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Newsletter - July/August 2004

The ticalc.org Newsletter
http://www.ticalc.org/
July/August 2004 - Volume 6, Issue 1

IN THIS ISSUE

Letter from the Editor
The Screenshot Project
Food for Thought
Ask ticalc.org
Interview with Patrick Davidson
Miscellany

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

Welcome, and thank you for reading the ticalc.org bi-monthly newsletter! After about a one-year layoff since the publication of the last newsletter, I have decided to pick up on writing the newsletter. The newsletter is now going to be published once every two months, but though it will be appearing less than it has in the past, this will allow me to add more features since there is more preparation time. This newsletter might seem shorter than newsletters of the past, but I hope to change that in the coming months.

One goal I have is to encourage member contributions to the ticalc.org newsletter. If you want to submit an article, an idea, a request for an interview, or any criticisms you might have, I highly encourage you to Email newsletter@ticalc.org. I'm open to new suggestions, because I want to make the newsletter as interesting as possible.

I'm really looking forward to writing the bi-monthly newsletter, and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Jonathan Katz


THE SCREENSHOT PROJECT

Ever since the start of the summer, more and more screenshots have been appearing at ticalc.org. Though it may appear at first to be mysterious, don't be alarmed; this situation is well under control. Morgan Davies, a ticalc.org staff member, has organized "The Great Screenshot Project '04" (Well, that's what I call it) in an effort to get as many programs screenshotted on ticalc.org as possible. Though he has declined to say how many people are working on the project or how many files have been screenshotted thus far, it appears that there will be a gargantuan amount of screenshots by the end of the summer. All the people working on this screenshot project have volunteered their time to help out ticalc.org, and have been hard at work throughout the summer, and the results are definitely showing! Good job guys!

Jonathan Katz


FOOD FOR THOUGHT

The newest models of TI calculators use either the 12MHz MC68000 processor or the 15MHz ZiLOG Z80 processor. Do you think that the next line of TI calculator to come out should use faster processors?

Email your thoughts to newsletter@ticalc.org, and your response may appear in the next newsletter!

Jonathan Katz


ASK TICALC.ORG

Submitted by Patrick Davidson

Q: Why did the TI-82 cross the road?

A:Well, that's a very complex issue, because there are a plethora of answers as to why such an event might occur. The TI-82 may have been drawn to a "+" sign on the other side of the road, making it the first and only TI-82+ in existence. Or the TI-82 could have been running away from the gang of 83 and 83+s quickly charging at it, reminding it that the time that the 82 dominated had passed. However, it could have just been that the TI-82 was just chucked across the road by a TI-82 user who just upgraded his or her calculator.

Don't worry, no TI-82s were hurt in the answering of this question.

Jonathan Katz


INTERVIEW WITH PATRICK DAVIDSON

Email: pad@davnet.org

Interview Log
Jon So, I've noticed that it's been awhile since your last interview for the newsletter, so I wanted to know how your calc related projects were going.
Patrick First, I suppose I can cover the Z80 projects. I consider most of the older Z80 projects to be completely finished now, so I no longer consider them projects and I probably won't update them much, if at all. This includes stuff like "Galaxian" and "Pac-Man 99." The Z80 version of "Phoenix" is not included in this, even though it hasn't been updated for a couple of years. I am working on a significant (but not huge) update for it that is mostly complete now, and thus should be released soon.

There are also some newer projects that I'm working on. The first is "ZMercury," which while I haven't worked on it much lately, but I expect to add quite a bit to it. I also expect to port it to the calculators with 96 pixel wide screens (like the 83+), but I hope to delay doing this since having to debug every new version on every calculator would slow down development (it certainly did for "Phoenix"). There is also the bizarre matter of the Z80 platform game I might make. I have my doubts that it will ever be released, since I have started it about five times (from scratch each time) but never got it to be worth beta testing. In the case of "ZMercury," though, I do plan to add quite a bit to it. That's about it for my Z80 projects; the updated "Phoenix" and expanded "Zmercury" should be released one to three months from now, but the 83+ "Zmercury" and platform game may be much later.
Jon How about the 68K projects?
Patrick In this area I actually consider a greater fraction of projects to be complete, such as "Phoenix," "Platinum Edition," and "Monster," all of which will probably not have much in the way of updates. In the case of "Mercury," I will probably update it soon, but not greatly. The main changes planned are to lengthen it slightly and to add multiple difficulty levels (in case someone thinks it is too easy now).
Jon Or too hard :P
Patrick As for "Smiley's Adventure," I will probably do something with it but I don't know what or when. That program was mainly my final effort (which amazingly succeeded) to break my record of starting a dozen platform games that never were finished.
Jon Have you done any programming for calculators other than the TI's?
Patrick I've programmed a Casio version of "Platinum Edition," that's it.
Jon Have you done any programming not related to the calculator?
Patrick I have made a few PC games, but they were mostly the same as the calculator games I made, except they have more colors, but fewer levels. I wrote them in assembly language (of course) and Turbo Pascal.
Jon What programming languages do you know besides assembly and Turbo Pascal, and which one is your favorite?
Patrick Actually, for most PC projects, I now prefer C (though I still prefer assembly for the calculators). Other languages I know include mainly Java and Lisp, as well as C++ to some extent and Delphi, if you consider that a separate language. I also have done some things on the Commodore Amiga computer (Yes, I am old school enough to still have one!), which is actually where I first started using 68000 assembly language. In the past, I made several games there (originally in AMOS) in BASIC, and then later in 68000 assembly language, all of which were mostly similar to my calculator games. Now on the Amiga I'm mostly doing only demo/intro programming, but not at a very high rate.
Jon I've noticed that it has been four years since you were last interviewed for the newsletter. Do you think you've grown in anyway as a programmer?
Patrick I suppose my programming skill has grown somewhat since then (as naturally it would improve with more practice), though I don't think I've gone through any remarkable changes, except that I now sometimes apply what I've studied in computer science classes in school to calculator programming.
Jon So, what are your plans for the future when you're done with your education?
Patrick I have now received my bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley, and will be starting graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison this fall.
Jon Do you plan on reading your interview in the newsletter?
Patrick Yes, I will (if you publish it, that is)!
Jon Finally, how does it feel to be the most downloaded author of all time at ticalc.org?
Patrick Oh, just great!

MISCELLANY

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Any opinions expressed in this newsletter are the opinions of the newsletter editor and/or published authors. By no means are the opinions heretofore expressed to be considered representative of ticalc.org as a whole. Texas Instruments in no way endorses or is affiliated with ticalc.org. Any trademarks are hereby acknowledged as the property of their respective owners.


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