Raised Dot Computing Newsletter: Exploring Microcomputer Applications for the Visually Impaired July/August 1986 -- Volume 4, Numbers 42 & 43

Published Monthly by Raised Dot Computing, Inc., 408 South Baldwin Street, Madison WI 53703. General phone: 608-257-9595. Technical Hotline: 608-257-8833.

Subscriptions: $18/year Print, $20/year Audio Tape, $30/year Disk. (Kindly add $20/year for postage outside N. America.)

Submissions are always welcome, particularly those on Apple diskette. All are subject to editing for style and clarity. All opinions expressed are those of the author.

Copyright 1986 by Raised Dot Computing, Inc., All Rights Reserved

Table of Contents: the all-uppercase words name the disk chapters; subheadings in each article are separated by two dashes.

Press Braille BEX Dox Now Available

We're pleased to announce that the press braille edition of the Learner, User, and Master Level BEX Dox are now available to registered BEX owners. The five-volume set costs $50, including UPS shipping to UPS-able addresses within the US. Registered BEX owners may purchase separate levels if you wish: the Learner Level costs $30, the User Level costs $30, and the Master Level costs $15. The BEX Interface Guide is currently in transcription; its availability will be announced in these pages.

We understand that many people have been frustrated by the lack of braille BEX Dox; we appreciate your patience in this matter.

VTEK is Now Carrying the Thiel Embosser by David Holladay

As of July 1, 1986, VTEK Corporation of Santa Monica is carrying the Thiel Embosser. Previously, the Thiel was carried by Maryland Computer Services, Inc. As reported in the last Newsletter, MCS was recently purchased by Triformation Systems Incorporated of Stuart, Florida.

Because Raised Dot Computing owns a Thiel, we have a personal interest in its fate. I was concerned that these changes in the marketplace might adversely affect existing service contracts or future service on Thiel Embossers. I made a few phone calls to find out what's happening, and thought some of our readers would be interested.

I called Larry Hand, the service manager for Triformation/MCS. He carefully explained that Maryland Computer Services is still a legal entity separate from Triformation. All service contracts purchased from MCS are still being honored by MCS. The MCS service department has recently relocated to Stuart, Florida. If you have any questions about the servicing of Thiel Embossers, (or Cranmers or any other MCS product), call Larry Hand at (305) 283-4817.

Meanwhile, VTEK is beginning to market the Thiel. I spoke with Jack Wood, recently hired at VTEK as the Thiel product manager. He states that VTEK is now offering one-year service contracts for Thiel Embossers "regardless of present condition" for $1,900. VTEK can be reached at (800) 345-2256.

Consumer Corner: A Letter to Sensory Overload, Inc.

[Editor's Note: RDC, Inc. felt an obligation to publish this complaint, even though Sensory Overload Inc. has ceased business for this fiscal year. Recent Newsletter subscribers are referred to the April 1985 and 1986 issues of the Newsletter for more background. JK]


I am writing to register a very serious complaint regarding your Personal Restroom-Identifying Vibratory Yagi (PRIVY), announced in the most recent edition of your Sensory Overload catalogue. As I understand you generally destroy all sales records to demonstrate the virtues of one of your other products, it will probably come as a surprise to learn that I am one of your biggest customers. I am so impressed with your high ideals, creativity, and dedication to providing state-of-the-art access technology, that I continue to buy your products, regardless of whether I can put them to any practical use.

In some respects, my complaint may be unjustified, since the Yagi does everything claimed in the literature. Its sensitivity to disinfectants is remarkable, and it has led me to restrooms without fail. It has on occasion led to me janitor's closets where these cleansers are stored, but I have usually realized the mistake in time. Its speech synthesizer is superb, and the grafitti-reading feature more than compensates for the loss of Playboy magazine.

It wasn't until I had used the device several times that I was made aware in no uncertain terms of one lacking feature: It can locate restrooms, but it cannot distinuguish gender!

You are lucky that this problem was experienced by someone familiar with your excellent reputation for fixing bugs, otherwise you might find yourselves with a lawsuit on your hands. I plan to keep the Yagi until after the ACB convention, where such a deficiency should not be noted. I will then return it to you for redesign. And as you claim not to have manufactured it yet, you will probably be as surprised to see it returned as I was to have been able to buy it.

Very truly yours,

A rather flush-looking customer.

[Editor's note: In real life, that customer masquerades as David Goldstein, Editor of VersaNews. JK]

Zen and the Art of Teaching Computers by Mark Dubnick

[Author's Note: The seminal ideas for this discussion were expressed in an article about teaching BRAILLE-EDIT by Robert Carter in the April, 1985 RDC News, and were clarified during many discussions with Harvey Lauer, Len Mowinski, Marshall Pierce, and other experienced teachers. MD]

I want to discuss the concept which was, at first, my main stumbling block to be coming a computer user. Once I had grasped this concept, it became the framework for learning, organizing, and applying much of what I have since learned.

When I was new to programming, I was stuck on the following point: A program uses in its code most of the characters which can be produced by the keyboard. If I am entering these characters in a program, how do I use this same group of characters to command the computer to store, modify, and execute my program?

All of you experienced BRAILLE-EDIT users are probably saying that I had confused data entry and command level. Exactly. Suddenly, with all of the subtlety of a steam locomotive, the new perspective came to me. There is a difference between program entry mode and command mode, and the computer's mode when a key is struck determines the meaning of the keystroke. Until this dawned on me as an explicit concept, all the specific commands in the book made no sense. They were merely formulas to be learned by rote, and that is difficult work. Suddenly, a lot of random facts crystallized into a meaningful body of knowlege. It all made sense. I still had to learn the commands available to me at a given time, but I could organize such learning by the context in which it was meaningful. The difficult part was perceiving the importance of the context in which keystrokes were made.

Giving Learners a Place to Stand

So, what does this have to do with anyone else? Does my personal confusion, and its fortunate resolution, have any general applicability? I believe it does, and experience bears me out. From my several years further experience with computers, I have developed a way of presenting this crucial concept: I call it the "environment." Computer scientists also use "environment" to refer to an operating system shell, but my use is more intuitive and user-oriented. It can be evoked by the motto, "Keep in mind where you are standing."

A given keystroke can have many meanings, but only one at a time. If you concentrate on the environment you are in when you give the keystroke, you will get the result you want. Otherwise, you may be unpleasantly surprised.

Teaching BRAILLE-EDIT involves five environments: data entry, the three menus, and Applesoft. If you can keep them straight, you will quickly learn the commands you usually need in all of them.

By emphasizing this approach, I have had reasonable success in helping frustrated, angry, and bewildered users to get out of their immediate binds. I have also tried to use it as an organizing concept with those people who have gotten their first help, or a lot of their early help, from me. It certainly will not solve everybody's problems, but I endorse the idea of environment as a practical unifying concept for teaching computer use.

