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The name is somewhat misleading, but during a conversation about Braille note takers, Nocturnus told me that he actually thought their advantage over netbooks was that he felt he could probably type faster using grade 2 braille instead of a querty keyboard on a netbook.  The conversation quickly shifted and I put together a small program to simulate a brailler.  You use keys S, D, F, J, K, L to serve as the 6 keys on a brailler.  Press Shift as backspace, Spacebar as space, Enter to save the line, Z to mute or unmute key announcements, and C to hear the current sentence being read.

I'm posting this here just to get some people's feedback on the idea.  For the moment it works with grade 1 braille, and grade 2 braille but for the numbers only.  Each time you press enter, the stuff you just finished typing is stored on the clipboard, so you can use paste to put it somewhere else as actual text.  In addition to the clipboard, a file called output.txt stores everything you've written since starting up the program.  When you start up the program again though, it clears that file.

Virtual Brailler
www.kaldobsky.com/audiogames/virtualbrailler.zip

- Aprone
Please try out my games and programs:
Aprone's software

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2

Just in case anyone wonders, page up and page down control your sapi rate, tab to switch to screenreader mode stuff that currently works with NVDA.  enjoy!

I do not know what my future holds, but I do know who holds my future.

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Hello,

Nicely done. However, I have some problems:

When I press some certain keys together in order to achieve a Braille character to be written down, nothing happens. Could you, if possible, add a mode that the users can input the characters by telling it to the computer part by part? I know that this will complicate the job for who will intend to use the simulator in mentioned mode; but personally, I cannot think another way to overcome this ‘little’ issue.

Thank you so very much for being productive for the blind community!

Standing by the window, eyes upon the moon,
Hoping that the memory will leave her spirit soon.

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Spendid, which keys were you pressing together?  I'd like to try to recreate the issue on my own computer to, hopefully, help me find out why it didn't work.

- Aprone
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5

H (1-2-5) (D-F-K), R (1-2-3-5) (S-D-F-K), etc.

Standing by the window, eyes upon the moon,
Hoping that the memory will leave her spirit soon.

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6

Hello,

How stupid I am! wink

I found what causes the issue: a wireless keyboard. I have successfully written what I wanted with my laptop's native keyboard. Usually I use  my laptop without touching it, and probably the batteries of my keyboard are getting low. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Standing by the window, eyes upon the moon,
Hoping that the memory will leave her spirit soon.

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Hmm, it works on mine but I'll look in to the issue.  You can take a little extra time on a letter, if you wish, just as long as you don't release any of the keys until you are finished.  For example, you could press and hold D, then press and hold F, and finally K, then release all 3 together and it should print H.

As far as the community, you are very welcome sir.  In one aspect, since I'm not blind I can't be considered a part of the "blind community", but in all other ways I do consider myself a member.  I suppose that just shows there are different meanings to the phrase "being in the community".  I'd like to think I'm working to help "us", as a community, rather than me helping "you" as some community separate from myself.  I'll continue to do all I can, you can count on that!  big_smile

Lol Splendid, I just saw your keyboard post.  Not a problem, and I'm thinking you need to get some new batteries hahaha.

- Aprone
Please try out my games and programs:
Aprone's software

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8

hey there!
pretty nice job, but there is one thing.
When writing normal grade 1 and 2 braille, we use a number sign, 1236 followed by the letters a b c d e f g h i j representing 1234567890. at the moment to get numbers, we are using  lower numbers, numbers which would be used at the bottom of a fraction. i hope this helps!

these words i tell. speak no lies. they speak truths of a fantastical nature

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My knowledge of braille is pretty much nothing, so I'll pass this on to Nocturnus, lol.  The number sign, followed by a through j, should be working though.  At least it, was, working earlier, lol.  I'm in the process of adding grade 2 braille punctuation and word abbreviations.  Most seem to be working well, but the program version 0.3b only has words which begin with A.

ADDED:

I discovered something that could present itself as a problem to some people.  All keyboard have some limit to the number of keys which can be pressed at the same time, but what I didn't know was, depending on the manufacturer of your computer, different 3 key combinations will lock up the board in the same way!  For example, I found that on one of my computers, I cannot create the # symbol because pressing 3 of those 4 keys just happens to be the lock out combination for its keyboard.  To solve this problem, the keys W, E, R, U, I, and O will do exactly the same thing as the normal keys.  If you find that your particular keyboard doesn't respond for some of the brailler combinations, you can just move up to the alternate keys and it will work fine.  For most users, these alternate keys won't ever need to be used though.

