Published Monthly by Raised Dot Computing, Inc., 408 South Baldwin Street, Madison WI 53703. General phone: 608-257-9595.
Subscriptions: $18/year Print, $20/year Audio Tape, $30/year Disk. (Kindly add $20/year for postage outside N. America.)
Submissions are always welcome, especially on diskette. All are subject to editing for style and clarity. All opinions expressed are those of the author. Editor: Jesse Kaysen
Copyright 1987 by Raised Dot Computing, Inc., All Rights Reserved Nothing may be reprinted in any medium--print, braille, audio, or electronic--without prior written permission from RDC, Inc.
Many customers have asked us to give BEX the ability to generate ProDOS textfiles. Unfortunately, that's beyond the reach of a DOS 3.3-based program. However, we've done the next best thing: we've written a ProDOS utility program that allows you to change BEX chapters into ProDOS textfiles. Raised Dot Computing is thrilled to announce that we are shipping our first ProDOS program, "Quick Textfile Converter" or QTC. QTC performs three functions. It copies DOS 3.3 textfiles to ProDOS textfiles; it creates a ProDOS textfile "image" copy of BEX's DOS 3.3 chapters; and it formats ProDOS disks. QTC runs on an Apple IIc, 128K Apple IIe, or Apple IIgs. It's designed to work well with Echo or Cricket voice output, but does not have large print screen display--just 40 column.
We've spent many hours making QTC as quick to use as possible. QTC has just one menu, and wherever it's possible your choices are "hot"--you don't need to press <CR>. Once you have provided the slot and drive numbers for the DOS 3.3 source and ProDOS target disks, converting an entire disk of files only requires you to press three keys. Or, if you wish, you can select individual files to convert by number or by name. You can let QTC change DOS 3.3 filenames into ProDOS filenames automatically, or you specify each new filename yourself. QTC allows you to specify disks without even thinking about a pathname, a delight for those new to ProDOS.
For the first time, our software has extensive, context-sensitive on-line help. At any point, you can press question mark for advice on what to do and why you're doing it. In addition to these short help messages, QTC has a thorough explanation of all program functions. You can select which parts to read as you need them. In fact, QTC provides such thorough explanations that no separate documentation is required. In addition to grueling in-house testing, QTC has benefitted from the attentive ears and eagle eyes of Winifred Downing, Robert Carter, Neal Ewers, and Dr. Mila Truan. Our goal was to develop a utility program that lets you get the job done with minimal effort, even if you don't use it frequently. We think we've accomplished that with style.
When QTC converts BEX chapters to ProDOS textfiles, it copies every character verbatim--your format commands are not executed. This route is perfect for checking BEX chapters with a ProDOS spell-checker, such as Talking Sensible Speller. Before QTC, creating this type of ProDOS textfile required more time and effort. Now with QTC, you just pop your DOS 3.3 disk of BEX chapters in a drive and press B, then any key, then Y. You can then Quit QTC and run Sensible Speller to check and correct your textfiles. Once you're finished checking, you boot BEX, go to the Second menu, and press R. Read textfile to chapter copies the corrected ProDOS textfiles back to BEX chapters.
You can also place <CR>s where ever you want in BEX, and then convert these chapters to provide textfile input for another ProDOS program: AppleWorks, ProWORDS, FILE-TALK, ProTERM, and a host of others. Alternatively, QTC can convert DOS 3.3 textfiles to ProDOS textfiles. When you're preparing text to be uploaded through the phone lines, you want data that's formatted like the printed page. In this case, you place $$l1 at the start of your BEX chapters and Write a textfile. QTC copies the DOS 3.3 textfile to ProDOS in a jiffy.
Finally, QTC formats any ProDOS disk device--be it floppy or RAM disk. This is an especially handy feature when you want to load Sensible Speller on to your RAM drive.
Since QTC is so easy to use, and fills such a definite need, we thought it would be the perfect test of "shareware" distribution. Shareware means that you are free to copy QTC and distribute it to anyone who might find it useful. Once you have a copy, try it out for 45 days. If you like it (and we think you will!) then send us $15. If you don't like it, just erase the disk.
Right now, the only way to obtain QTC is to buy it directly from us. We are in the process of "seeding" North America with QTC. If you can wait one or two months, QTC is bound to show up in your neighborhood. If you can't wait for our seeds to blossom, then order it from us today. We plan on selling QTC directly for the next six months, at which point shareware distribution should have done its geometric best to saturate the continent. Because of the administrative overhead--typing invoices and preparing shippable packages--we can't simply send you QTC free: please send us $15 when ordering QTC directly from RDC.
