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Chapter 5: Your Preferences

If you are a beginner, use this chapter to set up your Braille devices and Inkprint devices, and then see Chapter 6 for the Tutorial. Come back and use the rest of this chapter when you're ready to explore more of MegaDots and its options.

Use "S" to Save Your Preferences

If you only learn one thing about Preferences in this chapter, it is that you need to explicitly save your preferences in MegaDots. If you like a change you have made, after pressing F10 you must still press S to Save your preferences, and then enter for the filename prompt. If you do not do that, your changes only last during your current session with MegaDots.

Inkprint and Braille Devices

From the Editor, press F10 P to get to the Preferences Menu. In the Preferences menu and the Preferences forms you will be filling out, pressing the F1 Help key at any point provides guidance as you go through the process of setting preferences. When you're setting a particular item in one of the information fields, pressing F2 lists any appropriate choices available.

Inkprint Devices

Before you can print a document, you must tell MegaDots what kind of ink printer you will be using and how it is setup and connected to your computer. Press I from the Preferences Menu so that you can enter information about your Inkprint printer.

The Inkprint Devices User List screen contains a list of all the ink printers that you have setup for use in MegaDots. If this is your first entry in the list, MegaDots will alert you and automatically prompt you to insert a new device by displaying the Printer manufacturers list. If there are printers already in the Inkprint Devices User List, either press F10 to accept the current printers list or press Insert to insert a new printer into the list.

From the Printer manufacturers list, select your printer's manufacturer. A list of the selected manufacturer's printer models will appear in the Inkprint printers list. Select the model type of your printer.

If you can't find your exact model type, consult your printer's documentation to find what other types of printers your printer can emulate, or mimic. Press Escape to exit the current Inkprint printers list, then try to setup one of the models that your printer can emulate. See the next section in this chapter (Compatible Inkprint printers ...).

Once you have selected an inkprint device, you will be presented with the Setup an Inkprint Device window. This window allows you to modify how MegaDots communicates with your printer. If you wish to know what a setup field does, or if you need help in setting the value of a field, move your cursor to that field and press F1 to access the specific help screen for that item.

Compatible Inkprint Printers (HP and Others)

Not all inkprint printers are compatible with MegaDots. Often the most inexpensive inkprint printers are not compatible with MegaDots. The printers that are most likely to be compatible with MegaDots are those that support PCL 5, PCL 5c, PCL 5e or Postscript. PCL stands for Printer Control Language. Often you can find this information on your printer manufacturer's web page by looking up "emulations" or "printer languages."

If you are choosing an inkjet printer for use with MegaDots, note that quite a few HP printers are compatible in the DeskJet, OfficeJet, Business Inkjet, Photosmart, and Color Inkjet product lines. Many of these printers (with some exceptions noted below) support text printing from DOS applications like MegaDots. The best font support among inkjet printers can be found in the few HP models that have scalable typefaces built into their firmware. These include: the HP DeskJet 850, 855, 870, 890 (but not 895), 1100, and 1120 series; the HP OfficeJet 1150, 1170, and 1175 series; and the HP Business Inkjet 2250, 2280, 2600, and 3000 series. Other DeskJet, OfficeJet, Business Inkjet, and Color Inkjet models, and most PhotoSmart printers, have a limited range of bitmap font sizes built into their firmware. For basic monochrome laser printing from MegaDots, the HP LaserJet 1150 or 1160 should be adequate. Models numbered 1300 or higher are more expensive but give better performance.

Avoid the following HP inkjet printers, which are Windows-only printers. Don't try to use them with MegaDots: the HP PSC-1200, 1210, 1315, and 1350 series printers; the HP DeskJet 710, 712, 720, 820, 1000, 3250, 3320, 3325, 3420, 3520, 3550, 3650, 3740, 3745, 3840, 3843, and 3845 series printers; the HP OfficeJet 4110, 4215, and 5510 printers; and the original HP PhotoSmart Printer (with no model number).

In the HP LaserJet category, most printers are compatible with MegaDots. However, avoid the HP LaserJet 1000, 1005, 1010, 1012, 3100, and 3150 series, and avoid the HP Color LaserJet 1500, 2600, 3500, and 3550 series.

There are 5 protocols for driving printers that are widely supported. These are PCL 5, PCL 4, PCL 3, Postscript, and the Cannon BJC600 family.

