NEWSLETTER #9 10/01/83


Raised Dot Computing has a full time employee. Cynthia is getting a rapid education on small computers, braille devices, voice output, word processing, etc. If you have a technical question, she may know the answer. Many people insist on talking to David Holladay without ever asking Cindy the question they want answered. One of Cindy's main job functions is to handle the telephone traffic so I can get some work done. Please respect my wishes and explain your problem to Cindy. And remember to confine technical questions to mornings (Eastern Standard Time). Thank you.


I am getting some unusual results from my efforts at networking people. I have received only two responses form sighted persons listing the network groups they want to join. So far, no sighted person has submitted an article to the Raised Dot Computing Newsletter. This is a dangerous trend. Right now there are over 170 print subscriptions to the newsletter, and about 120 audio subscriptions. So I figure that more sighted persons than blind persons are reading the newsletter. What gives?

Perhaps this newsletter has an image problem. People may not realize that this newsletter is directed at both sighted and blind persons. I would invite sighted persons to write about their own experiences with sensory aids equipment. What has worked, and what has not? I am sure that other subscribers would be interested in your comments. Do it today. Newsletter articles can be typed, scrawled on the back of a grocery bag, put on an audio tape, or be phoned in. I prefer Apple disks so I don't have to re-key the text.

If you don't have a newsletter article, please write me with the list of network groups you want to join.


In a previous newsletter, I mentioned that the PRONTO-DOS disk would greatly speed up your BRAILLE-EDIT disk. There is one point that I should clarify. When you actually install the PRONTO-DOS on another disk, you should not be using an Echo II. [The Echo modifies the disk operating system so that PRONTO DOS will not get installed]. If you are visually limited and rely on an Echo, get a sighted friend to help you for the minute that it takes to install PRONTO-DOS. Once it is installed, you can use the faster disk with the Echo.


Bill Grimm has just written INFO, a new database program. It is a big improvement on DIRECTORIES. It is designed to work with the Echo II voice synthesizer. INFO can have up to 20 different fields per record, and you get to name the fields. You can have multi-criteria searches (please list all the overweight men from California), mixed upper and lower case, and have form letter capability. The program cost $195.

I have agreed to start work on a program to move INFO files in and out of BRAILLE-EDIT. This will give BRAILLE-EDIT users access to a talking database program. Stay tuned to this newsletter for updates on that project.

Bill Grimm's address is: Bill Grimm, COMPUTER AIDS, PO Box 5502, Fort Wayne, In 46895 (219) 456-4053.


Very frequently, people ask for advice on voice synthesizers. I recommend the Echo II voice synthesizer. The first question I am asked is "is the voice any good". Quite frankly, the Echo sounds worse than a strangled foreigner talking with his mouth full (just kidding, it isn't that bad). After a short time with the unit, a user can understand it.

Besides intelligibility, a user should judge a speech unit on its features. The Echo Ii has screen review and can pronounce punctuation. It is easy to go between word and spelling mode. In a recent meeting of Echo II users, people regarded improved features to be much more important that improved speech quality.

All in all, it is hard to get away from the Echo II. It is cheap. It has many, many features. It has acceptable speech (once you spend a weekend playing with it). While I am aware of a number of things you cannot do with the Echo II (such as work with the Zero Card), it is a very good value.


In issue #8, I discussed using the KRM as an optical scanner. I briefly mentioned a devices called a DEST. I have more information about this commercial optical scanner.

The DEST sells for under $8,000 for the base unit, the model 202. It will read 1 type font. You can install additional fonts for $500 each. There can be 8 different fonts in at once. There is a $2,000 charge for the model 203, which is faster. The 202 will read a sheet in 25 seconds, the 203 will read a sheet in 15 seconds. A fully equipped unit can cost $13,000 to $14,000.

