Contents of the CHECKS.DOC file
An amazing event appears to have occurred within sector 7 of
the argon galaxy. Explorers have uncovered an ancient computer
program entitled "The Talking Checkbook", but unfortunately Warf
ate the diskettes. We were able to get the original
documentation for the program and it follows.
You will notice that the author has a strange sense of humor
and it is being analyzed by our chief psychiatrist who alternates
between uproarious laughter and serious depression when reading
The document does appear to have some logic in it's
organization as follows. The appearance of two stars (**)
denotes a major new section and one star (*) denotes individual
items within the major category. Either the author intended this
to help people locate items or he had some kind of affection for
THE TALKING CHECKBOOK
Version 7.5 by Charlie Crawford and Donald Barrett.
Hi, my name is Charlie Crawford. I am fine, how are you?
What's your sign?
** Real introduction.
The talking checkbook is the product of over 5 years of
computer programming. It is a full featured checkbook program
with primary attention paid to how best to run an application
relying upon speech output to get the job done. While the
program is designed for folks using speech output devices, it is
also very friendly to braille and large print output devices. In
addition, if you don't need any assistive devices to run your
programs, then the talking checkbook will run in quiet mode with
direct screen writes if you use a command line parameter of
"Checks /quiet" that will be discussed later in this
While I (Charlie Crawford) wrote the original computer code
for the talking checkbook, there have been many folks who have
contributed to the program. Beyond my cat walking over the
keyboard and inventing various routines, Donald Barrett got hold
of one of the early versions and liked the program so much that
he added printing, fixed bill, savings, credit card and other
options that have vastly improved program performance and
usability. Marlena Veno, Scott Marshall, Don Breda, the tooth
fairy, Willy Wilson, and many other folks contributed their
comments, screams of woe and delight with various versions and
their help is greatly appreciated in getting the thing where it
is today. Finally, Jamal Mazrui is owed a great debt of
gratitude for his development of routines to send the text
information out through the computer basic input output system to
allow for speech access in the latest versions of Clipper
software. Thanks Jamal and all who have helped. Someday
historians will recall your efforts and your grand children will
get the prizes and the money.
**The program is released to the public domain and nobody
takes any responsibility for anything. How's that for a quick
disclaimer rather than all that stuff you usually read?
* Pre-authorized payments and transfers. This option
allows you to have amounts deducted or entered
automatically when a given date is detected as being
today or having passed by the checkbook program. This
is great for credit union deductions or whatever. Also
if you are paid electronically with a given amount each
time, then this function will make your life easy!
Also version 7.3 and above adds the ability to select
whether you want auto verification in expert mode. The
option to say no for auto verification in expert mode
allows the user to do electronic withdrawals that are
really electronic payments without verifying them until
they really are verifiable. Version 7.5 now allows you
to have the automatic transactions displayed and gives
you the option to delete those you no longer want.
* Turn on or off hot key prompts. Ever get tired of
having to press the enter key every time you enter a
response to a prompt? Well, the Talking Checkbook now
features an optional single keystroke response when the
information is being requested is a single letter or
number. Say you get a prompt called " So do you want a
million bucks? Y/N: " and you immediately want to say
"N" for no since you like being poor. Well in the past
you would have to press the "N" key and press enter,
but now you just hit the "N" key and the program moves
on. Of course if you enter something other then a "Y"
or a "N" the program will go into transcendental
meditation and then prompt you for the right answer and
wait for a "Y" or an "N". Even when hot keys are
turned on, there will be times when the computer will
wait for you to press the enter key since the
information being requested is either so critical that
you should have the opportunity to change your mind or
it requires more than a single keystroke answer.
If you are not running in expert mode (discussed later), you
will be asked at the start of the program if you want hot keys.
The program will record your answer in a memory file called
"Keys.mem" and write that memory file to disk. The program will
then always default to your answer and not ask again until you
erase the "Keys.mem" file where the program will interpret the
lack of a file as a need to check and see if you want hot keys or
* Data entry Macros. So you might be like Charlie
Crawford and sometimes not get around to entering data
for a couple of weeks. Well, often you will pay the
same place over and over again. This is ok fine when
the place you are paying is a nice short name, but we
invented the macros function to allow you to abbreviate
a name and have the whole information inserted
Imagine you write checks to " The Universal Bank of
Intergalactic Cheese Processors " and by the time you finish
writing the " pay to " field, your fingers hurt. The fix is to
use an abbreviation which will be interpreted by the Talking
Checkbook as a macro and the program will fill out the full name
and personal comment lines for you! Yay, ain't life sweet. Also
note that in version 7.0 and above, the withdrawal module has
macros as well. Version 7.5 allows you to enter your own
personal comment if you want it to be different from the macro
from time to time. If you want your personal comment to be the
same as you entered into the macro then just press enter when
asked for the personal comment. Note that version 7.5 only
supports this personal comment other than the macro in the checks
entry routines and not in the withdrawal.
