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Applet can write to, but not read from local file.

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I am in the process of developing a spell checker applet. This applet creates a dictionary from a flat text file and also allows users to add their own words to the custom dictionary. At the minute, however, users are only able to add words to the .txt file, which is located in the same directory as the applet. I have tried to enable the applet to read from the text file by using the following code:

but I keep getting a NullPointerException error every time I run the applet
I think this is a syntactic, rather than a security issue, as I am able to write to the file but not read from it.
Any suggestions?
Thanks and regards,
[This message has been edited by Sean McGurk (edited July 30, 2001).]
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