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Hardware Hacking DRM Handhelds Math Programming Software Build Hardware

TI Calculator DRM Defeated 234

Posted by Soulskill
from the graphing-for-justice dept.
josath writes "Texas Instruments' flagship calculator, the Nspire, was hacked to allow user-written programs earlier this year. Earlier this month, TI released an update to the OS that runs on the calculator, providing no new features, but only blocking the previous hack. Now, just a few weeks later, Nleash has been released, which defeats this protection. The battle rages on as users fight for the right to run their own software on their own hardware."
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TI Calculator DRM Defeated

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  • what (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mrphoton (1349555) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @10:26AM (#33095158)
    last time i used a graphics calculator (before I migrated to octave/matlab/maple), the whole point of the thing was that you could program it? And why would anybody spend 100$ on a calculator when you can almost get a laptop for that price today?
    • Re:what (Score:5, Insightful)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @10:29AM (#33095174)
      You cannot bring a laptop into a standardized test, that's why TI cares. The only real business TI has with its graphing calculators is high school (and to some extent, middle school) students, and only because the teachers are under the illusion that the calculators cannot do everything that a laptop can do.
      • Re:what (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Peach Rings (1782482) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @10:46AM (#33095284) Homepage

        What, you can still write programs for the included BASIC interpreter, you just can't run your own code on the hardware (no C/assembly allowed). So they have no ground to stand on in terms of testing integrity, and it's obvious that they're unjustly trying to control people's hardware after they buy it.

        • Re:what (Score:5, Interesting)

          by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @10:51AM (#33095322)
          As it turns out, and this was mentioned the last time there was a TI article on /., a common strategy schools use is to press the reset button on the calculator, which clears out BASIC programs and whatnot. It seems, however, that the reset button does not touch the firmware -- which is why TI is probably worried about this situation.

          I am vehemently opposed to DRM, but I would not go as far as to claim that the companies pushing DRM want to control their users just for the sake of control. These people are not twirling their mustachios and laughing to each other about their evil plots -- they have a reason for wanting to control their users, and it almost always boils down to making money. TI is worried about losing the only remaining market for graphing calculators, so they will go to any length, including undermining user freedoms, to try to maintain that market.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by tomhudson (43916)

            So just cut the on-board trace from the reset button. They can press it all they want at that point.

            Heck, I can see a new market niche - unresetable calculators. Hey, Ferris, you want to make some quick money to fund your next day off?

            • Re:what (Score:5, Informative)

              by Firethorn (177587) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @12:07PM (#33095768) Homepage Journal

              Pushing reset results in visible screen changes. You can both have firmware fake a reset in that case or have the cheating system embedded into the firmware.

              If the calculator won't reset, then they're either going to do a closer check for cheat stuff or just not let you have the calculator(hope you brought a backup!).

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by BrokenHalo (565198)
                I don't know anything about the nSpire, but my TI-89 has a few different ways of resetting it, some more pervasive than others. The most common key-sequence results in the appearance of a progress-bar thingy for a few seconds, and the UI reverts to the default, and programs, expressions or variables assigned to general memory are deleted. However, programs (user-generated or otherwise) assigned to so-called "archive" memory are not deleted, so a simple script to restore your favourite settings is easy enoug
                • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

                  by FluffyArmada (715337)
                  The nspire is actually pretty freaking smart about resetting. Instead of actually needing to do a full reset, it has a fancy test-taking mode. You hold down the escape+home(on) key while the calculator is turned off, then you'll get a dialogue asking if you want to enter 'press to test' mode. Once you enter that mode, the calculator resets, and reloads the firmware without deleting anything you've been working on, and a little led on the end of the calculator will blink every few seconds to show that you're
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Spokehedz (599285)

                My math teacher would prohibit us from using our own calculators on tests. He had a set of calculators that he kept for when we had tests, and he would hand them out--blanked--and we had to write our own programs on them in the 30mins before the test. His thought was if you could memorize your program to type it out before the test, you deserved to use it on the test. However, most of the students used the extra time to just do the test manually because it really wasen't smart to spend the time on typing ou

          • These people are not twirling their mustachios

            Well, they're students. When I was a student, I used to twirl my mustachio quite a lot.

            Unless that wasn't a euphemism?