The DEST reads a page and send the characters down a serial RS-232 line. You can change the baud rate, stop bits, data bits, parity, etc. (the switches are user accessible). The serial port responds to the standard control/S and control/Q protocol (also known as Xon/Xoff or soft handshakes). The controls are simple, an on/off switch, a read button, and a clear button. You can put 75 pages in a hopper. It will read through the whole stack. A form feed character will be placed at the end of each page. If there is a blank line in the text, the DEST will put in a double carriage return. If a line is indented, the DEST will put in the appropriate number of spaces after the carriage return. Thus it would be very easy to locate the start of paragraphs in the data stream. This contrast to the KRM, which will not give the user any information about where paragraphs are located. I do not know how the DEST handles underlined text.

The major limitation to the DEST is that it will not read typeset material. This means it will read typewritten pages, but not books. At some point, it may be upgraded, or another manufacturer will come up with a device that really works on typeset material as well.

Yesterday, I got a phone call from Brian Adams of the Prose and Cons Braille Group in Lincoln, Nebraska. This is a large braille group in a prison. It has a large "captive" labor pool. They have been interested in setting up a number of work stations in the prison using Apple computers. If they wanted 10 Apple systems, that would cost around $20,000. If they bought one scanner at $8,000, and 15 federal surplus typewriters at $400 each, and 3 Apple systems, the total would be $20,000. The prison would have more work stations. Since typewriters are easier to operate, a large pool of persons could do data entry for braille translation.

I could easily write a program to go over the text looking for a special character (lets say a tilda). The tilda would mean "ignore the last character". A double tilda would mean "ignore the last word", and a triple tilda would mean "ignore the last line". Thus someone typing would still have some access to the editing power of a computer.

For other individuals and organizations, the inability to read typeset material may be fatal. When you depend on conventional technology to meet special needs, you have to be prepared to wait.

For more information about the DEST (no one seems to know what DEST stands for), contact Mike Huckaby at Specialized Computer Inc., 240 W 98th Street Suite 4G, New York, New York 10025, (212) 316-3322.


I reported in a earlier issue that Mike Huckaby of Specialized Computer was producing his own paperless braille device. He has clarified some aspects of its design and cost. The Databraille has evolved into a full fledged CP/M microcomputer. It will have 64K RAM and twin disk drives that will hold up to 2 Megabytes of data. The disks will be 3 inch sealed-media floppy disks. There will be an 80 character braille line display, and a full ASCII keyboard.

There will be a video jack for an 80 by 24 video display. Voice output is an option, a built-in modem is an option. There will be two ports, a printer port and a communications port. Both will span the range from 110 baud to 19200 baud.

Since it will be a regular CP/M system, all available CP/M software should run on it (subject to disk compatibility). It is priced at $9,100 and should be available in early January of 1984.

The Databraille will be using the Duxbury translator. The translator costs $475 (for an individual). It is rumored that Duxbury is working on a reverse translator, so a reverse translator may be available as well at some point. The unit will not have a braille keyboard. At some point, they may try to implement a braille keyboard on the ASCII keyboard in the same way BRAILLE-EDIT makes the Apple keyboard work as a braille keyboard.

I cannot recommend that anyone run out and buy one, since (to my knowledge), a prototype has not been built yet. Personally, I would not put my money down until I saw a working unit. As a general comment, please don't take this newsletter to be the gospel truth. I take some care to make sure the material is accurate. It is the reader's responsibility to assess the worth of any product or service.


I am frequently asked about using a spell checker program on the Apple. There are a number of programs that scan your text looking for stray words that are not in a pre-stored dictionary. For example the word "qrpxcdr" should fail any spell checker. On the other hand "wings lock folds metal fish angry" is acceptable since all the words are in the dictionary. The spell checker does not care that the sequence of words makes any sense.

The most popular spell checker for the Apple is Sensible Speller, made by Sensible Software. It outputs to the screen. The only way to use this program is to use the Zero Card made by Cyberon Corporation. They sell a special version of Sensible Speller which works with the Zero Card. The Zero Card will only output to a number of devices, such as the Echo GP, the Intex, or the VersaBraille. It will not work with the Echo II (not a serial device), the MicroBrailler (does not operate at 9600), or Votrax speech units (these have difficulty working without handshakes). So now that you have spent about $700 for a Zero Card, an Echo GP, and a special version of Sensible Speller, you are all set. It will point out that you are also prepared to work with a wide range of protected software as well.

