Friday, January 17, 2014

Thoughts on The ‘New’ HP Prime

Thoughts on The ‘New’ HP Prime


Derived from A User & Start Up Guide that i Found on The Intertube.

In years past; i had been very enthusiastic concerning The Many Calculators that Hewlett-Packard was making. They’d come out with many, many different designs, which ostensibly served various niches, but were really just jewelry designs.

Many people ( that i knew ) bought them all, just to ‘have’ them, because it was very prestigious to have an HP Calculator. They were Very, Very Well Made, Featuring A Quirky Operating System called RPN &/ or RPL & made The Keys in a way so that The Characters could Never Wear Off, Because they were made with an Injection Process, So that they Characters ‘On’ The Keys went all The Way Through Them ( ! )

The Feel of The Keys was also very different from The Key Press of Other Calculators, & The Technology of These ‘Early’ Calculators was Way beyond where The Rest of The World was. 10 Years before Home Computers came out, HP was selling The HP 41 which was a fully programable computer that Scientists could hook up to their Lab Equipment to Control & Record their Results.

Their Last Head Butting Calculator was The HP 48gx. Circa: Late 1990s.

Since then; Hewlett-Packard has just lost interest in Calculators, They’ve been producing a lot of Crap which makes me very sad.

i have a problem with The Name ‘Prime’.

It seems to me that HP is committing The Old Cannon 35_mm Camera Mistake of Giving it a Name that can’t easily be superseded.
When Nikon came out with its Ground Breaking F Camera, Cannon then followed that up with its own somewhat inferiour 35_mm Camera, calling it The F1.
Obviously; They were courting The Phenomena of Consumer Confusion;
But more importantly; Nikon did not back down & called their Next Camera The F2.
What was Cannon going do?
They can’t very well call their Next Camera The F2 as well. Were they going to call it The F3 ? i can’t remember what they did call it, but; Clearly, they’d shot themselves in The Foot.
So What is HP going to Call The Next Calculator after this one, The Prime 2 ? ( !!! )
They Should have followed Apples OS Nomclemature & Called it something completely Irrelevant; Like The HP Asparagus ! It may sound silly reading that in this context, but i suspect that The Consumers would have gotten used to that & it would quickly seem like The most natural name imaginable.
The Next Calculator would then be called The HP Whatever Vegetable.
But i would also like HP to get out The Calculator Bznz & into The Software Bznz—
Making Assassin Quality Apps that would make use of whatever The Current Platform Standards are for The Current Line of Tablets or ‘Cell’ Phones.

The Screen Display on The Prime is Laughable !!! But in a Very Sad Way.
         320 x 240 Pixels.
What ( ? )
That’s a third of my 10 year old iPod’s Screen, And apparently with A Casio Spectrum of PreSelected Colors.

The Most Disturbing thing that i’ve discovered ( ? ) which seems unbelievable, so i’m hoping that i have grossly misunderstood what i’ve read so far—
But it seems like that although you can plug The HP Prime into a Computer of Somekind, You can’t exchange Data with The Computer. All The I/O Functions seem to go out of The Way to Insist that you can Only move Data to & from other Primes ! ( ! )
That’s a Deal Killer.
You can’t Print, or upload or use The Prime with an Overhead Projector, or Use it to Control a Robot ?
That must be wrong.
It must be.

The Reduced Keyboard & Hierarchal Menu Driven System seems good, Rather like The Old HP 42 way of doing things, which also had a comparatively small number of Keys, With hundreds of functions & commands.

The Opening Paragraph in The User Guide refers to Hundreds of Commands & Functions, As opposed to The Thousands of Commands & Functions of The 48 Series.
This may be OK ( ? ) if you can still accomplish everything that i could do with The 48, Using different approaches.

How much Memory does it have.
The Guides seem to go out of their way to avoid this.
When The 28 first came out, The Guides avoided this Question as well; Which turned out to be 2k which was amazingly small, even for that era of calculators & Computers. The Next 28 that came out had 32k, which was big enough for my doodling purposes, certainly enough for any actual calculating purposes.
i would hope that The Prime has at least a few Gb’s, But it doesn’t say.

It should probably have come with a Stylus ( & Stylus Hole ) Built into it.

i can understand how many people hate this solution, as they are always losing The Stylus, But if you’re going to use a Stylus anyways, & now you don’t have a good place to put it, that’s an even worse solution.

You will really need The Stylus for working with Graphics & Arranging Geometrical Figures on The Display; Or even for simply reliably hitting option selectors in The menus, pulling back from miss-strikes can be very annoying & frustrating.

i like The One Button Arrow Keys, which, with The Touch Screen, seem crazily redundant, But i was advocating this approach 15 years ago. Actually; The Solution that i envisioned was a single small button that possessed movement from left-right, front-back so that it would act like a minimally mobile mouse. This left-right, front-back would also allow The User to move This Button Diagonally, providing a much freer range of movement for The Cursor. 