          • There's a really easy solution to the cheating problem, and it wouldn't even require TI to do anything different: have the school provide calculators for use during a test. If the school bought 60 calculators, they would ensure they are clear of any programs, hand them out before the test and collect them with the test. If students cheat on homework, it'll be easily reflected when they don't know how to solve the problems on the test. To prevent student's from looking at previous tests online, use differe
            • On the flip side, that means that only 60 calculators get sold to the school instead of hundreds to the students, so from TI's perspective it's probably not a viable solution.
              • Bad form to reply to oneself, but of course I totally failed to account for the fact that the kids will need them anyway for schoolwork outside of tests. This is what happens when you turn your brain off for the weekend....
          • by fermion (181285)
            Just to clear this up, pressing the reset button is never sufficient. At least on the Ti-83 and 84, there was a program that is run from a second known secure calculator that will cause an unknown calculator be wiped clean. It is well known that the 'reset' is incomplete and can be trapped. If this is not done, to all unknown calculators, then it might be argued that the school is not worried about calculators. What we do, and the only secure method I can think of, is to supply ramdom calculators.

            In the

        • by nedlohs (1335013)

          Writing a program during the exam is just ever so subtly different from entering the exam with a bunch of programs already loaded onto the calculator.

        • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

          Actually, no. The BASIC dialect on the Nspire series of calculators is extremely limited, to the point of being useless.

          TI's other calculator offerings (the 83/84 series for instance) allow assembly explicitly, and have a far more powerful BASIC. The point that testing isn't really the cause of this is a good one though, there really isn't any reason for TI to do this other than they are being dicks.

      • Who the hell needs a graphing calculator on a standardized test? Why do standardized tests allow them at all? Hell, at the level of middle and high school standardized tests, you needn't even a calculator at all. I just graduated with a B.S. in Physics, and all but a very, very few times did we ever need calculators; tests were done with abstract variables, as you don't need numbers to show that you understand how to solve a problem.

        And if you must absolutely have a calculator for a test, I can think of abs

    • by mangu (126918)

      And why would anybody spend 100$ on a calculator when you can almost get a laptop for that price today?

      Hmmm, let's say you can get *half* a netbook for that price.

      The answer why people buy calculators is simple: the keyboard. A full computer may be much more powerful, but there are people who just need to do calculations and there's nothing like a specialized keyboard to speed that up.

      If the price were right (let's say about $20) I bet there would be a market for a USB calculator keyboard that you can conne

      • I don't know if there is a market; but I assume that there is because they already exist.

        Your basic USB numeric keypad, for laptops that lack one, is a 5-10 dollar item(assuming you don't make the mistake of buying retail).

        Full usb-connected calculators, like the Canon DK100i, are (coincidentally enough) selling for ~$20.
    • Unfortunately today, Ti is more concerned about sales vs functionality, and the NSpire is the pinnacle of this philosophy.

      Ti's focus is to sell NSpires directly to high schools, so when they ask high schools what they want in a calculator, the first thing they say is "Not a Gameboy" and the 2nd is "use it on ACT/SAT" Stripping the program functionality solves problem #1 and a standardzed test mode called Press to test [ti.com] solves Problem #2.

      Now not all of this is Ti's fault. Standardized tests are unbelievably s

      • by mrphoton (1349555)
        I still don't get it. 15 years ago when computers which did maths were not practical to carry around a complicated calculator made sense. Today if you want to do real maths for a reason you use a PC. But school and university exam question can be made so they can be solved by hand there is no need to set questions requiring the integral of a Gaussian function. It might do kids some good not to be able to press plot and get a function plotted. May be it would be good for them to think about the roots an
    • by camperslo (704715)

      And why would anybody spend 100$ on a calculator when you can almost get a laptop for that price today?

      Aren't there emulators for these calculators that run as smartphone apps?

  • Of all the devices that unnecessarily have DRM, why a calculator? How can TI possibly think this is helpful? They just seem to be neurotically following Apple's lead when they could make their device so much more useful. Ugghh... (and no I didn't RTFA).
    • Re:why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @10:32AM (#33095194)
      The last time this came up on /., I said that it is probably about standardized tests. A number of people pointed out that when they were in school, calculators were reset to the factory defaults before they were allowed to use them on an exam. What I have to wonder about, though, is what it means to be reset to "factory defaults" -- I doubt that there is a second copy of the original firmware that will be forced to load when the reset button is pressed. More likely, "factory defaults" only means clearing anything the user created, but leaving the firmware intact.