Currently, using BRAILLE-EDIT with the Sensible Speller is possible, but a bit awkward. I will be making some changes to BRAILLE-EDIT to make this easier.

DIPNER DOT REPORT -- Robert Sweetman

I have been interested in producing braille from my Qume Sprint-9 printer for a long time. I was able to get good draft quality braille on computer paper using the Dipner Dot method. I am sending for an extra roller which will be covered by Ames Supply Company with low resiliance, 30 Durometer rubber. I set the carriage width at 35, and a form length at 18, with eight and a half by eleven inch fan fold computer paper. I set vertical pitch at 12 lines per inch by typing "escape", then L, followed by 04. [editor's note: you can also have a chapter on the master disk consisting of these characters followed by a carriage return. Each time you want to set up the printer, just print the "SETUP" chapter from the master disk. Then print the braille chapter. Note that to type an "escape" In BRAILLE-EDIT, type a control/X followed by a semi-colon]. I was able to use a switch setting at ten spaces per inch. Note that with the Sprint-9 printer, you have to tape a piece of paper over the ribbon light sensor to you cannot run the printer without the ribbon. When this is done, you are set to go. Note that changing rollers on the Sprint-9 is not difficult.

SAGEM REPORT -- Carolyn Jones

I would like to report the progress I have made with the SAGEM brailler. In so many words, I have made no progress with it. I had some expert help and between the two of us we could not get the brailler to interface with the Apple. We tried every conceivable switch setting and nothing worked. When we tried printing some text which I had translated into grade two braille, the text just scrolled across the screen. I never could get a peep out of the SAGEM. So, as a consequence, I am sending it back where it came from. I am going to purchase a Cranmer instead. I am tired of trying to resurrect lost causes such as the SAGEM seems to be. I would not recommend this machine to anyone in the world.

[editor's note: the SAGEM is a braille embosser made in France. About six years ago, it was distributed in the US by TSI. It was dropped because of equipment problems.]


Frank Irzyk has just reported a sucessful interface between the LED-120 and his Apple computer. The LED-120 was set at 1200 baud and no parity. Frank used a Super Serial Card set at "terminal". Switch bank one was: down up up up down up up. Switch bank two was down down up up down down down. He used a stright male-to-male cable (use a 9 wire cable, using lines 1-8 and line 20). He told BRAILLE-EDIT that he had a type "L" printer with a carriage width of 40.

I suspect that a California 7710 card would work just as well as the Super Serial Card. If anyone has information on this, I would appreciate it.


I am well aware that I promised a major upgrade of BRAILLE-EDIT by the end of the summer. This did not occur. I have fielded many phone calls. I have answered many letters. I have gone on a number of trips. Now that Raised Dot Computing has a full time worker besides myself, it will be easier to schedule large programming projects and actually finish them.

Excuses aside, what follows is a list of improvements and corrections to the current version of BRAILLE-EDIT (version 2.44). I expect to have all these done by January first.

Major Improvements

Minor Improvements

Data Entry Commands

Word Processing Commands

Fix Existing Bugs

Final Word

I am sure that many of you are disappointed to see that your favorite candidate was not included in this list. Please write me now so I can make a complete list of all the things to get fixed up. Please do not delay. I may get so burned out on these revisions that I may not get back to fixing up BRAILLE-EDIT for quite some time.

I intend to charge $25 for this upgrade. Please do not send any money until I actually announce that it is all ready. If you send me an article for the newsletter, the cost will be $15. If you send two articles, the cost will be free. Articles submitted after September 1st are counted.


I spent just under a week in Minneapolis to attend the "Discover 83: Computers for the Disabled" conference. It was put on jointly by the Hagens of Closing the Gap, and by Stout University.

Despite some problems with the logistics (no braille programs, few interpreters, no arrangements for handicapped parking, etc.) the conference was a lot of fun. My close friend and associate Jesse Kaysen helped me run the booth. [Jesse was the graphic designer who put together the blue brochure for Raised Dot Computing. I recommend her highly for typesetting, layout, and graphic design. Her address is: Jesse Kaysen, Gray Willer Press, 8 S. Carroll St., Madison, WI 53703, (608) 255-1219].

