Mincing Words With Hayden:Speller
by Brian Jay Wu
For the most part, I've been impressed with the products coming out of Hayden Software. Programs like Sargon, MusicWorks, and the DaVinci series of MacPaint drawings indicate that someone at Hayden certainly knows how to pick them. Those programs are well done and fun to use. That's why when I saw Hayden:Speller on the shelves of my local computer store, I bought it right away.
I'm a Unix hack, and so I've always been enamored of simple-but-effective programs. Hayden:Speller fits the bill, with some exceptions.
For a given text file, Speller presents the user with a list of words that seem misspelled. Besides plain text files, Speller is clever enough to read files generated by MacWrite, MacTerminal, and even Microsoft Word, though I couldn't verify that particular claim. However, I do know that version 1.0 of Hayden:Speller will not work properly with some of the latest beta-test versions of MacWrite.
The primary dictionary provided by Hayden claims to have over 20,000 entries, "covering 97% of the most frequently used words". After presenting any suspicious words not in the dictionary, Speller offers the user the chance to replace the word, or to accept the spelling as is, or to enter the spelling into a secondary user dictionary. That makes it possible to customize your own dictionary, adding words you use that aren't already saved there.
The program is relatively quick, due to the heavily compressed format of the primary dictionary. However, an experiment indicated a surprising number of missing words, which could be a major stumbling block to using the program.
When I first got Speller, I did what any Unix hack would do, and that was to compare a Unix dictionary against the Speller dictionary. Out of 7,451 words (obtained from a public domain Macintosh hangman game), Speller was able to recognize only 2,590 words, leaving an outrageous sum of 4,861 unrecognized words. That isn't very close to 97%. I can see why the Hayden dictionary doesn't contain words like "argillaceous" or "coccidiosis", since no one living even knows what those words mean, let alone uses them. But words like "academia", "wrathful", and "bordello"? Most people know those words, and some even use them occasionally.
While it is fairly easy to add one or two words to Speller's secondary dictionary, adding a large number of words en masse is much more difficult. Besides my Macintosh, I used two other computers and numerous uploads and downloads to get Speller to integrate my 4,861 new words. It took me about five straight hours, though that figure is somewhat exaggerated, considering I stumbled several times. There were numerous "minor" differences between the three computer systems that caused difficulties in transferring files, so one can assume that with proper equipment and knowledge of the procedure, the time can be cut down at least by half, and probably even more.
Speller allows two ways to enter a new word into the dictionary. For each separate new word that Speller finds, you can indicate that you wish to enter it (a slow process for 4,861 words), or you can make a separate list and run it through a neat conversion program supplied. The conversion program allows a simple list of words to be "transformed" into a dictionary, and vice-versa, but Speller's main dictionary cannot be decoded.
To supplement Hayden's main dictionary with the Unix dictionary, I first had to get Speller to identify the 2,590 words it already knew. But checking the total list of over 7,000 words I had was difficult, because Speller has a limit of only 1,500 different words per check! So I had to split my list into individual pieces, and then run them through Speller separately.
Speller can print the list of misspelled words, but cannot send the words to a disk file. That meant that if I wanted to have the computer automatically generate my custom secondary dictionary, I would have to capture the output going to the ImageWriter, which I did by connecting a second computer to the Macintosh printer port. That output was then uploaded to a third machine running Unix, which provided some convenient filtering tools for stripping out Imagewriter control codes, in order to convert the printer output into a simple ASCII list. I then downloaded the file back to the Mac, and finally saved it as a new secondary dictionary.
The whole process wasn't exactly smooth, and five hours long to boot, but the results were worth it. Hayden:Speller can now account for every word that my Unix speller can, and that's excellent. There is a drastic increase in search time as Speller runs through the secondary dictionary (Speller doesn't seem to perform any compression on the secondary dictionary, since the size of that file is about the same size as the original text list entered), but after all, the purpose of a speller is to catch errors. If it's slow, well, so is a pot of fresh coffee, right?