QTC is an experiment in the shareware method--its success depends on your honesty. We know that the vast majority of our customers are the kind of folks who will pay for something when they find it useful. We hope that our decision to distribute QTC as shareware will put this tool in the hands of all those who need it.
May 22, 1987 was a bittersweet day for RDC; we said goodbye to Andrea Botts, RDC's Technical Writer for the past year. In addition to being a skilled writer, Andrea never let our programmers get away with "conceptual fuzziness." Thanks to her, the TranscriBEX Manual is getting rave reviews around the country. Not only was Andrea RDC's tallest employee ever, she also was the first employee to leave RDC voluntarily. She's headed to California, and we wish her the best of luck--our loss is Silicon Valley's gain. Anyone interested in a top-notch tech writer familiar with products for the visually impaired can contact Andrea through us.
In July of 1986, governors from six midwestern states met and signed the "Great Lakes Revenue Compact." Clearly, their objective was to drive small mail-order businesses absolutely bananas. Beginning April 1, 1987, Raised Dot Computing, Inc. is required to collect the appropriate sales tax on all sales to customers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Any individual, business, or institution which does not qualify for tax-exempt status in these states must pay us the appropriate tax.
The Great Lakes Revenue Compact puts the burden on the purchaser to prove their tax-exempt status. If you think that you're tax-exempt, you must provide us with a "certificate of exemption" prior to any purchase. Without the form, we must charge you the tax. These forms are available from your state's Revenue and Tax Department. We have a generic form that can be used in many cases. So far, so clear. Here's where it starts to get tricky: There are two exceptions to the certificate of exemption requirement:
1. In Illinois and Ohio, all public schools are automatically exempt from providing certificates (That one's easy!)
2. In all six states, units of local, state, and federal governments do not have to provide certificates if RDC is dealing directly with that unit of government. This means that two pieces of paper related to the transaction are issued directly by that government unit, without any intermediary: the Purchase Order and the Check (or governmental warrant).
An example may make this clear. In Wisconsin, the City of Milwaukee runs the public schools. When a Milwaukee public school orders something, the PO says "City of Milwaukee" and the check says "City of Milwaukee." RDC is dealing directly with a governmental unit, so no certificate of exemption is required. It's different in Madison, because the Madison Metropolitan School District, a separate entity, runs the public schools. Their POs and checks say "MMSD". When the City of Madison gives the MMSD money to buy something from RDC, RDC is not dealing directly with a governmental unit, so the MMSD must file a certificate of exemption.
If your organization does not meet these two exceptions and you wish to avoid paying your local sales tax, you must provide RDC with the appropriate certificate of exemption before you purchase something.
Tax rates are as follows: four percent for Michigan; five percent for Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin; and six percent for Minnesota. Just to further complicate things, some municipalities and/or counties in Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin levy their own taxes in addition to the state sales tax. If you live in a county or municipality with a local sales tax, you must add that tax to the rates above. Rest assured that RDC is now equipped with a six-inch stack of tax tables, and we will be figuring the local taxes you must pay. If you don't include the local tax, then we will be calling you to tell you about the increased price of goods due to the tax levy. Ain't bureaucracy wonderful?
Jesse and Caryn spent a very exciting three days in Rochester NY last month at the National Braille Association's annual convention. Caryn had the opportunity to make contact with a number of leaders in the braille field, and her head's already dancing with visions of new features to add to the Grade 2 translator. Your editor met many computer-using transcribers; it's thrilling to see how the varieties of software to assist braille transcribers have already increased the availability of braille. One thing was evident: the RDC Newsletter should have a regular column devoted to braillists using computers. Without further ado, here's the first edition.
Our transcribing group has been using BETTE and TranscriBEX for the past year and a half, and it's been exciting watching the program grow and mature. The most recent update, TranscriBEX 2.1, is mostly wonderful; however, I discovered that the directions for the new "continued print page indicator" command don't cover an important case.
Page s6-6 in the TranscriBEX 2.1 Manual Supplement introduces the \\ppc command, showing a sample of the omitted print page indicator "\\pp10-12" followed by the continued print page indicator "\\ppc12". The second paragraph claims that entering
"works every time when you're using a runninghead." Well, I tried it, and I'm here to say that, no, it doesn't work every time. One of the most common situations requiring \\ppc is at the very beginning of a book. That's because the first few print pages often are blank, or merely repeat the book's title, or contain illustrations. When I followed the instructions and entered:
\\textbookformat \\pp1-4 \\ppc4 \\runninghead Textbook Title $s \\hd Chapter One $s I am the first sentence of this book. And I am the second sentence.
it did not work. The \\ppc4 "swallowed" the \\pp1-4, so the first print page indicator "#a-d" never appeared. The solution is to follow the directions in the final paragraph on page s6-6: Enter the \\ppc4 command after the first sentence on the page. For example:
\\textbookformat \\pph1-4 \\runninghead Textbook Title $s \\hd Chapter One $s I am the first sentence of this book.\\ppc4 And I am the second sentence.
