Post Reply 
WIRED; It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
08-09-2017, 12:43 AM (This post was last modified: 08-09-2017 12:50 AM by Zac Bruce.)
Post: #1
WIRED; It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
Clearly writing concise article titles is not a strong point here, but this is a short, fairly interesting article about the use of calculators in industry, and also for students. The HP 11C gets a specific mention, so I guess that makes it HP related?

http://www.wired.com/story/ditch-that-fa...D=50730132

Personally I mostly agree with his point about the use of calculators for students. I find it rather archaic, in a lot of situations. I'm rather amused that in my accounting classes for our assessments we have to manually calculate and input data in to tables, which are simply re-creations of excel spreadsheets. What a shame that we couldn't just use the spreadsheets themselves, which would actually test us on being able to use the tools of the trade, so to speak.
I'm quite dismayed at what the examinations are testing; regurgitation of memorized information more so than application and interpretation, limiting the available resources that you would have access to in the "real world". Perhaps as I get further through my degree the emphasis will change more towards those ideals.

No doubt improvements will be made, slowly, to integrate the use of technology in examinations. No doubt at the moment the major calculator manufacturers rely heavily on the education sector for sales.

I do still have a lot of love for my calculators and I own many more than I could possibly use. I also have a habit of carrying a 12C around most days, and have used it in various situations. I'm a big believer in salary sacrificing into superannuation and have on more than one occasion used my calculator to explain the benefits, and to calculate precise values for the amount of tax they will save, the loss of fortnightly income and the net benefit to their superannuation, and make generalised predictions about what the FV of that money will be. Also to illustrate that the earlier they start putting that money in their super, the greater effect it will have; as the most common argument against it I hear is, "I don't have the money to spare now, I'll do that after I buy a house/renovate/buy a new car etc."
I'm sure that there are a multitude of websites or applications that could illustrate my point and make the calculations just as easily. But still, I like my calculators.

Although the article is short and not particularly well written or argued, I thought some of you might find some interest in it or that it might spark some interesting discussion


Regards,

Zac
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
08-09-2017, 12:59 AM
Post: #2
RE: WIRED; It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
Its time to ditch all those fancy keyboards. Touchscreens are fine for any use Tongue
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
08-09-2017, 01:43 AM
Post: #3
RE: WIRED; It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
(08-09-2017 12:59 AM)EugeneNine Wrote:  Its time to ditch all those fancy keyboards. Touchscreens are fine for any use Tongue

Screens? I have information projected directly into my mind, why type when you can just think?
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
08-09-2017, 04:03 AM
Post: #4
RE: WIRED; It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
The author seems to be unaware of programmability in calculators. His ping pong ball example could have been done just as easily in a calculator program, even having it prompt for inputs, and it's a calculator you've been familiar with for decades, much more stable than any modern consumer electronics.

Then there's his meters-to-feet example. Is typing "google.com<Enter>sqrt(4.55) meters in feet" and waiting for the pages to load really any easier than typing "4.55 Enter 39.37 * 36 / 3 *"? The 39.37" per meter is well ingrained in my mind; but if it weren't, and this were a conversion I needed sometimes, I'd have it as a short program assigned to a key, then it would be "4.55 <key>" like I have for a few other conversions. You can't trust anyone who thinks Google is the only search engine, or even the best one.

http://WilsonMinesCo.com (Lots of HP-41 links at the bottom of the links page, http://wilsonminesco.com/links.html )
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
08-09-2017, 04:29 AM (This post was last modified: 08-09-2017 04:31 AM by Zac Bruce.)
Post: #5
RE: WIRED; It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
(08-09-2017 04:03 AM)Garth Wilson Wrote:  Is typing "google.com<Enter>sqrt(4.55) meters in feet" and waiting for the pages to load really any easier... You can't trust anyone who thinks Google is the only search engine, or even the best one.

No need to type google.com<enter> if you have google set up as your default search engine you would just type it directly into the URL bar and hit enter. I'm not sure about other browsers but in Chrome you don't even have to hit enter, the answer just appears under your URL bar. Waiting for the pages to load presumably isn't a problem for a lot of people anyway. If you spend a lot of your time behind a computer, I would argue that yes, it is much easier.