      Thus, if users can just install their own firmware, TI risks having the current illusion that teachers are under -- that the calculators are "less of a computer" than any other computer -- being undermined.
      • I think you can hold some keys when the calculator turns on (or when inserting the batteries?) to reset to factory defaults. Since the calculator wouldn't want to store an entire separate copy of the OS in its limited storage, you could keep some stuff around in theory. I haven't used my TI calc for awhile though; my DSi is more fun. :)
        • I haven't used my TI calc for awhile though; my DSi is more fun. :)

          I know there are special DSi flash cards that can run DS (not DSi) homebrew on a DSi. But has the DSi been usefully hacked in DSi mode, with the built-in SD slot and the cameras available to homebrew? Or would it be better to stick with my DS Lite for homebrew? There doesn't seem to be any recent news on dsibrew.org.

      • Re:why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by maxwell demon (590494) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @10:42AM (#33095262) Journal

        Of course the simplest solution would still be for the school to have, say, 100 calculators owned by the school, exclusively to be used in tests. People don't bring their own calculator, they use the school-supplied one. It would be a one-time investment (calculators tend to work for very extended times).

        Another solution would be to only allow calculators without permanent storage. Who needs graphing calculators anyway?

        • Re:why? (Score:4, Funny)

          by Peach Rings (1782482) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @10:53AM (#33095336) Homepage

          If you're going to allow calculators at all, graphing calculators are definitely the best option. My TI-89 has scrollback, symbolic computation (I would die without free variables), pretty printing, copy and paste, and algebraic factoring/expansion.

          Unless you're in 7th grade or something, all of those make it much easier to focus on the real problem rather than getting caught up in the algebra.

          • Re:why? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @10:56AM (#33095356)
            If "getting caught up in the algebra" is a problem, then you need all the practice you can get. There is nothing wrong with being required to work out the algebra in a math course, and in high school physics and chemistry courses, it is rare for the algebra to go beyond basic quadratic equations or systems of linear equations, neither of which takes a terribly long time to work out.
            • by Nemyst (1383049)
              I'm not an American, so my education system is different, but I can tell you that having to solve a 4 or 5 equations system using a matrix is the best way to make a stupid calculation mistake that can drastically alter the answer you get. Yes, I can add and subtract, but when you have to do it 20, 30 times, a mistake can slip in.

              It only gets worse when you encounter large integrals with trigonometrical substitutions or integration by parts. For all of those, graphing calculators are a veritable life saver
              • You are obviously unfamiliar with the problems that face the American education system. Integration by parts? Substitution problems? People are graduating high school without ever having seen calculus. A system of 5 linear equations is tedious to work out, sure...but where I grew up (New York City), less than 40% of the students at many high schools were able to pass a test on basic linear equations (one at a time, not systems), where "passing" was defined as "at least 55% of the answers correct."

                Thi
          • Almost every time I've ever tried to have the TI-89 factor or simplify something for me that was more than an already easily-simplifiable equation, I have ended up with an equation that is far, far worse and almost impossible to work with. I would strongly advise against using the TI-89 for any kind of simplification beyond the kind that is simple enough to do without a calculator.

      • Re:why? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TejWC (758299) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @11:28AM (#33095520)

        Actually, a friend of mine came up with a genius idea: write a TI-83 emulator on his TI-83.

        What he did was make it look like his calculator was not running any program (just showing the main screen) when in fact it is running a program: his emulator. The teacher could test out with a simple math calculation while under the emulator and it would work just fine. However, when the teacher tries to delete any of the programs he had or try to reset all the data, it would do so only for the emulator, not for the real TI-83 data.

        So, right before giving his calculator to the teacher before the exam, he would run his emulator. The teacher would clear the memory of the emulator, but then he would then exit out of the emulator and have all of his real programs intact.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by noidentity (188756)
          Awesome story. Reminds me of the Apple IIs in school where we'd make a short BASIC program that did its own command prompt, but gave you confusing responses. Great hilarity.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          yo dawg! we heard you like to calculate things while your on your calculator! so we put a calculator in your calculator!

          so you can calculate.....

        • If you are going to put that kind of thought into cheating on a test, wouldn't you be better served actually learning the material?