When you delay the \\ppc command by a sentence, then the first print page indicator is "#a-d" and the second is "a#d" and all is well.
During the past few months, I have devised diabolical schemes to strain my Apple ImageWriter to the limits of its abilities. In the process, I have done things I never would have dreamed of being able to do in the bad old days before word processing. The procedures I describe here work on my original ImageWriter. I believe they will work unmodified on an ImageWriter II, and many other printers probably have these capabilities.
Shortly after acquiring our computer, I took on the editing of a very modest newsletter. I would print the material in one long single-column string, to be cut and pasted into a presentable two-column format by someone whose eyes worked. A couple months ago, I got brave and decided to try something I had read about in the ImageWriter manual. The ImageWriter can feed paper either forward or backward. Using this attribute, I was able to produce a perfectly usable two-column printout. From start to finish, here's what I do.
1. I draft the newsletter, putting each article on a separate BEX page.
2. I could use Dipner Dots to print and examine the material for correction, but that would be very tedious. Instead, I do an ink-print draft and run it through the Proofreader/Critic, a dependable, low-tech, high-quality extra which came free with the marriage contract.
3. After making appropriate corrections, I print the whole file to a review-class printer and count how many lines each article takes up. This is easier with the new version of TEXTALKER. It would be even easier if it could be done inside BEX's editor like it can in ProWORDS. I note these totals. I work with the assumption that I will print 58 lines per page, so I juggle all the articles to fit onto different pages. So far I have been lucky and everything has fit pretty neatly.
4. I run the chapter through option R on the Page Menu and put the articles, each corresponding to a BEX page, in their final order.
5. Now I go into the Editor and add the following Escape sequences and format commands after each article which ends a left-hand column.
Escape-r $f Escape-f $$w142 $$ml92<CR>
I'll give you a character-by-character rundown:
Escape-r: tells the printer to feed the paper in reverse. A formfeed now results in the page feeding back through the printer
$f forces the reverse formfeed
Escape-f: commands the ImageWriter to feed subsequent lines through in the normal direction
$$w142 $$ml92: these commands, which must be entered in this order, set the boundaries for the new right column. I am printing in elite proportional pitch, so this enormous-sounding carriage width works
<CR>: allows these boundaries to take effect with the first line of printing.
At the end of each right-hand column, I simply enter the formfeed and the original carriage width and margin commands, in this case $$w55 $$ml5. The result looks quite good. A word of caution: this procedure doesn't seem to work all the time. I try it once and begin to despair as the paper feeds badly, only to try again with no alteration in the procedure and obtain a perfect printout. Maybe I'll figure that out.
[Editor's Note: My ImageWriter experience leads me to the conclusion that Apple's design of the tractor feed mechanism is at fault. When reversing the paper, the tractor is pushing, not pulling--and computer paper is inherently too flimsy to push. JK]
The ImageWriter theoretically comes equipped with several character sets which allow you to print correct foreign languages. The developer of this feature apparently knew some French, because it is possible to write correctly accented French and print it out following the procedure outlined in the manual. His/her knowledge of Spanish was seriously deficient, however, because there seems to be no way provided to generate the acute accent. It goes the opposite direction from the "grave accent" found on the keyboard, no other key on the keyboard resembles it, and there isn't a character for it in any of the ImageWriter character sets with the exception of the French accented E. If anyone has found a way to access this character, I would be interested in hearing about it, either through the Newsletter or by phone or mail (check Facts on File).
One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching access technology is helping students learn to use the equipment to perform a task more independently and/or efficiently than they could have done without the aid of the computer. Some time ago, a student asked me how to get BEX to print superscripts and subscripts on his Apple ImageWriter printer. An examination of the BEX Master Level documentation told me that the Apple ImageWriter did not support superscripts and subscripts. However, a careful study of the ImageWriter manual explained the printer can do subscripts and superscripts, if you load a special font into the ImageWriter.
To prepare the Apple ImageWriter for printing superscripts and subscripts, you must use the Apple ImageWriter Tool Kit disk that comes with the printer. If you do not have a Tool Kit disk, you can probably obtain one from an Apple dealer. To get things going, do the following:
Unlike BEX's $$ee and $$el commands, both sub- and super-scripting is activated by the same command. To instruct the ImageWriter to enter "scripting" mode, you type the two-keystroke escape sequence: Escape apostrophe. To turn scripting off, you type two other keystrokes: Escape dollar-sign. The Escape apostrophe sequence is entered immediately before the characters to be scripted and the Escape dollar-sign is entered immediately after the characters to be scripted.
