Tuesday, October 31, 2006

No More Typing

In the interest of spending less time typing, since most of my day is spent in front of a computer (both at work and at home), I recently purchased some software that will type for me.

It's called Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9 Preferred. I don't know if I really needed the Preferred version, but it was what was selling on eBay. I have only just begun to use it, but I can already tell it's going to be a challenge. I think it's just that there is a learning curve and that you need to have the patience to "train" the software to recognize your voice, as well as to learn the commands to make the software function as best it can.

The most annoying thing about the software is that you can only put it on one computer. I find that really irritating because I am the only one using it and I would like to be able to use it both at work and at home. gar.

Anyway, as time goes on and I slowly become accustomed to this program, and it becomes accustomed to me, I will continue to post as to whether or not this is a good product. I have to say that I was very frustrated with it earlier today but then decided to "train" it some more, and it is already doing a much better job of recognizing my speech. So far I'm pretty impressed.


Nye! said...

My father in law, a psychologist, uses that to dictate his reports. He loves it, though it does have a 'learning curve,' as you said.

In fact, he loved it so much that he would never stop using it. He would dictate reports while driving and on the phone with other people. (Note: by that I mean doing all three at once, not dictating and driving, or dictating and talking on the phone. It was really infuriating.) That has stopped now thanks to the fact that he was in a fender bender while dictating and driving (no word on whether he also had a phone conversation going -- I don't even understand how that's possible anyway). It apparently was not his fault, but he decided to be more attentive at the wheel anyway. And thank goodness, because he's not a great driver to begin with.

So, what's my point? I have no idea. Maybe that you should avoid dictating and driving. As if you needed to be told.

Andrew said...

How very Star Trek of you!

Kat: "Computer!"

Computer [metallic sounding male voice]: "Yes, Kat?"

Kat: "Delete file historypblscenario1.doc. Authorization code Zero-Zero-Zero-Destruct-Zero."

Computer: "Affirmative." [3 staccato electronic beeps sound in the background]

I've never been excited about voice recognition technology on the desktop. It may be the way I create content. I'm not sure how good it works if you tend to revise as you write.

That being said, I do like voice recognition features deployed in customer service environments. I would also like to be able to instruct a lot of my appliances (TV, lights, stereo) to do things.

Kat said...

nye! - thankfully i have no intention of dictating while driving. how did he dictate while talking to others? that would make for one very confusing phone call...

andrew - love the modified star trek skit! (even though i'm not a trekkie). and yes, it is hard to do it if you revise as you write. especially when it's a mistake early on and the software has already forgotten you dictated that earlier and doesn't want to go back to it. but i'm probably doing something wrong. the program needs to train ME more. :)

as for voice-operated appliances, i can see it now: "TV, turn on. TV, go to channel [insert sci fi channel number here]". then later, "blender, make me a smoothie" - but perhaps that's wishful thinking. :)

don't you have those clap-on, clap-off lights? that's a start...

herzogbr said...

First of all Kat, it's "trekker" and not "trekkie." Sigh. But that reference does beg the question: does this software kind of run in the background of the operating system, or is it just a word processing program? I mean, could you say "computer, calculator," and have Windows' calculator program launch?

Also, how does it react to background noise? I'm often listening to mp3s through the computer - would that interfere with typing? Do you develop classroom materials along the lines of "...it is common in libraries that a book hang on sloopy sloopy hang on is not exactly where is should be on the shelf...?"

I wonder if this would also wreck havoc at Andrew's house of the future. I can see him watching a cooking show on television, and his blender constantly starting and stopping, his oven turning on and off, and his refrigerator door opening and closing. Hmm... I think I'll stick with my low-tech toaster oven.

Elizabeth said...

You're neglecting to mention that when you were using it to chat with me the other day, it created a link in the text that sent me to a Norwegian website. Which, for some reason, I still find highly amusing :).

I don't know if I'd get along with such software. My brain is very much in my fingertips. That is, I think much more clearly when I type, as opposed to thinking and speaking at the same time, which - as you should know from all the strange things you've heard me say throughout the years - can often go quite wrong for me!

Kat said...

herzogbr - that's just further proof that i am not a "trekker". the software works in lots of programs - firefox, IE (eww!), word, excel, outlook, and probably many more. as for background noise, i was listening to pandora yesterday and it registered some noise but it wasn't loud enough for it to type it. however, i was listening to it through the headset, so that may be why.

elizabeth - glad you enjoyed the norwegian website. it has a lot of trouble distinguishing "a" from "the". it messes up prepositions, articles, and conjunctions far more than 4-syllable words. i was a bit concerned about my brain being in my fingertips too. really though, you adjust - you get used to thinking before speaking/typing.

paul said...

/Picks up mouse and slowly voices "Activate" into it/

Unforunately, I think the utility may be limited for some of us. As a programmer I spend a lot more time switching windows, typing semicolons and changing tabbing than producing prose. I can't image that the software could handle that well. I think my fingers are just going to have to suffer some more.

Kat said...

paul - yeah, i doubt it would be useful for you. it could probably do it but it would be tedious and far more time consuming than just typing. thankfully, i'm not a programmer. (bleh, programming!)

i think you might be going a little bit crazy - why are talking to your mouse? :)