Monthly Archive for May, 2004

Some site updates

I’ve put my diary from my 1999 tour of Europe with Craig onto the site. It was fun to read it again. Someday maybe I can get some of Craig’s photos scanned and uploaded to my gallery.

Also put up the original “Theory of Operation” document I wrote for the position transducer project I built for Jeff.

Calculator war is over; HP vanquished

After thirty years of Hewlett-Packard and Texas Instruments battling it out in the calculator market, it’s finally over. And it looks like TI has won.

It saddens me. I don’t claim to know who makes the better calculator, or even if programmable calculators are still relevant in today’s world. But the battle certainly kept the technology humming along, and drove the prices lower and lower.

HP’s calculators always had a certain amount of uber-geek cool about them. You had to be a serious geek to get that reverse polish notation stuff. And you could always be sure that nobody would ever ask to borrow your calculator more than once.

What, you may ask, made me suddenly think of this? Well, my handy-dandy cheapo Sharp calculator is dying. Many LCD segments no longer work. I need a new calculator, and for some reason, I thought about HP. I’ve always secretly longed to be a part of the elitist HP club.

But do you think I could find one? Hell, no! I went all over town. But the only HP calculators I ever found were bottom-end non-programmable non-RPN boring calculators. If it ain’t RPN, it just ain’t a real HP.

No HP-32Sii, no HP-48. I couldn’t even find models that they currently have in production, like the HP-33s (funny-looking update of the HP-32Sii). TI’s high-end graphing calculators, on the other hand, were very easy to find. Hence I conclude: TI has handed HP their asses.

Not deterred, I went to the Internet. Apparently, HP no longer makes their highly-regarded HP-32Sii model. It’s been replaced with the HP-33s, basically compatible but with a larger program memory (though still only 26 program labels), and a cheesy V-shaped rubber membrane keypad that the HP-faithful find repulsive.

The only way you can get a real HP-32Sii now is second-hand. On eBay, 32Sii’s are going for around US$170, almost three times their price when they were discontinued (around 1999). There aren’t many investments that can generate that kind of return in five years.

US$170 is a little rich for my blood. So, I ordered a new HP-33s last week. I’m still waiting for it. I guess it wasn’t in stock at the distributor either. Maybe they’re firing up the production line now to make me one. Perhaps the last real HP calculator we’ll ever get to see.

Blogging has begun

I just installed the WordPress blogging system. Installation was pretty easy. Now I just need to figure out how best to integrate this with the rest of the site.

I’ve gone and moved some news items from my original main index page into the blog, and back-dated them. But this is really the first item posted in the blog.