Take these instructions literally. To enter an Escape apostrophe, simply press and release the Escape key and press and release the apostrophe. For example, to write the chemical formula for water and have the digit 2 subscripted, type seven keystrokes (with no spaces):
H Escape apostrophe 2 Escape $ O
Since Escape apostrophe turns on both sub- and super-scripting, you may be wondering how you know which you'll get. The answer is, it depends on what character you type after the Escape apostrophe. The two charts below list which characters print above the line and which print below. To summarize, all lowercase alphabetic characters are printed as uppercase subscripts. All uppercase alphabetic characters are printed as uppercase superscripts. That's pretty straightforward, but numbers and other non-alpha characters are trickier.
Subscripted digits are created from the numbers zero through nine. Superscripted digits must be entered with punctuation. For the ImageWriter to print a superscript digit one, for example, you enter Escape apostrophe exclamation point.
The Subscript and Superscript charts below have two columns. The left-hand column contains the desired subscript or superscript character. The right column specifies what you type after you start "scripting" with Escape apostrophe.
Subscript You Want -- What You Type
A through Z -- lowercase a through z
0-9 -- 0-9
(+) plus sign -- (;) semicolon
(-) minus sign -- (-) minus sign
(') apostrophe -- (:) colon
(/) slash -- (/) slash
(() left parentheses -- (,) comma
()) right parentheses -- (.) period
Superscript You Want -- What You Type
A through Z -- Uppercase A through Z
1 -- (!) exclamation point
2 -- (") quotation mark
3 -- (#) number sign
4 -- ($) dollar sign
5 -- (%) percent sign
6 -- (&) ampersand
7 -- (') apostrophe
8 -- (() left parentheses
9 -- ()) right parentheses
0 -- (@) at sign
(+) plus sign -- (+) plus sign
(-) minus sign -- (=) equals sign
(') apostrophe -- (*) asterisk
(/) slash -- (?) question mark
(() left parentheses -- (<) less-than sign
()) right parentheses -- (>) greater-than sign
As a computer consultant, the question I hear most frequently is: "Should I trash my present computer system and buy an MS-DOS compatible one?" Invariably, the inquisitor has owned and used their present computer for two or more years. Strangely, the issue is often raised in isolation; not because of a specific problem with the current equipment or an over-mastering need for a change.
Computer Access for the Blind is a computer consultation service in New York City. We provide evaluations, training, installation, and a variety of informational resources to blind and visually impaired persons. Up until two and a half years ago, few clients asked about particular systems. Rather, they were interested in seeing the variety of high tech products which were then available. Everyone seemed to take it for granted that once their individual needs were thoroughly investigated, the specific recommendations would reflect a tailor made set-up.
Then in the summer of 1984, we were all bombarded with a series of startling announcements concerning the new screen readers for the IBM computer and its compatibles. The number of such screen readers has continued to proliferate; there are now more than a dozen. The claims we hear are just as startling today as then. Not only do they hold forth the possibility of using a very high percentage of "off the shelf" commercial software, but implicit in the ads is the notion that all non-MS-DOS compatible machines are obsolete.
In no other aspect of our lives as consumers are we faced with the prospect that "one size fits all." Indeed, no consumers are more acutely aware of the dangers of being typecast than the blind and visually handicapped community. It is surprising to me that no one has spoken out on this issue before, and the remainder of this article will deal with some specific guidelines that may assist print-handicapped computer users in determining if and when it is necessary to move to an IBM-compatible system. Whether you are using an uncomplicated Braille'n'Print system, or running Master Level BEX on a "power user" Apple complete with hard drive, expanded memory, accelerator card, read on: the following information is for you.
Let's begin with the easiest cases, and then proceed to examples which may be far more difficult to accurately evaluate. Sometimes, switching to IBM-compatibility seems inevitable. Particularly if your boss insists that everyone on your job, doing your kind of work, must use not just a particular MS-DOS machine, but a specific group of programs. Still, in our consultation practice, we make it a habit to explain to the boss the numerous ways in which your present non-IBM system may be able to interface with the new office equipment, and that is always something to consider. Over the past few years, RDC has run a series of articles on how this may be done from BEX or BRAILLE-EDIT. The first such article I remember described the use of "Quadlink", a hardware interface between Apple and IBM. The most recent example that comes to mind was Phyllis Herrington's article on transferring information from the IBM to BEX using Option I on the Second menu. It is important to thoroughly explore all such choices before rushing out to buy a new system.