- Aprone
Please try out my games and programs:
Aprone's software

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10

The concepts that I gave Aprone to work with assume that you've used a braille notetaker.  When one uses a braille notetaker, grade one is so diferent from grade two, even when using numbers.  IN grade one, the numbers are dropped a-j with no number sign.  In grade 2, the number sign comes into play.  In grade one, a th sign becomes a question, etc.

I don't think there's any way to truly work around the fact that everyone seems to have been tought braille differently, if only slightly.  I've seen some people write the word learn with different combinations, such as "l followed by an EA sign, rn," and some will use "l e followed by an ar sign, then the letter n."  If you haven't used a braille notetaker, you might have some issues with this configuration, and I do seriously hope that someone comes up with a better one, because I've pumped myself out of ideas!  :d

I do not know what my future holds, but I do know who holds my future.

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11 (edited by CAE_Jones 2011-06-29 08:37:32)

I think I've encountered a program that does this before. I don't remember where, though... I think it had something to do with Duxbury or something...

I've always thought that grade2 braille could easily defeat text messages. Less keys _and_ less spelling/grammar insanity? Yes please!

... Now that I think of it, I tried to start on a program like this a while ago, but just kinda forgot about it.

Key combinations seems like a dangerous issue. I've had games I couldn't really play correctly because my keyboard wouldn't let me press the keys correctly.
Braille Notetakers allow you to release the keys and keep entering the same character, so long as at least one key is held.
The ones I've encounter also have a one-handed mode, though I could never get the hang of using it (Half the time I could type with one hand in normal mode anyway).

Anyway, I'm gonna give this a try. Beats being unable to transfer data from my BNS. smile

[edit]
Hmm. I wound up trying to type random stuff in grade two just to see how it would turn out. Naturalloy it didn't work, but it reminded me that I did get some copies of files off of my BNS when we sent it in for repairs, and the files wind up in plain text and it's up to the device to interpret it as braille. So we get things like...
,i f9,y got 6! fi<t sc5e td6 ,x didn't turn | z gd z ,i expect$1 b x 0 / fun6

... I've been known to randomly type posts like that in other places just to see if anyone can make sense of them. ^_^
[/edit]

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12

This sounds like something werth playing with. Anyway, most notetakers I have dealt with assumed that if you didn't want grade 2 braille, you wanted computer braille. Grade 1 braille is basicly grade 2 braille without all the contractions.

All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.
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Notetakers I've worked with have always assumed computer braille if you didn't specify grade2.
The only ascii characters that won't fit into six bits are [ a-t ] (uppercase dot4), ^ (uppercase 4-5), \ (uppercase 1-2-5-6), and brackets [] (Which are uppercase versions of braces {} ). Since I usually worked with grade2 braille, it took me a while to realize what the point in the BNS's uppercase function was.
I think the _ is actually capitalized as well, but I have no idea why, since it's basically an uppercase _.

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14

Interesting but since I'm still learning braille if I try this I'll avoid the grade 2 stuff, this will probably be using US braille and I'm certain that British grade 2 is different. I know it seems odd but that's the way the world works sadly.

cx2
-----
To live by honour and to honour life, these are our greatest strengths and our best hopes.

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Oh, lol, I just realized I never told anyone that you press 1 or 2 to switch between grade 1 and grade 2 braille.  Whoops, haha.

Yeah CAE_Jones, I'm hoping the key combinations issue can be solved by offering up the alternative keys.  From what I understand, almost all keyboards do allow for 6 keys to be pressed at the same time, but because of the way different companies wire them, there is always some 3 key combination that will cause the keyboard to lock as if you had tried to press more than 6.  The website I was reading about this on, said the specific 3 keys depends completely upon the manufacturer so there is little, to no, way to know what the 3 keys are until you find them yourself.

Nocturnus, hiw fiance, and myself, were tossing around ideas about how this could be used to be most convenient.  I think the most interesting idea, so far, is to see if this could be tied in to an instant messenger program so that someone could chat using braille.  Obviously it comes out as traditional text on the receiver's end, so no one would even know you were using braille instead of a qwerty keyboard.  Since pressing enter does copy the sentence into the clipboard, you are currently able to write things and paste them into a messenger, but it seems like that extra step would get annoying.

