[J@D] TI-nSpire

Posted by JoshDreamland on March 7, 2010, 4:52 p.m.

A few days ago, my TI-84 died. I had a big math competition/test the next day, so I was a bit <_<"'d. The calculator wasn't really dead; it just froze when turned on, filled the screen with snow, and cleared the RAM (Which is where all the programs and variables are kept unless you MOVE them to the archive, from which they can not be run).

The 84 was unattractive only for that reason; if your programs are in the "RAM" they are vulnerable to power loss. You can't copy them, only move them to the ARC (archive), where they will be safe, but cannot be run. However, I didn't see this coming, so I lost them all.

I got them back from a friend, except two…

You see, the TI-84 (as has been so strongly implied thus far as to make anyone still unaware ignorant) has a built-in programming language called by its nickname, TI-BASIC. It lacks a string() function. So I wrote one in exactly 16 lines that can convert a number, stored in theta, to any base, stored in V. I was proud of it, happy with it. It let my other programs export answers in complicated formats on one line. The version my friend was holding for me was three years old and about 40 lines long (ouch).

As you can tell, that calculator and I had been through a lot. It had programs copied over to it that I had been writing since Geometry as a freshman, when I finally had to buy a nice TI model…

But yeah, I got most of my beloved programs back, brushed off, picked up the calculator, which started turning on again, made my own backups once more, even rewrote the programs I had lost again in time for the test (on which they did come in handy).

Well, at the test, I'm sitting at my marked spot not far from my friend, and here comes this kid from a nearby Christian school. This kid looks like he's twelve, and is wielding a TI-nSpire. I'd seen this calculator once before, and was somewhat impressed. Just didn't seem like the calculator for me; how could a model one step above this one be much better? I knew the thing had a plethora of memory in comparison, but… So I wasn't really broken up.

The test went as I expected: half math, half remembering shit from geometry and lower mathematics that no one uses anymore because it's just too damn easy. I was decently pleased with my performance, and didn't think much more of the test other than "wow, nice calculator the private schools can afford" (I believe the kid mentioned it was a school calculator to someone sitting between us).

A few days later, my calculator gives up again. So I go to Best Buy to get a new one, figure it may as well be the nSpire this time. I asked a hundred people there to make sure the thing was compatible with the language of the 84; I didn't want to lose all I'd worked for now. After several half-sure yeses, I bought it and took it home, ultimately under the impression that although the nSpire used the same language, transfers to it from the 84 must be done via the computer, since it allegedly had no port for communication with said ancestor.

Upon atomizing the goddamn packaging in rage, I snapped back to reality to have a look at what I'd just opened. Ten seconds later I realize that it has an 84 port on it after all (glad retards at BestBuy are never right). As it happens, the removable keypad I'd noticed before contains the actual operating systems. One keypad IS a TI-84, the other the new nSpire OS.

I was happy; I didn't have to give up on the 84. Thought I could continue to better it as well as enjoy amazing new nSpire features. Boy was I naïve.

I booted the nSpire OS to give it an actual look over. I was met with a window system prompting for language settings. That thing had a higher resolution than my mother's computer. I got to the home menu and found it has a My Documents folder, loaded with examples. I finally find the calculator part of that interface three minutes later, and check through the buttons for new features… It would have been more difficult to find an old one. The language which used to be bytecode as you wrote it was now controllable by writing out the instructions. It has syntax highlighting. Bold. Underline. Italic. There are buttons that can create pre-formatted operators, such as multi-line fractions, exponents, enumerations…

And it had a function to convert to hex, binary, or decimal… And a string function…

Twenty minutes later I found the program input. It was less like TI-BASIC now and more like TI-JavaScript. What was once handled by the UI was now displayed as

Define practice() =



I was like ;___;. Did I mention that this was after it asked WHICH LIBRARIES I NEEDED ACCESS TO WHILE WRITING THE MOTHER?

From there, the language was the same… There was now an option of typing it out, is all… I felt less overwhelmed, but something was building up inside me as I realized the implications of a calculator this powerful.

That test… The half that was vocab and terms… I could have just copied my notes to this mother and searched them. ;_; The test was now worthless. Every achievement I'd made on the TI-84 was meaningless; the 84 itself was a box that I had spent three years of my life thinking in.

And to think, some 12-year-old had access to this on that test. Some kid whose balls haven't even dropped yet had a better calculator than me. Did he know how to work it…? Did he know all of this? Could he program for it ;___;?

What if I was outperformed by a 12-year-old from a Christian school, equipped with a hand-held laptop?


sirxemic 10 years, 10 months ago

So how well you perform on a test is heavily dependent on calculators now?

JoshDreamland 10 years, 10 months ago

Well, no. But when your calculator has 64 MB of storage to hold all your answers, well. Some of us are at a disadvantage.

KaBob799 10 years, 10 months ago

I have a TI-89. It is ftw compared to 84.

JoshDreamland 10 years, 10 months ago

Those are illegal due to the built-in CAS. The nSpire has one… just not installed by default :D

However, it's proprietary as fuck. I probably don't have the money to get it in addition to the calculator. Sigh. Maybe I'll write one myself…

Josea 10 years, 10 months ago

What are those tests that require calculators huh? The last time I remember using a calculator in a test was in high school physics.

Castypher 10 years, 10 months ago

As much as I like reading stories, a little buzzer went off in my head screaming tl;dr.

But I read it anyway. Let me tell a story of my own, my son.

I remember the good days with my TI-83+ (though a good portion of people had the TI-84). I got the programming language well enough, made some good programs to help me in math class if I wanted to do a conversion or calculation quickly.

At some point I got good enough to start making little games, but you can't get serious about developing for the TI in BASIC. Has to be some sort of Assembly language or something.

The best part was getting PuzzlePack from all the 84-users, and trying to make programs that linked and sent data. Or better yet, Tanks.

Yeah, I had some great times on that thing. But it was so old and outdated that I just gave it to my sister. Oh well, only cost me five bucks.

JoshDreamland 10 years, 10 months ago

Josea: We rely on graphs a lot in calculus. Not much on that test really required a calculator, but we used them anyway.


Nice story. :P I made a game or two… Weren't that fun. And yeah, I never used the ASM either.

DesertFox 10 years, 10 months ago

Sad calculator is sad :(

Omega_Squid 10 years, 10 months ago

I like graphs.

Kaz 10 years, 10 months ago

My old college didn't allow calculators in any of the calculus' I took. We had to make graphs by hand =/