Raised Dot Computing Newsletter: Exploring Microcomputer Applications for the Visually Impaired -- ISSN 0890-0019. November-December 1989 -- Volume 8, Number 81.

Published Every Other Month by Raised Dot Computing, Inc., 408 South Baldwin Street, Madison, Wisconsin USA 53703. Telephone: 608-257-9595.

Subscriptions: $18/year Print, $20/year Audio Tape, $30/year Apple II BEX data disk. (Kindly add $20/year for postage outside N. America.)

Single issues: $4 each (specify medium).

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: Caryn Navy, David Holladay, and Phyllis Herrington.

Entire contents copyright 1990 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.

EDITOR = From the Editor

STAFF = New Staff

PRODOS BRIDGE = Fast Access to AppleWorks Files with ProDOS Bridge

BEX BUG = BEX Bug with the New Apple IIgs -- David Holladay

TECH SCOOP = Technical Scoop from the Kennel -- Phyllis Herrington

ARKENSTONE NEWS = Low Cost Optical Scanner Gets Cheaper

BEX & IIGS = Learning BEX on an Apple IIgs -- Phyllis Herrington

TRAINING = Training Packs Available

GRAPHICS = Using The Graphics Exchange: Transferring Macintosh Graphics into PixCELLS -- David Holladay

SCANNING = Scanning As a Reading Option -- Dr. Fareed Haj

LIBRARY = Library Catalog Access -- Caryn Navy

CALENDAR = Brailling a Calendar with BEX or Hot Dots -- Caryn Navy

MTX = Using MathematiX to Check Nemeth Code Transcription -- David Holladay

BULLETIN BOARD = Bulletin Board, includes: Blazie Engineering Now Selling Thiel Printers in the US; Braille 'n Speak "SNAP PAC" Now Available; Go West, Eureka! by Becky Rundall; A-Talk Games Available; Home Wanted for Back Issue RDC Newsletter Tapes.

FACTS ON FILE = Addresses Mentioned; The RDC Full Cell; Production Notes; Trademarks.

From the Editor

Once again Sensory Overload Inc. (SOI) is preparing for our March-April Newsletter. SOI has sent us an insert for the RDC Newsletter every April 1 since 1985, where they tell us about the new additions to their catalog of wondrously innovative aids and appliances. They welcome your ideas for new products. The deadline is Monday, March 19. They are very pleased with the new product suggestions they recently received from one of our subscribers.

They also appreciate the constructive feedback that RDC Newsletter readers have given them over the years. This year, for example, they received a complaint about the Speak 'n Span, the marvelous cleaning aid which sounds an alarm to let you know where the stains are. The user was experiencing too much stress from the Speak 'n Span's high standards. In response, SOI has added a sensitivity knob which you can set in the range from "just enough to get by" to "the Queen of England is visiting." SOI is also giving careful consideration to the problem reported by a user of the SOI Wakeman, the special tape recorder which you set to stop or sound an alarm when you fall asleep. The user loves the Wakeman except that it goes into action whenever her guide dog falls asleep. SOI welcomes any help you can give them in finding a solution to this problem.

Unlike Sensory Overload, Raised Dot Computing exhibits its products. David will be exhibiting and demonstrating RDC's products at the 1990 convention of CTEVH (California Transcribers and Educators of the Visually Handicapped) in San Diego from March 22 through March 24. He will be demonstrating the new ProDOS Bridge software, which reads AppleWorks Word Processing files into BEX chapters in one easy step; see the article "Fast Access to AppleWorks Files with ProDOS Bridge" in this issue. He would like to demonstrate ProDOS Bridge with AppleWorks files that you bring along. So bring AppleWorks files that you would like to produce in braille or large print.

As with the last issue, Phyllis and David have done a great deal to prepare this issue and put it in print and on tape. Sue is tireless at duplicating tapes and getting the Newsletter out to you. Now it's time for you to meet our newest staff members.

New Staff

With the addition of Linda Millard and Aaron Leventhal to our staff, we are a full cell once again.

Linda says, "Hello, I'm the bookkeeper. I've been with RDC since the end of October. This is a fascinating place to work. I learn something new every day!

"When I came here for my interview, I felt right at home. My husband and I met about 23 years ago at a CWA (Communications Workers of America) meeting held right in this very building! We've been married 20 years and have 3 children, ages 14, 18, and 19.

"When my youngest son went off to school full time, I went to college part time. He's in eighth grade now, and I'm about 3/4 of the way to a degree in accounting and/or economics."

Aaron says, "I love doin' lots of things, but mostly playing basketball, listening to music, and hangin' out with my crazy roommates. I'm really excited about having this opportunity to combine object oriented programming and user friendliness in a flexible, time-saving communication tool."

Fast Access to AppleWorks Files with ProDOS Bridge

Raised Dot Computing is now shipping an inexpensive new software module for BEX called the ProDOS Bridge. ProDOS Bridge enhances the Read textfiles function of your existing BEX to allow you to read TXT files and AppleWorks Word Processing (AWP) files from anywhere on a ProDOS diskette. It reads files stored on ProDOS floppies in subdirectories or at the root level. The format information from AppleWorks Word Processing files is so well preserved that you usually do not even have to pause in the BEX Editor before producing braille or large print.

AppleWorks is a very popular integrated program for the general market containing a spreadsheet, a database, and a word processor. The ProDOS Bridge reads AppleWorks Word Processing files but not the database or spreadsheet files. However, with AppleWorks 3.0 you can convert these database or spreadsheet files into AppleWorks Word Processing files, readable with the ProDOS Bridge.

With ProDOS Bridge, you no longer have to follow the tortuous path we formerly laid out for getting AppleWorks Word Processing files into BEX. What's more, when you read an AppleWorks Word Processing file into BEX with ProDOS Bridge, the BEX chapter retains the AppleWorks format information. ProDOS Bridge puts the carriage returns and paragraph indicators in the right places, and it automatically transforms the AppleWorks format codes into the appropriate BEX $$ format commands. For example, when you read an AppleWorks file that uses centering, underlining, and boldface, you get a BEX chapter with centering, underlining, and boldface.

The ProDOS Bridge makes it much easier to get files from other sources into BEX. Using BEX, you can quickly make braille or large print output from these sources. Since the ProDOS Bridge retains format information from AppleWorks Word Processing files, working with these files is especially easy. You can quickly make braille or large print from AppleWorks files using the ProDOS Bridge.

Using AppleWorks and BEX Together

Raised Dot Computing believes that the ProDOS Bridge will make it much easier for schools to produce material in braille and large print. Volunteers using their own copies of AppleWorks can do data entry for producing material with BEX. Furthermore, many classroom teachers and sighted students already use AppleWorks for their word processing. With AppleWorks, classroom teachers prepare class handouts, sighted students prepare reports, and clubs produce school newspapers. With ProDOS Bridge, all of these can become accessible in braille or large print with very little processing.

Which Version of AppleWorks?

The ProDOS Bridge supports all versions of AppleWorks, including the new AppleWorks 3.0. In fact, we recommend using AppleWorks 3.0. It provides true tabs and the ability to convert AppleWorks spreadsheet or database files into word processing files.

What Versions or Levels of BEX?

The ProDOS Bridge works on version 2.2 or version 3.0 of BEX. It works at all three levels of BEX. However, access to files on 3.5 inch disks is limited to the Master level of BEX 3.0.

The ProDOS Bridge Manual Meets Many Needs

One of the items you get with a copy of the ProDOS Bridge is a Samples disk packed with a number of ProDOS files. The heart of the ProDOS Bridge Manual is a tutorial which steps you through the process of reading the files on the Samples disk into BEX chapters. One of the files on the Samples disk is a model file. It gives instructions on how to use the AppleWorks printer options to make for better format in BEX. For example, if you want to center a heading, use the AppleWorks command for centering, rather than using a carriage return followed by lots of spaces.

