Welcome to ClrHome
Almost there Dec 26
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
Well, it's been a pretty big year for us. Our only year, anyway, but it's been great. We just passed our 2500 pageviews milestone, with visitors from places around the world as varied as Australia and Latvia. Our site's changed again and again, going from host to host and stylesheet to unnecessarily complicated stylesheet until we got just the layout we wanted. You can see the changes in our navbar and post layout as we finally got the CSS for the blog and main site to match. And I'm happy with how it looks now, finally.

As for our projects, that section's exploded too. I still have to put up some of my earliest projects in the showcase, but it's already a lot better than before. Contra's still going well in dev, with the engine almost done; I've almost finished PapiJump, and apparently now both I and yunhua98 are working on a Doodle Jump clone. Other projects we still have lying around include Bomberman and XDE, so look out for more updates on those in the future.

As always, though, we're still looking for more members to join. "Our team at ClrHome Productions" still refers to a very small group of people (two, to be exact), so if you're a decent TI-BASIC, Axe, or TI-ASM programmer, or if you make computer programs related to calculators, don't be afraid to apply (but don't be discouraged if you're rejected). Even if you aren't, there are other ways to help listed on that page.

And from all (er, both) of us at ClrHome Productions, have a merry Christmas and happy New Year!
Calculators to be banned? Dec 21
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
Just two months after the Department of Education's recommendation that calculator usage be restricted in schools, a recent survey shows that school districts across the country are already taking action to reduce the number of calculators in use in U.S. schools. The survey, conducted by Erron Surveying Services, asked 38 school districts in 22 states for their opinions on electronic calculating devices. Twenty-six of the districts surveyed, representing over a hundred high schools, said they would introduce new rules banning calculators from being used in high school courses. Most planned to put these rules into effect by the next school year, but eight in particular said the would at least "consider" applying these changes by January first of 2011. Another three districts had not officially adopted plans for phasing out calculator usage but were in the process of deciding.

These new rules, created after a Department study discovered that students could play games on many models of graphing calculators, would ban the use of all calculators with graphing capabilities in all high school classrooms. As expected, the news caused outrage from parents and students.

"We need our calculators!" exclaimed a junior we interviewed. "They're really useful! And we don't always use them to play games in class. We need them for math, too."

A math teacher at a Chicago-area high school agreed. "I've known for years that students like to keep games on their calculators, which they sometimes play in class. It becomes a problem when the student ignores me every class, but I don't think we should ban calculators. At least not yet. We're still very used to using graphing calculator technology as a way of quickly investigating and learning about many different subjects in math."

A superintendent at the same school district had a different opinion. "Math classes have existed for hundreds of years before calculators were invented," he pointed out. "Why can't we go back to the old days, when there weren't so many distractions in the classroom?"

A spokesperson for the Department of Education also argued that calculators were "disrupting the learning environment in our education systems." "It was crushing," he said. "We never thought that even calculators could be used for gaming. We even found some students who had completely replaced the operating systems of their calculators, so that they were no longer able to do math at all. We know that students and teachers may argue that the benefits outweigh the costs, especially in advanced-level math classes, but the fact remains: Calculators are a prime cause of the deterioration of American education." Referring to the rules already in effect in school districts nationwide banning the use of iPods and cellular phones in class, he claimed that restrictions on calculators would help schools maintain an "environment suitable to learning."

Read more:
IE not compatible Dec 20
by yunhua98 ClrHome Staff
A message from ClrHome Productions to our readers:

If you use Internet Explorer 7 or below, we (and over 90.00% of webmasters) strongly suggest you get a new browser. You may have noticed by now that the navbar on the pages of our main site get weird when you mouseover the drop-down menus. That's a problem that only earlier versions of Internet Explorer suffer (as faithfully testified by this infographic), and we're not going to fix it. Plus, Internet Explorer renders ClrHome, as well as just about any site you want to visit, a lot slower than any other browser. So face it: IE sucks.

And if that's not enough, we've added some nice background music to our main site pages for the enjoyment of IE7-and-below users. It repeats the line "Get Firefox. Or Chrome. Or Safari. Anything but Internet Effing Explorer." over and over. Forever.

So if you're still using Internet Explorer 7 or below, please upgrade. There's Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Opera out there. Seriously, anything's better.

And if you're a serious Microsoft lackey and refuse to switch to any other browser, at least upgrade to IE8 or 9. They're reasonably fast and will render most sites (including our own) correctly. And it'll even get rid of that annoying voice for you.
Starting over Dec 15
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
This is pretty much the opposite of an update. I deleted my Contra project group yet again (on purpose). I'm still working on it, of course, but I thought I should start over with a completely different structure to the program. This is the third time I've started Contra from scratch, mostly because I'm constantly learning about and thinking of new Axe tricks to use. (On a related note, I'm on my third incarnation of XDE as well).

