NEWSLETTER #32 September 1985

20% Price Decrease on Cranmer Modified Perkins Braillers

RDC, Inc. is pleased to announce a significant price reduction on the Cranmer Modified Perkins Brailler. The manufacturer of the Cranmer, Maryland Computer Services, has lowered the price for several reasons. Since the Cranmer has been in production now for three years, MCS has been able to recoup the initial start-up costs for their production facility and establish steady relationships with parts suppliers. They are thus able to sell the Cranmer at a lower margin.

Effective immediately, the price of a Cranmer has been reduced to $2,350--a reduction of $600 or 20%! As before, all Cranmers purchased from Raised Dot Computing include the Interactive Cranmer Interface disk, UPS surface freight to the customer, and a 90-day warranty. We have also reduced the cost of the TAPS package to $2,950. Customers buying RDC, Inc. software, Apple Super Serial Cards, or Cranmer cables with their brailler still receive a discount on those items.

We hope that the new lower price of the Cranmer will allow more people to have the opportunity to own a personal brailling device.

Prairie Power Portable System for Apple 2c

RDC, Inc. is pleased to announce that we are starting to sell the Prairie Power Portable 2c System as of this month. This system is a portable briefcase with a rechargeable 12 volt battery that can power your 2c and Cricket for up to 8 hours. The battery comes equipped with a power cord for the 2c and a power cord for a Cricket synthesizer. The battery has an audible low-voltage alarm, so there's no danger of losing data due to low battery.

The pack measures 5-1/4" thick by 16-1/2" wide by 13-1/2" high--small enough to fit under an airplane seat. The case is carefully made of sturdy Cordura nylon and is fully padded. All seams are reinforced against wear. Inside, the battery comes packed in its own padded case. Also included are a disk holder and a flat-panel screen pocket, which works well holding a Cricket. Durable PVC panels are used to stiffen the pack. You can hook everything up and use your 2c while still in the case. When loaded with Cricket and 2c (sorry, no second disk drive) the pack weighs 20 pounds. You can carry it with the padded handles or with the supplied shoulder strap; those 20 pounds are evenly distributed for long hikes in airport concourses.

RDC, Inc. is selling The Prairie Power Portable System, with modified cable for the Cricket synthesizer, for $275, postpaid. If you'd like to buy a Cricket with your Prairie Power Pack, we offer a package price of $425, postpaid.

Recent Changes to BRAILLE-EDIT: The July 22, 1985 Version 2.50 Disk

Our latest BRAILLE-EDIT disk has quite a few bugs and glitches fixed up, and a few more features. These changes have required alterations to all of the BRAILLE-EDIT program. This means that if you use an old version to BOOT with, and then use the new MAIN side (or vice versa) you will experience program crashes. Please use both new BOOT and new MAIN sides. (You can use FID to copy all your existing configurations from your old disk to your new disk. Give =SYS as your filename and sit back and watch FID go!)

There are seven items we'd like to draw your attention to:

1) We've improved your ability to control translation between print and braille within a document. The composition signs control the action of both the GRADE TWO and BACK FROM GRADE TWO translators. In older versions, the start of a new BRAILLE-EDIT page reset you to literary mode. This has been fixed: the effect of a composition sign now continues throughout a translation session.

You can now change between different braille modes with two types of signs: the "at-sign" group signals a change and remains in your text; the "underbar" group signals a change and is removed from your text in the translation process. Each sign is four keystrokes; they must start and end with a space. We've added two new composition signs; here is the complete list:

If you are writing a chapter that you want translated, you may want a section in computer braille. Use the @- and @l commands to enclose the text you don't want translated. After translation, you will find the @- and @l symbols in the text. If you use _- and _l instead, the translators will still retain the enclosed text in computer braille, but the composition signs will disappear from the translated text. For the underbar group, every four-keystroke composition sign is transformed into one space.