I doubt he thinks that google is the only search engine, just that is what most people would be familiar with, and more likely than not they have it set as the default search engine in their browser (Chrome holds something like 60% of the browser market). Google has become so ubiquitous that in many cases it is a used as a verb, when people really mean "use a search engine to find this". Out of interest, what do you use in place of google and why? I quite like the idea of DuckDuckGo, mostly because I'm a little uncomfortable with how much I let Google know about me.

I understand your point about being familiar with a calculator over a long period of time. I'm actually putting in some effort to learn how to use my calculator to it's full potential because I'm going to be using it throughout my degree. Perhaps I'll find I still have a use for it afterwards, I know I'm certainly attached to it now and use it often.

I imagine that the time spent learning to program your calculator (not long, admittedly) would probably be better spent learning to code in python, because it has wider applications, and is accessible anywhere that you have access to the internet; not just when you have access to your personal calculator. If you're a student and the institution actually allowed you access to python in examinations, it would be massively more beneficial than learning to use a calculator properly.


Thanks for the comments!

Zac
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
08-09-2017, 04:30 AM (This post was last modified: 08-09-2017 04:31 AM by Jlouis.)
Post: #6
RE: WIRED; It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
Maybe the newest generations get used to type on a screen, but for the old schoolers there's nothing equal to type in a soft, precise key from a quality calculator. I really enjoy press a 41 key, or a 15c, or 48sx...

I believe calculators will always have a place in the future, be it for reliability and pocketability or specificability (smartphones is prohibited in exams for a reason).

Or, if you were a scientist or an engineer, working outdoors, will you trust in keying in a screen important calculations?

Just my 2 cents.

Best regards

JL
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
08-09-2017, 06:46 AM (This post was last modified: 08-09-2017 06:53 AM by pier4r.)
Post: #7
wired: It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
https://www.wired.com/story/ditch-that-f...=social_fb

The article seems more a clickbait than something useful and I am not entirely convinced by the argument made in it. I mean I know that there are tools online and so on (mathstudio for example), but a calculator fits many other cases where one does not want to start/setup an entire computer/browser, or one wats to collect a library of useful formulas.

And this compared to machines like the 50g. Other "smaller" scientific calculators are even quicker, like the sharp 506w (I am slowly comparing - in those two last months the comparison is on hold - the 506w vs free42 and for quick tasks the 506w is awesome).


ops did not see that there is already one i general forum. My bad. I link it.
http://www.hpmuseum.org/forum/thread-8796.html

Wikis are great, Contribute :)
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
08-09-2017, 06:58 AM
Post: #8
RE: WIRED; It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
as I wrote in the "doubled" thread I do not quite follow this.

For small formulas: a scientific calculator (algebraic) seems faster to me than google (input interface, fixing typos, recall answers, etc.)

For a longer algorithm, especially if one wants to slowly build a set of formulas used, python in theory is ok but it is not quickly available like a calculator. Even with the computer closed a calculator is pretty useful.

Only with very long algorithms, where one needs to use a computer (better, a qwerty keyboard) nonetheless, the calculator may lose.

Wikis are great, Contribute :)
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
08-09-2017, 07:44 AM
Post: #9
RE: WIRED; It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
The programmable calculator is the intermediate step between my pen and paper computation of a few formulas and the large scale Fortran numerical computation that results. Each step of at least one case is worked on the calculator so that I understand the numerical details of every expression. The I can run a few billion iterations a look at some output. Without the calculator part, I'd have no idea if my program were delivering reasonable results.

On the other hand, my HP50g is much more portable than my PC.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
08-09-2017, 10:05 AM
Post: #10
RE: WIRED; It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
(08-09-2017 04:29 AM)Zac Bruce Wrote:  Out of interest, what do you use in place of google and why? I quite like the idea of DuckDuckGo, mostly because I'm a little uncomfortable with how much I let Google know about me.

