ZBox Considered Harmful

This post is intended for TI-savvy readers. Everybody else: count yourself lucky; I’ll see you next time!

Does it bother anyone else that to get the “Standard Window” you type Zoom, 6? I mean, if it’s “standard”, oughtn’t it to be “1” (so that we could just Zoom, Enter)? I mean, in light of the simple fact that we’re going to use this feature most of the time and we’ll use the “ZBox” feature that actually inhabits the “1” position … well, never?

If there’s some reasonable explanation for this, I’d sure like to know it. I’m hard-pressed even coming up with an unreasonable explanation. Here it is. They know perfectly well how useless the damn thing is, but want to call our attention to it anyway. This would also account for the way “ZFit”, which is probably the next-most useful selection in the menu—and indeed, might even be the most useful of all if textbook problems weren’t rigged to look right in the standard window—is buried out of sight (i.e., it doesn’t immediately appear in the menu; one is forced to scroll down [or memorize its location]): the designers didn’t really want this feature at all since you can use it to avoid thinking about a bunch of things that they want you to think about. It’s a B&D language we’re dealing with on this theory.

There’s much more to be said along the same lines (in particular, any amount of ranting to do on the misfeatures associated with “Trace” [ZInteger, ZDecimal]) … but once again, there’s actual work to do. How anybody actually maintains a blog with regular content is a mystery. Maybe if one had an internet connection at home …

  1. Jackie

    Maybe there is something wrong with me – but I don’t want my students to use zoom-fit. I want them to consider the domain in question, check the table for the appropriate range, and then adjust the window accordingly. Zoom-fit requires no thinking about the function.

  2. Honestly, this doesn’t bother me, but I appreciate the grating effect of bad design on people. Count it yet another reason to ditch calculators and use computer algebra systems. TI seemed to get it halfway right with Derive, at least.

  3. “Math in the Real World is done with technology. In high school that technology is the graphing calculator”

    I’m told, if you say it enough, and fast enough, with the right cadence, you can even get smart people to believe it.

    Last week a student with a window problem (a physics problem where she had to answer off a TI window) approached me. She couldn’t get the graph to show well within the window. Z-0 made a mess, and the other Z’s, well, she wasn’t having much luck.

    So I showed her how to find the solution by hand (it was a lousy projectile problem, not rocket science) (actually, that’s sort of funny. But you know what I mean). And then I showed her how to take the answer and set the window appropriately…

    Last year I taught pre-calc kids to analyze functions in order to choose good windows. It really works. But it would be easier to skip the calculator altogether.

    I use Z-0 more than any other, but it almost never gives me what I want.

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