* Automatic Backup of your databases. If you ever have
experienced loss of data on a hard disk that crashed or
whatever, you'll fall in love with the automatic
backing up feature of the Talking Checkbook. This
simply allows you to set a path to where you would like
an additional copy of your data sent in order to have
it in case of a problem.
* Security Packing. No, this is not a mission that you
get sent away by the Central Intelligence Agency to do,
but rather a nifty feature that allows you to have the
program check and secure your data each time you return
to the main menu of the program. Version 7.5 allows
you to place this feature on automatically every time
you run the checkbook. You can turn off the feature if
you decide you don't like it after setting it for
automatic by erasing the file "MASP.mem" from the
subdirectory in which your checkbook runs.
* Command line parameters. The talking checkbook offers you
the ability to select what level of speech you want, an instant
information report, and an expert mode of operation. These
parameters allow for no speech in quiet mode or limited speech in
expert mode or another option to have your most recent balance,
deposits, withdrawals, checks and savings information presented
immediately and save to a text file called "quick.txt".
At the DOS command line you can type: "Checks /quiet" for
no speech, "Checks /X" for limited speech and hot keys in expert
mode, or "Checks /B" for the generation of the balance and
checkbook status file called Quick.txt.
** Function keys turbo action. Gone are the days when you
had to press menu option after menu option to get back to the
main menu only to go through other menus to get where you want to
be. Gee, after that sentence, even I am tired. Now the talking
checkbook offers function key selections to get you where you
might want to be. F3 allows you to check out a potential credit
card purchase against your resources. F4 always returns you to
the main menu from anywhere in the program. F5 offers you your
daily biorhythm. F8 gets you back to the DOS level prompt and
backs up your data at the same time. F10 gets you back to DOS
immediately and only saves the data in the current directory
rather than backing it up as well.
* Credit Card and Savings Account tracking. The
checkbook program tracks your savings account and does
some credit card tracking as well. This helps with tax
reporting and keeps you mindful of these accounts.
Just think, if Al Capone had the Talking Checkbook then
he would never have been arrested by Elliot Ness.
* Browse editing. If you like to browse through the
checks, deposits and withdrawals using the arrow keys
or page up and page down keys, then you'll love the
browse features for checks, savings, macros and more!
Please note that some speech programs will need a
longer cursor delay to just hear the line where you
placed the arrow key.
* Tempo the Talking Cat. Yeah, one of the nice features
of the Talking Checkbook is meeting Tempo the Talking
Cat in our own adventure game. Here you get to play as
opposed to having to be so serious all the time. The
game even has a casino where you an win or lose, but
have a great time.
* In version 7.3 and above you can void checks after you
have written them. This could be done in the past, but with less
information available later.
*The Talking Checkbook usually comes in a zip format where
the files are compressed into a single package. Use the
PKUNZIP.exe program to unzip the files to a subdirectory on your
hard disk or use a floppy. If you use a floppy, then be sure to
check on one of our utilities discussed later on that allows you
to store older checkbook records into separate files to save
space and make the program run faster.
Unzipping the file to a subdirectory called "C:\Checks"
would be like this. Place your diskette in the a: drive and
type "Pkunzip a:\checks* c:\checks" and press enter. This would
tell the Pkunzip.exe program to search any zip file in the A:
drive with the name "Checks" and unzip the files to c:\checks.
Just be sure that you have made the subdirectory "Checks" on your
c: drive and that Pkunzip.exe is either on the diskette in drive
A or in your DOS path.
*Once the files are located on your hard drive in a
subdirectory of your choice, simply type "Checks" (the quotes are
only to highlight what you type and so don't use them when
typing) and you are on your way! Simple as that.
* You can use the new command line parameters available in
version 7.1 which allow you to have no speech by typing "checks
/quiet", to have speech except for menus by typing "Checks /x" or
to just get a full balance report and return to DOS without going
into the program by typing "Checks /B". These command line
parameters are powerful ways to alter the program execution and
make life happy for those who need them. The "/quiet" mode is
for folks who do not need speech and want fast direct screen
writes. The "/X" mode is the so called "expert mode" which shuts
off speech when menus are being presented and turns on hot keys
to make the program run faster. You can always use screen review
to check out the menus if you get lost in expert mode. This mode
also makes certain decisions for you. The decisions in expert
mode are to certify deposits and withdrawals and not present
balance information at the main menu or during checks entry.