Yes, I normally use duckduckgo.com, and I have my browser set to use it as the default search engine. Google keeps a record of what you've searched for (including voice searches), and a couple of years ago was caught red-handed handing over petabytes of user information to the federal government, information which, according to the 4th Amendment, is none of the government's business. About a year and a half ago, Google started using algorithms to censor-out search results that run contrary to the profits of the pharmaceutical industry, and last year in the election cycle, they heavily biased search results in Clinton's favor. Now they want to store your DNA in the cloud and also monitor your mental health. Google Chrome comes with an added capability: it allows remote technicians to listen in on conversations held near computers where the browser is installed. Duckduckgo doesn't do any of these things. I can give you a lot of links I have bookmarked on the subject, but this might not be the place for it.

Quote:I imagine that the time spent learning to program your calculator (not long, admittedly) [...]

It was a lot of hours, mostly before PCs were ubiquitous, and back when the internet hardly existed, and before smartphones; and what I learned is still useful. I still use my HP-41cx every day, and I've had my most-used programs in it continuously for 25+ years, without ever re-loading. In contrast, although I don't use a smartphone, my wife and son do, and they have to get a new one every two or three years, not because they just want to "upgrade," but because things gradually quit working. I started out with the 41 to control lab equipment on the workbench through the HPIL-to-IEEE488 interface converter, and it was much easier to program than PCs were at the time, and much smaller than a modern laptop.

http://WilsonMinesCo.com (Lots of HP-41 links at the bottom of the links page, http://wilsonminesco.com/links.html )
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
08-09-2017, 10:44 AM
Post: #11
RE: WIRED; It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
As long as people try convincing you to leave some piece of technology [in favour of something more modern or mainstream, i.e., something *they* use], you can be sure you have something superior in your hands.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
08-09-2017, 11:02 AM
Post: #12
RE: WIRED; It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
(08-09-2017 10:44 AM)Thomas Radtke Wrote:  As long as people try convincing you to leave some piece of technology [in favour of something more modern or mainstream, i.e., something *they* use], you can be sure you have something superior in your hands.

Not quite:
  • Who wants an abacus for their computations? Fast, simple and consistent results. Very tactile too.
  • What about pieces of strings with knots in them? Fantastic for remembering debts owed and measuring distances across an angle. A little fiddly at times.
  • Might I fancy you in a state of the art slide rule? Not only can it calculate with a couple of significant digits but it can be used to create straight lines for geometrical problems. And they were adequate to get men to the moon and (more surprisingly) back home again. You'll have to remember the scale factor but that's good for your mind.
  • A computer? We don't get many requests for those. Large and cumbersome input. Menus and dialogues hiding the functions. Sure they are fast and sometimes accurate but they require too much skill to use effectively.

To me a device I can hold in my hand or use on my desk that allows easy and reliable entry of problems and which displays its answer quickly still has a place at my work and even at my hobby desk. That's why I've got a HP 45 permanently on my desk -- it handles most problems perfectly & in glorious RED LEDs too.

Pauli
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
08-09-2017, 12:37 PM
Post: #13
RE: WIRED; It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
For me, a graphing calculator no longer has a place in my work flow, but a scientific calculator totally does. I can't tell you how handy it is in meetings to be able to quickly do some trigonometry, convert to nautical miles (program I wrote), or be able to on the fly calculate reflectivity of something.

And like someone else mentioned, it's the step I use to verify my programs are working and that I've gotten all my parentheses closed properly Smile
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
08-09-2017, 12:38 PM
Post: #14
RE: WIRED; It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
(08-09-2017 04:29 AM)Zac Bruce Wrote:  I imagine that the time spent learning to program your calculator (not long, admittedly) would probably be better spent learning to code in python
That's the part the the author glossed over. Teaching a non-programmer how to program in python is probably fairly involved, even if they are just doing simple stuff. And you don't want them to get distracted for an hour by some syntax error when they could be concentrating on physics. I think a keystroke-programmable calculator is a great tool for physics because it's so easy to learn how to program it.

One could also argue that the students shouldn't have to worry about the math at all. Once they have the equations setup, why not let them press "solve" to get the answer? This is physics class after all, not math. Granted it gives them a chance to practice their math and see how it's used, but why not do that in math class instead of physics?
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
08-09-2017, 02:18 PM
Post: #15
RE: WIRED; It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
(08-09-2017 11:02 AM)Paul Dale Wrote:  That's why I've got a HP 45 permanently on my desk -- it handles most problems perfectly & in glorious RED LEDs too.
My favourite non-programmable, too!