Applications for Dot Graphics from the Cranmer Brailler by Ike Presley

Information that must be presented graphically has always been difficult for the visually impaired person to obtain. In the past, methods of preparing this information have been both tedious and time consuming with results that leave a great deal to be desired. Now that we are embracing the information age, technology has provided an improved method for the preparation of graphic materials needed by the visually impaired. This new method combines the use of computer hardware and software. Graphic material can first be drawn as an image on the Power Pad graphics tablet, which is connected to an Apple computer. The image is then saved as a file on a disk using Island Graphics' Micro Illustrator program. This file can then be loaded into the Apple and sent out to the Cranmer Modified Perkins Brailler, using the Super Cranmer Graphics Package (SCGP) program. The Cranmer Modified Perkins Brailler (Perky) embosses on braille paper a raised dot representation of the original graphic information. This method decreases production time, while at the same time providing the ease of use associated with the editing features of the computer. The happy result is graphic information for the visually impaired person produced in less time and with greater ease.

My first use Perky's graphics capability was suggested by Dave Mueller, our Orientation & Mobility instructor at Shamrock High School in Decatur, Georgia. He wanted to make a tactile map of some of the local mass transit rail stations. We obtained drawings of the stations from the transit authority and began the process of enlarging and reducing the copies until we had reached the desired size. Then we began drawing the outline and details of the station. It was a simple task to use the frame and line tools of Micro Illustrator to create the rail lines, elevators, platforms, and escalators. We used different types of fill patterns to distinguish the different objects. Our future plan is to create maps of each station, have them thermoformed, and post a copy in each of the stations. The students will use a copy of the map to learn the layout of the stations, and then when they are in the stations they may go to the posted map to refresh their memory.

Building on this experience, I've found multiple uses for this computer-assisted graphics system. At present I have an eighth grade blind student enrolled in physical science. The first graphic I made for him involved the subatomic structure of an atom. It was quite simple to use Micro Illustrator's circle tool to create the nucleus, protons, neutrons, electrons and the electron orbit. I drew a plus inside the proton circles, a minus inside the electron circles, and left the neutrons blank. After the Perky embossed this on one sheet of paper, I inserted it into a manual brailler and added labels and a key for the drawing. Gaining confidence, I then attempted the drawing of the bonding of molecules, again with great success. The student had no difficulty in grasping the concepts represented by the drawings. Needless to say, his science teacher was impressed and well pleased with his understanding of the material. My most recent adventure into the realm of scientific drawings are representations of light waves with varying amplitude and frequency. Next came a drawing depicting a beam of white light passing through a prism and being broken down into the colors of the spectrum; this was followed by a drawing illustrating the entire electromagnetic spectrum; while it did require a great deal of labeling, it was not difficult to accomplish.

Again, enter the O&M instructor. This time Mr. Mueller wanted maps of Atlanta's downtown area. By now he had become proficient at using the system himself; I made a few suggestions and turned it over to him. He made two maps at different scales. The larger, six-sheet map could show great detail; the one-page map was more portable. The students could take it along for reference on a mobility lesson when needed. Instead of drawing the streets and then filling in the blocks, he decided first to fill in an entire area and then to go back and draw in the streets with a thick brush. After completing and embossing the map, he placed street names and other labels on the map using a braille Dymo-Mite label maker.

My latest and most ambitious project yet is the production of world maps and continental maps. I began with the world map supplied on the SCGP disk. First, I added the equator and prime meridian. At this point I was able to involve some of my low vision students in the production process. The Power Pad comes with a gridded overlay. We determined that twenty degrees of latitude was approximately equal to eight lines on the grid. Tracing over the overlay, we used the line tool of Micro Illustrator to draw in the latitude lines. On a separate map we made longitude lines.

Now I could use this series of maps to teach the blind students about world geography. I found that the students comprehended better when I built up all the details in layers. We started with just an outline map, and worked with it until the students could identify all the continents by their shape and location. Then I introduced the map with the equator and the prime meridian as basic points of reference. Next we began using the map with just latitude lines and the prime meridian. The combination of all these reference lines plus the continent outlines proved confusing at first. We frequently referred to the outline-only map in order to keep a good picture of the continents in mind. Through guided instructions and experience the students were able to locate the latitude of major continents and some countries. After much practice at this stage we moved on to the map with longitude lines and repeated the process above until the students were familiar with this means of measurement. Finally, I introduced the map that had both the latitude and longitude lines. At this point a great deal of confusion can occur but with repeated exposure and careful guidance the students can learn to locate major areas based on latitude and longitude.

At the present I am making a great effort to produce maps of each continent and some of the major areas of the world. Again I have been able to use some of my low vision students to trace print maps on the Power Pad. These maps are not always totally accurate, but they are generally close enough so that all I need to do is make a few corrections in order to have a usable product. My plan for these maps is to place the latitude and longitude lines only on the outer edge of the maps and then have the students use a ruler or straight edge to locate specific areas by latitude and longitude coordinates. Through repeated experiences of this type I am sure that the students will be able to comprehend the geographical relationships of major areas of the world.

Future projects in this area include algebra and geometry drawings, which have always been troublesome for the visually impaired student. I am also excited about the possibility of developing graphics for earth science, biology, chemistry and physics courses. These hard copies of graphic information, along with the development of the Tactile Graphic Display by the American Foundation for the Blind, will open a new world of information for the visually impaired person.

In summary, tactile graphic information can be prepared quite easily with the appropriate equipment. I am not at all suggesting that we abandon other methods of graphic production, but rather that through the use of this and other new technologies we can continue to narrow the gap in availability of graphic information for the visually impaired person. I would be most interested in corresponding with anyone who is involved in graphic productions. Please send your questions or suggestions to:

Ike Presley

Shamrock High School

3100 Mount Olive Dr.

Decatur, GA 30033


Super Cranmer Graphics Package is available from us at RDC. The Power Pad and Micro Illustrator software are available from:


2856 Buford Highway

Duluth GA 30136


Talking Spreadsheet Software Available as "Shareware"

Bill Grimm recently released a spreadsheet program designed to work with popular voice synthesizers. Known as "Rapsheet," the program is being made available as "shareware" in both IBM-PC and Apple versions.

Grimm is president and founder of Computer Aids Corp., a Ft. Wayne, Indiana-based company specializing in computer products for the blind and visually impaired. However, Rapsheet is not a Computer Aids product. Grimm explains "I wrote this program for my own needs really, but I decided that it was good enough to perhaps be of value to others. It's a very simple program; certainly not Lotus 1-2-3, but it's functional, and if nothing else should be a good learning experience for those interested in getting involved with spreadsheets." Rapsheet can be passed around freely. The distribution disk contains a complete User's Manual in addition to the actual software. Also, several financial models are given on the disk as examples. You may obtain a "distribution disk" by contacting BAUD, a nation-wide user's group for talking computer users, at the address below. To cover duplication and mailing, include $5 in your order as well as whether you wish the Apple or IBM version.