Version 7.5 allows you to select to have balances displayed when
entering checks since one of our users asked for it. The
question will be asked once and a memory file called "mbc.mem" is
created. If you want to change the selection in the future, then
erase "MBC.mem". Finally, the "/B" parameter gives you an
instant balance, last check, last deposit, last withdrawal and
savings account information report and exits to DOS leaving a
file called "Quick.txt" for you to review.
The Talking Checkbook will automatically check your computer
memory, see if the databases it needs to use are there and create
them if this is the first use of the program. Folks who have
used the Talking Checkbook in the past will appreciate their
databases not being overwritten when installing a newer version.
*If you get a "not enough memory" message and returned to
the DOS level, then your computer is lonely and wants a mate, or
you probably are using a "terminate and stay Resident" program or
programs. These are like communications packages that allow you
to shell to DOS while keeping them in memory or other types of
applications. Be sure that you are only using DOS, your speech
or large print program, and the Talking Checkbook. Loading on
networks is sometimes also a problem if the network takes a bunch
of memory. You might consider loading a number of programs high
in DOS which can be done with newer versions of DOS if you are
having a memory use problem. The good news is that version 7.5
and above of the Talking Checkbook now is compiled using Blinker
which uses less lower memory to work. If you have over two
million forty eight thousand bytes of expanded or extended memory
available, then the checkbook will immediately run in what is
called DOS protected mode. All this means is that the Talking
Checkbook now tries to squeeze itself into lower memory or take
only about 100 K if running in protected mode.
**Running the Talking Checkbook.
Now we get to the good stuff. What happens and what do you
do. Let's do it.
*Unless you have chosen the " Checks /B " option where you
get an instant report of balances and so forth and then go back
to DOS; The first thing that happens when you load the Talking
Checkbook is a memory report. Nice for nerds like Charlie
Crawford who like to hear how much memory they have when they
start, but has little to do with reality. Seeing the memory
message is helpful in knowing the relative range of memory
available and it will advise you if there is too little memory to
run efficiently. If you used the "Checks /X" for expert mode,
then the first thing that will happen is a question on whether
you want balances reported during check input. This balance
question only happens once in expert mode to satisfy those folks
who really want to know their balance each time they enter a
*Next, the program looks to see if it can find the files it
will use to store data. If it finds them, then it will simply go
on to the next step rather than overwriting the current files of
folks who are upgrading rather than running for the first time.
If it does not find the files it needs, then it will create them
from failsafe files that come with the program. If the failsafe
databases are not found in the subdirectory where the program is
running, it figures it is not a miracle worker and simply crashes
to a lonely death on your hard disk. The moral is to be sure you
copy all the files that come with your talking checkbook to the
**WARNING: Some folks are real nice and like the checkbook
so much that they want to share it with friends. We suggest
sending it to Congress and maybe solve the national debt, but on
the serious side, be sure to erase any files with the extension
".mem" before sharing the program with friends. This is because
the ".mem" files are information files for the checkbook program
to read an act upon. They include balance information, where to
backup databases and color settings and more. If you give your
friend a copy of the program with the failsafe databases but have
not removed the ".mem" files, then your friend might start
sending you hate letters when they load the program and get
colors they don't like, keep getting an incorrect balance report
or other functions that cause them to consult their therapist.
The best advice is to get a fresh copy of the Talking Checkbook
from a BBS or calling Charlie Crawford to have one mailed.
* Unless you have used the "Checks /X" expert mode, You are
asked whether you want to see your balance each time you go to
the main menu. Well, some people like that although I (Charlie
Crawford) never use it. It slows down the program especially
when lots of data is being accessed. Up to you; hey we are easy
Next you enter the main menu of the Talking Checkbook. Yay!
Finally there. You get greeting with a message as to what
version you are in and of course a little credit to yours truly
and Don Barrett for having written the thing.
**MAIN MENU OPTIONS.
* Please note that the menu options on the main menu of the
actual program are presented in alphabetical order in Version
6.02 and above.
*A. The Talking Checkbook Adventure game.
Yeah, here's the main menu option to blast you away from all
that boring checkbook stuff and take you to the land of adventure
where you have to get your money back that has been stolen by X.
The reason we say "X" is because the culprit changes as your
checkbook records grow. The game looks at your data and goes to
the middle of the database and runs a villain from there. Hence
the more records you add, the further down the database it goes
to find the enemy. You'll love this game if you are into
*B. Edit and browse option.
