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Prime second attempt
03-09-2019, 08:21 AM (This post was last modified: 03-09-2019 11:58 AM by Tugdual.)
Post: #1
Prime second attempt
Coming from the 50g I know I’m biased but there are so many weird design choices on the Prime. Why do we have separate variables for CAS and so called standard mode? Why do we even have 2 modes? Why do I have to press quote all the time in RPN ? Why I cannot store anything in any variable? Why do we have complex variables vs matrix vs real? Why pressing +/- with a variable X produces X- instead of -X? Why does it take 10 seconds to switch off (actually it stopped since I cleared CAS history). Why the screen is blur with extremely low tolerance to angle?

The G2 is way superior to my first A model (that I no longer have) hardware wise and I like the 3d app as well as the geometry app keyboard revision with darker painting. But the soft is still a disappointment. I admit it didn’t crash like the first one and so far the reset hole is still unused.
I try hard to love it cuz the hardware is appealing and may be that is why I’m a bit harsh but there is still something missing in the Prime.
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03-09-2019, 08:53 AM
Post: #2
RE: Prime second attempt
(03-09-2019 08:21 AM)Tugdual Wrote:  Coming from the 50g I know I’m biased but there are so many weird design choices on the Prime. Why do we have separate variables for CAS and so called standard
mode? Why do we even have 2 modes? Why do I have to press quote all the time in RPN ? Why I cannot store anything in any variable? Why do we have complex variables vs matrix vs real? Why pressing +/- with a variable X produces X- instead of -X?

I quote you.
Anytime i play with Prime emulator (i use a 50g, like you) i find its operating way a lot less flexible and intuitive than 50g's.
In particolar i find the limitations on variabile contents absolutely annoying, not to mention the just-cosmetic unit of measure facilities.
I think that the user targeted by Prime are mainly students and not professionals.
Just imho.
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03-09-2019, 05:08 PM (This post was last modified: 03-09-2019 05:10 PM by pier4r.)
Post: #3
RE: Prime second attempt
I think the 50g is the culmination of lots of years of refinements. While the prime is restarting almost from scratch. Quality is not easy to be ported, especially with lack of manpower and resources. Give the little HP calc team time! Yes, years, as the RPL environment started in the late 80s and the 50g last iteration was in 2009 (so 20+ years), without accounting the fact that the HP calc division was likely larger in the RPL period.

The prime, as far as I know, is sold since 2013 and likely in the pipeline since around 2011. Therefore pretty young compared to the RPL journey.

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03-11-2019, 06:45 AM
Post: #4
RE: Prime second attempt
Hello,

The 48 series is based on an "open" workspace design; The idea that you have a generic, unbounded workspace where you can do anything. Where anything can be everything.

This is very adapted to broad discipline problem and knowledgeable people like trained engineers. BUT, it requires said people to know where they are coming from, where they are going, and how to get there. The 48 series is more like an open, white sheet of paper to work with. It can be intimidating to beginners.

Prime's prime design (pun intended) is education (like the 38 on witch it is based), with narrow (or at least narrower) problems to work on (problems limited to one field), and used by learners, people who do NOT yet master a subject and needs some guidance in the way... This is why the system is much more bounded, with "locations" for various types of activities and a relative "non interference model" between said activities. Prime is more like a guided worksheet to work with.



This is the "prime" design guidelines (not "rule"), HOWEVER, we, the Prime programmers are also engineers, so we have still put in place a LOT of measures/bridges allowing to cross from one "sandbox" to the other. This allows 50g type users to still use the Prime without being blocked in their track (although it is a little bit less convenient than on the 50g). But there is only so much we can do without breaking the initial design.

Regarding the dual CAS and Home modes. They are 2 reasons for this "split personality".
One is historical and technical. Originally, the 39GII+ on which prime is based did NOT have cas (At the time of design, CAS was not well accepted in large parts of the world, so we decided not put put CAS). When we worked on Prime, we added CAS, but it did not integrate easelyl with the rest of the system, so it was easier to separate it from the Home.

