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TheLastMillennial

Texas Instruments Bans all ASM Programs/ Games on TI-84 Plus CE Calculators.

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10 hours ago, handymanshandle said:

Maybe I'm not all that smart, but can someone explain to me the love for calculators that some people hold?

For many of us that was our first time programming. Besides just the sentimental value it holds, taking away ASM (a much faster and more advanced solution than TI-BASIC) means far fewer people will ever discover their interest in computer science.


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Sony tried this by pulling the Other OS feature from the PS3, it did not end well for them. It caused larger, more experienced groups to turn their attention the the system and eventually led to the system being broken without the need for Other OS at all. For that extra sting the hackers patched Other OS back in to CFWs, seemingly just to give Sony the middle finger.

 

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4 minutes ago, Master Disaster said:

Sony tried this by pulling the Other OS feature from the PS3

Yeah it was in fear of piracy, it ended up in a spectacular failure..... 🤣  They didnt prevented but accelerated the inevitable lol.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

I expect TI's decision to ban ASM to end up performing just as poorly as Sony's decision to add restrictions to the PS3.

 

The community has been brainstorming some ways TI could keep their restricted OS but also let the community have something to focus our efforts on rather than finding exploits. Here's a few ideas (from most feasible to most difficult), which ones do you guys like best or is there other options you'd like to add?

  • TI could create a 'developer' OS which removes virtually all restrictions in the normal TI-OS. However, this OS would not include an Exam Mode and therefor could not be used in testing centers. Although TI-OS would come pre-installed, the developer OS would be an option for those who don't need Exam Mode. A different OS color scheme could differentiate it from regular TI-OS (i.e. a red status bar).
  • TI-84 Plus CE Developer Edition ConceptA calculator with the same internals, but with the developer OS pre-installed. This 'TI 84 Plus CE Developer Edition' would differentiate itself from normal calculators with a colored shell that specifically states it cannot be used for testing (I've embedded a rough concept to the right). Similar to how TI already has an ez-spot color scheme to identify classroom sets of calculators.
  • A completely new calculator with different internals. This 'TI-84 Plus CE Developer Edition' would have the developer OS and the same colored shell as I mentioned above. However, it would include a modern ARM CPU (rather than the 20 year old eZ-80) and much more RAM and ROM. This would make it more similar to the HP Prime G2, but with the familiarity of TI-OS.

That's the main ideas, if you guys have any options you'd like to add feel free!

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55 minutes ago, TheLastMillennial said:

I expect TI's decision to ban ASM to end up performing just as poorly as Sony's decision to add restrictions to the PS3.

 

The community has been brainstorming some ways TI could keep their restricted OS but also let the community have something to focus our efforts on rather than finding exploits. Here's a few ideas (from most feasible to most difficult), which ones do you guys like best or is there other options you'd like to add?

  • TI could create a 'developer' OS which removes virtually all restrictions in the normal TI-OS. However, this OS would not include an Exam Mode and therefor could not be used in testing centers. Although TI-OS would come pre-installed, the developer OS would be an option for those who don't need Exam Mode. A different OS color scheme could differentiate it from regular TI-OS (i.e. a red status bar).
  • TI-84 Plus CE Developer Edition ConceptA calculator with the same internals, but with the developer OS pre-installed. This 'TI 84 Plus CE Developer Edition' would differentiate itself from normal calculators with a colored shell that specifically states it cannot be used for testing (I've embedded a rough concept to the right). Similar to how TI already has an ez-spot color scheme to identify classroom sets of calculators.
  • A completely new calculator with different internals. This 'TI-84 Plus CE Developer Edition' would have the developer OS and the same colored shell as I mentioned above. However, it would include a modern ARM CPU (rather than the 20 year old eZ-80) and much more RAM and ROM. This would make it more similar to the HP Prime G2, but with the familiarity of TI-OS.

That's the main ideas, if you guys have any options you'd like to add feel free!

Kind of part of the appeal of using a calculator is the fact that you already have one. There isn’t much point if you have to buy another device specifically for development. May as well but a Raspberry Pi and a cheap Android phone for development. 
 

The problem with a “Developer OS” is that Exam Mode and OS details can very well be spoofed, which is the whole reason TI is trying (key word) to clamp down now. 
 

Actually, would be cool to stick a Raspberry PI Zero into a TI chassis, and run a TI emulator. Make sure to connect any LEDs and hardware buttons via GPIO, and Exam Mode can be readily faked. 
 

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So this might not be the best place to ask this, but I would rather ask here than make an account for another forum.

 

 

Found a used Ti-86 in my town for $20. Worth it? This a good model for...whatever these calcs are good for?


