HP-12C+ .... the mistake is back on the back!



#25

I was blindly staring at the back of the new HP-12C+ thinking about what to repurpose this for (more info here) when I saw that the D.MY mistake is back! The calculator label shows that 31/5/1998 is to be entered as 31.51998. This is an old mistake (more
here and here) that was fixed on the Anniversary edition.


Edited: 8 June 2009, 10:29 p.m.


#26

Hi Katie,
Thanks for the links. I had a couple of observations not really related to the subject.

First, I wish Luiz C. Vieira still posted here. He provided a kind, steady, reasoned voice to the discourse.

Second, I found this post by the legendary Norm to be unusually prescient:

Quote:
Coyote ugly, business vs. engineers
Message #15 Posted by Norm on 13 May 2003, 1:23 p.m.,
in response to message #13 by Raymond Del Tondo

Maybe Carly is on our side after all.

They released the business major's latest calculator with yellow lettering on yellow metal ?? WELL, maybe they want to cause the business majors to make plenty of mistakes while they are calculating their option strike prices and the takeover target price and the puts and calls and the return on equity.

Then when they screw it all up, they go broke instead of ransacking another $20 Billion from Ma & Pa Buick out of their 401K. So U see, that latest 'platinum' 12C calculator design is the best friend of decent Americans and the engineering dep't, who are in high need of seeing all these business crooks go broke for a change, and management like Mr. Hewlett and Mr. Packard re-instated. A "rigged" 12C that makes mistakes will help get the job done.


I believe you work in the financial area Katie, no offense intended. I'm sure that you were not responsible for our recent economic meltdown :-)

....


#27

Quote:
I'm sure that you were not responsible for our recent economic meltdown :-)

I hope not, I don't think I could stand the stress of being in front of those congressional committees.

#28

Yet another mistake on the back, actually a typo:

Fabricado no China

should read

Fabricado na China

This is inconsequential but might make buyers here (in Brazil) think it is a fake product. I bought one in São Paulo last Saturday. I had some trouble to find it. According to one seller the new model hasn't been reordered because buyers don't trust it, not because they are faster but because the self tests don't work as expected. The new battery comparment is shown in the Portuguese manual but the self tests section hasn't been updated.

Regards,

Gerson.


#29

Gerson,

This makes sense to me. Even being a serious calculator nerd, I was bothered by the self tests not working as documented. The whole point of the self tests is to give you confidence in the calculator and many people that bother to read the manual or know the older version of the 12C will try them out only to have their confidence completely shaken.

That said, I have found no basic functionality flaws in this machine. I'm really beating up on it -- repurposing included -- and it's been perfectly reliable.

BTW, the English version of the manual is the same -- new battery section followed by old (and wrong) self-test section.

-Katie


#30

What I really miss in all these modern HP products is the wonderful printed documentation of the originals. My HP-12C is an original USA made (S/N 2732Axxxxx), which came with a 246 page spriral-bound manual with heavy paper stock pages that is magnificently written. Even though I'm an engineer, and only used a fraction of its capabilities, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the Owner's Handbook cover to cover. It's much more than simply a handbook; it's a textbook that even non-financial types can understand.

#31

This, to me, is another example of pathetic quality control in the current HP calculator products.

How can something like this even passed quality check is beyond comprehension.

I don't want to come off negatively about HP, but I just couldn't get past the depressing feeling I had whenever I read repeatedly about the little mistakes like these.

For me, the most disturbing of all is the numerous mistakes or typo or whatever found in the manuals. It seemed no one really went through the pages and actually performed these exercise examples.

I have been a frequent, if not everyday, visitor to this site and comp.system.hp48 since started taking an interest in HP calculator late last year.

Excellent site, BTW. Very informative. I really enjoy coming here. :):):)

From all my reading and my own experience, the one problem seems to stand out above the rest was the missing keystrokes. It also appeared that HP is really trying to correct the problem as seen in the production of 35s, 17bii+, and 50g. But only the 50g shows sign of success. The 17bii+ and the 35s, both of which I have, still have problem in regard to missing keystrokes.

On the other hand, the 35s, 17bii+, and 50g show signs that maybe HP is working to rebuild its image. There is hope, I think.

I am also hoping HP continue to make corrections so that their next releases will be what I come to expect from HP: the calculators that not only look like professional tools, but also work flawlessly. Of course, that means the manuals are also more complete with very little or hard to find errors. Tough but it can be done.

OK, I switch to dream mode now.

Thanks :)


#32

There are many many pressures on engineering and product design groups these days to get products out the door, all with ever declining human (and financial) resources. Mistakes like these are bound to creep in, it's the nature of the game. So I wouldn't beat-up on HP too much here, I can imagine the calculator group being very small indeed.

