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Spell Checking on the HP Palmtops

Spell Checking on the HP Palmtops

Need a full-featured spelling checker on your HP Palmtop? Here are some alternatives.

By Robert Roney

Webster's New World Spelling Checker

Sometime ago when Thaddeus Computing (publisher of The HP Palmtop Paper) supported the HP Portable Plus computers, we acquired a limited supply of Webster's New World Spelling Checker (version 1.4). This older version of Webster's works fine on the HP 100LX. Webster's may also be able to work on the 95LX, but you cannot adjust the size of Webster's display and would have to use the Alt ArrowKeys to move around. The HP Dictionary Thesaurus card is a better solution for the 95LX.

Webster's has an ample 110,000 word dictionary and auxiliary dictionary file that allows you to enter your own words. The files on this older version are smaller than those in more recent releases, which is good news for space-conscious Palmtop users.

Installing Webster's on the 100LX

Copy the necessary files to the 100LX. First copy WSP.COM (62K) and WSP.DIC (145K). Webster's creates a configuration file (WSP.CFG, 88 bytes) when you first run the program and WSP.AUX for words you add. (The WSP.COM file can be compressed {Dieted} to 35K.)

Running Webster's

Webster's can be run from the DOS prompt or AppManager. Since the program only requires about 200K of system RAM (depending on the size of your Doc file) you can run it while MEMO and other System Manager applications are open.

The program scans your document and gives you the option of looking at a list of questionable words. From this list you can choose words to ignore, add words to the auxiliary dictionary, or stop at a misspelled word and replace it.

Questionable Word List in Webster's:  Graphic

 Webster will work with the .DOC files created by MEMO. If you use the bold and underline features you'll see some unusual characters at the beginning of the file when it's displayed in Webster's. Don't change them and Webster's will preserve the bold and underlining in the rest of the document. After you spell check a file, Webster's saves the corrected file back to the file's original name.

Use APLOAD and MF to setup Webster's

Two programs make Webster's easier to use on the 100LX: MF and APLOAD . MF is a small utility that passes the name of the most recent MEMO file to a DOS program. APLOAD is a utility that lets you define DOS setup parameters when loading a program from the AppManager.

You can use these two programs to set Webster's up so that it will come up in monochrome 80 x 24 display mode for better screen visibility, and so that it will automatically load and spell check the last file saved in MEMO, usually the one you are currently editing.

The line used in the AppManager Path field is as follows (all on one line, no space between mf. and exe):

a:\apload.com /8 a:\dict mf.

exe wsp \m |200

As long as our supplies last, Thaddeus Computing is making The Webster's New World Spelling Checker available to H/P Palmtop Paper subscribers for $39 plus $4 shipping and handling. The program comes on the original 5.25" disks. We've added a 3.5" disk, which includes the Webster's files needed plus APLOAD, MF, and some installation instructions.

Contact us at Thaddeus Computing Inc.; Phone: (877) 202-9386 or (641) 472-1382; Fax: (641) 472-1879.

Other Spelling Checkers

There are some other spell checker solutions available for the HP Palmtops.

  • HP Dictionary/Thesaurus card -- This ROM card slips into the memory slot of the 95/100/200LX and works in stand-alone mode or with its own version of the HP 95LX built-in MEMO text editor to check spelling, look up definitions, and find synonyms (see page 63 for contact info).
  • fastWRITE -- a wordprocessor with an integrated 100,000 spell checker. Works on the 95LX, 100LX, and 200LX. Zoomable on the 100/200LX. Imports and exports WordPerfect, MSWord, WordStar and standard ASCII formats. Supports multiple printers and proportional fonts. Has macro capabilities. Available for $59 from ACE Technologies, Inc.; Phone: 800-825-9977 or 408-428-9722; Fax: 408-428-9721.
  • VDE -- a small shareware word processor that offers automatic text formatting, centering, justification, and full printer control including bold, italic, and other special effects. When you register VDE ($30) you get a spell checker module.
  • WordPerfect 4.2 and 5.1 -- both of these older versions of this full- featured word processing program have spell checkers. Version 4.2 has been installed on the 95LX (see page 44, Nov/Dec 92 issue). Both versions should work on the 100/200LX, but the necessary 5.1 files take up a bit of space. The spell checker in 5.1 runs as a separate application, without WordPerfect word processing program loaded. Version 4.2 is no longer available through retail channels. Version 5.1+ is still available through WordPerfect Corporation (800-451-5151) or a third-party software vendor. List price is $269, but WordPerfect offers a competitive upgrade program. You tell them what other commercial word processing program you are using and they'll sell you 5.1+ for DOS for $99.
  • SPEL95 -- a small, freeware spell checker that works with the HP Palmtops. This TSR spell checker loads when you boot up and occupies 60K of system RAM. Activate it by pressing (CTRL) three times. After that, as you type, each time you press (<Spacebar>) or (ENTER), the word to the left is checked. If the program recognizes the word, nothing happens. If it does not, it beeps at you.



