Graphing Calculators Still? Comparing 1990 vs 2018 Technology

When I was going into high-school back in 1990 a graphing calculator was an advanced piece of technology. Some of my friends managed to program small games into it, and the ability to produce graphs in something “so small” was impressive. The calculator that I had for high-school and into university was the Texas Instruments TI-81.

That was 28-years ago, now that I have a son going into high-school I was expecting things to have changed. My son is required to take a laptop to school for all of his school-work, and even my daughter, beginning in grade 4, had to bring a iPad to school. Both of them have an immense amount of computational power in those machines, far more than could even be shoved into a graphing calculator, but you know what?

High School Students, in 2018, still are required to spend over $200 on a single usage graphing calculator!

I previously wrote about a free alternative for graphing calculators in “Why Are There Still Graphing Calculators?“, but when we received my son’s calculator with the rest of his stationary last week I was again incensed with the ridiculousness of it!

Just for fun I decided to compare a few technologies from 1990 and 2018. The 1990 version is on the top or left, and the 2018 version is on the bottom or right:

Mobile Cell PhonesGame Consoles

Laptop Computers

Windows Operating System

And the Venerable Graphing Calculator

There have been massive advances in all of those, except the graphing calculator.

Thankfully there are glimmers of hope that by the time my grade 1 kid enters high-school we won’t be forced to purchase a $229.00 calculator…

Why Are There Still Graphing Calculators?

One of the things that I really thought would be replaced by the time my own kids got into high school were Graphing Calculators. In the age of Smart Phones, Tablets, and laptops, Graphing Calculators should have gone the way of the Dodo, right?


We got our son’s stationary list for grade-10 and a $229.00 Graphing Calculator is listed as a required item! The school already requires him to have a laptop, and now they want us to shell out another $229 for a calculator!

Sorry about all the exclamation points, but come on, a graphing calculator in 2017?

I realise that it isn’t actually up to the school, but rather it is a government testing requirement, but come on, a $100 tablet could run circles around the processing power of a graphing calculator, as could the ambiguous smartphone that nearly every teenager already has!

We also need to realise that requiring the purchase of a graphing calculator creates an accessibility problem for lower income families.

To see what else is available out there I researched and downloaded an app called Desmos. Desmos has actually been approved in 14 US states for use during tests. They have partnered with testing companies for the use of the their app, and it seems to be a great option. You can use the online version and check it out on their web-site, and it’s also available on Android and iOS.

Not only does this app do everything that a graphing calculator does, but it actually does more. You can zoom in on the graphs and you can “slide” the values to see how it affects the graphs.

Oh yeah, and the Desmos app is FREE!

Unfortunately we are stuck purchasing a $229.00 graphing calculator for our eldest son as it’s the only way that he can take the government tests. I am hoping that maybe by the time our youngest is in high-school we’ll be able to use the more powerful, and much cheaper app …

Google Chrome Crashes Because of iChrome Browser Plugin

Since upgrading to Windows 10 my Google Chrome was constantly crashing about half the time I would open a new browser tab or window.

iChrome Crashes Chome

Through a lot of trial and error with the various plugins I have loaded in Chrome I have found that as soon as I disabled the iChrome plugin for Google Chrome, the browser crashing stopped.Google Chrome crashed by iChrome Browser Plugin

Although the iChrome plugin for Google Chrome was helpful, in the end it caused far more troubles than it was worth.

Easily and Quickly Resize Images in Windows

When I want to quickly email or upload images in Windows I would rather not have to load a full software package. The easiest way that I have found resize images in Windows is Image Resizer for Windows.

Image Resizser for Windows Context Menu

You really can’t get any easier than Image Resizer for Windows. After installing Image Resizer all you need to do is select the image that you want to resize in Windows Explorer. That will pull up the “context menu” and you will see a new option that says “Resize pictures”. After clicking on “Resize pictures” you will have see the following options pop up.


You can then easily choose what size you want to scale the image to and click on “Resize”. You can then see the new image that has been created, usually under the original image.

It really doesn’t get any easier than that, so there you go. Just download Image Resizer for Windows and you are ready to go …

How to Share Your Keyboard and Mouse Between Windows, Linux, and Mac Computers

Synergy Project

When I was recently listening to the No Agenda Show (the best podcast in the universe), Adam Curry shared about how he shares his keyboard and mouse seamlessly between multiple computers. He uses an open source project called Synergy, and it’s absolutely brilliant!

After installing the free software on my primary Windows 7 machine, and a ten year old laptop running Xubuntu, I was able to move my mouse between computers as if they were one computer with multiple monitors.

The set-up took all of about 5-minutes and we were up and running. Like I said, brilliant!

Synergy supports Microsoft Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux. They have been developing the software since May 2001 and it is extremely refined and easy to use. So much better than using a KVM switch or two sets of keyboards and mice.

So if you are wanting to share your mouse and keyboard between multiple computers on the same network I can’t recommend Synergy more highly…

Best Alternative for Google Reader – Feedly

After spending the better part of my morning trying to find a web-based alternative for Google Reader I have finally settled on Feedly.

Feedly is available on the web phone and tabletFeedly is available for use on the web as well as on tablet devices. If you get in before Google Reader shuts down on July 1 then Feedly allows you to automatically sync with your Google Reader account, making the transition relatively easy. Actually the developers over at Feedly have been planning for Google Reader to shut down for a while now and have a plan already in place.

There are a few reasons that I decided to go with Feedly as my replacement for Google Reader. They include:

  • Availability on the Web, iOS devices and Android devices
  • Integration with other services

One of the main things that I do with Google Reader is use it to save and share information with other services. Feedly integrates in with many other services that I use including:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Evernote
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Buffer

The main one that is missing that I wish was there was integration with IFTTT (If This Then That). Because it doesn’t integrate in with that I will need to modify my workflow a bit, but I should be able to get around it.

So if you are looking for an alternative to Google Reader I would recommend checking out Feedly for yourself.

Some other RSS readers that I looked at, but that fell short of my needs were:

  • RebelMouse
  • Netvibes
  • FeedDemon (desktop app)
  • FeedReader