For those who just want to get files into BEX without any fuss, that is as far as you have to go. For those who want more details, a long section Getting Better Format explains how the various AppleWorks formatting options are transformed into BEX format commands. For those who want total control of the process, the manual explains how to customize the ProDOS Bridge software to meet specialized needs.

The ProDOS Bridge and TranscriBEX

TranscriBEX is the software module you add to BEX to produce textbook format and complex braille formats. With the ProDOS Bridge, you and your assistants can use AppleWorks as the data entry program for TranscriBEX. The ProDOS Bridge disk contains several variants for format conversion. One of these is designed explicitly to meet the needs of TranscriBEX users. When set for use with TranscriBEX, the ProDOS Bridge knows when to use the skip line indicator and when to use the paragraph indicator. The Samples disk includes in AppleWorks format the beginning of the Wisconsin Garden Guide chapter so familiar to TranscriBEX users. Comparing the AppleWorks sample with the inkprint version in the TranscriBEX manual shows you how to do your TranscriBEX data entry in AppleWorks.

Thoroughly Tested

Like all RDC software, the ProDOS Bridge has been thoroughly tested by a large group of testers. Their input has given us the opportunity to improve the program and the manual before putting it on the market.

As a whole, our testers have been very enthusiastic about the ProDOS Bridge. Marj Schneider and Ruth Temple of Womyn's Braille Press have used it to transfer into BEX the text of the book Spirited Lesbians: Lesbian Desire as Social Action by Nett Hart. The author had written the book with AppleWorks. Sally Langston, a teacher in Alaska, was able to produce braille from AppleWorks after working with the ProDOS Bridge for 2 hours. A newcomer to BEX and braille embossers, Sally's major stumbling block was dealing with "target chapter naming methods," which were not adequately explained in the draft copy of the manual. Many testers were confused in dealing with ProDOS subdirectories. We have tried to improve the tutorial with more clarification on subdirectories.

We would like to salute our testers in public. Thank you to the following: Mika Pyyhkala, John Hernandez, Tina Perretti, Susan Floyd, Dr. Fareed Haj, Marj Schneider, Ruth Temple, Cathy Jann, Karen Berger, Diane Spence, William Dickerman, Ken Smith, Betty Scott, and Sally Langston.

What's in the Package?

We are selling two versions of the ProDOS Bridge. The standard version costs $40. It includes a double-sided disk of program and samples, a print manual, an audio manual, and a disk containing the braille manual. If you have an embosser that supports a carriage width of 40, you can make your own braille manual from the supplied disk. The formatted braille manual on disk is pre-set for a carriage width of 40 and a form length of 25. If you need a braille manual and you do not have an embosser which can handle that carriage width and form length, then order the deluxe version instead of the standard version.

The delux version of the ProDOS Bridge costs $50 and includes everything in the standard version plus a hardcopy braille manual. Otherwise, both versions are the same.

Both versions contain the Samples disk full of useful examples.

BEX Bug with the New Apple IIgs -- David Holladay

Apple Computer has started to ship a revised version of the Apple IIgs. Unmodified, BEX 3.0 cannot access 3.5 inch disk drives on this new Apple IIgs. Raised Dot Computing has a bug fixing disk to eliminate this problem.

How do I know If I Have the New Apple IIgs?

When you turn on the computer, a copyright message shows up on the screen. If the bottom line says "ROM 3," you have the new computer. If the bottom line says "ROM 1" or nothing at all, you have the older Apple IIgs.

Note: These messages show up only on the screen. I do not know of a way to capture these screens in voice, large print, or braille. You need a sighted person to watch the screen as you turn on the computer.

The new Apple IIgs computers have been available for delivery only since November, 1989. If you have an older Apple IIgs, this problem does not affect you.

The newer Apple IIgs has 1 megabyte of memory on the main board. If your computer has a megabyte of memory without an additional memory expansion card, then you have the new computer.

The final way to check your computer is to configure BEX to work with the 3.5 inch disk drives. If you get the message "No Unidisk in that slot" when you go to the Main Menu, then you probably have the new computer.

What Is the Problem with BEX?

The AmDOS software within BEX 3.0 for using 3.5 inch disks does several checks to see if there really is a 3.5 inch disk drive in the slot and drive you have listed in your configuration. In other words, the software is paranoid and does not trust you. One of the checks it does is to use a subroutine that is supposed to tell how much can be stored on a disk. Apple changed that subroutine to answer zero, a nonsense value. As a consequence, BEX erroneously decides there really is no 3.5 inch drive on the system.

Our revised software accepts zero as an alternative answer which indicates that there really is a 3.5 inch drive in the system.

How Do I Get My BEX Fixed?

Do not call us. Send us a letter. Give your BEX serial number, your mailing address, and the serial number of the Apple IIgs you are working with. The Apple serial number is located under the main computer box. If you do not have the serial number, send us a copy of the invoice for your new computer. We will mail you a fix-up disk at no charge.

Boot the fix-up disk, and it will step you through the process of improving your BEX disks to remove this annoying bug.

How Do I Get My Old Computer Upgraded?

You cannot. The new Apple IIgs has an entirely new main circuit board. Apple Computer has no program for upgrading older Apple IIgs computers. The differences are minor. While it is true that the new IIgs has more built-in memory, you can add more memory to both systems with a memory expansion card. For more information about the new "ROM 3" Apple IIgs, contact your local Apple dealer.

Is RDC Changing Its Shipping BEX Disk?

Yes, all BEX disks with an update date of 1/2/90 have already been fixed. To find out the date on your BEX disks, press "U" at the Starting Menu.

What If I Don't Have BEX 3.0

If you don't have BEX 3.0, then this bug does not affect you. Only BEX 3.0 has software designed to read and write to 3.5 inch disks.

Why Do You Insist on a Computer Serial Number?

RDC is not charging any money for this bug fix. To cut down costs, we are only sending fix-up disks to registered customers who are actually experiencing this bug.

Technical Scoop from the Kennel -- Phyllis Herrington

Once again the tech staff has several bits of information to share with you. We hope it will be useful and keep you out of technology trouble.

Viewing Braille Format in the Editor

On pages 5:23-25 of the User Level Dox (BEX 3.0) we mention the Editor's View Mode feature, which shows you the text with the format commands active. The display does not break words between lines, and you get an idea of how the final output will look. This compensates somewhat for BEX's lack of a WYSIWYG Editor.

The View Mode gives a display which uses inkprint format rules, rather than braille. For example, it shows paragraphs with two carriage returns and five spaces of indent. Braille, on the other hand, uses one carriage return and two spaces of indent. While that can be changed for braille style with $$ commands, there are other, more subtle differences which cannot be changed for braille style. This screen output is not suitable for checking braille format. Braille transcribers should rely on the Braille Previewer they established in their configuration to check braille format. If you do not have a braille previewer in your configuration, see Learner Level 3:9 and User Level 6:7-10 (BEX 3.0) for details. it provides the best way to get a true idea of how your transcribed material will look in hardcopy braille.

Control-L and Hot Dots

When a control-L appears in the text you're printing, the printer executes a form feed; it moves to the next page and resumes printing.

We recently received a report that the Hot Dots formatter does not properly handle a control-L that is already in your text before formatting. It leaves the control-L in your formatted file, but it does not recognize that it is starting a new page, or even a new line. So its line count on the next page gets out of whack. For instance, suppose you are formatting with a form length of 25 lines, and the formatter encounters a control-L when formatting the fifteenth line on page 23. The control-L in your formatted file makes your printer go to a new page. But the formatter, treating the control-L as just an ordinary text character, goes along and creates what it thinks of as the rest of line 15 and the remaining 10 lines on page 23. After that, it starts what it thinks of as page 24. The unnumbered mystery page after page 23 has one short line followed by ten more lines. Then comes page 24. If you have formatted text which already contains the control-L character, then you have experienced this bug. We thank Noel Runyan for giving us this bug report.

Remove control-L characters from your text before formatting. Where you do want to force a new page, use $$vn. This command forces a new page unless the formatter has already moved to the top of a new page. If you wish to create a new page even if you are already at the top of a page, use $f instead of $$vn.