If HP were smart though, they would make use of the fantastic community of calculator nerds to beta test products and manuals etc (under NDA) well before they hit production. You simply cannot beat the power of the enthusiastic nerd :->

Dave.


#33

Quote:
If HP were smart though, they would make use of the fantastic community of calculator nerds to beta test products and manuals etc (under NDA) well before they hit production. You simply cannot beat the power of the enthusiastic nerd :->

Dave.


It would be fantastic.

Nerdy or not, who wouldn't like playing with a new e-toys? :)

#34

Katie, Gerson,

I currently work as a technical writer myself (german only). It makes me wonder why some companies still refuse to employ technical writes to maintain their documents and organize localizations. We're quite inexpensive when offsetting credibility.

Thomas


#35

Quote:
I currently work as a technical writer myself (german only). It makes me wonder why some companies still refuse to employ technical writes to maintain their documents and organize localizations. We're quite inexpensive when offsetting credibility.

Most likely because when it comes to most consumer goods these days the quality of the documentation really doesn't matter all that much. In most markets you don't loose market share or market credibility because you have bad documentation. And conversely, good documentation won't really increase your market share. That's just the reality of it, like it or not. So good documentation is something that is usually driven by an internal desire and not by a need, and that is often a hard sell in internal company politics.

For what it's worth though, I agree with you, a good technical writer is worth their weight in gold.

Dave.


#36

Don't forget the legal consequences especially in the US when it comes to problems due to faulty instructions. At least, the disclaimer has to be perfect ;-). And that's what a technical writer is also responsible for.

Edited: 10 June 2009, 8:12 a.m.

#37

Hi Dave;
I wish you weren't right, but you obviously are. Me; I think it's worse. It's like worthless techies try to make systems un-usable. If it does work at all; one needs to download the bits that made it worth buying- from the website, in an unknown file type, using a de-compressor one can't find, that only runs in vista and can't be accessed using firefox. This may be one reason that so many of us still use 30 year old technology (or the u-watch!): the manual shows how to do what the sales blurb says it will do, and it does it, every time, not just on odd numbered Tuesdays in a leap year.
Mostly gone are the days when developers like Ted Kerber (D'zign), who spends as much time on his manuals as on his programs, were the norm.

Edited: 11 June 2009, 2:12 a.m.

#38

Sad, but true. Please see my post above in reply to Katie. Yes, there still are a few persons like myself who remember the good old days of great printed documentation, but we represent an insignificant part of the consumer market. I don't just blame the manufacturer's for this, but also us as consumer's who have become a society of mindless button-pushers instead of thinkers and problem-solvers. We don't try to understand a problem, and instead just look for some device that will give us a quick and easy answer.


#39

We have come to the point where we rely too much on our machines. We do that because (a) it is convenient and (b) the machines work pretty well, most of the time. But when the machine fails, we are vulnerable to the consequences. One of my favorite movies of all time is "Fail Safe" from 1964 which shows what could happen if we rely too much on our machines.

Now I must go to the ATM to get some money.


#40

The problem with machines is that they are subject to GIGO (garbage in garbage out). If the human user doesn't have a good understanding of the problem, then it's possible to accept bad results without question. I remember a rather unpleasant experience in the early 1970s with a young manager at the engineering firm where I worked, who informed us engineers that we were going to be largely replaced with computers that would automate design, and render us obsolete. Fortunately, this was proven to be wrong; we continued to do our design work and he eventually left the firm and became a stock broker.

I am rather disheartened at the current batch of engineering graduates that I have been interviewing. They seem to have retained very little of their technical course material from college, and don't seem to see the importance of it either. They just figure we'll train them to use some magic computer software that will figure everything out.

You mentioned "Fail Safe" as an example, but I would suggest a real-world example to be "Miracle on the Hudson." The airplane was saved because of the pilot's experience, rather than any technology on the airplane. The airplane's computer could not advise the pilot of the preferred course of action; it could only tell him that things were very abnormal. Captain Sollenberger testified that the airline industry is at risk of reducing safety as it continues to hire less experienced pilots who only meet the basic inadequate FAA certification requirements. Personally, I fly as little as possible, and will never fly on a regional "puddle-jumper" airline.

Well, I better stop here before I digress any more from the subject of this thread.

#41

After figuring out how to use my HP 50g, despite being thrilled with its capabilities I started to feel I was relying on it too much.

So lately I've been re-learning how to use a slide rule and doing most rough calculations using my trusty Hemmi 260. (It's more handy for doing rectangular to polar conversions than most calculators.)

But if I have to deal with matrices I grab the 50g. I'm only willing to take machine independence so far...