By sending a $35 donation directly to Grimm, he will send you the latest copy of the program, a print copy of the User's Manual, and a 90-minute audio cassette tutorial. "In the tutorial I've tried to briefly touch on spreadsheet concepts, and show how they are applied through the design of actual models." Says Grimm, "The tape is especially important for those just getting started with spreadsheets."

Rapsheet can hold up to 132 labels, constants, and formulas in its six-column by 22-row matrix. Operations include addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, summation, and exponentiation. Once models are created, they can be edited, printed, saved on disk, and later reloaded. Special voice features allow columns to be read vertically, as well as reviewing individual rows or cell contents. Rapsheet is constructed to work with popular voice synthesizers, and screen-reader programs. The Apple version requires an 80-column Apple 2e or Apple 2c, and Street Electronics' Echo Plus or Cricket. On a PC, Rapsheet works with Screen-Talk and the PC Talking Program combined with virtually any popular synthesizer.

Rapsheet Distribution Disk $5 P&H


1158 Steward Avenue

Bethpage NY 11714


Rapsheet with Audio tutorial $35

Bill Grimm

PO Box 10367

Fort Wayne, IN 46852

Confessions of a Game Maker by Larry Baggett, Screenless Games

Because I try to give the impression of being a serious and scholarly mathematics professor, please don't ever tell anyone that I conceivably could have been found wasting my time playing PAC-MAN, FROGGER, or any of those enthralling arcade games. Not me. Far too busy, and sophisticated, and adult am I. On the other hand, I knew that it might be fun to sit quietly alone in my own home playing inconspicuously with my Apple. We all know that PAC-MAN, FROGGER, and almost all those other enthralling video games are nearly totally video-dependent, and that the dear old Echo, try as it might, couldn't turn such a screen-oriented frolic into much fun for sightless people like us. So I decided to have a go at making some serious computer games for us.

I'm proud of the fun ideas I've come up with so far, and even better things may lie in the future. It must be mentioned at the outset that these computer games were not easy to make. But now that they're finished, they've provided me with hours of enthralling amusement, and I'm hoping the same will be true for you.

Designing A Tic-tac-toe Game

My first project was Tic-tac-toe, which took around three months. Now most of you learned to play Tic-tac-toe in a whole lot less than three months. Me too. My problem was teaching the dumb computer to play Tic-tac-toe, and computers are notoriously slow learners. I'm told they never forget anything, but it must be a case of "slow in, slow out." Anyhow, I have succeeded now (famous last words), and the Apple II is ready to stand you in a quick game. It works like this: The three by three Tic-tac-toe board is represented by the three sets of three keys on the Apple keyboard: R T Y on the one row, F G H below them, and V B N below that. You can press any of these nine keys to learn if your O, the computer's X, or a blank is there. You select the place where you want to mark an O, and then press O. The Apple then decides where to put its X and tells you. I made one level in which the Aple makes no mistakes: neither I nor you can win in this mode. Anything to be a spoilsport! At another level, the computer starts out a little dumber--in the first game, you can beat it. The catch is that as you win games, the computer gets smarter, so that after you've won four or five times (I forget how many it actually is) you will never win again. Bad luck!

Auditory Mazes

My second challenge was an auditory maze. I wanted to experience striving to attain a goal, nearly missing, frustration and agony, etc., etc. The kids in the arcade certainly seemed to thrive on this kind of thing! A few months later, I had it working. You control your movement with a diamond of keys: pressing J moves you right, pressing F moves you left, pressing U moves you up, and pressing N moves you down. If your way is clear the computer gives a little encouraging beep. If your way is blocked, it gives an annoying long low buzz. The further right you go, the higher the pitch of the encouragement beep. The further up, the shorter the note. Pressing the letter P tells your position at any given time, while pressing T lets you know the whereabouts of the target.

For my third game, I hit on a truly painful idea. I call it "Blind Maze." In this one, the P position key doesn't do a darn thing, and the T target key yields only the pitch of the target position. (Tough on the folks without perfect pitch!) I rather like this one best of all, and I'd like to see how the arcade kids would handle it. And then I came up with "Random Start Maze." The computer starts you at a random spot in a random maze and dares you to escape. Currently the disk contains 24 mazes, half of which are "Blind."

The final game in this first volume of Screenless Games is called Jotto. It's a code guessing game something like "MasterMind." You think up a string of A's and B's for the computer to guess. At the same time, you're trying to guess the random string of zeroes and ones the computer generates for you. When you guess, the computer responds with the number of correct guesses you've made. Then, the computer guesses a string of a's and b's. You respond with how many are right and in the correct spot. An "accomplice" feature helps you keep track: Control-R reminds you of your secret string. Anyway, the first one to guess the oponent's code wins. Again, the hard part here was in figuring out how to teach this dumb computer to guess. It came down to a nice problem in linear equations, so my serious and scholarly profession came in handy after all. The computer has to solve 9 equations in 9 unknowns.

Volume 1 of Screenless Games is available for $20. I'm currently working on Concentration, Music-Maker, Baseball, and Blackjack. Early purchasers will be entitled to free updates for one year. Send checks to:

Screenless Games

P.O. Box 7951

Boulder, CO 80306

4-Sights Network Offers No-Charge 30-Day Trial

The 4-Sights Network is a national computer system for the blind and visually impaired. A project of the Greater Detroit Society for the Blind, 4-Sights operates a sophisticated 24-hour-a-day on-line conferencing system focusing on vocational, educational, technological, and professional information. To get access to the 4-Sights network, you need a telephone line, a computer with a modem, and communications software.

4-Sights is currently offering a 30-day free access period so you can "try before you buy." Before you connect, you must set up your computer to communicate. Connect your computer and your modem, then connect the modem to a telephone line. Load your communications software, and set the following parameters:

full duplex

8 bit word

one stop bit

no parity

VT-100 emulation

300 or 1200 baud

Use the software to dial the 4-Sights Network: 1-313-272-7111. Your communications software signals you when a connection is established. 4-Sights provides some initial instructions, then prompts you:


As a first-time user, type newuser as one word in lowercase letters. (If you make a mistake, you can press <CR> twice and get another login: prompt.) After you enter "newuser" 4-Sights steps you through registering for your 30-day trial period. You'll select a public login identification and a secret password. 4-Sights activates your account by the next business day; you can then use your login ID and secret password to call 4-Sights and use the Network. For the next 30 days, you may use the Network for as many hours a day as you wish with no charge (except for any long-distance charge to call Michigan). Approximately one week later, you'll receive follow-up information and a registration form to join 4-Sights. Access time is sold in blocks of 5 hours each. Individuals may purchase time in 5-hours blocks for $35 ($7/hour). Organizations may purchase time in various increments; a block of 25 hours costs $175 (also $7/hour) all the way up to a 100-hour block for $500. Further details are available from the Society, contact them at:

4-Sights Network

Greater Detroit Society for the Blind

16625 Grand River

Detroit MI 48227

313-272-3900 (voice)

TRAX PAX by Howard Traxler

The TRAX PAX is a talking program package designed to run on the Apple 2 series of computer. It currently consists of CHECKBOOK, FILE BOX, and some useful utilities. It will run on the Apple 2e computer (with an extended 80 column card installed), using the ECHO II or ECHO Plus speech synthesizer; or the Apple 2c computer using the CRICKET speech synthesizer. Or, it can be used by a sighted person with no speech synthesizer at all. Although the program package was designed for use by a blind person with a speech synthesizer, it is screen oriented and very easily used by the sighted.

