RALPH THE READER
Copyright (c) 1988 1989 1990
by Kansys, Inc.
1016 Ohio Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Telephone: (913) 843-0351
RALPH THE READER is a shareware program, written and
distributed by Kansys, Inc. If RALPH is valuable to you, and you
find yourself using it regularly, please honor the shareware
concept by paying for the program. The cost is only $10.00. You
can find information on making this payment at the end of this
We hope that you enjoy RALPH THE READER as much as we do.
Thanks for taking the time to download the program and trying it
out. Please feel free to share it with others.
Vice-President of Sales and Marketing
RALPH THE READER is what is generally called a "text file
reading program." However, there is one twist. In addition to
reading standard ASCII text files, RALPH will also directly read
WordPerfect Version 4.2 and 5.0 and Wordstar Professional
Versions 4.0 and 5.x files. While not all attributes such as
boldfacing and underlining will be shown, RALPH will still
display each file type on-screen, allowing you to read, search
and/or jump around the file at will.
RALPH THE READER will allow you to do the following things:
display an ASCII text file, WordPerfect or Wordstar file to your
computer's monitor and/or speech synthesizer a screen at a time,
jump to the beginning or end of any file immediately,
jump to any line number within a file,
read in a continuous or "nonstop" mode,
search forward or backward in a file for any text string,
search forward or backward for the beginning of a paragraph, and
search forward or backward for control characters.
While RALPH THE READER is very easy to use and little
explanation is needed, the following brief documentation should
explain all features.
STARTING THE PROGRAM
To start RALPH THE READER simply type ralph from the DOS
prompt with the program ralph.exe located on a disk in your
default drive and sub-directory. However, if RALPH is located on
a drive or sub-directory on your computer's path, it is not
necessary to make that drive and/or sub-directory your default.
As an added time saver, it is also possible to load the file to
be read at the same time you execute RALPH. To do so type ralph
a space and the filename of the file to be read. It is
permissible to use the MS-DOS wildcards, question (?) and star
(*) when specifying files. Thus it is possible to read multiple
files one after the other or to read a file for which you do not
know the entire name or spelling. You can also supply RALPH with
full drive and/or path specifications for the data file to be
read. For example, if RALPH THE READER is in your default drive
or path, you could read this file located in your "docs" sub-
directory by typing the following line and a carriage return,
from the DOS Prompt. The quotation marks, which are included for
clarity, should not be typed. "ralph c:\docs\ralph.doc." The
command "RALPH *.DOC" would allow you to read all the files
ending with the .doc extension located in the sub-directory into
which you are presently logged. If RALPH THE READER cannot find
the file you specify, it will notify you and prompt for another
RALPH THE READER will use all available computer memory to
hold the file currently being read. Consequently, it is possible
to read very large files with RALPH. The percentage of memory
being used is displayed on the top line of the "Control Panel."
If the file is larger than available memory, RALPH will load as
much as possible and tell you that 100 percent has been used.
You may wish to rename RALPH to something shorter and/or
easier to type. This could be "RTR" for RALPH THE READER or
anything you choose. Consult your DOS manual for instructions on
renaming a file. Just be sure that your new name is followed by
a period (.) and the three letter extension (exe).
MOVEMENT WITHIN A FILE
Once a file has been loaded, RALPH THE READER will
automatically display the first 22 lines of that file. To see
the next 22 lines, just press the PAGEDOWN key. You can page
through the file by repeatedly pressing the PAGEDOWN key.
Conversely, to display the previous 22 lines, just press the
PAGEUP key. The use of these two keys will allow you to page
forward or backward through any file.
In addition, there are ways to make larger moves. A press
of the HOME key will take you to the top of the file and a press
of the END key will take you to the bottom of the file
immediately. You can jump to any line within a file by pressing
the (j) key and typing the line number desired followed by a
carriage return. This type of move is also immediate in its
execution. It is also possible to jump forward or backward to
the beginning of a paragraph with the "J" command. To jump
forward, enter "JF" and to jump backward, enter "JB." For these
commands to work properly the text must be single spaced and
paragraphs must be separated by a blank line. Finally, a press
of the question mark will always show you a list of available
commands once a file has been loaded.
Starting with Version 2.0, RALPH THE READER supports a
continuous or "nonstop reading" mode. This mode is invoked with
a press of the letter "n" once a file has been loaded. RALPH
will then send your speech synthesizer a continuous stream of
data. This command will make it easy for you to sit back and
read a file without having to press the pagedown key.
For the "n" command to work properly, your screen review
package must support some kind of buffered reading mode or most
of the data will be lost. Further, once you have initiated
nonstop reading, there is no way to stop it. The only thing you
can do is to kill speech and wait for the data to silently pass
It is possible to search for any string of characters within
a file, once it is loaded into RALPH THE READER. To search
forward from your present location, press "f." To search
backward from your present location, press the "b" key. You will
then be prompted for the search string. Enter the search string
and press return. The search process is not case sensitive so
proper capitalization is not important. The search string can be
up to 72 characters long and any control characters passed
through by DOS can be included. However, it is not possible to
include a carriage return in the search string as this terminates
the string entry and initiates the search. Consequently, the
search string must be on one line. The search string can be
edited with the backspace key. It is also possible to include
the extended ASCII or graphics characters in a search string.