"British mode" refers to how capitalization is treated. The British don't use cap signs, and @b will suppress the use of cap signs until you go back to literary mode. If you are in computer braille mode or British braille mode, you MUST use an @l or _l to get back to literary braille mode. The @n and _n commands refer to Nemeth code. Nemeth code sequences are treated like computer braille in BRAILLE-EDIT. Other Raised Dot Computing programs manipulate Nemeth code sequences.

2) The GRADE TWO translator has been improved again. A number of words have been added. The program will properly translate words like "DON'T" (it used to put a cap sign before the T) To make room for these many improvements, we've moved one feature from the GRADE TWO translator to the transformation chapter called TXVB. This feature changes hyphens from print format to braille format: it changes every appearance of "space, hyphen, space" to "hyphen, hyphen."

3) We've changed the list of Brailler Types in the Printer Section of the configuration questions. Here is the revised list, which is also available if you enter ?<CR> at the ENTER BRAILLER TYPE prompt:

As you may notice, there have been a few changes. The MIT Braillemboss is no longer being supported. Only 20 were ever made, and we're unaware of any that are currently hooked up to Apple computers. The "M" designation now goes to the Vtek MBOSS-1 brailler. We also list the Personal Brailler. Actually, using "M" or "P" does the same thing as using a "T". By listing these units individually, we hope to clear up some confusion. We have designated "H" for the Camwil braille printing element for the IBM typewriter, however, we have not yet gotten test results to prove that our driver works. (See Newsletter 29/30 for details.) The Ohtsuko Dentsu (Type "O") is a combination brailler and dot matrix printer made in Japan. We have discovered that it does not handle lower case characters very well. Selecting type "O" is just like a type "T", except that it is automatically set at upper case lock.

4) Transfer to VersaBraille will now properly handle control characters with a model D VersaBraille.

5) We've added audio feedback to any printer with "pause on form feed" which includes all screen modes. When the computer is waiting for you to hit the spacebar, the Apple speaker makes a low "boop." This boop is always heard, no matter whether you have a voice or screen configuration.

6) Page-oriented format commands will now work when you use W - WRITE CHAPTERS TO TEXTFILE. This feature directly contradicts the instructions in the new BRAILLE-EDIT User's Guide. Page-oriented format commands include page breaks, braille and print page numbering, and running heads. When you write a textfile, the print-thinker defaults to a form length of zero; if you want to execute any page-oriented commands, the very first command in your chapter must establish a form length greater than 4. For example, if you wish to write a textfile to proof a document of carriage width 85, form length 58, single space, indent 10 and skip 2 lines at a paragraph, you must enter "$$f58 $$w85 $$l1 $$s2 $$i10" at the beginning of the first chapter. You can then read this textfile back to a BRAILLE-EDIT chapter for proofing. A new page is shown by control-L in your text.

7) The clash between TEXTALKER Version 3.1 and a Super Serial Card in slot 2 has been fixed. (This was described in Newsletter 31.) We had to write our own patch to TEXTALKER so it would not change the parameters of innocent serial cards.

If you have an older BRAILLE-EDIT, Version 2.45 or 2.50, you can get this disk for the customary $10 or 4 blank disks. The text of this article is also on the disk, called, logically enough, "RECENT CHANGES."

The Joys of Knowing Your Printer -- Dean Martineau

I have discovered a resource which was, at least to me, unexpected: the manuals for my printers. Getting to know the capabilities of your printer may allow you to do things with it that BRAILLE-EDIT does not specifically support. My newfound ability to control the printer has opened one definite job-related use for BRAILLE-EDIT to me, and this has increased my independence.

Getting to know your printer will probably be complicated by its manual. While some are written with at least a couple passing thoughts for the user, many others use a newly-created language which contains elements of English, Japanese and FORTRAN. The Apple Imagewriter is in the former category; the Qume Letterpro-20, the latter. So I concentrate most of my efforts on the Imagewriter.