Supposing everyone else in your office is trained in the use of an IBM style system, and it seems clear to you that the only possibilities for promotion involve you obtaining the new equipment. The key question then becomes: What range of options are open to your sighted co-workers? Is it really true that the IBM is the only way to go? We have had clients come to us in this predicament, and it often turned out on closer analysis that the advent of "Big Blue" had started a panic. In the case of one office worker we dealt with, she had overlooked the fact that none of the other employees doing her kind of work were relinquishing their typewriters. Consequently, while the office now had IBMs, she alone among the stenographers was using a computer. I trust that my point here is clear. For us as print-handicapped consumers, the cost of an entirely new set-up is so great that it is imperative that we be sure that the change is essential before making it.
Finally, there is the category of users who are not sure whether or not their present needs have outgrown their older computer. Here again, it is definitely cost-efficient to discover if your current system can continue to grow right along with you. Most of us, when we purchased our first computer, thought nothing of discussing the issues with as many people as possible. In particular, we talked with the vendors and manufacturers of adaptive equipment with the idea of finding out "Is your product adequate for my current needs, and can it grow with me?"
In this quandary, we may take a lesson from the profession of psychology. Therapists will tell you that if your relationship is in trouble, you must reenact the circumstances and events which first brought you together as a couple. Similarly, when your relationship with your old computer is threatened by time, you may again wish to carefully survey the field of currently available upgrades. Few consumers who are not actively working in the field of high tech access products for the blind are able to keep up with the bewildering array of new things, especially for the tried and true older computer lines.
Today, when a prospective client comes to us here at Computer Access, after analyzing completely their present and forseeable computer requirements, our staff provides an essential experimental opportunity. Each client is allowed as much time as scheduling will permit to sit and get acquainted with a variety of computers. Typically, if circumstances required it, the individual might be invited to try their hand at any one of the following: An Apple, Small-Talk, Keynote, VersaBraille, Braille'n'Print or a PC compatible. Yes, we are still in the business of trying to fit high technology to the individual needs of every person who consults with us. In our experience, most of the professional consultants in the area are also doing this. The problem is: it appears that it has become unfashionable to say this in print.
All of the hoopla nowadays centers around the newest screen readers for the MS-DOS machines, and the questions we receive every day clearly indicate that there is much confusion and consternation among blind consumers. My hope is that now that this delicate subject has been broached, more professional consultants and evaluators will be moved to allay the fears of those high tech users who are currently, and for the forseeable future will be happily, utilizing non-MS-DOS computer products. As consultants whose business revolves around making choices, we should not limit the choices we provide to our clients.
Pages 18-16 through 18-19 in the TranscriBEX Manual discuss transferring information from an AppleWorks word processor file to BEX (expanding on my article in the May 1986 RDC Newsletter). At the time, the techniques I described worked great. Unfortunately, Apple has recently updated AppleWorks to version 2.0. (AppleWorks' version number appears one line up from the bottom on the very first "Startup" screen.) This update includes a bunch of neat new features; but one of the changes "fixes" something that (in my humble opinion) was not broken.
The general procedure for moving a file from AppleWorks' Word Processor to BEX stays the same. First, you load the AppleWorks Word Processor file onto the Desktop. Next, you tell AppleWorks to print. When AppleWorks offers you a list of printer destinations, you choose "A text (ASCII) file on disk." This creates a ProDOS textfile. Then you boot BEX, go to the Second menu, and use Read textfile to copy the data from the ProDOS textfile into a BEX chapter. Finally, you use Replace characters to insert skip-line ( $s ), paragraph ( $p ), and new line ( $l ) indicators where they should go.
The big difference between AppleWorks 2.0 and all earlier versions is where carriage returns (abbreviated here as <CR>) appear in the ProDOS textfile. For AppleWorks 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3, the only <CR>s in the textfile are those in the Word Processor file--usually, only at the end of every paragraph. But AppleWorks 2.0 places at least one carriage return at the end of every line when you create the textfile.
This creates a problem: While regular print output contains between 70 and 80 characters per line, braille is usually limited to 41 cells. When you bring rigidly line-oriented data from a print to a braille environment, the resulting braille is not properly formatted. It's crucial to differentiate between a new paragraph, a meaningful new line (like a new poetic line in verse), and a new line that's only pertinent in the print copy. Because AppleWorks 2.0 places a <CR> at the end of every line, the AppleWorks data entry must clearly distinguish between <CR>s that matter and those that don't
For TranscriBEX, a new paragraph is marked with ( $p ), a skipped line is marked with ( $s ), and a meaningful new line is marked with either ( $l ) or <CR>. After you Read the ProDOS textfile to a BEX chapter, Replace characters must be able to find patterns of <CR>s from the AppleWorks file and change these to the appropriate ( $s ), ( $p ), and ( $l ) indicators. I'll discuss two strategies for accomplishing the task, and finish up with a step-by-step summary of the file exporting process, which is guaranteed to work for every version of AppleWorks.