Along these "pragmatic" reasons, there is also the fact that I have a split personality :-) I have various activities in my life that require a calculator. Some of these require "formal" maths (when I program, I often need symbolic answers), but when I am in the workshop, I mostly require numerical answers (If I have to cut a 198cm board in 4, knowing that I need to cut at 99/2 cm is useless, there is not 99/2 mark on my tape measurer!) This made me realise that various math problems need different modes, and that one might want to switch easly and quickly from one to the other without loosing the previous work. This, in some ways is one of the reasons for the separate modes...

Cyrille

Although I work for the HP calculator group, the views and opinions I post here are my own. I do not speak for HP.
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03-11-2019, 07:25 AM
Post: #5
RE: Prime second attempt
(03-11-2019 06:45 AM)cyrille de brébisson Wrote:  The 48 series is based on an "open" workspace design; The idea that you have a generic, unbounded workspace where you can do anything. Where anything can be everything.

This is exactly what i love of 48 series: it is a very ductile tool that can be used, if you know it well, for almost any Kind of activity.

Most of my colleagues rely upon a 48 Series calculator.
So....the QUESTION: being the Prime the successor of 38/39/40 family, is there any Plan for developing a successo of the 48 family (eventually on Prime hardware) or we should acuire as many 50g units as we can?
:-)
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03-11-2019, 09:27 PM (This post was last modified: 03-11-2019 09:29 PM by pier4r.)
Post: #6
RE: Prime second attempt
(03-11-2019 07:25 AM)Marco Polo Wrote:  So....the QUESTION: being the Prime the successor of 38/39/40 family, is there any Plan for developing a successo of the 48 family (eventually on Prime hardware) or we should acuire as many 50g units as we can?
:-)

Couldn't resist sorry
[Image: jlDDepQ.jpg]

I myself have 4 times the 50g plus the prime app. I find the RPL environment my first choice unless I need extra intensive stuff, then I go with the prime letting it run on android. Actually I would use a computer for the second approach if it wouldn't be loud / power hog.

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03-12-2019, 07:05 AM
Post: #7
RE: Prime second attempt
(03-11-2019 09:27 PM)pier4r Wrote:  Couldn't resist sorry

:-D

The answer is straight: i don't need the Prime extra power.
As a matter of fact i don't need cas too: my computations are exclusively numerical: solver, interpolation, some advanced Stat.
Chemical/mechanical engineering is not requiring very advanced math.
I can say that a 48 (s, sx, g or gx) is perfect for my needs, but in any case case i would need extra storage memory. Infact my old dear sx was bought with a 128kb card and the gx has 128kb+1mb cards installed.
Actually i am using the 50g as i consider it "expendable" and I like the general higher speed in interface and operations
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03-12-2019, 11:20 AM
Post: #8
RE: Prime second attempt
Quote:Prime's prime design (pun intended) is education (like the 38 on witch it is based), with narrow (or at least narrower) problems to work on (problems limited to one field), and used by learners, people who do NOT yet master a subject and needs some guidance in the way...

I swear that when I decided to buy the prime years ago it had been advertised as "for scientists, engineers and students". The argument that the calculator was targeted as for the educational marked is, well, kind of a lame excuse in my optinion.
That does not help much on the topic and the problems the dev-team is facing, BUT don't make it too easy for yourself.
Part, if not a major part has been the decision to merge different code-bases. Wouldn't you agree?
Second issue is that good first-hand information was missing from the beginning. The manual evolved for the better, but didactically it still could be better.

That does not mean that I do not like the prime. I still did not manage to get in-phase with it, but I keep on trying on a regular basis.