The Imagewriter offers a great advantage: its functions can all be controlled from the computer keyboard. You can avoid tampering with DIP switches. "DIP switches" are ghoulish, tiny switches located in inaccessible places which control the interface between your printer and computer and also can govern many of your printer's functions. Luckily, anything that can be set on the Imagewriter using DIP switches can also be set using escape sequences.

Here's an example: the Imagewriter can print in both "pica" mode with 10 characters per inch and "elite" mode with 12 cpi. If you want the Imagewriter to "wake up" in pica mode, then you set both DIP switches 1-6 and 1-7 open. If you want to change this to elite, you could close switch 1-6. But you don't have to mess with the switches at all--you can write a short BRAILLE-EDIT chapter that just contains two characters: escape uppercase E. When you print this chapter to the Imagewriter, it switches into elite mode. The Imagewriter manual contains clear descriptions of the escape sequences used to obtain many desired changes. For those who, like me, weren't sure what an "escape sequence" was before starting, it's formed by typing the Esc key (in the upper left-hand corner of the Apple 2e or 2c) and then typing a particular series of numbers, letters or punctuation. The Echo refers to the Esc key as "control left-brace." If you follow the instructions in your manual, the printer will not print the characters that follow the Esc key, but will interpret them as commands.

Using various escape sequences, I have been able to adjust the print fonts, to print material with proportional spacing, to use boldface type, and even to write properly accented documents in foreign languages! Yes, the Imagewriter manual explains the procedures for printing ten languages, including French, Spanish and German. It's a bit of a pain to get used to the system, and it would obviously be well-nigh impossible to correct a text using a speech synthesizer, but you could still proofread using the VersaBraille or a braille output device.

Once I had fully comprehended the power I wielded over this unsuspecting printer, I began to wonder if I couldn't use it to create my own forms using BRAILLE-EDIT's GLOBAL REPLACE. I have some simple forms to fill out in my job, and, I reasoned, if I could "boilerplate" them onto the computer and just print them onto plain paper, they should look as good as what I could do with clerical help and a pre-printed form. (My supervisor doesn't demand that I use the pre-printed forms, just that the material appear in approximately the same place and in approximately the same order as it would on those forms.) So with that in mind, I set to work. I created transformation chapters which contain the printer instructions and the precise set-up of the form. I make extensive use of escape sequences and of commands such as "$$p" and "$$t" to specify the positioning of items just where I want them. I key each element in the form to a number surrounded by spaces.

For example, I enter "space 10 space" into my text. The transformation chapter changes every " 10 " into "escape exclamation mark $$p10 Source of Income: escape double-quote" The escape exclamation mark turns on boldface printing. $$p10 moves the print-head to position 10 on the line, then I print the field identifier. Finally, the escape double-quote turns boldface printing off. I make sure that each string I create in my transformation chapter is 48 characters or less (to prevent GLOBAL REPLACE from crashing). It requires a lot of planning to design this boilerplate for my form, but using it is straightforward. I type the code numbers immediately followed by the appropriate data. I use GLOBAL REPLACE on this chapter to flesh out the form. I know how many code numbers I have in each form, so I can use the NUMBER OF TRANSFORMATIONS message at the end of GLOBAL REPLACE as a double-check that I entered the codes correctly. Lastly, I send the boiler-plated form out to the Imagewriter. It may sound confusing, but it works, and produces nice material.

I have a disk containing many of the commonly used printer control codes for the Apple Imagewriter, in either a BRAILLE EDIT chapter or a text file. If you'd like a copy, drop me a note:

Womyn's Braille Press Offers

Feminist Literature on Tape and in Braille

Since the late 1970's several blind womyn have been working on the problem of feminist literature available to us in a form we can read. We have felt extreme frustration at not being able to read most of the writing by womyn that has come out of today's feminist movement. In 1980, six blind womyn in Minneapolis created the Womyn's Braille Press, Inc. By 1981 we had recorded our first books and periodicals and had published the first issues of the Womyn's Braille Press Newsletter. This project has operated largely on a volunteer basis. Dozens of womyn have worked with us as volunteer readers, Braille transcribers, and in many other ways.