Running the American Heritage English Dictionary 3.0 on the HP 100LX

[Thanks goes to HP Hand forum member Robert Kreisler [73021,101] and a Mr. Thuan [74172,1305] for much of this information -- Rich.]

This is the latest version of a popular full-fledged dictionary program (not a spell checker). It allows you to look up words and their definitions, use logical operators to search for words (e.g. type in wings AND lion and get Griffin, or yellow AND flowers and get a list of yellow flowers). It also has an anagram feature that lets you type in a word, specify a minimum number of 4 letters, and have the dictionary return a list of words that can be constructed from the original word.

Installing the program

The American Heritage English Dictionary (AHD) files require considerable storage space (5.1MB fully installed). Hence, it must be stored on at least a 10MB flash card. The easiest way to do this is to install it on your home PC first. During setup, answer No when asked if your computer can display more than "x" colors. This sets the program up for a monochrome display, which is easier to read on the 100LX.

Copy the entire AHD directory from your desktop to the flash card in your HP 100LX. Those files occupy about 5.1MB. You can remove the executable designed to run in low system memory environments (AHD- 3MEM.EXE) and compress the executables with PKLITE to get the files down to about 4.9MB. You might also be able to slim things down another 300K by deleting the Thesaurus module.

Tough install in AppManager

According to HP Hand forum member Thuan [74172,1305] it is possible to set AHD up in AppManager. However, Thuan changed the CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files on his 100LX, and made some other sacrifices to do so. The changes he made include the following:


  1. 1. Buffers = 1
  2. 2. Files = 20.
  3. 3. FCBS to 1,0



  1. 4. Delete ASSIGN E:=A:



  1. 5. Use the smaller and slower version of the main program (AHD3MEM.EXE) instead of the faster version (AHD3.EXE).
  2. 6. Use AHD's SETUP.EXE utility to reduce the maximum size of Anagram list to 100 words and the maximum size of other lists to 10KB; and do not use the pronunciation fonts.
  3. 7. Use CLSFLR , a utility that closes FILER and gives you more system RAM.



With this setup, Thuan had system RAM space to run AppManager, AHD and one other application. Thuan uses 100Buddy and AHD's Thesaurus feature. He suggests that removing those might make enough room to run an additional built-in application.

Running the Program

The AppManager setup necessitates the use of a slower version of AHD and puts some other restrictions on your use of the Palmtop. It's probably better to exit System Manager completely (press (MENU) Application Terminate All) and launch AHD from the DOS prompt. At the prompt, key in ahd3/s and press (ENTER) (the /s launches the non-TSR version of the program.

A TSR version of AHD is included with the program. However, the users we have feedback from haven't been able to get it to work on the 100LX. It does work on a desktop PC, allowing you to pop up in the document of a word processor or other program and look for a word.

This product is available in both DOS and Windows versions. Ask for the Standard DOS version. The suggested retail price is $59.95, but users have gotten it for much less at discount software vendors. For further information contact: Softkey International, 450 Franklin Road, Suite 100, Marietta, GA 30067, USA; Phone: 800- 227-5609; Fax: 404-427-1150.

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