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September 12, 1988 - Image 29

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-09-12

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This pocket-sized piece of brainpower
can turn you into a mental
giant the power
to the head of the class.

the rate of chemical reactions or the
present value of an annuity, a hand-
held calculator will-in a myriad of
ways -give you the edge.
Instead of laboring over time-con-
suming calculations, you can focus on
what you're learning and let your cal-
culator do the computing. Then, too,
a calculator allows you to explore
complicated problems you wouldn't
dare undertake without it.
For example, with some of the new-
est hand-held models, you can enter
formulas from, say, an economics
text, and the calculator then takes
over, solving for the equation's
variables. The advantage: Even if you
can't do the math, you can work with
the results of the computations. And,
since many calculators have unit-
conversion capability, you won't have
to lug around heavy reference books
to look up, for example, how many
grams are in a pound.
Broadly speaking, calculators are
categorized as business (financial)
units or scientific (technical) models.
Facts on Financial Calculators
Financial calculators - geared for
students in business, finance, and eco-
nomics-should include, at a mini-
mum, the following functions: time
value of money, amortization, bond
yield and price, and internal rate of re-
turn. Some dedicated financial units
also have one-variable and two-vari-
able statistical functions, currency rate
conversion, and even a time-and-ap-
pointment feature. And for repetitive
calculations, you can easily program
the machine and later execute the pro-
gram with a touch of a button.
The advanced financial models have
lots of permanent storage, allowing

you to save everything you've done. On
one model, says Bill Wickes, software
project manager at Hewlett-Packard,
you can even print out your results us-
ing a cordless printer activated by an in-
frared light beam.
Programmed for
Scientific or technical calculators
serve students of math, engineering,
physics, chemistry, premed, and data
processing. These units perform as
many as 200 different scientific and
mathematical functions: reciprocals,
complex numbers, and the like. In ad-
dition, there are statistical functions,
including mean, standard deviations,
and normal distributions.
But the heart-and-soul of these cal-
culators is their programmability. "In
the 'hard' sciences," says Wickes,
"the problems are so varied that it's
impossible to provide a prepro-
grammed key for every situation."
This type of calculator, therefore,
serves as a tool box, from which stu-
dents select the tools they need for
each specific application.
Math students and teachers alike
are raving about one of the most ad-
vanced scientific models, which allows
the user to do calculations involving
symbols and matrices- in effect, solv-
ing many of the problems found in ele-
mentary calculus. These problems can
now be presented graphically on the
multi-line displays that are common in
the newest models.
What handy devices, these hand-
held calculators. You'll work faster,
smarter, and with fewer errors. Don't
be caught empty-handed. O

Calculating Your
eep these guidelines in
mind when purchasing a
* Suit your own needs. As with any
other purchase, be sure first to
identify your specific needs and
then look for the particular model
that fills them. Social science ma-
jors can probably get by with the
basic statistical functions, while en-
gineering majors need program-
mable calculators with a full range
of functions. Ask students who
have just taken the course what cal-
culator they found useful.
" Decide on the power source.
Hand-held calculators are either
battery-powered or solar-powered.
Some batteries can be recharged;
others must be replaced every year
or so. Solar units require a light
source sufficient to power the solar
cells, so be sure the solar calculator
you buy will work in the light level
that will be available.
" Take a good look at the display.
Most calculators now have a liquid
crystal display (LCD). The display
should be easily read, even in rela-
tively dim light (such as when the
overhead projector is on during a
lecture). And remember, you may
be looking at that tiny screen for
long periods of time.
" Try out the keypad. Are the keys
easy to press without error? Do you
like the touch?
" Consider durability. How much
wear and tear will this calculator
have to take? Does the manufac-
turer have a reputation for building
rugged calculators? Do you need
one that's encased in a hard pack,
which provides maximum protec-
tion? Or is a simple vinyl covering
* Check the warranty. Your calcu-
lator should have at least a one-year
warranty, and for a more advanced
model you may want to buy a ser-
vice contract.


Stop the world- I want to log on!
It's a new campus game called "Dial-
ing for Data" - all you need is a com-
puter, a telephone, and a little thing
called a modem. Get those three
gadgets working in your corner, and
you have a world by the tail.... a world
of information.
With a little help from your elec-
tronic "friends," you can:
" Research a term paper after the li-
brary shuts down.
" Hunt for a job.
14 plus/FALL 88


" "Download" free computer soft-
* "Log on" to more than 3,000 data
bases - computer files of information
on everything from agriculture to zoo
" Engage in electronic debates (via
"bulletin boards") on politics, nu-
clear power, etc.
* Mull over the late-breaking finan-
cial news.
" Take a college course offered 1,000
miles away.


FALL 88/plus 11

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