How Dragons can save you time – Naturally Speaking!

by Julie Baird on December 1, 2010

Last night my son came to me with several sheets of hand written paper. He needed to put it on the computer and had been putting off this task because it was going to take him “forever”!

“Is there not a way to photocopy it and have it appear on the computer?” he whined.

Not being very familiar with my scanning capabilities I suggested we use Dragon Naturally Speaking to get it roughly in and then he could work on it. It only took about 5 minutes to read it in and then he was able to get to work.

Admittedly he needed to do a lot of tweaking but then he had been working from a very rough draft anyway, so he was thrilled.

I myself am finding Dragon Naturally Speaking a very useful tool these days.

Call me old fashioned but when I am writing for articles products or my book project, I find that nothing beats pen and paper for getting my creative juices flowing.

This however leaves the issue of making the words magically appear on my computer.

Although I fantasize about handing this off to a virtual assistant or even my teenager, the reality is that I work in fits and starts and I am not ready to take that step. Plus my teenager looked at me with horror at the idea!

A period of enforced one handedness due to shoulder surgery last year forced the issue for me. Someone recommended Dragon Naturally Speaking the speech recognition software. So I took the plunge.

Now, admittedly I have a Scottish accent which puts a different dimension on things but it does let you select what type of accent you have. It seems to cover a wide range of US accents.

It was a bit halting at first but now that it has tuned into me it is going much more smoothly. It is definitely more accurately with smooth and flowing speech (like when I am reading what I have written) than when I am pausing to compose in my head first.

It apparently considers the context of the sentence as well as trying to recognize each word.

I haven’t used it much to control the use of the computer in general, it seems like more effort than it’s worth for my taste – even with only one arm.

The version I have (10) allows you to download a recording of your voice and transcribes this into text. You need to tune this in separately. I have tried this a few times but to be honest it just gave me a bunch of rubbish. It would have taken me longer to try and figure it out and correct it than it would have to type it in from scratch.

I recently bought a digital voice recorder that is supposed to record in a format that is compatible for transcribing. It is early days, but so far it is not looking good. It could be that because when I use the recorder I tend to be more thoughtful and pause more than when I’m reading. Further testing is needed.

Overall, if you like to vocalize your thoughts this is a great tool. Those with auditory learning styles will love it. You can just jot down a few bullets, chat away and then edit later. Or if you are like me and like paper and pen, or need to work when the computer is not handy, it definitely speeds up the process.

You can buy Dragon Naturally Speaking at my Amazon store – it makes a great addition to your holiday gift list.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

John Doc August 26, 2012 at 2:03 am

Thanks Julie for this review. I am looking at investing in version 12 for a book project but I am a little concerned about my Scottish accent! The windows 7 speech recognition version is so inaccurate that is is a constant reminder of Burnistoun lift sketch!
Anyway nice to know that Dragon is working for you, I will probably give a go as the thought of typing in hundreds of hand written pages is not an enjoyable prospect.

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