Disk Confusion

When you look at the left and right sides of the BEX Master disk, you notice that there are notches on both sides. These are known as write-enable notches. This type of disk, with two notches, is called a flippy disk because you flip it over to use the back side. Flippy disks enable you to copy the BEX Boot side on one side and the BEX Main side on the other. However, do not confuse a flippy disk with a disk marked double sided or double density.

Double sided means that both sides are certified for data storage, but that might refer to the IBM-PC. IBM disk drives read and write to both sides without your turning the disk over. So a double sided disk for the IBM has only one write-enable notch. In contrast, Apple disk drives can utilize only one side of the disk at a time. In order for Apple disk drives to read and write on both sides of the disk, each side of the disk must have a write-enable notch. For a double sided disk for the Apple, Use only flippy disks, manufactured with two write-enable notches. If you are unable to find flippy disks, you can purchase them from RDC.

Low Cost Optical Scanner Gets Cheaper

In keeping with its objective to make reading machines available to more people, Arkenstone has obtained a generous grant of 100 HP ScanJet scanners from Hewlett Packard. This means you can buy an Arkenstone Reader with a free ScanJet while the supply lasts.

A reading machine or optical scanner takes printed text and reads it aloud through a voice synthesizer or stores the text in a computer file. The Arkenstone Reader is part of a system built around an AT-class MS-DOS computer (i.e., a computer based on the 80286 or 80386 chip). The complete system consists of a computer, a voice synthesizer, a scanner, and an Arkenstone circuit card and software to translate the scanner image into text. This approach is especially attractive for someone who already owns a talking AT-class computer. For more information about the Arkenstone Reader, see the article Arkenstone Reader: Low-Cost Modular reading machine in the Sept.-Oct. 1989 RDC Newsletter.

You can now add reading capability to your AT computer for as little as $2,244 (using an Arkenstone model S). The cost of a system using the Arkenstone model E has been reduced to $3,244. The more expensive model is faster and can rotate the image.

Arkenstone Readers bought through PDS get the Easy Scan user interface for free. Easy Scan has added ease of use to the accuracy, flexibility, and affordability inherent in the Arkenstone Reader.

PDS can supply you with the minimum Arkenstone Reader to add to your existing computer. PDS can also integrate a complete talking reading machine/computer for you for as little as $5,500 (assuming you are eligible for a free ScanJet). [Editor's note: David Holladay and Caryn Navy bought a complete computer system from PDS before the free ScanJet offer was available. We can vouch for PDS's technical support and the quality of their software.] The Arkenstone Reader/MS-DOS computer can even be connected to an Apple so you can import scanned text into BEX.

Now for the fine print. This free scanner offer is limited to people with reading impairments and institutions serving them. Written verification of the purchaser's status is required. Anyone who already owns a scanner is not eligible. Restrictions concerning selling a free scanner or buying another scanner apply. Call PDS at (408) 866-1126 for more information about terms and conditions.

Learning BEX on an Apple IIgs -- Phyllis Herrington

The key to using BEX on an Apple II system without disk swapping frustration is using more than one disk drive. You need one disk drive for the software and one disk drive for your data disk. If you only have one disk drive, you have to keep swapping between the program disk and your data disk. Both the Learner and User levels of BEX explain how to use the program with two 5.25 inch disk drives. However, the IIgs usually comes with one 5.25 inch drive, one 3.5 inch drive, and RAM memory. You must be at the Master level to use a 3.5 inch disk drive or a RAM drive. As a result, you are left with only one disk drive if you configure at the Learner or User level. In order to access at least two drives with a IIgs, you must configure at the Master level.

When one gets a computer with one 5.25 inch disk drive and one 3.5 inch drive, one is tempted to ask, "How do I configure to use both of these disk drives?" This question is premature. While you can write a configuration using just the two physical disk drives, it is an inefficient way to use BEX. Your Apple IIgs is blessed with plenty of memory to use as super fast "disk drives."

After you have mastered RAM drives (as memory-based disk emulators are called), then you can work with your 3.5 inch disk drives as well. Our first Master level configuration starts out with "drive 1" (your program disk) being RAM memory, and "drive 2" (your data disk) being your 5.25 inch disk drive.

When you configure at the Master level, many options are available to you which are not discussed at either the Learner or User level. There is no need to feel apprehensive. Continue using BEX and learning the system as if at the level where you are most comfortable.

In changing from the Learner level to the User level, you are asked many more configuration questions (see User Level Section 3 for the details). You might think that in changing from the User level to the Master level, you will have to answer a raft of additional questions. In fact, you are asked just one additional question: "Do you have an extended disk system?" If you answer "yes," you get to arrange the resources of your computer as you see fit to store and manipulate your data.

In describing your "extended disk system" in your Master level configuration, you list the disk devices (called virtual drives) you want to use. Each of these devices has a "slot number" and a "drive number." Your 5.25 inch disk drive is "slot 6, drive 1." Your 3.5 inch disk drive is "slot 5, drive 1" (and also "slot 5, drive 3," but we are getting ahead of ourselves). Your RAM memory is "slot 3, drive 1." Depending on the memory in your computer, you can have additional RAM drives, "slot 3, drive 2," etc. These building blocks of drives and memory can be configured in various combinations. The Master level allows up to eight of these slot and drive pairs per configuration. For starters, however, we're going to configure two drives: one RAM drive and your 5.25 inch floppy drive.

Writing the Configuration

BEX always boots from the 5.25 inch disk. In order to gain access to the Master level configuration process, press the ampersand (shift of the 7) when prompted to enter a configuration. Here is a sample configuration which includes one RAM drive and one 5.25 inch floppy drive. You can answer these questions any way appropriate for your system until the extended disk system questions. Then answer exactly as presented here.



Do you want the voice off now? N <CR>

Do you have a remote keyboard? N <CR>

Do you want Echo speech? Y <CR>

Set the Echo parameters? N <CR>

Do you want most punctuation? Y <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>

Forty column screen is the default.

Do you need a different screen display? N <CR>

Do you want Hi-res screen in the Editor? N <CR>



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>

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

Virtual drive 1 is for the Main program disk

For virtual drive 1

Enter slot: 3 <CR>

Enter drive: 1 <CR>

For virtual drive 2

Enter slot: 6 <CR>

Enter drive: 1 <CR>

For virtual drive 3

Enter slot: 0 <CR>

Enter name for this configuration: ML2 <CR> ]]

Once you get to the Starting Menu, take the opportunity to initialize the stack of disks you want to use as data disks. Initializing means wiping out the contents of a disk so it can be used for storing new data or programs. As a consequence of using BEX at the Master level, you are not able to initialize any more 5.25 inch disks after getting to the Main side (more on this later). (Other software uses the memory reserved for the initializing software.)

To get to the Main side, keep the Boot disk in the drive and press the spacebar from the Starting Menu. You get the following message:

[[Loading Main side to RAM drive.

Wait for 3 beeps;

then remove Boot, insert Main

then press any key. ]]

After the beeps, insert the BEX Main disk and press any key. The disk spins for a while as BEX loads the entire contents of your Main side software into memory for instant access.

Once you get to the Main side, press [[S]] and then press [[J]]. You can go from menu to menu in a fraction of a second! You have a very powerful computer system at your fingertips!

Why Do Things Run So Fast?

Since all of your Main side software is stored in memory on a RAM drive, your access to the BEX program is speeded up tremendously. Any time you need a portion of the software, it is loaded from memory instead of from disk. You can remove the BEX program disk from your 5.25 inch floppy drive. You do not need it again until you want to go back to the Starting Menu.

With this configuration, BEX thinks it has a two-drive system. Having the Main side of BEX on the RAM drive frees the 5.25 inch floppy disk drive for data storage. The Main side of BEX remains on the RAM drive until you turn off the computer or run software which wipes out the RAM drive memory. Once the Main side is loaded, you can warm boot as many times as you wish and the material is still in memory.