Why Is WBP Necessary?

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress (NLS) provides most of the leisure reading for people in this country who are blind or unable to read print books. While the NLS has produced a number of mainstream feminist titles, its overall collection resembles the variety of books that would be found in a small town public library. Its offerings could never match the holdings of the Library of Congress or a large university library, nor could it attempt to make available more than a few of the titles found at feminist bookstores. Since NLS is federally funded, it has experienced budget cuts, and its book selection process is most certainly influenced by the current administration. NLS has made almost nothing available on topics such as lesbianism, writings by womyn of color, radical feminist theory, and writings on violence against womyn. Ms. magazine is the only feminist periodical offered by NLS, and its availability is not publicized. Yet NLS is all many of us have had.

Recordings for the Blind (RFB) is the other major source for literature on tape, and provides books mostly for students who are blind. Not everyone can use RFB, and it is difficult to know what feminist titles they may have produced. We attempt to keep track of the titles produced by NLS and RFB, both to inform our subscribers and to avoid duplication of efforts. Womyn's Braille Press exists to fill in some of the gaps.

Literature has played an important role in today's feminist movement, and it is vitally important that we as disabled womyn have access to that literature. The ideas of feminism may enable us to grow and make profound changes in our lives, as they have for many other womyn. It is equally important that the movement which seeks freedom for all womyn should include the participation of womyn with disabilities. Our contributions as thinkers, activists, and leaders are valuable and essential.

What Does WBP Provide?

Books on tape--WBP has over 150 titles in our ever-expanding library of books on tape. These books are recorded in the 4-track, 15/16 ips format, and can only be played on equipment such as the tape players distributed to blind and disabled people through the National Library Service. Subscribers to WBP can borrow or purchase any of the materials we offer. We have also recorded other materials such as resource guides on womyn's health issues.

Books in braille--Braille is an important means of reading for people who are blind, and WBP is committed to the production of literature in Braille. We have several books in Braille, particularly volumes of poetry, as well as materials on womyn's health issues. A complete catalog of all the Brailled and taped literature offered by us is available in Braille, on tape, and in print.

Periodicals on Tape--Several feminist periodicals are recorded and distributed by WBP on a regular basis. The number of periodicals we can produce is limited due to the time and energy involved in producing publications on a regular and timely basis. We ask that publishers of these periodicals assist us in producing them on tape. If you publish a periodical and would like to make it accessible, please contact us to discuss the possibility.

Quarterly Newsletter--Our quarterly newsletter is available in Braille, in print, and on tape. We publish articles by our subscribers and by other womyn with disabilities on a wide variety of topics such as employment and attitudes towards womyn with disabiliies. The newsletter includes announcements of interest to our subscribers, as well as news of our activities and listings of new works offered by WBP. This newsletter offers a unique forum for disabled womyn and our issues. We encourage non-disabled womyn to subscribe to the newsletter.

Attitudes and Accessibility--WBP is committed to the education of non-disabled womyn to the abilities and needs of disabled womyn. We participate in workshops and discussions on attitudes towards disabilities. Also, we strongly encourage that feminist events and activities be made accessible to womyn with disabiities. We will consult with groups on providing written materials in Braille and on tape.

How You Can Help

WBP is always in need of volunteer readers. You need not have special equipment to record for us. If you have reasonably good cassette recording equipment, and think you would enjoy reading aloud, contact us by mail or phone. We will provide you with information about how recordings for us need to be done, and ask for a sample recording with your equipment. WBP can supply you with all the tapes you will need, and we will pay for mailing costs. We have several cassette recorders available on loan for those living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

We would like to hear from any Braille transcribers who want to work with us. We especially want to hear from transcribers using RDC's BRAILLE-EDIT programs.

WBP needs your financial support. Our work continues largely through donations from individuals, and all contributions to WBP are tax deductible. We invite you to subscribe to our quarterly newsletter for a donation on a sliding scale of $10, $15, or $20 per year.

