Saturday, August 11, 2007

Naturally Speaking I'm Blogging

This is my first attempt to write a blog posting using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I have only spent about an hour using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. So I don't think the program is fully trained yet. However, what the program is able to achieve so far is quite surprising. Everything that I have dictated up until this point, has been correct.

I am having slightly more trouble using the commands, however, they promise to be extremely useful, if for example, I am able to dictate a blog posting, copy it, then paste it into a blog post. At the moment, I am using the DragonPad application to do my dictation. It seems that the DragonPad is optimized for taking in spoken dictation. Later on I will try dictating directly into the blogger application.

The ideal situation would be to sit looking at the screen surfing the web with voice commands, and then using the Google toolbar to send webpages to my blog where I can add text and then post.
One of the things that I am interested in finding out is whether or not some of my recent reluctance to do typing is related to the pain it generates either immediately or after the fact. (Ever since the end of last year, my left shoulder and upper on inheriting during an off to typing.) Whether or not the pain has been a deterrent to typing, I am more determined than ever to pursue computed dictation as an input method for my writing.

I have tried this several times in the past, using previous editions of Dragon NaturallySpeaking and the main competitor, IBM ViaVoice. (Interesting to note, Dragon NaturallySpeaking very easily recognizes both its own name and that of IBM ViaVoice.) Each time, I eventually gave up.

In my recent reading about voice recognition software, which I can remember testing at least 10 years ago, I noticed that several people stressed the need to persist with a voice recognition program in order to get the best performance from it. Apparently, Dragon NaturallySpeaking continues to learn as you use the program. The more you use the program, the better it works. This added incentive may be enough to keep me going through some off the rough patches.

There are several surprising side effects to using voice recognition software. Personally, I am getting quite a kick out of making the computer do something with just my voice. Having something, albeit an inanimate object, obey my every come on, well it's just rather satisfying.

(Notice that in the last sentence I used the phrase "obey my every come on" but in fact what I said was obey my every command, so you can see that there are some interesting wrinkles to be worked out.)

To review, I have now dictated thus far with only one or two mistakes. Not bad for $89 (at Staples) with fairly comfortable headset included.

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