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March 12, 1985 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1985-03-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

COMPUTERS

. . .~ .
Page 5

The Michigan Daily

TuesdayMarch 12, 1985

Page 5

Let your Mac talk back!

By DONALD SCHMID
For most persons, the Macintosh per-
sonal computer from Apple com-
municates best through its graphics or
extraordinary array of font, styles, and
type sizes for word processing. But now
the Mac can actually talk. First Byte
has produced an amazing piece of sof-
tware called SmoothTalker which tran-
slates written words into "live speech."
The Macintosh is equipped with an in-
ternal speaker. The speaker produces a
beep when you turn the Mac on, try to
do something wrong, or when the Mac
tries to get your attention, e.g. when the
Mac's alarm clock goes off. The
speaker also plays music programmed
on Microsoft's BASIC (version 2.0).
Now, SmoothTalker is able to take
written words, either those converted
from a MacWrite word processing
document or those typed into a
SmoothTalker file, and converts them
into verbal expression.
AS EXPLAINED IN the literature
provided by its creator, First Byte Cor-
portation, SmoothTalker converts
standard English text into 41
"phonemes." Phonemes are the most
basic units of English speech (e.g. long
"a" sound, "th" sound, etc). Once the
English text has been translated into
phonetic codes, SmoothTalker converts
these codes into electronic impulses.
These impulses produce the sound of
English words through the Mac's inter-
nalspeaker.

Software gives
Just allowing the user to convert user can do on
written English into speech would be a the way Smo
remarkable accomplishment, but selected word
SmoothTalker is even more The user ca
sophisticated than that. The program English spelli
allows the user to adust volume, pitch, how to get the
and speed of the speech as well as bass right. For exa
and treble settings for an entire pronounce th
document or, if the user prefers, just were "sky - in
one word. SmoothTalker automatically the following
changes its inflection depending on the dictiona
whether a sentence ends with an ex- produce thev
clamation point, a question mark or a pronounced.
period. OR SMOO
SmoothTalker even pauses for the user to use1
commas that the user has inserted in through whic
the written text. The backup disk that a to verbal exp
purchaser receives from First Byte has a specific file
both female and male voices. to do this an
MOST HELPFUL, however, is the 41 phonet
SmoothTalker's "dictionary." If the much simpl
user doesn't like the way SmoothTalker codes contain
is pronouncing a specific word, 'the tionaries. A i
User's last name for instance, the user phonetic cods
can tell SmoothTalker exactly how to prior phoneti
pronounce the word. The Smoot
When the user pulls down the dic- the Mac's s
tionary menu at the tiop of the Mac's; perfect. At ti
screen with the mouse, a dialog box ap- like it has
pears on the screen. The user types in somewhere
the correct spelling of the word as it and Eastern
would appear in a document. Then, the Still, Smoot

computer a voice

ne of two things to change
othTalker pronounces the
i.
n type in a little different
ng to show SmoothTalker
word's pronunciation just
ample, SmoothTalker will
e word "skiing" as if it
g" on its own. by typing in
spelling, "skee - ing," in
ry, SmoothTalker will
word the way it should be
THTALKER allows the
the same phonetic codes
h it translates English text
ression. SmoothTalker has
which shows the user how
d which contains a list of
tic codes. These codes are
er than the pronunciation
ned in the front of most dic-
user could begin using the
es in a few minutes without
c experience.
thTalker's speech through
peaker is admittedly not
mes, SmoothTalker sounds
s a foreign accent -
between Czechoslovakian
Lituanian.
thTalker does a commen-

dable job. For the most part, one can
understand what SmoothTalker is
"reading aloud" without having to
follow along with written text. When I
first heard about this software, my first
thought was the incredible aid that
SmoothTalker would be for blind per-
sons. I worked for a blind attorney who
had to hire a "reader" at great expense
to him and the law firm in which he was
a partner.
HOW EASY IT would be to use an op-
tical scanner to read written text into
the Macintosh's memory and then use
SmoothTalker to read it aloud for the
blind attorney. SmoothTalker is a step
away from that kind of profesional use
even if a low-cost optical scanner were
available.
For now, SmoothTalker is a lot of fun.
And easy to use. SmoothTalker comes
with a very little documentation on how
to use it. Normally, that's very an-
noying. Here, however, a long user's
manual is unnecessary. Excluding
games, SmoothTalker is the easiest
piece of software that I have used.