Most of my efforts could have been avoided if Speller would dump suspicious words directly to disk instead of to a printer, or if Speller could check more than 1,500 different words at once. In any case, my 48K custom dictionary (which can be easily converted back to a straight text file) is available to anyone who wants it. It's been placed in the public domain and is available on disk from the Ventura County Mac Club (805-499-2824).
I hope Hayden will take notice and install an expanded dictionary so users don't have to. I'd also like to see Hayden make some of the improvements that I've suggested here, since the whole point of providing a customizing option in a spelling checker is to allow users to easily create a personal dictionary.
Copy II Mac, Dollars And Sense, MacLion
I would like to comment on your review of Copy II Mac in Signal #20. I generally agreed with your analysis, but I found the MacTools module more useful than you did for copying. I have a tendency toward shuffling System files and Finders around, so I appreciated the piecemeal approach facilitated by MacTools.
I'll inspect a protected disk to locate the copy protection file, choose Unprotect from MacTool's menu, then copy the application and the protection file to a second disk. Once the desired items are on the new disk, the copy protection files need to be toggled back to Protect, or the applications won't work. That was how I set up Microsoft Word on each of my "data" disks, allowing me to have a nice 321K System file full of fonts on the system disk.
I noticed in Signal #21 that Monogram's Dollars and Sense is included in your Received, But Not Yet Reviewed column. I've had some experience with it that might be of interest. For the month of December and part of January, I spent untold hours entering income and expense data for the entire year of 1984. It was worth it. I think Dollars and Sense is a smooth and well-coordinated program, implemented for the most part to take advantage of the Mac environment. I was pleased at the number of keyboard commands available as an alternative to using the mouse, and the variety of searches available for locating a particular record.
There are two things about Dollars and Sense that gripe me, and they both have to do with the reports. The first is the requirement that reports be "sent" either to the screen or the printer. It seems more Mac-like to display what you want to see printed, then choose Print from the menu and let 'er rip. That's not a major problem, though. The problem that seriously affects the utility of the program for me is the total rigidity of the report formats. The reports are well-designed in general, and there is an admirably large selection of useful report and graph formats. But what I would like to see is the capability of creating a MacWrite document from reports (and perhaps a MacPaint document from the graphs) for the freedom to pare unneeded parts, change font style and size, and generally tailor things to my preferences. That would make it possible for Dollars and Sense to produce customized, professional-looking reports that could be incorporated into a larger document.
More recently, I've been putting in some time with the new MacLion database from Computer Software Design of Anaheim. So far, I've gotten through the 240 or so pages of the basic tutorial manual, but haven't yet delved into the other manual that deals with the built-in programming language called Leo. According to the vendor, MacLion will support a database up to almost two megabytes, soon to be upgraded to sixteen. I've heard it's appropriate to describe Leo as Forth-like, and that MacLion itself was written in Forth. In glancing over the Leo manual, I saw a section explaining reverse polish notation... I hope the vendor was right claiming that Leo is far easier than DBase II. Fortunately, there are appropriate Help screens for virtually every situation.
I thought the tutorial was well-written, with only a couple of difficult spots, but there are a number of discrepancies between it and the program, and within itself. It's kind of shaggy around the edges, like a lion, and I got the overall impression of a need for polishing. There are inconsistencies within the program in how similar things are done in different places. For example, scrolling is done by "/" commands from the keyboard in some places, and by scroll bars in others. Cursor movement and editing is by "<" and ">" keyboard commands in some places, and by Cut, Paste, and Copy from a menu in another, which was the only MacLion menu to have the familiar keyboard command alternatives. Like Dollars and Sense, reports are "sent" either to the screen or the printer. Desk accessories are not accessible. MacLion is generally quite speedy, but when compiling an input screen or report format, MacLion is writing its own Forth code, and it can be very slow.
I have had no previous experience with database programs, and I feel somewhat intimidated by the demands MacLion makes. I appreciate the apparent thoroughness of the tutorial, but wish there was more advice on the structuring of a multi-relation database, or a reference to a source of additional information on the subject. Perhaps unreasonably, the lack of knowledge about database structure has stymied me, for I've done nothing further with MacLion since finishing the tutorial. Maybe I'd better go through that tutorial once again as a refresher, and then dive into setting up a database...
