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Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
Posted by Michael on 24 October 2005, 14:23 GMT

Since ticalc.org's tenth anniversary is rapidly approaching next year, I thought it would be an interesting idea to have a series of interviews with famous TI community programmers of the years past. Tracking them down was easier said than done. Therefore, while I originally intended to have a mini-series of interviews from now until June 2006, it will be a few sporadic articles. And now without further ado, continue reading more to learn what happened to Joe Wingbermuehle, our first interviewee.

While Joe Wingbermuehle has written many popular 83/83+ games, he is best known as the creator of Ion, the defacto shell for the 83+. Recently I interviewed Joe and asked him a few questions about what he's up to nowadays and what he thinks about the TI community.

Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
MichaelHow old are you currently and what education have you had?
JoeI'm 24 years old. I've been out of school for a year and a half now. I went to UMR (University of Missouri at Rolla) and got a BS in Computer Science and Mathematics.
MichaelHave you done any programming since you left the TI community?
JoeWell, I've done a lot of programming since I quit doing calculator stuff. Of course, that's what I do for a living these days. I also have several projects I work on, notably JWM.
MichaelCan you explain what JWM is?
JoeJWM (Joe's Window Manager) is a window manager for the X Window System often found on UNIX systems including Linux. It provides the stuff needed to arrange windows and start new programs graphically.
MichaelThat's an interesting project. What motivated you to create a window manager when there are already so many in existance?
JoeI guess there are some similarities between what I did with Ion for the TI-83/83+ and a window manager, but really, I just started writing it because I wanted to play around with X11. Of course, I also wanted to have a window manager that worked exactly like I wanted it to work. Eventually JWM just got to the point where I could use it on a regular basis so I just continued development and now it's becoming a pretty mature window manager.
MichaelBesides JWM, what else have you been up to? Any hobbies/travelling?
JoeWell, besides programming stuff, I really haven't done anything terribly exciting lately. As a hobby, I guess you could say I like playing piano, but that's about it.
MichaelAll right. What do you think of the current TI community as compared to when you were active? Has it changed and if so, for the better or for the worse?
JoeI'm not really that familiar with what's happening now. I do keep an eye on it, but certainly not as much as I used to. From what I can tell, though, it seems to be growing. I still see some familiar names from when I was active and, of course, many new ones. Lots of new things since I've been active, which is a good thing I guess. New people, new games, and even new calculators.
MichaelSome people claim the community is dying and the quality of new programs has gone downhill. Would you then disagree with that statement?
JoeThat's hard for me to really answer as I haven't actually tried out most of the new things, but I doubt it's really dying. Good programs take time to make and will always be more sparse than the stuff that people write in a day during some free time. I'm sure there will always be new people to pick up the task of writing great stuff for the calculators.
MichaelOkay, it's nostalgia time. What are the best and worst things you remember about the community? Are there any particular events you'd like to talk about?
JoeCertainly, I think the most exciting time was when I first got my hands on a TI-83+ and had the opportunity to explore uncharted territory and make Ion in the process. Of course, I had a lot of help with that. I also remember back when I made SOS and Bill Nagel didn't seem pleased about that. This was only shortly after AShell had been released, there were some interesting IRC conversations if I recall correctly.
MichaelDo you have any advice for programmers who are just getting started?
JoeNow that's a complicated question. I guess there are several schools of thought, but I've always found the best way to get started programming is to make something that will give you feedback as soon as possible. So if your goal is to make a breakout game, start with just a ball bouncing up and down and keep adding to it. Small steps make the process more entertaining. As to where to go to find out how to program, I'd just find a book on it. Of course, you'll want to know assembler language if you want to program calculators, but z80 or 68k isn't too difficult to pick up after learning C, so I'd start there.
MichaelLastly, is there anything else that you would like to add to this interview? Feel free to plug a program, deliver a calculator version of the Gettysburg Address, etc.
JoeWell, I don't have much to plug, of course, if you want to keep up to date on what I'm doing, visit joewing.net and be sure to give JWM a shot. As a last word on calculators, I really enjoyed being involved with doing calculator stuff. It gave me the chance to learn how to program in assembler language in a free environment that you just don't get with modern computer systems.
JoeThanks for interviewing me! It makes me feel important :-)
MichaelAnd thank you!
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The comments below are written by ticalc.org visitors. Their views are not necessarily those of ticalc.org, and ticalc.org takes no responsibility for their content.


Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
Snave2000  Account Info

Excellent! Very informative! It's really interesting to hear about the pioneers of calculator programming. Keep up the great work!

Reply to this comment    24 October 2005, 15:17 GMT

Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
James abba shalaka Rubingh Account Info
(Web Page)

Go WAY back and get Jimmy Mardell or SCaBBY! Jimmy won the google contest a while back if i recall.

Reply to this comment    24 October 2005, 15:59 GMT

Re: Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
Ben Cherry  Account Info
(Web Page)

Yeah, I'd love to read one with Jimmy Mardell. More than most others, he took his experience with calcs and moved directly into mainstream by writing gameboy color games in z80 (he in fact ported his old calc game sqrxz into full color glory if i recall) and made a few incredible advances on the gbc. Then I remember reading that article a year or two ago where he won the google code jam. Definitely a smart guy.