It turned out that two persons were essential at that conference. There were too many people who wanted to find out what was going on in too brief a time. This conference marked the first time that Raised Dot Computing acted as a representative of Telesensory Systems in demonstrating a VersaBraille. I also had a Cranmer Brailler running as well. Every time we cranked up the Cranmer, it was hard to get people to look at the VersaBraille. Unless I have a good long stretch of time with a sighted person, it is hard to convey all the things a VersaBraille can do. Blind people know almost instinctively. I am slowly learning that a great product does not always sell itself.

I gave two presentations, one on BRAILLE-EDIT, and one on the display systems I have developed for a certain blind mathematics professor. The BRAILLE-EDIT session was standing room only. The "Electronic Blackboard" session was poorly attended. Since I have few opportunities to demonstrate the classroom programs, I was disappointed.

I stayed at Marj Schneider's apartment in Minneapolis. Marj is one of the members of Women's Braille Press. WBP has a collection of 75 taped feminist and Lesbian books as well as several periodicals, such as Off Our Backs. A subscription to WBP costs $10, $15, or $20 depending on income. Subscribers get to borrow books as well as get a quarterly braille newsletter. Right now WBP is in a jam over the cost and problems of thermoform. Thermoform costs has been escalating. One alternative is computer generated braille. Many people have concerned themselves with finding ways for organizations with large budgets to produce braille. I would like to figure out a way for an organization with a zero computer budget to computerize its braille production. Stay tuned for more developments.

I am straying from my topic, which was how I spent my time in Minneapolis. On the third day of the conference, Marj took over Jesse's role as a co-exhibitor. I showed her how to operate the VersaBraille in a few minutes. Having a blind person operate a VersaBraille made the device much more comprehensible to visitors to the booth.

After the conference, I spent several days working with the women at WBP. The general agreement was that it would be real handy to have an Apple (or Franklin) computer. Anyone interested in donating a computer to a community group that would put it to real good use contact Marj Schneider at Women's Braille Press, 1615 S. 4th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55404, (612) 341-3114.


I cannot do everything at once. I simply do not have the time to develop software for every kind of personal computer that is on the market. When I started working on BRAILLE-EDIT, there was no IBM PC. It's not that I believe that the Apple is the best computer. Far from it. The simple fact is that David Holladay knows the Apple computer backwards and forwards. I don't know jackshit about the IBM.

To several people, I have made the following offer: make me an offer about my cut, satisfy me as to your goals, and I will send you a complete printout (or a VersaBraille tape, or disks), or the BRAILLE-EDIT source code. I would expect to get a decent cut of the action. I would expect that my interests would be protected. I would expect any programmer who worked on an IBM version to stay at it supporting the program for several years. If someone just wants to make a quick version of the program, who will support the program? Who will answer telephone inquiries? Who will make changes in response to new devices, or new needs? Who will write the manuals? Who will run training sessions? Who will produce the necessary body of technical material? Who will be in on this for the long haul? So, if you are interested in working on a fascinating project for several years, give me a call.

Please do not ask me why I have not bothered to write programs for your Timex or your Color Computer. I was not placed on this planet to be your personal computer programmer. I am trying to produce useful tools in the best way that I know how. I am trying to distribute those tools and the supporting literature dirt cheap. If you do not care for my wares, please go to someone else.


Those with VersaBrailles or other terminals which give them access to data bases through phone lines may be interested in two sources of information and other material relating to Apples. One is the MAUG Apple users' group available on Compuserve by entering at any prompt "go pcs-51". The other is Apple City, available on The Source by entering at any prompt "PUBLIC 113".

The Compuserve database contains a bulletin board on which you can leave messages and from which you can get information on equipment, items for sale, users' opinions of software, and many other subjects. Messages can be scanned or read in their entirety. One good use of the bulletin board is that it enables you to ask questions of some rather knowledgeable users. In addition to the bulletin board, the data base contains a number of sections from which programs can be downloaded. Following is an excerpt from the explanation on the system of the sections. The information is not quite as timely as it should be, since section 7 is now used, but this will give you a pretty good idea of what's available.