Keep working and maybe you'll find a way to lift the prime to the next level by fusing mutional exclusive parts.
RPN. Well I must admit you learn to live without it. Though I still like my real-calc on my android phone better than the prime for many tasks. (including base conversion)

Thanks for the work that has been done, but PLEASE do not only work on cosmetic changes for the classroom.
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03-12-2019, 03:00 PM
Post: #9
RE: Prime second attempt
(03-12-2019 07:05 AM)Marco Polo Wrote:  The answer is straight: i don't need the Prime extra power.
As a matter of fact i don't need cas too: my computations are exclusively numerical: solver, interpolation, some advanced Stat.
Chemical/mechanical engineering is not requiring very advanced math.
I can say that a 48 (s, sx, g or gx) is perfect for my needs, but in any case case i would need extra storage memory. Infact my old dear sx was bought with a 128kb card and the gx has 128kb+1mb cards installed.
Actually i am using the 50g as i consider it "expendable" and I like the general higher speed in interface and operations

To be honest, no one here really needs the prime or 50g (aside from some edge cases). Monster laptops or silent computers exists since a while (indeed prime + android monsters is great)

What we want is really to use those devices since they fit better our workflow somehow. For example with a great input keyboard or because we know them well and we don't want to learn again another set of keywords and quirks to solve similar problems.

And I say this while I always prefer to let my 50g run, even for days, rather than letting my noisy PC (plus its big energy requirement) do the same in some hours (or fraction of it).

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03-14-2019, 05:03 AM (This post was last modified: 03-14-2019 05:04 AM by mgmander.)
Post: #10
RE: Prime second attempt
I have not used the Prime all that much, but am going to have another go at it.

I too am a huge fan of RPL and still have a 28C, 48SX, 49G, 49G+ and a 50G that I've bought over the years. I have done a huge amount of programming for the 49G+ and 50G, and actually developed an entire source code control environment for it which mimicked the calculators directory structure using a database and stored raw, commented source text files on the SD card of the 50G, allowing for "compilation" to the calculator itself. This allowed me to keep large, commented and legibly formatted source code files on the calculator (but on the SD card) and work on it in the field. One of the big limitations of the 50G, I felt, was the fact that all source got "compiled" on the calculator; comments got stripped, and personal formatting to make the source more readable, was also stripped. Yes, the calculator would "pretty-print" the source when editing, but it wasn't formatted in as readable a fashion as my original code was. Understandably, this was done to save space and to speed up execution of course, but my solution to store my raw code on the SD card worked rather well, although implementing that source control system was quite a major effort in itself!

When I got the Prime, I was dismayed that RPN seemed an afterthought and wasn't integrated with the programming environment. If only I could read and write values from/to the stack, I'd probably be relatively happy (and indeed, I think there are now ways to do that in a limited fashion?) but still, I loved the fluid and seamlessly extensible programming environment of RPL.

RPN limitations aside, it does seem as though the Prime's programming environment is, from a general usability standpoint, vastly superior to the 50G, which is why I'm going to once again make an effort to learn the system. But...

If only HP would create an RPL successor to the 50G with the Prime's hardware, the fast CPU, the excellent colour screen, the fantastic keyboard, much more storage to allow for commented and formatted RPL source code to be edited and saved on the device, now that would be amazing. Still, the Prime itself seems a very powerful device and it may indeed suit my needs in the end, once I figure out how to work around (or ignore) its limitations and build on its strengths...
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03-14-2019, 08:13 AM
Post: #11
RE: Prime second attempt
(03-14-2019 05:03 AM)mgmander Wrote:  and actually developed an entire source code control environment for it which mimicked the calculators directory structure using a database and stored raw, commented source text files on the SD card of the 50G, allowing for "compilation" to the calculator itself. This allowed me to keep large, commented and legibly formatted source code files on the calculator (but on the SD card) and work on it in the field.

That sounds super interesting. Could you share your work? Maybe on hpcalc.org ?

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03-15-2019, 04:39 AM (This post was last modified: 03-15-2019 05:16 AM by mgmander.)
Post: #12
RE: Prime second attempt
(03-14-2019 08:13 AM)pier4r Wrote:  
(03-14-2019 05:03 AM)mgmander Wrote:  and actually developed an entire source code control environment for it which mimicked the calculators directory structure using a database and stored raw, commented source text files on the SD card of the 50G, allowing for "compilation" to the calculator itself. This allowed me to keep large, commented and legibly formatted source code files on the calculator (but on the SD card) and work on it in the field.