Your second main menu option is to edit, delete or browse
records within the Talking Checkbook database. This is real
important since sometimes we make mistakes in entering a check or
whatever and want to fix or delete it. No problem, this is the
purpose of the menu option or you can simply use it to browse
through your records. When in browse mode, you will have the
option of either using the "S" for Search that is all menu driven
or using the "B" for browse which is arrow key driven. It's your
choice. I like the "S" method while Don likes the arrow keys.
*C. Set up your print coordinate Definitions.
Main menu option C gives you the ability to enter printing
coordinates for your printer to use when writing checks.
Computers are really pretty stupid and need to know exactly where
to send information like the date and who to pay and so forth.
Here's where you do it and the program gives you a step by step
guide on what to do.
Version 7.5 allows you to set up coordinates for checks that
have the "pay to the order of" line below the amount in words and
numbers line. If you have one of those type checks, then select
the alternate print setup when in the coordinate program.
The two types of checks that can be printed with the Talking
Checkbook are as follows:
Selection "R" in the coordinate program sets up for printing
classic check formats of the date on the first line, the "pay to
the order of" and the numeric amount on the second line, the
amount in words on the third line, and the memo line as the last
one. The "A" for the alternate check format works with the first
line as the date, the second line with the numeric amount first
and the amount in words second, the "pay to the order of" on the
third line and the memo line last.
*E. Entry data menu.
This old first main menu option takes you to the data entry
menu. This is the critical part of any checkbook program. Once
you access the data entry menu, then you can enter checks,
deposits, withdrawals, credit card information, savings account
information, automatic payment and macro data. Arrg, say that's
a lot of stuff! Now let's take a look at what happens when you
run the option.
You press "E" at the main menu and get the main data entry
menu. Here you have 8 options from which to choose.
*1. Enter a deposit.
Entering a deposit is our favorite activity. Yup, you get
to put money into the thing rather than taking it out. Your
initial balance is a deposit because when you first run the
Talking Checkbook, we hope you had some money with which to
start. You make that a deposit. Then if you ever get any more
money like bank interest, pay checks, dividends or whatever, then
you also use this option to enter those amounts.
**2. Enter a check.
Not much use for a Talking Checkbook if you don't have any
checks. Well, here's the place to enter them. If you have not
chosen expert mode, you'll be given two options when you select
this function. You can either get your balance displayed each
time you enter a check or not. Some folks like to see what there
balance is before entering checks and so we put the two options
Once you've selected the balance reporting option for the
checks entry menu option, then you will see an automatic display
of what your last check number was. You then will be able to
select if you want the program to use the next highest number for
the check you will be entering. If yes, then the program does
it, if no then you have to enter the number yourself. In any
event, the program checks to see if the number has already been
used and if so, warns you.
Next you are given a date option. If you are really on top
of your game then the "T" for today's date is made just for you!
It automatically adds the current date to the date field of the
check, but if you are like me and don't keep up with entries
everyday, then you can add the actual date of the check yourself.
The date entry question will also allow you to use the date of
the last check written by answering "L" to the prompt. This is
to save you keystrokes if you are entering a bunch of checks you
wrote on a specific date.
Warning: be sure to use slashes whenever entering a date
into the Talking Checkbook. An example of this is "12/25/99" for
December 25, 1999 and hope you get good gifts.
Next you will be asked for the name of to whomever you are
writing the check. Here you can either type in an abbreviation
macro or the full name of who you are paying. If you have
defined "Joe's Grocery" as "JG" in a macro then typing "JG" here
would later render "Joe's Grocery" in the pay to field. If you
have not done a macro then typing the full name of whoever is
being paid is necessary, or you can enter up to an 8 character
name that you will later define as a macro when the macro search
fails to find it and asks if you want to create a macro. This
new function in version 6.02 and above will operate on any 8
character or less entry into the "Pay To" field. Of course if
you regularly pay someone with a less than 9 character name, then
don't worry since you'll be given the option to create a macro or
just go on.
Next you need to let the program know how much money the
check is for. If you are paying ten dollars and 5 cents, you
would enter "10.05" and press enter. Warning: this is a numeric
entry. Only numbers and decimal points will be accepted.
Writing in a dollar sign would crash the program. Yeah, we could
write computer code to screen out that error, but we have not
gotten to that yet.
