Mon Oct 12 02:33:58 EDT 2009

the hp-50g, OR bbot sells out

So I bought a HP 50g Graphing Calculator. Why? Well, uh...

There is no room for your logic in my gadget-lust. It was 44% off! A bargain!

Wait a minute.


That link.

What link? I don't see any link.

That Amazon affiliate link with the 1x1 pixel tracking image. You've sold out, haven't you?

Aw, you caught me.

Technically, I sold out a couple years ago, when I actually signed up for Affiliates. The plan was to write a Mohs Hardness scale for metal, with bands ranked by brutality, with 30 second mp3 samples of songs and Amazon affiliate links to the albums, just in case my masterful writing filled the reader with the urge to buy, buy, buy. This plan was dealt a fatal blow by NFSnet's per-gigabyte pricing plan, and so I abandoned it, though now that I've got plenty of bandwidth, I might have to bring it back from the dead.

Recently there was an utterly terrifying article on HN that started with a single, bolded, sentence.

"I have earned $119,725.45 from Amazon Associates Program since I began using it as a way to make money online late in 2003."


In case you don't want to inflict the post on yourself, the gist is that by inserting affiliate links into blog posts, he made a great big pile of money. That's cool, I'm down with piles of money. But as he says, in order to make piles of money as opposed to puddles of money, you have to structure articles around affiliate links, seeking money, all of your thought bent towards it.

Which makes the resultant article an advertisement, and worse, an advertisement with absolutely no disclaimer. The only way to tell if the author's objectivity has been compromised, and is now writing for profit, is by carefully examining the links.


So, naturally, I had to get in on that shit! Feel free to click on, and then purchase from, any complicated Amazon links you see.

As for the calculator itself, it's interesting, quite interesting. Retail, it costs the same as the Pre, but the two are completely different beasts. The 50g is binary compatible with the 49g, which was an incremental improvement on the HP-48, which came out in 1990. The thing is a dinosaur, and it shows. The screen resolution is lousy, the pixels are huge, it's monochromatic and non-backlit, the UI has 19 years of cruft, it runs on double A's, it's 8mhz 8-bit processor compares poorly to the Pre's 600mhz 32-bit one, etc, etc. By any rational basis of comparison, the Pre is a far, far superior pocket computer.

But the 50g's a better calculator, mostly because it's got a far better keypad, though it's utterly incompetent at text input.

Now that I'm a couple years out of school, I've got a bit more perspective on what an odd beast the "graphing calculator" is; primarily existing because it is unacceptable to bring a laptop with a computer algebra system of one kind or another, any of which would be far more powerful and flexible, at the cost of letting the tested student cheat with trivial ease. Of course, the continuing features war between TI and HP have made the graphing calculators just as easy to cheat with.

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