Thursday, July 20, 2017

HP35s Scientific Calculator with RPN

Review: General review of HP's RPN calculators and why you should switch. I just bought a new HP35s.

HP35s Scientific Calculator (RPN)

Author's note: Although this article is dated, first written in 2009, I smiled today as I reviewed it and decided to re-publish it.  I am still using these same calculators!

This is a digression from the usual computer topics. If you need to calculate more than simply adding and multiplying numbers, consider using an HP "RPN" calculator. In this short article, I will explain why this type of calculator is better than a standard "Algebraic" calculator.

(Illustration: My new calculator and my daughter's statistics text book)

Consider this formula. Using your current calculator, compute the result:

  • Did you get the right answer the first time?
  • Did you write down intermediate answers?
  • Did you type parenthesis?
  • Were you confident, as you entered the numbers, that you were on the right track or did you have to wait for the final equal-sign before you were done?

Now try this formula:

Again, the same questions:
  • Were you confident?
  • Did you see the intermediate results?
  • Did you have to save values into Memory (M1), (M2)?
  • Did you type a boat-load of parenthesis?

My daughter, with her expensive TI calculator, tried these formulas several times, and was not confident in her results.

Here is the surprise:

With an HP (RPN) calculator, you would get the correct answer the first time. You would have a high degree of confidence, knowing each intermediate step was reasonable -- with results displayed as the formulas were being typed.

For example, on the HP, you would see the following:

- As "2+3" is typed, the calculator would show "5"
- As "4+5" is typed, "9" is displayed
- and when multiplied together (2+3) x (4+5),  "45" appears in mid-formula.

RPN calculators show intermediate results and there are no parenthesis, nor do you need to store values in "M" (memory) -- the calculator handles this for you.   

What is RPN?

RPN stands for Reverse Polish Notation. The gist is this: Enter the formulas in the same way as-if solving with paper and pencil; solving from left-to-right, inner-parenthesis first, using "My Dear Aunt Sally" (multiplication and division before addition and subtraction). These are the same rules learned in 3rd-grade.

RPN keystrokes are different than an algebraic calculator.

With RPN, type the first number, then press ENTER.  Type the second number. 
After the two numbers are typed, press the function (add, subtract, etc.). 
Of interest, there is no "Equal" key.

This works to your advantage. The most horrendous function can be typed and never is a parenthesis or intermediate save needed.

Using the first example, the keystrokes would be this:

2 (Enter, separates this first number from the second)
3 +
The calculator shows the intermediate result: 5

4 (Enter, separates this from the above "5" *)
5 +
The calculator shows the intermediate result: 9
x (times)
The calculator shows: 45
The calculator shows the intermediate result: 6.708

Without pressing other keys, begin the second part of the equation by typing:
6 (Enter *Technically, this ENTER is not required because the SQRT resolved)
7 + .... etc.
completing this part the same as the first.

Once the second section is completed, press "+", adding the two blocks together.
Results:  21.5743

At each stage, intermediate results are displayed.  The keystrokes are counter-intuitive, but after practicing for ten minutes, you will never forget and will never want to go back!

I have used HP's RPN for so many years I can no longer use a "standard" calculator and I am embarrassed when forced to -- I can only solve the simplest equations on those types of calculators -- Algebraic calculators now seem completely foreign.

Choosing an HP Calculator:
  • HP makes both Algebraic (press "Equals) and RPN calculators (press "Enter") -- be sure to pick the right model.
HP divides the world into two types: Financial and Scientific.

Bankers, investments, and real estate, choose a Financial calculator (12c).
Otherwise, choose the Scientific calculators (even if you are not a scientist).

Here are my recommendations:

Scientific/Non-business Calculators:
HP33s ($40.00) low-end calculator - chicklet keyboard 

If you can, buy the 35s; it has a better keyboard.

