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Newsletter - February 2000

The ticalc.org Newsletter
February 2000 - Volume 3, Issue 2


Letter from the Editor
Calculator News
Ask ticalc.org
Interview with Jason Kovacs
Humor: The February 2000 Newsletter


Thanks for reading the ticalc.org newsletter! This month has been relatively slow in the TI Calculator world, particularly towards the end of the month (probably attributed to final exams/midterms in many high schools). Nevertheless, it has once again been an exciting month.

The TI Millenium Awards, a joint venture between ticalc.org and Dimension-TI, is currently being wrapped up. This is a forum where users can celebrate the great achievements in the field of TI Graphing Calculators by nominating and voting for programs. The nominations took place on ticalc.org, while the actual voting took place at Dimension-TI. To find more information about the TI Millenium Awards, and to see the results when they are posted, visit http://www.ticalc.org/mil/.

The Program of the Month awards will start up again on ticalc.org. Programs will be selected in four categories: TI-82/TI-83/TI-83+, TI-85/TI-86, TI-89/TI-92/TI-92+, and Computer Utilities/Miscellaneous Programs. All programs released this month that are designated as Featured Programs will be eligible.

For this month's interview we have selected Jason Kovacs, member of TCPA and author of many notable programs, such as Insane Game, Periodic Table, and DStar; all for the TI-83+.

On an unrelated note, Phil Genera and I, Eric Sun, have started a TI Calculator RC5 team at distributed.net, supported by all three major TI calculator sites. RC5 is a project that takes advantage of idle CPU cycles to do something moderately useful (with the potential for a monetary prize, too). If you run the software, you will notice no difference in your computer's speed, so join the team! For more information, visit http://www.ticalc.org/archives/news/articles/25350.html.

Eric Sun


January was once again a fruitful month for the TI-83+. Joe Wingbermuehle released version 1.4 of his popular shell, Ion, for both the TI-83 and TI-83+. In addition, Dan Englender of the TCPA released nine modules for the shell. TCPA has also released many programs this month, such as Insane Game v1.3, Periodic Table v2.0, DStar v2.6, BoxWorld v1.1, Lite 3, and Unsquish v1.1, all for the TI-83 and TI-83+. All of these fine programs can be found in the archives at ticalc.org.

Other programming groups have also had moderate successes, such as the Z80 Assembly Coders group(http://z80.us.fornax.com/), who has released a TI-83 Disassembler, BugOS, The Genetic Code, and Stunt Copter. BASM has also released a Pokemon demo for the TI-83 (SOS).

For other calculators, MXM Productions (http://mxm.ticalc.org/) has released [tie], a shell for the TI-92 that features compatibility with DoorsOS programs. This is undoubtedly quite exciting for TI-92 users, since it helps bridge the gap between TI-92 and TI-92+'s.

Other notable programs include Hard Hat Mack and Hard Hat Mack 2 for Ion, by Sam Heald, and Defiance v0.1 beta, by Adamman.


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

Q: What's the deal with the new shells on the 89? Which ones have AMS 2.03 support?

A: With the release of TI-89 AMS 2.03, many programmers have scrambled to make their programs and shells compatible with the new software. Thankfully, most of the programs that work with AMS 2.03 are labeled with "[AMS v2.0x]" in our TI-89 Assembly archives at http://www.ticalc.org/pub/89/asm/. In terms of shells and kernels, DoorsOS II v0.92 and Kernel v0.6 support the new AMS software. Other AMS 2.03-compatible shells are also currently in development. If you are ever in doubt, simply consult the documentation.

