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Hardware Hacking Math Your Rights Online Build

TI vs. Calculator Hobbyists, Again 417

Deep Thought writes "Texas Instruments, already infamous thanks to the signing key controversy last year, is trying a new trick to lock down its graphing calculators, this time directed toward its newest TI-Nspire line. The TI-Nspires were already the most controlled of TI's various calculator models, and no third-party development of any kind (except for its very limited form of TI-BASIC) was allowed until the release of the independent tool Ndless. Since its release, TI has been determined to prevent the large calculator programming community from using it. Its latest released operating system for the Nspire family (version 2.1) now prevents the calculators from downgrading to OS 1.1, needed to run Ndless. This is TI's second major attack on Ndless, as the company has already demanded that websites posting the required OS 1.1 remove it from public download [PDF, in French], obviously to prevent use of the tool. Once again, TI is preventing calculator hobbyists from running their own software on calculators they bought and paid for."
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TI vs. Calculator Hobbyists, Again

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  • Why bother?! (Score:5, Informative)

    by JamesP ( 688957 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:29AM (#32942026)

    Go for HP then. (learn RPN!!)

    And even then, if I want to hack it, I'd go for a Palm or software in an iPhone/ Android. The processor and raphics in these things runs circles around calculators.

    I understand for some occasions (tests, etc) it has to be a calculator, but I doubt it would be allowed to run modified software.

    Time for discreet calculators is almost over.

  • Standardized tests (Score:5, Informative)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:39AM (#32942066)
    There is a huge market for graphing calculators because of standardized tests, and those tests have specific requirements on the limits of the calculator's functionality. If you can modify the calculator's firmware, then you can make a run around those rules -- the inspections of calculators rarely involve turning the calculator on, and even if it did, it would be trivial to disguised hacked firmware. These standardized tests rely on a perception of fairness and accuracy, which creates a requirement for standard calculator firmware, which means that a major part of TI's calculator business is created by the un-hackability of their calculators.
  • by Journey72 ( 1762034 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:41AM (#32942076)
    Other schools may be different, but at mine, on any test that we took in math class, our teacher would reset our calculators to its factory defaults.
  • Totally agree (Score:3, Informative)

    by crovira ( 10242 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:44AM (#32942090) Homepage

    Who the [expletive deleted] would want to mess with a TI?

    You're much better off using an HP.

    RPN got me into stack architecture, FORTH, Smalltalk and lots of other things.

  • by HungryHobo ( 1314109 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:45AM (#32942096)

    we weren't allowed used any programmable calculators or calculators which could store info.

  • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <{richardprice} {at} {gmail.com}> on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:54AM (#32942140)
    Actually, from the sound of it, TI are preventing the hobbyists from distributing software that TI hold the copyright for and the hobbyists do not have permission to distribute - can't really see an issue there.
  • Re:Why bother?! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:57AM (#32942150)


    If you use graphing calcs and own an ipod touch or iphone, I suggest checking out this [iphone-calc.com].

    Its $0.99, ands beats the pants off of the ti83/84 series (pinch zoom rocks for function graphs!)

    I did a demo in one of my classes last semester and (not surprisingly) all students which own such devices said they'd rather use this instead of a standalone calc. we're thinking of buying a set of calcs for instructor checkout during exams, thereby eliminating the need to force hundreds of our students to shell out $100+ for a calc they'll use for a semester and then forget about

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cwix ( 1671282 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @09:27AM (#32942288)

    http://sat.collegeboard.com/register/sat-test-day-checklist#calcPolicy [collegeboard.com]
    http://www.actstudent.org/faq/answers/calculator.html [actstudent.org]

    Both the SATs and the ACTs allow graphing calculators. The SATs are actually more lenient prohibiting only calculators with a qwerty keypad, the ACTs ban the TI-89/92(+) Series or calcs because of the CAS (Computerized algebraic solver IIRC)

  • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @10:07AM (#32942470) Homepage

    They're called scientific calculators as opposed to graphic calculators, as far as I can tell. I used one of those for my calculus class, they cost $10 to $15 nowadays.

  • by DoctorPepper ( 92269 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @10:22AM (#32942544)

    I graduated from high school in 1977. The very first time I saw a calculator was in "A" school in the Navy, later on that year. I bought one at the Navy Exchange, can't remember the price. It was a Casio calculator, I can't remember the model number. We used to get drunk and use it to play music on our stereo in the barracks room. Tune an FM radio to an unused frequency, lay the calculator on top, and just press the buttons. The radio would pick up the frequencies, demodulate them, and play them back.