Inkprint Devices Connection Port: COM1, LPT1, or MegaPrn

The Connection Port prompt can be frustrating. The choice of COM1 (serial port) and LPT1 (parallel port) are not used very much on modern computers. The choice MPRN is your link to your inkprint printer on most modern computers.

When you print to a printer set up with a Connection port of MegaPrn, you get a dialog box from the MegaPrn program listing your Windows printers, from which you select the desired Windows printer. The MegaPrn program is a simple printing engine which directs your output to the Windows printer that you select.

The MegaPrn choice is also available in setting the Connection port for a braille device. MegaPrn is also available for use as a stand-alone program to a direct a printer-ready file or a brailler-ready file to the printer or brailler of your choice. MegaPrn is preferred over Embossit 3.0 (see below) when the braille contains graphics.

To reset the parameters in MegaPrn, go to the MS-DOS prompt, go to the MegaDots directory (usually c:\mega25), and then type MegaPrn. This action clears the registry entries containing the defaults, so you can reset them the next time you use MegaPrn from within MegaDots.

Finishing the Inkprint Printer Setup Process

After you have finished setting up a new inkprint printer, press F10 twice to save the setup information. MegaDots will ask you if you wish to make the new printer the default inkprint printer for all new documents. If you answer yes, the new printer will be set as the default inkprint printer (the default inkprint printer can be changed under Preferences - New Document - Inkprint Document Setup). All new documents that you create in MegaDots will automatically use your default inkprint printer. If you don't set a default inkprint printer for new documents, then all new documents will default to the generic inkprint type.

As with other preference changes, your changes are not saved for future MegaDots sessions unless you use the Preferences menu's Save preferences option and specify a .env filename for your preferences file.

Braille Devices with Embossit 3.0

MegaDots 2.5 has built into it a program called Embossit 3.0. Embossit 3.0 is the embossing engine used in Duxbury DBT 10.7. It is an especially good tool for working with embossers that require special handling. These include the Tiger embossers, the Ohtsuki, the Gemini, and the Dot 'n Print. You can use Embossit 3.0 to produce braille from MegaDots to any embosser hooked up to your Windows network.

Warning: do not use Embossit 3.0 for files that contain graphics. Embossit cannot handle graphics data. If you have files using graphics, use the MegaPrn method described above.

To use Embossit 3.0, you need to set up a configuration within Embossit first. Use the Start Menu, Programs, Duxbury, Embossit 3.0. The instructions in the Embossit Helpfile describe setting up your Windows Printer, your Embossit configuration, and your MegaDots embosser configuration.

When you set up your embosser Preferences in MegaDots, you need only three things:

Braille Devices without Embossit 3.0

Before you begin brailling, you must tell MegaDots what kind of embosser you will be using and how your embosser is setup and connected to your computer. MegaDots keeps a list of your embossers in the Braille Devices User List, which is accessed from the Editor by pressing F10 P B (just B from the Preferences Menu).

If this is your first entry in the list, MegaDots will automatically ask you to install a new device, and display the Braille Embossers List. (If there are embossers already in the Braille Devices User List, press <Insert> to insert a new embosser into the list.) From the Braille Embossers List, select your embosser model.

Once you have selected a braille device, you will be presented with the Setup a Braille Device window. This window allows you to modify how MegaDots communicates with your embosser, and how your braille formatting is affected by the embosser. If you wish to know what a setup field does, or if you need help in setting the value of a field, move your cursor to that field and press F1 to access the specific help screen for that item.

After you have finished setting up a new embosser, press F10 twice to save the setup information. MegaDots will ask you if you wish to make the new embosser the default embosser for all new documents. If you answer yes, the new embosser will be set as the default embosser (the default embosser can be changed under Preferences - New Document - Braille Document Setup). All new documents that you create in MegaDots will automatically use your default embosser. If you don't set a default embosser for new documents, then all new documents will default to the generic embosser type. After you've answered these questions, MegaDots automatically saves your preferences.

Note: If you regularly use more than one embosser or share files with other MegaDots users, you may wish to unset the default embosser for new documents. You must also make sure that each of your already existing MegaDots files have no embosser set. Doing this will make your files "generic" files which are embosser independent.

