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WARNING: Do NOT upgrade your TI-84 Plus CE to OS 5.5 and higher. It blocks ASM!

Started by DJ Omnimaga, May 20, 2020, 04:39:51 pm

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DJ Omnimaga

I saw this coming years ago as critor would say, but it is now a reality: Texas Instruments has decided to block ASM on the TI-83 Premium CE and TI-84 Plus CE.

Looks like from now on ASM will have to be added via hacking or whatever, like on the Nspire. Hopefully it's not as difficult as with Ndless and hopefully there is a way to get the old games to run on the new OS. But this is bad news for TI development, especially considering most games are coming out on the CE.

Source: https://tiplanet.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=23858

Jean-Baptiste Boric

May 20, 2020, 07:40:18 pm #1 Last Edit: May 20, 2020, 07:43:52 pm by Jean-Baptiste Boric
Truly a sad day for calculator communities. Hopefully competitors will not do such a boneheaded decision either.

One thing remains to be seen: where will the refugees go? So far most people think this will benefit Casio since they have decent tooling and lots of programs already existing. NumWorks calculators currently have nowhere near the same level of polish for both developers and users of native programs (nor a community as strong either).

DJ Omnimaga

On the color Casio fx-CG50, there is now an application called C.Basic which takes Casio BASIC programs and run them faster, in addition to ASM and C support that Casio haven't tried to block so far. As for HP, a Mario game would be feasible even with the on-calc HP PPL language, but it's not as popular as Casio and TI.

Jean-Baptiste Boric

Apparently, the saga keeps unfolding as Cemetech has Peter Balyta himself providing insight in this f*ckup of biblical proportions (https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=16652). I couldn't resist answering (https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=285853#285853):

Quote[...]

Sincerely,
Not presently a member of your community, but you messed up so bad this time I wrote this.

DJ Omnimaga



With the exception of an utility that changes the screen resolution to 160x240 pixels instead of 320x240, the above screenshots showcase pure TI-BASIC on the 15 MHz Z80-based TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition, which is way slower than the TI-84 Plus CE.

With the slow performances I've seen from python on the latter calculator in Critor's videos, it would be very hard to convince me to switch to python as an alternative to ASM/C/ICE. In TI-BASIC, ASM and C you can create games that takes up to 3 MB of memory and I believe with ICE it's 64 KB. Does python even come close?

Lionel Debroux

QuoteIn TI-BASIC, ASM and C you can create games that takes up to 3 MB of memory and I believe with ICE it's 64 KB. Does python even come close?
Nah, with that ~16 KB Python heap, you're limited to the ridiculously tiny value of several KB of source code. It varies somewhat depending on what the source code contains, since the internal representation of some entities is smaller than others.
TI's proprietary, non-portable functions can fetch image data from files, but that doesn't fix the heap size limitations.
Member of the TI-Chess Team.
Co-maintainer of GCC4TI (GCC4TI online documentation), TIEmu and TILP.
Co-admin of TI-Planet.

DJ Omnimaga

This is atrocious. I also assume that it's quite slow for some important math programs too.

Legimet

I haven't paid much attention to calculators in the last few years (i.e. since I started college). This is sad but not surprising.

On another note, this is my first time hearing about NumWorks. I doubt I will purchase a calculator any time soon but it looks interesting.

DJ Omnimaga

Yeah, to be honest what keeps me from buying a Numworks aside from the fact I only did a few calc programming recently for the first time in almost 4 years is the price. Despite being open-source it's even more expensive than a fx-CG50 and not too far from the TI-84 Plus CE (when including shipping fees), but of course since it's a smaller production run than TI calcs then the production cost per calc is most likely much higher than with TI/Casio.

Jean-Baptiste Boric

Quote from: DJ Omnimaga on June 06, 2020, 06:58:51 pmYeah, to be honest what keeps me from buying a Numworks aside from the fact I only did a few calc programming recently for the first time in almost 4 years is the price. Despite being open-source it's even more expensive than a fx-CG50 and not too far from the TI-84 Plus CE (when including shipping fees), but of course since it's a smaller production run than TI calcs then the production cost per calc is most likely much higher than with TI/Casio.

Here in France it's the same price as the TI-83 Premium CE Edition Python (80€). I guess Casio is focused on conquering the North American market, whereas NumWorks is focused on the French market (and recently expanding into the European market).

The fx-CG50 has an edge on hardware specs and the community is both bigger and has a significant head-start. It's probably the better choice if you want to play games but don't want to make them.

I would not draw conclusions without more data about production cost per calc. The NumWorks calculator's hardware is much more bare-bones internally (no USB OTG, no supplying power to USB devices, no RTC...) and it uses an off-the-shelf MCU rather than a custom home-made ASIC. Texas Instruments most likely has an edge due to production numbers, but I would not be surprised if the NumWorks calculator is slightly cheaper to produce per-calc for the same production volume.

Caleb Hansberry

Sad news. Think they'll release an update to disable ASM on the TI-83+ series? :D

DJ Omnimaga

They already did in Europe with the TI-82 Advanced in France and the TI-84 Plus T elsewhere. I dunno if they'll do it worldwide, though. The last 84+ OS update was in 2011 and 83+ in 2006.

What surprises me is why the TI-83+ is still in production despite lacking an exam mode.

ACagliano

I posted this to Cemetech and Omnimaga as well.

QuoteI would even propose calling TI's bluff on something. Write TI a letter, signed by a EVERY major calc development community - Cemetech, Omnimaga, Codewalrus (unity is important on this), informing them that if they do not revise their decision on C/asm, and implement exam security in a way that is conducive to teaching, learning, and doing programming, we the community will be designing, releasing and marketing our own calculator to compete with them. And if they do not walk it back.. actually follow through.

There is no action legally they could take to prevent this: it would be our own hardware and programming, no copying of names, symbols, anything. Free market, people can compete with whoever they want.

Yuki

Quote from: ACagliano on June 09, 2020, 05:46:29 pmI posted this to Cemetech and Omnimaga as well.

QuoteI would even propose calling TI's bluff on something. Write TI a letter, signed by a EVERY major calc development community - Cemetech, Omnimaga, Codewalrus (unity is important on this), informing them that if they do not revise their decision on C/asm, and implement exam security in a way that is conducive to teaching, learning, and doing programming, we the community will be designing, releasing and marketing our own calculator to compete with them. And if they do not walk it back.. actually follow through.

There is no action legally they could take to prevent this: it would be our own hardware and programming, no copying of names, symbols, anything. Free market, people can compete with whoever they want.

Realistically, that would be pretty hard, and TI knows too well that won't work without the backing of many, many teachers. Many attempts failed before, even Numworks barely breaks through in France (although we wish them luck). Best we can do I think is threaten them to release any and every exam mode hack we know of we normally have hidden away for fear something like this would happen, or even just to lose their support and cut ties with them (I know Cemetech and TI-Planet are rather close to TI, so it would work).

I like the idea of an open letter, though, even without threatening to do anything.
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DJ Omnimaga

Something I wonder is if the TI community could team up with the existing Numworks team to expand that calculator's programming capabilities beyond Python and perhaps even promote the calculator? Of course the price still remains a problem but if eventually it sells more, then perhaps they can reduce the price per unit?

Or if the Numworks team is afraid of people tampering with the exam mode then they can sign our apps themselves before we release them on our website or an appstore of their own, so that they can review what can go on the calc.

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