        • If someone is good enough to write the emulator on a calculater and pull that off. He really doesn't have to cheat in the first place. He is proablly leaps and bounds ahead of his classes anyways.
      • by saibot834 (1061528) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @11:52AM (#33095654) Homepage

        In my school, one student who wrote his own little programs in Basic and didn't want to loose them due to an exam, wrote another program that faked the normal UI and displayed a menu where you could 'reset' the calculator even though nothing really happened. You could only tell by one small detail (a tiny bar on the upper right corner, indicating a program was currently running) that it wasn't the real deal. None of the teachers realized that.

        And that was done with a normal Basic program. I guess if you code directly in Assembler, you can do much more.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by nattt (568106)

          We just used to slot some cardboard or sheet plastic in the back of the calculator - Casio fx7000-G so that when the teach pushed a pen in to hit the rest switch, it just hit the plastic and didn't reset the calculator.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by h3nning (602044)
        10 years ago when I was at a university they also said that they would reset to factory defaults, this never ever happened, though. Probably because senior citizens are hired to supervise exams here in Norway.

        Also, even if they did, the calculator I had could store data and programs in flash, which wouldn't be affected by a factory reset.

        The only way a factory reset would have affected me was that I would have had to turn RPN back on.

      • by sjames (1099)

        TI SHOULD include a backup copy of the firmware and a means for proctors to make sure that it is running when the calculator is in "test mode". They tried the DRM route and get defeated time and again. Perhaps it's time to try COOPERATING with people. Very few (if any) of the people hacking the TI are doing it in order to cheat on a test and most would probably be sympathetic to anti-cheating measures if TI would quit giving them the finger.

        For example, how about just locking the bootloader and in test mode

    • Re:why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Vahokif (1292866) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @10:49AM (#33095310)
      It's because a major selling point of their calculators is that you can use them in exams. If you can hack them to cheat, they won't be allowed any more.
      • Re:why? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Joce640k (829181) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @12:06PM (#33095758) Homepage

        They also make the same calculators in versions which are open and programmable so this is just stupid. All you'll end up doing is getting them banned from exams and then you won't want to own one so you just shot yourself in the foot.

        • They also make the same calculators in versions which are open and programmable so this is just stupid. All you'll end up doing is getting them banned from exams and then you won't want to own one so you just shot yourself in the foot.

          You'd probably be shooting future students in the foot, so it's not nearly as bad an idea as you make it out to be. You could argue that this is also a bad idea, but we trash or risk trashing the future in so many other more serious ways this is pretty small potatoes.

  • by phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @10:29AM (#33095176) Homepage
    The be all and end all reason that TI want's to prevent people from installing software on these calc's is the modern education system.

    If you install something a school would consider "cheating" on your calculator, you'll get suspended. the modern system want's to forgo the checking of these devices, (as they rarely have the technical ability to even understand how they work)

    it's always a money grab. though I understand the desire to have a common platform, I also think people should be able to modify their calculators as much as they want.

    if people CAN cheat at a test, there's something wrong with the testing method. change your test, don't punish people for outsmarting the education system!
    • by TheLink (130905)
      How about TI design the calculator to allow people to install software, but have a hardware button to reset everything- e.g. overwite the entire flash with an original ROM? I think Gigabyte motherboards have a "dual BIOS" thing which does that. You want to bring your calculator in, too bad it gets reset to the old original ROM.

      Then kids who can figure out how to mod the calculator and still cheat in exams probably would do OK anyway.

      > if people CAN cheat at a test, there's something wrong with the testin
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        How about TI design the calculator to allow people to install software, but have a hardware button to reset everything- e.g. overwite the entire flash with an original ROM? I think Gigabyte motherboards have a "dual BIOS" thing which does that. You want to bring your calculator in, too bad it gets reset to the old original ROM.

        that breaks upgradability. if you put a ROM into the calc's with a base firmware, and a problem with that firmware ever pops up, you'll have to replace/recall all those units. whereas FLASH is upgradeable, and you can just send fixes to people.

        Just because the "Mission Impossible" sort of people can cheat in your highschool's test doesn't mean there's something wrong with the test.

        there shouldn't be a test with questions that can be "Mission Impossible"'d.
        A test should NEVER be multiple choice. the only reason multiple choice tests exist these days is to speed the grading, and allow our over populated schools deal with the larger number of

        • by TheLink (130905)
          >that breaks upgradability.