Other Preferences

Following is an explanation of the rest of MegaDots' preferences. It is important that you go over this information at some point, but if you have not read the Chapter 6 tutorial yet, we recommend you do that first.

After you have changed your preferences, you must use the Save Preferences option to save your preferences to a file. If you do not save your preferences, they will not be there the next time you use MegaDots.

As mentioned earlier, the default filename for preferences is environ.env. When you start MegaDots, the software automatically loads the preferences in the environ.env preferences file.

When MegaDots asks you for a filename for saving your preferences, just press <Enter> to accept the default name, or enter a different filename with the extension .env. Why would you create a different preferences file? You can save different preference files for different people, or for different types of documents. You can load different preferences files either from the Preferences Menu or from the DOS command line when you start MegaDots. To start MegaDots with the preferences file silly.env, type mega /esilly <Enter>. Notice that there is no space between the /e and the name silly.

Blind-Friendly Editor Preferences

When MegaDots is shipped, the default preference settings are designed for sighted persons. However, it is easy to change MegaDots from a sighted-oriented program to a program tailored for use with voice output, large print screen display, or refreshable braille display. For more detailed information about using access technology in MegaDots, see Launching MegaDots in Chapter 2, and see Chapter 13 (Access Technology). Also, please make use of the online help available by pressing the F1 key on each field of the Editor Preferences. There is a wealth of information available in these help screens that is updated faster than the MegaDots manual.

Editor Preferences

From the Editor, press F10 P E to go into the Editor Preferences. For further details on these prompts, make use of the help key (F1) on the individual prompts.

Perkins Keyboard Entry

MegaDots allows for a regular full ASCII keyboard or a Perkins-style braille keyboard. This preference controls when the Perkins keyboard turns on automatically. You have the choice of Always, Braille, Editor, and Never. Always means at all times, even in menus. Braille means when you are dealing with a braille document, Editor means any time you are in the Editor, and Never means that Perkins-style keyboard will be invoked only when you specifically turn it on. MegaDots always lets you switch between regular and Perkins-style keyboard modes manually by pressing Alt-Scroll Lock at any point in the program.

In order to work, the braille keyboard software needs a compatible keyboard. See the help screen of this field for the details of what to do if the braille keyboard is not working.

Auto Correct Braille

Auto Correct Braille improves your braille data entry by using the full power of the MegaDots braille translators. If you use this feature, it only works when you are dealing with a braille document. The choices are N for No, B for Braille entry, and I for Inkprint entry. N means no auto correction (this is the default). B means that your data entry is in braille. MegaDots takes your data entry and does a back translation and then a forward translation into braille again to locate and fix any braille errors. I means that your data entry is in inkprint. MegaDots takes your data entry and does a forward translation into braille to minimize any braille errors. Experiment with this feature. It is very impressive when it instantly changes the braille on a character by character basis.

Braille View Mode

This option specifies your preferred on screen braille viewing mode. The choices are Big Dots (large braille dot patterns), Dots (smaller dot patterns), ASCII (uses the standard set of ASCII characters to represent braille characters), Expanded (each line of braille is back translated into inkprint except for the line containing the cursor), and Special Font (a unique font designed to clarify the braille contractions).

There is also a shortcut to setting the Braille View mode, outside of the Preferences Menu. In the Editor, just press Control-Z D.

Experienced braille transcribers may prefer Big Dots or Dots. Persons inexperienced with braille may prefer the Special font or the Expanded display. Blind users and the more computer oriented prefer the ASCII or the Expanded display. The Expanded display is designed to allow a blind user with speech to quickly examine the layout of a braille document without their voice synthesizer trying to pronounce ASCII braille. The Big Dots, Dots, and Special font modes require EGA or VGA graphics.

If you answered no to the installation question about using the full screen, then your only real choice is between dots, ASCII, and Expanded.

Braille shadow dots

The Braille shadow dots setting controls the appearance of the Big Dots on the screen. It has no effect if your Braille view is not set to Big dots. With Big dots, you have a choice of Heavy, Light, or No shadow dots. However, remember that "Big Dots" is not available to you if you answered no to the installation question about using the full screen. If you answered no to that question, MegaDots uses the "MegaDots cleaner braille" font to show braille dots. On a 32 bit Vista or Windows 7 system, and answer "Braille shadow dots" question with "H" for "Heavy", then you get shadow dots even with the special font.

