Philadelphia Area HP Handheld Club Meeting

Wednesday, March 20, 1996 - Drexel University

First Issue of Omnigo World is Finally Out

HP Omnigo World, the new sister publication to the HP Palmtop Paper is finally off the press. This first issue introduces the editorial staff (being essentially the same group doing the other magazine), talks about many basic topics related to the organizer features and also digs in with advanced issues. Again, many advertisements are present to indicate that the aftermarket for this unit is already growing quickly. Hewlett-Packard has even grabbed two pages for itself. From the hefty content, it looks like Omnigo World will be another winner.

Texas Instruments' TI-83 Exposed on the Web

At the TI WWW Site, much can be found on the newly-announced TI-83 graphing calculator, which is expected to be available in the late Spring. Starting with the TI-82, it is claimed that over one hundred improvements were built into this new model. This includes new financial functions, enhanced probability and statistics, enhanced graphing with split-screen capabilities and a built-in solver (a la the TI-85). Price is expected to be in the $120. range. Check for mode details later in this handout. On the World Wide Web, also check for the full story.

French Group's HP48 Meta Kernal Looks Impressive

Just recently, a group of French HP48 programmers formally announced their much-previewed "metakernel" software package for the HP48GX. This 128K library, which currently runs in a freed RAM card in port 1 only, effectively replaces a significant portion of the calculator's front-end user interface. Included are a new stack display (showing up to 9 levels at once), command-line editor, equation editor, matrix editor, grob editor, CHARS menu and file manager. In addition to all these, it includes a library maker and development tools for System RPL and Assembly Language. The replacements for the standard HP48 features run one to two orders of magnitude faster than their ROM-based counterparts, and in most cases contain many more features.

For instance, the command-line editor (which is accessed through the EDIT key), contains goto line numbers, find, search and replace, copy, cut and paste and much more. The equation editor works like the built-in one, but is much faster with full-speed deleting of characters as fast as adding them. The stack display allows three different selectable character fonts, with the status area either designated to be two, one or no lines displayed. Using the smallest font, the LCD will show 9 stack levels plus the soft-key menu. In addition, when the multi-line mode is selected, multi-line objects will occupy multiple lines in ALL stack levels, instead of just the object in level one. Now, when a soft key is pressed, its soft-key label flashes to confirm the key press. Also, the soft key labels may be controlled (in a way which I am not yet familiar) to display names in "inverse video" and other ways as well. It appears also that the new CHARS menu allows the user to override any specific character with a custom-designed character for that position in the ASCII table.

I have not yet attempted to use the library or programming development tools in the Metakernel. The version released through the Internet is a demo version which does not have all the features enabled. The complete version currently is advertised as selling for U.S. $50.00 including software on floppy disk and (I believe) printed documentation in English. This is an impressive piece of work, and Hewlett-Packard should definitely take notice (assuming they can take a break from working on organizers and palmtop machines).

New EduCalc Catalog #71 Available

The new Educalc catalog is out. Not too many significant changes appear from the previous edition. A couple of new things include a two-way wireless comms docking station for the HP200LX, several new PC Card plug-ins, a support book for the TI-92 calculator and HP48 cards supporting review for the professional engineer's exam. Although the catalog advertises the HP Omnibook 5000 notebook computer, I believe this model has already been replaced by the recently-released Omnibook 5500 models with faster Pentium CPUs and built-in quad-speed CD ROM drives. Even quarterly updates don't keep up with the changes in this industry.

Omnigo 100 Flash Memory Appears

Check out the article in this handout about the first company to produce flash memory cards for the Omnigo 100 organizer. Originally, HP said that this unit would only support SRAM memory cards, which cost more and require battery backup. But Magic RAM has just announced flash cards (along with driver software) to work in the Omnigo's single PCMCIA card port. Up to 40 meg will fit in, and this should make the Omnigo more appealing to many folks who complained that one meg of RAM was way too little. Summer CES and Spring COMDEX to Merge in 1997 In an announcement by the two organizations running their respective shows, it was announced on 3/14 that 1997 will be the first year of the merging of Spring COMDEX and Summer CES shows. The combined "mega-event" will be held in Atlanta on June 2-5, 1997. This year, the CES is in Orlando on May 23-25 and COMDEX is at Chicago's McCormick Place on June 5-8. The Fall COMDEX and Winter CES shows, each held in Las Vegas about two months apart, will remain separate shows, as each is so huge it fills the town. In fact, Fall COMDEX is the largest trade show in North America with around two thousand exhibitors and well over 100 thousand attendees. Winter CES has not been too far behind in the past few years. However, the May-June CES shows have been shrinking significantly in the '90's, so with the merging of computer and consumer electronics technologies, this looks like a great move.

Jake Schwartz

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