Full Sail: Power User Tips
Norman L. De Forest
part one of this series, "Full Sail Vol.2 No.2 Browsing With Character",
you learned how to configure lynx to match the character set on your computer.
part two, "Full Sail Vol.2 No.3 Creating Web Pages With Character",
you learned how to include special characters on your web site or in your
In this episode, you will learn how to get special characters on your
computer. You may find it preferable to use the ISO-8859-1 or the
Windows cp1252 character sets on CCN because (a) you don't lose any
accented characters, (b) you don't have problems with character 128 on
your system (C-cedilla on IBM PCs or A-umlaut on the Macintosh) which
lynx will print to a file but won't display to the screen (c) you can
read accented characters in newspostings or email (pine doesn't translate
to your computer's character set as lynx does but just warns you that some
characters may be displayed incorrectly) and (d) leaving the text unchanged
by lynx allows you to use other fonts or utilities which can translate the
text for you if it isn't really in a Latin character set. In some
circumstances it may require some reconfiguring of your computer.
[At this point, if I were a good cartoonist, you would be
seeing a picture of a cloud of dust raised by a crowd hurrying
to the exit and a picture of me getting up and trying to brush
the footprints off my clothes. But I'm not so you won't.]
Is configuration *that* scary? After all, this column is supposed
to be for advanced users.
Unfortunately, I can't cover every system. Some computers can't have the
character sets changed and for some others I do not have any information or
I do have some information on:
Any information of machines not covered will be gratefully accepted and
possibly included in a subsequent article -- or perhaps you could get
yourself in print by submitting such an article to the Beacon editor.
MS-DOS using VGA video cards.
The early IBM PCs (and compatibles) using monochrome video adapters,
CGA video adapter, and EGA video adapters could not have the font changed
when operating in text mode. Some models of Hercules graphics adapters
did have provisions for software-loaded fonts but only the later models.
Those using VGA and compatible cards are in luck. You can change the font
used in text mode. "How?" you ask. Whenever I am looking for a utility to
do something, the first places I look are:
A search of the Simtel and Garbo software archives
revealed one font editor/loader that has been released as freeware,
fpman220.zip VGA font editor and loader package.
With that, I created a VGA-compatible font with the ISO-8859-1 character
set. Later, when I found the specifications for the
ISO-8859-1-Windows-3.1-Latin-1 font (also known as Code Page 1252, a
superset of the ISO-8859-1 character set) I amended my VGA font to match
the entire defined cp1252 character set (available here as a
zipped file). (For
the characters which were undefined I used miniature 7-segment hexadecimal
numbers for the characters so they can be distinguished from each other.)
I then changed my lynx settings to select the win cp1252 character set.
first article in this three-part series if you missed how to change
your lynx settings.)
Now, before starting up my terminal program, I load the cp1252 font
into my VGA card with the VGA utility from the fontman package
using the command:
C:\path\VGA FONT C:\path\CP1252.FNT
(with the actual path substituted for '\path\'
above) and can then view email and web pages with any of the defined cp1252
My VGA character set before and after loading in the new font:
The advantages of this:
- I get to see all of the Windows cp1252 characters that lynx supports
and also can see them properly when viewing email or news-postings
in which people have used such characters. If I had lynx change the
characters displayed to the DOS character set, accented characters
would still be seen incorrectly with pine when viewing such characters
in email or on usenet.
- I can include such characters in my email and see that they are the
correct characters (but it is only useful if I know the recipient's
computer can also display such characters).
- If web pages are not in the ISO-8859-1 character set but in a non-Latin
character set I can still print them to my home directory (with the lynx
'p' command), download them, and then print them out in the original
language by editing the file with Write (telling Write not to
convert from MS-DOS text) and using a font for that character set.
The disadvantages are:
- Since the text is not converted to the character set used by my system
and my printer, it can be a bit difficult to print out such text files
in DOS without having to convert them manually. I'm still working on
- Windows still thinks plain text files are in the IBM PC character set
and will "convert" the files to the Windows character set if they are
imported into a Windows word processor even though they are already in
the Windows character set. It then gets all of the characters wrong.
