Raised Dot Computing Newsletter: Exploring Microcomputer Applications for the Visually Impaired -- ISSN 0890-0019 Volume 6 -- APRIL/MAY 1988 -- Numbers 63 & 64

Published More-or-Less 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, especially on diskette. All are subject to editing for style and clarity. All opinions expressed are those of the author. Editors: Jesse Kaysen & Phyllis Herrington

Entire contents copyright 1988 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.

Table of Contents: the all-uppercase words name the disk chapters; the words after the equals sign are the actual article titles.

READ ME FIRST = How To Read the RDC Newsletter on Disk

CONTENTS = Table of Contents (print page 1)

LASER LINES = TEXTALKER 3.1.3 Not Yet Apple II Plus Compatible; Clearing Apple IIgs Keyboard Buffer; NAPUB Sells Braille 'n Speak Manual in Braille; SAC Moves (print page 2)

SENSORY OVERLOAD = Sensory Overload Contest Winners: Don Barrett, Mark Dubnick, Randall Witte (print pages 3-4)

SCHOOL PACKS = Stretch Your Budget with BEX School Packs -- Becky Rundall (print pages 4-5)

SLOTBUSTER BUGFIX = Coping When BEX Won't Recognize the SlotBuster -- David Holladay (print page 5)

WORCESTER LIBRARY = Three Cheers for the Worcester Public Library -- Olga Espinola (print pages 6-7)

BBC OVERFLOW = BEX Beginner's Corner: Why is My Apple Making That Horrible Noise? -- Phyllis Herrington (print pages 7-9)

FLIPTRACK COURSES = FlipTrack Learning Systems' Self-Study Courses (print pages 9-10)

SHAREWARE = Cheap Thrills and Productivity from Shareware -- Nevin Olson (print pages 10-12)

JOY OF TRANSCRIBEX = Simply Suppressing Contractions in the Grade 2 Translator -- Caryn Navy; Save Time with the Clipboard -- Gloria Buntrock (print pages 12-13)

LARGE PRINT EFFECTS = Special Effects with BEX Large Print -- Jesse Kaysen (print pages 13-17)

LP SAMPLES = Large Print Samples that Appear on Print Page 15 for above article

BRL N SPEAK TO BEX = Interfacing the Braille 'n Speak with BEX and the Apple II -- Robert Carter (print pages 17-19)

BEX & 3-5 DISKS = BEX 3.0 & 3.5-inch disks -- David Holladay (print pages 19-22)

BULLETIN BOARD = Braille Dictionary Wanted; Bargain Peripherals from RDC; Tape-based VersaBraille Package for Sale; Two Cranmer Braillers for Sale; Used Thiel Embosser for Sale; Variable Speech Cassette Recorder from Ohstuki; Grants for DECtalk (print pages 22-23)

FACTS ON FILE = Who's Who at Raised Dot Computing; Trademarks and Copyrights (print page 24)

Laser Lines from the Editor

Spring is finally arriving up here in the frozen north, and all the RDC staff (and guide dogs) are deep in the throes of Spring Fever. We are as always grateful for our careful readers, who help keep us honest. Several cases in point:

TEXTALKER 3.1.3 Not Yet Apple II Plus Compatible

Last month's article about the latest version of TEXTALKER said that version 3.1.3 fixed the problems with the Apple II Plus. Jeff Weiss, editor of the informative quarterly APPLE TALK, writes:

" ... I recently purchased a II Plus and found that neither of these new versions of TEXTALKER [3.1.3 or 3.1.1] worked properly with my machine. Numerous keystrokes were lost and it appeared that any key pressed while the Echo was talking was eaten by the "immediate quiet feature" and was not passed on to the running program. ... At present, the only version of TEXTALKER which seems to work properly on my machine is the old 1.3."

Mr. Weiss's letter made us dig out the old II Plus from the basement and do the testing we didn't do before we wrote the article. And unfortunately for Apple II Plus owners, Mr. Weiss is right on target. The TEXTALKER 3.1.3 documentation states that the Apple II Plus' 80-column line review problems were fixed. We incorrectly generalized this to mean that 3.1.3 was fully compatible with the Apple II Plus. Mr. Weiss has reported the problem to Larry Skutchan of APH, and Mr. Skutchan is working on it. As soon as a fix is available, we will let readers know. Until then, don't install TEXTALKER 3.1.3 on software you intend to use with an Apple II Plus.

Clearing Apple IIgs Keyboard Buffer

While we were chatting with Mr. Skutchan about TEXTALKER, he kindly told us about a combination of keystrokes that clears out the Apple IIgs keyboard buffer. Simultaneously depressing the three keys Control, Command, and Delete erases all the characters waiting for processing in the keyboard buffer. ("Command" is the key with the propeller symbol and an outlined Apple on it.) It works like a charm, and it's especially handy when you've "hung" the Braille Previewer in BEX. Pressing control-command-delete has no effect when the keyboard buffer is empty.

NAPUB Sells Braille 'n Speak Manual in Braille

Robert Carter's review of the Braille 'n Speak last month said the manual was only available in print or on audio tape. Cathy Jackson of Kentucky NAPUB Braille Action Laboratory wrote to set us straight. This group sells a braille version of the manual for just $15. Send your check or money order to

Kentucky NAPUB

Braille Action Laboratory

358 Life Sciences Bldg.

University of Louisville

Louisville KY 40292

SAC Moves

The Sensory Aids Corporation, distributors of the Keynote, have leaped halfway across the country. Last month, they were in Illinois: now you can contact them at:

Sensory Aids Corp.

6140 Horseshoe Bar Road, Suite P

Loomis CA 95650

Phone: 916-652-7253 or 800-722-3393

Sensory Overload Contest

The completely arbitrary judges have chosen three winners in the annual contest to make clever fun of sensory aids. We appreciate the many amusing contributions we received.

For successfully circumventing our interdiction of potty humor in the contest rules, Don Barrett is hereby awarded the M.M.M. (Master of Marketplace Mockery) with Thermoform Clusters. Mark Dubnick's contributions clearly point out the dangers of (a) over-watching Congressional hearings and (b) over-associating with graduate students. Finally, Randall Witte has taken "user-friendly talking computers" to their logical extreme. Enjoy.

Don Barrett

Sensory Overload has just been informed that a revolutionary red hot software package is being developed to automate the production, coating, and firing of vessels made from various ceramic substances. Artists have expressed concern that this new earthware will put them out of business. And a new company has already been establish to distribute this new package: Glazed Pot Computing. It's expected to make a kilning. But don't get fired up about it yet; the final organizational structure still depends on a few big wheels. We are sure, however, that Glazed Pot Computing will somehow shape this pliable industry.

Sensory Overload is proud to announce a new low-vision magnifier: the Lug 'n Look. This truly portable, state-of-the-art device weighs only 3000 pounds. It fits in the cargo bay of an Boeing 747 and is immediately accessible at the touch of a tool kit. How can we make this device so portable? Well, the key is its new combination legs and rollers, which allow any low vision user, once installed, to move freely about the room, scarcely noticing that they are inside the Lug 'n Look. Finally a sensory aids device you don't have to carry: it carries you!