Working with BEX

At the Main Menu, you can insert your data disk and begin working with it as if you had a two-drive system. You should have no problem editing, translating, printing, and manipulating chapters on your data disk.

What if you need to use both your "disk drives" for data. For example, you may want to copy a chapter from one floppy disk to another. Even with the BEX Main side software on your RAM drive, it still has some room for data. As long as the chapter is not gigantic, you can copy the chapter from drive 2 (your floppy) to drive 1 (your RAM drive). Once the copying is done, insert your destination disk in the floppy drive and copy from drive 1 (your RAM drive) to drive 2 (your destination floppy). Once this is done, use Kill chapters to eliminate the copy from drive 1, freeing up the memory for other operations. Remember that when you place the digit 1 before a chapter name, you are referring to a chapter on drive one. In this configuration, drive 2 (the 5.25 inch disk drive) is your "default data drive." When you don't put a number in front of a chapter name, you are referring to a chapter on your 5.25 inch disk. Here is the user dialogue:

[[Main: C

Copy chapters

Chapter: FROG <CR>


Target chapter: 1FROG <CR>

(switch to your destination disk)

Main: C

Copy chapters

Chapter: 1FROG <CR>


Target chapter: FROG <CR>

Main: S

Second: K

Kill chapters

Chapter: 1FROG <CR>

Chapter: <CR>

OK to proceed? Y <CR> ]]

You can also read files from a ProDOS 5.25 inch disk with this configuration. The target chapter needs to be stored on drive 1. Later you can copy the chapter to a real floppy disk. When you want to return to the Starting Menu, you must be at the Main Menu. Remove the data disk from the drive and insert the Boot side of BEX. Now press the spacebar. The drive whirs and you're back at the Starting Menu. To go back to the Main Menu, simply press the spacebar. Almost instantaneously you're back at the Main Menu.

So What is AmDOS?

As the Main side of BEX is loading onto the RAM drive, you will get the following message prior to the Main Menu prompt if you are at the Master level of BEX and slot 5 of your IIgs is set for "smart port."

[[AmDOS 3.5 for UniDisk 3.5

Copyright (c) 1986 Gary B. Little ]]

AmDOS is the software that allows access to the 3.5 inch disk drives. Although you do not have your 3.5 inch drive configured at this point, BEX at the Master level recognizes its presence and loads AmDOS, the operating system for the 3.5 inch disk drives also known as UniDisks. Although AmDOS is loaded, you cannot access the 3.5 inch drive unless it is included in your configuration. Once AmDOS is loaded, you cannot initialize any more 5.25 inch disks (unless you reboot). You should make sure you have an adequate supply of initialized 5.25 inch disks before you leave the Starting Menu.

More Menu Options

At the Master level you encounter shorter prompts than at the Learner level and added menu options. If you are a newcomer to BEX, work through the Learner level documentation as if you are configured at the Learner level. When you press the return key at a menu prompt to list the options, don't worry about the extra options.

More RAM Drives

Now that we have seen how useful RAM drives are for speeding up program access, it is time to use RAM drives to speed up data access as well. Configure again. This time, we are going to have 4 disk drives (three RAM drives and one 5.25 inch drive). Here is the important part of the configuration dialogue:

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

Virtual drive 1 is for the Main program disk

For virtual drive 1

Enter slot: 3 <CR>

Enter drive: 1 <CR>

For virtual drive 2

Enter slot: 3 <CR>

Enter drive: 2 <CR>

For virtual drive 3

Enter slot: 3 <CR>

Enter drive: 3 <CR>

For virtual drive 4

Enter slot: 6 <CR>

Enter drive: 1 <CR>

For virtual drive 5

Enter slot: 0 <CR>

Enter name for this configuration: ML4 <CR> ]]

This configuration is very similar to the one we used before.

With this configuration, the software still loads to RAM drive, but drives 2 and 3 are also RAM drives. You can copy an entire disk into RAM drive 2, edit it in RAM drive, translate it into RAM drive 3, and then copy the contents of drives 2 and 3 back to floppy disk. Practice using this configuration to edit your chapters on RAM drives.

You have to be careful and not turn off your Apple IIgs until you have saved all your files to a genuine floppy disk.

A Final Configuration

Once you feel comfortable using RAM drives, it is time to introduce the 3.5 inch disk drives. Here is how you would add a 3.5 inch disk drive to our configuration:

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

Virtual drive 1 is for the Main program disk

For virtual drive 1

Enter slot: 3 <CR>

Enter drive: 1 <CR>

For virtual drive 2

Enter slot: 3 <CR>

Enter drive: 2 <CR>

For virtual drive 3

Enter slot: 3 <CR>

Enter drive: 3 <CR>

For virtual drive 4

Enter slot: 5 <CR>

Enter drive: 1 <CR>

For virtual drive 5

Enter slot: 5 <CR>

Enter drive: 3 <CR>

For virtual drive 6

Enter slot: 6 <CR>

Enter drive: 1 <CR>

For virtual drive 7

Enter slot: 0 <CR>

Enter name for this configuration: ML3.5 <CR> ]]

Using this configuration, you can keep your long term data stored on 3.5 inch disks. When it is time to work on your material, you can copy the chapters to RAM drive and do the editing in memory. When you are finished, you can copy the chapters back to 3.5 inch disks. Good luck!

Training Packs Available

Raised Dot Computing rents out training packs to schools and organizations that do BEX training. For $75 per week, you get one complete BEX for the instructor and 10-12 student packages, each containing a reference card set and a BEX disk. Please specify how many of the reference card sets need to be in braille.

Similar packages are available for TranscriBEX. The instructor gets a complete TranscriBEX package, including the manuals for BEX and TranscriBEX. Each student gets a BEX disk, a TranscriBEX disk, and a set of BEX and TranscriBEX reference cards.

If you are interested, call Raised Dot, and we will mail you a lease agreement.

Be aware that you are responsible for all missing or damaged materials. Experience has shown that some individuals need an incentive to avoid the problem of "misplaced" items.

If you are serious about doing BEX training this year, you should also know about Getting Started on BEX, written by Ken Smith and David Holladay. Call or write to Raised Dot for a copy of this handout. When David was preparing to give a presentation on BEX at Closing the Gap, he added to a handout written by Ken Smith for his presentation at CTEVH. The result was this jointly written handout. If you are training people on BEX, you have our permission to make copies of Getting Started on BEX. If you need braille copies, let us know and we will send a copy on disk.

Using The Graphics Exchange: Transferring Macintosh Graphics into PixCELLS -- David Holladay

We have mentioned in the Newsletter before that an Apple IIgs program called The Graphics Exchange, from Roger Wagner Publishing, allows you to transform graphics files from many different formats into Apple II hi-res images. Apple II hi-res image files in turn are the files usable by Raised Dot Computing's pixCELLS software for producing brailler graphics. By using The Graphics Exchange with pixCELLS, you can get brailler graphics of images from other sources. To give this discussion some focus, I decided to talk about embossing screen images from the Macintosh. However this article can be used as a guide for importing a vast array of different graphics formats into pixCELLS.

With the introduction of outSPOKEN, there is a greater interest in making tactile images of portions of the Macintosh screen image. A blind Macintosh user has a much better chance of figuring out the Macintosh desktop metaphor if tactual screen maps are available.

Needed Equipment

Use of The Graphics Exchange requires an Apple IIgs with at least 512K and a 3.5 inch disk drive. You must use a mouse with The Graphics Exchange. If you are using The Graphics Exchange to read Macintosh files (as we are in this discussion), your Apple IIgs needs at least 768K of memory. Use of The Graphics Exchange also requires a sighted person. So without further ado, let's add "one sighted person" to our equipment and perform some file manipulations.

Before you start, you should have a 3.5 inch Macintosh disk for moving Macintosh files into the Apple IIgs (your transfer disk). You also need a disk formatted for ProDOS (either 3.5 inch or 5.25 inch) for receiving hi-res graphics files for pixCELLS. Things are easier if you can keep the transfer disk in the 3.5 inch drive and the ProDOS data disk in another drive. If your other drive is a 5.25 inch drive, you should format a 5.25 ProDOS data disk.

