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January 21, 2002

The Analytical Engine

Actually, this is my last entry for tonight .

Jean's taking a math class this term. The recommended calculator is the TI-89. If you ask me, it's overkill for an introductory math class, but if she can unlock the features, it might actually accelerate her understanding.

Unfortunately, the manual isn't the most user friendly, not even having an index. Jean wanted me to help her figure out how to do unit conversions, and I did. After about an hour. Of course, I now know how to do it forever.

And this isn't even the top-of-the-line TI calculator. I picture this as being a calculator which a student buys in their freshman year at an engineering school. After four years the poor schmuck has uncovered 30 or 40 percent of the functionality of the gadget, and is set for a lifetime of discovery.

Another impression I got is that this is like learning Unix from scratch. Except it's a closed platform, so more like learning the Macintosh from scratch. Only it's not easy to use, so more like a Wintel box .

Posted by dpwakefield at January 21, 2002 10:27 PM