          How so? The Dual BIOS Gigabyte motherboards are certainly upgradeable. In fact one of the benefits of the Gigabyte dual BIOS was that you can more easily recover if your upgrade goes wrong - you can fall back to the original/backup ROM and start the whole upgrade again.

          > The way I see it, there's no way to cheat at a real test,

          Can you give an example of a real test where cheating is not possible? Even the Mission Impossible people can cheat in an essay test. Or a CCIE test.

          W
        • by sjames (1099)

          If it only checks signatures on the backup flash, the hackers probably wouldn't have bothered trying to defeat it. They'd be too busy enjoying reprogramming the calculator's working flash. That wouldn't make cheating impossible, but as TFA shows, it isn't impossible now. It would have greatly reduced interest in defeating the anti-cheating mechanism.

    • if people CAN cheat at a test, there's something wrong with the testing method. change your test, don't punish people for outsmarting the education system!

      What utter crap. If a student decides to cheat, it's nothing but his own damn fault. He can learn, if nothing else, to exercise a little bit of self-discipline, instead of using the system as a scapegoat. They know the rules, and they choose to break them. If they have an issue with the system, they complain about it before they're sitting in front of the

    • It's not the education system as much as the standardized testing system. Well, unless things have changed in the past 15 years.

    • by ozbird (127571)
      If you can "install" something, it's not a calculator - it's a computer. Using a computer in a maths exam is cheating - "technical ability" of the examiners doesn't enter into it. Simple checks like "8 segment display, pass; dot matrix display, fail" weed out most forms of cheating - or they did back in my day. If "calculators" need a "factory reset" before exams, the cheaters have already won... (Before you ask, the slide rule/log table vs. calculator battle was before my time - but I understand where
  • by teh31337one (1590023) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @10:31AM (#33095188)
    • by fsterman (519061)

      Yeah, and why haven't cheap Chinese clones flooded the market with $20 knockoffs? That's the REAL solution to this problem: then schools and TI will be all about owning their own hardware for standardized testing.

  • > The battle rages on as users fight for the right to run their own software on their own hardware.

    They have the right to run their own software on their own hardware. It's the knowledge of how to do so that they lacked. Now they have it.

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @10:36AM (#33095216)
      The point is the fight, not whether or not a particular device has been cracked. TI (and to be fair, plenty of other companies) are engaged in a constant struggle to prevent users from exercising their right to run whatever software they want on their computers. You might construe it as, "Well you can still run the software, you just don't know how" but realistically speaking, the devices are being designed to thwart the user's attempt to install software without thwarting the manufacturer. That is a strike against us and our rights, regardless of how you phrase it.
      • by Gnavpot (708731)

        The point is the fight, not whether or not a particular device has been cracked. TI (and to be fair, plenty of other companies) are engaged in a constant struggle to prevent users from exercising their right to run whatever software they want on their computers. You might construe it as, "Well you can still run the software, you just don't know how" but realistically speaking, the devices are being designed to thwart the user's attempt to install software without thwarting the manufacturer. That is a strike against us and our rights, regardless of how you phrase it.

        I will try rephrase the grandparent's statement to make it more clear to you:

        Fighting to crack a certain device is not fighting for a right - it is fighting to be able to excercise the right you already had.

        Cracking the device does not give you more or less rights than you had before cracking it. If you want to change the rights, you have to influence the legislators.

      • > ...the devices are being designed to thwart the user's attempt to install
        > software without thwarting the manufacturer.

        And the users are knowingly buying the devices.

        > That is a strike against us and our rights, regardless of how you phrase it.

        It has nothing to do with your rights. The fact is that 99+% of the users don't give a damn about installing software. They just want to use the things. If it doesn't do what you want don't buy it.

      • The devices are being designed to thwart the user's attempt to install software without thwarting the manufacturer. That is a strike against us and our rights, regardless of how you phrase it.

        These calculators are designed to thwart cheating in the middle and high school grades.

        The educational market is the only commercially viable market.

        If TI takes the product off retail shelves, you will have one less thing left to play with.

