Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 8, 2010
As y’all know, I do a lot of writing. I even wrote a real book, which is the second book listed over there to the left, Embrace The Lead.
When I wrote that book, I didn’t quite finish it by typing. I started out that way, then 9/11 hit and I got discouraged from doing anything. Then my dad got sick and I was inspired to get it finished so he could read at least some of it.
I knew that I needed some help in getting it done. So, I bought a voice recognition program, and with its assistance I was able to get the book done in record time. Voice recognition software pretty much writes down what you say; at least what it thinks you say. The first program I used, which wasn’t great, did okay for the most part, as all I then had to do was go back and edit things.
A year later I bought my first Dragon software program, which worked much better, and I loved it. I only had to use the one program, which I used often enough, until I bought my present computer. Vista, it turns out, isn’t compatible with Dragon 8. But now that I’m writing as much as I am and earning money from it, I knew I had to get the updated version at some point, and now I have it, Dragon Naturally Speaking 10.
Here’s the first thing you need to know; this sucker is huge! It’s going to take up to 1.5 GB of space on your hard drive. I guess with what it does that’s not so bad. It’s going to grow, however, but I’ll come back to that. Anyway, because it’s so big, it’s going to take awhile for it to load onto your computer. You know how you’ll often get that message about “it could take several minutes to load onto your computer”, but then the programs load really fast? This one took about 45 minutes to load; at one point I wondered whether it had frozen up.
When it’s finally ready, it doesn’t just start like some programs, so you’ll have to start the program. It will ask you a couple of questions, including whether you want to register it or not, and it also asks you if you want to activate the program. I recommend getting that out of the way so it never asks you that question again.
Next it’s time to do some testing. It will test your microphone to make sure it works with the program. It gives you a headset with a microphone that you can plug into jacks, but I wanted to use my USB headset instead, and it works just fine. It will test voice levels.
Then it’s time to get a sample of your reading and speaking patterns. I chose the very elementary first sample, as there are a bunch of them, just so I could get started. You read the entire sample, then it takes some time in processing how you read; it’s this file that’s going to get bigger and bigger as you go along, because not only will it grow as you do more testing, but every once in awhile, and it will ask you how often you want to do it, the program goes back and looks for new things you’ve produced so it can add to the file. You can read more samples or come back to it later on, and I recommend you eventually get through as many of them as you can because the more it can recognize your speech patterns, the more accurate it will be.
One last thing before you get to actually do something is it does a scan of documents in your computer to try to get a sample of not only how your words flow on paper, but adds some words that you have in documents that it might not have. For instance, my wife’s name is Robyn, obviously with a “y”, and it picks that up and knows when to use that as opposed to the bird.
Then you can finally go for it. You’ll see a little window, which you can close and just use the icon in your taskbar. Here’s the thing. You can read your words into anything. You can use it to write your blog right into the program. You can use it in Microsoft Word, email, Wordpad, etc. Anything where you usually have to type words, you can use Dragon instead. And I have to tell you, from only my first reading, it did really well. A few times when I spoke really fast it messed up, but that’s understandable since I only did the one training with it. I’m actually using it now to write this post; how neat is that?
Of course, it’s not totally as easy as that for new people. There are many commands you’ll want to learn to use it with much more efficiency so that you don’t have to keep coming to the keyboard. Things such as “capitalize that”, “scratch that (that will erase the last phrase you said), “correct that”, etc. But they’re easy things to learn and remember.
Do I recommend Dragon? Wholeheartedly! It makes the writing process easier for anyone who says they hate typing or that the words they’re thinking never seem to show up on paper the same way. I will admit that when I’m using the program I speak in phrases right now, because, oddly enough, I actually type faster on some things than I speak, and you might decide to do that yourself, or once you feel that it’s got your speech patterns down just go for it. If you do a lot of writing of any type, this bad boy is the way to go.