Reply to this comment    24 October 2005, 21:38 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
Brian Gordon  Account Info

and a foreign-sounding name with a non-latin character in it that's the key to any programmer's success

Reply to this comment    24 October 2005, 21:51 GMT


Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
James abba shalaka Rubingh Account Info
(Web Page)

SQRXZ isnt a game BY him, it was an old computer game. And the GBC version was a group effort by Icarus productions, but any of those guys would be a great person to interview.

Reply to this comment    25 October 2005, 14:52 GMT

Re: Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
Michael McElroy Account Info
(Web Page)

Holy s... you still visit this site, too?

Reply to this comment    25 October 2005, 18:57 GMT


Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
James abba shalaka Rubingh Account Info
(Web Page)

Hahah yeah, once and a while

Reply to this comment    29 October 2005, 16:26 GMT


Re: Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
Will Stokes  Account Info
(Web Page)

I'd love to hear from these old school calc coders:
-Andreas Ess
-Jimmy Mårdel
-Magnus Hagander
-Mel Tsai

The largest change in the community over time has been the progression from TI-Basic to Asm to compiled languages like C thanks to the TI-GCC project. Asm let you do things you just couldn't do in TI-Basic since previously the language was interpreted and thus slow. You could also do tripy things in asm like changing the contrast level to fade in/out etc. TI-GCC came after my time and my impression is that it has allowed people to accomplish many things we wanted to do previously but much faster. It seemed like in asm you spent most of your time debugging, not coding. Objected oriented abstractions might make things even easier in the future. It would be nice to see questions regarding these topics specifically make it into the interviews.
-Will Stokes

Reply to this comment    29 October 2005, 18:35 GMT

Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
ElementFire Account Info

Nice. Keem 'em coming!

Reply to this comment    24 October 2005, 17:55 GMT

Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
burntfuse  Account Info
(Web Page)

Good interview! <slightly off-topic> That's a very nice window manager, not bloated and overly graphical like some I've seen. Is it ICCCM compliant (works with panels and stuff)? </slightly off-topic>

Reply to this comment    24 October 2005, 18:04 GMT


Re: Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
Snave2000  Account Info

Not to nitpick or anything, but wouldn't it be <topic="slightly off"> </topic> ?

Reply to this comment    25 October 2005, 15:09 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
Michael McElroy Account Info
(Web Page)

Not to nitpick or anything, but you're nitpicking and everything.

Reply to this comment    25 October 2005, 18:59 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
Rob van Wijk  Account Info

ROTFL

It's pseudo-html people; the important thing is that humans understand it. Whether it's syntactically correct only matters when you want computers to understand it, and they won't understand it anyway.

Reply to this comment    4 November 2005, 15:42 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
Mr.Z  Account Info
(Web Page)

Or <topic category="slightly off">...</topic>? :)

Reply to this comment    25 October 2005, 23:17 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
Snave2000  Account Info

Yeah, that's what I was getting at....

Reply to this comment    26 October 2005, 15:49 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
burntfuse  Account Info
(Web Page)

Ah, whatever...you got the idea.

Reply to this comment    27 October 2005, 18:23 GMT

Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
Lewk Of Serthic  Account Info
(Web Page)

Cool Idea.

Reply to this comment    24 October 2005, 19:30 GMT

Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
Brandon Wilson  Account Info
(Web Page)

Wow. That's all I have to say.

Joe, I like you. I just do.

Brings back the sadness of when you left. But nice!

Reply to this comment    24 October 2005, 20:01 GMT

Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
George Zhao  Account Info

It's been ten years already since ticalc.org formed? Can't believe it.

Reply to this comment    24 October 2005, 21:37 GMT

Re: Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
Jonathan Snyder  Account Info
(Web Page)

Oh, wow 10 years! I can't beleive it been up that long. I haven't been here long but I hope I become a successful programer like Joe.

Reply to this comment    24 October 2005, 22:15 GMT


Re: Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
Michael Vincent  Account Info
(Web Page)

I don't understand why people keep saying that. I said approaching - it's not until June of next year.

Reply to this comment    24 October 2005, 22:35 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
Kevin Ouellet  Account Info
(Web Page)

june 21th

Reply to this comment    25 October 2005, 01:43 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
calkfreak83  Account Info
(Web Page)

It started a day before my 6th birthday :)

Reply to this comment    25 October 2005, 21:28 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
George Zhao  Account Info

didn't the 83+ first come out in 1996? is that when ticalc.org first formed?

Reply to this comment    25 October 2005, 21:48 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
calkfreak83  Account Info
(Web Page)

TI announces TI-83 Plus graphing calculator: 11 January 1999, 22:18 GMT

[That was a news article on ticalc.org..]

and ticalc.org was started on June 21, 1996..

Reply to this comment    26 October 2005, 01:34 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
3.141592654 Account Info

june 21st IS my birthday!

Reply to this comment    26 October 2005, 21:09 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interview with Joe Wingbermuehle
Rob van Wijk  Account Info

Guess you weren't around for the launch party? :p

Reply to this comment    4 November 2005, 15:44 GMT

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