    It was fun, but the music was somewhat limited ;)

  • by Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @10:33AM (#32942590) Journal
    actually the next iteration in that family, the TI-86 allowed native execution through the ASM(PROGNAME) command.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2010 @10:40AM (#32942620)

    TI has a product that is sold and intended for the educational market. Normally I would wonder why a manufacturer would go out of his way to lock down functionality, but in TI's specific case, in that they are selling specific models for the educational market which can be used in tests, I would think TI reasons for locking down the functionality are valid.

    I was in college 30 years ago and programmable calculators were out of the reach of most students but I knew a few students who had programmable calculators that were used as crib sheets. A lot of professors stopped allowing calculator use on tests since they had no way of checking each calculator for crib notes. Having a calculator whose functionality is locked down gives those professors and students a way of using calculators on tests while reducing the chance to cheat. By the way, I used a TI sr-10 in college, very limited functionality.

    TI does not lock down all of there models, just the ones intended for the educational market.

    My son's high school allows 1 model for use in all upper level math and science courses. It is a TI graphing calculator. I think that this situation is a reasonable compromise.

  • Re:Why bother?! (Score:3, Informative)

    by __aasqbs9791 ( 1402899 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @10:42AM (#32942632)

    IIRC HP quit the calculator business.

    Really? [hp.com]

    Sure, and a PC runs rings around Cell phones. That does not make them great calculators however, as it's the tiny math related buttons you want.

    Something like these [droidfreeapps.com] is probably what the OP was talking about.

  • by wonkavader ( 605434 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @12:08PM (#32943102)

    Actuarial exams already require the calculator you bring to be one of a very specific models.

  • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @12:17PM (#32943146)

    Well, in many of my classes we weren't allowed anything but a pencil for a test. Everything else was provided.

    In others, you could bring a calculator, however, since they were multi-step problems, you still had to write everything out. The calculator was really only good for checking that you'd correctly manipulated the numbers.

    In a couple you could bring in anything you wanted. You were given 3 hours. The average score was under 45% with the maximum being barely 80%.

    You actually had to understand the material and be able to problem solve with what you'd learned.

  • Re:NO NOT MATH (Score:4, Informative)

    by digitig ( 1056110 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @01:01PM (#32943440)
    The kid counting his candies is still establishing a bijection between the candies and his fingers whether he knows it or not. Anyway, my point was that thinking "arithmetic is the base operations for math" is a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of what math is for somebody who claims to be a mathematician.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2010 @01:02PM (#32943446)

    They do. Tons of them. [ti.com] Nspire hackers seem not to realize they're trying to break into the one model that TI wants to keep down for testing security reasons, when they've sold to and supported the homebrew community for years with the rest of their lineup. It's ridiculous.

  • by adonoman ( 624929 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @01:23PM (#32943600)
    Chisenbop? So you can count to 99 using two hands? Because bi-quinary arithmetic is so easy. I just count in binary on my fingers. I can count to 31 on each hand, or 1023 if I use both. Plus, binary arithmetic is easier than even decimal arithmetic and it's easy to run a basic full-adder algorithm over both hands and read off the result.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 19, 2010 @09:00AM (#32949656)

    I am assuming that your comment is referring to the workforce as 'the real world'. I am in the real world and I still hold strong to my arguments I gave my teachers in high-school when I was coding detailed applications on my TI-83. I had my applications display line by line proofs for all my math problems as well as other subjects which had me do tedious tasks. For starters the mere fact I was capable of programming those steps showed I knew what I was doing. One of the Vice Principals tried to use the same line you did above. To which I responded that I was in my doctors office the other day and he pulled out a reference book in the middle of my exam to verify several symptoms of pneumonia. this didn't mean my doctor was bad he wanted to make sure he was doing his job right. Using reference material in the real world is common place. What it comes down to is the ability to manipulate that reference material.

    Steve W. (the smarter of the two Apple founders) had an interview a while ago and spoke on a similar topic. He mentioned that even teachers are mentioning that today's school system is not really about learning or fully understanding a subject, it is more about memorization. I would tend to agree.

Building translators is good clean fun. -- T. Cheatham