Features for Blind Users

You know how annoying it can be to hear lengthy menus over and over when you've long since memorized them. TRAX PAX provides a solution: The title of each menu is announced and the computer will beep and wait for you to make a choice. Of course, when the programs are new to you, you will need to know what is on the menus. Just press the spacebar and the menu will be read. In this way, time-wasting is kept to a minimum.

The CHECKBOOK program reads columns of numbers so you can understand them. When columns are displayed on the screen and spoken, the speech will pause between them, just long enough for you to know that a new column is being read. Items are always displayed in the same position on the screen. This makes for very easy examination of the material you are working on.


CHECKBOOK is designed specifically to talk. It is an easy-to-learn, easy-to-use means of maintaining checking or charge accounts. It is designed with three functions in mind: Storage and retrieval of account information, printing the checks and addressing the envelopes to mail them in.

INFORMATION STORAGE AND RETRIEVAL: Information is entered at the keyboard and stored on a floppy disk. What you enter is about the same as what you would enter into your checkbook note pad: check number, (or transaction type--deposit, withdrawal, bank charge, etc.); date (month, day, year); description (usually the payee if it's a check); amount; code; and explanation. The new balance is calculated and displayed, and then, upon your approval, the entry is written to disk.

CHECKBOOK provides two ways to search through your account entries. You may wish to locate and correct errors that may have occurred while entering the information. This is very readily done using the "SEARCH / EDIT" function of the CHECKBOOK program. Or, you may wish to locate and display information. This is done using the "SEARCH / LIST" function. When entering data, the "CODE" can be used to indicate all items of a certain type. For example, The code "UTIL" can stand for all payments to utility companies, (gas, electric, and phone). Then by LISTING all items having a code of "UTIL" you can find out just how much you paid for utilities in a given period of time. It is also possible to break it down further and LIST all payments to a specific utility company. When all items have been found and displayed, the total is calculated and displayed.

There is a "RECONCILE" function that should be used when you receive your bank statement. It will tell you whether or not the bank was completely accurate in figuring your account. There is a "MACRO" option that allows you to save many keystrokes by just entering an abbreviation of up to three characters to indicate the description for an item.

PRINTING CHECKS: When you have finished entering an item, you have the option of printing a check. You can simply insert the check into your printer and it will be filled in for you. How well this function works will depend on what kind of printer you have. The check-printing function is currently set up to work on either of the two most popular size checks, (the small, personal checks and the larger business size checks).

ADDRESSING ENVELOPES: The program is capable of storing up to forty-five addresses where checks are frequently mailed. By putting an envelope into your printer, it can be addressed for you automatically.


FILE BOX is a filing type program. The number of its possible uses is limited only by the imagination. With it you will create a file (or many files). Each record in a file will contain up to six lines of information. The most common use for the program would be to store name and address files. In a typical name and address file, an entry (or record) would look like this:

Howard K. Traxler

SOFT-X (software exchange)

6504 West Girard Avenue

Milwaukee, WI 53210

(414) 445-5925 evenings

producer of the TRAX PAX

You can scan through your file for an item, make printouts, (page or label), address envelopes, (including a return-address or not, as you choose), print many identical labels, (such as might be used for return-address stickers).


Utilities are programs that help you to manipulate disk files, programs, disks, hardware, etc. The TRAX PAX disk includes several useful ones.

TYPE TO PRINTER - allows you to use your printer as though it were an old-fashioned typewriter. This is good for addressing envelopes or writing short notes, etc.

COPY DISKS - Granted, there are so many COPY programs around that - "Who needs another one?" Well, this isn't another one. It's the same old copy program we've been using for years. However, it is very convenient to have it near. Its just being there may remind you to make backups of your data disks OFTEN!!!

INITIALIZE DATA DISKS - To store information on a disk, it must first be initialized. This utility will prepare a disk, several disks, or many disks to receive data.

Saving the Best for Last

CHECKBOOK or FILE BOX can be purchased individually or together as a package. CHECKBOOK is $60 and FILE BOX is $25. As a package, they can both be purchased for $75. You will receive the program disk, print instructions, and your choice of Braille or cassette tape instructions. As a purchaser, you are entitled to any update or modification that is made to the program within a year of the date of purchase. To order or for further information, contact:



6504 W. Girard Ave.

Milwaukee, WI 53210


The Ultimate File Cabinet: Files Without Folders by Al Gayzagian

The Ultimate File Cabinet is a straightforward and simple database program that works with speech. For people with no database experience, let me define two crucial terms before I go on. Suppose you keep your address file on 5 by 8 index cards. Each card contains information for one person. This basic unit is called a "record" in a database program. Each record is divided into a fixed number of "fields." On your index card, each "field" is probably one or two lines: one field for the person's name, one field for their street address, one for the city and state, one for ZIP code, and one for their phone number. Each field contains the answer to a single question: you decide how to phrase that question. With an understanding of "record" and "field," on with the review!

Peter Scialli has just released the third in his series of "Ultimate" programs, the Ultimate File Cabinet. It's as important to state what this program isn't and doesn't pretend to be as it is to describe what it is. It's not a sophisticated database manager like dBASE, or AppleWorks, or even Lister Talker. But it is a program which makes it possible to set up and retrieve short files--where you're limited to six fields, and which you don't plan to sort in some order other than the one in which you initially enter them. The Ultimate File Cabinet is useful for address files, files of records or tapes, simple membership lists, etc.

The Ultimate File Cabinet is a ProDOS program with the following system requirements: An Apple IIe with an Echo II or Echo Plus and 128K of RAM or an Apple IIC or Laser 128 with an Cricket. Only one disk drive is required, as files are stored on the program disk. The program is not copy protected, so copies can be made to accommodate a number of separate files.

Strong Points of Ultimate File Cabinet

I found the instructions (supplied on the program disk) are clear and easily accessible. Entering, editing, and printing data are simple, straightforward operations, with help available at each step, as needed. You'll quickly find, however, that you won't have to take advantage of the available help, as the commands are uncomplicated and easy to remember. The Ultimate File Cabinet is pretty flexible: You don't have to decide in advance how long each of the six fields available to you must be. The program allows you to enter up to about 100 characters of data in each field, and you decide when you're finished entering data in a field.