That sounds super interesting. Could you share your work? Maybe on hpcalc.org ?

Hmm... what I may do in the next little while is post a video of me taking the 50G through the source environment to my YouTube channel, to see what people think? I posted about it a very long time ago, back in the days of the old HP Museum forums, even with screenshots I believe. At the time, there didn't seem to be any interest at all.

It has been a very long time since I last worked on it (in 2006 I believe) and while it was pretty much finished, I wasn't super happy with the efficiency of the code and had actually been intending to start from scratch, rewriting the whole thing to streamline it as much as possible. Back then, my mother was suffering through metastasized bone cancer and I stopped having time to work on the project. When she passed away in 2008, I somehow never picked it up again.

One thorny issue I remember running into was that when writing an edited file back out to the SD card, if the batteries in the calculator were weak, the power could fail during the write and then you'd lose your last edit. If I remember correctly, I trapped for a low battery warning before writing to SD, and if there was one, I believe the user had the option of pressing a key to suspend and switch off the calculator. You could then switch out the batteries and when the calc was restarted, it would resume the SD card write and continue seamlessly. If you knew the batteries weren't all that weak, I believe there was also the option to force it to continue without the shutdown, with a warning that if the batteries were to give out during the write, you would lose your edits and maybe even corrupt something. I tried to make it as robust as possible.

Here is an early description of its functions that I sent to a fellow HP enthusiast, long before it was finished, when I was still using my 49g+. I believe I was levering emacs from my source control environment, which I hadn't been yet when I wrote the description and, for example, if there was a compile error, it would actually open the code again and position emacs at the offending spot. Anyway, a video will likely be much more interesting, but here is that early description...

----------------------------------
I have created a UserRPL program called SEDIT (mostly UserRPL... a couple of SYSEVAL calls though) and some support routines that now implements "source code" editing from the SD card. In other words, if you take a program name and hit SEDIT (stands for "Source Edit") in my custom menu it does the following:

1) If the name exists in the current directory, it checks to make sure it is VTYPE 8 (a program). If not, it aborts with an error. Will probably change this behavior so if the variable is not a program, it simply launches the built-in editor (EDITB) and does a normal edit.

2) It then looks up that variable name in a "database" containing directories, program names and source code text that is stored in a subdirectory on the SD card. If the name exists, it pulls up the text string and starts the built-in editor. This text string can have custom formatting, comments etc. of course. Once the edit is finished, it saves the edited text string back out to the SD card, compiles the string into a program object and stores it back on the calculator. All this is surprisingly fast and seamless on the 49g+, even in UserRPL! It does support multiple same-name programs, as long as they are stored in different directories on the calc - more or less the same as on the 49g+.

3) If the name does not exist on the SD, it asks if you want to decompile the program from the calc and store it on the SD and also gives you the option of attaching a standard (user defined and customizable) header template comment block to the beginning of the program after the decompile. It then goes and edits like above.

4) If it is a new name (not on calc or SD) it creates a new blank program and prompts for the optional header comment block and edits as above.

5) If it is the first program that is being edited/created with SEDIT in a given directory, it also gives the option to initially decompile *all* programs in a directory to the SD card. I did this since I have a lot of code already that I'd like to add comments to - especially usage info in the initial comment header block. Not sure really how necessary this is though as it is easy enough to do it one by one as needed...

