What gadget do you miss?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Adama D. Brown, Jan 29, 2010.

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  1. hal

    hal itchy and cold feet hal

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    Hmmm, pretty much, you have just posted the RPN for Dummies Manual. Yes, HP calculators do work in RPN as the base math mode. Many of the 'most recent' models (I mean, those released in 1989 and later), also use algebraic mode as optional. The reason why RPN seems more natural (OK, to some), is because the operator priorities do not depend on a standby reaction throughout an expression, but actually depend on a stack position. Thus, the expression can be clearly parsed to a set of minor operations waiting in place (not in turn) to happen. And, where is the benefit of this? RPN allows a very mechanical behavior of Math. OK, I'm a Mechanical Engineer, and this last sentence may sound very biased into my profession. But the fact is that an engineer, of any discipline or scope, has to learn the mechanics of something. RPN is very useful to describe the behavior of things and events, in the absence of code. Mechanical and electrical machines do run thanks to programs, but said programs (sets of orders) are not collected into something like a memory field. RPN eased the way that engineers understood the physical relations to apply algorithms to their creations, before the general use of coding surfaced.

    *sigh*

    Oh, well, never mind, I'm just a nightmare in the dreams of the math-hating people :D
     
  2. JRakes

    JRakes NOT your Average Joe

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    True. It's even simpler, though, NP. In the first example, the second "Enter" isn't required - It's just 1 Enter 2 + and voila! You get a 3. Hal is correct - RPN "mechanizes" the math. The advantage is in complex equations - Rather than working in written order (which has nothing to do with the mechanics of math) and "nesting" a dozen sets of parentheses, you start in the middle (or with internal "pieces" of the equation) and work your way out. Besides the lack of an "=" key, you'll also not find "(" or ")" on a purely RPN keyboard. I'd have NEVER survived my engineering classes with algebraic input.

    For day-to-day simple things, there really isn't such a benefit to RPN. Adding up a simple series of numbers is the same as far as keypresses and time. Throw in a few subtotals along the way, however, and the advantage quickly becomes apparent. Throw in complex equations and there's no contest. Thing is, once your mind works in RPN, adding just a few numbers algebraically seems clunky and cumbersome, so we gearheads stick with what works best for our minds. :D

    And I, too, find the old gadgets such as these things much more efficient, Hal. I LOVED Power48 on Palmie. That's one gap with WM (and any other non-Palm OS device, for that matter) that has forced a deconvergence. Interesting how 20 years of technology still leaves a 2 decades long gap, eh? OTOH, today's devices aren't intended as productivity tools (regardless of how they're marketed.) Today's users are more likely to be Tweeting and chatting than figuring out any sort of productive technical or business situation. ;)
     
  3. Mi An

    Mi An Hyperfocal

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    And the children of mechanical engineers :)
     
  4. NamelessPlayer

    NamelessPlayer Mobile Deity

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    Well, now that I know how RPN works, it would've made my life a LOT easier in math class...but no, we have to deal with algebraic/infix notation and the gobs of parentheses and...ugh. I wonder if the current education system even cares about more efficient ways of doing things.

    In the meantime, I might as well put another HP-made device to good use. Is there a good RPN calc app (perhaps a HP calc emulator) I can run on the hx4700? Wouldn't have the nice, tactile feel of physical buttons with that big touchscreen, but it would help be decide if picking up a dedicated HP calc one day would be worth it (especially if I happen to find one at a garage/yard sale like I sometimes notice with TI calcs).
     
  5. JRakes

    JRakes NOT your Average Joe

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    I'm using Free42 on Touchie. It's as good as any of the commercial WM emulators I've seen, IMHO, but free. It should give you a decent feel for using RPN and give you some experience without the investment.

    The big problem is finding the right "skin" for the emulators. They vary widely and are specific to display size / resolution. Due to the nature of a calculator emulator, with all the buttons, using one that doesn't fit well with your display is a sure path to frustration.
     
  6. hal

    hal itchy and cold feet hal

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    Pretty much, here's the core of the thing. We are taught for years to write math expressions as sentences, and next, as in some unhealthy grammar exercise, we solve them in a manner totally unrelated to the order we write them down.

    RPN can be useful in any field involving number, but there are several fields of expertise in which NOTHING matches it, like electronics, power electrics, and (yes) finances. Almost any activity involving complex numbers is eased to Sesame Street if you use RPN. I had a nightmare at school with electric circuits, and to the day I solve electric equations with RPN.

    Hmmm, I reckon some things never change, my friend. Two blocks away from my sister's, there's a bakery that still uses ye olde electromechanical cash machines. They run a gazillion customers a day, and they're never behind. Think they're keeping them for a reason. Sometimes I see the options available to replace our oldies, and I wanna laugh, or cry :)


    :D :D :D :D

    Kid, try to trust a bit that the education system is willing to teach you what you need to learn. In the end, when you have to face a math problem in real life, sometimes you won't even be given an equation to solve (supposing you eventually choose to attend an Engineering school, the point will even be that you develop the equation as you model the solution to a problem). Now, algebraic mode is necessary cause it's a language. You can "speak" said language with anybody and as long as you don't run into any Russians (that do follow certain terms different to us :rolleyes:), anybody will understand you.

    RPN is an excellent solution mode. But you can't just abandon algebraic. My point is, try to figure out for yourself, what is convenient to you. As you already posted, try to get some RPN apps for your mobile devices, and as JRakes suggests, try it out for yourself. You'll scream: "DA_N, why don't they teach this thing in Senior High School?" I ONLY attended a single engineering course where RPN was briefly mentioned (Operations Research); what I have learned about it was actually with HP manuals and self experience. And, yes, a little help from my friends :)
     
  7. Varjak

    Varjak Mobile Deity

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    I never really acclimated to RPN. I had mostly HP financial calculators (12c, 17B, 19B-II). Fortunately, the latter gave me the option of RPN or 'normal' notation.
     
  8. CaliSundial

    CaliSundial Mobile Enthusiast

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    would a film camera fit in the "i miss this gadget" category?

    one day i'm going to be setting up a dark room in my house to go back to film.
     
  9. hal

    hal itchy and cold feet hal

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    I know quite a number of persons that think likewise, my friend. After any lengthy "sales pitch", there remain people that just won't see it fit. There is a strong mental adaptation component in using RPN, I reckon. Different strokes for different folks.

    Uh, if it fits. Turn around and tell me how many devices incorporating a camera do you see. Hence, tell me how important is photography. I reckon its technological predecessor fits snug in this thread. My sister abandoned film cameras cause her Yashika is lost. Otherwise she would still carry the thing around. She used to have this weird tank the size of a small fire extinguisher, designed as a portable dark room.

    I still believe that photography is one heavy and serious hobby. In the old days, Popular Mechanics never had a single issue (as in monthly magazine, not as in problem), omitting the photography section. Currently, the guys incorporate it if they get something interesting on the technology of pictures, but I have lots of issues (magazines) with tips and technical descriptions to make this or that shot. You know, more on the side of the technics and the art.
     
  10. mutton-javelin

    mutton-javelin Mobile Deity

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    wow all the HP calc talk. I made it through grad school with a TI 89. The HP range were better for engineers right?
     
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