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Newsletter - May 2000

The ticalc.org Newsletter
May 2000 - Volume 3, Issue 5


Letter from the Editor
Calculator News
Ask ticalc.org
Interview with Olivier Lesteven
Humor: Update


Well, hello, once again. If you're a regular reader, let's just say that last month's newsletter was an...erm...interesting experience. Anyway, on to more serious matters.

This month's new feature at ticalc.org was the long-awaited File Upload form, our new web interface for uploading and claiming file archive submissions. Users of our old FTP+webclaim method will no doubt be happy with this new feature. The File Upload form is conveniently located at http://www.ticalc.org/cgi-bin/file_upload.pl.

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 Olivier Lesteven, the author of the new open source TI-89 shell TeOS.

Thanks for reading the ticalc.org Newsletter!

Eric Sun


Lots of great new programs released this month. Let's get started:

Super Mario Quest v1.1.0 for the TI-89 and TI-92+. By now, we all should know about Don Barnes's classic. 'Nuff said. BigDyna v2.1 Beta, a Bomberman clone, has also been released by Jean Canazzi for the TI-89. Incidentally, a new version of the other popular TI-89 Bomberman clone, BomberBoy v1.2, was also released. Phoenix v5.0, v5.1, and v5.2 were released by Patrick Davidson.

Other notable programs include the new DoorsOS II v0.96, which provides some bugfixes to the old version, and TeOS v1.02, a new open source shell for the TI-89. Finally, Lotus Turbo Challenge, the popular racing game, has been ported to the TI-86 by Rusty Wagner.

Texas Instruments has also announced a handful of new FLASH applications, including a Finance application for the TI-89/92+, a Conic Graphing application for the TI-83+, and several other applications for the TI-73 and TI-83+. These will be released in the fall. Visit http://www.ti.com/calc/flash/ for more information.

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: How can my program get a news article on ticalc.org?

A: First and foremost, your program has to be interesting to the public. If it's a game, it needs to be playable and entertaining. If it's a different kind of program, it needs to be useful. Second, you NEED to upload and claim your file using the provided upload form at http://www.ticalc.org/cgi-bin/file_upload.pl. I can't stress this enough - it makes our lives SO much easier than submitting things through email. Now, with our easier form, there's absolutely no excuse.

If you upload and claim your file and email news@ticalc.org, you're pretty much there. Thanks! I hope to see some great new programs soon.

Nick Disabato


Email: b.lesteven@wanadoo.fr

Interview Log
Eric How old are you and what level of education do you have?
Olivier I am 18 years old and a senior in high school.
Eric What do you plan to do after you graduate?
Olivier It will be computer related, but I don't know exactly what.
Eric What calculators do you own?
Olivier A TI-89 and a Casio Graph 30 (does that count as a calculator? :)
Eric Do you plan to get any new calculators soon?
Olivier Maybe a new TI-89, when my I/O port stops working completely. It's harder and harder to find Hardware I TI-89's though.
Eric What do you use your calculator for most?
Olivier For playing and programming (in fact, it's the same: I consider programming as playing).
Eric What was the first program you ever wrote?
Olivier In Assembly: Mystic Quest (known as Final Fantasy Adventure in US). It has never been released because it has never been finished! In fact, I definitively gave up this project when I saw that Zelda89 was also discontinued. RPG's need to be nearly finished before a release can be interesting.
Eric How did you learn to program in assembly language?
Olivier I read Zguide, a French Assembly guide in HTML, several times. Then I began to code Mystic Quest. I also looked at the source code of other similar programs. Now, I'm using the Motorola documentation, which is very accurate.
Eric Do you have any tips for new assembly programmers?
Olivier If it is your first program, don't begin a "big" project. You can't imagine either the difficulties you will encounter or the time it will take. But other than that, just do it! Also, don't wait for TI's SDK :-)
Eric Do you have an idol TI programmer?
Olivier Rusty Wagner, because of VTI. Without VTI, I would be still debugging my first program! PlusShell was also a great kernel (and Open Source too), but it has been discontinued.
Eric What projects are you working on now?
Olivier Megaman (also known as Rockman in US). It's a very addictive game, and I only found out that it was technically possible on a TI89 after the release of SMA. I'm also helping programmers who are writing Open Source shells: Juan Corral with ADVFM and GdV and Lool with Tex. They should be included in the next release of TeOS.
Eric What did you hope to accomplish with TeOS?
Olivier In fact, when the ROM 2.01 had been released (October 1999), I was amazed that there was only one updated kernel (DoorsOS). Its source code wasn't available, so the only way to port programs on AMS2 was to wait! So, I decided to release Kernel 0.5 and ported some programs, but it was useless because Graphlib and Userlib were missing. That's why the source code of TeOS and its libs are available. As kernel and libs are essential for most ASM programs, their source code must remain available, so programmers who use them can change them.
Eric What do you think of TI's protections and limitations on AMS 2.03?
Olivier I agree with the fact that TI has built an Hardware protection to sell additional software, but TI has made two big mistakes: TI itself is restricting the possibilities of their calculators with the 8KB limit (it is currently broken, but I fear it won't last). Also, TI uses the same hardware protection for the 8 KB limit as for the FLASH Apps. The only way to disable this limit (including _nostub and exec programs) is to disable the FLASH protection (see "Intelligent Memory" in Gareth James's doc) and to write to $700000. TI should give up its protections for assembly programs in the next release of AMS, or else disabling the FLASH protection will become a common process and their FLASH Apps will no longer be protected.


SOLLENTUNA, SWEDEN - Steve Whittaker, head of the ruthless Stevian forces that have now completely conquered ticalc.org, has now enslaved all previous members of the ticalc.org project. On Saturday, April 29, 2000, members of the controversial Steve-driven faction marched into the underground hideout that the members had fled to last month after Whittaker gained control.

The captives were shackled and forced to return to the ticalc.org headquarters in Sollentuna - actually a large underground complex complete with a bomb shelter and six different kinds of foosball tables - where they underwent a full body cavity search. After the screening process, they were brought to a warehouse where they are now required to manufacture clothes for various wealthy American plutocrats.

When asked why the seizure was necessary, Steve commented: "We need a source of revenue to pay for the large amount of bandwidth. My advisors recommended this course of action. They are not working willingly right now, but I have scientists working on a machine to keep them content. It is a neural network that consists of 10,000 TI-85's in parallel and is called 'The Matrix'. My advisors have informed me that this is a much more logical planned course of action than "banner advertisements."

Two months ago, dissident forces led by Steve Whittaker began slowly advancing on ticalc.org. One month ago today they gained complete control, wreaking havoc.

Steve Whittaker


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