You can also help by passing this information on to any blind or disabled womyn you know, or to anyone who might be interested in contributing in any other way to our work. We thank you in advance for your efforts in helping us make feminist literature accessible to womyn who do not read print.

For further information, please contact us by mail or by phone:

Writing in Print and Braille -- Caryn Navy & Jesse Kaysen

In the process of writing the new BRAILLE-EDIT User's Guide, we discovered a few tricks about writing a document for two formats. The key to creating correctly formatted inkprint and braille documents from the same text is entering sufficient functional format information in your original. You can always use Global Replace to delete extraneous information.

The clearest example is underlining. To underline print material, you start with "$$ub and finish with "$$uf". An italics symbol represents underlining in braille: where the symbol is placed depends on how many words are underlined. When more than three are involved, you place a double italics symbol before the first word and a single italics symbol before the last word. If you have three or less underlined words, you place a single italics symbol before each.

Once you start underlining with "$$ub", issuing another "$$ub" command has no effect. You can have three "$$ub" commands in succession and the print-thinker will just keep underlining. A single "$$uf" command is sufficient to turn the underlining off. Here's an example of inserting enough information in your original to create correct format for print and braille:

She gave me a copy of Wilde's play, $$ub $$ub The Importance of Being $$ub Ernest $$uf after she took her vacation in Cairo.

When you print this to an inkprint printer, the title of the play will be correctly underlined. If you print this text to a braille device that you configured as braille, then the effects of the "$$ub" and "$$uf" are automatically filtered out. To insert appropriate italics symbols, you need to do a little GLOBAL REPLACE. If you wish to transform your text before you perform the grade 2 translation, replace every appearance of "$$ub" with "_". The grade 2 translator changes the underbar character into dots 4-6. On the other hand, after you've translated the text into grade 2 braille, you change every appearance of "$$ub" to "." (dots 4-6 in computer braille). In either case, you replace every appearance of "$$ub" with nothing (thereby deleting it.) If you are underlining three or less words, you still use the same principle. You simply type "$$ub" before each word.

This may seem like a lot of work, but it's a lot faster than changing every appearance of underlining by hand. The BRAILLE-EDIT User's Guide occupies 3-1/2 BRAILLE-EDIT disks. We simply set up GLOBAL REPLACE to transform two entire disks at once, and went to lunch (twice)--and the task was simple.

To take care of creating appropriate headings and margins, we used only BETTE commands in the original document. For example, with BETTE, we signal the start of a minor heading with "\\mh" and the return to text with "\\rt". We created a special transformation chapter to change BETTE commands into appropriate inkprint format. The standard BETTE transformation changes "\\mh" to the appropriate braille format--indent and runover to cell 4--and then changes "\\rt" to normal indent and runover. For inkprint, we changed "\\mh" to "$$p8 $$ub", which indented the minor heading eight characters and started underlining, and changed "\\rt" to "" to turn underlining off. Since there is no inkprint standard comparable to The Code of Braille Textbook Format and Techniques, we can't supply you with "standardized" BETTE transformation chapters for inkprint final copy. If you're interested in what the print format transformation chapters look like, send us a disk to copy them on to.

The only "dollar" commands that appeared in the User's Guide were the paragraph ($p) and new line ($l) indicators. All the other format information was signalled by BETTE commands that related to the function of the change of layout on the page. We let GLOBAL REPLACE take care of interpreting those functional commands into the nitty-gritty of print and braille page design. If we ever go for the big time and typeset our documentation, these files will be in perfect shape for transmission to a typesetter. Most modern typesetters have large mini-computers with mammoth global replace capacities. They'll be able to transform the "\\mh" into "set this in Gill Sans Medium Condensed type, 14 point, 18 points of line space to the next line, flush right over a 3 point rule."