The ToolBox Icon for The ToolBox Menu seems clunky, as it’s The only key that makes use of an illustrative pictoglyph. ( Along with The Settings Quasi-Iconographic ‘House/Home’ Button ? )

These Buttons That fill in The Space around The Redundant Arrow Ring, are all rather oddly designed, in that all of those functions should be menu driven. The Arrow Ring is Redundant because The Screen is Ostensibly Touch Sensitive. They should have taken all of those keys & Ring out, & made The Screen Bigger, If they were intent on keeping The Calculator about The Same Size as The HP48.

Overall; The Design, Keyboard & Menu System seems to reflect an Ergonomic Philosophy that should have been implemented a year or two after The HP 48 came out, not 15 years later.

One of The Very Kooky things that i’ve noticed about Personal Digital Assistants ( ? ) is that many years ago; The Palm Devices had a Writing Recognition Platform, which apparently never worked very well, & then Apple followed that up with The Newton, which was also supposed to have a feature like that; But now; 15 years later, You can’t even get an app for either The Apple iOS or Android that will recognize your handwriting ( ! ) ???
i don’t get that at all.
This Calculator should have something like that to more easily write out Equations & Expressions, which require lots of Super & Subscript Notations. If you had a really Good Screen Resolution & a Fine Tipped Stylus; Those features would make writing out an Equation very easy. The Template system used by The Prime seems unnecessarily awkward.

The Clipboard saves the last four expressions or objects ( ? )

It seems that ‘nowadays’ that should be an unlimited number of objects, with The option of clearing The Clipboard at The User’s discretion.
It annoys The heck out of me when i’m using The Wintel Computers at The Library where The Copy/Cut function will only save one thing at a time !
So; Apparently, The Prime is at least a little better than The Current M$ OS System in that Respect ( ! )
( On my Macbook, The Clipboard ( Pasteboard ) has an index of whatever you’d like to set it to, clearing its history when you reset The computer ( or not ). )

i have dozens of unread magazines & books on my kindle, but as i sit here reading this User’s Guide, it is very enjoyable. i don’t know what it is about reading a technical journal, but it seems like very easy reading to me !

The Sending & Receiving Protocols with their own Non-Standard USB plugs for Sending & Receiving seems 100% Crazy ! What is this about ?

MIT recently came out with a new version of Scratch ( Scratch 2 ), A very, very simplified Programming Language for Toddlers ! ( Which i enjoy using ! )

—That neglected to include Any of The Hundreds of Features that The Scratch Community was begging them to include in it, & in fact, dumbed it down substantially, taking away The users ability to download The Application to their own computers. ( ! )

So that now you can only use Scratch 2 online, in The Cloud ! Like The Old Terminal Based Computers worked. ( ! ) ( 30 years ago )

And Now; It seems like The Prime is following this same example of taking Power away from users. Like ( ? ) Somewhere, Somebody thinks that it’s too dangerous to allow Users to write their own truly functional & useful programs. ( ? )

Lego Robotics is The Same way. They are specifically designed to disallow The User of these Lego Robot Bricks to use more than 4 motors or sensors at a time. It should be designed to give any number of motors or sensors their own names & call on them whenever you’d like to.

There is something kooky going on. Computers are getting both faster & dumber.

i also find it rather curious that their is no really good way to permanently store data from any computer with the expectation that it will last in a given medium for more than 10 years. ( ? ) Those DVDs that your computer can burn for you will probably fail in as little as 5 years.

& Hard-Drive Prices have remained stagnant for about 3 years ( at least ), That is; A Terabyte hard-drive is about The same cost now as it was 3 years ago.

They should be getting bigger & cheaper.

i have now found out ( ? ) that apparently you can connect a Prime to a Computer, But only A Wintel Platform, Not Macs or Linux OS’s, They have been Shut Out by A Software Screen Door Whose =Purpose= is to Shut them Out ( ! ) ? If HP had simply chosen a Universal Generic Connection Platform such as USB, then you could use any Platform at all to Connect with The Prime, But HP has written a Communication Protocol that will only work with The M$ OS.

What is that About ( ? )

Lego did that with their Robot Software. Not only did Lego create their Communications Software So that it would Only work with The M$ Platform, but they padded it up with so much Spaghetti Code that you needed State of The Art Memory & Processing Speed to write tiny little .txt scripts that you’d download into Their Robot Controller. ( ? )

It’s obvious that M$ is still amazingly Evil, but why is HP playing along ?

The Last Calculator The HP Produced that was of Sincere HP Quality that they Established with their First Calculators, was The HP28. Although The Following 48 Series was very Nice, They were decidedly cheaperly made than The previous generations of Calculators. All of Their Calculators since then have been startling lame. The Ones after The 48s were specifically designed to look exactly like The TI Calculators to produce Consumer Confusion, hoping that High School & College Students would mistakenly buy The HP Calculators after being instructed by their Teachers to get The Cheaper TI’s which were becoming The Educational Standard due to their Cheapness.

HP has already been dead to me for more than 10 years,
& this only makes them more dead to me.


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