--- Douglas G. Miles, Ellensburg, WA
Doesn't the Print Window menu option in Dollars and Sense provide the "view, then print" capability you're asking for?
We tend to automatically cringe whenever exposed to anything having to do with reverse polish notation, which is a convenience for machines, not humans. -Editors
Word Can Do Banners
Contrary to the claim in your review of Microsoft Word in Signal #22, I have enclosed a sample showing Word can do a banner headline across the tops of multiple columns on the same page. I can't take credit for it though, since I had to write Microsoft for the technique.
The banner is treated as a running head. First select the banner, then choose Format Running Head, answer the questions, and then set divisions (such as three columns per page) per your requirements. Be sure the top margin is large enough to meet the space requirements of the running head.
--- David A. Newton, Upland, CA
We've also heard about a few bugs, such as problems with decimal tabs, and the resetting of a file's creation date after a save. -Editors
Pixel Switch Available
I've heard that Capitol Computer in Sacramento is selling a switch that lets you change the pixel aspect ratio on an XL back and forth between Lisa and Macintosh settings. Know anything about it?
--- Ernie Bullock, Davis, CA
The switch was invented by a former Capitol Computer employee who is now with Apple tech support. He sold the product rights to LisaVision of Redwood City, California, and that company has shipped about a hundred of the devices so far. The $79 circuit board and switch clip onto Lisa's video board and are intended for installation by dealers, but you can order it yourself by calling 800-538-8157 (use 800-672-3470 in California), extension 816. -Editors
Zapping Is Sometimes Preferred
I largely agree with your assessment of Copy II Mac in Signal #20. A similar product is Mac Zap, from Micro Analyst in Austin. Both products will copy disks and to some degree examine and edit disks, but the two are aimed at different audiences.
Mac Zap is aimed at a more technical user. The disk copy utilities seem almost incidental in Mac Zap, with RAM and disk block examination and editing being the major functions.
The Mac Zap manual includes more information on disk structure and content than I have seen anywhere else except Inside Macintosh. I would rate their 51-page manual in the good to very good category.
Mac Zap displays all 512 bytes when examining a disk block. MacTools only shows 256, though in an easier to read, larger font. Mac Zap also keeps the twelve bytes of associated disk block tag data just a click away.
All Mac Zap read and write operations include full error codes and even hints at what to do for some errors. Combined with the documentation, the user at least has a chance to correct the problem. For example, while Mac Zap won't normally copy itself, the information provided does allow one to figure out how to do it. Copy II Mac 1.02 will not produce a runable copy of Mac Zap using either the sector or bit copy modes. Mac Zap encodes a unique serial number, as well as some other gems, that apparently foil Copy II Mac.
Besides reading, editing, and writing of disk blocks and RAM, Mac Zap supports searches of strings up to 2,048 bytes long on disk or in memory. Search results are returned as longwords containing a block number and relative location for disks, or as longword addresses for RAM. Disk comparisons require two drives. Mac Zap also includes a useful stand alone 512K disk copy utility very much like the standard 128K disk copier.
The usual volume and file information is available as in MacTools, but Mac Zap goes a step further and also displays a map of 400 allocation blocks.
Locked, invisible, bundle, system and unprotected bits are easily toggled. You have to look for and edit other bits the hard way.
Although the documentation lacks an explanation about it, you can set abnormal address and data markers, like those used in Apple's protection schemes.
A file which has been deleted after being trashed can still be recovered if no subsequent data has been written over the relevant blocks. Mac Zap's file recovery utility will show any missing resource or data blocks and give the user the option to abort a recovery at the proper points.
Copy II Mac and MacTools are easier to use than Mac Zap, but less flexible and less powerful. In Mac Zap, track access, automatic setting of search limit parameters, and a better co-ordination of a file's resource and data forks could all use a little work.
For a quick copy, I'd probably use Copy II Mac, but Mac Zap wins hands down for more serious use. I own and use both of them.