The way the program lets you search your records helps you work around the limitation of six fields. It allows you to define a multi-criteria search, using up to four fields. One possible example is requesting all females in a specified age group having a specified income and living in a specified state. A particularly nice feature of the search program is that it looks at both the beginning and the end of each field, thus adding considerable flexibility to how you can set up your records. For example, in creating a file containing information on my compact disk collection, I was able to combine the "orchestra" and "conductor" fields and still include only the orchestra or only the conductor as a search criterion, thus using one field to get the benefits of two.

Suggestions for Improvement

Like most things in life, all is not totally as one would like. A small instance is the slightly long-winded message you must listen to or control-X away each time you begin entering a new record. A second equally minor and easily-corrected flaw is the constantly repeated reminder that you can list the menu choices in conjunction with just about every command. This could be covered once and for all in the instructions. It should be added here, though, that Mr. Scialli has done a good thing by providing menu choices only when they are requested, thus sparing the user the frustration of constantly listening to them long after having learned them thoroughly.

For those of us still living in the dark ages of floppy diskdom rather than one of the newer rapid-access storage devices, the program has one serious drawback. Ultimate File Cabinet goes to disk during searching. The more fields you specify, the slower the search. Even a single criterion search can take longer than you may want to wait for a name and address. I am told that using a hard disk, the UniDISK, or a RAM disk eliminates this problem, but I can't speak from experience on this point.

The program has so many good features that it merits serious consideration, in spite of the problems identified here. With respect to the first two minor problems, I'm sure we can count on Mr. Scialli to fix them. He has demonstrated in the past a commendable readiness to respond to user suggestions for improvements that should be made to his programs. As for the slow search problem, you can live with it, given the fact that the program is so easy to use, whether you are entering data, editing a record, printing labels, or conducting a multicriteria search. For the price, it's a real bargain. Ultimate File Cabinet costs $40, postpaid. For more information, contact:

Mr. Peter Scialli

17 Zabriskie Street

Hackensack NJ 07601


HELP! I'm a Prisoner of the Software Marketplace by Sue M. Story

It's a day like any other day, except that we have just gotten a new piece of software designed for speech access for the Apple. Being idealistic, thinking that all of the software designed for the Echo will be at the same quality level of those software programs used by the staff to generate reports, and keep data, we boot the disk, begin to read the manual, and are quickly disappointed. Once again, we have been "misled." Originally we trusted the manufacturers who said "of course it will do what you want it to do."

Sadly, we now don't believe anything until we have had a chance to check it out. Pity the user who purchases software, spends hours and even days and weeks trying to get it to work, and ends up positive that he/she must be stupid. Pity the user who calls the manufacturer and is told that they don't answer questions about the talking software and are instead directed to call a support person. Pity the user who is subjected to reading manuals written for the technician rather then the user. It's a buyer beware marketplace, with no one really willing to let the buyer in on the secret.

We seem to have created and supported a generation of home grown computer programmers who learned a little BASIC, wrote a program for themselves, came up with the "brilliant" idea that they could sell the program, and promptly went into business. There are programs which are advertised as "revolutionary." We, who know better, know they have only a good chance of causing revolutions. There are programmers who call themselves "expert programmers." Those of us who know better, and write a little BASIC ourselves, know that we could generate a program comparable, and certainly would never dream of selling it on the open market. There are programs which support the Echo speech synthesizer and yet do not support the review features which make the Echo what it is. There are programs which "hold your hand," constantly checking to make sure you really meant to do what you said you did. And there are users who have gotten so use to the hand holding that they can not function without it, have no real idea how the computer is actually suppose to function, and would certainly fall apart if they were asked to use an IBM computer with off-the-shelf software. And what is probably the saddest thing of all, is that there are people out there writing about all of this who say "Isn't it wonderful, a blind person using a computer!," and are either ignorant, or unwilling to admit, that the programs being used are, in no way, competitive with the type of software available on the open market.

IBM: Curse or Salvation?

Along came the IBM, with access software allowing the use of those mysterious off-the-shelf software programs. Surely this is the answer. No more having to put up with programs that don't quite meet expectations. Finally it is possible to use such programs as Lotus 1-2-3 and MultiMate. Of course there is one "teeny weeny" problem. The programs were designed for the screen and the user is often required to ask for sighted assistance just to get started. Pity the brand new user who has to learn the access device and the software program at the same time. Pity the user who spends hours just trying to figure out what the program is asking for. Pity the user who assumes that the access device is compatible with every piece of software written for the IBM. Pity the user who must put up with graphics displaying much needed information.

In the Middle of it All

What seems to be missing are quality software programs designed for speech access, allowing the user easy access and support, as well as a product that is worth the money spent on it.

There exists on the market a piece of hardware that will allow large print access to the Apple or the IBM (depending on the model purchased). This piece of hardware allows access to any piece of software on the market, and works with anything except graphics. Notice I said works, not works well. Using it often generates the "case of the missing cursor," or maybe "case of the jumping cursor." Pity the user who needs to move the cursor from point a to point b. Pity the user who needs to use a program whose cursor is graphic. Another solution has been to generate large print using software. Of course the software only works with those programs which are accessable and will not work with most off-the-shelf programs. Yet another solution has been to generate large print for the IBM allowing access to programs for the IBM.

Then there is the mouse solution, which promises even to display graphics, and has a text window which will show the user where he/she is, in reference to where the cursor is. Of course the price is a little steep for the average user. But then, it is the only one of its kind, and if the user wants it, he'll have to pay for it.

This, too, is a buyer beware marketplace, with the buyer rarely being let in on the secret. Pity the person who wants to use large print and speech at the same time. Pity the person who needs to use programs which generate graphics. Pity the person who pays as much, or more, for the access as he did for the computer.

Do We Quit?

It's very tempting, but certainly not the solution. Unlike hula hoops and CBs , computers are here for the duration. The challenge is to have the courage to demand excellence; to have the courage to tell the truth, not what we think someone wants to hear.

At one time computers were "an idea whose time had come." Access to these same computers is now "an idea whose time has come."

A Flicker of Integrity

Not too long ago we ordered yet another program designed for the Apple. This program was well recommended, was a word processing program, and was designed specifically for the Echo speech synthesizer. Having learned not to trust what we heard, we began using the program with much trepidation. Wonders of wonders, the program actually did what it said it would do, and did it in such a way that it resembled many off-the-shelf word processing programs available for the Apple. And furthermore, the programmer was actually willing to listen to suggestions, make changes, and was constantly looking for potential additions to make his program even better.

What saddened me was the number of persons that I have talked to who have begun using this program, and whose knowledge was based on the other word processors that they have used. They had no idea that the delete key is actually used to delete letters, that programs are usually in the insert mode, that everything that needs to be done is done within the program, that the same file can be saved to any disk drive using the same name or a different one. What saddened me was the excitement that these people had about the possibilities and the ease of use of the program. What saddened me was that there are not more programmers like the one who wrote this program, and that there are a lot of users out there, using less-than-quality programs, who are not willing to switch because they have been burned too many times.