Voice synthesis

Answer Yes if you are using voice output. MegaDots forces your screen reader to say certain prompts if it knows you are using voice output for access.

Refreshable braille

Answer Yes if you are using a refreshable braille device. This choice allows MegaDots to output prompts and help screens in braille.

Simple Windows

Answer this question Y if you are using screen access technology (i.e. you cannot read the standard screen). The Simple Windows setting blanks out the rest of the screen when a window pops up. Answer this question N if you are not using screen access technology to use your computer.

Unframed text window

This question changes the appearance of the main editing window in MegaDots. Answer this question N for a sighted-oriented screen layout: top line menu bar and a frame around the editing area. Answer this question Y if you would like to clear the screen of these distractions. In Unframed mode, the MegaDots program resembles the WordPerfect editing screen in which lines 1-24 are available for editing, with a bottom status line.

Audio cues

This prompt controls the degree to which MegaDots uses sound cues or uses verbal or braille messages.

Cursor go everywhere

This just sets the default value. You can switch at any point with Alt-E. Use "cursor go everywhere" if you are using access technology and you are reading a file for format. "Cursor go everywhere" lets your cursor land on blank lines (and other places where no text can be placed). This makes it easier for a blind user to know where the blank lines are.

Large Print Program

Answer Yes if you are using an external large print program such as ZoomText or LP-DOS.

Long Lines Wrap

This just sets the default value. You can switch at any point with Alt-L. Long Lines Wrap formats the text to fit on your screen regardless of your output device, so please remember that this mode does not accurately reflect the final format of your document. Use "long lines wrap mode" if your output device has a wider carriage width than the screen display. For example, if your printing device has a carriage width of about 50 characters, and your screen display (large print) shows only 40 characters, you should use long lines wrap.

Limit screen columns

If you are using a large print program or a refreshable braille device, give the maximum display width. This value is automatically set by the /a2 through /a5 command line codes. It is set to 40 by /ar. If your refreshable braille display does not have 40 cells, then change this value.

Limit screen rows

If you are using a large print program, give the maximum display height. This value is automatically set by the /a2 through /a5 command line codes.

Turn colors off

If you answer Yes, MegaDots goes into monochrome mode. This feature should be used if you have difficulty making out the letters on the screen because they blend into the background. This can be a problem with some older LCD laptop screens and monitors.

Text size

This gives the size of the characters on the screen. Use N for normal (80 characters across, with 35 rows), S for 43 or 50 rows of text, L for MegaDots large print program, T for tall characters, and W for wide. Use C rather than N to view an entire page of braille on the screen at one time in the ASCII, dots, or special fonts. This is the preferred choice for sighted braille transcribers. Do not use the Large, Tall, or Wide character sizes when you are using a large print program such as ZoomText or LP-DOS.

Markup view Mode

This just sets the default value. This choice displays formatting commands with your text. Set your preference for the method used when you first enter MegaDots: N for No markup (WYSIWYG), F for format markup and A for All format and translation markup. Format markup is just like show codes in Word. Alt-W toggles between WYSIWYG and either Format markup or All Format depending on which you last used. You can also use the Control-Z Zippy Menu to change the markup view mode.

Proofreading cursor

A proofreading cursor turns the line containing the cursor bright green. This is highly useful for proofreading purposes (especially for braille transcribers). You can also toggle this on and off with control-Z P from the Editor.

Big Cursor

This creates a larger cursor in and out of MegaDots. This is recommended for users with laptops, who may have difficulty locating the cursor. Another way to quickly visually locate the cursor is to press the ESC key in the editor. The cursor will flash and grow in size for a second, then return to normal.

Advanced Features

Auto Save

If you use the feature, MegaDots automatically saves your work after the specified time has passed. This protects you from ever losing more than a few minutes work in the event of a system failure. The automatically saved files have an extension of .SAV.

Auto Backup

If you use this feature, MegaDots makes a backup copy of your previous copy every time you save to an existing file. This protects you in case you accidentally save bad data over good. The backed up files have an extension of .BAK.

Expert User

If you answer this question "yes", you lose the verbal prompt of the name of the new screen you are starting.

