Thursday, 18 June 2009

Naturally Speaking

I had a very annoying day yesterday. I have been having problems with pain in my right hand, wrist and arm, especially when I'm using the mouse. I tried very hard to ignore it and just carry on writing, but it had become just too painful.

If I was working in an office, then obviously I could just take some time off and give my poor hand arrest, but I simply can't afford to do that.After some deliberation, I decided that I would give speech recognition software a try.

And so I bought and Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 10. I installed it on my laptop, but it refused to accept the microphone provided with the software.

It's my own fault really: I was bragging to Peter Kirkham about the reliability of my Dell computers in a conversation about Apple owners and their dogged belief that contrary all the evidence, Apple computers are perfect, and everything else is rubbish.

This argument of mine was undermined rather by the fact that I was forced to accept my laptop is faulty and a man from Dell is coming to pick it up today.

I then installed Dragon on my desktop and after training it to understand my voice, the software works pretty well. I have a written on this blog using Dragon and it has only made two or three errors. I make more than that when I type.

I'm not sure that it could ever be a complete replacement for typing. It does feel a little odd talking to yourself. Having said that, I think you will certainly work for me in the short term, writing longhand and dictating.

The voice training was fun. I had to read, President Kennedy's inaugural speech. It was quite difficult to keep reading it and not start doing some terrible Kennedy impersonation.

All in all, the software is pretty accurate, although amusingly, the first time I said ‘new paragraph’, it typed out ‘new Arab's ass’.

I have also written this using Windows Live Writer, a free download, which I hope is going to solve some of the problems I've been having with Blogger.


  1. same problem! I might try that myself. Meantime have you tried an ergonomic keyboard, acupuncture and/or ibuprofen gel? all helpful to me

  2. Sorry to hear that. It does take the fun out of writing. I've been thinking about an ergonomic keyboard, but I don't touch type in any case, so I'm not sure whether that's an issue. I might invest in an ergonomic mouse though - one that it more like a joystick. Acupuncture I haven't tried (for this anyway). Ibuprofen gel is good stuff and I am going to go and by some this very instant.