How to Find a Program or File

MAUG's database area is presently divided into eight active sections. These are referred to as "XA sections" because the XA command is used to access them. First, here is what's generally in each section -- then we will explain how to search in a section for programs that you want. Section 0 is now for application and utility programs. However, you may find programs of any description here because when the system first began section 0 was the only section. Some day we all hope Compuserve will come up with a way to move programs from section to section. For now -- always check section 0. (But, please, only add programs to it that fit its present description). Section 1 is for reviews. These are text files written by members which detail experiences with various items of software or hardware. Section 2 is for games. Various game programs and their documentation are here. Section 3 is for text files that are neither reviews nor documentation. Section 4 is devoted to the art of telecommunications. Simple terminal programs or mods to commercial programs and such are here. Section 5 is setup as a miscellaneous area. Section 6 is for vendors to upload catalogs or items for sale. Section 7 is not used. Section 8 is for programs in CP/M or other operating systems or languages which require a co-processor card. (There are also a few 6502 assembly programs here).

A number of VersaBraille users already make use of Compuserve and find it easy to access. The DC3 Handshake works perfectly, so that downloading is no problem. I am, however, having difficulty getting programs which I have downloaded into my Apple so that they can be run. Perhaps David or someone else has a solution to this problem.

Apple City, on the Source, contains a variety of information and programs which are perhaps best summarized by excerpting some of the menu information.

WELCOME TO APPLE CITY ----------- Greetings and salutations! As chairman of the Apple City Booster Club, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to our town. You'll find the natives extremely friendly and willing to assist you at every turn. Apple City has attractions to suit most any taste. Here's a quick atlas to help you find your way around: MAIN STREET - where you are now. From here you can visit any area of the city, and also find out "What's New." APPLE SQUARE - the center of town. Here you can read the latest ramblings of the mayor, articles of general interest, software reviews and other good stuff. PROGRAM LIBRARY - A storehouse of useful and entertaining programs, ready for you to download. At $0.00 per program, the price is right! ART GALLERY - A unique way to acquire multi-color, hi-res pictures for display.

This area does not contain a bulletin board, but the POST section of The Source has a category specifically set aside for messages about Apples. The Source is also easy to use with the VersaBraille.

Compuserve's standard or non-prime time rate has just gone up from $5.00 to $6.00 an hour. The equivalent rate on The Source is $7.75.

Once we have available a good talking terminal program with the ability to save to disk, we can access these data bases directly with our Apples, if we choose to do so or have no other means of doing so. In any case, I have found both services worth some time and attention.


So what do you do when you get a delicious program on your VersaBraille? How to you get it loaded on your computer? The first step is to make sure that you used computer braille when you loaded the program on the VersaBraille. You should preserve the carriage returns at the end of each program line.

Next transfer the chapter to the Apple. Once it is in BRAILLE-EDIT chapter form, there are still a few steps. Write the chapter into a textfile. Use the "W" Utility. When you do it, use a long form length (like 250), and say you only want upper case.

Now comes the fun part. Hit a "Q" from the Utility Menu to get to the BASIC prompt. Type NEW carriage return to throw away any program in the Apple. Lets say your file is called XYZ and it is on drive two. Type EXEC XYZ,D2 carriage return. The contents of the textfile will be loaded into the program buffer line by line. Once the exec process is over, you can list the program, run it, save it, rewrite it, etc.

Unless you use the EXEC step, it is real hard to make good use out of BASIC programs stored on a VersaBraille or stored in a T or B file.

OBITER DICTA: Miscellaneous Matters Concerning BRAILLE-EDIT

by Morgan E. Jones

David scared me in the last newsletter. He said that if we didn't send articles in, he would have to take time away from his programming to write them. No, David, don't do that! We want you to continue improving BRAILLE-EDIT and producing other great programs. One reason why I am writing this article is so that you will have time to get on with your splendid programming.