Eric Sun


Email: Jason_K@calc.org
Web URL: http://tcpa.calc.org/

Interview Log
Eric How old are you and what level of education do you have?
Jason I'm 16 and a junior in high school right now.
Eric What do you plan to do after you graduate?
Jason Hmm, I plan on going to the University of Texas at Austin and probably major in Computer Science or Mathematics. I'm going to take a lot of premed classes also, since I'm also associated with the health field.
Eric What calculators do you own?
Jason I have an 83 and 83+, and also an 82 from my school, with access to any other calculators that my friends own.
Eric Do you plan to get any new calculators soon?
Jason Probably not, since there are other things I need to buy, but I'll probably get the TI-83+ SDK from TI sometime soon...
Eric What do you think about TI charging so much for the SDK?
Jason Well, I don't know what to say about that at the moment. I think it's all right for them to charge so much as to attract only the people who are serious about making FLASH Applications for the TI-83+, but I guess the price is intimidating and discouraging to some people. However, I was a beta tester for TI for the SDK, and received certain privileges with them. Not all the details have been worked out yet, though, so I am undecided about the SDK.
Eric What do you use your calculator for most?
Jason I use my TI-83+ the most now for programming assembly, and my TI-82 and TI-83 have games on them so that I can distribute them at school. I don't play the games very much anymore though.
Eric What was the first program you ever wrote?
Jason Hmm, I don't remember too well... I did BASIC first, and had a few large, idealistic projects that I never finished or released; I made a lot of those test assembly programs from tutorials that weren't worth releasing, but the first one that went public was something called MoveMe. It was an assembly program that detected multiple keypresses to move a word around the screen in all directions, which found its way into James Matthews's AsmGuru tutorials... :)
Eric How did you learn to program in assembly language?
Jason I learned to program ASM for the 83 with Phil Killewald's and Ahmed El-Helw's tutorials; this was way back in April '98. The most beneficial thing for me in learning was the ticalc.org Assembly-83 mailing list. I observed a lot of discussion there, and asked a few questions myself.
Eric Do you have an idol TI programmer?
Jason There were several that I looked up to during my ASM progress: Linus Akesson, Ian Graf, Joe Wingbermuehle, etc... I admired a lot of the other great programmers out there, but wasn't associated with them as much.
Eric What do you think about the recent rise of programming groups?
Jason I have nothing against all the new programming groups that are popping up, but since they are so new, I think it'd be more sensible for them to combine efforts. However, the groups that have existed for quite some time (i.e. ACZ, TCPA, Macross, Z80AC, ZAPO) have each built up a good reputation for themselves, so those groups are fine the way they are.
Eric How do you like working at TCPA?
Jason Being in the TCPA is good since I enjoy working with our other members on programs and having calculator-related discussion as well. I also like using our webspace to build up my HTML, JavaScript, and Perl skills.
Eric What projects are you working on now?
Jason My current projects are Black Hole for the 83/83+ and working on the TCPA web page, but recently Dan Englender and I have been dedicating most of our time to a new FLASH Application for the TI-83+. It will be a FLASH shell that will revolutionize the TI-83+ ASM scene, although we aren't releasing any other information about it just yet... :)


MERCER ISLAND, WA - Tens of thousands are in a state of insurmountable jubilation this week as a result of ticalc.org releasing their monthly newsletter.

Ironically released on BlueCalx's birthday (Feb. 1), this newsletter is...about the same as the others. According to newsletter editor Eric Sun, "This newsletter will contain news about the previous month, new announcements we want to make, and some features, along with an interview with a programmer that we choose."

Eric continues: "Nothing the slightest bit controversial will take place in the newsletter."

This Tuesday, approximately fifty thousand people descended upon Eric's home at Mercer Island and Nick's home in Chicago to throw giant parties in regards to the newsletter's release.

Nick was unavailable for comment at the time, but at the time of publication his last whereabouts were hanging by his underwear on Maine South High School's flagpole while holding two empty bottles of tequila.

Nick was singing Smashing Pumpkins' unpopular B-side, "Pennies," at the time. It was very slurred and off-key.

At the time of the newsletter's publication, people realized how not-fun it was, and they promptly returned to their homes in mild disgust and disillusionment.

Nick Disabato


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