Here I am, once again, not knowing what's going on haha.  What's computer braille?  and, is that something this program should have also?

- Aprone
Please try out my games and programs:
Aprone's software

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16

Computer braille is basically grade1.
I think (someone correct me if I'm wrong) grade1 is a little more complicated than computer braille--basically grade2 without the contractions. Whereas computer braille is effectively just a character set without any special rules, with a 1:1 correspondance between braille and ascii.

But generally, it seems like grade2 is the only one that ever gets referred to by name, so I get confused by whether or not there even is a distinction between grade1 and computer braille. Grade2 and computer braille are the only options my notetakers have given me.

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17

CAE_Jones, that was my take on it as wel.  If grade one and computer braille are any different from each other, then I'd like to figure out what the difference is.  the thing is, they look so similar, I just refer to it as grade one.

When I was schooled, I never dealt with grade 1, and probably because it's the slowest way of going about things when you have grade2 which has so many abreviations and such.  Who would write out the word declare when they could simply braille out the letters dcl and get the job done nicely?

There is a problem with that though, the problem being that you never truly learn how to spell if you are simply taught using that method of writing, so that when I finally acquired a laptop, I had to use a spelchecker quite often.

I do not know what my future holds, but I do know who holds my future.

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Grade one is a good way of learning for those of us who went to a mainstream school and had to learn braille later wink

Grade one basically lets you learn the basic alphabet, which you'll need anyway, and use that for a little while to get used to feeling the dots which is quite tricky to say the least if you're new to it. Once you've got the alphabet down and are getting the hang of feeling the shapes, building up sensitivity, then you can go onto grade 2.

I could be wrong but doesn't computer braille have accomodation for capital letters whereas grade one doesn't? I could imagine numbers being slightly different as well. That is computer braille does everything with one cell to one character where grade one often uses a sign beforehand to indicate things like a number?

cx2
-----
To live by honour and to honour life, these are our greatest strengths and our best hopes.

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Grade 1 is grade 2 without any contractions, it does use the number sign though. Computer braille is a braille code developed for use with computers. For example the backslash is the same as the o-u sign in  grade 2 braille.

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I keep discovering symbols in the virtual brailler I thought I'd already checked for in grade 2 mode. (For some reason I thought that ar and & weren't included yet).

Then I tried typing "Cable disabled his table.", which came out as "cable dda4 ? table".
I totally get why, just putting it out there.

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21

CAE_Jones, yesterday I updated it to include the rest of the grade 2 contractions.  Well, it now contains all of the ones listed on a Wikipedia website which listed grade 2 contractions.  There could be more out there, I just don't know about them.

I'm sure if I took some time I could figure out why "Cable disabled his table.", came out as "cable dda4 ? table", but it might be faster if you explained it, lol.  Oh I think I've already figured out the "dd" vs "dis" part, and I remember Nocturnus explaining that to be yesterday, but I guess I forgot to add that in.

- Aprone
Please try out my games and programs:
Aprone's software

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22

Oh, and when I tried it yesterday, it came up with an error, it was because my sapi is broken and it I guess it can't see that I have NVDA running. So, until something is done about recognizing screen readers, I can't use it. Hmm, maybe you could do what you did for your games?

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Actually you can press tab to cycle through screen reader options, just like in my games.  If the error occurs again, please post it here so I can find out what's going on.

- Aprone
Please try out my games and programs:
Aprone's software

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24

Run-time error '429':

ActiveX component can't create object

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dda4 ? table
- dd is dis at the start of a word (sounds like you figured that out already)
- #d is indeed 4 at the start of a word or on its own, but at the end of the word it should come out as bled
- low h is an open quote at the start of a word, question mark at the end, and the word "his" by itself.

I'm curious to see if you can get it to handle all of the space-saving tricks in grade 2 for prepositions (like how of, and, the and a don't need to be spaced, or how to (low f) and by (low j) are not separated from the following word).

Low h and low j have been known to trip up notetakers with their attention to context. yikes

devinprator, it seems that your problem is occurring because the program starts in sapi mode. Maybe if it started in a different mode, it wouldn't try to use sapi and wouldn't crash? Aprone, is there an included configuration file that keeps track of your settings that can be edited to get around this?

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