Some companies go to great lengths for copy protection schemes. I don't like obtrusive, hassle-causing copy protection, and I hesitate buying copy protected software. The first crashed disk convinces even the unbelievers. Backups are vital for any software.
Why don't more companies encode a serial number with no copy protection? The company then does have a way to determine the source of illegal copying, but doesn't hassle the registered owner.
--- Mike Johnson, Trenton, OH
Serialization makes mass production inconvenient, since each copy must be specially marked. It's also rather passive, doing nothing to actually make copying physically difficult. -Editors
I'm enclosing a review copy of DiskInfo, my public domain desk accessory. While a lot of people like it (because it shows how much space and what files are on your disks, lets you delete files, and access scrapbooks on multiple disks), a lot of other people either don't like it or are too dishonest or lazy to send in their shareware fee. (At the MacWorld Expo, a speaker praised DiskInfo to a seminar crowd. He hasn't yet sent in any money...) Since we're a design house, not a marketing company, we'd prefer people obtain DiskInfo from their user group or from Compuserve. If they can't, then they can send $10, a disk, and a 39¢ SASE to Maitreya Design, Box 1480, Goleta, CA 93116.
Sorry I missed the issue where you thought the phone book accessory was in the public domain. I think part of the problem is that there are fonts and accessories floating around that seem to be public domain but aren't. It's sometimes hard to indicate authorship of an accessory without being annoying. I really would prefer not to have to put a "guilt message" in the middle of DiskInfo. The initial release had it buried in the menu, where nobody saw it because they didn't know there was a menu, but I think that's better than Don Brown's Desk Accessory Mover, which is obnoxious by demanding I wait while it draws a screen.
Incidentally, shareware doesn't seem to be a worthwhile way to go on the Mac. I really like the concept, since the user can try before buying, it's cheap, gets to market quickly (it took me eight days from back of envelope to released product), and the developer doesn't have to worry about marketing. But I estimate that fewer than 1% of the copies of DiskInfo have been paid for. If it were 10%, I'm sure I'd still be complaining, but at least I wouldn't be broke.
--- David Dunham, Goleta, CA
Font Editor Instructions Missing
As you suggested in your reply to a letter in Signal #20, I got a copy of the font editor from a user group. Unfortunately, it didn't come with directions, and all that I've done with it so far is to crash my poor Mac. Font editing is trickier than I thought.
--- Marge Nasta, Pittsburgh, PA
Finding a crash-proof font editor is the tricky part. A number of user group newsletters have published instructions for using Apple's notoriously buggy font editor. One of the most complete font editor tutorials we've seen was written by Fred Huxham for the Berkeley Macintosh Users Group Spring 1985 Newsletter (send $15 to 1442A Walnut St. #153, Berkeley, CA 94709, to join and receive a copy of that 118 page issue). Font editing can also be accomplished with the Resource Editor that has been shipped with recent versions of Apple's Software Supplement for developers. -Editors
MusicWorks Problems And Expensive Software
I want to compliment Ned Raub for his comments about MusicWorks in Signal #22. I've had similar experiences with that software and went so far as to write the publisher about them. To date, I have received no reply. On the other hand, I wrote the makers of MusicType at the same time. I received a detailed answer, wrote the company another letter, and ordered and received their product, all while waiting for word about MusicWorks.
As mentioned in the original Signal #20 review, the printing produced by MusicWorks does not follow standard musical notation conventions very closely. Here are a few more problems you haven't already described:
* The bass and treble clefs are too close together.
* An atypical blank space follows the key signature if it doesn't contain the maximum number of sharps or flats. Very few pieces actually use the maximum.
* A bar line always follows the meter sign. In real music, a bar line never follows the meter sign.
* The meter sign (with its trailing bar line) is displayed at the beginning of each new line of music. That isn't done in real music.
* Notes in one part of the printout overstrike notes and rests in another part. Note stems, flags, and rests can become tangled in an unreadable mess. Note beaming isn't provided, so the logic of the rhythmic organization is often concealed. If many rests are present, the rhythm patterns have a strange look about them. The result can be a pseudo-musical score, unreadable by even the most experienced musician.