Next there is what we call the personal comment line. This
is important since it provides you with the ability to categorize
your checks, withdraws, deposits, credit cards, savings, fixed
bills and whatever else in meaningful ways. Not to cosmic
proportions, but say you might want to have a personal comment of
"Utility:Gas" which later can be summed and displayed at main
menu option 8 where you can search by personal comment. If, for
example, you have a personal comment line of "Utility:Electric"
then you could use the main menu option S to display your total
utility spending and then do it again with the gas utility and
the electric utility and so forth. Nifty way to get good
comparative information. You can also use the personal comment
line for tax related information by establishing personal
comments that could be searched for particular information. If
you plan to use a macro or are going to create one with this
check, then just hit the enter key since the macros fill the
personal comments out automatically or if you are creating a
macro, then you will be asked later for what contents you want in
the personal comment field. The macro option discussed later can
really help here. There are times when you write checks to the
same person or place and use a macro to do it, but you want a
different personal comment line from time to time. Version 7.5
and above allows you to enter a different personal comment than
the macro or just use the default comment in the macro. Say,
don't we try to please everybody.
At this point in the progress of the Talking Checkbook
checks entry program, you will see the program searching the
macros database if one exists to see if you have used one. If
yes, then it will fill out the fields automatically that you
wanted. If it does not find a macro match, but notices that your
"Pay to" field has a string of characters of 8 or less, then it
assumes you might want to create a macro, and it will ask if you
do. If you do not, then it will simply go on and process the
information you have already given it. If you do, then it will
ask a couple of questions, update the macro database and fill out
your check automatically for the "Pay to" and "Personal Comments"
fields. Nifty, huh?
Next you will be presented with a Save or Reddo prompt.
This option will give you the opportunity to save the check entry
you have made or do it over if you made a mistake.
Next you will be given the option to print the check if you
have defined printer coordinates and have a check ready for
printing. If you have not done the initial printer setup
coordinates, then the Talking checkbook will let you know that
you have to do that first and return you to the place you were.
Next you are asked with a prompt if you want to do another
check. Answer "Y" for yes or "N" for no. Any other answer will
bring up the same question. Don't you wish some people were that
*3. Enter a withdrawal.
One thing we all do is take money out of the bank. Yeah, we
can't live on bread alone, but we do need the bread.
This menu option is pretty simple. Like the entering of a
check, you will be asked a series of questions like the date what
you want the comments field to be. If you answer "N" for "no,
I'll write my own" then you'll be asked for what contents you
want in the comment field. Otherwise, a predefined comment line
will be entered. Again, entering the amount of money in your
withdrawal is always just numbers and decimals.
The withdrawal option also searches for macros. This is to
speed those withdrawals like ATM visits. Define a macro like
"AT" and a personal comment line like "Oh no! More money gone.
" within the macro and watch your Talking Checkbook fill out the
whole thing for you!
*4. Through 7. More record entries.
These entries have to do with credit card, savings,fixed
bill and auto pay information. Check them out on your own, but
they are important if you are tracking credit cards, savings,
paying fixed bills and or doing pre-authorized payments. They
have explanations within them to help you.
*8. Macro creation.
The macro functions of the Talking Checkbook are critical
for lazy folks like me. If you have not used the "create one"
option in the checks entry operation then entering this option
will allow you to define abbreviations of longer names that you
use as a "pay to" field and to define what the comments are. If
you pay "Save the Children" for example every month, you could
use the fixed bill option or write a macro abbreviation of "STC"
and your checks would automatically have the name and personal
comment fields fully filled out by the macro when doing a check
for them. Just follow the instructions and you'll have macros in
Don't worry about upper and lower case stuff with the macros
since the program converts it all to upper case and even if you
enter mixed or lower case input when writing a check, the program
will figure that out and deal with it.
Also, the macro manager will check for duplicate macros,
list your macros on screen or in a text file and even do global
replacements of records within your checkbook database if you
Warning: When you use the global macro program, be sure
that you want the same name in the "Pay to" field with the same
comment line in every record. If you pay Sam Jones often for
differing things, then global replacement could screw up
different comment lines. On the other hand, if you pay Sam Jones
for only two or three different reasons, then write different
abbreviations like "SJ1" and "SJ2" and "SJ3" where the "pay to"
field will always be "Sam Jones" but the comment field will be
different corresponding to the macro name.
*0. Back to main menu.
Well can't get more definitive than 0 gets you back to the
main menu. You may want to use the F-4 key rather than 0 since
it always takes you back to the main menu.
* Continuing with main menu options.
*F. Check out your fixed bills.
This main menu option takes you right to the world of those bills
you pay every so often for a fixed amount. A mortgage is an
example of this. It helps speed the process of payments and
keeps track of those fixed bills.
*G. Generate a text file or print statement of records
between certain dates.
Well, this main menu option is real useful when someone says
they never got paid by you or whenever you need a print or text
file report of your checkbook records between certain dates.
*M. Make changes in Screen Colors.
Main menu option M is great for folks who have partial or
full sight. The color contrasts of text to background can be
critical in some cases and so the Talking Checkbook offers a way
to set the colors the way the user wants and to always use them
until a change is requested.