X%
' ., . 1 .". :
I~~~~~~~~~~~ v ~.:::.::: ..**.. ..-.*.

I

Ir., 17

r.G'

'5

Donald Schmid is a third-year law
student at the University Law
School.

Local merchant looks for

Commodore

market

By PATRICK HAGGOOD
Generally, the rule of thumb for a
low-end machine like the Commodore
64 is that along with the incredibly low
price you pay, you get incredibly low
service.
You either found yourself a very
knowledgable pal or found yourself all
alone in the world of computing, with
Apple and IBM owners snickering at
yoL he way down to their machine
specific computer stores.
There weren't any places to get even
the most basic questions answered, like
"What is the best wordprocessor for
the C-64?" or What do most users say
about this certain database?"
One new Commodore computer
owner, Robin Warner, who like many
others couldn't find these answers,
decided to create a place where people
could get this kind of information
locally. Hence, Chelsea Software was
born.
Chelsea Software is an exclusively
Commodore computer center. Last
Friday and Saturday saw its grand
opening in the office where Armstrong
software operates during the week.
Warner, who operates the store with a
little help from friend James Randall
and his son, talked about what are his

goals for the store.
"Basically, I went searching around
for some support for my Commodore
and found that even Commodore itself
had a reputation for not offering an-
swers and'advice to its customers. And
the discount stores that sold the com-
puters in bulk (Kmart: Toys 'R' Us,
etc) don't employ the type of people
who can answer even the simplest
questions about the machines," Warner
said. "There are a lot of questions about
software and hardware that people
need answered."
"What I want to offer here is a place
where Commodore people can get the
information they need and get those
important questions answered. Oh, and
I would also like to sell some software."
Currently in stock are six different
word processing packages, three
telecommunications packages, four
databases, three graphics development
packages, and a myriad of other enter-
tainment and utility software packages
for the commodore.
"And," Warner pointed out, "we use
many of the packages you see on the
shelves to run the store. We made signs
with the 'Print Shoppe' program, keep
records with 'Superbase' and have
flyers and newsletters written and
produced on a C-64 word processor, all
which are available right off the shelf."
If he doesn't stock something you need,
Warner will order them from his supply
house for a competitive price. "I can't
match the discount stores prices," he
said, "~but then again, they can't come
close to the service that I offer here."
Chelsea's hardware inventory is also
competitively priced. One striking
example was the C-64 computer, priced
only eight dollars less than a popular
discount house's price. Chelsea price
also includes invaluable technical help
after the purchase, though.
OnT item, those hard-to-find Indus
drives that many Commodore owners
now swear by, are available for im-
mediate pick-up at the store. Printers
and monitors from many different

manuf-acturers are available and
displayed in the store, and Warner said,
"Anything I don't have, I can get for
you."
So what are the customers saying
about Chelsea? Although Chelsea had
it's "Grand Opening" last Saturday, it
had been operating on a more limited
basis prior to that opening.
Therefore, many regular customers
of Chelsea's were on hand to help
celebrate. The customers of Chelsea
seem to believe in making the store an
integral part of their computing needs.
One customer named Reggie, who
had recently purchased a 3-D
animation and design package brought
it in to give a demonstration of the
package's features.
Warner advocates demonstration of
software products, by encouraging
such user demos and by offering
demostration packages for customers
to use who "seem to have a serious in-
terest in the software."
Warner has plans for his store's
future. "Once people really get to know
that we're out here, we will be able to
offer more services, most importantly
longer store hours. I am also looking
forward to offering computer classes
for people interested in anything from
beginning programming to advanced
database use ot telecommunications,"
he said.
Typesetting &
Word Processing
Resumes Newsie;,ers Books
MICROCOMPUTER DISKS ACCEPTED
II I TeleTypesetting Co.
Conventional &,Telecomnunicaions1ypesetti.
210 Nickels Arcade, Mon -Frl. &8. Sat 12 3 - 78

Daily Photo by DAN HABIB
Robin Warner, one of the owners of Chelsea Software, shows off one of the Commodore computers he sells.

