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You should read this file first before asking me questions, or threatening me with something sharp and pointy. Just about everything in this package, apart from this readme, is not my creation. Dosbox is created by the dosbox team as well as all the other people who contributed to the svn build. The screen readers, games and programs are created by their developers. The braille n’ speak emulator is created by Tyler Spivey. The only thing I did is put these things together so you can get going in a few minutes and experience the awesome that’s DOS and all of the things that come with it.
As mentioned above, Talking Dosbox is a copy of dosbox daum configured just right and a bunch of software that is, for the most part, known to work.
If you used the first release, you may remember that dosbox came up talkingl. This is no longer the case because there is now multiple screen readers you can use. They have their strengths and weeknesses which will be described below. No matter whichever one you choose to use, all of their manuals can be found in the docs\screen reader manuals folder.
THis one should need no introuction to you. It’s a very popular WIndows screen reader and it was just as popular in DOS. Here, it’s configured to use the soundblaster speech and you can launch it by typing in jaws after dosbox launches. Just like JAWS for Windows, it includes a jaws cursor turned on with numpad minus, and off with numpad plus that allows you to review the screen with arrow keys. You can enter the jaws menu with control+slash to adjust various settings.
Just like JAWS, flipper also uses soundblaster speech. It’s quite a bit smoother. It doesn’t have as good screen echo, however. Just like before, you can launch it by typing in flipper and pressing enter. You can access its review mode with alt+semicolon which is also where you can configure various settings. As flipper starts, it will at first sound very quiet, slow and make a loud beep, but once the batch file loads the configuration, it will speak a lot better.
This screen reader will give you by far the best experience. It’s fast, hast the best automatic echo and seems to cause the least problems with other programs. However, it will take more time to set up. Unlike JAWS and Flipper, ASAP doesn’t support any software synthesizers. So, the only way to get it to work is by emulating a hardware synthesizer, in this case a braille n’ speak. To get ASAP to work, youw ill need com0com
While installing, make sure to look for any windows securiy dialogs if it looks as if the installer froze. Once com0com is configured, open the setup tool and make sure that serial port pair 1 is configured to use COM8 and COM9. Whenever you want to use Dosbox with asap, run startbns.bat. A window should open and you will hear “ready”. The last thing to do is to launch dosbox, and type in asap to start speech.
Once you started any screen reader, you can go ahead and start a game. If using a command prompt confuses you, I have included the talking directory program which will allow you to browse the files with the arrow keys. Type trytd from anywhere to launch it. Then you can browse files and folders with the arrow keys, open them with enter and press the backslash key to back out of a directory. If you’d rather use the shell, you can use the cd command to change into a directory, EG cd C:\games or cd drone, and list all files in a directory by typing in dir, or dir /b for a brief list which doesn’t include the other information like dates. to launch a game, type in the name of its executable once you’ve cd’d into a directory. If it’s a game written in gwbasic, launch it by typing gwbasic gamename.bas.
The easiest way to add a game is just to copy it into the cdrive folder. You can also mount any directory on your system with the mount command, mount driveletter path. For example, mount d C:\games\old will mount C:\games\old as drive D. You can also mount floppy and cd images (.img, .flp, .iso, .bin) directly with the imgmount command. The syntags is exactly the same, except you give the path to the disk image you want to mount.
If you get memory errors, try loading the program into high memory by preceding the command with lh.
If the program freezes, the fault is often the screen reader, especially the ones that use soundblaster speech. If you can, set up ASaP and the BNS emulator, it really gives the best results.
If things run too fast or too slow, play with the cycle speeds.
As far as creating talking dosbox optimized for other languages goes, I’m open to it. One of the things I want to do is make my own hardware synthesizer emulator which will let you pick what voice to use, ammung other things. However, if you know that there is a screen reader for your language that supports software speech (either via soundblaster, covox/disney soundsource, gravis ultrasound, or any other sound hardware supported by Dosbox) and can sendd me the files, plus any programs you think people would find fun or useful, feel free.
You can use real hardware synthesizers with dosbox. Edit dosbox.conf and the [serial] section and set it up there. The file is well commented so you should not have a problem getting it configured.