Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 218. Tuesday, 15 September 1992.
From: 		David Richman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Tuesday, Sept. 15, 1992, 15:29:25 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 	Response to Oxford Text Archive Query
My use of the Oxford Text Archive Shakespeare files is quite cumbersome,
since I must make them work with the speech and Braille translation
software that I must use. I don't know whether my method for using this
material will be of interest to SHAKSPERIANS, but since Steve Urkowitz
asked about it, I will describe it, with apologies, as concisely as I
The Oxford Text Archive package I received contained three 3.5 inch
disks, formatted for PC and compatibles. The files were compressed, so
that all thirty-nine plays (Quarto versions of *Two Noble Kinsmen* and
*Edward III* are included) plus the sonnets, narrative poems, and
prefatory material to the First Folio can fit on the three disks. My
understanding is that you need to uncompress the material before you can
use it. There is a simple program for doing this on the disks, and
simple instructions for using the program. Since my ability to use these
files was complicated by my unusual computer needs, I took the three
disks to the folks at my university's Computing and Information
department, and asked them for help. They had a PC that could
communicate with the mainframe on which I have an account (the same
account that lets me communicate with SHAKSPER.) They uncompressed the
material for me, and then sent it from their PC to my mainframe account.
They used a program called Kermit, which can send information from one
kind of computer to another. The files took up a lot of space--nearly
twenty thousand blocks. (The block is the unit of storage that our
system uses. I don't know its relation to a kilobyte, or a megabyte. In
other words, I don't know how much space the uncompressed Shakespeare
plays would take up on a standard hard disk. Maybe other SHAKSPERIANS
know that.)
Once the stuff was on my mainframe account, I was able to use
Kermit in reverse to send it to my own floppy disks, formatted for my
rapidly obsolescing but still beloved Apple II E. The material came
through in straight ASCII textfiles though all the tagging characters,
the < > {} # and all the rest of them, were still there. Finally, I used
my word processor to turn the textfiles into files my word processor can
manipulate. (I think most word processing programs like Word Perfect can
turn textfiles into word processing files, but I'm not sure about this.)
The advantage for me is that once the Shakespeare plays were turned,
never mind how laboriously, into files my word processor could use, I
could easily select passages to print out for classes or to Braille out
for my own use. I could make copies, for example of Quarto and Folio
*Merry Wives of Windsor*, and then doctor those files until I had the
production script I wanted. I could print out that script and distribute
it to performers, designers, and others working on the production. I
have happily been using these files for about a year now.
David Richman,
University of New Hampshire
[The uncompressed OTA files take up approximately 9.1 MB of space on my
hard disk.  Also, Professor Richman has generously made available his
adaptation of *Merry Wives of Windsor*.  As soon as I mount it on the
SHAKSPER FileServer, I'll provide a description and procedures for
retrieving it.  --hmc]

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