Sunday, September 2, 2007

My computer understands me! New horizons in multitasking

I understand this isn't in everyone's budget, but I had to share how happy with my new toy, Dragon NaturallySpeaking. This is software that allows you use a headset microphone to dictate text input to your computer.

I actually dictated (the draft for) this post using it while catching up on my mending pile!

I expected many transcription errors, but my initial skepticism was unfounded. While there are some errors, you can correct them and train the software to understand your specific voice, so they diminish over time.

It takes a while to get used to speaking for dictation, but once you get the hang of it, it's a huge time saver and great fun. (It certainly made digging through the mending backlog of a lot more fun this morning! The transcription erros can be entertaining as well: I was quite amused when I said "It can be used when sewing, cooking..." and it wrote, "It can be used when selling cocaine...")

I recommend it for anyone who has a lot of tedious tasks that require both hands, but not full attention.

It does require a relatively quiet environment, which can be a challenge in a house full of children. You get your ironing, sewing, flyer-folding, cooking, etc. done while dictating the Great American novel, checking e-mail, brainstorming the to-do list, writing thank-you-notes or even drafting blog posts. (I wish I had this when I was nursing, for all those times when the baby's eyes were closed and eye contact was not an option.)

You can even use it to enter commands so when you are editing a file with your voice you pot is and say, "file (pause) save" to save your file every so often.

You do need to use the keyboard and mouse every once in a while. A few times, I had to remove the thimble from my finger before clicking on the middle button on the mouse.

Training the software to recognize your voice and your writing and speaking style takes practice for both you and for the computer, but the software (and you) will make speedy improvements as you get to know one another. (I strongly recommend a huge mending pile for this stage. The big mending pile also motivates you to keep your hands off the keyboard, which will train both the speaker and the software even faster. )

I'm relatively certain that this product was intended for busy executives, scurrying between presentations and business deals. However, I can attest that it can work for busy
housewives as well.

The license allows you to install the software on your desktop computer and on your laptop, as long as you're not using them concurrently. Usually, I do my ironing on the dining room table (It has a heat-resistant table pad) when a friend calls to chat. I'm looking forward to installing it on my laptop, because I have a huge ironing backlog of table linens to tackle before Yom Tov.

(I bought the standard version of edition 9 at for about $80.)

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cwexl said...

Wow! You are amazingly productive already, this is going to make you even more so. What a cool piece of software.

Juggling Frogs said...


Hey! If you got one, then would you post to your blog more often? Hmmmm?

All the best,

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