Anyway, now that the keyboard is working reliably (hurray for KEYTIME!), I don't mind editing programs with the 49g+ on the fly, but I do find more complex projects are very hard to keep track of, so I decided to implement this source code system. So far, it seems to be working quite well and with the 512Mb SD card I've got, I can save a lot of commented source code! I still need to have it gracefully handle compile errors when there are problems in the source code but it is close to being finished. I still need to implement rename and purge functions as well that simultaneously work on the original source and the program in the calc. Maybe store & recall functions to copy or move a program as well. Should all be fairly easy.
--------------------------------------------

The "to do" items in the last paragraph have all been implemented, IIRC. I just fired up the 50G for the first time in a long while (been using a SwissMicros DM42 lately), and played with the software a bit. I can see I had been working on some changes and there are a few new glitches that would take me a long time to figure out now, having been away from it for over 10 years, but I'll still do the video since it still mostly works. As far as making it available publicly, right now it seems to have some issues and there is no way I'll have time to familiarize myself with its inner workings again to fix it any time soon, sorry. It might have even been an update to emacs which broke something, but I honestly cannot remember now.

Anyway, maybe that explains a bit more for now...

EDIT: Apologies for the long off-topic post. Once I get my video done, I should announce it in the General Forums and not the Prime forum...
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03-15-2019, 02:42 PM
Post: #13
RE: Prime second attempt
That sounds really interesting, thank you.

I can see the value even for a beginner UserRPL student like me, just in the ability to write my programs using white space formatting to make the flow/loops more obvious (to me) and to include comments.

Also, not having a good emulator on the Mac (or is there?) I'm more often moving things back and forth to my 50g, so being able to do simple edits on the calc, without losing the formatting etc, would be a bonus.

So I'd be keen on using it, for those simple reasons alone. Please do consider releasing it Smile

Cambridge, UK
41CL, 12C/15C, DM15/16, 71B, 17B, 28S, DM42, 48GX, 17bII+, 50g (& newRPL), 35s, 30b (WP 34S), Prime G2
& Casios, Rockwell 18R :)
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03-16-2019, 04:03 PM
Post: #14
RE: Prime second attempt
(03-15-2019 04:39 AM)mgmander Wrote:  At the time, there didn't seem to be any interest at all.

It has been a very long time since I last worked on it (in 2006 I believe) and while it was pretty much finished, I wasn't super happy with the efficiency of the code and had actually been intending to start from scratch, rewriting the whole thing to streamline it as much as possible.

Thanks for sharing!
I wanted to pick what you said about sharing your code. Your sentiments are pretty common (too common I believe). Gauss himself didn't share his works before the were foolproof, thus keeping plenty of useful works locked in his apartment for too long.

And I believe that's a pity, as it burns a lot of other opportunities.

Imagine one has some solution of sorts, it works (or almost) but it is not as polished as one wants. Therefore the person doesn't share it.
Thus with certainty (100% probability) no one can be inspired by his work, or can see his work as example, no one can fork his work or bring it forward and so on.

Instead if someone shares a solution, in the worst case no one cares, as if the solution was never shared. In better cases at least someone else finds the solution inspiring, as example of code, or to motivate one to "do better", or to use the solution itself.

Another pitfall is that people expect an immediate interest. I googled (on comp.sys.hp48) programs that were written before 2010 and I used them in 2018 (INFORML ). Therefore sharing something allows also future reader to read about it. You never know when someone will be interested. If a solution is not shared, it will never be of any interest.

Of course a caveat is, when sharing a solution, to describe it properly so it can be searched later.

My wish is that more and more people would become less strict in their standards to share their ideas. Furthermore I see that people with low skills share everything they got, people that are skilled try to produce polished results and many of those results never get to public domain as they don't get "polished enough". Hopefully one day this attitude will change, as history shows that the more solutions are shared, filtering trivial contributions, the more useful solutions are discovered.

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03-19-2019, 01:02 PM
Post: #15
RE: Prime second attempt
(03-11-2019 07:25 AM)Marco Polo Wrote:  So....the QUESTION: being the Prime the successor of 38/39/40 family, is there any Plan for developing a successo of the 48 family (eventually on Prime hardware) or we should acuire as many 50g units as we can?

Just to highlight that no negative answer was given to this question.
Hopefully.....
;-)
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