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Newsletter - December 1998

The ticalc.org Newsletter
December 1998 - Volume 1, Issue 2


Letter from the Editor
Letter to the Editor
Calculator News
Did You Know?
Interview with David Phillips
Subscribing and Unsubscribing Information
Web Archive


Thank you for reading the ticalc.org newsletter! From now on, this newsletter will now reference the following month instead of the previous month. Because of this change, this is the last issue of the newsletter this year. Next year, expect to see some new "gizmos" in the newsletter that I have developed. If you have anything that you would like to have published in this newsletter, please send it to newsletter@ticalc.org. Each month I will print one letter that I choose in the "Letter to the Editor" section. You can send letters regarding just about anything as long as they are constructive. Send your letters to the editor to newsletter@ticalc.org.

Kirk Meyer


I would like to respond to the recent controversy regarding Bryan Rabeler's a pology for erasing the TI-Files server. I feel that although his actions were ba d, they were not without reason. Although his reasons did not justify the crime committed, I think that Bryan should be forgiven. I also think that one thing we have learned through this incident is that there is much too much competition a mong the major TI sites and that it needs to stop.

First of all, I must s ay that I do not know all the motives for Bryan's actions. As many of you know, I was the person who supplied Bryan with the password which enabled him to erase the site. I know my reasons (which I will not go into detail about now), but I do not know his. There has always been a great deal of competition among the TI-Files and ticalc.org, and I'm sure that this was a cause for Bryan to erase their site. But I must also point that erasing the TI-Files was not as malicious and evil as some people think it was. I knew, and I'm sure Bryan knew, when the event occured, that they had a full backup of the site. I, for one, would not have done something like this if I was not sure they had a backup. I would also like to point out that it was brave and just for Bryan to admit his actions on ticalc.org and to apologize for them. It seems that everyone was upset because he apologized, not because he erased the site. Nobody cared until he apologized. Few people would have even known of the event until he apologized. It seems that people are punishing Bryan only for apologizing.

It seems clear to me now, as it should to most people, that something needs to change. Although Bryan is sorry, there is no guarantee that he, or another member of one of the major TI sites, would not do something like this again. I can't guarantee that I wouldn't. Competition is what drove Bryan and I to do this, and the competition is still there. Possibly the best solution is to merge the major TI sites. I have always believed that competition helps all sites, for it keeps them working hard. But now I realize that a merge is probably a good idea. However, it would probably be hard to convince the three sites to do this. If we cannot accomplish a merge, there needs to be at least some kind of "truce", in which the sites agree not to hurt the other sites, and possibly even agree to share resources. There needs to be some end to the competition, for we cannot keep erasing each others' sites.

Adam Berlinsky-Schine


Not too much happened in the calculator community this month. Kirk Meyer has ported The Quest III to the TI-86. This game is an RPG game and was originally written for Usgard, by Mikel Blanchard of Macross Software. Additionally, Josh Morris of Macross has released a demo of his upcoming game, Final Fantasy: The Calling for ZShell.

In other news, Texas Instruments has released version v1.13 Beta of the TI-Graph Link software for the TI-89 and TI-92 Plus. These versions are for Windows 3.1/95/NT 4.0 and support English.


Many people do not realize the built-in capabilities of their graphing calculators. For example, the TI-85 and TI-86 have the built-in capabilities to solve polynomial equations and systems of first-order equations.

To solve polynomial equations, go into POLY. Enter the degree of the equation (the highest power present). Then enter each coefficent as it prompts for them. For example, if the equations is 3x^4+x+2=0, then you would enter the following numbers into POLY: 4, 3, 0, 0, 1, 2 and then solve the equation. Note that you enter 0 if that particular term does not exist. This method has one drawback; answers are given and decimal format and are generally useless on math tests. In many cases, however, the answers are integers. In these cases POLY is a very valuable tool.

SIMULT solves systems of equations by using matrices. Before using this solver, arrange your equations so that all of the variables are on the left and a single number is on the right, e.g. 4x+2y=3 not 4x=3-2y. Then make sure that the variables in each case are in alphabetical order (this is the easiest way to do it). First enter the number of variables present. Then enter the numbers in the order they appear. For example, 4x+2y+3z=5 would be entered as 4, 2, 3, 5. IMPORTANT! If a variables is missing in an equation, enter its coefficient as 0. After you have entered all of the equations, tell the calculator to solve. As with the POLY solver, results can be useless since they are given in decimals.


Email: electrum@tfs.net
Web URL: http://www.tfs.net/~electrum
ICQ UIN: 13811951

Interview Log
Kirk How old are you and what level of education do you have?
Electrum I am 17 years old and I am a senior in high school.
Kirk What do you plan to do after high school?
Electrum Good question. I plan to either get a four year degree or work for some game company. Either a Nintendo gameboy company, or a computer game company.
Kirk What calculators do you own?
Electrum I own an 82, an 86 and an 89.
Kirk Do you plan to buy any other calculators soon?
Electrum I do not plan on it, but I would buy an 83 or an 85 if I found one for less than $30, just so I could port my big game when I finish.
Kirk What do you use your calculator for most?
Electrum I use it for programming games mostly, but I also use it in Chemistry II and Physics II.
Kirk When and how did you find out about the "TI Community"?
Electrum I bought my graphlink in 10th grade from someone and downloaded some basic games for my 82 from ti's website. At the end of the year, I visited ticalc.org for the first time. When school ended and the 82 ASM shells came out, I joined the mailing list and really "got into" calculators.
Kirk When did you first visit ticalc.org?
Electrum I first visted ticalc.org at the end of my sophomore year.
Kirk What was the first program you ever wrote?
Electrum I wrote a multiplayer fighting game for my 82 in BASIC the first week I got it.
Kirk How did you learn to program in assembly language?
Electrum I subscribed to the assembly-82 list when the 82 shells came out. I watched them and learned alot about it, but I had to unplug my mouse and reboot to use my graphlink, so it wasn't until I got my 86 and a new computer that I learned asm for the 86. I downloaded Assembly Studio 86 in April and just started writting programs.)
Kirk Do you have an idol TI programmer?
Electrum I have always had a ton of respect for Dan Eble, David Ellsworth and the others who hacked calculators and wrote assembly shells. Jimmy Mardell is my favorite programmer, and I think SCaBBy is pretty cool too.
Kirk What projects are you working on now?
Electrum A side scroller that I started with Matt Johnson back in June is in the works. I am currently working with Dave Scheltema on that. My biggest game is a surprise, partially because I want to shock everyone, and the other reason is because I don't want to be bugged forever if something happens and I don't have enough time to finish it.
Kirk What advice would you give to people wanting to learn to program in assembly?
Electrum My advice is to become "comfortable" with your programming environment. The problem with not being able to program a platform or a language is not inability to program, but not being comfortable with compiling, assembly or running the programs. Get an emulator for your calculator, download the development package, and work on assembly and running other people's games. Modify them a little to get comfortable with working in assembly. Once you do that, download the tutorials for that calculator and just start writting programs until you get better. Assembly is as much experience as it is ability.


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