Mark Dubnick

There has been a lot written recently about financing adaptive technology, but when your VR counselor says, "NO, Never!" you are in a real jam. Ollie South's Financing Sensory Aid Technology by Selling Military Technology will get you out of the jam, and into the techno-heaven we all know awaits the eager reader. In step-by-step fashion, you are told how to pursue the two tracks for financing your techno budget. The first approach is to simply sell military secrets of your own country to any interested buyer. The second is selling selected high-tech military hardware to banana republics, repressive regimes, lunatic leaders of the third world, or any of the general global background of terrorist organizations. This is really a trick that is too good to waste on the deposed national guard of has-been dictators. Why should the visually impaired be barred from this growing opportunity? Along with a captivating text, Mr. South has included several important appendices. One is a long listing of stirringly patriotic catch phrases you can use to justify your actions to potential backers. In the unlikely event that you are ever publicly called to task for your activities, this vocabulary serves you well in Congressional testimony. Another lists the private addresses and phone numbers of deposed dictators, unpopular regimes, and bonzo charismatic leaders of all political preferences. Even Idi Amin! (We bet you thought he had dried up! Buy the book and you'll know where to find him.) Available in large print, braille, or diskette; please specify if you desire self-destruct medium. All for just $19.95; funds must be drawn on a Swiss bank, or be provided in small, unmarked bills.

At last, the ultimate computer--a thinking man's computer, a philosopher's computer. The NO-TALK can be used completely equally by people with all types of disabilities and those without. A small, utterly featureless black box, the NO-TALK thinks--continually. It is the embodiment of pure thought, thinking about pure thought. The batteries never run down, because the NO-TALK has no batteries, or any other kind of power supply; since it never runs out of power, you can carry it anywhere. The NO-TALK never presents interfacing problems, because it has no ports at all. In fact, you could not turn the NO-TALK off even if you wanted to, because it has no switches or controls of any kind. It pays no attention to the rest of the universe, it simply thinks. The NO-TALK processor uses the computer language C, because that language has no input or output commands. However, the NO-TALK cannot ever fall into solipsism, because it also knows HAL 9000 assembler language in order to cover specifically such an eventuality. Price? The special introductory offer is a mere $9,999. If the first thing you say to our request "Buy a NO-TALK!" is "Define 'buy'," then you should order today!

Randall Witte

You know that computers can "talk" to other computers, but what about when there is no other computer around? Well, disdain no more! Sensory Overload proudly offers two exciting new programs that not only allow the computer to talk to itself, but answer itself back! SCHITZO-TALK will allow your computer to carry on detailed dialogues with itself while you are away. You can even preprogram family disputes, love triangles, soap operas, and mother-in-law visits into SCHITZO-TALK and let your computer hash it all out for you. Want to enter the dialogue yourself? No problem, just add the BACK-TALK module to the system and jump in! Please call for ordering information now!

Stretch Your Budget with BEX School Packs -- Becky Rundall

Do you need three or four BEX disks for your students, but your budget just won't allow you to buy three or four new BEX programs? The BEX "School Pack" is our attempt to help out the many teachers in this situation. It gives you the additional BEX program disks you need at a significant savings from the price of full programs.

A BEX School Pack has one "Teacher's Set," as well as three or more "Student Sets." The Teacher's Set is a full BEX program, with BEX Master program, large print documentation, and your choice of audio or braille documentation. The Student Sets contain one non-copiable BEX disk, plus large print and braille Quick and Thick Reference Cards.

The BEX School Pack is highly recommended for those computer lab and classroom settings where three or more students are using the computers. The complete BEX documentation is available for reference in the room and each student has their own program disk and reference cards.

The Teacher's Set costs $400, while each Student Set is $200. If you've already purchased one BEX at full price, then it counts as a Teacher's Set: you can purchase three or more Student Sets at $200 each. While the initial School Pack purchase is a minimum of three Student Sets, you may subsequently purchase individual Student Sets as you need them.

School Packs are only available in BEX version 3.0. If your current BEX is an earlier version, you should include $175 to upgrade this Teacher's Set to 3.0 when you get Student Sets. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about School Packs for your students--please give me a call at 608-257-9595.

BEX Training Packs

As long as I'm on the topic of "packs," I want to let our readers know about the BEX Training Pack rental program. It's designed for training sessions where attendees are being introduced to computer accessibility, or are being given a functional overview of BEX and other sensory aids. The "Instructor's Set" is a full BEX program with print and audio documentation. The "Participant's Sets" include one BEX disk plus large print and braille versions of the Quick and Thick Reference Cards. Each Training Pack contains one Instructor's Set plus ten Participant's Sets; Training Pack rental is a minimum of $75 per instruction week. A computer camp devoting one day a week to BEX over a five-week session would pay the same $75 as a week-long intensive training. TranscriBEX Training Packs are also available--I'm waiting to discuss details with you.

Coping When BEX Won't Recognize the SlotBuster -- David Holladay

The SlotBuster is RC Systems' sophisticated multi-function circuit card: it's available with buffered serial and parallel output as well as voice output. Both BEX 2.2 and BEX 3.0 support the SlotBuster; but you can't use the SlotBuster with earlier versions of BEX.

When you boot BEX 2.2 or 3.0 with a SlotBuster in your Apple, the SlotBuster should speak BEX's first Enter configuration: prompt. When you don't hear this prompt, it means that BEX has not recognized that a SlotBuster is installed in your Apple IIe or IIgs. To verify whether BEX recognizes your SlotBuster, press W at the Starting Menu. When you have a SlotBuster card in slot 1, this "What is in the computer" option should report Slot 1: SlotBuster card __l . When BEX doesn't recognize the SlotBuster, the report is Slot 1: Unknown card .

When you have BEX 3.0, it's a snap to teach BEX about the SlotBuster. Use option R - Recognition of cards on the Starting Menu to tell BEX you have a genuine SlotBuster in your system. (Please read section 15 in the Interface Guide before you force recognition; it explains what to do if you make a mistake.) As long as the SlotBuster hardware is working correctly, BEX will wake up talking the next time you boot the "forced" BEX.

However, with BEX 2.2, there is no instant solution. We are happy to send you a customized fix-up disk at no charge. To get this disk, please follow these three steps.

Step 1: Get to BEX's Starting Menu, and place an initialized data disk in drive 2. Press S for the System Description option, which saves an electronic "fingerprint" of your SlotBuster on the data disk.

Step 2: Write a note (in print, braille, or on the disk) that gives us your mailing address, and mention that you need BEX to recognize your SlotBuster.

Step 3: Mail or UPS us the data disk and note. We recommend you don't send disks "Free Matter."

We will mail back the customized fix-up disk as quick as rabbits.

Three Cheers for the Worcester Public Library -- Olga Espinola

The Talking Book Library in Worcester, Massachusetts can serve as a role model for others nationwide. It's affiliated with NLS as a subregional library which serves central Massachusetts and provides its patrons with talking books. Marlene Temsky, head of the department, has a keen awareness of the needs of her patrons. She has shown great leadership in incorporating adaptive technology into the service.

In the early '80s, the library was able to obtain a Kurzweil Reading Machine. That proved to be so beneficial to users that Mrs. Temsky was encouraged to expand: last year the library acquired two Apple IIc's with Crickets and BEX. In recent months, this has been further expanded to include an ImageWriter, an MBOSS-1 braille printer and a disk-based VersaBraille II. The future holds the promise of a second ImageWriter, an upgrade for the KRM, and perhaps a CD-ROM drive and compact disks.

