Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Battling the Dragon

I am learning to adapt my writing process from typing to dictating through Dragon Naturally Speaking software. Dragon is very helpful but ...

I say "My sister mothered me," and it types "My sister bothered me." I say "enunciation" and it types "NCAA sin." I say "air kisses with super loud" and it types "Eric kisses with sick birds allowed."

I am not make you dish it out. Correction: I’m not making this shit up.

I check the settings on my microphone and wonder if people are lying to me when they say my NCAA sin sounds normal again.

I found the mistakes so distracting at first, I had to go back and correct them right away. But then I lost my flow. So I tried writing with my eyes closed. By the time I opened them again, I had no way of reconstructing what I'd said.

Eyes open, I have learned not to swear out loud at these errors. Or I get something that looks like this: Eric kisses with sick birds allowed God dammit!

I have learned to pause and turn off the microphone before responding to my husband’s knock on my office door, or I get bizarre renditions of one-sided conversations.

The soft hiss of my breathing against the microphone often appears as "him him him him … ."

I have learned to speak punctuation and capital letters as a natural part of my dictation: open quote I close quote often becomes open quote cap A close quote period. Translation: "I" often becomes "A".

Forget playing the PNO, forget breeding my niece’s hair! A just want to type!


  1. Got to love that dragon! Whoever said dragons had good hearing anyway, and sick birds, well...they're never allowed around here. It's probably that darn dragon that brought us bird flu in the first place. Keep swearing at the beast, Marcelle, and I know you will make it cower. You can make anything and anyone cower, hey!

  2. Too funny. The one time I tried Dragon, it substituted "porn" for "corn." Makes me wonder if it's programmed with that expectation.

    What am I writing about corn for, anyway?

  3. I know of a couple of people that I was thinking really might benefit from something like voice software.
    Do you think there is anything to make it easier? Different software? Is the learning curve for training the program just plain too hard, especially for someone with some intellectual problems? How hard is using it in an email program?

    Thanks for advice.

  4. @ Linda - From my understanding, Dragon is the industry standard. I did not find it particularly difficult to set up or learn. On the whole, I think it's preferable to typing with one hand, and I have used it a lot for e-mails and shopping online (i.e. shipping address and credit card number). But, as you can see, it's not as simple as talking into a tape recorder and having a perfect record.

  5. Thanks Marcelle, I am going to pass this info on next week. I think it will be very helpful.

    I am finding that computers in general are an under utilized tool with the stroke survivors around here and I sure would like to make it easier for people to learn what computers can do for them.

  6. Therapists were amazed that Christopher Reed was able to use Dragon Dictate. They think his acting experience gave him the precise voice control that this system demands. I know what you mean about interrupting the flow of writing. Typing one-handed lets me compose without critiquing as I write. I feel for you. I hope you find a solution for cranking out that first draft.