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Ti calculators have been banned from exams for the longest of time where I live so it doesn't change much. Some courses allows it, but usually, you're expected to be able to do what that calculator does, manually. That's why you're only allowed a basic Sharp scientific calculator without a graphic display.


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I personally don't like the "developer version" idea. In my (as someone who has written several calculator programs, including a clone of the chrome dino game and a port of a networking stack) opinion, the main two draws of calculator programming are the fact that you already own a calculator, and that the limited hardware available to work with, which requires you to write optimized code. A "developer edition" calc fails to meet either of these conditions, as someone who picked up a calculator for math class isn't going to choose the developer edition. At that point, you might as well just use a fantasy console or develop for another platform. Secondly, a more powerful developer edition would remove much of the challenge from calculator programming, and you might as well be writing an Android app. Finally, the total market for such a calculator would likely only be a few dozen to a few hundred people, so it would be unprofitable for TI to develop and market.

 

Finally, about the developer OS, that looks good on paper but would likely have a bunch of issues if actually implemented. Many teachers don't use exam mode and instead reset students' calculators (which isn't a good idea, as you can archive programs to preserve them across resets, but whatever). Additionally, a student could inadvertently install the developer OS (while blinding following a tutorial to install Mario, perhaps) and not be able to use their calculator on an exam because they didn't know they needed to uninstall the dev OS. Lastly, a student using the developer OS could just use assembly to fake the test mode.

 

It's clear that TI don't actually care about security, only the appearance of security. The incident that caused this resulted from outdated OS versions, and releasing a new OS version isn't going to do anything to help fix that. If TI really wants to ensure that their calculators are secure, they should tell testing institutions to require that students' calculators are updated to the latest version, stop giving developers a reason to release exploits by keeping native code support, and start working together with the dev community through a bug bounty program or similar. It seems very unlikely at this point that they will implement any of those, though.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
48 minutes ago, Zodiark1593 said:

Kind of part of the appeal of using a calculator is the fact that you already have one. There isn’t much point if you have to buy another device specifically for development. May as well but a Raspberry Pi and a cheap Android phone for development. 
 

The problem with a “Developer OS” is that Exam Mode and OS details can very well be spoofed, which is the whole reason TI is trying (key word) to clamp down now. 
 

Actually, would be cool to stick a Raspberry PI Zero into a TI chassis, and run a TI emulator. Make sure to connect any LEDs and hardware buttons via GPIO, and Exam Mode can be readily faked. 
 

(starts plotting for business venture)

That's the biggest concern I had too, why bother having two calculators when you could have a smartphone that's better at doing both tasks? As far as my knowledge goes, it's not possible to completely recreate exam mode due to the color palette not being editable or something like that. Therefore, you can only change the status bar color to the Exam Mode blue/orange until the screen updates again. Having a rpi inside a calculator emulating it would be a fun project to try sometime!

 

44 minutes ago, TetraSky said:

Ti calculators have been banned from exams for the longest of time where I live so it doesn't change much. Some courses allows it, but usually, you're expected to be able to do what that calculator does, manually. That's why you're only allowed a basic Sharp scientific calculator without a graphic display.

That's interesting, is there any reason to them being banned besides you being expected to do everything manually? Must be a pain needing to graph everything by hand.

 

@commandblockguy I'm not a fan of needing to go this route either. In an ideal world TI would just admit their mistake and roll back their decision. Obviously TI's not going to do that but it'd be nice if we could come to some terms of agreement before exploit war becomes a thing.

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6 minutes ago, TheLastMillennial said:

That's interesting, is there any reason to them being banned besides you being expected to do everything manually? Must be a pain needing to graph everything by hand.

They use the fact that they can be programmed for anything as the excuse. Meaning some students have cheated in the past with them.


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Posted · Original PosterOP
2 minutes ago, TetraSky said:

They use the fact that they can be programmed for anything as the excuse. Meaning some students have cheated in the past with them.

Haha, that's literally the whole point of Exam Mode, to disable programming and other features schools may not want. 😆

Unrelated: do people use 0x5 at all around here?

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3 minutes ago, TheLastMillennial said:

Haha, that's literally the whole point of Exam Mode, to disable programming and other features schools may not want. 😆

They don't always check properly🤷‍♂️

And like this article about there being a way to bypass it... I wouldn't be surprising if it was possible in the past as well.


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I wonder what the margins are for calculators that are allowed on exams... 80%? 90%? 

 

They just got color screens would could have had in a gameboy color. 

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Yikes! I used to be a calculator hobbyist/programmer (using the TI-84 and jailbroken Nspire CX) and this is rough news.  They've never been supportive of non TI-Basic languages on the Nspire CX, which resulted in the ndless jailbreak. However, the 84+ CE was always somewhat unlocked, and lots of awesome programs were created for it (especially in C). Perhaps a "jailbreak" will end up existing? Not a good situation though.


