rarely TI-89's.

Most of the teachers in our school, anyway, are familiar with the concept of resetting all memory before a quiz that involves a calculator. "Helpful," ie illegal, files are quite useless is this case. When such an quiz occurs, people who use their calculator almost entirely for gaming (during class) are usually not happy with the prospect of eliminating a source of diversion. Heaven forbid they multiply 6.62E-34 with 2E20, or divide 733 by 6, by hand.

Re:HP Calcs Not Regional (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 8 years ago | (#16127200)

that is why hacks exist, either the simple ones which fake the menu structure or advanced assembly code that hides everything untill a secret code is typed in

Re:HP Calcs Not Regional (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16127918)

you should have seen the tests i turned in all through highschool and college, scratch work all over the margins and the backs, all over the place, to the point i had to section off the answers with lines so they were readable. always finished before about half the class too.

You can already use flash on a calculator (1)

Moonchen (452105) | about 8 years ago | (#16125788)

HP 50g [hp.com] with built-in SD card slot.

The ${SUBJECT} on a ${OBJECT} troll! (1)

ettlz (639203) | about 8 years ago | (#16125884)

Flash drives on a calculator, you say?

But what about snakes on a... nah, it would never work.

Re:The ${SUBJECT} on a ${OBJECT} troll! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16125986)

I want these motherfucking flash drives off my motherfucking calculator!

Looks familiar... (1)

The Hobo (783784) | about 8 years ago | (#16125900)

It was posted [hackaday.com] on hackaday 3 days ago.

Some details (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16125907)

Some details for those that are curious:
The TI-84 Plus calculator has a USB on-the-go port, meaning it can act as either device or host. Unfortunately the calculator's operating system has no provisions to allow it to connect, as host, to anything other than another calculator or a Vernier data collection [vernier.com] thingie. The calculator has a mini-USB port, so a mini-A to A-female adapter cable is required to connect most devices.

I wrote a piece of software, usb8x [denglend.net] , which configures and controls the calculator's USB port for use with other devices. It contains the low level USB host (think root hub) driver, and higher level drivers for: mice, keyboards, gamepads, EasyTemp (one of the vernier thingies mentioned above), Silverlink (a TI connection cable), and mass storage devices. The mass storage driver (and msd8x) was started by Michael and finished by Brandon.

The software this article mentions, msd8x [denglend.net] , is a UI to access the mass storage driver. It contains a file browser so you can import/export files, and run programs from the drive. The raw read speed via usb8x from a flash drive seems to max out at about 130 KB/s. Reading data from the file system is a bit slower, maxing at about 80 KB/s. Writing data to a file is significantly slower, anywhere from 5 to 40 KB/s, depending on if the file needs to be grown (and on the sectors per cluster and the speed of the flash drive). I'd say the speeds aren't bad considering this is running on a 15 mhz Z80 processor.

Anyhow, I can't speak for Michael or Brandon, but I worked on the USB stuff because I found it to be fun. There are practical applications for those of us that use graphing calculators, but regardless, I don't think that's a requirement for a cool hack. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy it if you have a TI-84 Plus, and that we've provided some good fodder for the usual witty repartee otherwise.

-Dan Englender

Re:Some details (1)

strredwolf (532) | about 8 years ago | (#16126682)

Do you know what chip is used for the USB slave/host? An SLH811?

Flash Drives On a Calculator? (-1, Redundant)

MM1970 (845562) | about 8 years ago | (#16125937)

Sounds like "Snakes on a plane"

Few Clarifications (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16126082)

Responding to many posts above, TIs have had flash memory for years, just like the HPs. Like stated above, they do not have SD readers. What's great about this new creation is that it allows the calculator to communicate with an external flash drive, allowing for additional portable storage. Furthermore, the connection of a flash stick is made easy by the fact that TIs have integrated USB ports since about two years ago (Do the HPs have integrated USB ports? Maybe they do too, I'm not sure).

