Connectivity Issues Resolved

If you have been having connectivity issues with the new cloud versions, it is worth downloading the latest versions and trying again.

Technically speaking, we found a fault with how our products were handling proxy servers which would prevent connectivity in some cases. This issue has now been resolved and our products should always honour the system proxy settings. This should rectify a large proportion of the connectivity problems that have been occurring in some schools.

Non-technically speaking, try again – we have probably fixed the problem. Even if you have worked around the connectivity issues affecting registration (using a manual registration block), the new versions are still worthwhile as they will allow our products to back up your graphics to the cloud, making them available in other contexts and on other computers.

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Microsoft Word Equation Issue Resolved

Hopefully you have not been one of those affected by the bug in a version of Microsoft Word but if you have been, there is some good news. Microsoft has now released a patch which customers have reported fully fixes the issue.

The Microsoft discussion of the whole incident is here.

The Microsoft discussion is here.

And the link to the fix is here.

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Discrete or Continuous? A Subtle Problem with Ogives.

We sometimes receive reports that FX Stat is “doing something wrong”. Often the problems are actually a symptom of a deeper issue – when is data discrete and when is it continuous?

Sometimes data is CLEARLY discrete in nature. Those cases are simple and we will not look at them.

Sometimes data is CLEARLY continuous and needs to be graphed appropriately. Again, this is easy.

Sometimes things are not so clear. For example here is some data that is not clearly discrete or continuous. Unfortunately, it is almostĀ identicalĀ to the first data set! Certainly the histogram will be the same.

Is this data discrete? Should we graph it using a dot plot? Or is it “sort” of continuous so a histogram is fine?

Often the answer to these questions depends on the context of the data, but our products (obviously) have problems with context. On the whole, we do not get involved. If you decide to graph it as a dot plot or a histogram, our products will do as they are told.

The real problem comes with ogives. If you are thinking of this data as “discrete”, the ogive should look like this (we have put in the histogram so you can see what we mean.)

Many of you are probably saying “but that is wrong – it should look like the first graph”.

Well … it depends.

If you are intending the data to be discrete, then this ogive makes perfect sense – by the time you get to 16 (as opposed to 16.5), your cumulative frequency is 8. If you are thinking of this data as continuous then you need the first graph.

Unfortunately, we cannot tell what you are thinking or, sometimes more importantly, which school system you are teaching in. Different school systems have different “standards”.

We have taken the decision to make our products treat the data as entered. If you enter discrete values with a frequency we will always draw the second, offset ogive. If you really mean your data to be continuous and want to draw the ogive, you will need to enter your data as groups.


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New Look Website

We are very happy to announce the release of our new-look website. Fresh, modern and much friendlier on mobile devices.

The new website also links to our new Knowledge Base which is where we are now consolidating all of the various information sources that you can use with your subscription.

Take a look at the new site today!

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OneNote and FX Draw, A Perfect Match

We have recently been working with OneNote and FX Draw on a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and what we have found is a combination of tools that has the potential to revolutionise the way you teach.

For years, teachers have used technology to centralise their teaching materials. When I first started teaching, most experienced mathematics teachers had multiple lever arch files above their desk that contained all of the materials they needed to teach their courses. Now most teachers collect electronic materials into folders on their computers. OneNote represents the next level of organisation as it allows you to organise disparate collections of materials into one “notebook”.

This screenshot shows one page of a OneNote notebook I am currently using to teach a pre-calculus level course. You can see the tabs across the top (1) for the topics and the pages (2) in the current topic. Also note where I have used the Surface’s pen to annotate the notes that I prepared earlier.

You can also use OneNote in full screen mode which makes it ideal for data projectors.

A major advantage of OneNote is that you can share your notebook with students in numerous ways. They can go home, visit a web page and see exactly the same thing that they were looking at in class.

The new FX Draw Cloud version allows you to dynamically create and insert editable diagrams into OneNote. It provides a dynamic mathematical drawing environment that will make you more productive and, with OneNote, far more organised.

While the ability to use a pen makes the Microsoft Surface (and similar tablet based computers) an ideal teaching tool, you can also use OneNote with FX Draw on any Mac or Windows computer. Obviously, you can also use FX Draw Cloud to produce graphics that can be used in ANY publication medium including Word, PowerPoint, Pages, Google Docs and Moodle (to name a few).

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More FX Equation Information

It appears that we have had two FX Equation issues operating coincidentally, which makes life much harder for everyone. We have now isolated the two issues and can explain them in full.

The Dodgy Microsoft Update

As noted in the previous blog entry, Microsoft have released an update to Word 2016 that causes FX Equation equations, MathType equations and Microsoft’s own equation editor equations to not align with the text and can possibly have the top of the graphic chopped off. The affected version is 16.0.4498.1000. This issue is totally outside of our control and is currently being worked on by Microsoft.

We have had some reports that removing the update fixes the problem. The update causing the issue is the KB3178674 Security Update. There are three potential problems with this:

a) The update was created to address an undisclosed security issue in the software and removing the update could potentially put your computer at risk.
b) You will need to turn off automatic updates for Office otherwise the update will be automatically reapplied. You will also need to turn automatic updating back on in the future.
c) Uninstalling updates is not simple and will almost certainly require the attention of your IT services.

As this issue is totally outside of our control, we are not making any recommendations as to what should be done.

The Timing Issue

On some computers, when inserting an FX Equation object into Word, FX Equation is not returning the graphic to Word. Instead it is returning a large square. This can either happen intermittently or just about all the time.

This issue seems to be caused by a timing issue between FX Equation and Word. Word is asking for a graphic but not waiting for the graphic to be provided. We have not been able to recreate the issue here but have inserted a very short delay into the process (250ms to be precise) which seems to have fixed the issue for all users who have tested the fix. The new version is available online now.

As far as we can tell the two issues are unrelated but their coincidence has been very frustrating for everybody involved. Hopefully this is the end of the problems.

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Problem With Word 2016 and Equations

We have recently been receiving reports about FX Equations equations not lining up in Word 2016. Initially we thought that we were causing the issue but Microsoft has just announced that the issue lies with a particular version of Word 2016 (16.0.4498.1000).

The full discussion can be read here:

This discussion is referring specifically to MathType and Equation Editor but our products utilise the same features and are being similarly affected.

At this point in time there does not seem to be a resolution available to the issue but it seems that Microsoft is definitely aware of the problem and working on a solution.

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