T/Maker Five: It's Alive!   Email: peter@roizen.com


This product has its roots in one I wrote in 1979 and one in 1991. I have always had a passion for
a simple, easy
way to do math and to unleash the power of Advanced Arithmetic. Something every
head in the family could use at their level. Fairy tale or  Frankenstein?
David versus Goliath? That's
to be determined. At the bottom of this page are some links--one to the download page. Everything
at this site is always under construction.

T/Maker is a java desktop application for Mac and Windows computers. "No strings attached"
offer. If at some point, you want to make a $5 contribution, I would accept it..

  No time for a sales pitch?
  Ask this: what spreadsheet would even try to explain itself in silent videos averaging 25 seconds?

Video 1  (62 seconds)  No-brainer problems have no-brainer solutions
Video 2 (14 seconds)   "Name yourself" memories help calculate many things with a single trail
Video 3 (14 seconds)   Clone new rows in a table with ease. Just type in new data.
Video 4 (20 seconds)   Use a robust syntax and a sophisticated debugger to take a walkabout on trails
Video 5 (28 seconds)   Get common column calculations done with one multi-tasking operator and a few clicks.
Video 6 (16 seconds)   Provide an easy to use Helper for math functions
Video 7 (20 seconds)   Handle tough stuff for the adventurous. See a simulator of the optimal strategy in roulette.
Video 8 (50 Seconds)  Add formats and lines easily.
Video 9 (28 seconds)   Offer a helper to build and and use logical tests with many options.
Video 10 (22 Seconds)  Keep details nearby.
Video11 (10 Seconds)   Save replace commands with a file so added data can use abbreviations with one click
Video 12 (19 Seconds)  Export data to the clipboard or a file for cell programs or documents. Import too.
Video 13 (12 Seconds)  Save comments with a file and with each trail to pass on or for yourself
Video 14 (17 Seconds)  Make your case and show your charts from the Data only screen

The discussion and narrated videos below, will explain what was quickly viewed above in detail.

It's not the biggest. It's not the most built-in functions. It's not the fanciest charts. There was no artist nor writer nor web
designer involved. It's put together without a team or venture capital or focus groups. And little attention was paid  to
Apple, Windows or Java guidelines for user interfaces. That said, it's the most unusual way anybody, anywhere has ever
tried to tackle the problem of doing calculations easily, confidently,  and enjoyably on a computer. It's a small step up in
thinking from a hand calculator, but a giant leap in what one can do.  And so, I gave it new
life and ask you to give it a try,
or at least tell your "don't do math" friends and school students there is some guy, somewhere, who thinks he has
something for them. My goal is not to raise the bar of what a spreadsheet can do, it's to dramatically lower the bar of
who can use one and the hassle of doing that for what should be no-brainer problems .

The Traditional Way: Every calculated cell holds a formula written in algebraic notation. To reference values, the row and column intersection is used as the name of the value in the cell. You cannot see the values calculated and the formulae at the same time. Shortcuts usually exist to repeat, adjust, and enter a formula across a number of similar cells.

The T/Maker Way: There are separate cells for data and calculation trails. Trails are  written as an ordered series of operators. Values can be referenced in a number of ways including simply placing an operator in the cell adjacent to them. Trails can be reused by clicking a special cursor on another cell where the trail is to be restarted with step 1. Also, trails can calculate a number of values, not just one.

Video 1: It's elementary, Dr. Watson

Pretty simple, right? But you have to agree it was easy to understand. And I have to agree that not all problems can be
solved with plus and equal signs only . "But wait," as they say on infomercials, "there is even more!"

We will get there in a moment, but I want to say a few serious words abou learning math with T/Maker. Students who
know arithmetic can build their problem solving skills along with an introduction to data analysis, statistics, logic,
and  graphics years before the 8th or 9th grade. They can learn T/Maker one syntax feature at a time. All this will help
close the thinking gap between apples and oranges arithmetic and algebra. That's a leap that comes out of nowhere
and many have difficulty accomplishing it.  Building confidence and getting comfortable using math to solve problems
is a T/Maker specialty. It's also what math educators say about getting better at math--USE IT !

There is also this trend among some educators: Is Algebra Really Necessary?

And if you take away algebra,  advanced arithmetic like T/Maker can give people the opportunity to make budgets, or
whatever, without using templates and formulae they did not write themselves and do not really understand.

The image below demonstrates most of the variety of techniques you may use when building calculation trails.
Before you start writing trails, you need to learn to read them. I would urge you not to confuse options with
complexity. You will not be pidgeonholed into one and only one way of doing things that I decide for my
own convenience. You can start with a first step and move up the ladder as problems demand it.

There are a few notations here that are particular to T/Maker's approach and fit well with it. But much is just
the application of basic arithmetic and functions you could do with a hand calculator though it would be
incredibly more laborious. If you are using a spreadsheet now, ask yourself if it, in any way, provides the
clarity of what's going on that you can see below or even a single option to attack different problems in
different ways.

Video 2: The syntax is on the table

Memories, I should point out, introduce the notion of names or letters representing values (algebra) under the easiest to understand
circumstances. You pick the name and you put the value in it. Memories also provide incredible economies in specifications.
Here are 48 values calculated by one simple trail. That would be 48 formulae in 48 cells with a traditional spreadsheet.
Take a 57 second look and ask yourself what could be easier and less mistake prone? This is practical math taken to a whole new level.