An Introduction to Contextual Replace by Jesse Kaysen

One of BEX's Master Level features is Contextual replace. When I first read about it, I thought, "Goodness, I'm never going to understand this! But that's OK, because I'll never need it." Much to my surprise, I've found that over time, I both need to use it and understand how to do it. This article is addressed to others who may feel intimidated by the flexibility afforded by Contextual replace. I hope to encourage you to give it a try in your own work. Before reading this article, please read through the Master level Section 7 at least once--definitions of the terms I use can be found there.

The Task At Hand

This came up while I was preparing the large print edition of the BEX Index. The page references in the Index all start with a letter that shows the level; a reference to the Master level, print page 7-5 appears as "M7:5." Fortunately, there are only five possible choices for initial letter(s): L for Learner, U for User, M for Master, A for Appendix, and IG for Interface Guide. I wanted to distinguish the letter from the digits by setting the letters in a different typeface than the digits. Our typesetting software (JustText, from Knowledge Engineering) uses embedded commands like BEX's to change typefaces--except JustText's commands are even longer than BEX's. To specify a font I need to enter at least four characters: start with a left brace, then a lowercase F, then a digit code for the typeface, and finish with a right brace. For example, {f4} means "start setting in Times Roman;" {f5} means start setting in Times Bold."

One element of successfully using Contextual replace is recognizing and defining the patterns in the data you're transforming. In the case of the Index, I wanted to find every occurrence of one of five uppercase letters next to a digit, and insert four characters on either side of the letter. However, I introduced a further complication involving the space character. In hopes of making the Index easier to read, I wanted to make sure the line of type did not break between the words of the index entry and the initial page reference. The JustText code for this type of non-breaking, fixed space is: {en}. This imposed another restriction on the pattern of my data: I had to distinguish between the space before the initial page reference and the spaces before subsequent page references. Here's a sample of what I faced:

computer braille U2:10; U7:2; U9:8; A:7-19

My hoped-for result is:

computer braille{en}{f5}U{f4}2:10; {f5}U{f4}7:2; {f5}U{f4}9:8; {f5}A{f4}:7-19

The First Shall be Last

One lesson I've learned from writing plain old Replace transformation chapters is the importance of the order of the transformation rules. Many times a distinctive feature can be located early, then transformed out of the way. I analyzed what characters appeared next to spaces in each index item. The index entry itself always ended with letters or digits. I used the semicolon to separate each page reference, so every page reference (except the last one) ended with "digit, semicolon, space." This pattern of "digit, semicolon, space" was the key to placing the non-breaking space where I wanted it--only between the index entry and the initial page reference.

It's important to keep in mind that both plain and Contextual replace always execute the transformation rules in order. I put the transformation rules that change the subsequent page references first in my transformation chapter. After the rules for the subsequent references are all executed, they become even more different from the initial reference. This means I can confidently place the non-breaking spaces just where I want them.

Another element of using Contextual replace successfully is not trying to do too much with one rule. After several false starts, I settled on writing a total of ten rules: five rules for each letter choice in subsequent page references, then five rules for each letter choice in initial page references. In the excerpt below, the vertical line is the terminator. Find: -- 8; L8| Pattern: -- NXBxN| Change to: -- {f5}L{f4}| Find: -- 8; U8| Pattern: -- NXBxN| Change to: -- {f5}U{f4}| Find: -- 8; M8| Pattern: -- NXBxN| Change to: -- {f5}M{f4}| Find: -- 8; A:8| Pattern: -- NXBxPN| Change to: -- {f5}A{f4} Find: -- 8; IG8| Pattern: -- NXBxxN| Change to: -- {f5}IG{f4}|

Let me take apart the first rule step by step. Working together, the "find" string and "pattern" string describe the characters I'm searching for. The digit 8 paired with the N means: search for any Number. Because the N is uppercase, it's a facilitating neighbor; it won't be replaced in the target text. The semicolon paired with the uppercase X means search for eXactly the semicolon as a facilitating neighbor. The space paired with the uppercase B means: search for a Blank as a facilitating neighbor. The uppercase L paired with lowercase x means: search for exactly the letter L. Because the x is lowercase, it's a departing character; it will be replaced in the target text. Finally, the digit 8 paired with uppercase N means search for a number as a facilitating nieghbor.

The facilitating neighbors have defined the context of the replacement; the "change to string" is what actually shows up in the target text. In this rule, the change to string inserts the go-to-bold command "{f5}" before the letter "L" and the go-to-roman command "{f4}" after the letter "L". The change to string takes the place of the departing characters in the find-pattern pair. The four other rules accomplish the same task for the other divisions of the BEX dox. These five rules together insert the typesetting codes for all of the subsequent page references.

Now the way is cleared to insert the non-breaking space and typesetting codes for the initial page references. Here are the five rules that accomplish this:

Here's what's going on in the first rule, character by character. Lowercase n paired with uppercase E means: search for Everything (except a space or <CR>) as a facilitating neighbor. The lowercase n in the find string could just as well be an uppercase Q, a control character, a digit, or punctuation, as all of these things satisfy the pattern. I chose to use the "E" pattern because I am lazy: I didn't want to stop and analyze the final character for all my index entries. The space is paired with a lowercase b, which means: search for a Blank as a departing character. The uppercase L paired with the lowercase x means: search for exactly the letter L as a departing character. Finally, the digit 8 paired with uppercase N means search for any number as a facilitating neighbor.

The change to string inserts the non-breaking space, followed by the go-to-bold command, the letter in question, then the go-to-roman command. The other four rules do the same thing to the space before the other four letters. Since this set of rules appears later in the transformation chapter, it only changes the "initial" page reference. The "subsequent" page references have already had the typesetting codes inserted, so they no longer satisfy the space, letter, digit pattern.

Open That Toolbox

I hope this brief sample has whetted your appetite. But please understand that there are several other combinations of patterns that could do just what I've outlined. The various pattern codes in Contextual replace are almost like tokens of a programming language. As with a program, there are many ways to accomplish the same thing. As I gained experience with Contextual replace, I began to get a "feel" for the different possibilities. After you've experimented with Contextual replace yourself, you'll find alternatives dancing around in your head.

PS: I had a lot of fun figuring out how to insert the go-to-bold and go-to-roman commands. However, as any print reader of the Index knows, they don't appear in the final product. The frequent font changes made the JustText program create unwieldy data files, and I had trouble printing them. In the interests of getting the Index actually published, I abandoned the bold letters. Oh well.

TXP: What it Does and How It Does it by Caryn Navy

The BEXtras disk that you received in your BEX binder is more than a learning aid. Like many features in BEX, the five BEXtras transformation chapters, (UCLC, LCUC, KRM, LOST IN SPACE, and TXP), are tools for molding text into shape. TXP is particularly useful for improving the format of text from other computer systems. (TXP is similar in function to the old TXVB transformation chapter on the BRAILLE-EDIT disk. It stands for TeXtfile Process.) TXP can seem mysterious; I hope this article will illuminate some of the darker corners.