Re:Few Clarifications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16127508)

HPs have usb, irda, and non-rs232 serial (wrong voltage). The 50g can draw its power from the usb port, even.

No price reductions on calculators. EVER! (3, Interesting)

zymano (581466) | about 8 years ago | (#16126203)

http://www.johnmunsch.com/2001/08/calculator_rip_o ffs.html [johnmunsch.com]

http://www.epinions.com/content_62095134340 [epinions.com]

Some reporter out there please do a piece on the monopoly and marketing push by these calculator companies forcing students to buy expensive calculators. These things NEVER come down in price. Those arm processors are expensive?

Re:No price reductions on calculators. EVER! (1)

quanticle (843097) | about 8 years ago | (#16127139)

The problem (especially with Texas Instruments calculators) is that they've actually wormed their way into the educational system. I know in school, that, rather than teach us how to draw graphs by hand the teachers went over the Ti-83 and Ti-89 commands for drawing graphs. Anyone without a graphing calculator (or even an non-Texas Instruments calculator) was out of luck, as there was no explanation of how to do things by hand, or any aid with any "non-standard" calculators. Texas Instruments gives away calculators to middle (grades 6 - 8) and high (grades 9 - 12) schools in order to preserve an unofficial monopoly. Students are allowed to use other graphing calculators, but the school warns them that the teachers will offer no help with technical issues.

I encountered the same issue in my first college calculus course. The problems were all designed with large numbers, and were intended to require a calculator to solve. Fortunately, the university has two parallel math tracks, one allowing calculators and one prohibiting, so I was able to switch to a course where students competed on their own merits.

TI calculators are woefully obsolete (2, Insightful)

Doppler00 (534739) | about 8 years ago | (#16126536)

I love TI calcualtors and everything, don't get me wrong, the TI-89 is great.... the thing is, TI has improved there product SQUAT since I bought mine in freakin' 1999! The current generation of TI-89 is almost EXACTLY the same, despite the fact that it must now cost them a fraction of the cost to manufacture as it did in 1999. Lets face it, we are talking about an archaic CPU, a ultra low resolution black OR white display, limited memory, limited functionality. Now, I'm not saying that the next gen calculator should have more hardware for the sake of keeping up to date, but it should really at least have a large subset of the capabilities of PC software packages such as MATLAB, Mathcad, Mathematica, etc.... why are they holding back? They could improve the product so much, but they refuse to do so, and instead charge you $120 for something that costs them $5 to manufacture.

Go figure...

Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16127389)

Compared to the no longer developed HP calulators with Retarded Polish Notation and the same unfixed firmware bugs for the past 30 years but with less stacks then ever before? Yeah really obsolete. TI at least offers bios updates to fix the glaring problems like with the trig functions. Yes, Casio (FX-115ES is an amazing calculator for the price) are starting to develop their line but their graphing models are still lacking. The TI-89 has only come down slightly in price and features remaining the same (more memory with the titanium) since they were released but there is no real competition in advanced graphing calculators.

As for the "ultra low resolution" display and underclocking, that is to conserve battery life at the expense of a few seconds graphing time. Sure mathlab and the others run rings around the capabilities of a TI-89 especially on a desktop but for portability, a calculator with spare batteries is hard to beat.

Not that special... (1)

onlysolution (941392) | about 8 years ago | (#16126592)

My HP49GII has an SD card slot in it and reads and writes just fine to my 1gb sd card. If you really need that kind of storage in a calculator maybe you don't actually need a calculator so much as a palmtop?

HP has had this type of deal for some time. (1)

LongShip (6698) | about 8 years ago | (#16127780)

Their newer calculators (HP-49g+ and HP50g) have an SD slot.

They also have StrongARM CPUs which tend to do things pretty fast, as compared with most TI operations. Recommend that you look into these pretty incredible machines if you're shopping for a calculator.

Up next (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16127856)

1.3 MP camera
wifi
IM app
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