Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I can type and think at the same time, but ...

I make too many typos when I'm typing rough drafts, so I decided to try a dictation program, Dragon Naturally Speaking (the cheap version). Like many truly new experiences, it turns out to be not at all what I'd imagined. There are three ways (at least) in which the actual experience is a terrific surprise, and I only knew about the first one in advance:

  1. You can hurt your throat giving commands to a PC, it's hard to talk naturally.

  2. Naturally Speaking tries to give you a total “hands off” experience. You don't just dictate text. You can make corrections, switch apps, move the mouse, use menus, etc., by voice, all while you lean back at that 135 degree angle that's supposed to be best for sitting.
  3. You have to be able to talk and think at the same time...
That last one is the killer for me. I hope it's a temporary mental block, not a major skill that I lack. Many people a little older than I have dictated for years, but I've been word-processing for thirty-eight years, I NEVER dictated.

On the good side, it seems that when I dictate, my speaking style is breezier and lighter than my type-think style. That may have its advantages.

One more thing about Naturally Speaking surprised me: they have a sane license, you can use one copy, for one person, on multiple computers. That means I can install it wherever I want to use it, I'll just have to (sigh) get the make updates in its dictionary, and have a useful microphone ready to go at every machine. And Why didn't I dictate this blog entry?
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