Printing E-mail from within MSKERMIT

(a Cheat Sheet Addendum)

by Kevin Cole
Gallaudet University
August 27, 1991

Most programs on the IBM PC's use the PrtScr key to activate the printer. There are two ways to use this key:

  1. "Snapshot" Printing (also known as a Screen Dump) takes a "snapshot" of the current screen and sends it to the printer. Hold the Shift key and strike the PrtScr key. You should see the cursor move to the top of the screen and then rapidly sweep across every line. When it reaches the bottom of the screen, everything on the screen has been sent to the printer.
  2. Continuous Printing, once activated, sends everything that goes to the screen to the printer also. The printer continues to get whatever happens on the screen until you turn continuous printing off. Note: Text on the screen PRIOR to the activation of continuous printing will NOT be sent to the printer. Continuous printing is toggled on and off by holding the Ctrl key and striking the PrtScr key. Striking it once activates it, striking the combination a second time deactivates it. MSKERMIT displays the letters PRN in the lower right corner of the screen when continuous printing is on. When it's off, MSKERMIT displays nothing in that position.

Typically, printers will only skip to the top of a page under one of three conditions:

  1. The page is full.
  2. The user has taken the printer off-line and struck the Form Feed (sometimes known as the Page Eject) button on the printer.
  3. The Form Feed character (a.k.a. Ctrl-L or ASCII 12) has been sent to the printer from the computer.

The screen is only 24 lines and the printer page is around 60. Therefore, after a single snapshot, the page is still almost 2/3 empty. This means that after a snapshot, the page will still be in a LaserJet printer. A second snapshot will cover a little more than the second 1/3 of the page. Assuming you have a LaserJet printer, the FormFeed light will be lit indicating that there is a page with printing already on it, waiting inside the printer. At that point, you probably will want to eject by hand. Hit the Online button and the online light should go out. Hit the FormFeed button and the light above it should start flashing. When the page finishes coming out, the formfeed light should be dark. Now hit the Online button again, to make the printer available to the computer. The online light should go on again.

When you are in MAIL or NOTES on the VAX, you will often have messages that are longer than a single screen. Viewing a screen at a time and using Shift-PrtScr (snapshot printing) results in a rather ugly-looking printout (full of "Press RETURN for more..." or whatever it says). You can get around this by using Ctrl-PrtScr (continuous printing) and the EXTRACT command. Here's how:

  1. Read the message you are interested in.
  2. While the message is still on the screen, type:


    but do NOT strike a RETURN.

  3. At the very end of the previous line, activate continuous printing by holding the Ctrl key and striking PrtScr. You should see the PRN in the corner of the screen, and the FormFeed light on the printer should come on. You will also see the entier message pass before you on the screen.
  4. When it's finished, MAIL (or NOTES) will display the usual prompt. At this point, turn continuous printing off by striking the PrtScr key a second time while holding the Ctrl key. The PRN should disappear.
  5. If you have no more messages to print at this time, take the printer offline (hit the Online button on the printer), eject the page (with the FormFeed button on the printer) and put the printer back online by striking the Online button again.

The EXTRACT command is usually used to move a message into a separate file on the VAX. But, by using TT: you tell it to direct the message to a terminal instead of to a disk. The /APPEND tells the VAX to add this message to the "end" of the last message extracted. It also forces the insertion of a FormFeed character at the start of the message, so that each message will start at the top of a new page.

If you have a series of messages that you would like to be together on a page, follow the instructions above, leaving off the /APPEND. (In other words, the EXTRACT command would be EXTRACT TT:.) You can also abbreviate the command. I usually type: EXT/APP TT: rather than spell out EXTRACT/APPEND TT:.

Good Luck.