The benefits to patrons are already incalculable. People use the equipment for many applications. Users new to computers have qualified staff available for basic training on the equipment. Students use the word processing features of BEX and other Apple software to write term papers, review notes, and organize their course work. Expert users reap great rewards from interfacing the equipment together, quickly gaining access to work-related materials. From the Kurzweil to the Apple with BEX to the MBOSS or VersaBraille, print documentation crucial to the job is now within reach.

In many institutions, Kurzweils sit in the corner gathering dust. There was always some interest, so this never happened at the Talking Book Library, but still the KRM was not exploited to its full potential. With all the exciting additions now, the library was faced with the happy task of devising a scheduling system. To meet the growing demand, users actually have to book time on the KRM.

It's thrilling to see blind individuals finally taking advantage of the library's wealth of information as their sighted friends have always been able to do. This should send a clear signal to other libraries around the nation encouraging them to set up similar programs in their own communities. Talking Book Staff: take a bow!

[Editor's Note: I chatted briefly with Mrs. Temsky to find out how she'd implemented these laudable goals. She said that any library can establish a computer access center; she acknowledged the help she'd received from Mary Roatch, who pioneered such a program at the Phoenix, Arizona public library. Because many visually impaired individuals do not frequent their local libraries, librarians may have to work against an initial reaction that no need exists for a KRM, computers, software, braille embossers, and low vision aids. To make the program more visible to the public, the Worcester Public Library asked the Talking Book Library to move its computer equipment used by the blind to the main library; this helped the public to become aware of the technological opportunities for the visually impaired. Funding for such an undertaking is available through local, state, or federal agencies. One may need to do some investigation to target the appropriate agency for funding, but it is still possible. Also local charities and service groups are always interested in donating equipment and/or the funds to worthwhile projects in the community. PH]

If any librarians are interested in finding out more information about the set up at the Worcester Talking Book Library and how your library can better meet the needs of the visually impaired community, Marlene Temsky can be contacted at:

Worcester Talking Book Library

Worcester Public Library

Worcester, MA 01608

Phone: 617-799-1730

BEX Beginner's Corner: Why Is My Apple Making That Horrible Noise? -- Phyllis Herrington

There you are, innocently waiting at your Apple for BEX to finish Replace characters. All of a sudden this horrid sound bursts forth from your computer speaker! At first you sit there in a state of shocked fascination; then you realize this sound is not normal. Possibilities run wild through your mind: a. your community is being invaded by Alf; b. your computer is blowing up; c. someone is breaking into the office; or d. all of the above. After getting several calls inquiring about the cause of this weird sound, I decided it was time to lay to rest all fears of invasion by space pirates.

The video-arcade-like sound coming from your computer speaker means you are experiencing a "page overflow." Each BEX page can hold a maximum of 4096 characters. During Replace characters, Grade 2 translation, or Back from grade 2, BEX is modifying the length of your text, and this often results in its expansion. If the current option would cram more than 4096 characters on the particular page, instead of scrambling your data, BEX warns you of the problem by emitting this "overflow siren." When you hear the overflow siren, press the <Esc> key to cancel replacing or translation.

Preventing Overflow

Now that you understand why your Apple is making that sound, I'm sure you want to know how to avoid these overflow problems. Basically, you must keep the expansion issue in mind as you create BEX pages you intend to replace or translate. I can't provide ironclad rules, since everyone's data is a little bit different. While your experience is the best guide for deciding the correct maximum, let me share some pointers from the many calls I've fielded.

TranscriBEX provides many opportunities to trip this wonderful alarm system. Most \\ commands get expanded into long strings of $$ commands. Expect your commands for complex indexes, tables of contents, hierarchical poetry, outlines, and line-for-line tables to at least triple in length. Prevent overflow by keeping your BEX pages small as you create them, staying within the limits suggested on page 1 of the TranscriBEX Reference Card.

But you don't have to be a TranscriBEX user to encounter the overflow siren. Let's say you're writing a document in which you use the phrase "word processing program" over and over. To reduce data entry, you abbreviate "word processing program" to "wpp", and then use Replace characters to expand those three letters to the full 23-letter phrase. If your "wpp" version has 3900-character pages, then you will certainly get spectacular overflow noises when you Replace.

Since grade 2 braille uses so many contractions, beginners can get the overflow serenade when using option B - Back from grade 2 translation. Imagine you're back-translating the sentence: "It was the people's knowledge that engendered good will." The grade 2 version is just 27 cells long: the back-translated inkprint more than doubles in length! That's an extreme example: you should generally expect your braille text to increase by around one-quarter as it's back-translated. When your braille chapters contain 3200 or less characters per page, then you will avoid overflow 99% of the time.

Translating from print to braille sometimes overflows, though not as frequently as Replace characters or Back translation. If you're making Grade 2 translations of inkprint with a lot of numbers or all caps material, the number signs and double-caps signs do add to the length. Grade 1 translation always increases the number of characters slightly: limit inkprint bound for grade 1 to 3300 characters per page.

The overflow siren is definitely startling, but it's also good news. Rather than stuffing your pages too full, BEX abandons the option in progress: your data is still intact. But when you hear that sound, your first concern is how to get your work done. There are two ways you can make smaller pages; a manual approach and a more automatic one.

Cut Pages in the Editor

Let's suppose your three-page problem chapter is the table of contents for a textbook. You use Replace characters with MAKE$ and get the overflow shriek after the first and second pages are saved. Press <Esc> to stop the awful racket. Your first step is to "zip" to the Page Menu and check out how many characters are in each page, using option F - File list. The User Level dialogue would look like:

Main Menu: Z

Page Menu: F

File list

Drive or Chapter: TOC <CR>

Chapter TOC

3 Pages

Page 1 Size 1950 A

Page 2 Size 2140 B

Page 3 Size 2621 C

Total of 6711

Page Menu:

Yes, the third BEX page is certainly larger than the recommended 2300-character limit. Since there's just one "problem" page, it's faster to create new pages in the Editor. Edit the TOC chapter, starting on page 3. Once your cursor is at position 0, enter control-A 1800 <Space> to advance your cursor 1800 characters. Now enter control-A control-L to position your cursor on the next handy <CR>. Finally, enter control-C control-P to "cut" the current page. All the data from the cursor forward is pushed to the next page, creating a new page 4. Whenever you cut pages in the Editor, BEX takes care of renumbering them. Now you can use MAKE$ on the TOC chapter and get the results you intended.

Adjusting Pages on the Second Menu

Individually cutting pages can take forever when you have many chapters stuffed full. Suppose your student has created an entire disk full of grade 2 chapters; each BEX page contains 3900 or more characters. If you back-translated this data, you'd certainly get an overflow. Option A - Adjust size of pages on the Second Menu is a little utility designed for just this situation.