Overview of the Process

Making a brailler graphic of a Macintosh screen image takes more than one step. First you save the screen image in a Macpaint file on the Macintosh. Then you use The Graphics Exchange to load the Macpaint file into Apple IIgs memory and save it in hi-res image files, usable by pixCELLS. But it's not quite that simple. While a Macpaint image uses 576 by 720 possible dots, an Apple II hi-res image uses only 280 by 192 possible dots. So it takes quite a few hi-res image files to save an entire Macpaint file with a "standard transfer" (no compression). Saving a small portion of a Macpaint image in a hi-res file for pixCELLS is smooth sailing, but dealing with an entire Macpaint image requires more careful navigation. You must repeat several steps for each portion of the Macpaint image that you save in a hi-res file for pixCELLS.

Performing a "scaled transfer" would compress the Macpaint image and allow you to transfer a bigger portion of the Macpaint file at one time. However, the standard transfer has worked better for me than scaled transfers. In my experiments with scaled transfers, I found some distortion which rendered the final image unusable. And at least for close, tactual examination of a Macintosh screen image, a one-for-one transfer of dots (with no compression) is important.

Copying the Macintosh Screen into a File

This is the easiest step. By typing command-shift-3 on the Macintosh, you save the screen image in a Macpaint file on your startup disk. You can issue this command from the desktop or from an application. Usually your startup disk is your hard disk. This file automatically gets the name [[SCREEN 0]]. (If you create another screen image file, it gets the name [[SCREEN 1]], etc.) These screen files are stored in the Macpaint file format. This is fortunate, since Macpaint is the only Macintosh file format that The Graphics Exchange can read.

On the Macintosh, copy your screen files onto a 3.5 inch floppy. Use this "transfer disk" to move data from the Macintosh to the Apple IIgs. Even though this is a Macintosh disk, name it according to ProDOS naming requirements. Start the name with a letter. After that, use only letters, numbers, or a period. Do not use any spaces in the name.

If you want to, you can put your Macintosh screen files in folders on your transfer disk. Folders are like subdirectories in ProDOS or on the IBM. The Graphics Exchange can read Macpaint files stored in folders.

Now we are finished with the Macintosh, and we move to the Apple IIgs for using The Graphics Exchange.

Using The Graphics Exchange

Booting The Graphics Exchange

You may have to adjust the Apple IIgs control panel before you use The Graphics Exchange. Reduce the size of your ProDOS RAM drive so that at least 768K of memory is free. Make sure slot 4 is set for the mouse. I have also found that The Graphics Exchange does not like to boot if you have the startup slot set to "scan." To boot The Graphics Exchange from your 3.5 inch drive, set the startup slot to slot 5. Now that you have set the control panel program, boot up The Graphics Exchange.

Loading the File

After the program has booted, you come to the main screen. Remove the program disk and insert your 3.5 inch transfer disk from the Macintosh. Use the mouse to select "load file" and "Macpaint." The next screen allows you to select the proper disk. The first time you load a file from this transfer disk, its disk name is not on the menu. To correct this ignorance, click on "review online volumes" in the menu on the left. Then select the volume name of the disk in slot 5, drive 1 (your transfer disk) from the menu on the right. Click on the same name in the menu on the left to indicate that you do indeed want to get a file from that disk.

Next, when the program presents you with a list of Macpaint files, select the file you want. The program loads the entire image into memory and remembers that as your Macpaint document. However, it shows you only a portion of the full image because each Macpaint file has more possible dots than the Apple IIgs screen display can handle. Each Macpaint file has 576 by 720 possible dots. Since Macpaint does hardcopy output at 72 dots per inch, this can generate output to fill most of an 8-1/2 by 11 sheet of paper (576 dots for 8 inches wide, and 720 dots for 10 inches high). Fortunately, a Macintosh screen image fills up only the top half of the maximum size of a Macpaint file (576 dots wide by 360 dots high). Even so, a Macintosh screen image in a Macpaint file still has too many dots to be shown all at once on the Apple IIgs screen. The Graphics Exchange displays the image in super-res mono screen format, 640 dots wide by 200 dots high, not enough vertically for a Macintosh screen image 360 dots high.

Although you cannot look at the entire Macpaint image at one time, The Graphics Exchange keeps the whole image in memory. If you want to see the other portions of the image, move the mouse up or down and click the mouse button. When you are satisfied that you have the portion of the image you want, press the mouse button without changing the mouse position.

Transferring the Image into Normal High Resolution Mono

If you have created a previous hi-res image, erase it. Select "clear graphic" and "normal hi-res / mono / 280 x 192." This clears away the hi-res image which would interfere with the transfer.

From the main screen on The Graphics Exchange, select "standard transfer." Select "Macpaint doc" for the source format and "normal hi-res / mono / 280 x 192" for the destination format.

After you select the file, you get to select which vertical portion of the Macpaint image to have displayed on the screen, and then which smaller portion of that display to change to normal hi-res. Select a vertical portion of the image by moving the mouse up or down. When you see the display you want, click the mouse button without moving the mouse, and a tiny cursor appears at the upper left corner of the screen. You can now work with only this vertical portion of the Macpaint image. But even that is too big for a normal hi-res image (280 dots wide by 192 dots high). You can transfer only about half of the width of the current display into one normal hi-res image. You use the tiny cursor to select a rectangular portion of the display to transfer to normal hi-res form. Move the mouse so the cursor is at the upper left of the rectangle you want to transfer. Hold down the mouse button and move the mouse diagonally to the right and down to the lower right corner of the rectangle you want. Release the mouse button again. You can select a region about as tall as the screen but only half the width. After a short pause, the screen shows the normal hi-res image you have created. The image is "stretched" to fill the entire screen. Click again to get to the main screen.

It takes many hi-res images to make up one Macpaint image. It takes eight hi-res images, four across and two down, to make up an entire Macpaint image, or four hi-res images, in one row across, for a Macintosh screen image (stored in only the top half of a Macpaint file).

The really tricky aspect of all this is that there is no automatic way of making sure that you do not leave any gaps or have overlapping regions between hi-res images. After you do this a few times, you get better at grabbing hi-res images with just a little overlap between them. You probably want to have some overlap just to make sure you don't leave anything out. You can always use the shift image command in pixCELLS to fine-tune the images and eliminate any overlap at the final stages of the data transfer.

Saving the Hi-Res Image File

Select "save graphic" and "normal hi-res / mono / 280 x 192" from the main screen. If you do not see the name of the ProDOS disk you use to save graphics images, insert it in the drive and select "review online volumes." Once you have selected your ProDOS data disk, give the file an appropriate filename.

For each hi-res image you create from the Macpaint image, you need to repeat the clearing of the previous hi-res image, the transfer into hi-res, and the saving of the hi-res image on the disk.

Using PixCELLS

Boot the pixCELLS program. Load a hi-res image from disk. Use the Modify environment to fix up the image. You may have to reverse the image. To do that from the Modify environment, type control-W (for whole screen tricks) followed by [[R]] (for reverse every pixel). The other whole screen tricks may also be useful. The [[S]] command lets you shift the image in any direction. By shifting the image, you can get rid of any unnecessary elements (such as overlap). The [[C]] command lets you compress the image by a factor of 2 in each direction. If you use the compression, each hi-res file takes only one or two braille pages to produce.

Without using the compression, you need 6 braille sheets for each hi-res image. If you really wanted a whole Macpaint image, it would take 48 braille sheets, twelve across and four down. A Macintosh screen image would take 24 sheets, twelve across and two down. At Raised Dot, we refer to taping together lots of braille sheets for one image as using "runway mode," since you need an airport runway to examine your chart or diagram.

Finally, you use the Emboss menu to output the image to your embosser. For this application, we recommend using an embosser like the VersaPoint, Romeo, Cranmer, Ohtsuki, or Index Advanced which can produce true graphics without any gaps.