*P. Print checks.
Say, this could not be more self explaining huh? Sometimes
you will want to print a check after you have entered it and done
some other things. No problem, here's your menu option to do
*R. Get a balance report.
Well this main menu option is pretty straightforward. Yup,
just calculates your balance and reports it. In addition, you
can run a reconciliation with your bank statement balance from
*S. Sum and display records by category.
Here's a great main menu option to give you information you
can think about. It gets the amounts you have paid or deposited
or whatever by category and tells you the number of times you
have done it, and the total amount involved. Check out how much
you spent at the grocery store and then the bowling alley.
Interesting information can be found.
*T. Test your Checkbook knowledge!
Well, there are some folks out there who are fanatics about
knowing every little thing about their checkbook and amounts of
money. So main menu option T gives them a place to test their
knowledge. It's fun but the score is likely to be low for most
folks including myself who got a 20 percent out of 100 percent.
*U. Talking Checkbook Utilities Pack.
This main menu option is a good friend to have. It gives
you an array of choices to do important things like get a report
of your last two weeks of deposits and withdrawals, do math
calculations, see a summary listing of your records and more.
You'll love the latest addition to the utility pack in your
Version 7.2 of the Talking Checkbook that allows you to get the
top rankings of your spending! Check it out.
While all the other main menu options are pretty clear,
there is a need to do a bit of digging into the Utilities option.
They are designed to be of both informational and program
operation assistance. Once you type "U" at the main menu then
you will get the following utilities options:
1. If you want to know the number of your last check
written without having to go and pretend you want to write a
check, then here's the option you need.
2. The second utilities option let's you check out your
last two weeks of entries into the checkbook. Very good to see
if you've already entered something and forgot that you had.
3. Your personal comments line is very important if you
want to track certain kinds of spending. If you are like me,
then you've entered different personal comments for the same
folks you've paid. Bummer, yeah; but there is a way to check on
your personal comments to see if you've done it. Use menu option
3 for this task. You might consider using a macro for who you
pay and then use the global replacement feature in the macro menu
to have all personal comment lines replaced that are associated
with that person or place you are paying. Just be careful to
remember that global replacement may not be indicated when you
have a reason for differing personal comment lines with the same
people you are paying.
4. If you want info on how much you have paid to who, then
here's the place to find it out. It's surprising how much you
have paid some folks. Take a peek.
5. Here's a listing of all your checkbook transactions in
6. The talking checkbook calculator can be real useful if
you need to do some calculations before doing other business. In
fact the results of your calculations are saved so you can use
the results elsewhere in the program. Pretty nice. Much credit
is due Eric Bohlman for helping me to figure out how to keep the
calculator working if someone made an error and enter a letter
instead of a number.
7. This option of archiving older records is a great way to
store information for specific time periods. In fact, this
option can significantly speed up the operation of your Talking
Checkbook simply by reducing the amount of records with which it
has to cope. If you archive your checkbook once a year like
yours truly, then you can expect reasonably fast operation. If
you just let all your records from time and memorial stay in the
active database, then you will notice slower operations due to
the analysis the checkbook has to do on all those records.
The archival utility option will basically split off your
selected records between the dates you have given the program and
put them in a database that you name. If you want them back,
then you'll need to use this program to recombine them. See how
easy it is!
8. Don Barrett added this option to help folks who were
interested in tracking spending by personal comment line. It
actually takes your personal comment lines and arranges them to
be either printed on paper or to a text file. In any event, if
you want to use the information for tax purposes, then here's a
great way to keep track.
9. Here's the auto backup function. It's a powerful way to
take your databases when you exit the program and store an extra
copy of them to a floppy or somewhere else on your hard disk
other than the same place as the Talking Checkbook. This is to
prevent loss of data in the event of a hard disk crash or
whatever. You simply set a path to where you want the databases
sent and when you exit the Talking Checkbook, the files will be
copied there automatically. Once having set this option, it will
remain in place any time you use the checkbook. To get rid of
it, erase the file "autoback.mem" from your directory where you
run the Talking Checkbook. The only time this option is not
executed is when you exit the program using the "F10" blast back
to DOS key. This is because that feature only secures the
databases in your normal Talking Checkbook directory.
Utility option 0 runs a new feature that provides you with a
listing of the top however many people you have been paying. If
you select 10 for example, then you will have the top ten people
you have been paying listed and also sent to a text file called
"Tops.txt" for looking at later.
** Continuing with main menu options.
*V. Verify Transactions.
Well you get your bank statement and cancelled checks and
verify them against your Talking Checkbook data. This is an
option that is real important to keep up. If you do, then you
can always rest assured that a check actually was cashed. Real
helpful when someone thinks that they never got paid or whatever.