HP35s ($60.00) Recommended

HP50g ($150.00) Graphing (now dated)

HPG8X92AA (graphic)  I will be buying this calculator next (update: now bought, but not reviewed):

Business: (Interest/PMT/Financial)
HP12C ($70)

This is an Industry Standard calculator for all financial users. HP reviewed this calculator a few years ago and decided, even after 30 years of production, nothing needed changed. This same calculator, with the same features, has been produced since then. Remarkable.

Look and Feel:
These calculator are pleasurable to use. The buttons "feel" substantial; with a solid, satisfying 'click' when typed. People who use HP calculators rave about the keyboard -- it is unlike any other calculator. When HP has made some cheaper models, with cheaper keyboards (the 33s, for example), users revolted.

I believe all of the scientific calculators are programmable (you can write your own functions, automating common tasks).

These calculators never die. My first HP11c is now approaching 30 years old, and I still use it several times a week. I think I've changed the batteries three times in all those years.  It uses standard watch batteries.

My other HP calculator, which sits at home, is a 20-year-old HP32s and I only recently replaced it with a newer 35s for no other reason than I wanted to see what the new calculators looked like.

In short: If you are in school, or if you need to do a bit more than common math, spend a few dollars, get a quality calculator. Take twenty minutes studying the first couple of chapters in the manual, and you will never go back to those old, stinky, run-of-the-mill calculators.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

WD Smartware Password Problem

How to: Western Digital SmartWare backup prompts for user-id and password.

Problem:  Western Digital Smartware backup is prompting for a user-id and password and you don't know what it is. 

Likely Solution:

1.  In the Smartware program, click the SanDrive/Cloud Drive's pull-down menu, illustrated below in the circle'd highlight area. Change the pull-down menu to the the backup (share).

On my drive, my backup volume is named "SmartwareBackup".  Choose the backup volume and the password problem should go away.

2.  Once the backup volume is selected, click the WD My Cloud icon and give it a few seconds to login.  When successful, the [Backup] tab should be enabled.

An area I am Unsure:

If you do the steps above, I don't think you will need credentials.  But, if you need the user-id and password, do the following:

1.  Start, Run, CMD (A command Prompt/ DOS Prompt)
2.  Note the c:> prompt.  For example, mine reads:


where "trayw" is my account name.

3.  For your login credentials, type "trayw".  For the password, use the password you use when first booting and logging into the machine; using your Windows password.

For setup and backup strategies, see this keyliner article:
Western Digitial My Cloud Review   (In particular, note the Data Backup section)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Windows 10 Wired Network named after Wireless

How-to: Change the Network Name in Windows 10

I noticed my Windows 10 network name was showing my Wireless network when it should be showing the wired. 

This made me believe my desktop, which has both a Wireless Network and a standard wired RJ45, was using the wrong card. 

After disabling the computer's wireless card (see Control Panel, Network and Internet, Network Connections), and rebooting, it still reported the original Wireless name.  This proved I was using the wired connection -- but the name was wrong.

If you login to the Wireless router's admin panels, you will not find a broadcast name for the Wired connection.  Nor will you find a way to change the name in the Network Sharing Center, nor in the TCP/IP adapter settings.

The name is only exposed in the Registry.

How did this happen?  The first time the workstation connected, it connected via Wireless and placed the name into the Registry.  Switching to the wired connection maintained the same profile and name.

Renaming the Network Connection

1.  Start, Run (Windows-key-R), "Regedit.exe"
2.  Tunnel to this key:

HKey Local Machine\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion

Multiple network connections may exist, each listed with a GUID {CBSA1321...}.

3.  Within the Profiles folder, click each GUID until you find the network in question.

4.  On the detail side, illustrated below,

Change the Description to a new name
Change the Profile Name to a new name

5.  Close the Registry Editor to save changes.
Click for larger view

The change takes effect immediately, but the System Tray will not update until the next reboot.

In my case, I changed from "wolfhouse24G" to a more generic "wolfhouse".   For this workstation only, both the wired and wireless will show this same name.