By following the principle of supplying complete functional format information, you can make producing a document in several formats much easier. This principle is how BETTE enables you to create VersaBraille and paper braille from the same source document. Because BETTE's (and BRAILLE-EDIT's) Editor is character oriented instead of line-oriented, the format information is not tied down to a particular line length.

Recognizing that the procedure we've described is more work than some will undertake, we're building in a lovely feature in BEX's Grade 2 Translator. When the Grade 2 Translator encounters an underlined passage, it will automatically insert the appropriate italics symbols in the translated text.

Forms and the VersaBraille: The Social Security Administration's Dilemma -- Eugenia Firth

As a consultant, I recently had the opportunity to work with the Social Security Administration in Grand Prairie, Texas. They needed to produce a staggering number of VersaBraille forms. The equipment available for the job consisted of one VersaBraille and one Okidata printer. When I learned of their needs, I suggested using an Apple and BRAILLE-EDIT to construct and duplicate VB tapes with the forms.

Although they felt the training provided by TSI was good as far as it went, nothing of the limitations and the actual advantages of their system was explained to them. They did not know, for example, that simply making one master tape using one VersaBraille involves typing a form exactly right 80 to 100 times. They were not told how to set up the forms so that page breaks occurred in the best locations. They knew nothing of organizing forms to accommodate the slow turning of VersaBraille tapes. Although they were told that tapes could be duplicated using two VersaBrailles, they were unaware of the cumbersome slowness of such a process. Although they are smart people, they didn't realize that, once two more VersaBrailles were acquired for the three blind employees in the office, using this method for tape duplication would mean that two out of three of the VersaBrailles would be busy duplicating tapes and nothing else. The first order of business toward solving the problem was, of course, to explain all these things to them and suggest using the computer for the job.

First, we typed one copy of the form using BRAILLE-EDIT's Editor. A printout was made to test the form. A sample VersaBraille transfer was done to determine where VersaBraille page breaks should be inserted. Once the original was letter-perfect, copies were made of it. Each new form was put into a new chapter, and each chapter was given a different name.

At first, we used the COPY CHAPTER option on BRAILLE-EDIT's Second Menu to duplicate the chapters. However, this option requires that a new name be typed in for each copy. My husband, Mike Firth, wrote a program to take BRAILLE-EDIT chapters, duplicate them, giving each a different name. This program enabled us to save a great deal of time because we were able to use two Apples, one to run BRAILLE-EDIT and one to copy the forms.

Each side of a VersaBraille tape is limited to 50 chapters. A BRAILLE-EDIT disk can only contain 30 chapters, we had to do two transfers to the VersaBraille to construct our master forms tape.

We have now completed a total of 14 sets of forms: each VersaBraille tape contains from 80 to 100 forms, depending upon the form's length. We produced approximately 1400 forms. Imagine having to type 1400 perfect VersaBraille copies!

While TSI has promoted the VersaBraille as a tool for federal employees to fill out forms, they have not provided the kind of training needed to make best use of the device. Clearly, producing these forms on a stand-alone VersaBraille would not have been efficient. I am available, at reasonable rates, for training and consulting in making the best use of the VersaBraille.

Chinese Braille & BRAILLE-EDIT -- Fred Leung, Programme Promoter Hong Kong Society for the Blind

Before discussing about Chinese braille, I think readers should have an overview of the Chinese writing for the sighted. Spoken Chinese has many different dialects, but in its written form, it is the unique language for over 1 billion Chinese people. Over 2000 years ago, China achieved this uniformity due to the harsh actions of a powerful dictator of the Chin Dynasty (221-206 B.C.E.) In order to create this uniformity in orthography, the Emperor realized that all traces of other languages had to be exterminated, so he went so far as to burn all the books written in the minority languages and even bury alive many opposing intellectuals.