    • it's been proposed a number of times at TI that they allow for people to do as they please with their Calculators, move the software to a Read Only removable flash card, and allow people to put their own cards into the things, then offering schools the ability to purchase the "standard firmware" flash cards for a gov't subsidized rate.

      but anything that involves schools spending more money is seen as a "bad thing" by taxpayers. (who then turn around and scream that we don't spend enough money on education
  • Niche market (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zogger (617870)

    Looks to me like a potential good enough niche market for some startup (or a cooperative) to build and sell a really open calculator. And I would guess said designers and builders could come from within that same community, ie, engineers/students/scientists who are already using these high end calculators. That pool of people has the necessary skillset taken as a whole. Electronic pocket calculators have been around a long time, the basic design must be well understood by now. And it seems like if you weren

  • Ahh TI calculators (Score:3, Interesting)

    by areusche (1297613) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @10:48AM (#33095304)

    I had the best time using my TI-84 on tests and the SATs. I had several physics and math programs that made completing pointless busy work so much faster along with showing the formulas most of the time! My favorite program was this "Fake Clear" program that would trap the "Memory Reset" function and allow for a user to use the wipe function without deleting any programs after typing in a set of numbers to unlock it.

    Was it cheating? Did I do something unethical?

    I don't know, nor do I care. I could recreate my steps and completely understood the math behind it.

    I've been out of school for so long now and frankly I hope that these hackers give the fat finger to TI and the College Board. I have nothing but disdain for those two organizations

    • by PRMan (959735)

      You can use calculators on the SAT? Since when? My favorite trick was using the black marks on the side of the Scantron page to measure the graphs. Because if they didn't say Not To Scale, they were.

      Now get off my lawn!

  • But why put the effort into making a piece of hardware better when the manufacturer clearly doesn't want you doing that? Why not start a project to create your dream calculator on a more open platform? If you went with Android or Iphone, that would be one less device you have to carry around and you could install it on one of the pads for the platforms (Good graphing calculator on an iPad... :-)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because they're commonly used for standardised testing. YOU try to convince a high school teacher you aren't going to cheat on your internet enabled multi application device.

    • But why put the effort into making a piece of hardware better when the manufacturer clearly doesn't want you doing that?

      Because we do not care what the manufacturer wants us to do with our hardware? We bought it, we'll use it however we want to, regardless of what the manufacturer says.

  • Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vahokif (1292866) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @10:55AM (#33095348)
    They should sell two models with exactly the same capabilities, except one should be as locked down as possible and the other should be totally unrestricted and have a wildly different color scheme so you can tell them apart. This way hackers get to hack and examiners can be sure if they're not using the calculators to cheat.
    • Same problem as before. People hack the DRM, student start cheating again.

  • You have a right to not buy TI products. TI has a right to sell you whatever crap they want, as long as they don't misrepresent it. What they're fighting for is the continued ability to run their own software on the calculators. That is not a right.
    • by tepples (727027) <tepples@gmaiBLUEl.com minus berry> on Saturday July 31, 2010 @11:55AM (#33095674) Homepage Journal

      You have a right to not buy TI products.

      School systems have a right to require TI products at the high school level. Children do not have a right not to go to school.

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        School systems have a right to require TI products at the high school level. Children do not have a right not to go to school.

        - the entire idea of mandatory education and education boards and departments of education is screwed up, it produces too many robots and not enough thinking people and wastes too much time of time thinking people. It has got to go.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      You have a right to not buy TI products.

      Not always. In my school district a TI-83 purchase was mandatory for pre-calc.

    • Actually, it is. They bought the calcs, they have the right to run whatever they want on them.

      They don't have the right to demand TI to remove the DRM, though.

  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @12:51PM (#33096030)

    We used Slide Rules - yeah, I'm that old. A Slide Rule is more environmentally friendly than a calculator. It doesn't use any mercury, lead or batteries...

    WTF do kids needs graphing screens for in an exam anyway? They cannot submit the stupid graphs. So what is the point? An Abacus would work better.

  • by seeker_1us (1203072) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @02:57PM (#33096786)
    If you are trying to test calculus/physics/algebra/whatever it's pretty easy to make the actual arithmetic simple enough to do in your head or on scratch paper.
  • My first programming language was TI-BASIC on the TI-83 Plus graphing calculator. Made some nifty things with that. Then, my second language was assembly for the Z80 processor on that calculator. Self-taught from random how-to's found online. It was that that made me realize I liked programming, and was the primary reason why I became CS major at college.

    AFAIK, TI made no attempt to stop assembly program support for the TI-83 Plus. In fact, if I recall, one of the ways to get an assembly program onto a calc

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