Video 3: Memories are made for this

The Combo Cursor is a cursor that performs a variety of calculations as it proceeds in a trail and stores the results in memories,
so you can easily fetch them where needed. Among the values are the minimum, the maximum, the mean, and the median. These
are some elementary members of what you might call statistics and data analysis. There's a standard deviation too and an
example table of calculating a correlation coefficient.That could be for some years later or maybe not at all in many lives.

Video 4: A multi-tasking cursor

One of the very nice things about T/Maker is that it

can clone rows incorporating all elements of a model
row. Many tables have a block or blocks of rows that
are identical in terms of the calculations and other
elements they require. Let's go back to our
elementary example, where we left it, and
clone one row. This feature is great for starting to
study something and adding data on a regular basis.

Video 5: Another row for the road

As a programmer, I know that no syntax or language is complete with out a tool to debug the work
you have done. Here's is one for T/Maker's unusual way of writing calculations. It's a way to find
mistakes or just review how things work and fit together. It's also a way to understand the work
of others in the most in your face fashion possible.

Video 6: A walkabout on trails

I want to nip in the bud the notion that T/Maker might be some sort of toy suitable
for youngsters only by showing (without a lot of explanation) a table that runs a
simulation of the optimal strategy for playing roulette. That strategy works from
the amount you want to risk and what your want to win. It bets on single numbers
with increasing bets until you go broke or hit one number. At your first win, you
have achieved your goal. It also allows me to make some meaningful contrasts
between trails (T/Maker) and formulae (the other guys).

The more you learn about T/Maker, the more you will see that it is ready, willing,

and able to tackle most any task. I simulated Monopoly the other day to see the
disadvantage of going last in a 4 player game. If everybody buys everthing they
can, in 500 hundred games, you will have owned 600 properties less than whoever
went first.There are challenges for even the most capable.

Video 7: Yes, I can!

Before getting back to more meat on how you contsruct and use trails, I did want you to see that you can import
and export data to other cell based programs or even pick data up from web pages in some cases. This might
hopefully encourage you to try T/Maker since you can start with data you already have or transfer data
from T/Maker to another program if so inclined. And, I suppose some might capture data for a science project
or high school paper from the from the internet . (Tip: On picking up some stats from my website and importing
it, I ended up with two blank rows between each data row. Easy solution: sorted in descending order on the "Viewed"
column. Blank rows all went to the end. By hook or by crook, there is often a way to do something.)

Video 8: Well, Hello Data!

You have already seen the Lite Assistor for trails, this video explains its big brother.

Note that the math functions are there to tackle geometry (!a^2=Asquared !b^2 + Asquared sqr = c), trigonometry
(sine, cosine, etc.), exponentials,  logarithms, and a random number generator for simulations.  Mortage payments,
present value, and growth rates are also built in with an easy to use approach. T/Maker is not a program you will
throw away ever.

Video 9: Big Brother

I wanted to show you one other assistor that is handy if a logical test is needed to direct calculations that should
only be done under certain conditions. It's called a WHEN clause. In the video you will see how to construct one
and another usage which can be handy for finding data entry errors or just counting instances of various values
in a column of a table. It can serve as an introduction to the application of logical conditions.

Video 10: When WHEN

I would not say entering and editing data is much different from other cell based programs. But you will
see a nifty way to get to locations in your table or make use of abbreviations.

Video 11: A little gift for terrible typists

While the charts and graphs are not on a par with well-established spreadsheets, a student can learn what type of chart best makes
what type of point.

You can easily print your tables. Here is the print box for that. It tells you how many pages wide and pages long it
will be. You can reset the parameters that affect the size and recalculate. If you are just interested in keeping historical
paper records, you can save paper and ink this way. You can  also make some nice forms, not that I want to contribute
to the number of forms in the world though I would like more space to actually write the address! Here's a (scanned)
invoice printed with some lines and a typo.


I suppose some households could use two calculating programs: one that is easy to use, hard to forget, not prone
to mistakes, and worth the bother for even a few numbers. The other, well, that's the one already there.

The Download Page

Example Tables

Tutorial Videos

Educational Note:

I don't know at what age a youngster could master the basic manipulation of the simple trails screen. Tweaks
to the program could be done to create a more ridgid application / user relationship. But the idea I want to
introduce is this:

Files could be prepared with labels and data. The role of the student would be to put in the trails that calculate
the values. It's already possible to give some feedback pointing out what's wrong and what's correct. The
table below is one example of  the simplest  of problems. There are already plenty of solutions for learning
to multiply, divide, add, and subtract in your head. But T/Maker could introduce how to use basic math to
solve problems without the burden of typing the data or labels or doing the calculations by hand or with a
calculator. And the problem could be downloaded and the result saved and uploaded. This site or elsewhere
could be a place to collect and distribute great problems to solve.

The student could concentrate fully on what calculations are required in what order to arrive at the
required results. The answers below are calculated (not typed). It's the symbols that the student would enter.
Problem difficulty could vary from the example below to the nearly impossible with everything inbetween.
Gifted students will not be bored if challenging problems are put on the table.

I doubt this approach could work with the hidden formulae in cells of the usual spreadsheet. That's a level of
abstraction significantly greater. With T/Maker,
students can master one basic syntax element at a time starting
with painting basic operators for problems like the one below. And remember, there's an eraser which removes
the pain of an incorrect start!

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