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Newsletter - November 1999

The ticalc.org Newsletter
November 1999 - Volume 2, Issue 11


Letter from the Editor
Ask ticalc.org
Calculator News
Interview with Scott Noveck


Thank you for reading the ticalc.org newsletter! This month, we have rolled out many new features, including new detailed statistics on program authors and the ability to download readme files without downloading entire zips. Also, a Featured Programs forum has been added. We encourage you to check them out.

As we speak, we are testing a new system for our Comment Boards. Due to the huge controversy surrounding the comments on our boards, we have decided to go with a two-week anarchy trial. Until November 7, no comments will be deleted, unless they contain illegal or highly inappropriate posts. After this, we will have a survey about the fate of our comment boards. For more information, see http://www.ticalc.org/archives/news/articles/18658.html.

The Program of the Month process will start up again, starting with our regular nomination process. In order to nominate programs for the second round, please go to http://www.ticalc.org/community/awards/data/nom101999.html. After a nomination period of one week, the actual voting process will begin, and it will last for an additional week. In two weeks, the winners will be announced.

For this month's interview we have selected Scott Noveck, a member of the ACZ. He has extensive knowledge with assembly languages, and his notable programs include Zelda89, Pokemon 89, and a modified version of Super TRON 89. Scott is currently working on many projects, most notably Plane Jump 89, which is due out next month.

Eric Sun


At ticalc.org, we often receive many of the same questions. In this column, w e hope to address some of these questions for a broader audience. If you'd like to submit a question, please email it to ask@tic alc.org.

Q: How does ticalc.org take the still and animated s creenshots that can be found in the ticalc.org archives?
--Jonathan Sprewell

A: For still screenshots, we take them directly in Virtual TI, a popular calculator emulator. You can find it at http://www.ticalc.org/pub/win/vti.zip. Once they're taken, we have to convert them from .bmp to .gif format before we add them to the data base. For this, we use a neat little program called Irfanview which quickly batch converts multiple images. Go to http://stud1.tuwien.ac.at/~e9227474/ if you want more information.

As for animated screenshots, we use an in-house program created by Kirk Meyer that latches onto a running copy of Virtual TI and pulls the images straight out of it to make an animated screenshot. They are pulled out at user-set intervals (110, 220 or 330 ms) and screenshots for POTM are made with this too. Animated screenshots are already saved in .gif form, so we don't need to worry about converting them.
--Nick Disabato

Q: Why don't any assembly programs work on the TI-89 with ROM version 1.05?
--Many emails to help@ticalc.org

A: The differences in the TI-89 ROM 1.00 and ROM 1.05 cause assembly programs to lock up if they are not made for the correct version. To see what ROM version your calculator has, go to F1->About. You will see something like this:

Advanced Mathematics Software
Version *Your Version Here*

If you are experiencing this problem and would like to fix it, you have two solutions:

1. The easiest and most popular way is to simply downgrade your ROM version to 1.00. To do this, you must email scraft@ti.com and ask for ROM 1.00. Current copyright rules forbid us from distributing this ROM version.

An alternative way is to use David Hart's patch program for Windows, entitled "TI-89/92+ ROM Patcher v1.05." It can be found at either http://www.ticalc.org/pub/win/rompatch.zip or http://www.ticalc.org/pub/win/rompch16.zip for the 16-bit version. Information about this program can be found at his page, http://calccity.calc.org/.
--Eric Sun


This month, we have again seen a great number of programs released, especially for the TI-83+. As always, the TCPA has been extremely active, and notable releases include Solytare, Simon, Labyrnth, Block Dude, Laser Mayhem, Blink, and Tetris Attack, all for the TI-83+. Congratulations to TCPA!

In other news, Sam Heald has released Ion (83 and 83+) versions of many of his games, including Z-Kart, Picross, Pac-Man, and Galaxian. New versions of Phoenix (by Patrick Davidson), ZTetris (Ahmed El-Helw) and SolarStriker (Benoit Scherrer and Brian Tribondeau) have also been released.

The folks over at Texas Instruments have also been relatively productive this month. In addition to releasing the CBL2, the long-awaited TI-83+ Software Development Kit has been released, helping programmers develop programs in Z80 assembly code. More information can be found at http://www.ti.com/calc/docs/sdk.htm. This release will be followed by another SDK that allows programmers to write to the Flash ROM.

Finally, in Windows programming, Rusty Wagner has released yet another version of his popular emulator, Virtual TI. The new version adds support for the black TI-Graph Link cable and fixes support for homemade serial links. VTI v2.5 beta 3 can be found in our archives.


Email: scott@acz.org
Web URL: http://www.acz.org/

Interview Log
Eric How old are you and what level of education do you have?
Scott I'm 16 years old and a sophomore in high school.
Eric What do you plan to do after you graduate?
Scott I'm looking for a high-level university and possibly going into computer science or law in the future.
Eric What calculators do you own?
Scott An 89 and an 83+ - I originally had an 86, but it was stolen last year (right out of my backpack in the middle of lunch with no one noticing, apparently).
Eric Do you plan to get any new calculators soon?
Scott Probably not -- I'm perfectly satisfied with my 89, at least until college.
Eric What do you use your calculator for most?
Scott I bought it primarily for math -- I don't need something so powerful, but I won't pass up any advantage on those AP Calc/SAT/PSAT/SAT II tests. Of course, I play games and such all the time, but I wouldn't get something like this just to be able to play games in class.
Eric How did you find out about the TI Community, and when did you first visit ticalc.org?
Scott I was looking for a graphing calculator back in geometry, and seeing TI's calculators advertised as PROGRAMMABLE graphing calculators caught my attention. TI's website has (had?) a link somewhere to ticalc.org and the TI-Files, and I followed that on in. It was probably around September 1997, although it's not something I've been keeping track of =)
Eric What was the first program you ever wrote?
Scott For the PC I was writing some QBASIC programs years ago back with Windows 3.1 on a 286. For the TI, probably Poker 86, which drastically needs some updates (my first assembly program =) that I may get around to doing sometime in the future.
Eric How did you learn to program in assembly language?
Scott Jimmy Mardell's ZShell School -- and one of the BEST assembly lessons around. The link can be found in the ticalc.org programming section. Unfortunately, there aren't any lessons as good as that for the 68k calcs (another something to think about doing somewhere down the line), although Jimmy's 68000 Guide for Fargo Programmers (http://www.ticalc.org/pub/text/68kguide.txt) is great if you already know z80 or another assembly language.
Eric Do you have an idol TI programmer?
Scott Too many of them to name everyone (in no specific order): Jimmy Mardell, who's written those great lessons, games, and some routines which I use in my programs; Clem, Matt Shepcar, Andreas Ess, and all the others at Icarus; Rusty Wagner and Xavier Vassor for Plusshell/DoorsOS and some other programs; Tom, for Street Fighter 2 AFC; and Zoltan, for some help on the A89 list. I think that covers most of it =)
Eric Are you in a programming group?
Scott I was working with CCiA earlier, although it was more like a bunch of individuals under one name than an actual group; when I realized that I was the only one in the group who even knew the 68k ASM we were programming in I left and the rest have since disbanded. I'm now with ACZ (http://www.acz.org) with a bunch of other great guys who know their stuff =)
Eric What projects are you working on now?
Scott I've been working on Plane Jump 89 on and off a bit recently (free time is an issue) which I hope to finish up soon and put out a 92+ port soon after. I've got some other demos and such which I want to comment and release and some tentative plans for a large new project in the near future. Possibly some beginner-oriented 68k lessons, too, if I can find the time.


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