Chinese writing is not a phonetic system. The Chinese "alphabet" consists of a few thousand commonly used characters called "ideograms" which in some way represent an image of an object. While every ideogram has an agreed-upon meaning, the pronunciation and tone of a particular ideogram vary greatly from dialect to dialect. In terms of "tones," you can draw an analogy to singing, except that there are fewer tones than the twelve-tone scale, and rhythm is irrelevant. For example, an ideogram that looks like a cross within a square is the concept "paddy." Depending on the dialect, this ideogram can be pronounced as: tin, tien, chang, and dee, just to mention a few of the possibilities! Unfortunately, there isn't any effective way to indicate to an inexperienced reader the exact tone for each of these words in a printed medium. We can say "tone 1" or "tone 2," but obviously this is a bad answer to the question: "What does it sound like?"

The Chinese language can be presented phonetically, including information about the specific tone (though for those who have not heard the language spoken, the tone information is not easy to understand.) There are a number of different coding schemes for word processing applications, but as yet there is nothing like a typewriter or computer keyboard for doing data entry directly in Chinese. For the Apple, there's a "Chong-Kit" system which represents each Chinese word with one to five English letters. The Chong-Kit circuit card converts these English letters so that a dot-matrix printer can produce the appropriate Chinese ideogram. For example, to get the cross within a square ideogram for "paddy", you enter "w" on the Apple keyboard. But "paddy" is one of the simplest ideograms, with only five strokes; some ideograms have more than 30 strokes.

The phonetic coding system is the basis for all Chinese braille systems. Since Cantonese is the common language in Hong Kong, I will use the Cantonese braille system to discuss the details of representing Chinese braille in a computer. As far as I know there are three other, completely different codes in the family of Chinese braille systems: Taiwan Mandarin, Old Mainland Mandarin and New Mainland Mandarin.

The Cantonese braille code represents 19 consonants, 51 vowels and 9 tones, and various punctuation; some arrangements of dots in a cell are used for more than one thing. Numbers are handled in the same way as in English braille. Basically, each Cantonese braille word is composed of three symbols, in this order: a consonant, a vowel, and a tone mark. The standard six-dot cell is used. In English, you must use a space between words. However, the Cantonese braille tone marks are all single-dot cells, and we use that fact of their structure to use the tone marks, instead of spaces, for word delimiters. Since the empty cell is not the word delimiter, more words can be placed on a line and in a page. For example, on the 20-cell VersaBraille display, you can display on an average of four English words but eight Cantonese. If you multiply 8 words by 3 characters, you'll think I have made a mistake, but since tones 1 and 7 are represented by no tone mark, frequently a "3-cell" word is only two cells long. Another example of the space saving is that out of the 7274 characters of this article, 1306 of them are spaces. If it was in Cantonese braille, there would only be around 435 spaces.

As is best expressed by our saying: "there isn't any sewing needle which is sharp at both ends," the use of fewer spaces helps to reduce the bulkiness of braille volumes, but has some negative results. Cantonese braille is less compatible with standard word processing programmes and embossers because most of them use the space between words to accomplish "word wrap" or breaking material into lines. The rules for Cantonese braille state that the combination of consonant, vowel, tone mark should not be broken between lines. The existing PRINT OR OUTPUT option in BRAILLE-EDIT doesn't support this kind of word wrap, so we have to use some tricks to get the right kind of embossed braille.

We use the $$p-1 format command and a lot of Global Replace to reformat Cantonese braille for embossing. The $$p-1 is a backspace command. We have a very long and detailed transformation chapter which puts these seven characters after each Cantonese braille word: space, $$p-1, space. The $$p-1sequence becomes the word delimiter, and because of the way BRAILLE-EDIT builds up a line of text, this insures that the Chinese braille rules for breaking text into lines are followed.

Since we're inserting so many extra characters with Global Replace, the first step is to use Adjust Pages on our Chinese braille chapters. We create BRAILLE-EDIT pages between 600 and 1200 characters. Then we use Global Replace to insert the $$p-1 sequences. These transformed chapters will produce correctly-formatted Chinese braille hard copy. As BRAILLE-EDIT builds up a line of text, it counts how many characters have been used up. BRAILLE-EDIT's print-thinker doesn't add in the first space and $$p-1 symbols to its running total. So for every Chinese braille word, the print-thinker asks itself: "Can I fit in the next bunch of characters and stay within the carriage width?" If the answer is yes, then the print-thinker executes the $$p-1 command which places the start of the next Cantonese braille word immediately after the end of the last one. If the answer is no, the print-thinker breaks the line at the space, and starts out the next line with the next braille word.

