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Newsletter - June 2000

The ticalc.org Newsletter
June 2000 - Volume 3, Issue 6


Letter from the Editor
Calculator News
Ask ticalc.org
Interview with Zeljko Juric


Thanks for reading the ticalc.org Newsletter!

There seems to be at least one notable event that happens behind the scenes at ticalc.org every month. This month it was the ascent of Virtual TI to the title of Most Downloaded File, after slowly gaining on ZShell (which has occupied the spot since the stats were opened) for the past few years. I suppose this shows sort of a new generation of TI calculator users and programs. I'll let you analyze the rest.

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 Zeljko Juric, the author of TIGCCLIB. He has turned out to be one of the most unusual interviewees yet, so be sure to read what he has to say.

Thanks for reading the ticalc.org Newsletter!

Eric Sun


May was another great month for calculators. It once again saw many new programs for many different platforms.

Perhaps the biggest news is the long-awaited TIGCCLIB v2.0. This is the library for the Windows program that allows you to compile C programs for the TI-89/92+.

Another big release is Ion v1.5, Joe Wingbermuehle's popular shell for the TI-83/TI-83+.

Other popular programs released this month include Phoenix v6.0 by Patrick Davidson, Dying Eyes 86 by Alex Highsmith (ported by Andreas Finne and Sam Heald), and GtkTiLink v2.00

Eric Sun


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 programming languages can I use for my TI calculator, and what's the difference between them?

A: Lots. First there's good ol' TI-BASIC, the grandaddy of them all. This is by far the easiest and quickest way to program; you can do it directly on the calculator. It's also the most stable and secure, since BASIC programs will not crash and clear your memory. BASIC is probably best used for math-type programs.

Then, there's Assembly (ASM). This has also been around for a long time, ever since ZShell v1.0 was released. Now it's available for all TI calculators with a link port except the TI-73. Assembly programming is almost always written on the computer, then compiled and transferred the calculator. This makes assembly programs faster and generally better than BASIC programs. Most popular games are programmed in assembly language. Recently, some on-calculator compilers have also been released, and these allow you to write assembly code directly on your calculator. Be careful with these, however; if you have a bug in your code it's likely that you will crash your calculator and lose your code.

Then there's some less popular, but still quite useful programs that allow you to program in a wide variety of programming languages, then compile it for your calculator. These are quickly gaining popularity, especially the recently-released TIGCCLIB v2.0 by Zeljko Juric. This allows you to program C on the computer, then compile it for the calculator. Since C is generally easier to learn than a low-level language as Assembly, many new programmers are taking this route.

If you'd like to learn more about programming, I suggest you subscribe to one of our mailing lists at http://www.ticalc.org/community/lists/.

Eric Sun


Email: zjuric@utic.net.ba

Interview Log
Eric How old are you and what level of education do you have?
Zeljko Compared to other members of TI community, I am very old...I'm 31 years old. I am an engineer of Electronic and Automatic Process Control and I also take part in postgraduate study, dedicated to Digital Signal Processing and Image Processing. I still haven't completed it due to lack of free time.
Eric What are you doing right now in your career?
Zeljko Currently, I am working as a lecturer at the Faculty of Natural Science and Mathematics and Faculty of Electrical Engineering, both of them in the University of Sarajevo. My subjects are "Principles of Programing (Pascal & C++), "Basic of Electronics" and "Design of Microprocessor-Based Digital Systems", although I taught other courses from time to time ("Basic of Computers", "Mathematical Algorythms", "Operational Researches", "Computer architectures and organization of system software" and "Principles of Data Aquisition and Transfer").
Eric What calculators do you own?
Zeljko I own a TI-89, a Casio FX-8000G, and a Casio FX-9800GE, but I'm not too happy with the Casio models (although the Casio FX-8000G was my first calculator-love; I made miracles with 3.5 KB of free RAM and with extremely limited programming support).
Eric Do you plan to get any new calculators soon?
Zeljko No. I am very happy with the TI-89. I dreamed about a calculator with an open operating system and standard processor. TI-89 is just such a calculator. Maybe I will buy a new one if TI releases a new calculator compatible with the TI-89 but with increased performance.
Eric What do you use your calculator for most?
Zeljko Sometimes I use my TI-89 as an advanced math tool (algebra, etc.), but I use the TI-89 mainly for fun (from my point of view, researching the TI-OS and making calculator programs is a fun). However, my definition of "fun" is a bit strange: playing games is mainly not fun for me. Programming is more fun for me :-).
Eric What was the first program you ever wrote?
Zeljko Globally, my first program was "quadratic equation solver", written in BASIC 17 years years ago (1983) on a ZX Spectrum microcomputer (Z80 microprocessor). My first program for the TI-89 was "creversi", an implementation of the famous Othello/Reversi board game.
Eric How did you learn to program in assembly language?
Zeljko I learned ASM in 1986 (Z80 assembly) using articles from various computer magazines. Later, I learned 80x86 ASM language, and I wrote a lot of programs in 80x86 ASM. The most known project written by me and my friend Samir Ribic (known as the author of Tezxas ZX Spectrum emulator) is the "Warajevo ZX Spectrum emulator", which has more than 20000 lines of assembly source code (the strange name "Warajevo" is a word play: the emulator is written in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war). You may look about this on Warajevo home page at http://www.void.jump.org/warajevo/. I didn't know MC68000 assembly before buying a TI-89, but as I was very experienced Z80 and 80x86 ASM programmer, I learned MC68000 ASM in one week. Learning the TI-89 architecture took another week, so I was ready for TI-89 ASM programming in 15 days.
Eric Do you have any tips for new assembly programmers?
Zeljko 1. You must to learn ASM if you want to learn anything about the computer hardware. 2. You need to learn something about the computer hardware if you want to learn ASM.
Eric Do you have an idol TI programmer?
Zeljko I am not very informed about TI programmers. I am especially uninformed about game authors (some of them really made masterpieces). My favorite C programmers for TI's are Thomas Nussbaumer and Niklas Brunlid. My favorite ASM programmers are researchers like Gareth James, Johan (I forgot his surname), protection breakers like Julien Muchembled, authors of system software like Xavier Vassor, etc. And, of course, emulator makers like Rusty Wagner. But, as I will repeat again, I am informed only about system software programmers, so I skipped all application software programmers.
Eric What projects are you working on now?
Zeljko I planed to develop a lot of software for TI-89, but the shortage of my free time directed me to making software which will help other programmers make a good software. So, at the moment, my main project is developing TIGCCLIB. In addition to this, I will port a lot of text adventure games to TI (see my ScottFree driver as an example of such software); in particular I am thinking about porting Infocom's classics to the TI, but this is a hard task. Also, I plan to release some mathematical and electrical engineering programs for TI (written in C), but I really can not tell to you when I will have time to do it.
Eric What did you hope to accomplish with TIGCCLIB?
Zeljko I hope that we will develop a much better SDK kit than the SDK planned by TI itself. At the moment, by integrating my work, TI-GCC (by Xavier Vassor & Jean Cannazi), and TIGCC IDE (by Sebastian Reichelt), we have an extremely powerful SDK. Now, we need cooperation from Rusty Wagner too, because the cooperation is necessary for linking TI-GCC facilities with VTI...
Eric What do you think of TI's protections and limitations on AMS 2.03?
Zeljko No matter how TI makes its protections, it will be broken. As you know, we bypassed all limitations so far introduced by TI. So, I will to say to TI: stop making protections and limitations. We don't want to steal FLASH applications and to produce pirated versions of your software. We only want to produce our freeware software without any limitations.


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