Access to Software

The Graphics Exchange is a product of Roger Wagner Publishing. The program lists for $49.95. The address is 1050 Pioneer Way, Suite "P," El Cajon, CA 92020; (619) 442-0522. PixCELLS is a product of Raised Dot Computing. It costs $150.

Scanning As a Reading Option -- Dr. Fareed Haj

Since acquiring my Kurzweil Personal Reader, I have been delighting in its many different uses. In the May-June 1989 issue of the RDC Newsletter, I described how I use my scanner and BEX together as a braille transcription system; using the scanner is an alternative to directly keying the material into BEX's Editor. In this article I wish to focus on the scanner as a personal reading tool. I have found that scanners like the Personal Reader offer many reading advantages to the blind student or professional.

My reading needs as a blind professional are great and varied in scope. I couldn't get all the sighted readers I needed, and much of what I wished to read was not available on tape or computer disk or in braille. So I considered a scanner as an acceptable last resort for taking care of all my reading. However, nine months later I have changed my mind about scanners. I now view them as the best and most satisfactory reading method for a blind individual who needs access to printed material.

No longer do we have to wait for a best selling book to be brailled or taped. Now you have the freedom to read any book you want. You just have to go to the public or university library to check it out and remember to return it before you have to pay overdue charges. You, the reader, make your own decisions about what you want to read and when.

Your scanner is practically tireless. It sounds as rested at two in the morning as it does at two in the afternoon. Try finding a sighted reader at the crack of dawn if you want to finish that gripping novel you reluctantly put down the previous night. The scanner cheerfully reads the desired material regardless of subject. Your scanner may mispronounce a word, but it never hesitates or stumbles over one. What's more, at the end of a three-hour session, the machine reads better than when it began because it learns as it goes along.

A real plus for a scanner is the speed at which it scans. If you decide to scan at 2800 words per minute as I do, the scanner scans continuously at that speed. It does not slow down when it meets a long, complex, or new word. Nor does it require a sip of water or a coffee break from time to time.

Although you can ask a human to slow down or speed up, for the most part he or she reads at their accustomed reading speed. On the other hand, you establish the speaking pace for the scanner, and it maintains that speed. You can select the speaking rate appropriate for the type of material.

Most blessed of all, the scanner does not pause to interject its comments and opinions. Students and professionals well know what it feels like when you have to get through a lot of work and you have a human reader who at that moment feels like chatting instead. You do not have to discuss politics or even the weather with a scanner. Furthermore, you have total privacy when using your electronic reader, and for the blind this is a new and precious freedom.

Nor does a scanner try to be helpful, smug in the knowledge that it knows better than you what is important in a book and what is not. I once had a remarkable reader who used to finish a 600-page book for me in less than two hours. She decided what was and was not worth reading. Needless to say, I had to have the book re-read as soon as she left. She was a wonderful human being, and I enjoyed conversing with her. But as a reader she left much to be desired.

Once you have purchased your scanner, you do not have to pay it by the hour; nor do you have to deal with any personal consequences of using volunteer readers. Furthermore, you do not need to dress up, make sure that your house is presentable enough for company, or travel to get the reading done. A scanner does not cancel appointments, arrive late for a reading session, or forget to show up.

The mileage you can get from a scanner is remarkable. Besides being able to read and re-read material without bothering someone, I can save the material to disk as BEX chapters. Once the material is on disk, I can use BEX to translate it into braille and emboss it, or I can give the untranslated material to a BEX user who can read the text in large print. If I choose to do so, I can even read the book via the computer long after it has been returned to the library. Furthermore, as the scanner is reading the text to me, I can tape the session on a cassette recorder, even while saving the information to disk. The KPR is able to activate the cassette recorder when it is voicing text and deactivate the recorder when it is silently scanning.

I do not mean to imply that human readers are of no value. I never would have been able to receive my doctorate without the help of hundreds of wonderful sighted volunteers who unselfishly gave many hours of their time. Many long-lasting friendships and quite a few marriages have taken place between readers and their listeners. However, for the raw reading power and stamina, nothing comes close to a scanner.

Although still expensive, scanners have come down in price considerably. The Kurzweil Personal Reader costs between eight and twelve thousand dollars, depending on the model. The three models, from lowest to highest price, are: with just the hand scanner, with just the automatic scanner, and with both scanners. (Though I have the model with both scanners, I have seldom used the hand scanner.) Not many blind people can afford the cost of a scanner. But when one considers the cost of paying readers over a span of many years, a scanner like the Personal Reader may be the least expensive option in the long run. We all have our priorities. Just as a sixteen-year-old individual views a car as a means of independence and makes sacrifices to obtain it, I would sacrifice other things before foregoing my means of long-term independent reading. There are several loan programs available to help a person acquire a Personal Reader.

A scanner is a powerful tool, particularly when matched with a computer, a program like BEX, a modem, print and braille printers, and a recorder. I am happy for our young blind students going through graduate schools today. I obtained my doctorate degree on the strength of a slate and stylus and a manual typewriter. Had technology offered more in my time, life would have been much easier. Still there is a great deal of satisfaction in knowing how far we have come just within one life span.

[Editor's note: When considering a scanner, be sure to get information on how it will meet your own reading needs. For example, no matter how "smart" a scanner is, it cannot match a human for locating information by using an index or table of contents. Human beings cannot be purchased these days. But they are engineered with some unequaled features for pattern matching and searching in books, which are still designed and organized for human readers.]

Library Catalog Access -- Caryn Navy

As blind individuals get their own optical scanners, they can make better use of library holdings. But an optical scanner does not help in finding out which books or periodicals to consult. Access to computerized library catalog information can help here. Those using human readers also need access to library catalog information.

I am very fortunate to have an excellent resource on these issues right in my very own section in Womonsong (Madison's fun-loving, feminist choir). Our soprano section leader, Sally Drew, directs the Wisconsin Office of Interlibrary Reference and Loan. When I asked her about computerized library catalogs, she told me about WISCAT, which catalogs the holdings of over 700 public and college libraries throughout the state of Wisconsin. Containing over 200 million characters, this catalog is available to libraries in two different media, microfiche and CD ROM. The CD ROM version occupies four CD ROMs which are accessed on MS-DOS machines with software called LePac from Brodart Company in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. One hundred fifty libraries in Wisconsin use WISCAT on their own CD ROM systems now, and there are plans to raise the number to two hundred fifty by the end of the summer. The software and the 4 CD ROM disks cost $80, and each of the four CD ROM drives costs $650.

Anxious to increase access to Wisconsin libraries for all, Sally was happy to let me bring Flipper and my Braille 'n Speak to her office to try out the system. After dealing with the usual problems (like having to find a nine pin to 25 pin adapter cable), we got things working well enough to pursue things further. The office later purchased a copy of Flipper and an Echo-PC to try out in a library. I am currently writing instructions for blind patrons, who may be having their first experience with voice access to a computer.

Fortunately, the office was able to lend me a set of four CD ROM drives, giving me enough experience to use the system efficiently and learn how to introduce new users to the system. Fun to experiment with, this set-up has also been very useful for the personal and professional reading needs of the entire RDC staff. Choosing "browse" operation, you can search for author, title, or subject. Choosing "express" operation, you can search based on one or more pieces of information, including author, title, subject, or one or more key words. My first day with the system, while examining the listings for books by David's father, a professor of Old Testament, I found a surprising item. In the listing for a sound recording produced by Encyclopedia Americana and CBS News Service, both Dr. Holladay and Bob Guccione (publisher of Penthouse Magazine) appeared as authors. With "Is the Bible Sexist?" with William Holladay and a colleague on one side, "Pornography and the First Amendment" by Bob Guccione is on the other side.

Information available for an item includes author(s), title, publication information, subject(s), a description, Library of Congress number, and the libraries which hold it (with call numbers).

To increase the ease and flexibility of use with voice output, I set up Flipper configurations to use with different parts of the program, created some macros to read selected pieces of information, and used a public domain utility program to allow redirecting printer output to a disk file. With such a file on disk, a user who has other access to a computer could refer back to the listings again with voice output or print them in braille.