Adjust pages makes modified copies of chapters: you must use different names for the copies. As it copies, it creates BEX pages according to the limits you supply. Here's a sample of that conversation:

Second Menu: A

Adjust page sizes

Drive or Chapter:

At this point, BEX has read the program it needs from drive 1. Remove your BEX disk, insert an initialized data disk in drive 1, and continue like this:

Drive or Chapter: 2 <CR>

There are 4 chapters





Use entire list? N Y <CR>

Naming method: 1A+ <CR>

Enter minimum page size: 2600 <CR>

Enter maximum page size: 3200 <CR>

(extensive disk reading and writing) DONE

Second Menu:

The 1A+ naming method tells BEX to write the target chapters on drive 1, adding the single plus character to the source chapter names. During Adjust pages, BEX tries to create pages at logical spots like ($p) indicators or <CR>s.

The maximum page size of 3200 prevents the grade 2 text from overflowing during back-translation. When specifying minimum and maximum page sizes, keep in mind the tasks you will be performing with the chapter. Planning avoids inconveniences down the road.

All of us have had the opportunity to become acquainted with BEX's overflow warning system. When you encounter our friend, don't panic. Simply press <Esc> and you're back at Main Menu. Remember, rectifying the overflow problem is easy. By consciously limiting the number of characters on each page, you won't encounter the space invasion. Of course, sending your computer into outer space can be a good way to liven the boring afternoon of your unsuspecting co-workers.

FlipTrack Learning Systems' Self-Study Courses

FlipTrack Learning Systems, of Glen Ellyn Illinois, has long published self-paced audio tape tutorials for a wide variety of computer hardware and software. While originally aimed at the general computer market, their audio-based tutorial format is accessible to the blind computer user as well. Their latest titles include "Advanced Training for Lotus 1-2-3 and Symphony," "How to Use R:BASE," and "How to Use Microsoft Word (PC Version)." All of FlipTrack's courses use a patented two-track audio tape format: the main body is on one side, with optional topics explored on the flip side. You can adjust the instruction to your own needs and interests.

The "How to Use Microsoft Word (PC Version)" includes four audio cassette lessons of about two hours each, as well as a printed reference guide (for sighted users). The lessons cover essential features--editing, printing, and merge-printing--as well as spell checking, glossaries, outlining, footnoting, math calculations, macros, columns, indexes and style sheets.

The "How to Use R:BASE" lessons, equally applicable to Microrim's R:BASE System V and the new R:BASE for DOS, are four two-to-three hour cassettes plus a data disk. These lessons start with the basic tasks of retrieving, entering, and editing data in a sample database, and moves on to database and custom data entry form design.

The "Advanced Training for Lotus 1-2-3 and Symphony" includes both four two-hour cassettes and a data disk. It's aimed at the experienced or intermediate Lotus user, addressing macros, special functions, and financial analysis. FlipTrack claims that these lessons "equip users to custom-design their own macros, using subroutines, if-then statements, for-next statements, menus, and a myriad of other macro programming tools."

The MS Word lessons cost $99, the R:BASE lessons are $149, and the Lotus lessons cost $129. FlipTrack's courses are available on a 30-day money back guarantee basis; and they have more than 25 other training titles available.

FlipTrack Learning Systems

999 Main, Suite 200

Glen Ellyn, IL 60137

Phones: 800-222-3547 (outside IL) or 312-790-1117 (inside IL)

Cheap Thrills and Productivity from Shareware -- Nevin Olson

As software publishers, we certainly know that producing and marketing software is expensive. "Shareware" and "public domain" software are low-cost alternatives to traditional software publishing. For all computer users, shareware and public domain software can be an inexpensive way to get the job done. Shareware is especially attractive to blind users, because you can see how well a program works with access technology before making a major investment. I've put together a varied list of shareware and PD distributors, so you can start experimenting with shareware yourself.

But before we start talking ZIP codes, let's define the terms. "Shareware" means the author retains all publication rights, but encourages free and wide distribution. You can copy, look at, and experiment with shareware. When you decide it's useful, you are expected to register your use with the author by paying a fee. (Since registration depends on the honesty of the users, shareware is also known as "honorware" or "user supported software.") In most cases, the registration fee is less than $89; sometimes it's a measly $5!

What your registration buys depends on the program: a soothed conscience; the latest version of the software; bound manuals; updates; telephone technical support; newsletters; reference cards, etc. RDC distributes several shareware programs: our own QTC ProDOS textfile utility, DSR's Diversi-COPY Apple disk copy utility, and Quicksoft's PC-WRITE word processor for the IBM-PC.

"Public domain" or "PD" means that the author has relinquished their copyright: the program can be freely copied by anyone. The author generally stipulates that no-one should profit from PD software; that's why it's sometimes called "freeware." Examples of public domain software are Computer Aids' Talking Apple IIgs Control Panel, the silent FrEdWriter Apple word processor, and the Model Tea Reader screen access utility for the IBM-PC. (Just to be cute, Model Tea Reader calls itself "pirateware," but it's genuine public domain.)

Benefits of Alternative Marketing

One important factor in the low cost of shareware and PD is no overhead: the program's author doesn't have to rent an office, buy advertising space, or pay administrative staff to answer the phone. In fact, the program can serve as its own advertisement. No overhead can have its drawbacks: you're generally "on your own" with PD software. Technical support for shareware varies widely: Quicksoft provides telephone help, while many programs are only supported by letter.

PD and shareware can be excellent programs. Many PD programs are written by professional programmers as a "gift" to the community of computer users. (The original FrEdWriter was written by AppleWriter's programmer, then improved by a series of computer-literate teachers. The end result is a free word processor that's perfect for the ever-broke school computer lab.) Shareware distribution is a good way to get one's feet wet in the software publishing business. (A growing Macintosh publsher, CE Software, started out with a range of shareware titles. Now they also market programs through software dealers, as well as distributing great "giftware" as advertising.) On the other hand, some shareware and PD programs don't work at all.

The only way to find out is to try it! So how do you get your hands on the stuff? Just find a person who has a program and copy it. Software bulletin boards and big information utilities like CompuServe have hundreds of programs: you can copy (download) these if you have a modem and the right sort of communications software. Most metropolitan areas have computer user groups that meet regularly: generally there's a computer set up to copy programs on to your disks. But if you live in central Wyoming, or you don't have a modem, these sources won't help.

Enter the shareware and PD "libraries." These businesses offer hundreds of programs on disk through the mail. They publish catalogs sorted by application to help you pinpoint the program you want. You buy by the disk: some disks contain scores of programs, while some programs require several disks. The typically $4 to $8 per disk charge helps cover the libraries' overhead; in addition to shareware, they often sell plain disks and publish newsletters. It's important to remember that the per-disk charge is a copying fee. Buying a disk from a library does not mean you have registered the program. Your copying fees go to the library, not the author.

The common quality of the following five libraries is we've actually ordered something from them. We know they answer the phone, pay attention to letters, and have detailed catalogs. We're happy to list other libraries that you have had experience with.


1030-D E. Duane Ave.

Sunnyvale, CA 94086

800-245-6717 U.S. except CA

800-222-2996 CA

This is one of the oldest libraries, with over 1,000 titles for PC and MS-DOS. Membership, at $20 per year, gets you a complete catalog, a bimonthly magazine with features about computing and reviews of new programs, and discounts on disk purchases. Non-members may purchase disks. Their complete catalog is available on disk for $6.

Public Brand Software

P.O. Box 51315

Indianapolis, IN 46251


This is an off-shoot of the Indianapolis PC User's Group, selling PC and MS-DOS disks at $5 each. (Experiment with the letters of their phone number and you'll get a phrase that spells out what they sell. The trademark holder sued them, so they're not known by that name anymore.) Their catalog provides version number, file listing, user ratings, experience level ratings, and hardware requirements for each program. Call for a free (sorry, print) catalog.

