Monday, March 28, 2011

Taming the Dragon (NaturallySpeaking) that is...

I purchased Dragon NaturallySpeaking Speech Recognition Software because I was pleased with the performance of the free iPod Dragon Dictation app. So I am playing with it right now, trying to learn how the application works and if I can teach this thing to write faster than I can type. I definitely think this has a lot of potential and I like the opportunity to have another way to write. Even if it's just to get the raw ideas down on paper. 

I wonder how many people are out there who would choose to be writers but their keyboarding skills are not letting them pursue their dreams. 

Where did I hear about Dragon?  From a doctor who treated me for pneumonia in urgent care last December. When he found out I was a writer he asked me if I used it. That is what helped him get through all of the writing tasks he had to do in medical school. 

So I downloaded and started playing around with the Dragon Dictation app, and I was  impressed with its accuracy. The only drawback was that I could only use it when I was in a place with a strong wireless signal that my iPod Touch could pick up.  Which isn't convenient since that place happens to be either in my family room or dining room, which between dogs barking, SpongeBob blaring, kids arguing, the phone ringing... you get the picture.  I needed something a little more powerful.

It is hard getting used to using your voice to command your computer. This is something right out of Star Trek or as I remember it, the device Commander Adama (the Lorne Greene one, not the Edward James Olmos one) used in Battlestar Galactica.

First impressions - Pros: 
  • A great way to capture ideas quickly and efficiently. 
  • Probably good for writing junk documents such as lists, chat sessions and some e-mail
  • The voice commands work well and it will be interesting to see how much you can do with them.
  • Will definitely need to proofread carefully. During these early "training" days, the application misses some of the words and leaves out important little ones like articles and prepositions occasionally.
  • Because I've done very little training with it., And it seems to miss a lot of the words that I'm trying to enter. 
  • The voice commands work pretty well, but not all of the time.
  • I think this tool might make my writing wordier, unfocused, and more unpolished when using it. 
So tune in the coming weeks to get the answers to these questions. Does the Dragon work well for him? Does Michael end up losing his voice trying to write?  Has he gone insane with frustration and irritation? Watch this blog for updates and a final verdict!

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