Please be advised that some folks have put in start-up deposits
and then not verified them since they figure that this is just a
start up thing and not a real cash deposit. Those folks later
were surprised to see their reconciliation figure twice as high
as the actual amount of money they have. The reason for this is
that folks needs to verify any originating deposits (which is
really the balance they had when starting the Checkbook) and so
the program counts the money twice. If you start up the Talking
Checkbook for the first time and put $X amount in the database as
a starting deposit to get your balance, then please verify it as
*Y. Your Security Packer.
This main menu option Y simply allows the user to have the
database checked and secured as often as they wish while the
program is running. It's a good idea to keep the database
constantly monitored to protect against any errors. Version 7.5
and above will allow you to set this option on permanently. If
you decide after setting it for permanent operation that you
really don't like having to wait for the databases to be secured
each time you enter the main menu, then erase the file "MASP.mem"
from your subdirectory and the function will be turned off until
you use it again in either single or permanent mode.
*F3 Credit Card spending checker.
Here's the function key selection for those of you who want
to know what the impact of a potential dreaded card expenditure
*F4 Return to main menu.
No matter where you are in the program, F4 gets you back to
the main checkbook menu.
*F5 Your biorhythmic report.
So you don't believe in biorhythm? Well, ok fine, but those
of you who do or just want some fun; here's your shot at it.
*F8 Backup databases and return to DOS.
Yup, this is the one that allows you to save your data from
the current session to a separate place, also to your current
subdirectory and exit to DOS!
*F10. Bail out of program.
The F10 function key #10 is a way to get back to DOS in a
hurry. It will work from anywhere in the Talking Checkbook and
will secure the databases and exit quickly to DOS. Don Barrett
is responsible for this nifty feature. Maybe he did not like my
pretty or witty prose.
X. Exit to DOS.
Main menu option X is to tell the Talking Checkbook that you
want to leave the program. Once pressed, it will take you to
some choices where you can either leave right away, go back to
the main menu or backup your databases to wherever you would like
additional copies sent. We strongly recommend using the backup
feature to avoid lots of tears if one day your data gets blown
away or corrupted by something. Not likely since I've not had
that problem with the checkbook in six years, but better safe
** Questions and Answers.
Q: How much does this program cost to register?
A. Thanks for asking, but it's free! Yup, Don and I wrote
it for our own use and if it works for you, then great! If not,
then perhaps other programs will. Of course, we nor anyone nor
anything else takes any responsibility for the consequences of
it's use. If you really feel compelled to pay something then
send a check to your favorite charity.
Q: I like the program, but it takes forever to get
information from it. Why and how can anything be done?
A. Run the checkbook in expert mode by typing " Checks /X "
and see how fast it is now! However, slower machines like the
old XT's can take a long time, but I have no problem with the
faster 386 and 486 class machines. Also you might consider how
many records you have in the checkbook? If you have not used the
archiving option in the utility pack (main menu "U") then you
probably have many records in your database and could easily
increase your speed by storing older entries to an archived
database and keeping only current ones active. This has an
enormous impact upon speed.
Q: I keep getting a "Not enough memory" message when I try
to run the program and go back to DOS. What can I do?
A. You should no longer have memory problems with the
newest versions of the Talking Checkbook written and compiled in
Clipper 5.2 code along with Blinker 3.0 additional compilation.
Otherwise, see if you have any other programs running at the same
time. Also load programs into upper memory if you can.
Normally, the Talking Checkbook should work unless a lot of stuff
is also taking up memory.
Q: Will the documentation ever cover all commands etc?
A. Someday. Right now the issue is my hands hurt from all
this programming and writing. If anyone who uses the checkbook
would like to write docs, then that would be wonderful. Also the
program was written to be pretty much self documenting.
Q: What is the ultimate meaning of life?
Q: What about multiple accounts?
A. Good question. I've looked at how to make the program
work with a number of checking accounts along with others, and it
would take a good deal of programming to make it work. Hope to
do it at some point, but adding the hot keys took 12 hours.
Q: Eh! I don't like those hot keys. I keep on pressing
enter or typing the wrong thing and have to trace back through
the menus. Can I do anything other than shoot the stupid
A. Yeah, Don Barrett has added the ability to enable or
disable hot keys and the only thing you will need to remember is
to erase the "Keys.mem" file associated with the prompt at the
start of the checkbook if you want to change to or from hot keys.
While I can certainly appreciate the initial frustration from
going to hot keys after always being able to confirm your choice
with the enter key, I think folks will find the hot key option
much more speedy and easy with a bit of practice. The expert
mode assumes hot keys are active in addition to turning off
speech during menu presentations. Of course, it's your money and
so do it the way that works for you!
