Well, that didn’t last long– I missed a day, but we’re getting back on the boat here. Came across this article on Slashdot about how the ridiculously old TI-84 is still the calculator of choice in many classrooms today. Texas Instruments apparently released an update in 2004, but back when I was in high school I used a Ti-85 with it’s high-end monchrome screen.
Having gone through Calculus and now Discrete Math, I can’t imagine doing any of it without a calculator– hats off to you folks that did not have this technology at your disposal when completing these classes. Yeesh… I use TI’s latest variant, the Nspire CX CAS– and yes, I know that is a completely stupid name. It’s got a nice color screen, USB out, and most importantly has an OS that runs in an emulator I use liberally on my Mac. Being able to have some flexibility when doing homework is key, and I love that I can dump the files back out the calculator when I’m finished with the assignment.
The article points out there are languages like R around, and of course using something like Wolfram Alpha or the desktop version of Mathematica would be a suitable course of action too. Can I admit something though? I find Alpha ridiculously difficult sometimes to get things out of, even when following their crazy formatting standards. Mathematica is available to me as a UW student via their site license, and while I’ve downloaded it– it became too much to learn to solve (at the time) what should have been a very simple problem.
Hats off to the TI-84 for lasting this long– when they figure out how to prevent cheating with newer devices I’m sure schools will move to a new device.