BEX's Read textfile and Input through slot options let you create BEX chapters from many sources. Each source has its own way of formatting text. You'd be busy until 2001 if you had to learn the commands specific to each system, especially if you occasionally use text from a variety of sources. Usually, these residues just get in the way of preparing your text for flexible handling in the BEX Editor and print or braille output.

Fortunately most systems can also create data which looks like the printed page. This text is formatted solely with <CR>s and spaces, and it serves as a kind of "common denominator" between computers. In many Apple programs, (including BEX) "printing to a textfile" or "printing to disk" creates this type of text. Once you have a DOS 3.3 or ProDOS textfile, you use BEX's Read textfile to convert the data into BEX chapters.

There's an alternative way of producing data in this "printed" format. Instruct your source computer to print. Then, instead of a real printer on the end of the cable, substitute the Apple with BEX doing Input though slot. Whether you use read from disk or bring data over a cable, you can use Replace characters with TXP as the transformation chapter to make more familiar BEX chapters.

What TXP Does

You can use TXP at any of BEX's three levels. When you do, TXP changes lines that begin with many spaces to lines beginning with the BEX format command $$c; changes two <CR>s to a BEX paragraph indicator; changes a single <CR> to a space; changes two spaces to one; and attempts to place BEX's underline begin and finish commands where it can. The detailed discussion of how TXP does all this will make a lot more sense once you've read Section 7 of the Master Level.

A little exploration of TXP, after making a back-up copy, reveals that it is not an ordinary Replace transformation chapter. Most of its work could be accomplished with ordinary Replace characters. However, since the rules for placing underlining commands had to be Contextual, all of TXP had to be written in contextual form. You can take advantage of one Contextual replace feature to customize how TXP works. Contextual replace allows you to turn transformation off and on within a chapter, by using an "off string" and an "on string."

Turn Off TXP for Tables

When your source text contains tables or columns, TXP's rules would create a disaster. For example, suppose you have a table with 6 columns and 15 rows printed to an 80-character carriage width. If it's single-spaced, TXP changes the <CR>s that define the end of each line to a space--and presto, you lose the line-oriented structure of the data. TXP would also change the spaces between each column into centering commands--what a mess! But with Contextual replace, you can simply switch off TXP for the line-oriented portions of the text.

TXP, as supplied on the BEXtras disk, does not contain on or off strings, but you can insert them into the TXP chapter yourself. The terminator in TXP is the slash; the first four characters in TXP are terminators. The first slash in the chapter announces "Slash is the terminator." The second slash announces, "This is a Contextual replace rather than an ordinary Replace operation." The third and fourth slashes are place holders for on and off strings respectively. An on string tells TXP to go ahead, and an off string tells it to stop working until the next on string.

For the sake of example, we'll use "@@text" as the on string and "@@lines" as the off string. Edit a copy of TXP and place your cursor on the third slash; insert the six characters "@@text." Move your cursor to the fourth slash and insert the seven characters "@@lines." Now you must place the on and off strings in the source text that's formatted with spaces and <CR>s. Contextual replace always starts off. You must insert "@@text" at the beginning of regular text in your chapter. When you encounter a table, put @@lines immediately before it and @@text immediately after it. Now you can use Replace characters on the modified source chapter, with the modified TXP as your transformation chapter; it won't destroy the format of tables. To really automate the process, you might want to write a transformation chapter specifically designed to reformat tables; you'd then make @@lines the on string and @@text the off string. The last step is removing the on and off strings from the transformed chapter. You could even write a transformation chapter that just deletes @@lines and @@text.

How TXP Reformats <CR>s and Spaces

Please note that the following remarks are based on the latest version of TXP. If you've updated from an earlier BEX to Version 2.1, you should copy this current TXP from your Updating Disk to your BEXtras disk.

The fifteen rules in TXP can be divided into two broad categories. The first six rules deal with <CR>s and spaces. In these rules, each find string is followed by two slashes. There could be a pattern string between these two slashes to further describe how to use the find string. But because there are two slashes, it means that this particular rule is like ordinary Replace: the change to string always replaces exactly the find string.

The first rule (starting immediately after the fourth slash) changes two <CR>s followed by 11 spaces into BEX's $$c centering command. I settled on 11 spaces as a good solution through trial and error. If the number of spaces is too small, then the rule would be satisfied by the beginning of every paragraph. If your source material contains deeply indented paragraphs then TXP would think every line should be centered. But if the number is too large, then only very short headings satisfy the rule, and you would need to place the $$c commands manually.

When I carefully studied TXP for this article, I realized that the second and third rules were wasteful. The third rule changes four <CR>s to three <CR>s; it would be much more efficient to change three <CR>s to two <CR>s. The fourth rule changes two <CR>s followed by space to two <CR>s; it's unnecessary, since multiple spaces are collapsed down to one space anyway by rule six.

Rule four turns two <CR>s into the paragraph indicator ($p); rule five changes any <CR>s that are left into a space. The sixth rule changes two spaces to one space. (If you'd like to have two spaces at the end of sentences, use the LOST IN SPACE transformation chapter on the BEXtras disk after you've used TXP.)

How TXP Handles Underlining

The remaining nine rules cope with underlining and are fully Contextual. Before we look at each rule in detail, let's analyze what underlined text looks like. I assume that the source computer accomplishes underlining in the same way BEX does: print a character, then a backspace command (control-H), then the underbar character. The combination of backspace and underbar creates the underlining, so I concentrate on the three contexts in which these characters appear in an underlining situation. When underlining starts, the data looks like: space, first character of word, backspace, underbar, character, etc. When underlining ends, the final characters are: last character of word, backspace, underbar, space. The last case is what underlining looks like in the middle: backspace, underbar, character, backspace, underbar, etc.

Rule seven searches for the beginning of underlining. In that case, you have a departing space, followed by three facilitating characters: the wild-card W, then backspace and underbar. I change the single space to space, dollar, dollar, lowercase U, lowercase B, space. The eighth rule is similar, except it applies to the rare case where underlining begins after a left parenthesis.

Rule nine is the key: the find and pattern strings combine to delete all backspace-underbar pairs that occur within words. Rule nine doesn't change the last backspace-underbar pair in an underlined word. The tenth rule is the mirror image of the seventh rule; it searches for underlining at the end of the word. The backspace and underbar are departing characters; the space paired with the Delimiter facilitating pattern code finds the end of underlining when the last word does not end with punctuation. Rule eleven is similar to rule eight; it places the underline finish command, complete with the <control-T> touching token, before final punctuation. The remaining four rules undo the effect of rule eleven for four punctuation marks. I don't need to bother with the touching token for period, comma, semi-colon, or colon because BEX's "selective punctuation" format command $$sp prevents underlining the final punctuation.