* If chords are involved, it is better to write out the music before entering it into MusicWorks. Since the printout is useless, the only reason for entering it on a Mac instead of playing it on a piano is to hear what the kazoo menu option sounds like. (It doesn't sound like a kazoo.)
As a music "processor", MusicWorks is a toy, a curiosity which is generating a lot of uploads to Compuserve. It is riddled with misconceptions about music scoring. Since I own a bonafide copy, I asked the publisher for udpates in the event the company improves the score printing routines. In the meantime, I am using MusicWorks as an example of what-not-to-do in music graphics displays at the facility where I teach graduate students specialized programming techniques in music.
I am also an author, and have been working on a particular book for ten years. The book represents a lifetime of experience on the subject of identifying and applying musical thought processes. The book is full of ideas for a reader to consider. Is it just a "frozen display of data", as you called books in your response to Ned Raub? Not on your life. If the book gets published (in a much more competitive field than commercial software), it might bring $25 retail. There isn't a piece of software available that can do what this book does. It contains the basis for an effective expert system in music making. It is used to program humans to think, not machines. In fact, I am writing software to support some of its applications. Of the book's several hundred applications, software is available on the market to support perhaps a dozen of them, at $30 to $175 per disk with usually minimal documentation.
Ned Raub is dead right. Software prices are too high relative to content, the effort that goes into its creation, and the impact of the product on the user.
--- Kenneth R. Rumery, Flagstaff, AZ
Just as apples shouldn't be priced in consideration of oranges, the same goes for software and books. We don't think you should try to make the pricing policies of one work for the other. Maybe software prices are high relative to content and effort, but that's not how software is priced. Software is priced according to what the market and the competition will bear. -Editors
Subscriber Interests And Activities
Douglas G. Miles, Ellensburg, WA: Other than for delightedly writing lots of letters and essays, my Mac is helping me with apartment house operations. I have composed a rental agreement that not only looks professional, but is customized to my operation. Our rules lists and other communications with the tenants, such as memos and rent-raises, are enhanced by the Mac. I have been using Dollars and Sense and Multiplan to keep track of financial matters.
John Grisham, Memphis, TN: I own a small photography studio and my Mac has come in very handy in doing my bookkeeping, customer lists and inventory.
Wayne E. Thompson Sr., Raleigh, NC: I use my Mac in my real estate business for word processing and data storage.
Noel McRae, Kelso, WA: I chose the Mac over other computers specifically to work on an English-Greek New Testament. I am using Philip Payne's great MacGreek font and am having a ball, though it is tedious work. My other interest is to eventually develop a search and rescue simulation program which could be both entertaining and educational.
Helix Arrives At Signal
Odesta Corporation (3186 Doolittle Dr., Northbrook, IL 60062, 800-323-5423) has been advertising its Helix database management software for about a year before finally starting shipments a few months ago. We received a copy a few days before we went to press this month, giving us just enough time to do some preliminary playing with the product. What follows is a compilation of some of our initial impressions.
We found that the Helix program, which needs 512K of memory to execute, is a 258K file that gobbles up most of the space on a bootable disk. You really need an extra floppy drive or a hard disk if you expect to get any work done. You can't even use the Guided Tour disk that's supplied (with an audio cassette) unless you have an external floppy. We tried running the Tour on an XL after following the hard disk install instructions described in the user's guide supplement, but the Tour would only crash.
We then skipped the Tour and tried the excellent sample databases provided on the "resource/work" disk. The examples are well done and show off a lot of Helix features, but they're designed for inspired users willing to do a lot of exploring and experimenting. The documentation really needs at least one step-by-step example that creates an application from scratch. We noticed a few minor icon name discrepancies between the demo files and the documentation, but nothing that was too confusing.
We like the online help displays, especially the way they can be customized. Helix should be a great system for developers who want to create custom, vertical application packages. However, some features seemed too flexible, and are going to prevent the creation of locked, end-user-proof software. For example, the specifications that define a Selection window for entering or displaying data can be called up and changed at any time. That's great during development, but there should be a way to lock it and prevent changes after the application has been debugged.
