Only two weeks after Casio's unveiling of its Casio Prizm color graphing calculator scheduled for release in 2011, TI has revealed that it will also release a competing color calculator, the TI-Ncourage. Designed to have even better development prospects, TI is finally (and once again) encouraging hobbyists in calculator development. Key features of this newest line include:
- a 200 MHz Pentium processor;
- a 1024x768 resolution, 32-bit color depth display;
- a multi-touch touchscreen that can be disabled for testing purposes;
- an optional QWERTY keypad, which is removable for acceptance on national tests;
- full assembly support as well as an on-calculator C++ compiler;
- a free SDK equipped with a fully-featured IDE, emulator, and debugger;
- USB 2.0/3.0 support, which could possibly lead to Internet connectivity;
- a choice of either a lithium ion battery pack or a rechargeable battery complete with charger; and
- a fully-featured app store that could "compare to Apple's famed App Store," as reported by a company spokesperson for TI.
In addition, the TI App Store will feature integration with the major calculator program portal ticalc.org, which means that the Wacky Fun Random Numbar Generator has finally been officially endorsed by TI.
The TI-Ncourage has already been accepted by the College Board for use on the PSAT, SAT, and math-related AP tests. No word has been received from the ACT, however.
Following the lead of such technology giants as Microsoft, Apple, and Google, Texas Instruments is also claiming a piece of the portable phone industry with the release of the TI-Phone last Thursday.
"We're really excited," said a company spokesperson on Friday. "The phone industry offers enormous potential, and we're glad to have a foothold."
Already, thousands have ordered the surprise product, hoping to find a relatively cheap yet functional phone. However, many were turned down by the TI-Phone's lack of features, especially its inability to communicate with other phones without the use of a cable. "This is outrageous," remarked a consumer. "It totally defeats the point. I mean, why would I call someone if we needed a cable to link our phones?" In response to the protest, TI pointed out that "really, it's not that hard. All you have to do is plug your end of the cable into the little hole in the bottom. Eventually, we're hoping to set up a nation-wide network of compatible cables to deliver service to 90% of TI-Phone users."
The company also released a statement warning customers that the TI-Phone is still "in development," and "features found on other cellular telephones may not be implemented until the release of later OS versions." Indeed, the current OS (which at the time of printing was version 1.01) has very few useful features when compared to other companies' models. For example, the screen is only 96Ã—64 and monochrome, making the TI-Phone comparable to phones of a decade earlier. Also outdated is the phone's use of non-rechargeable AAA batteries, which can drain quickly during intensive use. Very few applications are included with the OS, and though TI claims the phone can send and receive third-party software, this software can come as either a program or an application, causing confusion for many purchasers. However, the phone does come with extensive financial software, which, according to Texas Instruments, is an "integral part of the TI-Phone OS, just as IE is to Microsoft Windows."
This year, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) received numerous complaints from native and immigrant Martians that over nine years after their planet started receiving Internet service, they still do not have their own top-level domain. In response, the ISO finally decided to assign .rp as the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code for Mars. This decision, reported world-wide (on both worlds) this morning at 3:14 GMT, was met with spontaneous celebrations all over the Red Planet.
"I'm really glad they did this for us," said a native Martian blogger when we interviewed web users there. "Now I don't have to upload everything to some registry on the next planet over, waiting 20 minutes, or more, just to get some message at all."
Of course, not everyone was satisfied with the change. In particular, citizens of the Philippines were unhappy with the fact that this denied them the country code RP. According to one Filipino: "RP was our code, and they never should have given it away! Give it back, you â€”â€”â€” Martians!" A considerably less vehement Filipino citizen put it this way: "I don't see why Mars needs a domain in the first place. In any case, RP is supposed to stand for the 'Republic of the Philippines.' What'll they need it for?" The ISO spokesperson responded that they had the right to change the identity of codes. "Besides, the country code RP was already 'indeterminately reserved,' meaning it should have been removed eventually. We couldn't give the Martians any other codes, since .ma, .mr, and .ms were all taken. You could imagine .rp to stand for Red Planet, if you really need an acronym."
In the few hours since the decision was made public, dozens of foreign and domestic organizations have already begun switching to the new domain. Most conspicuously, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft have already registered domain names at google.rp, yahoo.rp, and bing.rp, respectively, hoping to take advantage of the over 100 million Internet users on Mars.