Q: Sometimes when I've run the Talking Checkbook in the
past, I've gotten a "proc" something or another error and the
program crashed. Is there anything I can do to avoid this?
A. Sometimes folks will enter a letter when the program is
looking for a number like at the "enter a check" screen asking
for how much you are paying? The computer code cannot handle
this and drops dead. The same sort of thing can happen if you
not enter dates correctly. Entering December 5, 1995 as "120595"
without slashes would crash the program. Hence always enter
numbers for numbers using the decimal point if you need to and
always enter the date with the so called "MM/DD/YY" format as in
"12/05/95". Other times, it's all our fault! Yeah, bugs crop up
especially when the programming happens late at night and the
initial checks of the code show no errors. We've taken care with
version 7.5 to run as many options as we think should keep the
thing bug free. If you find one, then let us know, but we think
we've gotten all clear now. We are also working on converting
the input number questions to value changes which is computer
talk for error checking, but not here yet.
Q: I heard that some other checkbook programs will allow
the user to do electronic banking with a modem. Does the Talking
Checkbook do that?
A. We have communicated with an online check writing
service but their software is about as speech friendly as a rock.
We have suggested that they revisit their software from the point
of view of the Americans with Disabilities Act and so lets see
Q: Who is "Tempo" the talking cat?
A. A happy little Kitty that exists in the mind of Charlie
Crawford and jumped out into the code of the adventure game. Has
a nice ring to the name, huh?
Q: I got the checkbook from a friend and while the balance
option gives me the right balance; it always reports wrong when
first entering the checkbook?
A. Your friend may have erased all the checkbook databases
that relate to his or her checkbook, but forgot to erase all the
files with the extension of ".mem" to them. Simply erase those
files and you'll be all set. Type "del *.mem" at the DOS command
line while in the checks subdirectory and they will be gone. Of
course if you have set options like where to backup your files
and so forth, then you would have to reset the option from the
checkbook program since those ".mem" files would be also deleted.
Q: Where did you get all the ideas for these constant
A: We got friends. Marlena Veno, Scott Marshall, Don
Breda, Eric Bohlman and others have given us some great
suggestions along with a headache or two. Other users have left
word on Blink Link or called to suggest various options and we
appreciate the feedback.
Q: Will you ever be doing DOS environment variables?
A. Eh. I guess I need to hear what variables folks are
interested in activating. The ones I've seen except for "Set
clipper=e000" to force the checkbook to run in lower memory,
don't seem to be all that useful. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I
need therapy, but please someone out there - Help! Let me know
what variables you think would be helpful.
Q: Where can I get upgrades to the Talking Checkbook or
have questions answered?
A. Normally the Checkbook upgrades appear on various
bulletin boards like Blink Link, The NFB BBS, the ACB BBS, and
the MCB BBS always has them first. To reach the MCB BBS current
number, call area (617)-451-5327 dialing at up to 14.4 BPS using
8,N,1 parameters. If you don't have a modem, then send a
The Massachusetts Commission for the Blind
88 Kingston Street
Boston, MA 02111
Attention: Charles Crawford.
Include your return address and we will just copy it off to
you. Of course the Commission for the Blind nor the Commonwealth
of Massachusetts take no responsibility either for the program or
anything that happens as a result of it's use or non-use.
You can call me at area (617)-727-5550 Extension 4503 with
any questions you may have. I may have to call you back since
writing the Talking Checkbook, the calendar, The Answering
Service Assistant, or the address book or the other programs I
have written is not my job. Just for personal use or fun.
Q. What are all these ".mem" files?
A. The ".mem" files are memo files to tell the Talking
Checkbook if certain things should or should not be activated:
Keys.mem = Turn hot keys on.
Masp.mem = Set security packing on permanENtly.
English.mem = Turn numbers into words.
Spp.mem = Use alternate check printing coordinates.
Mauto.mem (or something like that) = Path to send auto back
MBC.mem = turn on balance info during check input.
Balance.mem = Balance information from last run.
There are other mem files, but I don't remember what they
are or do. The Important thing is that if you are not pleased
with certain operations that you have set up with these files
created, then erase the relevant file and set up the option again
or just don't deal with them. The necessary.mem files are
created automatically anyway.
A FEW FINAL WORDS FOR NOW.
Writing the code for the Talking Checkbook has been fun and
a challenge for Don Barrett and I. We have poured many hours,
days and weeks of time into developing it and it works well for
us. We sincerely hope that you can get as much out of it as we
have. Please contact me with any suggestions you might have or
questions and we'll do our best to help out.