Musings and comments about our common interest
HP is releasing a new firmware for the HP Prime calculator. There are versions for both HP Primes, version G1 and G2.
In principle the release documentation informs about quality and reliability improvements - not so much about any particular additional development to the capabilities of the machine.
You can find it in hpcalc.org, in the HP Prime documentation pages:
You will need to install also the new connectivity kit to make sure it all works properly. You will need to place the upgrade files manually in the upgrades folder of the connectivity kit, since it is not yet installed in HP's FTP sites and therefore will not be found automatically by the "look for upgrade" feature of the connectivity kit. Upgrade at your own risk, then!
New Prime software issued in December.
You remember probably that we announced a beta version of new connectivity software, and also virtual calculators, with the advantage of introducing Mac OS versions of both. So, for those of you that were using Windows virtual machines to be able to make it work, you need to run to the ftp site and retrieve the new versions to have MAC OS native Prime apps. And they do work well!
The FTP sites you can download it from are:
Quoting from Tim Wessman:
The connectivity kit and emulator are now supported on both windows and mac. The iOS/Android/Winstore versions will be downloaded through your normal phone update mechanism as they are approved by the various stores.
This release is focused around getting macOS support, and all the store applications synchronized. There were some changes in the Core calculator code, but mostly this will be identical to the last release.
I downloaded yesterday the public beta versions of the HP Prime apps. For the first time there are native Mac Os apps! A connectivity kit, virtual calculator and prime firmware (although the latter is the August version and therefore no new)
My personal computer is a Mac, while my company’s is a PC running Windows 7. My company has not jumped yet to Windows 10. I had the connectivity kit installed in my PC and also in a XP virtual machine in the Mac (actually, the best XP I have ever run, regardless of machine)
You can get information about the beta in the hpmuseum.org site:
For me, it is fantastic; but we stress the fact that it is a beta, and not a finished product. We (and HP) cannot take any responsibility about what may happen to your Prime and computer (although it doesn’t have a new firmware for the Prime itself)
And for those who were upset of not having a solution for Mac - well, you have it here! and it works much faster than the standard program on the PC
When will we have a new version of the HP prime firmware? The previous one comes from May, and it has been a real improvement in a number of areas.
First of all, stability. I have not suffered yet any calculator freeze or reboot with the new firmware. It was something that used to happen with previous firmwares, as soon as you put the calculator through its paces with CAS and other uses. Now this is a calculator that won’t fail you at work. I have seen reports of it failing - but mostly they refer to the Android version, and always related to low-level programming.
Secondly, there are many more functions. Now (please see yesterday blog installment) you can finally program the menus - although at a lower conceptual level than that I would have liked. But nevertheless, they allow you to do much more than was available at the beginning. Event recording is still limited, and we have to find our ways around the existing limitations - but we have people like Cyrille de Brévisson that helped creating the system and is still around to help (see discussions in hpmuseum.org related to limitations in the event handling stack ( 8 levels) and how to circumvent them through clever use of the available functions - wait(–1) instead of MOUSE) but let’s not delve deep on this subject - it deserves a blog installment devoted solely to event handling in the Prime, for which we gave an introduction with suitable program snippets yesterday.
As you may remember if you follow this blow, yesterday we reviewed Eddie Shore’s Tutorial videos.
I was trying to follow Eddie Shore’s video tutorial on Advanced RPN functions on the Prime. I wanted to do it since I get many errors when trying to use CAS functions in home (since i much prefer RPN)
As I am “mainland European”, I use “,” as decimal point. I have chosen space as thousands separator.
An example Eddie uses is factoring 76 in RPN
When I enter, as in the video:
76 - level 1
CAS.ifactor(1) edit line
I get syntax error, while Eddie does not.
Checking what could be the error, I change number format to decimal point instead. Now it works (and there was no decimal point in sight)
In the past, I also had several problems with odd number formats in apps that used solver. If I was using a number format with a space as thousands separator, it would not work and hang the machine. However, this error was solved several firmware updates before, and has not been an issue already for a long time.
I have already reported this error to someone in HP.
On the day of the presentation of the new firmware, Tim Wessmann from HP posted a list of the improvements that had been implemented in it. Among them, there were both new density and cumulated statistical distribution functions, and random generators following said distributions. This made the Prime much more appropriated for deep statistical analysis, montecarlo tests and simulations, and saved a lot of programming time for those who needed. I have already mentioned in the blog that HPmuseum user Salvomic generated a substantial number of programs to create different distributions. But now, according to Tim, this would not be necessary. Or would it?
Here is what was mentioned in the post:
New Functionality (Calculator Software)
Well, when you try to find a function, you go to the toolbox key. Then I press Math -> Probability -> Random, and I get the following list:
Very far from the list. Let’s get some help for one of them, for example the normal distribution. Clicking on it, it comes to the entry line, and pressing the help button, you get to the help for that item. There is a useful button on the lower right, “other”, that links to related functions. Will them be there?
Nope! It only shows the other three of the list. So wasn’t Tim right?
User Salvomic directed me to where I should have started: the function catalog. I avoided it since there are all functions there, and even scrolling, it takes you a lot of time to navigate it! But if you just press the first letter of the function, it will advance up to that letter. Ok, but what’s the name of the function? I guessed they would start by R (from Random), and there were they!:
The fact that they are lower letter functions means that they are used in the CAS environment, or in the home area but preceded by “CAS.”
I have a windows 7 computer. It has several company policies that make it quite awkward to work with. In fact, I had some issues upgrading the computer connectivity kit to the latest recent version, and also the desktop HP Prime. The virtual calculator wouldn’t connect to the server; the updater in the connectivity kit, while connected to the virtual calculator, wouldn’t get the upgrade that was stored in my replicated driver - for some reason. These are the kind of things that never fail if you work on a plain vanilla PC - but until I upgrade the operating system of my Mac windows partition from XP to something better, I won’t be able to do it there. (Have I said already that my Mac has been my best ever XP platform, faster, stable and reliable?)
Well, I have found a better solution - restart from scratch. download the packages from a HP FTP site and run them directly from Windows, instead of running the application from the connectivity kit or the virtual calculator.
The ftp site is:
For those born after 1995, an FTP site is a primitive way of downloading and storing material in internet. It was one of the primitive protocols. If I’m not mistaken, it predates even HTTP!
To use, you just need to paste the line above in the the url text box of your browser. You will be asked to connect with username and password, or as a guest. Choose guest. From then, you can navigate the folder structure and grab what you need.