Public Domain Exchange

2074-C Walsh Ave.

Santa Clara, CA 95050

800-331-8125 except CA

408-496-0624 CA

Apple II and Macintosh public domain and shareware. One year membership is $39.95, which includes a catalog, quarterly magazine subscription, and your selection of 6 disks. Non-members may purchase disks.

A.P.P.L.E. Co-op

290 SW 43rd St.

Renton, WA 98056


This group just celebrated their 10th year working with the Apple. They had one of the largest collections of Apple II public domain libraries but it has not been maintained. They will soon be starting an Apple II shareware library which promises to be interesting. The Macintosh public domain and shareware collection is extensive. Annual membership is $20, but non-members may purchase. They also sell many computer-related items and membership gives you a special discount.


742 Genevieve Suite D

Solana Beach, CA 92075


Public domain and shareware for the Macintosh. They offer about 700 disks, starting at $8.50 each.

The Joy of TranscriBEX

This regular feature explores tips and techniques for users of RDC's TranscriBEX braille translation and format software. Contributions are always welcome.

Simply Suppressing Contractions in the Grade 2 Translator -- Caryn Navy

TranscriBEX Section 8 is devoted to "Making Better Braille." It discusses a host of symbols you can enter in inkprint to control which contractions and composition signs the translator places. One symbol suppresses placement of the letter sign: you type the two characters less-than, semicolon (

Egbert to avoid the letter sign, since V here is a capitalized Roman numeral, not the letter "V."

Here's a nifty trick I have found: You can use the (middle of a word as well. When ( For example, when writing about Mayor Wilson Goode of Philadelphia, you can type:

Wilson G to avoid taking the "good" contraction. Similarly, in writing about Prime Minister Begin, you could type:

Prime Minister B to avoid taking the "be" contraction. When the abbreviation for United States is shown without periods, you can type:

U to prevent taking the "us" contraction.

To develop a good feeling for how ( Save Time with the Clipboard -- Gloria K. Buntrock

The clipboard tool in BEX's Editor makes it easy to copy and rearrange blocks of text. The contents of the clipboard are temporarily stored in memory, outside of any BEX chapter. When your Apple has 128K or more memory, the clipboard can hold as much as a BEX page: 4096 characters. Many transcriptions include repetitive text such as long, complicated names; I use the clipboard instead of typing it over and over.

Tables of contents are a good example: the complete contents appear at the start of the first volume, while subsequent braille volumes contain only the entries found in that volume. Suppose your complete table of contents is a three-page BEX chapter. The last three entries on BEX page 1 and the first 24 on BEX page 2 comprise the partial table of contents for the second braille volume.

Edit the first BEX page; with your cursor is at position 0, press control-B S. You've set the clipboard's "block marker" at the start of the text you'll copy: the \\contents \\hd CONTENTS$s\\hd Volume I<CR>\\left Chapter \\right Page<CR> that establishes the table of contents format. Advance the cursor to that <CR> after "Page" and press control-B C. This copies the contents heading to the clipboard. Any text that had been on the clipboard is erased when you use the control-B C command.

Now, advance your cursor to the <CR>\\mc of the first second-volume entry, and set the block marker again with control-B S. Move the cursor to the end of the BEX page and press control-B A. The "A" command lets you accumulate text on the clipboard, which now contains the contents heading, plus the first three entries. Move to the next BEX page to "harvest" the rest of the contents.

At the top of page 2, enter control-B S to set the block marker. Advance your cursor to the start of the first entry in volume three. Now press control-B A to accumulate, and your clipboard contains all the volume 2 table of contents material. Just to make sure you have got it all, you can enter control-B X. This command exchanges the contents of the clipboard and the current BEX page.

Yup, it's all there! Now's a good time to add the ontents command at the end to complete the data entry. Before you move to a new page, make sure to press control-B X again, putting the second volume contents back on the clipboard. Now you can quit the Editor. Edit the chapter containing the preliminary pages for the second volume, and press control-B I, which inserts the contents of the clipboard into the BEX page.

Inserting the contents of the clipboard into the page does not empty the clipboard. You can load up the clipboard with repetitive text and insert it in several BEX chapters. This comes in handy for title pages and transcriber's notes. When I have a particularly well-phrased explanation, I can copy it to the clipboard and then sprinkle where needed throughout the transcription with control-B I.

Inserting the contents of the clipboard is also faster than doing a keyboard insert with control-I. Suppose you have to add print page indicators to a document after it's been transcribed. At the end of a BEX page, type \\pp 000 Move the cursor to the space before the first backslash and enter control-B S to set the marker. Advance your cursor to the end of the page and enter control-B C to load up the clipboard. Now press control-B D; these commands delete all the text from the marker to your cursor. You're ready to insert the print page indicator command throughout the document.

Inkprint in hand, use the locate command to land on the first words of each inkprint page. When you find them, press control-B I to insert the print page indicator. Overtype the "dummy" zeroes with the real print page number, and you're ready for the next one. [Note to disk readers: the large print samples that appear at the bottom of print page 15 appear in the BEX chapter named "LP SAMPLES" on the Newsletter disk.]

Special Effects with BEX Large Print -- Jesse Kaysen

Our users are always teaching us more about how BEX works! A recent tech call deepened our understanding of BEX large print. The caller had configured a 14 point large print printer, using BEX's suggested value of 53 for carriage width. But when it came time to print, that carriage width was too wide: nine characters overprinted at the start of each line.

The ImageWriter DIP switch settings were the culprit. The BEX Interface Guide recommends you use the factory switch settings. In particular, you must set Switch 1-6 closed and Switch 1-7 open. This combination establishes 12 characters per inch (CPI) or "elite" as the ImageWriter's default character pitch. But the user had set switch 1-6 open, which selects 10 CPI "pica" characters. Because the ImageWriter "woke up" with fewer characters per inch, fewer BEX large print characters fit in the carriage width. The moral is: when you want BEX to provide accurate recommendations while configuring large print printers, always follow the Interface Guide recommendations for ImageWriter switch settings.

We had no idea that the regular print pitch affects BEX large print! (The ImageWriter manual is silent on the topic; depending on your point of view, it's a "bug" or a "feature.") I experimented with different ImageWriter character pitches. The effects are predictable and pleasing. First I'll describe the commands that change the pitch; next I'll show off some actual samples, and finally I'll address how to use BEX to send the pitch commands to the ImageWriter.

Controlling Pitch with Escape Sequences

Both the ImageWriter and the ImageWriter II provide six character pitches for monospaced letters. To select among them, you can send a group of control characters, known as an escape sequence. (The DIP switch settings only let you choose between four pitches; we urge you to set SW1-6 closed and SW1-7 open to get 12 CPI elite as the default.) On the ImageWriter II, you can also choose between three print "qualities" (draft, standard, and NLQ). Which quality you choose has no effect on BEX large print. All the following information applies equally to old and new ImageWriters.