The first approach builds on a habit that's well-developed in most typists; this works best for straight textual material. When you first open a Word Processor document, AppleWorks provides tabs every five characters. At the end of each paragraph, type two <CR>s and then press the Tab key. By adding a blank line before each paragraph and indenting five spaces at its start, you create the kind of distinctive pattern that Replace characters can easily find. By the way, AppleWorks doesn't have "real" tabs: when you press the Tab key, AppleWorks simply inserts enough spaces to move to the next tab stop. Because of this, you can't insert tabs after you've typed your text, only as you go.
To mark a skipped line, enter three <CR>s and then press the Tab key. For a meaningful new line, enter two <CR>s but begin the line at the margin. Once you make a ProDOS textfile and Read this to a BEX chapter, you want to use Replace characters. Here's what the dialog looks like the first time you do this. (Note to disk readers: the "hard" spaces are shown with control-S in the following sample. The actual transformation chapter is also on this disk, named AWTRANS)
In this sample, the "Target Chapter Naming method" is S, which means that the transformed chapters overwrite the source chapters. You only have to go through this dialog once, because you save the "AWTRANS" transformation chapter on your BEX disk. Next time you bring data from AppleWorks, enter "1AWTRANS" at the "Use transformation chapter" prompt. BEX reads the transformation rules into memory, then prompts, "Continue?". Press <CR>, and sit back and listen to a symphony of clicks.
The other approach is really a universal solution for TranscriBEX data entry in any "foreign" word processor--AppleWorks, ProWORDS, Apple Writer, PC Write, WordPerfect, or what have you. An essential part of the TranscriBEX strategy is that every format indicator can be entered with printing characters. Instead of using patterns of <CR>s and tabs, enter space, dollar-sign, lowercase p, space to mark the beginning of every paragraph. To unambiguously define the start of a meaningful new line, enter space, dollar-sign, lowercase l, space. When you want a skipped line in braille, enter space, dollar-sign, lowercase s, space. These format indicators are treated just like text in a foreign word processor.
This method, although it requires a little more training for the person doing data entry, is guaranteed to work. As long as they faithfully enter paragraph, skip-line, or new-line indicators where appropriate, they can place <CR>s wherever they feel like it. Once you bring this data into BEX, the Replace characters task is very simple: Replace every <CR> with one space.
Whether you use <CR> plus space patterns or enter unambiguous indicators, the export procedure is basically the same. The only difference lies in which transformation chapter you use as the last step. Here's what you do.
1. Get AppleWorks up and running. At the Main Menu folder, press 5 - Other Activities. At the Other Activities folder, press 5 - Format a blank disk. Enter a disk name of your choosing; I'll use "transfer". Press space when ready, then listen to the gronking sound. Remove the newly-formatted disk from the drive and label it with its name!
2. Escape twice to the Main Menu. Add the Word Processor file you plan to transfer to AppleWorks' desktop. Let's call it "First Chapter".
3. Save this file to disk. Now you need to make sure the entire document is single-spaced. Enter open-Apple-1 to move to the top of the file. Enter open-Apple-F to Find, then press O to find "Options for printer". Enter DS <CR> to search for occurrences of Double Space. If you find one, press <CR> to stop finding. Then delete the characters "---------Double Space." Repeat this Find-then-Delete routine until you've searched the entire document. Then, go through the same procedure to check for any occurrences of Triple Spacing. Finally, press open-Apple-1 again to get to the top of the file. Press open-Apple-O followed by SS <CR> to place the "---------Single Space" printer option at the start.
4. At this point, you're ready to create the ProDOS textfile. Press open-Apple-P to Print. AppleWorks prompts you "Print from? Beginning"; press <CR>. You're presented the list of printers you have defined. The last choice is "A text (ASCII) file on disk." Arrow down to this choice and press <CR>.
5. Insert the disk you formatted in step 1 in your data drive. AppleWorks is now prompting "Pathname?" in the lower left-hand corner. You must supply the complete pathname as follows: slash, name of the disk, slash, name of the file, <CR>. For this example, I'd enter
Make sure that the textfile's filename, "chapter1" is slightly different from the AppleWorks Word Processor filename, "First Chapter." Don't use periods in the textfile's filename. AppleWorks should then start "printing" the file to disk. If AppleWorks says, "Unable to begin writing this file" or "Unable to continue writing this file,", don't try again. Ninety-nine percent of the time, this error message means you have mistyped the disk's name. Press Escape, and AppleWorks reprompts Pathname?--make sure you're following the /DiskName/FileName pattern.