Helix does an automatic save every time the system is idle for about 30 seconds, but we found that feature distracting and annoying and wish there was an option to disable it.
The program is so visually rich with icons and windows that it's initially very confusing, but we were surprised at how quickly we began to understand the system. Still, it's definitely not software than can be easily picked up by a casual user. While simple in concept, Helix is not straightforward.
We noticed that it would be a lot easier to explore Helix, especially the sample databases, if its scroll bars would disable from grey to white (like the Finder), whenever there are no more icons to scroll into view. Exploring would also be easier if the packaging were a little simpler. Odesta succeeds in promoting a first-class image with their "imitation suede, silver-stamped, edge-stitched, inner-lined, chrome-cornered, squeeze-operated, 18-ring binder" for storing the manual, three disks, cassette tape, errata sheets and note pad, but the binder is really kind of awkward to use. We recommend taking the manual out, fitting it with a plastic comb binding, and using it separately.
We also noticed that, although the documentation uses green and black text, all the labeled illustrations of screen displays are in black, so the explanatory labels and arrows don't stand out from the illustrations.
Helix appears so versatile, that it's going to take quite a bit of study to determine whether this $395 package should be preferred over the competition. In the meantime, we're being impressed by its flexibility, its apparently adequate speed, its novel icon-based approach to defining databases, and the fact that it hasn't crashed on us.
Received, But Not Yet Reviewed
Mighty Mac, a personal information manager and desk organizer for the Macintosh. $99, Advanced Logic Systems Inc., 1195 E. Arques Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94086, (408) 730-0307.
UCSD Pascal, a compiler, editor, debugger and utilities for the Macintosh. $295, SofTech Microsystems Inc., 16875 W. Bernardo Dr., San Diego, CA 92127, (619) 451-1230.
Mac Zap, utilities for manipulating Macintosh memory and disks. $60, Micro Analyst Inc., Box 15003, Austin, TX 78761, (512) 926-4527.
Becoming a MacArtist, a book by Vahé Guzelimian. $17.95, ISBN 0-942386-80-9, Compute! Publications Inc., 324 W. Wendover Ave. #200, Greensboro, NC 27408, (919) 275-9809.
Baron, a real estate simulation, Millionaire, a stock market simulation, and Tycoon, a commodity market simulation: three financial education games for the Macintosh. $59 each, Blue Chip Software Inc., 6740 Eton Ave., Canoga Park, CA 91303, (818) 346-0730.
Mac-Notes, a newsletter for developers. $60/six issues/year, Aegis Development Inc., 2210 Wilshire Blvd. #277, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (213) 306-0735.
Consultant (pre-release version 1.016), Mac software to help "knowledge workers" use their whole brain to think and work more productively. $200, Organization Development Software Inc., 1605 S. Garden St., Palatine, IL 60067, (312) 397-1684.
QuickSet, a calendar/appointment book, note filer, financial and statistical calculator, desk directory/phone book and file encryptor for the Macintosh. EnterSet Inc., 410 Townsend St. #408, San Francisco, CA 94107, (415) 543-7644.
The Macintosh Buyer's Guide (Spring 1985), a quarterly directory of available products. $5 ($10/year), Redgate Publishing Co., 3381 Ocean Dr., Vero Beach, FL 32963, (305) 231-6904.
P/C Privacy: Personal-Confidential, a tool for encrypting and decrypting Macintosh files. $95, MCTel, 3 Bala Plaza E. #505, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004, (215) 668-0983.
Professional Composer, a music editor and player for the Macintosh. $495, Mark of the Unicorn Inc., 222 3rd St., Cambridge, MA 02142, (617) 576-2760.
TurboCharger, memory cache software for speeding up the 512K Macintosh. $95, Nevins Microsystems Inc., 210 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010, (212) 563-1910.
Macintosh Public Domain Software, a catalog of available disks. $1.95, The Public Domain Exchange, 673 Hermitage Pl., San Jose, CA 95134, (408) 942-0309.