Online catalogs with modem connections are, of course, accessible by a blind individual who uses a computer and a modem. We would like you to share with the readers of this Newsletter your experiences with such online systems.

Brailling a Calendar with BEX or Hot Dots -- Caryn Navy

This fall I thought it was great that Braille Book Review listed the places to get braille calendars for 1990. I put on my to do list ordering a braille calendar. And that's just where it stayed, on my to do list. When I started making appointments for January, I really missed having a calendar.

I was very fond of the simple 1989 calendar I had received at the 1989 CTEVH convention. While not designed for keeping notes, it concisely shows the day of the week for each date and is quite small. Since it seemed reasonably simple, I decided to try to make one like it.

It turned out to be surprisingly easy to make the calendar I wanted. The BEX chapter will also be very easy to modify to create calendars for future years. I also found that the same data entry in a file for Hot Dots gave the same results. After using some time at work to make my calendar, I felt obligated to write a Newsletter article about it and think of it as time spent on Newsletter research. I describe the process of creating this calendar so that you can make your own, perhaps with your own modifications. (A BEX chapter containing the calendar is included in the disk edition of this issue.)

Here is what the calendar is like. Each small page contains the dates for one month. The name of the month is centered on the top line. The next line lists the days of the week, starting with Sunday. Each day of the week occupies two cells (a capital sign followed by one cell), and there is one space between neighboring days. The lines below give the dates, with each date right justified under the proper day of the week. The numbers are printed with dropped digits with no number sign.

Entering Each Month

I create the calendar in a print BEX chapter and then use the grade two translator. I turn off translation of the numbers with the [[_-]] translator control. With two cells for each day of the week and one space of separation between days, I need a carriage width of 20. For each date I enter two characters followed by a space. If the date has only one digit, I use a sticky space for the first character. A sticky space is the character control-S in your chapter; you create it in the BEX Editor by typing [[<Control-C>S]]. I make the dates start on the proper day of the week with the appropriate $$p# command before the number 1. When the material is printed with a carriage width of 20, the line breaks fall in the proper places. For dates with one digit, the sticky space right justifies the number under the two-cell label.

The proper # in the $$p# command is 0 for Sunday, 3 for Monday, 6 for Tuesday, etc. (or three times n for day n of the week, counting Sunday as day 0).

Here is how I enter the month of January in the BEX chapter to be translated later. I begin with a paragraph indicator followed by $$c for centering and the name January. Then comes a carriage return followed by a list of the days of the week. For each day of the week, I type less-than semicolon ([[.

Then I place all of that in the clipboard and use the Clipboard insert command to add another copy. In the second copy I change January to February. Since February starts on Thursday (day 4), I change the $$p# command to $$p12 (4 times 3). Then I get rid of the numbers 29 through 31, to avoid giving February extra days. And February is done. I use Clipboard insert again and make the necessary modifications for March. And so on.

Formatting the Pages

Then I had to decide how to lay out the months on sheets of braille paper. I could put each month on a new sheet and cut the sheets to size. But then making a lot of calendars would waste too much paper. Most months use seven lines: one for the name of the month, one for the days of the week, and five for the dates. But some months (which start on Friday or Saturday and are long enough) need an extra line for the dates; this year September and December, which start on Saturday, need an extra line. I could allocate eight lines per month. Or, to allocate only seven lines per month, I could put the 1 for the first day in place of the S for Saturday.

I wanted to try for three months on one sheet of braille paper, with months separated by a line of dots 2-5 for tearing. With 26 lines per sheet, there is room for eight lines per month and two separation lines.

Here is what I ended up with. The chapter begins with $$f26 (for form length of 26) followed by $$w20 (for carriage width of 20). Then come $$vd9 and $$vd18. The undocumented command $$vd# (d for dash) fills line # with dots 2-5 on every page. So these two commands establish separation lines on lines 9 and 18, and I don't have to worry about creating these lines any more. (In an earlier Newsletter we discussed using [[ $$vh9 $$vr3 <CR>]] for filling line 9 with dots 2-5. But only BEX 3.0 accepts this. Earlier versions of BEX do not allow running header lines beyond line 4.)

Next comes a paragraph indicator [[$p]]. (When BEX encounters a paragraph indicator at the start of printing a new output page, it begins printing on the top line instead of moving down.) <CR> followed by a paragraph indicator separates most months. This skips a line (the eighth line allocated for the month). However, I don't want to skip a line after the month of September, since it occupies all eight lines. I remove the <CR> after the September dates, leaving just a paragraph indicator. I also remove the <CR> after the month of December. I finish the chapter mysteriously with $$f0 followed by the form feed indicator [[$f]]. Together, these ensure that BEX finishes printing each calendar with one form feed and no more, even with Multi-function print.

Putting It All Together

When I have finished the brailling, I cut off the extra paper on the right and separate the four sheets. Then I use the dashed lines for tearing. I staple the pages together on the left and have a nice little packet. I have also found that using the dashed lines for folding instead of tearing works well and prevents ripping. Fold the top third back and the bottom third forward.

You can create a calendar the same way with Hot Dots. In PC-Write (which Hot Dots users receive upon registration) you can "copy a block" to create another month from the data entry for January. To create a Hot Dots sticky space, control-S, in PC-Write, hold down the Alt key and type 19 on the numeric keypad.

With a calendar on disk, you don't have to worry about losing the paper copy (as long as you don't lose the disk). Even better, for next year you just have to change the $$p# commands and remove or add some carriage returns between months.

Using MathematiX to Check Nemeth Code Transcription -- David Holladay

RDC's MathematiX software turns Nemeth Code braille into inkprint mathematical notation. It is designed so a blind student can prepare math or science homework for a sighted teacher. Likewise, a blind teacher or other professional can prepare mathematical material for sighted students and colleagues.

Since we have started to sell MathematiX, we have gotten a number of inquiries asking if this program can translate into Nemeth Code braille. The answer is no. MathematiX is not a translator into Nemeth Code. However, in transcribing Nemeth Code material, a sighted person can use MathematiX as a tool for checking the correctness of the Nemeth Code. In fact, I prepared many of the Nemeth Code samples in the MathematiX manual by using this technique. It works best if the material is mostly text, with some use of mathematical notation not displayed spatially. If you have MathematiX for your students, you may want to try this method of verifying your Nemeth Code transcription.

In short, you do data entry of the material with the regular text in print and the mathematical notation directly in Nemeth Code braille, protected from grade two translation by the [[@-]] translator control. You then let MathematiX operate on the material to check the accuracy of your Nemeth Code. If MathematiX generates the proper inkprint mathematical notation, then your Nemeth Code is correct.

Step one is data entry. Type the material into the computer. When you have a section of text, start it with four characters: [[@l]] (space, at-sign, lower case l, and space). This tells BEX to use the grade two translator. Then type in the text. When you switch to mathematical notation, start with four characters: [[@-]] (space, at-sign, hyphen, and space). This tells BEX not to use the grade two translator. Between the [[@l]] and the [[@-]] you type in regular text. Between [[@-]] and [[@l]] you enter your Nemeth Code directly in braille. You can use the Editor's braille keyboard mode, or you can type in the braille with the equivalent ASCII characters. Section 5 in the MathematiX manual gives a quick tutorial in direct entry of Nemeth Code.

Step two is grade two translation at BEX's Main Menu. Make sure you give the new translated chapter a different name than the original chapter which you just typed in. if you find an error, you have to go back to that original chapter.

Step three takes you to MathematiX's Math Menu. Use option [[M]] to output (or 'tix in MathematiX's lingo) to the screen. If everything is working right, you see the correct inkprint text and math notation on the screen. You can compare it with the print from which you are transcribing.

Since nothing ever works how you would like it the first time, step four consists of repeating steps 1 through 3 until you really do get the screen to look like your inkprint.