#42

Steve, what challenges me is taking a simple problem, thinking about it and kicking it around for awhile using pencil and paper, then solving it using something like the 12c or 65, with limited programming capabilities.

For instance, consider this problem (I learned in education school preparing to become a middle school math teacher): you have an unlimited supply of .05 and .08 stamps. For which postage values under $1.00 can you NOT represent the postage using combinations of these stamps? Simple problem. Kids will try to solve it using all sorts of methods: draw pictures, make tables, investigate factors, investigate combinations, use manipulatives, etc. I would choose to write an RPN program on the 12c (I have the new one that is FAST!). I think this is one of the keys to good quality education: let the kids solve it their way. If they do that, they will learn it for life. If you force them to do it your way, they will forget it in about 3 seconds.

#43

Even I use a slide rule at times when I feel for it. Just for fun. Use to have an scientific Aristo pocket slide rule in my jacket. And this cute thing makes one really to check results! All the way down longer calculations you need to make estimations in order to figure out where to place the comma or if you have made your reading on the wrong scale. So half the time you are sitting and wondering "can this be true?" Now I can understand what a relief it must have been back in 72 when the HP-35 became available.


#44

Frank:

You wrote:

Quote:
All the way down longer calculations you need to make estimations in order to figure out where to place the comma or if you have made your reading on the wrong scale. So half the time you are sitting and wondering "can this be true?"

In the "olden days" we had a way to keep track of the decimal point without doing all of the estimating. The method was fairly easy to remember as it was equivalent to the manipulations of the characteristic and mantissa when doing multiplication and division with logarithms and pencil and paper.

Palmer


#45

Lets all face the facts. The Old "HP", the old 200+ Odd Page Printed Color Manuals and the printed Advanced User Guides as well as Quick Ref are a thing of the past.

"HP" as is now is not an Engineering but Marketing firm.. as was reflected perhaps by two pivotal events (in my mind)

1) When the 39g/49g replaced the 48GX of the 48 series - the last great HP Calcs (imho). The 38G was kind of caught in the middle of this transition.

2) When Alg replaced RPN (at the same time).

I'll never forget the excitement of my youth and opening that big HP41C box... and those beautiful manuals... and fiddling with a custom overlay for my programs. Its all now history. I don't look twice at any Post 1995 HP Calculator.


#46

Quote:
I don't look twice at any Post 1995 HP Calculator.

That's too bad.

I've used HP calcs since the HP-35 appeared in 1972. (I couldn't afford one of my own until 1976, after I'd been an EE grad for two years!)

The HP50g is a remarkable machine, easily the best overall by large margin of my 30-plus HP calcs. It it the only machine that displaces my all-time RPN favorite, the HP42S.

I have one HP48SX and two HP48GX machines, all purchased for work, not for collecting. They are real dogs in comparison. The HP48-series is extremely unsatisfactory if for no reason other than having the poorest LCD quality of any graphing calculator ever made by anyone. The HP48 LCD is also one of the easiest displays to damage with modest work-environment handling. I'll give up an oversized ENTER key any second for HP50g LCD quality. (But there are many many other advantages to the HP50g. It has the best performance-to-price ratio of any calculator ever made.)

IMHO, of course.


#47

The issue here is not the quality of the new generation calculators, themselves, but the quality of the documentation. After owning an HP50g for about 6 months, I am only now beginning to appreciate its capabilities. In fact, when I first bought it, the printed documentation made no mention of it's I/O capabilities, and I needed several postings on this forum before I could figure out how to do IR output to a printer. Indeed, the HP50g has now replaced my 19 year old HP48SX, which as you mentioned, has an absolutely awful LCD display. The overall quality is quite good, certainly as compared to the cheaper HP35S, and I can live with the somewhat stiff and high-effort key buttons; at least they are reliable.

Edited: 18 June 2009, 5:47 p.m.


#48

Quote:
The issue here is not the quality of the new generation calculators, themselves, but the quality of the documentation.

No, my response was directed specifically at the quoted segment of Ed's post. I doubt that Ed disdains post-1995 HP calcs due *only* to the documentation issue. I think there is a perception, demonstrably inaccurate, that the era of acceptable calculator *hardware* and *firmware* made by HP ended with the HP48GX.

Even the documentation issue is NOT that bad. If one downloads all the official HP documents associated with an HP49g+/HP50G, including the tutorials, he will have about 2000 pages of information. That seems a pretty decent effort to me, for a device that's bound to have little profit margin and less than broad market volume.

I've as *long* a history of HP calculator usage as anyone except the original designers of the HP-35, and on that slim basis alone I feel safe in my assessment that the HP50g is easily the best overall machine HP has ever made. It's not perfect (what is?), but its designers need feel nothing but pride.


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