Currently, I make two copies of the file open one with the word processor
and another in DOS text mode and change the DOS font to a cp1252 font
which has been flagged as an OEM font. (I don't mind lying to my computer
to get things done.) I then manually change the word processor file to
match the DOS text file. (If anybody knows how I can get Windows to stop
converting the character sets of text files the information would be
Also found in the Simtel archives was a font editor, Softy
- change font headers to redefine ANSI (Windows) fonts to OEM (PC) fonts
so they can be selected by applications that won't allow you to select
- edit bitmapped fonts,
- edit TrueType fonts, or
- convert TrueType fonts to bitmapped fonts.
With this, you can pick your favourite font and edit it to change its name
and type and change the character set to cp1252 and then install it on
The tactic to use here, to be able to select a Windows font with an
application that insists on an OEM font (such as HyperTerminal or
Terminal), is to pick a suitable Windows bitmapped font and edit the headers
to redefine it as an OEM font and save it with a new name. It can now
be selected by your application. While you are at it, you can also
update those characters in the font that don't meet the new cp1252
standard and change the undefined box characters to something that can
be distinguished from each other.
Here is a picture of the Softy dialogue box that is displayed when you
select "Font", "Header..." with the mouse cursor showing where I have
just changed the character set definition from "ANSI" (Windows character
set) to "OEM":
You can then use the font with HyperTerminal or Terminal and get the same
advantages as you would get with the VGA font mentioned above.
MS-DOS programs running in a Windows DOS box
I also was able to use the Softy font editor to create an edited version
of the font used in a DOS box in Windows. Getting the system to use it
with Windows 3.1 was a bit of a problem. Windows 95 users have it easier
here. It is possible to select the font used in a DOS box on a
window-by-window basis. (Gack! I can't believe I just said something nice
about Windows 95. OK, so my bias is showing.) For some reason, Windows
3.1 wouldn't accept my changes to the default fonts and would reselect
one of the already-installed Terminal fonts as the default font for a DOS box.
My solution (which may not be optimal) was to:
- Backup the following OEM fonts in the \windows\system\ directory
(apparently they all register as "Terminal" fonts with Windows):
- copy 8514oem.fon *.nof
- copy cga40woa.fon *.nof
- copy cga80woa.fon *.nof
- copy dosapp.fon *.nof
- copy ega40woa.fon *.nof
- copy ega80woa.fon *.nof
- copy vgaoem.fon *.nof
- Backup the following .ini files in the \windows\ directory:
- copy win.ini *.nin
- copy system.ini *.nin
- Select the "Main" group, select "Control Panel", select "Fonts",
and then select and "Remove" each of those fonts from the set of installed
- Copy my modified font to \windows\system\vgaoem.fon
- Select the "Main" group, select "Control Panel", select "Fonts",
and then use the "Add" option to install the new font.
There may be an easier method but this worked for me.
Here is a picture of 4DOS running in a DOS box after running a batch file
to display all 256 characters:
I am going to have to plead ignorance as far as Macintosh computers
are concerned and merely suggest that some of the techniques I have used
with Windows (both those mentioned above and those mentioned below) can
probably be used on the Macintosh if you have the right fonts or font
utilities. Following are some links to notes about the Macintosh, to
fonts for the Macintosh, and to font utilities. I regret that this is
all the help I can offer at this time.
ISO-8859-1 and the Mac platform
Directory: /pub/i18n/ucs/EversonMono10646 -- Multilingual fonts for Mac
Tommy of Escondido's Alien Fonts Page other SF font section -- plus
TT to Mac font convertor
INFO-MAC HyperArchive ROOT -- includes notes on fonts
_Font -- Macintosh font archive -- includes 'foreign' fonts.
font/_Utility -- Font utilities for Macintosh
Using Cyrillic and other fonts
A message to userhelp arrived in my mailbox last March that I couldn't
read. It was in Russian. I had no way of telling
whether this was a query to userhelp about CCN or just another piece of
junk email (a.k.a. 'spam').
I downloaded the message to my machine and made a search for a font
with a Cyrillic character set. I found
a site with such fonts and downloaded one and installed it on my
system. I then logged off, entered Windows and opened the file with
Write, making sure I selected no conversion to Write format:
At first the message was as unreadable as before: