Monday, January 16, 2012

Using Dragon NaturallySpeaking As A Writer

For a couple years I have had my eye on the Dragon NaturallySpeaking program. I have a friend whose son can't use his hands. He has used Dragon NaturallySpeaking for years to complete school projects and she constantly raves about what a great product it is. So I'd done a lot of looking at the program trying to decide which version I wanted to buy, and finally settled on the home version - which I bought just a couple weeks ago.

When my friend first told me about Dragon NaturallySpeaking, I looked into other talk to text programs that were free. The one I tried..., well let's just say it didn't work too great. That made me a little leery of shelling out money for a program when I wondered whether it would even work. However, I kept hearing from various sources what a great program Dragon NaturallySpeaking was. So I finally decided to give it a try.

The box claims that Dragon NaturallySpeaking will give you 99% accuracy straight out of the box. Based on my experience with the other speech to text program I had used previously, I figured that was probably an exaggeration. However, I have been pleasantly surprised by how accurate Dragon has actually been straight out of the box. I did about 10 min. of training with it, reading one small paragraph, and a few paragraphs of a short story, and then launched right into using it.

I've only had the program for a couple of days, but I'm very excited to see what doors this will open for my writing. Some of the commands are not exactly intuitive for me, for instance, to create an action like hitting the enter key you have to say, "new line." I'm always wanting to say, "enter." Also, there's a certain knack to learning to pause before you give commands, so they aren't typed out in your document. For instance, if you don't pause before saying "new line," then the program might type "new line" right in the body of your document.

Due to the fact that you have to "train" Dragon to recognize your voice, the program really is only a one user program.  My son put my microphone on and tried to dictate a passage, however the program totally did not understand what he was saying. You can create multiple user profiles within the program, however the terms of service state that for each additional user profile you create you need to buy an additional license. Also,if you train your program in a totally silent environment and then try using it with background noise going on, the program will not understand what you're saying. So I suggest training your program inside the environment where you will use it most often. However, as time goes on the program continues to perfect your user profile. So at first this is much more of an issue then later on.

The only other drawback I see to the program is that you also have to dictate your punctuation. That takes a little getting used, but I've been surprised at how quickly it comes.

I'm sure as time goes on I'll learn a lot more about the program and the program will learn to understand me better and since I'm a visual-audio learner I think this program will help me to be a lot more productive.

So if you've been looking at Dragon NaturallySpeaking, I can say that I highly recommend the program. Maybe some of you already use the program? Do you have any tips and tricks to share with the rest of us?

Incidentally, I have typed this whole blog post by "talking it."
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