Gorbachev has new
ideas for'Soviet post

From AP and UPI
MOSCOW - Mikhail Gorbachev, the
youngest member of the ruling Polit-
buro and a representative of the new
generation. of Soviet leaders, was
named today to succeed Konstantin
Chernenko as head of the Communist
Party.
Gorbachev, 54, was elevated to take
over as general secretary of the Com-
munist Party.
GORBACHEV'S official biography
shows he was born March 2, 1931, in the
Village of Privolnoye in the Stavropol
territory, which was former Soviet
leader Yuri Andrapov's power base.
He graduated from Moscow State
University law faculty and began
working his way through party ranks in
Stavropol, becoming first secretary of
the territorial party in 1970 and a mem-
ber of the national Central Committee a
Kyear later.
In 1978, he became a party secretary,
in 1979 an alternate Politburo member,
and in 1980 a full member of the ruling
body - a relatively rapid rise.
SOVIET OFFICIALS said Gorbachev
was No. 2 in the Kremlin and, in private
1 conversations with Western reporters,
r the officials pinned hopes for change on
Gorbachev and the new ideas he is said
to favor.
In public speeches, Gorbachev has
made standard Kremlin attacks on the
West but also emphasized detente in a

bachev called him "absolutely char-
ming." Prime Minister Margaret That-
cher, once labeled the "Iron Lady" by
the Soviets, said of the visitor: "I like
Mr. Gorbachev. We can do business
together."
But she also noted that while Gor-
bachev may be associated with a
movement to reform the Soviet
economic system, he is no liberal eager
to change Soviet society.
Another aspect of Gorbachev's trip to
Britain was the emergence of his wife,
Raisa Maximovna. Previously not
known in the West, the trim brunette, a
trained philosopher, won over Britons
with smiles and fashionable clothes
rarely worn by older Kremlin wives.
THE GORBACHEVS have at least
one daughter and one granddaughter,
but nothing else is known about the
family.
Limousines zoomed by the Kremlin
yesterday as -,the Central Committee of
the Communist Party chose its new
chairman: Gorbachev, who was named
to head the funeral committee, a sign to
Soviets he would be their new ruler.
Many people at Red Square seemed
relieved, perhaps at the thought that
there probably will be no more state
funerals for a while.

M "
Mkipenngs
Tuesday
Lecture: Text Formetting with TeX, Part I, 9:30-11 a.m., 3046 East
Engin.
Chalk Talk: Examples of Tell-A-Graf Bar Charts, 12:10-1 p.m., 1011 NUBS.
Laboratory: The Macintosh PC as an MTS Terminal, 1:30-3 p.m., UNYN
Terminal Room.
Wednesday
Lecture: Introduction to Textform, Part II, 3:30-5 p.m., 165 Bus. Admin.
Lecture: How to Buy a Microcomputer, 4-5:30 p.m. (Registration required
- 764-5356), 3113 School of Education.
Thursday
Lecture: Text Formatting with TeX, Part II, 9:30-11 a.m., 3046 East
Engin.
Chalk Talk: Examples of Tell-A-Graf Pie Charts, 12:10-1 p.m., 1011 NUBS.
Workshop: Textform - Special Problems, 3:30-5 p.m., 171 Bus. Admin.
RESEARCH
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assist your research ef- C 11 uS.
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free 14e00621-5745 (In3 ll AMERIICN CNE SOCIETY'
linois call 312-922 ).
Authors' Research, Rm 800"N,
407 S. Dearborn, Chicago. IL 60605
WANT TO GET INVOLVED IN YOUR
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in the operation and planning of The Michigan Union.

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