6. Repeat steps 2 through 5 for every AppleWorks Word Processor file you want to export to TranscriBEX.
7. Boot BEX on a two-drive system. Place the ProDOS /Transfer disk in drive 2. Move to the Second menu and press R. When BEX prompts: "Drive or chapter:" remove the BEX program disk, insert a DOS 3.3 data disk, and enter 2 <CR>. You get a numbered list of ProDOS textfiles. Use the standard BEX chapter selection methods to choose which files to work with. For target chapter naming method, I usually enter "1A-P", which writes the chapters on drive 1, adding the two characters "hyphen, P" to make the chapter names.
8. The last step is Replace characters. When the AppleWorks data uses patterns of <CR>s and spaces, follow the sample given previously. When the AppleWorks data contains TranscriBEX's own ( $p ), ( $s ), and ( $l ) indicators, just Replace every <CR> with one space.
ProTERM is a talking terminal program for the Apple II series of computers. Written and distributed by Larry Skutchan of MicroTalk, it was designed for use by blind persons. ProTERM requires an enhanced Apple IIe with extended 80 column card and Super Serial Card; an Apple IIc; or an Apple IIgs with a Super Serial Card. If you want speech output, you need an Echo or Cricket speech synthesizer from Street Electronics, The program, which is not copy protected, is available in two versions, ProTERM and ProTERM Plus. The latter supports Xmodem, a verified file transfer protocol which allows for the error-free exchange of files and computer programs.
ProTERM has many advantages over two programs which have been available for blind Apple users: Talking TermExec and Talking Transend. ProTERM is very easy to use, and it has two features that optimize it for blind users. ProTERM has a "clicker" that sounds the Apple's speaker each time a character is received. This lets you know when the remote system is finished sending data, so you can then respond. Secondly, there is a separate "speech buffer" so the speed of speech output does not influence the rate of data flow into the computer.
In TermExec you have to keep toggling between "direct" and "buffered" modes to interact with the remote system and to keep from losing data. With Talking Transend, the speech limits the rate at which data may be received. You could enter a control-X to speed up the process, but then you wouldn't know when the transmission was completed.
With the clicker and separate speech buffer, ProTERM gets around all these problems. You can scroll up and down in the speech buffer and/or enter review at any time. This won't affect the flow of data into your computer, and you will always know when the data stops coming. There's also a handy command to dump the speech buffer and put you at the end of the incoming data. You can review the very end to see what command the remote system is waiting for.
ProTERM has two options for filtering out unwanted characters. Any character which appears more than three times, such as a row of asterisks around a menu as a border, will be filtered out. Secondly, you can specify characters which will be filtered out as an option in the parameters menu. In both cases, these characters are passed along to the capture buffer and appear on the screen, so you can download programs. They are only filtered out of the speech output.
ProTERM, like any useful terminal program, has a capture buffer which can be turned on and off and saved at will. This buffer is considerably larger than those provided by TermExec or Transend. Furthermore, ProTERM is a ProDOS program, so the disk access is very fast. Consequently, you will save money when you are on-line because the buffer will fill less often and once it does, the time to save it is much shorter. Both TermExec and Transend seem maddeningly slow while on CompuServe with the meter ticking away. You could speed up this process even further by saving to the RAM disk provided as a part of ProDOS, or you could add a memory card for further RAM disk storage.
ProTERM saves its capture buffer as standard ProDOS textfiles which can of course be read directly by BEX. After reading a textfile into a chapter, you can then perform Global Replace, Grade II Braille translations or any other task you require, with BEX. The program also supports macros, both dial-up macros and log-on macros.
The program also features the new version of TEXTALKER, Version 3.1.1P, which Skutchan himself has modified. If you haven't tried this new version yet, you will love it--it's very fast and flexible. Each keystroke acts as a control-X and also passes itself along to the Apple for execution. So if you are listening to a menu that you are familiar with, you push your choice and the speech is silenced until the choice is executed. In addition to modifying TEXTALKER, Skutchan has also modified the Filer and Convert programs for speech output. They are included on the ProTERM disk and are far superior to prior versions of these programs, which were available.
ProTERM comes with documentation on disk, cassette, and in print. This documentation includes appendices on ProDOS, which many users will need. Occasionally the documentation does not explain something completely, or it will not tell you how to terminate a certain action. By and large, however, it is easy to understand and complete. Anyone who has used another terminal program will have no trouble at all and most beginners should be able to get on-line without incident.