Since I did that I've already gotten to where I was before, except that it completely supports sidescrolling now. In other words, you can play a full, 100×7-tile levelmap of Contra (assuming you play with only plain blocks and empty space, which still isn't much of a game). Next up I'll be adding firing back in and sticking enemies in with it, and hopefully I can get a screenshot up in a few days.
Programming with OS 2.53MP Dec 14
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
In the spirit of the Interwebs, I present my parody of http://www.i-marco.nl/weblog/images/breakdown.png. This chart speaks for itself. (Click for a larger version.)

* Deep Thought stabs self Dec 9
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
Great, now that I've used up most of my class time for stuff related to calculators, I've procrastinated a month's worth of homework for two AP classes into exactly one day. And if that zero I just got on a quiz is any sign, I'm probably going to more or less fail the exams we have for those classes (tomorrow and the day after, respectively) unless I start doing something. I can probably pull it off if I actually start now, but what sucks is that it'll mean I'll have to put all my projects on hold for an entire two days, something I still can't bring myself to do.

And so I'm thinking of banning myself from Omnimaga, deleting this stupid blog, and locking down my calculator with a life-or-death version of a certain random numbar game until I finish rehabilitating.

It's pretty tough to realize that after all these years, I still have a life.
Major updates Dec 4
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
I finally got bored enough to make all those site updates I'd wanted to do for the past few months. It might not look very different at first glance, but trust me: just look around, and you'll notice a lot of changes.

First of all, the navbar on the main page finally matches the one Blogger gave me for the blog (it took a lot of improvisation and some really, really crappy CSS, so if you ever saw the mess at our style sheet, now you know why). I like it a lot better than the default one Webs gave me, anyway.

We also redid the Projects page entirely (and not just by adding new projects). It's a lot easier to navigate now that each project description has changed to a sort of a sliding hidden bar. And of course there are a lot of new projects on the page as we added our projects in bit by bit. There are still a lot more to add, especially in the Earliest category, but that'll come eventually. Also, I split the Helpful stuff group into Math programs and For coders, since the original group was getting a bit big.

And finally, the "Join the team" page is now an actual page (instead of automatically redirecting to the form). It's also not just for people who want to join: now that I've finally gotten the ClrHome userbar done with some of our more "interesting" news articles (find it on the Join page above).

Comments? Question? Suggestions? Rants? Just post a comment right here.
Contra and Simul progress Nov 24
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
I've always loved making platformers. I find it really fun to calculate all the weird, convoluted formulas involved in the different parts of a platform game (and no, I'm not even being sarcastic). And so since Axe is so well-built for making games, I decided to tackle a more complicated game than I ever would have tried in TI-BASIC: Contra, the classic NES platform game. This port will be as close to the original game as possible, at least in the classic, horizontal-scrolling levels. I actually haven't finished much yet, but here's what I have so far.

As you can see, I got some sprites and some movement coding done (except that the bullets still wrap around). The sprites on the right half of the screenshot seem to lose their grays occasionally, but that's only because I suck at setting emulator options (so it works perfectly fine on a real calculator). I might have to take that grayscale out, though, since it's slowing the game down already. Plus, it doesn't look bad at all without it.

And something you can't tell from the screenshot is that I've already taken scrolling into account in everything I've done so far. All I have to do now is (get the motivation to) add the actual scrolling.

Also, I was too lazy to redo code for Simul, but luckily I found a version of it without the bug I mentioned in the other post. The fixed version has been submitted to ticalc.org, so it should be up in a few days. Enjoy!
First feature, finally Nov 8
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
Simul just got featured on ticalc.org. I would have been really happy to get my first feature, but it came just after several horrible realizations in a row:

  • It has bugs. And they're pretty obvious bugs as well. If you look at the screenshot in the news article, you'll notice that the entire top-left quarter of the screen is blank. Apparently, I kept a buggy version instead of a fixed version yet again. I really have to get better at keeping track of my projects.
  • The screenshots look really bad. I was probably asking for this when I set the number of screen grays to 3 on the emulator I was using, but I was too lazy to make a better version.
  • I compiled the program in the wrong way. I'd compiled it to be run from the homescreen without any shell (with the Asm( command). Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but the program's located in the Ion and MirageOS directories of ticalc, so that's something else I'll have to fix.