Tech Notes from the Kennel by Phyllis Herrington

Amid wagging tails and golden ears waiting to be scratched, the non-canine members of the technical staff have received several questions of a technical nature. In an attempt to save other struggling souls from fits of frustration, I am addressing two frequently-raised issues.

Use Slot 3 for Review Mode and Preview Braillers

The User and Master levels of BEX enable you to discover how a document is going to look in its final form without actually printing the document to paper. There are basically two types of "previewers," depending upon whether you want a print copy or a braille copy. Both the "Review mode" and the preview braillers are defined in your configuration. The Review mode is chosen with the letter R at the "Enter printer class:" prompt. The preview braillers, as their names suggest, belong to the Brailler class: choose it with the letter B at the "Enter printer class:" prompt. When you're presented with the numbered list of braillers, you have two choices. Number 1, the video brailler, shows exactly the same information that's sent to a braille device. For reference by sighted people, there's also a "cheat sheet" showing which ASCII characters stand for which grade 2 braille contractions. Braille number 2 is the voice and video brailler. It also shows exactly what goes to the brailler, but the screen display is less cluttered for better screen review.

As with every printer, the Review mode printer and preview braillers need a slot number. Many people have had trouble getting started with these "previewers," mainly because there's a crucial fact left out of the BEX Dox. These three previewers can only work if you have an 80-column card, because that's where the previewing takes place. Due to some pretty silly historical reasons, the Apple numbers the 80-column card as "slot 3." Now you see why you must assign slot 3 to the Review mode or preview braillers.

When setting up a carriage width and form length for these printers, use the same values that you want for the actual printing devices. If your standard brailler is 41 cells by 25 lines, then configure your preview brailler at 41 by 25. If your standard inkprint printer is 72 characters by 58 lines, then configure your Review mode printer with a carriage width of 72 and a form length of 58. As with all printers, the carriage width and form length you establish in your configuration are simply defaults. You can always override your configured defaults by entering $$w and $$f commands at the start of the chapter you print.

Software Handshaking Between the DECtalk and the Apple 2e

Here's a juicy morsel of advice for BEX users with DECtalks connected to Apple 2e's. Due to an oversight on the part of an unnamed programmer, you may have experienced some garbled speech in the Editor. In order for the Apple 2e to correctly communicate with DECtalk, you must establish "software handshaking" between the two devices. BEX does this automatically for the Apple 2c. Fortunately, Apple 2e owners can work around this minor problem, by defining an "automatic set-up sequence" that establshes software handshaking for the DECtalk.

During the configuring process at the User and Master Levels, you're asked if you want Echo speech. If you answer N to this question, you are then asked if you have a voice device for all the material going to the screen. When you answer Y, you're asked, "Is this DECtalk?" Answer Y again, and you're prompted: "Do you want to give an automatic set-up sequence." Answer Y, and then type the following siz keystrokes exactly:

<CR> Control-I X (space) E <CR>

Signal that you're done entering the sequence by hitting the Delete key.

I hope these notes will be useful to some of you readers. Until next time, so-long from the kennel.

From a Weakened State to Missouri, and Back by Becky Q. Rundall, Frustrated M.A.

In a weakened state induced by Friday afternoon staff meeting, I rashly volunteered to represent RDC at the NFB Convention in Kansas City. From that moment on I was filled with trepidation. What had I gotten myself into? I had, after all, begun my present career smack in the middle of convention fever last year, and I had viewed with disquiet the remains of the returning participants. And during the ensuing months, I had heard convention tales unfold that caused my knotted and combined locks to part and each particular hair to stand on end (like the quills upon the fearful porpentine).

So, despite the fact that my fellow-exhibitor would be Caryn, who is both quite experienced at this sort of thing, and also interminably mellow, I quivered, I quaked, I may have even sobbed as June drew to a close and boarding time approached. It wasn't the prospective flight that worried me (though it would be fraught with what, in my paranoid state, I chose to interpret as major league omens)--it was the feature-rich agenda looming ahead, which, with its mix of traveling, exhibiting, session-attending, and people-meeting, would provide a colossal number of opportunities to screw up on behalf of ... drum roll ... Raised Dot Computing, Inc.

But, flanked by Caryn and Whiskey, and armed with a 2c, an ImageWriter, BEX, and what seemed like several tons of literature (as well as my vast computer inexperience), I slunk toward the Hyatt Regency exhibit hall.

As it turned out, I had a wonderful time. First of all, the convention was so incredibly well-organized, and the people involved so helpful that Caryn and I set up our exhibit virtually without a hitch. Second, the opportunity to actually meet customers and other vendors that I'd been talking to for months was really a kick. And third, demonstrating BEX, which I use in a very limited way, was really fun. I truly did know more about computers than a few people there, and was, I hope, able to explain a few things to get them started; and the real experts who stopped by were wonderfully patient with my state of innocence in that field.

I was delighted that, despite warnings to the contrary, very few people asked where David Holladay was and then ignored Caryn and me because he wasn't there. I was dismayed, despite repeated warnings, that so many people consider the Apple a toy rather than a highly useful system, and by extension consider the PC the only valid computer for the serious user. One of the sessions focusing on technology included no mention of the Apple. I was feeling pretty discouraged until some people came to our table the next day and expressed great relief that there was someone at the convention giving Apple the credit it deserves.

So the terror I felt upon leaving Madison was unnecessary--and although I still wake up in a cold sweat every night with vivid memories of masses of people stampeding toward the exhibit hall after sessions, of lines of starving NFBers winding through the restaurants, of herds of dogs and forests of canes, my daytime memories are filled with tranquility. Thanks to all of you who stopped by to chat--and thanks to Caryn for putting up with me.

Raised Dot Computing, Inc.

This Newsletter represents a technological salad, as follows: written and edited with BEX; file transfer with BEX and Red Ryder; spelling checked with Spellswell; page layout with PageMaker, offset master output with Apple LaserWriter.


Apple Computer, Apple //c, Apple //e, Apple ][+, Apple ImageWriter, Apple LaserWriter, AppleWorks, ProDOS, & UniDISK are trademarks and/or copyrights of Apple Computer Inc.; Cricket, Echo ][, Echo Plus, & TEXTALKER are trademarks and/or copyrights of Street Electronics Corp.; DECtalk is a trademark of Digital Equipment Corp.; IBM is a trademark of International Business Machines, Inc.; JustText is a trademark of Knowledge Engineering, Inc.; Lotus 1-2-3 is a trademark of Lotus Development Corp.; Thiel Embosser is a trademark of Industri-Electronic GmBH & Co., KG; Spellswell is a trademark of Greene, Johnson; Power Pad is a trademark of Chalk Board, Inc.; Micro Illustrator is a trademark of Island Graphics, Inc.; DBase & MultiMate are trademarks of Ashton-Tate; PageMaker is a trademark of Aldus Corp.; BEX, BRAILLE-EDIT, & Super Cranmer Graphics Package are all trademarks of Raised Dot Computing, Inc.