Consult your DOS manual for details on typing these characters
from your keyboard.
If the search is unsuccessful, you will be told, "not
found." You will then be given the -> RALPH prompt, which means
that he is waiting for any valid command.
It is also possible to repeat a search without re-entering
the string. Just press "f" or "b" depending on whether you want
to search forward or backward. Then hit the carriage return key
to repeat the search for the previously entered string. Once a
string is entered, you can search forward or backward for it at
EXITING THE PROGRAM
It is possible to terminate the reading of a file at any
time by pressing the escape key, unless you are in the nonstop
reading mode. In that case, you will have to wait for RALPH to
reach the end of the file. Once reading has been terminated with
the "Escape" key, you have two options: exiting the program
completely or reading another file. To exit, press the return
key and then "y" to exit to DOS. To read another file, just type
in its name followed by a return. If you previously used wild
card characters which selected more than one file, you will
automatically be presented with the second and any subsequent
THE CONTROL PANEL
RALPH THE READER divides the screen into two sections. The
top three lines are the control panel and the bottom 22 lines are
used for the display of text. The first line will give you
information on the file that RALPH is reading including: file
type and name, number of lines and percentage of computer memory
used. The second line contains the RALPH prompt, "->" as well as
search strings as they are being entered. The third line of the
panel normally tells you the line number of the first line being
displayed. It will also display various prompts throughout the
RALPH THE READER is a MS-DOS program written in C.
Consequently, it should run on any IBM or compatible computer
using DOS 2.x or 3.x. Version 1.5 of RALPH THE READER fixed some
display anomalies which prevented the program from running on
certain computers, namely Toshiba laptops. The program should
now run on any IBM or compatible computer. As mentioned earlier,
Version 2.0 of RALPH added a continuous reading mode, searches by
paragraph and support for WordPerfect 5.0 and WordStar 5.0 and
5.5 files. Version 2.1 fixes a few display bugs that cropped up,
however, the operation of the program is still the same. If you
use Articvision or Artic Businessvision as your screen reading
software, you will need to turn off Speech Autoclear when using
RALPH. If you don't, RALPH will not be able to read you all of
each screen as Artic's slow response time in autoclearing speech
will wipe out part of each screen after RALPH updates it.
An important consideration in the design and implementation
of RALPH THE READER was to come up with a program that could be
used equally well by sighted computer users as well as blind
persons using screen review programs and speech synthesizers.
RALPH strives to combine the advantages of both screen and line
Many modern programs write directly to your computer's video
output, bypassing the BIOS. This makes updating the screen very
fast, however, as those of you who use screen review software and
speech synthesizers know, it also makes their use by blind
persons somewhat more problematic. For this reason, RALPH THE
READER uses all normal DOS function calls. Further, the control
panel is designed to display its information in a consistent
manner, making the program easy to use for blind persons.
Kansys, Inc. is currently working on a line of other
software products employing this design philosophy. We would
appreciate your feedback on the success of this approach. The
next section will provide you with information on how to contact
RALPH AS SHAREWARE
In order to get RALPH THE READER to the maximum number of
people who can benefit from it, and to hold the cost down, we
have decided to distribute it as shareware. This also means that
you can try out the program before you pay for it and if you
don't like it, you don't have to pay for it. However, if you do
like and/or use the program, please pay for it. We also
encourage you to share copies of RALPH with your friends and to
upload it to bulletinboards.
The cost of RALPH THE READER is $10.00, (ten dollars.) This
is a small cost to pay for a program that you will probably use
every day. While RALPH looks very simple to the end user,
believe us when we tell you that many hours of coding and testing
have gone into its design, implementation and distribution. In
order for us to continue to produce programs for the blind and
general markets, we need to receive some return for our efforts.
Please make all checks payable to Kansys, Inc., and send
1016 Ohio Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Telephone: (913) 843-0351
Please write or call us if you have any problems, questions,
feedback or other needs. You can also contact us via electronic
mail. The addresses include:
OTHER KANSYS, INC. PRODUCTS
In addition to RALPH THE READER, Kansys, Inc. also writes
and sells other software products. These include:
PROVOX, a screen review program--$295.00
NAMES, a program for managing lists of names and addresses--
TURBO BRAILLE, a program for translating and formatting Grade II
braille from ASCII, WordPerfect or Wordstar files--$249.00.
WATCHDOG, a shareware utility for audibly monitoring output to
your computer's screen--$10.00.
In addition to these programs, we also sell speech
synthesizers, produce custom braille materials and provide a
variety of consulting services in the computer field. For more
information, please contact us. We hope that you find RALPH THE
READER to be as enjoyable and useful as we do!