The commands for these six pitches are all two characters long: the "Escape" control character, followed by a letter. The case of this letter is significant, as you can see from this chart of the six styles:

Name (Regular print CPI) -- Command

Extended (9) -- <Esc>n

Pica (10) -- <Esc>N

Elite (12) -- <Esc>E

Semicondensed (13.4) -- <Esc>e

Condensed (15) -- <Esc>q

Ultracondensed (17) -- <Esc>Q

The sample at the bottom of print page 15 illustrates a number of combinations. Plain old BEX large print, based on elite 12 CPI, appears in samples B and E. Samples A and D show the fattest modification, with 9 CPI. Samples C and F demonstrate the narrowest BEX large print output, when the ImageWriter is set to 17 CPI.

Adjusting Carriage Width

When you change the character pitch, a different number of characters fit in the line. You must adjust the BEX carriage width to reflect this widening or narrowing of the characters. The following chart, listing maximum carriage widths, can serve as a beginning point:

Name (Regular CPI) -- 14 pt. CW -- 18 pt. CW

Extended (9) -- 39 -- 31

Pica (10) -- 44 -- 35

default Elite (12) -- 53 -- 42

Semicondensed (13.4) -- 59 -- 46

Condensed (15) -- 66 -- 52

Ultracondensed (17) -- 75 -- 60

This chart assumes you don't use any extra spacing between characters. For those who like formulas: Multiply the "new" character pitch by the carriage width BEX suggests for that font size, then divide by the default character pitch (always 12). Round down the result to a whole number, and you have the maximum carriage width for the "new" pitch.

All of the suggested carriage widths in this chart yield an eight-inch printed line. On 8-1/2 inch paper, quarter-inch margins don't leave enough room for punching binder holes. You can make a left margin two ways: with BEX's $$ml# command, or with the ImageWriter's <Esc>Lnnn command (introduced in the "BEX Beginner's Corner" in the December 87/January 88 Newsletter.) BEX's $$ml# command uses up characters from the carriage width, while the ImageWriter's internal left margin command doesn't.

Sample F on print page 15 shows just how skinny you can make BEX large print. When you know that your large print readers can tolerate it, modifying your output with the <Esc>Q command can pack a lot more characters into each page! Now that you see the advantages, I'll get down to the nitty-gritty: how you get these commands to your large print printer.

Sending the Modifiers with BEX

Since BEX lets you type control characters in your chapters, you might think it would be a snap to include the character pitch modifiers in the chapters you send to a large print printer. However, the "printer driver" that creates large print output filters out all escape characters. This leaves you two alternatives: set-up chapters and automatic set-up sequences.

The set-up chapter approach is great for testing. You type the escape sequences in a BEX chapter, then print it to the ImageWriter when it's not defined as a large print printer. Once your testing is complete, you know the character pitch, carriage width, and left margin that creates the most pleasing output. Then it's more efficient to define an automatic set-up sequence in your configuration containing the escape sequences. BEX remembers to send the commands every time you choose that printer number; anyone who can enter the right printer number can produce modified large print.

Before we demonstrate these two methods, there's one more ImageWriter escape sequence you need to know. <Esc>c is the "software reset" command. When the ImageWriter gets these two characters, it forgets about any other commands you've sent it--it's like turning the ImageWriter off and on again. <Esc>c ensures that each printer definition begins with a clean slate.

Testing Out Special Effects with Set-up Chapters

My experiment starts out with a dumb configuration: it contains a single 18 point large print ImageWriter printer. To keep things simple, I use the default values for everything: extra spacing is 0, line spacing is 27, carriage width is 42, and form length is 24. I want to see 18 point modified by the 13.4 CPI "semicondensed" pitch. The first chart tells me <Esc>e chooses this pitch. The second chart tells me the maximum carriage width is approximately 46 characters. I create a BEX chapter named SETUP containing just 4 characters:


To type the <Esc> character in your chapter, just press the <Esc> key once. Now I needed some test data. To help me count margins later on, I repeated the five characters 1234<Space> around 50 times (with the Clipboard!). (If you have the BEXtras 3.0 disk, use the LP GRID chapter.) To establish a reference, I first print this test data to printer 1.

If you printed the SETUP chapter to printer 1, BEX would filter out the <Esc> characters: the two letters ce would print instead of being interpreted as commands. Fortunately, BEX lets me define a new inkprint printer without reconfiguring: just answer N at BEX's Which printer: prompt. The dialog goes like this:

Main Menu: P


Drive or Chapter: SETUP <CR>

Drive or Chapter: <CR>

Which printer: N <CR>

Old carriage width: 42

New width: <CR>

Old form length: 24

New form length: <CR>

Printer slot is 1

Enter new slot: <CR>

No pause after form feed

Change it? N <CR>

At this point, BEX sends the four characters in SETUP to the ImageWriter, which switches into semicondensed mode. BEX prompts for the new carriage width, form length, slot, and pause on form feed. Pressing <CR> alone accepts the existing value. As long as the slot number matches the ImageWriter interface card, the other answers don't matter.

Now the ImageWriter's ready to print modified large print. I edit the test data chapter and insert the BEX carriage width command $$w46 at the very start to override the 42 carriage width defined in my configuration. Then I print the test data to printer number 1 and admire the results. The first character on the line is pretty close to the left perforation: why not try a margin?

Here's where it gets a little tricky. The unit of measure in the ImageWriter's margin command is the current character pitch. The SETUP chapter selects the 13.4 CPI pitch. When I measured my first semicondensed large print sample, I wanted to increase the left margin five-eighths of an inch. Five-eighths times 13.4 is 8.375; an eight-character margin command will create the large print effect I'm after. I modify the SETUP chapter to:


and print it to a "New" ImageWriter again. The second time I print the test data, my margin looks great. However, the carriage width of 46 put the last characters almost at the right edge of the sheet. I change the carriage width command to $$w41 and print again. (No need to reprint the SETUP chapter, since the ImageWriter character pitch and margins persist until changed.)

Incorporating the Modifications into a New Configuration

The result is, to my eye, just exquisite. My testing complete, I can establish a new configuration with three printers. Printer 1 will be narrowed 18 pt.; based on my experiments, its carriage width is 41 and <Esc>c<Esc>e<Esc>L008 is its automatic set-up sequence, establishing semicondensed as a pitch modifier and a left margin of 8. I define printer 2 as a "vanilla" 18 point printer with just one difference: I specify an "automatic set-up sequence" of <Esc>c the software reset command. For variety, printer 3 is a regular print ImageWriter: I want to use 10 CPI and a 6-character internal left margin. Defining the characters <Esc>c<Esc>N<Esc>L006 as an automatic set-up sequence would do the trick.

Since the ImageWriter retains the character pitch and left margin until you override or cancel it, it's crucial to include the software reset command for all the printers. Without the <Esc>c the "special effects" from one printer would carry over to the others.

The final quirk to remember is BEX requires all uppercase input during configuration. If you type a lowercase letter, BEX pesters you to click down the Caps Lock key. To enter the set-up sequences correctly, I had to remember to unclick Caps Lock, type the characters, then click Caps Lock again. I hope you can make use of these techniques to refine your BEX large print output. Remember that you can print on both sides of continuous form paper--I think I ran through 100 sheets while writing this article.

Large Print Samples

This chapter contains the characters appearing at the bottom of print page 15. Each sample is a pair of lines: the first is a label, while the second contains that portion of the test phrase "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy red dog." which fit on one inkprint line at the modified character pitch. At the start of each test phrase, I've added the number of characters in parentheses.