I was at first a little nervous about changing over to ProTERM, because it is basically a command-driven program. I felt safe using Transend with its menu choices. However, I realized that I was outgrowing it, especially since it did not support Xmodem. Now, I have to say that ProTERM is a joy to use. It was easy to get started, there is no long configuration process to go through and no special cable is needed. Finally, you do not get lost in countless menus, which Transend has. Without all the menus, or the long arcane commands needed in TermExec, ProTERM is fast and simple. Skutchan has really thought out what is important to a blind Apple user and what is not. The combination of double buffering (which separates speech output from the data actually coming into the computer) and the clicker is a very elegant solution to knowing what is going on at all times. It keeps you informed while it allows you the flexibility and control to move around at will. I would recommend this program to anyone who is serious about telecommunicating. ProTERM costs $145; ProTERM Plus costs $195. Skutchan also sells ProWORDS, an excellent word-processing program for $195. A package of both ProTERM and ProWORDS is available at a slightly reduced price. See facts on file for details.
[Editor's Note: The author is general manager of Chicago's Radio Reading Service. He's been playing and working with computers for around 3 years. He sees the modem and good terminal software as opening up many horizons for blind people, by providing them with equal access to a wealth of information. JK]
The National Technology Center of the American Foundation for the Blind wishes to thank everyone who responded to our call for participation in the User Network [RDC Newsletter March 86]. We are continuing our search for persons who have hands-on experience with computers, low vision aids, talking products, and other devices for blind and visually impaired persons. We are interested in people of all ages who use adaptive devices, including students from grade school through college. Please contact us if you are interested in serving as a resource person and/or evaluator for the Center.
We'll follow up your initial contact with a brief, confidential telephone survey. Information will be used only for NTC purposes and will not be given out as mailing lists to vendors or other organizations. The NTC database will store information about the equipment you use, your experience with it, training, and employment. As a resource person, other users may contact you to share your knowledge and experience. As an evaluator, we may ask you to evaluate both existing and newly released devices.
As a result of our first call for users, a telephone survey was conducted with over 500 users and trainers. Two evaluations have been completed, and the reports appears in the "Random Access" section of the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness. If you are interested in "helping us help you," please drop a note (see Facts on File) with your name & address plus day and evening telephone numbers with the best time to contact you.
It is with mixed emotions that I say goodbye to Raised Dot Computing at the end of this week. In one way, it seems like just last month that I introduced myself in these pages. But I've learned so much and gotten so comfortable here that in another way it seems as though I've been here much longer than a year. As Jesse noted, I'm leaving Wisconsin for sunny California. My departure is the result of a very happy event in my personal life: I'm marrying a newly Ph.D'd chemist. He's seeking his fame and fortune in Berkeley, so just after our wedding we'll be transporting our household, complete with miniature menagerie, to our new home in the East Bay area. A few things I won't miss about Madison; shoveling snow and trying to park downtown leap to mind. But there are many other things I'll miss a lot, and the people--and dogs--here at RDC are right up there on that list.
The Dots, individually and collectively, are a unique bunch. The distinctly a-corporate atmosphere here at RDC world headquarters lets each person do their job with their own style; there's no employee rulebook here, and little hierarchy. But, probably to the surprise of many of the more strait-laced types we encounter from time to time, the lack of a rulebook doesn't lead to back-stabbing or passing the buck. We confront sticky issues head-on, as a group. And when we work, we work hard; each and every person here takes personal pride in seeing that the products we send out to our customers are the best that they can be.
I'm looking forward to finding a new job in California with a mixture of apprehension and anticipation. I'd really like to stay in the field that serves the visually impaired. But no matter what I find myself tackling in months or years ahead, I know I'll look back on my year as a Dot with fondness.
CORRECTION from last month!
919 Walnut Street
Phildelphia, PA 19107
6809 Sacramento S.W.
Tacoma, WA 98499
Work phone: 206-565-9000
Home phone: 206-581-3622
Computer Access for the Blind
135 W. 23rd St.
New York NY 10011
337 South Peterson Ave.
Louisville, KY 40602
National Technology Center
American Foundation for the Blind
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
Apple, Apple IIc, Apple IIe, Apple IIgs, AppleWorks, ImageWriter, ImageWriter II, & ProDOS are registered trademarks of Apple Computer Inc.; Cricket, Echo ][, Echo Plus, & TEXTALKER are trademarks of Street Electronics Corp.; IBM-PC is a registered trademark of International Business Machines, Inc.; Keynote and Braille'n'Print are trademarks of Sensory Aids Corp.; MS-DOS is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp.; ProTERM is a trademark of Microtalk; Small-Talk & Talking Transend are trademarks of Computer Aids Corp.; Sensible Speller is a trademark of Sensible Software, Inc.; TermExec is a trademark of Quinsept, Inc.; VersaBraille is a trademark of Telesensory Systems, Inc.; BETTE, BEX, BRAILLE-EDIT, and TranscriBEX are trademarks of Raised Dot Computing, Inc.