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Newsletter - October 2000

The ticalc.org Newsletter
October 2000 - Volume 3, Issue 10


Letter from the Editor
Calculator News
Ask ticalc.org
Interview with Andy Selle


Hey everyone. In case you don't know, Eric is gone on hiatus during his newsletter-making time. What a slacker. At any rate, I'm here to rap at you for a little bit. My name is Nick Disabato. You may know me as the weird computer/calculator/math/science/reading Atlas Shrugged/whatever dork who did something stupid for a year and a half: being the news editor at ticalc.org. I'm done with that now, and my job consists of pretty much doing whatever needs to be done whenever it warrants. The screenshot staff, too. Yeah. That. (Note to self: send email out to them soon.) Eric bugged me last night (what a slacker) to do this, and I was pretty groggy and not paying attention at the time, so this may go out weeks later than expected. It's not due to my ineptitude, it's just due to the fact that I was really tired and not paying attention last night and... wait, no. It was my ineptitude. Sorry. :)

We've got a really cool - dare I say abnormally cool? - issue set up for you guys. It being the beginning of the school year, ticalc.org is getting record traffic again. I simply hate it when that happens! To this end, there's probably a lot of new subscribers and such. I just have this to say to all you new folks: though I'm writing this issue, the next one will be a lot better when someone who's actually USED THE NEWSLETTER PROGRAM BEFORE takes the reins again. This will be such a hilarious catastrophe. At any rate, I think we've got a lot of weird and crazy news for you. POTM voting and results have come out, so go to the site and click on some links to get there. It should be in a news item. Resident Math Deity(TM) Andy Selle is back to give you math tips, as well as an interview. I like the interview. It's pretty neat. Also, Andy, thanks a ton for helping me on my math homework last Sunday. (smile)

Nick Disabato


Lots of neat news, mostly bundled towards the end of the month. Aside from, uh, me quitting as news editor (heh), there were some really cool programs released. First off, TI gave out a bunch of free FLASH programs for their TI-83+ line to new buyers. Nothing that I would be really flabbergasted over, but there are some people out there who use organizers on their calculators. WORMHOLE, one of the most influential TI-89 programmers in the past few months, passed away in a car crash. TI released another few FLASH apps for the TI-89 and TI-92+, mostly intended for mechanical and electrical engineers. Phoenix got ported to just about every single platform in existence. Sonic MisAdventures, SuperCarII, Baseball89, TIMM, and fastAVRLink were all released upon an unsuspecting world: check the ticalc.org news archives for more on that. David Critch was welcomed aboard by the staff as our new file archiver, to help Steve in his archiving efforts. They are now both currently working together on making our file archives the most complete of any TI site out there. Finally, TI announced a release date for the TI-89/92+ SDK. It will most likely be pushed back several times. So it goes.

Nick Disabato


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: I'm having trouble with my calculator. Who do I turn to?

A: At the beginning of the school year, we get a lot of questions from newbies who are having problems with getting various programs to run on whatever calculator model they have. To this end, we have set up an email alias where we can answer the questions and allay the fears of our collective userbase. This has been an institution of ticalc.org for a few years now, and we're pretty adept at solving peoples' problems. If you have a grievance with your calculator, email help@ticalc.org.

Eric Sun


Email: aselle@ticalc.org

Interview Log
Nick How old are you and what level of education do you have?
Andy 19.7 :). I'm currently a Junior at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Nick What do you plan to do after you graduate?
Andy I'm hoping to go on to graduate school.
Nick What do you plan to do after you finish graduate school?
Andy I would very much like to teach and do research.
Nick What are you majoring in?
Andy I'm planning to major in Computer Science and Mathematics.
Nick Why did you choose these majors?
Andy Math is a very pure subject. It allows you to devote yourself to a completely abstract way of thinking. Similar to computer science, it gives you a chance to take a problem, and manipulate what information you have to find a solution. Proving a theorem gives you a unique feeling that you have done something that is permanent that cannot be taken away.
Nick What calculators do you own?
Andy A TI-82, TI-85, and a TI-92.
Nick Do you plan to get any new calculators soon?
Andy I would say probably not. I'm very happy with the calculators I do have. Certainly the newer ones have some more features, but generally speaking, one of my calculators usually has what I want on it. For example, if I'm doing physics, my TI-85 is really good, because it has unit conversions and the SOLVER. My TI-92 is very nice for Statistics and Graphics.
Nick What do you use your calculator for most?
Andy Ironically, not for my math classes. Usually I like to have my TI-85 around for base conversions when writing assembly programs. I also use them for quick calculations for programs I write.
Nick What was the first program you ever wrote?
Andy It's hard to pin it down to a first program, but the first computer I ever wrote a program on was my Apple IIc. I started with BASIC, and I programmed simple graphics demos. I did a little machine code on it, but I didn't have enough patience at the time.
Nick What do you think about the future of calculators in mathematics?
Andy Mathematics will undoubtably play a major role in the future of math education, but this isn't necessarily as good as it would seem on the outside. The utility of calculus is unquestionable, but it is also true that overuse of calculators in math classes lowers one's capacity to do math. By doing things by hand you develop an intuition about how expressions function. This is a consequence of having to think about the behavior opposed to immediately seeing it without any effort. This not the dominant opinion, though. The results of the recent poll about whether a calculator should be used in every math class manifests this. The truth is, a calculator is almost useless in doing higher level math anyway. A calculator, however, is a great asset in solving particular problems where the numbers aren't ideal. Problems issued to students shouldn't be of this type. The AP Calculus test has missed the ball in this regard. I'm convinced that it should be a no calculator test.


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