[Editor's note: Mr. Leung enclosed copies of the transformation chapters they have designed. They are truly awesomely complex! In addition to one chapter that flags every possible combination of cells in Cantonese braille and then adds the $$p-1 there are two others: one that allows intermixing Cantonese and English Grade 2 braille; and one that allows correct Cantonese braille intermixed with nonsensical Cantonese braille. Persons interested in producing correctly-formatted Chinese braille would do well to communicate directly with these expert users. JK]

Using the New Echo Delay Command -- Michael Keithley

The most recent update of BRAILLE-EDIT incorporated the latest TEXTALKER, Version 3.1, which includes a new "delay" command. This command places a timed delay between groups of characters surrounded by spaces. It is implemented with control-E, a number between 0 and 15, the letter D and <CR>.

If you just want to listen to the Echo, this command would slow things down with pauses between words. When editing text, however, it has a unique virtue. You can easily distinguish missing or extra spaces.

Suppose you are composing a letter for a sighted reader. You have finished the first draft, and you are ready to edit it for final printing. For careful proofreading, you can set the Echo to pause between words and to pronounce some punctuation.

You can send these commands either at a menu or inside the Editor. At a menu, use: control-E, 4, D; then control-E M. Inside the editor, use control-S E 4 D, control-S E M <CR>.

Now, when you read through text, a missing space is obvious because two words are spoken instead of one. If you are using double spaces between sentences, you'll notice a definite change in speech rhythm.

Using the Delay Outside the Editor

The delay command is handy to unscramble a chapter name that somehow got spaces mixed in to it. When you want to speed up again, send the command: control-E 0 D. The delay command also helped me get used to the fast speech option of the Echo.

The delay command is very useful when listening to listings and catalogs. When programming, I set the Echo to say most punctuation with control-E M, and set the delay to something comfortable (I use a delay of 2). In BASIC listings, a lurking syntax error is very obvious. In the Monitor, individual hex numbers are easily distinguishable. This is much better than setting it to say everything, including space space!! Also, you won't get distracted by hearing "return" in a line of code.

The delay command is a good improvement in TEXTALKER. It serves well in editing and programming sessions, and helps diagnose chapter name problems.


FOREWORD: This essay was inspired by a computer manual which need not be identified. The reader is invited to append it wherever it fits.

0.0 NOTE: The following material bears no relationship to the actual utility of the instrument in question.

0.1 REMINDER: This document is a reference manual. That means it is not written in English but in a combination of translated English (the instrument comes from another country), Generic Computerese and Brand X Computerese. Consequently, if the reader is an experienced user of the instrument, the meat of this manual will be very palatable; i.e., it will refresh, edify, reinforce and enhance your working knowledge of the instrument.

0.2 CAUTION: If you are a computer person studying this material with the device in hand, you are urged to approach the task like a detective; i.e., in a patient, expectant, persistent, deductive, intuitive frame of mind. Do not attempt to read it without the instrument in front of you and turned on.

0.3 WARNING: A novice attempting to use this manual should be assisted by either a knowledgeable user/instructor or a spirit guide who was a computer person while living in the earth plane and with whom the student has good, subconscious communication.

0.4 DISCLAIMER: An attempt to read this material without simultaneously experiencing the operation of the device in question is likely to precipitate a screaming headache. In the event this warning is not heeded, you are urged to avoid inflicting damage upon yourself or the instrument either by engaging in strenuous physical exercise or by writing an essay like this one.

0.5 SUMMARY: When will we ever learn to write computer manuals with lucid tutorials?