|Are there people interested in Programmables?|
Message #2 Posted by Vieira, Luiz C. (Brazil) on 24 May 2003, 7:25 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Patrick
Hi Patrick, guys;
I'm a teacher and sometimes I face the hard task of answering the question: "Why do we have to learn how to program?"
I sometimes take a big breath and try to explain not the need itself, but the fact that everytime one explains something to someone else he/she is, in fact, programming the other in a way he/she will be able to perform that particular task somehow. When we know how to do something it does not mean we are also able to expand this ability to someone else, as we see many people saying: "I know how to do it, but do not ask me to tell you how do I do it!".
Communication and programming, at a human level, are too close that sometimes they are the same. When you get to know a Computer Scientist you are, in fact, knowing someone that should be able to "communicate" with a machine by means of "programming" it. And the "programming" level we have today for computer languages goes beyond computer abilities by itself. If we look straight at what one can do with a computer when programming in PASCAL or C, we will be able to actually understand what the computer can do. But if we look at what can be done when A.I., Neural Networks, Fuzzy, Object Oriented and related "tools and environments" are used, we go beyond the understanding of the computer; we are, in fact, looking at the programmer instead the machine.
When I bought my HP41 in the 80's, personal computers (Sinclair, Apple and a few others) needed to be programmed to do what the calculator was able to as a plain tool. Almost every math tool was ready-to-use, and whatelse was needed could be, in many cases, programmed in time.
Computers had their magic moment when high definition graphics and higher level programming languages became available and calculators, that once were at the desktop, are now deeply hidden inside the drawer. And desktop computers are there, now.
Programmers? What do you need to program in your calculator so far? I know how to program in almost all programmable HP calculators (I did not stop to create "programs" in the HP17BII/19BII... yet), some TI, but I was not able to program in those BASIC-related CASIO, SHARP and others. I also never had an HP71 in hands and I know it is BASIC-programming and has an RPN-like calc mode.
I think the problem is not a lack of programmable calculators; instead, it's a lack of programmers. In fact, except for people like most contributors in here, that I believe take programming as a lot more than a cause-and-effect procedure, a few others will see programming as gray matters, reasoning, mind development, amongst other advantages, but never a mind threatening activity.
I hope that not only HP offer programmable calculators, but I also that we find enough reasons to use their programming capabilities to do something useful.
My thoughts, though. Comments, suggestions, critics, add-ons accepted and welcome.
Luiz C. Vieira - Brazil