About Me

When not at work with students, I spend my time in my room either reading, calculating something using pen and paper, or using a computer. I read almost anything: from the pornographic to the profound, although my main interests are mathematics and physics. "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." -Erasmus

Monday, January 28, 2013

A texas instruments TI-83+ emulator

One of my sources of money is tutoring students in maths and physics. The reason is my undergraduate training in physics: the math and physics we learn is good for teaching high school (grades 11 and 12) maths and physics.

I've noticed is how clumsy students are when it comes to using their scientific calculators. I've seen this in both high school and university classes. The worst case I've seen was a student with a very powerful scientific calculator, and the method of use is to write intermediate steps on paper, when it could all be done using the calculator itself with the suitable use of the ANS key and the memory.

Since I couldn't let that go, I would nag about reading the manual. Sometimes, I would use trail and error to figure out how their calculator works, and then teach them how to use it so that they wouldn't waste time during exams.

I've recently been tutoring a grade 11 student who's in the International Baccalaureate programme. Since the programme places such a large emphasis on the end exams (it reminds me of the Cambridge Tripos system), and because graphing calculators are allowed (even encouraged), I've asked myself if I should buy a TI-84+ calculator so that I could assist students who use such calculators.

Fortunately, the google play store came to the rescue. I was able to find an emulator (Andie Graph) for the TI-83+ (which has almost exactly the same functions as the 84+)  which also doubles as an emulator for the models TI-82,83,85, and 86 models. The emulator serves as the virtual machine within Android, and within that virtual machine, it runs the roms of the various TI models. Roms, by the way, are the operating systems of the calculators. A screenshot of the emulator is on the side.

Good thing I searched. I've looked at the price of the TI-84+ and I was staggered  at the PhP 8.5 K price. I will buy one if I ever have to teach in an IB school, but for now, a Chinese Android tablet worth PhP 2.9 K running the emulator is good enough. Paradoxically, the cheaper tablet is actually more powerful than the calculator. However, if you do need to take the AP, SAT, or IB exams (or even university level exams in introductory physics), only the real calculators are allowed.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Changing desserts

I updated my Galaxy Tab's operating system from Ice Cream Sandwich to Jelly Bean yesterday. It was a largish download, around 300 MB. I've been using it and I'm amazed at how smooth it feels. I've read good things about Jelly Bean, and so I ran Antutu's benchmark test just to make sure that there are numbers to actually back up my rough impressions.

On the left, I have the Antutu scores after the Jelly Bean update, while on the right, I have the Antutu scores for the same tablet running Ice Cream Sandwich. The numbers pretty much tell the story: Jelly Bean does a better job at handling both 2D and 3D graphics.

One of the nice things from having ROM Manager is that the update didn't wipe out my root access. ROM manager prompted me if I wanted to retain root access, and I chose to keep root.

I did have to adjust to a few things: the Samsung team decided to eliminate the screenshot icon at the bottom, which is a good move, (I sometimes take unintended screenshots when I mean to press the home icon) but it also means that getting a screenshot isn't as easy as it was. I had to go back to pressing power and the down volume simultaneously to get the screenshots above.

The location of the notifications and settings are now on top, and the app drawer was moved to the bottom of the screen. You have to play around with it at first to get used to the new locations. But these small changes should be easy to adjust to.

All in all, it looks like Samsung's development team did a good job preparing and delivering the update.