Thankfully, these should be pretty easy fixes, so I'll try to update it soon. It's always nice to know that it's featured, though.
Bomberman back on track! Oct 29
by yunhua98 ClrHome Staff
...and then slowed. I have solved a bug tht kept me from coding the game, and now I'm ready to add more! Thanks to Aichi for finding it in this thread. Also, because I'm in a Team Battle, and working on a TI-Battlefront Game, all of my other projects are either halted or slowed, but after the Team Battle, I will resume work on them.
Simul finally released! Oct 26
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
I finally managed to fix the bug a few days ago after transferring the program back and forth from a friend's calculator, so it's finally on ticalc.org. Unfortunately, the screenshots are horrible. First of all, I could only make them on an emulator, which I'd forgot to set to display the number of grays needed. Then I failed over and over, mostly because Simul, which requires the player to play multiple games simultaneously (hence the name), is extremely hard to play on an emulator (even harder than it is on a real calculator). And finally, Paint messed up the still screenshots by converting them to web-safe colors when I tried to save them as GIF images.

And so I'm looking for someone who would be willing to make some screenshots for me. If you want to try, just download the program, download an emulator, get the ROM from your calculator, and play the game.

Also, when I named my readme file READMEORYOUWILLFAILEPICALLY.txt, I wasn't kidding.
Full-color TI-Ncourage released Oct 22
by yunhua98 ClrHome Staff
Some very promising news regarding TI showed up on Slashdot today:

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.

Read more: http://developers.slashdot.org/submission/142857/TI-reveals-color-TI-Ncourage

Unfortunately, ClrHome Productions isn't celebrating this piece of good news as you might think, thanks to a recent email we received from Texas Instruments itself. It was a DMCA takedown notice concerning the name of this site. According to TI, "ClrHome" is a registered trademark of Texas Instruments and should not be used without a license. We are currently in the process of contacting the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to help argue our case, but we may still need to change our name to "Homescreen-Clearing Programming Group" or something similar.
yunhua98 is here! Oct 20
by yunhua98 ClrHome Staff
Deep Thought accepted me when I applied, so I might as well make a news post. I am a member of Omnimaga and have been programming TI calculators for about 2 years, though I have been programming computer languages a while before that. I currently have a big project going that was supposed to be my Axe Parser contest Entry: Bomberman. And I have several side projects I work on when I want a break from Bomberman. I'm working on a Avoider game in Axe and a Double Pong type game. I also have several other projects that are only ideas/psuedo code, but I'll post when I get signifigant progress! They're all in the Projects section.
Insanity done right Oct 11
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
I'm picking up Absolute Insanity (again). I'd given it up months ago, releasing it as done, but seeing as it's just about my only BASIC game worth playing, I thought I'd make it better. Things I'm hoping to do are making it respond better to keypresses (instead of moving a full half-second after the user presses a key), optimize it a bit (since 12.5 KB is pretty big, even for BASIC), and make a separate version for Silver Edition calculators.

And maybe I'll actually start working on an AbsIns II. Who knows.
The XDE Oct 10
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
Another third-party on-calc editor! Just what we need, right?

Probably not. I personally never use editors, even when they do add some nifty features that could speed up TI-BASIC programming by a lot. For some reason, they just seem a bit alien, unlike the good ol' (lame) TI-OS editor. It might be the fact that most TI-BASIC programmers who are experienced enough to want to try a new IDE are too accustomed to the shortcuts and menus that take us to our beloved commands.

On the other hand, Axe is a relatively new (not to mention brilliant) language. Especially since the addition of Axe Tokens, which replace some TI-BASIC tokens with ones more suited to the new language, coders haven't been given the time needed to get used to the placement of common commands around the keypad. So here's an alternative: XDE, the Axe Development environment, featuring code highlighting, variable-width 8-line editing, copy/pasting, built-in sprite editing, and all the goodies and easter eggs you'd expect from a fully-featured IDE. And instead of memorizing the new menus to take to get to those commands, coders can just type them in directly, and XDE will take care of the tokenizing and all that extra crap. In short, it's going to be epic.

But yes, unfortunately, CyanIDE is a dead project (for now).
Simul (almost) released Oct 10
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
The great thing about programming contests, especially those with limited time given to the actual coding, is that people expect the contestants to screw up. People expect the coders to accidentally leave in a bug or two in their rush to get the entry done. Calculator enthusiasts who find bugs in an entry, even bugs that cause their precious gaming device to seriously glitch and crash, generally only add a post notifying the programmer of their mistake. If the same program had been released, it would have quickly unleashed a barrage of panicky hate emails.

Fortunately, Simul only has a very, very minor bug, one that almost everyone should overlook. There aren't any crashes so far, thankfully. It's in the contest now, so I'm technically free to release it anywhere I want, but I want to make sure I get the bug fixed before I do that. Unfortunately, my link cable went missing a few days ago, so the bugfixing is going to take a while.

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