This article is simply a list of hints for BRAILLE-EDIT users. Some are warnings; some are ideas for getting more use out of your BRAILLE-EDIT. All of the following has been learned thru hard experience.

1. File names. When you are in data entry, you may or may not give a title to a chapter/file) that you are writing; however, you have to give every chapter a name. The name is what the chapter goes by in the directory/catalog on the disk. On the first documentation disk for BRAILLE-EDIT is a section entitled "Fundamental Concepts". This leads to a section entitled "Chapters and Pages". This section states that the first character of a chapter's name must not be a number. Forgetting this advice leads to big trouble. I can tell you from personal experience.

2. More on file names. The same section states that we must never use certain punctuation marks in a chapter's name--namely, a period, a comma, a semicolon, or a colon. This advice, too, we forget at our own peril. I forgot and it caused me big trouble.

3. Centering. Somewhere in the documentation is a rule saying that "$$c" and "$$h" must be preceded by "$p" and that the material to be centered must be followed by another "$p". Not true! At the beginning of a chapter, you may begin as follows: "$$d$$c Article" or "$$d$$h Article". I know from experience that this works. The symbol following the title doesn't have to be "$p"; it may be "$l". It does have to be one or the other.

4. Paragraphing. You know that "$p" preceded by a space and followed by a space will normally result in a blank line between paragraphs and an indentation of five spaces. If your chapter is going to be brailled out, you may not want to have a blank line between paragraphs, and you may wish to indent two spaces instead of five. You may accomplish this by beginning each page as follows: "$$d$$s1$$i2". The "$$s1" will keep "$p" from skipping a line, between paragraphs and the "$$i2" will cause "$p" to give an indentation of two spaces instead of five.

5. Underlining. Each paragraph of this article begins with an indentation, a number, and an underlined heading. After the heading is a period, yet the period is not underlined. How is this accomplished? It is done as follows: one space, "$$ub", no space, the heading, one space, "$$uf", no space, control x, control h, and finally a period. The space before "$$ub" will make the command legitimate, but it will leave a space between the heading and the period. The control x followed by control h will cause the printer to backspace before printing the period. This procedure is also necessary in bibliographies, for example: one space, "$$ub", no space, a book title, one space, "$$uf", no space, control x, control h, a comma, and finally the words "second edition" (or abbreviated, 2nd ed.).

6. Tables. In BRAILLE-EDIT, version 2.44, there is a chapter called "Example". It shows how to set up a table with headings and columns. It shows that if you want three spaces between column headings, you are to do it like this: first column heading, one space, "$$p+2", no space, "$$t*", no space, and finally the second column heading. The one space before the "$$p+2" legitimizes the command and also makes one space in the printout; the "$$p+2" adds two more spaces, making three altogether. Finally the "$$t*" sets the tab at that character position, thus making three spaces between column headings. I claim that it is easier to accomplish this by the following procedure: first column heading, three spaces, "$$t*", no space, second column heading. This makes the spacing easier to figure out and takes less room.

Most of the above suggestions are probably of interest only to those just beginning to use BRAILLE-EDIT. Anyway, at that stage, I would have appreciated some pointers like these.


I have the good fortune to have been encouraged to buy a $225 service agreement by my Apple dealer. He made the following special arrangements with me: 1. The dealer would serve me 24 hours a day, with a special number to call when trouble arrises. This is also available to sighted users. 2. The dealer would come to my home during regular business hours if I couldn't aqquire transportation to the store (subject to the dealer having some free time). Other users are expected to bring their computer to the store.

I have made a number of mistakes when I first started using my Apple. I hope that I can aid some of my fellow users avoid some of my mistakes. At least I have the luck to have my dealer express the following idea, "Since you have a service agreement make all the mistakes you want. We'll fix it and you won't be charged. Then, you'll be more independent and capable of making diagnostic observations which will enable us to spend less time, therefore less money when we come to work on your machine. Also, the more you can do for your own machine, the less time it'll have to spend in the shop when it goes down and we can't fix it at your home. Besides, you can share what you know with other blind users and that will make it easier on their dealers, or on them if they're dealers aren't as nice as us!"