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Posted · Original PosterOP

Today, Critor (the founder of TI-Planet and a math professor) receive an email from TI-Cares displaying yet another action of TI pulling the rug from under our feet. Apparently running any game will now void your warranty!

Quote

Hello, Thank you for contacting Texas Instruments. If the game no longer works, we are not the publisher, and we cannot help you with that. In addition, installing games voids the warranty, and we strongly advise against using them. Hoping to have been useful to you, I wish you a pleasant day. [...]

Note: This has been translated from French

Source: TI-Planet

 

This email just raises more questions. Does this just mean ASM games? Does it cover BASIC or Python games? Why don't utilities void the warranty?

If I learn the answer to any of these questions I'll be sure to keep you guys updated. This is quite a confusing an infuriating time.

 

Now for some replies:

@Geek95 I hope it gets on the show today, thanks for letting me know about the site, I'm glad it's catching on more!

 

7 hours ago, Hymenopus_Coronatus said:

 Perhaps a "jailbreak" will end up existing? Not a good situation though.

Yup,  the community will find ways around the restrictions.

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1 minute ago, TheLastMillennial said:

running any game will now void your warranty!

Yikes! How would they know though? 


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Posted · Original PosterOP
Just now, Hymenopus_Coronatus said:

Yikes! How would they know though? 

Exactly!

 

(I should have added this in my post above)

Games should in no way void the warranty. Even ASM games cannot damage the calculator and can be easily removed without anyone knowing they were ever there. As one user puts it, it's like putting a "WARRANTY VOID IF PUSHED" label over your car's gas pedal!

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Yeah it's pretty pointless. This makes no sense to me. TI really shouldn't have done this 


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1 hour ago, TheLastMillennial said:

Today, Critor (the founder of TI-Planet and a math professor) receive an email from TI-Cares displaying yet another action of TI pulling the rug from under our feet. Apparently running any game will now void your warranty!

Note: This has been translated from French

Source: TI-Planet

 

This email just raises more questions. Does this just mean ASM games? Does it cover BASIC or Python games? Why don't utilities void the warranty?

If I learn the answer to any of these questions I'll be sure to keep you guys updated. This is quite a confusing an infuriating time.

 

Now for some replies:

@Geek95 I hope it gets on the show today, thanks for letting me know about the site, I'm glad it's catching on more!

 

Yup,  the community will find ways around the restrictions.

If it also covers the games pack Ti made...then it's especially bullshit.


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1 hour ago, Dabombinable said:

If it also covers the games pack Ti made...then it's especially bullshit.

That is extremely moronic, like Snakes ever hurt a Ti calculator.


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Cool! Now all we need is the video for benchmarking Python on calculators (with a reference to the ban on ASM/C) to tear TI a new one. All details you need to start working on this are in this post:

 

Please Linus Tech Tips! The calculator community desperately needs some leverage to make Texas Instruments fold on that one. You can probably milk the calculators you'll buy by doing additional videos on it if you need to make your money back (like doing reviews of modern graphing calculators that are not grounded in the 90s for example). 

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On one hand, you really shouldn't be playing games on a Ti-84, there's plenty of alternatives available.

On the other, doesn't Ti calculators have an exam lock mode with a physical USB lock as well? 


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Posted · Original PosterOP

TI released a tweet May 25th about the new OS 5.5.1. They conveniently left out the part about ASM no longer being supported and any information about not being able to downgrade. 😐

spacer.png

Source: TI Education FR

 

That may be annoying, but TI topped it by leaving in ASM programming as one of OS 5.5.1's features. A few members are even questioning the legality of such false advertisement!

nnsMxPdl.jpg

Source: TI-83 Premium CE Specifications: French | English

 

Now for some replies:

14 hours ago, williamcll said:

On one hand, you really shouldn't be playing games on a Ti-84, there's plenty of alternatives available.

On the other, doesn't Ti calculators have an exam lock mode with a physical USB lock as well? 

What issues do you see with playing games on a TI-84? Why would we use alternatives with apps that may: be closed-source, be paid apps, be cluttered with ads, kill battery life, or not exist other than the calculator because it's an original game? As DrDnar puts it:

Quote

... Games are a great way to put math into a fun context and without [the communities] help, there's little chance TI could get the CE to run any non-native-code games at a reasonable speed.

 

You're right about Exam Mode. It is suppose to be only unlocked by plugging the calculator into a computer (or another calculator that's not in Exam Mode) and sending any file to it. Unfortunately, TI's security is so bad there are many holes that allow you to get around it.

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