A: 14 point + 9 cpi with <Esc>n

(35) The quick brown fox jumped over the

B: default 14 point

(46) The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy red d

C: 14 point + 17 cpi with <Esc>Q

(65) The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy red dog. The quick brown

D: 18 point + 9 cpi with <Esc>n

(26) The quick brown fox jumped

E: default 18 point

(35) The quick brown fox jumped over the

F: 18 point + 9 cpi with <Esc>n

(53) The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy red dog. The

BEX 3.0 and 3.5-inch Disks -- David Holladay

While the RDC Newsletter has made frequent mention of BEX 3.0's RAM drives, there's another nifty BEX 3.0 feature that hasn't received the press it deserves. Let me spread the word about the wonders of 3.5-inch disks. It's a disservice to call these "floppy" disks, since their rigid plastic housing and protective metal shutter safeguard the storage medium from the insults that 5.25-inch disks are prone to. These 3.5-inch disks are popping up in everyone's drives: Apple IIs, Macintoshes, IBM PCs and PS/2s, even VersaBraille II Plusses!

While all these computers can use the same physical disk, they use a different DOS (disk operating system) to store data on the disk. The software you're running determines whether you can read and write data on 3.5-inch disks. When BEX reads and writes chapters on 3.5-inch disks, it uses a modified DOS 3.3 called AmDOS. AmDOS creates two 400K partitions on each 3.5-inch disk, providing 3051 sectors for storage--equivalent to almost six 5.25-inch floppies. ProDOS can store up to 800K on one 3.5-inch disk. While the BEX software can't write ProDOS data, it can read ProDOS textfiles from 3.5-inch disks. RDC's "Quick Textfile Converter" (QTC) happily copies DOS 3.3 textfiles and BEX chapters from 5.25-inch disks to ProDOS textfiles on 3.5-inch disks.

Since Apple is pushing 3.5-inch disk drives, more and more text is stored on ProDOS formatted 3.5-inch disks. In this article, I will discuss how to transfer files from BEX 3.0 to ProDOS 3.5-inch disks and back again.

Using BEX with 3.5-inch Disk Drives

Before you can read ProDOS textfiles on 3.5-inch disks, you need to tell BEX where to look for the 3.5-inch disk drive. You do this by setting up a Master Level configuration with BEX 3.0. (This won't work with earlier versions of BEX.)

Don't let the words "Master Level" scare you away! Learner Level Section 3 explains the configuration process in great detail. Once you've set up a Learner Level configuration, moving on to a User Level configuration is quite simple. And the only difference between User and Master Level configurations is the ability to use 3.5-inch disk drives. While I would never recommend avoiding the BEX documentation, the step-by-step instructions below will allow almost all BEX Learners to get access to 3.5-inch disks.

You can follow my instructions to define a Master Level configuration for the sole purpose of reading ProDOS textfiles from 3.5-inch disks. After you have copied your ProDOS data to BEX chapters on 5.25-inch disks, you can reboot using your more familiar configuration.

We will assume that you have one 5.25-inch disk drive in slot 6, and one 3.5-inch drive in slot 5--ninety percent of Apples are set up this way. You don't have a speech synthesizer and you want 20-column large print screen. You want to use the ImageWriter in slot 1 for regular print. To create a Master Level configuration, you answer BEX's first Enter Configuration: prompt with the single & ampersand character. Here we go! _-



Do you have a remote keyboard? N<CR>

Do you have a voice device for all the material going to the screen? N<CR>

Do you have a braille device for all the material going to the screen? N<CR>

Do you have a tape-based VersaBraille? N <CR>

Do you have a remote serial device to input text through slot? N<CR>

Most sighted users can blithely answer "no" to these first five questions. See User Level Section 2 for when you'd answer yes. The next question is asked at all three Levels:

Forty column screen is the default. Do you need a different screen display? Y<CR>

How many columns in screen display? 20 <CR>

Next off are the printer questions. The only addition from the Learner Level is the "automatic set-up sequence" question; see the BEX Beginner's Corner in December 1987 for more details.



Enter printer slot: 1 <CR>

Enter printer class: G <CR>

Enter carriage width: 72 <CR>

Enter form length: 58 <CR>

Do you want pause after form feed? N <CR>

Do you want auto line feed? N <CR>

Establish an automatic set-up sequence for PRINTER ONE? N <CR>


Enter printer slot: 0 <CR>

That wasn't so bad, was it? Finally, we get to the juicy part: "extended disk systems." This is where you tell BEX about the 3.5-inch disk drive.

Do you have an extended disk system? Y <CR>

Virtual drive 1 is for the Main program disk

For virtual drive 1

Enter slot: 6 <CR>

Enter drive: 1 <CR>

For virtual drive 2

Enter slot: 5 <CR>

Enter drive: 1 <CR>

For virtual drive 3

Enter slot: 5 <CR>

Enter drive: 3 <CR>

For virtual drive 4

Enter slot: 0 <CR>

Enter name for this configuration: MLD <CR>

Since this configuration has three disk drives, you can enter "1", "2", or "3" whenever BEX prompts for chapters or textfiles. BEX drive 1 is your 5.25-inch disk drive, where you put your BEX program disk and 5.25-inch data disks. BEX drives 2 and 3 are data drives: they are the two 400K halves of the 3.5-inch disk drive. Master Level Section 3 explains extended disk systems, with Part 4 covering 3.5-inch drives. Before you start writing BEX chapters on 3.5-inch disks, please read this documentation.

Reading ProDOS textfiles from 3.5-inch disks is a snap with this "MLD" configuration. It's the same procedure as when you read ProDOS textfiles from a 5.25-inch disk: use option R - Read textfiles to chapters on the Second Menu. Put your ProDOS 3.5-inch disk in the drive and proceed like this:

Second: R

Read textfile to chapter


At this point, BEX has read the software it needs from the program disk. Replace your BEX disk in the 5.25-inch drive with an initialized data disk, and proceed as follows:

Textfile: 2 <CR>

There are 2 textfiles:



Use entire list? Y <CR>

Naming method: 1A-P <CR>

This last prompt is where you tell BEX how to name the chapters it creates. 1A-P means write the new chapters on drive 1 and name them by adding the two characters "hyphen, P" to the textfile names.

Cautions When Reading ProDOS Textfiles

I hope that this sample proves that BEX's Master Level is nothing to be afraid of. Before you store BEX chapters on 3.5-inch disks, please read Master Level Section 3 for important information. Until you do, there are two things to be careful about.

ProDOS lets you store up to 800K on a 3.5-inch disk, while a DOS 3.3 5.25-inch disk holds a maximum of 140K. If you asked BEX to read an entire 3.5-inch disk of textfiles, then the target DOS 3.3 disk would not have enough room. When a disk fills during Read textfile, then BEX "crashes." You hear a beep, and then:




Don't worry: your BEX disk is not "broken"! Type RUN <CR> and you're back at the Second Menu. See Learner Level L13:11-13 for how get rid of the "extra" page files.

To prevent DISK FULL errors, don't read more than 200 blocks of ProDOS textfiles to any one 5.25-inch disk. What's a "block"? DOS 3.3 and ProDOS measure storage capacity with different units. A DOS 3.3 sector contains 256 characters, half as much as a ProDOS block, which holds 512 characters.

