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Newsletter - August 2003

The ticalc.org Newsletter
August 2003 - Volume 5, Issue 4


Letter from the Editor
Review: The Mead Five-Star Calculator Case
Ask ticalc.org
Humor: Signs your life is centered around calculators
Interview with Cullen Sauls


Thank you for reading the ticalc.org Newsletter! As usual, July was a slow month, with the only major news being file #30000 being added to our archives, as well as the release of Cerrato Renaud's wireless linking project.

We would like to extend a giant thank you to the 39 people who have assisted Morgan Davies with screenshotting the archives. At press time, more than 1600 additional screenshots had been added. Way to go!

This month we've got an interview with the author of Jigsaw 86 and Dodger, Cullen Sauls, a guest review from Neal Wiley, and more. Next month, I would like to introduce a new section that will feature great programs that have slipped under our radar and have not been featured. We hope to uncover some gems, but we need your help. Send the name and URL of a file in our archives that has not been featured but deserves mention to newsletter@ticalc.org. Aside from the file possibly getting attention in the newsletter, the name of the person who submits the URL will also be included.

Joey Gannon


Ease of use: 3/10
Usefulness: 6/10
Aesthetics: 7/10
Cost: 5/10

Mead Five-Star, maker of various school supplies, has introduced a product designed to operate as a self-contained calculator workstation. It includes a pouch for a calculator (the picture shows a TI-83+ Silver Edition), a nice pad of half line-half graph paper and a place to hold a pen or pencil and is enclosed by a zippered case roughly nine inches by five and a half. A nice clip to attach the case to something is also included. However, there are a few problems. Firstly, it claims to hold any size calculator. This is blatantly false. An 83/89 case size calculator inside will not allow the zipper to close if the pad of paper is also inside. It will close without the paper, but only if the calculator is forced to the far left of the pouch. The only calculator that would fit comfortably with the pad of paper was the TI-80. Also, the zipper will not navigate the corners of the case without either violent force or gently coaxing. Either way is inefficient and time consuming. Overall, it is satisfactory, but only if you use a TI-80 and only if you have a good fifteen or twenty seconds to spare every time you wish to retrieve it.

See a picture of the Mead Five-Star calculator case.

(Editor's note: I made a special trip to my local office supplies store to purchase one of these after seeing the ad, but decided against it, due to the sticky corners of the zipper.)

Neal Wiley


Q: I've tried to download some programs for my TI-89 that require DoorsOS to run. I either can't get DoorsOS to install, or the programs don't work when I do. How can I use these programs?

A: DoorsOS is no longer under development, and does not work on the newer AMS versions. Unlike on the Z80 calculators, almost any program that requires a kernel will run on any kernel. Currently, the most up-to-date kernel is PreOS. In the coming months, we will be renaming the DoorsOS folders for the 89, 92+, and V200 to eliminate any remaining confusion.


10. You dream about meeting someone someday who recognizes you from the TI community.
9. You plan your summer vacation to include visits to ticalc.org staff members.
8. You type "www." into a browser window, and your fingers automatically finish it with "ticalc.org".
7. You have considered various ways of printing the nearly 1400-page manual for the 89/92+ Flash SDK.
6. When you go over to a friend's house, he doesn't ask, "Did you bring a calculator?", but rather, "How many calculators did you bring?"
5. When someone mentions the name Dan, your first thought is "Englender or Eble?"
4. You would consider moving to Phoenix, AZ or Fargo, ND just because the names are vaguely familiar.
3. The first thing you do in the morning is read the overnight chat log from #tcpa.
2. You own an article of clothing autographed by a ticalc.org staff member.
1. Your teacher says something about ions, and your mind jumps to Joe Wingbermuele.

Oops! It looks like we got our lists a bit mixed up this month. This was actually the "Signs Joey Gannon is pathetic" list. My deepest apologies for the mistake.

Joey Gannon


Email: sauls@tamu.edu

Interview Log
Joey How old are you, and what level of education do you have?
Cullen I am 20 years old and currently a Junior Computer Science Major at Texas A&M University.
Joey What are your plans for after college?
Cullen I would like to create games for a living, since it is my most loved hobby 6 years running. The RPG and RTS genres appeal to me the most, so I hope to work for a company that focuses on those game styles.
Joey Where do you live?
Cullen I live in College Station, Texas while at college, but am originally from Houston, Texas.
Joey What calculators do you own?
Cullen I own two TI-82s, one TI-86, and one TI-89.
Joey What was the first program you ever wrote?
Cullen I think it was my Cars game in BASIC for the TI-82. It was the first game I made, I know that, and was also the basis for my first assembly game ever written. I changed the name to Speeding for some reason I cannot remember, probably because when I made it for ASH I could not have two programs named Cars.
Joey What do you use your calculator for the most?
Cullen In college I use it mostly for Math, Statistics, and Physics. I have a few games on it, but rarely have time to play them, and all my own game testing is done on an emulator until it is almost time to release, which is when I test it on the real calculator to make sure it works.
Joey How did you get into programming calculators?
Cullen A friend of mine put a "Paper, Rock, Scissors" game on my TI-82, and I started looking at the code. Then I started looking at other BASIC programs, learning the language, and just went from there. I loved the reaction people had when seeing a game on a calculator, so I kept producing miscellaneous games pretty much purely for the joy people got from playing them.
Joey Are there any programmers you admire?
Cullen David Phillips, Brett Barwick, and Jimmy Mardell are my biggest idols. David and Brett helped me immensely when I was learning assembly, and Jimmy helped me with a few concepts along the way. These guys are just great programmers and their willingness to help someone like me, who knew next-to-nothing, makes me forever in their debt. One of the happiest moments of my TI-programming career was when David said my Mega Man 86 game was "_very_ impressive" and "shows how an 86 game can be on a whole different level."
Joey Do you have any plans for future programs?
Cullen I have a few in the works. I have an Image Studio program that will be released soon that will convert a picture to data for use in any program, either assembly or C, and even has the option of compressing the data horizontally or vertically. Second, I have one more game I want to make for the TI-86 that I am hoping will have a very nice engine in it, possibly even allowing others to create games off of it quite painlessly since the engine will handle most of the "boring technical stuff." I also have plans to make a script for Xeontech (by Mikel Blanchard) to finally have a good (and complete) version of a game that many have made demos for, but none have completed. Which game I mean will be revealed later. Lastly, I have plans for a Mega Man 89, that will have everything the 86 version has and more, plus will overcome the slow scrolling and other limitations that the 86 version has.
Joey What do you see for the future of the TI community?
Cullen I have no doubts that it will be around for a long time, but I hope that soon people will realize that releasing a formula solver programs for every calculator is not an amazing feat. I see a few promising programmers coming out that are realizing that quality is better than quantity and your "busiest author" rank does not matter. I am hoping that those starting out now will also realize this and come up with some very nice programs. Since most games have been made, I hope that more originality will come from the newer programmers as well. Truthfully, I do not see the TI scene going anywhere but up, since new programs must be robust, well thought out, and fresh to get noticed.


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