Transcriber View

When the Transcriber View Mode is on, then the inkprint uses the same indent, runover, and blank lines as the braille. It also shows transcriber's notes. The Transcriber View does not use the dimensions of a braille page.

Default Directories

This option is used if a file operation (load or save MegaDots file, import or export a file, etc.) usually happens in only one directory. By specifying a default directory, you can simplify file operations since you do not have to specify the directory name. This feature is designed to make file operations easier on a computer network.

Macro Key Usage

A macro is a sequence of keystrokes (text and/or commands) which can be executed in one stroke. For example you could define one macro command to insert a new print page indicator and then execute three Page Down commands. To create a macro, press Alt-M from the MegaDots Editor. For a full description of macros, see the help screen under macros in the Preferences Menu.

New Document Preferences

You can save yourself a lot of work by entering all your default settings in the New Document Preferences screens. For example, if you are producing many documents in textbook format, it gets tiresome to go to the Document Menu to set the Style Sheet to TEXTBK97 for every document. Instead, you can set the default style sheet for all new documents to be TEXTBK97 by using the New Document screens in the Preferences Menu. If you need to prepare one document in literary format, then you can select the LITERARY style sheet in the Document Menu for that document. In the United Kingdom, the default for new documents should be the BRITUP style sheet.

New Document - Translation Menu

This menu lets you control key elements of braille translation. For example, you can specify how the many forms of inkprint emphasis are to be represented in the braille.

New Document - Braille Document Menu

This menu controls which embosser is used as a model for formatting braille documents. This menu also lets you specify some obscure aspects of braille layout: Do you want to suppress even page numbers? Do you want fold lines on the braille page (i.e., are you going to mail a braille letter in a conventional envelope?). How do you want tables formatted if they do not fit in the line-for-line format? To learn more about these issues, go into this menu and explore the help screens.

New Document - Inkprint Document Menu

This menu controls which inkprint printer is used as a model for formatting inkprint documents. This menu lets you specify some aspects of inkprint layout. Do you want large print output? Do you want spaces underlined? Do you want orphan or widow control? Again, you can use the help screens to learn about these issues.

New Document - Heading Preferences

This menu system lets you adjust all the aspects of inkprint and braille headings without having to change the styles that the headings are based on.

Load Preferences

The load preferences option lets you switch to a different preferences file. You can have many preferences files if you choose. Different users or different kinds of projects may require different preferences files.

Save Preferences

The save preferences option allows you to save your preferences in a file with a .env extension. You can switch preference files by using the load preferences option. You can also use the /e switch when you start MegaDots to specify which preferences file you want to use in your current session with MegaDots. See Chapter 19 for more details.

Point of Confusion: the Different Places You Can Indicate The Output Device

There are four separate places in the MegaDots menus that specify output devices. We will discuss all four.

Braille or Inkprint Device Preferences

You can describe your output device in the Braille devices Preferences or the Inkprint devices Preferences. This gives MegaDots custom information, such as carriage width and output port, about particular devices. This information is built into the preferences file, and is not part of each document. To really make a device be the default, you also have to change the New Document Preferences.

New Document Preferences (Braille document or Inkprint document)

In the Braille Document Screen in the New Document Preferences, you specify which braille device is your default to use for formatting. When MegaDots asked you Make the Braille Blazer the default brailler for all new documents? and you answered Yes, then MegaDots automatically inserted Braille Blazer as the default embosser in this menu choice.

Each time you start a new document, the document is marked with the name of the default embosser. When MegaDots wants to learn about that embosser (carriage width, output port, etc.), it looks at the braille device preferences.

Braille Document Setup

In the Braille Document Setup Screen in the Document Menu, you can also specify which embosser is associated with the current document. If you want to change the brailler for your current document, you can change it in the Document Menu. So if you own a Braille Blazer (your default braille device), you can still tell MegaDots to format one particular document for a VersaPoint.

At the Point of Printing

When you press F7 from the Editor to print an inkprint or braille document, MegaDots presents you with a default output device and a default port. You can change your mind seconds before you print your document.

Making a Generic Document

You may want to produce a MegaDots file for another MegaDots user who has an embosser. Just put a blank for the embosser name in the Braille Document Setup screen in the Document Menu. When the document is embossed, MegaDots uses the printing defaults on the system with the embosser. The same applies for the Inkprint Document Setup.