Another "extended disk system" option lets you get around the problem: you can configure BEX with RAM drives, which can hold more than a 5.25-inch disk. You can read large ProDOS textfiles to BEX chapters on RAM drives, and then chop the big chapters into smaller ones to store on floppy disks.

The other caution concerns ProDOS's "subdirectory" feature. These are separate "sections" you can create on a ProDOS disk. BEX can't find a ProDOS textfile in a subdirectory; BEX only read textfiles at the root level. On a 3.5-inch disk named /LETTERS BEX can read the textfile named /LETTERS/TO.SANDY but it can't find a textfile named /LETTERS/BILLING/TO.SANDY .

Copying BEX Chapters to ProDOS Textfiles with QTC

QTC (Quick Textfile Converter) is a ProDOS shareware program distributed by RDC (see May 1987 Newsletter for details.) If you don't have a copy of QTC, you can get it by sending us $15. I have used QTC to copy BEX chapters and DOS 3.3 textfiles to 5.25-inch ProDOS disks, to 3.5-inch ProDOS disks, and to ProDOS RAM drives.

It is easy to use QTC. Suppose you have a 5.25-inch disk of BEX chapters you want to transfer to a blank 3.5-inch disk: here's how you'd do it.

1. Boot QTC, and, if you wish, set the date.

2. At the Top: prompt, press F to format the 3.5-inch disk. At the Format drive: prompt, press the letter O for "Other." QTC prompts for the slot and drive number: Usually, a 3.5-inch disk is in slot 5, drive 1. Supply a volume name (press ? for the naming rules).

3. Back at the Top: prompt, press S to Specify your source and target drives. The DOS 3.3 source will be slot 6, drive 1; the ProDOS target will be slot 5, drive 1. Make this change temporary or permanent depending on your preference.

4. At the Top: prompt, press B for BEX chapter conversion. When QTC tells you to "press any key," remove the QTC disk from your 5.25-inch drive and replace it with your BEX data disk. Press any key to start the conversion.

The rest is almost automatic. If you need clarification on any QTC prompt, simply press ? for on-line help. QTC's option A - About this disk provides extensive documentation. If you'd like a braille or large print version of this information, use BEX to read the ProDOS textfile named HELP.SCREENS on the QTC disk.

Bulletin Board

We're happy to publish short announcements from our readers. Send your 50 to 200-word announcement in print, braille or disk to "Bulletin Board," care of the RDC Newsletter.

Braille Dictionary Wanted

Anyone have a good used braille dictionary for sale? If so, please write to Thomas Montgomery, 4812 Camelot Drive, New Orleans, LA 70127

Bargain Peripherals from RDC

Raised Dot is having a sale! Help us make room on the lot for the new models! Drive away a brand-new Echo Plus Speech Synthesizer for only $100. Or how about a sleek, sexy MicroSci Extended 80-column Card for $75--turbocharge your Apple to 128K and take full advantage of BEX 3.0.

And in our used equipment lot, we have Cricket Speech Synthesizers for only $75--single owner (little old software company from Madison), low miles, absolutely rust-free. This sale is limited to small quantities in stock: please call Becky at 608-257-9595 before placing your order. [Editor's Note: Can you tell that Becky's been shopping for a used car recently? JK]

Tape-based VersaBraille Package for Sale

Gary Anderson has a package of tape-based VB goodies available. $1200 gets you: one VersaBraille model P2C; charger; master overlay tape; braille and print editions of the user's manual; I/O cable plus Apple IIc and IBM cables; the 1987 issues of VersaNews; and a VB tape chock full of BBS phone numbers. Call 617-727-1333 during the day, or write Gary Anderson (in braille or audio) at 70 Pearl St., Suite 1303, Brookline, MA 02146.

Two Cranmer Braillers for Sale

Two Cranmer Modified Perkins Brailler embossers for sale. Currently in working condition; for sale "as is." $750 plus shipping or best offer. Write to Naperville Area Transcribing for the Blind, 670 N. Eagle St., Naperville IL 60540 or phone 312-420-1863.

Used Thiel Embosser for Sale

Does your braille production unit lack a high-speed braille embosser? Dennis Clark wants to sell his 18 month old, mint condition Thiel braille printer for $12,800 (service contract not included). Call 303-678-7886 days or write Dennis Clark, 1245 Winslow Circle, Longmont CO 80501.

Variable Speech Cassette Recorder from Ohtsuki

Ohtsuki Communication Products has moved, and they've added a speech product to their braille embosser line. The FAST TALKER is an 8" x 3" x 1" portable, 4-track, 2-speed variable speech cassette recorder. You can listen to Library of Congress format and standard format cassettes; the Variable Speech Control lets you speed up the tape while maintaining normal voice pitch. The FAST TALKER's introductory price is $170; they claim its well-laid-out controls and clear Variable Speech distinguish it from similar portables. For more information, contact Ohtsuki Communication Products, Inc., 985 Moraga Road, Suite 202, Lafayette CA 94549, 415-283-0600.

Grants for DECtalk

Since 1986, Digital Equipment Corporation has been providing grants to help qualified nonprofit organizations buy their DECtalk high-quality speech synthesizer. The grant program supplies up to 60% of the DECtalk's $4200 list price. Grant applications are only accepted from nonprofit organizations; they must be submitted in writing, and include an outline of your organizational charter, program services and specific benefits to your constituents; the number of systems requested (limit of five systems per organization and $2500 grant per unit); statement of Federal tax-exempt status; and most recent Annual Report. For more details, write to Jane M. Hamel, Corporate Contributions Programs Manager, Digital Equipment Corporation, 146 Main St., Maynard MA 01754.

Facts on File

The RDC Full Cell

Phyllis Herrington: Tech Support/Newsletter

David Holladay: Programming

Jesse Kaysen: Publications

Caryn Navy: Programming

Nevin Olson: Business Manager

Becky Q Rundall: Sales Manager

Production Notes

The RDC Newsletter is written & edited with BEX on an Apple IIgs; file transfer with BEX, ASLtalk DA, QTC & Apple File Exchange to Mac Plus; spellchecking with Spellswell; page layout with JustText, offset master output on an Apple LaserWriter & duplicated at The Print Shop. Two-track audio edition mastered on APH Recorder & copied at on high-speed Recordex 3-to-1 duplicators.


Apple Computer, Apple IIc, Apple IIe, Apple IIgs, Apple II+, ImageWriter, ImageWriter II, Macintosh, ProDOS, and Super Serial Card - Apple Computer Inc.; Braille 'n Speak - Blazie Engineering; AmDOS - Gary Little; 1-2-3 & Symphony - Lotus Develoment Corp.; R:BASE - Microrim, Inc.; Word - Microsoft Corp.; Ohtsuki - Ohtsuki Communications, Inc.; BEX, QTC, & TranscriBEX - Raised Dot Computing, Inc.; SlotBuster II - RC Systems, Inc.; Cricket, Echo Plus, & TEXTALKER - Street Electronics Corp.; VersaBraille II Plus - Telesensory Systems, Inc.; MBOSS-1 - VTEK Corp.; PC-WRITE - Bob Wallace & Quicksoft, Inc.; Kurzweil Reading Machine - Xerox Corp.