In step five, you use Replace characters on your translated chapter with the transformation chapter T2B-T found on your MathematiX disk. Your braille chapter still contains the [[@l]] and [[@-]] translator controls, because the Math output step needed their guidance. This step removes the [[@-]] and [[@l]] translator controls from the braille chapter so that you can get clean hardcopy braille.

For step six, braille the chapter created by the replacement in step five. It should be acceptable Nemeth Code.

These steps are described briefly in the MathematiX manual in Section 9, Parts 2 and 3. When your students have used MathematiX to produce their math homework in inkprint, they too can use steps five and six to make good hardcopy braille for themselves.

Here is an example. I create a chapter RADIUS consisting of the following:

[[@l Solution to problem 13: @- >x^2"+y2"] @l is equal to the radius of the circle. ]]

Here is the user dialogue for the rest:

[[Main Menu: G

Grade two translation

Drive or chapter: QUICK <CR>

Drive or chapter: <CR>

Target chapter: QUICK2 <CR>

Starting to translate

Main Menu:

(insert MathematiX disk and press spacebar)

Math Menu: M

Math output

Drive or chapter: QUICK2 <CR>

Drive or chapter: <CR>

'tix where: S <CR> ]]

The display shows on the screen with a mistake. The square root appears with y subscript 2 inside instead of y squared. Examination of the original chapter shows the problem. The Nemeth sequence should have been [[>x^2"+y^2"]]] (we left out the superscript indicator after the y). We repeat the process after inserting the [[^]] character, and we get the desired result. Here is the rest of the dialogue:

[[Math Menu: R

Replace characters

Drive or chapter: QUICK2 <CR>

Drive or chapter: <CR>

Target chapter: QUICK2X <CR>

Use transformation chapter: 1T2B-T <CR>

Continue? Y <CR>

Math Menu: P

Print chapters

Drive or chapter: QUICK2X <CR>

Drive or chapter: <CR>

which printer: 2 <CR>

(assuming printer 2 is your brailler) ]]

As long as the Nemeth braille you have to transcribe is supported by MathematiX, you can use this technique to verify its correctness. If you purchase MathematiX for your students to use, you may want to take advantage of this technique for yourself. If you would like more information about MathematiX, write for our free sample pack, which explains the types of material which MathematiX does and does not support.

Bulletin Board

Blazie Engineering Now Selling Thiel Printers in the US

Blazie Engineering is now the US importer/distributor of Thiel Braille printers. Blazie Engineering is concentrating on the braille production model Beta X3 which has been sold in the US for over 5 years and is considered to be the workhorse in the industry. Blazie Engineering is maintaining a parts and service center in Street, Maryland and will be cooperating with Sighted Electronics, which has been a Thiel repair center for several years. Sighted Electronics will continue to be a major repair center and will continue to honor its present contracts and seek new Thiel repair business.

Deane Blazie of Blazie Engineering secured the first distributorship with Thiel for Maryland Computer Services in 1983. "It's good to be back in business with my friend Hans Thiel," said Blazie over the new agreement.

Pricing for the Beta X3 has been set at $13,000 (dependent upon the exchange rate between the dollar and the Mark). This is the lowest price for the Thiel printer since it first came into the US. While Thiel also makes a high speed interpoint printer, the BAX10, Blazie Engineering's main focus is on the lower cost Beta X3.

While the Thiel Beta X3 has been sold for over 5 years in the US, it has gone through continual mechanical and electrical improvements. The current model prints at 130 characters per second and comes with a serial interface. Mechanical upgrades are available for earlier Thiel printers, and they should be considered if your printer is more than 1 year old.

The Beta X3 is available now from Blazie Engineering with delivery 30 to 60 days from order date. For more information, contact:

Blazie Engineering

3660 Mill Green Road

Street, MD 21154;

(301) 879-4944 or FAX (301) 452-5752

Braille 'n Speak "SNAP PAC" Now Available

Blazie Engineering, maker of the Braille 'n Speak pocket notetaker for the blind, is now offering a special package, the SNAP PAC. The SNAP PAC consists of a Braille 'n Speak with calculator and stopwatch, a carrying case, and an interface kit, packaged with second day air shipment and priced at $1070. Blazie Engineering has created the SNAP PAC to reduce costs associated with ordering and to give quick delivery which has been a problem in the past. "We have determined that most orders consist of these pieces, and now we are prepackaging them to give quick delivery and to help reduce our processing costs. We are trying to hold down the price on Braille 'n Speak, and this will help," says Deane Blazie of Blazie Engineering.

For more information on Braille 'n Speak, contact Blazie Engineering (see address in above announcement).

Go West, Eureka! -- Becky Rundall

Robotron Access Products, Inc. is pleased to announce our expansion and forthcoming move west. As of March 1, you'll find us headquartered in sunny southern California, and, with the addition of Patricia Fraser of the Australian office to our staff, we'll be able to enhance our services throughout North America.

Besides sales and product information and full technical support, our new national office will provide service and maintenance (and an 800 number, so you'll be able to reach us easily).

But don't despair, those of you back east. We'll continue to have sales, customer support, and service available for you in the neighborhood. Sighted Electronics in New Jersey will carry on their fine record of Eureka service, and our area representatives will be on hand to assist you with your inquiries.

Until March 1, you can still reach us at (212) 580-5956. After that, you can call (800) 555-1212 to find the new 800 number for Robotron International.

A-Talk Games Available

Four talking games--Trivia Talk, Fortune Talk, Password Talk, and Jeopardy Talk--are now available to blind Apple users on one Apple ProDOS disk. The four games are all connected with a menu, and all are designed to work with the speech output of an Echo synthesizer. Send all prepaid orders for thirty-five dollars in U.S. funds, to Jeff Weiss, A-Talk, 3015 South Tyler Street, Little Rock, Arkansas 72204. For overseas orders add five dollars for airmail shipping.

Home Wanted for Back Issue RDC Newsletter Tapes

David Goldstein is cleaning house, and he would like to give away his back issues of the RDC Newsletter on audio tape. He has issues 24-80 (December 1984 to December 1989). A stickler for neatness, he has them in album cases, which are part of the offer. You can contact David Goldstein at:

87 Sanford Lane

Stamford, CT 06905;

(203) 366-3300 (work number)

Facts on File

Addresses Mentioned

PDS: 100 W. Rincon, Suite 207

Campbell, CA 95008;

(408) 866-1126

Roger Wagner Publishing: 1050 Pioneer Way

Suite "P,"

El Cajon, CA 92020;

(619) 442-0522

Blazie Engineering: 3660 Mill Green Road

Street, MD 21154;

(301) 879-4944 or FAX (301) 452-5752

Jeff Weiss: A-Talk

3015 South Tyler Street

Little Rock, AR 72204

The RDC Full Cell

Phyllis Herrington, Tech Support; David Holladay, President; Aaron Leventhal, Software Development; Linda Millard, Bookkeeper; Susan Murray, Office Manager; Caryn Navy, Vice-President.

Production Notes

Written & edited with BEX on an Apple IIgs. BEX commands changed to Microsoft's RTF/Interchange format control words with BEX's Contextual Replace. File transfer with BEX & Hayes's Smartcom II to an Apple Macintosh SE. RTF commands interpreted and then spell checked with Microsoft Word 4.0. Pages composed with Aldus's PageMaker 3.02, output on an Apple LaserWriter Plus, and printed at The Print Shop. Two-track audio edition mastered on APH Recorder & copied on high-speed Recordex 3-to-1 duplicators.


Claris Corp: AppleWorks; Apple Computer, Inc: Apple IIgs, Macintosh, ProDOS, Super Serial Card; Arkenstone Inc.: Arkenstone Reader; Blazie Engineering: Braille 'n Speak; Hewlett Packard: Scan Jet; International Business Machines Corp.: IBM-PC, Selectric; Gary Little: AmDOS 3.5; Personal Data Systems, Inc: EasyScan; Roger Wagner Publishing: The Graphics Exchange; Raised Dot Computing, Inc.: BEX, ProDOS Bridge, Hot Dots, MathematiX, pixCELLS.