The Super Serial Card is the brand name for the serial card made by Apple. It has many features. It can do a lot. It has a lot of little tiny switches that tell it what to do. In fact, it has 14 tiny switches. These are arranged in two groups, called banks. Dealing with all the little switches can be a real pain.

If you have never seen an interface card before, it may be worthwhile to inspect your card. The side which has several rows of evenly spaced sharp points should always be facing the left side of the Apple. The other side of the card has raised rectangular boxes. These are circuit chips. One of the long edges has a bulge. The bulge has the "fingers", which get plugged into the Apple. With the bulge oriented downwards, the DIP switches are on the upper left-hand corner.

The flattened shafts (which are aligned perpendicular to the rectangular mounting bank) are the switches in question. These switches are usually manipulated with the points of pencils or pens. Do not use a pencil point to change the switch settings. The manual says something about graphite interfering with the switch contacts. But who reads manuals in this day and age?. Blind people have difficulty using a pen. The rounded point proves to be a difficult shape for use as a probe or "switch actuator". I have better luck using the flat portion of a slot type screwdriver head, or the flat portion of a fingernail file. To actually find out what the switch settings are, look at the Raised Dot Computing Interface Guide. This is available in print, audio, and disk forms.

On the middle of the right side of the circuit card is the jack where the RS-232 connector gets plugged into. Just to the left of that socket is another difficult area, the "jumper block". The jumper block may look like a chip, but it is not a chip. Sighted persons will recognize the jumper block as the thing with the white triangle on it. Blind persons will notice that one of the corners is rounded off.

The jumper block is a special form of "switch". If you pull out the jumper block, turn it around, and re-insert it, you have changed its "setting". There are two settings, "modem", or "terminal". It is set at "terminal" if the triangle is pointed down or the rounded corner is in the upper right-hand side. Changing the jumper block has the same effect as attaching or removing a null modem.

To make a long story short, at one point I thought a real chip was the jumper block. Chips apparently don't like this sort of treatment. As my hardware expert, Barry Ethridge says, "Its the smoke in those little boxes that makes them work. If you let out the smoke, the computer quits working." When I blew up the Serial card, the computer wouldn't beep when it was turned on, and the disk drives remained silent. Although I can't prove it, I believe that the power supply gave out a louder and higher pitched whine than is usual.


First, turn it off. Don't unplug your computer. You want to keep it grounded so you won't hurt any chips with your body's static charge. Lift off the cover. Touch the low metal box on the left side of the inside of your computer. This box is the power supply. By touching it, you discharge your static electricity from your body. You can now safely begin exploring the inside of your Apple without the fear of blowing up any chips.

The main circuit board on the inside of the Apple is often called the "mother board". Behind it are the interface slots. Gently but firmly, press down on all of the interface cards to ensure that they are seated firmly in their slots. Do likewise with all of the chips on the Mother Board. Sometimes the chips can rise out of their sockets due to the expansion and contraction which occurs as the computer heats and cools down after long periods of use. This proved useful to me a week ago when my computer started dropping things from memory and locking-up.

If rubbing the cards and the chips doesn't work, remove all the circuit cards from your computer except the disk interface card. Never, never remove or replace a circuit card when the power is on. When you turn the power on, the computer should beep and the disks should whirr. If not, you had better call your dealer. With any luck, the dealer will have the computer fixed real soon. May this only happen to those with service agreements or if the warranty is still in effect!


Some persons, usually programmers would like me to release more documentation about how BRAILLE-EDIT works. This month, I would like to show how the configuration system works.

The program HELLO asks you to enter a configuration. If you do so, a short file is loaded into memory starting at $300 hex (or 896 decimal). If you look at the locations starting at 896, you can decode the configuration.

If none of that made any sense, don't worry. If you were wondering what a line in the Utility program that references location 904, now you can figure it out. Location 904 is 8 locations from 896. The eight entry holds the number of disk drives. Do there you have it.


I just got a letter in the mail form Iceland. They would like a computer program which would translate from Icelantic into Icelantic braille. If there are any readers who are familiar with Icelantic braille or with the Icelantic language, I would appreciate hearing from you.