TI removes access to assembly programs on the TI-83 Premium CE
Posted by Xavier on 20 May 2020, 21:35 GMT
We're sad to relay news about the fact that in the currently latest OS 5.5.1 version released today for the TI-83 Premium CE & TI-83 Premium CE Edition Python (such a mouthful ^^), TI completely removed access to assembly programs... Support for unsquished ASM programs was already removed earlier in OS 5.3.1 onwards, though it didn't matter much at the time, because squished ASM programs remained unharmed. Yes, TI has retroactively removed an advertised feature, many a user's favorite feature at that.
This slam shuts a golden age of over two decades (!) of native code being officially supported on at least one actively maintained TI graphing calculator model. Unofficial availability of native code started a bit earlier, thanks to arbitrary code execution achievable through specially crafted backup files. Thousands of programmers have published thousands of programs (and produced even more), many of these published programs can be found in the ticalc.org archives, because ticalc.org has been around since 1996, i.e. for the entire period of official native code availability, give or take a few months time :)
As far as we can tell, TI did not make this move out of the blue. The trigger was probably a teacher posting, on his popular video channel, a video about a long-fixed flaw in an earlier version TI's implementation of PTT mode for the TI-eZ80 series. The fix is from 2018, the video was posted in 2020. Shortly thereafter, we can imagine that TI had to give in to pressure from some people who regulate standardized tests (as a matter of fact, they, not end users, are the real customers TI needs to appease). Needless to say, removing user access to native code has extremely little to do with exam security...
In fact, looking at what happened time and again on other platforms, e.g. the Sony PS3, we can confidently predict that this move will worsen exam security. From now on, the French 83 Premium CE, and certainly the international 84+ CE versions thereof in the near future, are in the same situation as the Nspire platform: a cat & mouse game of jailbreaks, fixes, and newer jailbreaks. Both the Nspire series and the TI-eZ80 series are insecure platforms, all the more users have unrestricted physical access to their calculators; more generally, at the time of this writing, no manufacturer produces any secure graphing calculator model, but the people who regulate standardized tests don't know or don't care...
Like all true calculator enthusiasts, we have hard feelings about the matter. The community had always been nice to TI - nothing really damaging for TI's business was ever released over 20+ years! - but a moral barrier has probably been broken today... However, there are so many much worse things in life, so let's focus on the future instead. It's the beginning of a new era - certainly an era of heightened tension. For now, let's only send our warmest thanks to all past, present and future programmers of native code programs for TI graphing calculators... and on to the new, upcoming chapters of a still ongoing story :)
The news wishlist contains a number of TI-eZ80 ASM programs, among other things; even without future POTY votes, we'll keep featuring programs as time permits.
Article written by Lionel Debroux.