About slide rules: The cursor spoils drawing straight lines :-(.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
08-09-2017, 02:30 PM
Post: #16
RE: WIRED; It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
Ironically for me, it is my (shared) love for calculators, this web site, attending HHC conferences (and mingling with very smart folks) that has pushed me more in the last 13 years to develop and improve root-seeking algorithms. Granted that I use Excel as the first tool to test new ideas and approaches. I then apply what seems to work on the HP-41CX calculator and/or its emulator to easily get a good feel of the speed for obtaining solutions.

Perhaps it is the Algorithm that is king. This king has a good alliance with programmable calculators.

Namir
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
08-09-2017, 03:02 PM
Post: #17
RE: WIRED; It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
(08-09-2017 02:18 PM)Thomas Radtke Wrote:  About slide rules: The cursor spoils drawing straight lines :-(.

Smile
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
08-09-2017, 03:40 PM
Post: #18
RE: WIRED; It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
(08-09-2017 02:18 PM)Thomas Radtke Wrote:  About slide rules: The cursor spoils drawing straight lines :-(.

You need a simplex model with beveled in/cm rules on the base - K&E 4053, Dietzgen Mannheim, etc.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
08-09-2017, 04:31 PM
Post: #19
RE: wired: It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
Poor boy, that WIRED's author has all my sympathy. It is clear he didn't enjoy programming his HP-11C, and he got traumatized.
Maybe other colleagues of him had better calcs and didn't suffer the lack of solver, integration, complex # support, matrix maths, etc. All this had a clear impact on him as a student, so that it is more than understandable he now has masterminded a plan to wipe all calcs out of the earth's surface ASAP >D

Saludos Saluti Cordialement Cumprimentos MfG BR + + + + +
Luigi Vampa +
Free42 HuaweiP10 '<3' I + + +
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
08-09-2017, 04:57 PM
Post: #20
RE: WIRED; It's Past Time for You To Ditch That Fancy Scientific Calculator
The "reasons" why we all need to ditch our calculators are laughable:
  1. You can save the code for future reference.
  2. The quadratic formula sucks.
  3. I can print intermediate values
  4. You can do dot product of vectors.
  5. You can change one value and redo the calculation.

Clearly, from the list of requisites above the ONLY possible conclusion would be... Python! Think about it, the only tool in the universe that can do a dot product AND save the code for later use, not to mention the wonders of the "print" function that no other language has.

I would've been closer to the article's position if it would've proposed the use of a more specific math environment than plain python: Matlab, Octave, Mathematica, or more physics/engineering oriented like MathCAD and its clones. I think those tools are what replaces calculators when the work load is "too much", not a plain language like python (granted, there's plenty of libraries for python to get almost anything done, but it's not as clean and never will be - see the decimal examples down below).
But it's all in the complexity of the problem. Opening a browser (or any of the tools above) is way too slow to get anything simple done quickly so you have to justify that time with the complexity of the problem you are trying to solve. The example given in the article can be solved in a 50g just by typing the original problem expressions (not the solution to the quadratic formula, as he had to do in python), provide the variables values and hit solve, so it beats python on a browser by a long shot.
What's the real benefit in opening a browser, typing the numbers and pray that a "marketing engine" gives you a correct answer?
"1 ft only 0.2999 meters! limited time only, get it now at veryverycheap.com!"

I'd rather type the numbers on a device (or application) created/designed to give me an accurate answer, rather than sell ads.

On a side note:
The OP talks about accounting and Excel... those things don't mix! (not Excel's fault, actually, but binary floating point in general)
Real accounting requires decimal arithmetic, so Excel is out of the question for accounting, and so is python.
Before somebody jumps with "python can use decimal arithmetic". That's true, but look at a few examples of what python code looks like when using decimal. Hardly as clean as the article's example, and not very practical for quick prototyping and solving.
If you do accounting, a calculator using decimal math is a necessary tool. An application or web interface using decimal would do just fine if you don't make heavy use of it and can put up with the slower pace.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply 




User(s) browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)