Qonos Calculator

Quonos Calculator prototype rendering
The battery in my HP48SX memory expansion card (a whole 128K!) was running out and I ignored the warnings, so I lost all the data on my calculator. It’s not a big loss; most of it is backed up; but, the incident just serves to remind me of the few unpleasant aspects of this otherwise wonderful calculator. The screen is dim, having neither a backlight nor respectable constrast; the memory is limited and volatile; the processor is slow. Sadly, in recent years HP has been focusing much on half-assed hardware that is made to be consumed more than it is made to be used. Profitable crap.

Thankfully there is a glimmer of hope for calculators. The Qonos calculator is an HP49G, a TI-92, and a PDA being developed Hydrix, a company founded by a former HP engineer in Australia. Apparently there is a working prototype and hopefully one day not long from now there will be a working product in my hand. There is a Slashdot article on the Qonos, and there in the comments, scrolling past the arguments about the chain rule, you will hear that Qonos is the name of the Klingon homeworld, in case you were wondering. It looks quite cool, but I don’t like the most recent rederings (too iPodish) as much as the one from last summer shown here.

By the way, I discovered that two articles in MIT’s Technology Review, the most recent of which was titled “Carly’s Way”, have been retracted. They criticised Carly Fiorina managing of HP from the perspective of an senior engineer in HP’s research division. The problem is that neither HP nor Technology Review could verify the existance of the engineer described in the story, and the author isn’t commenting, so we are left to assume they were fabricated. It’s a real shame because the retraction might give Fiorina more credit than she deserves; she and a few others around her really did push HP nose down and advance the throttle to full military. On Salon.com you can read a scathing review of Fiorina’s tenure as HP CEO. In addition to being obviously more well founded, I find it to be an even harsher criticism than the retracted article. Let’s hope HP pulls itself out of this deadly dive.

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