This is a review of Dragon Naturally Speaking, version 11. I launched the application and logged in with my particular profile for the setup I have. I’ve opened the DragonPad document editor from the Tools menu. Now, everything you will see appear in the window in DragonPad is done by voice dictation alone; there is no typing. Let me turn the microphone on, and begin.
I am using Dragon Naturally Speaking to create the text file you see appearing on the screen in front of you. I’m voice dictating, not typing. I do have to voice dictate punctuation. After a while of doing that, it becomes second nature, so it’s not really a problem. However, I have to say that when I first started using this software, it took a little bit of getting used to.
The package runs on Windows – there is a Mac version available too. You need a good Windows machine to get the best out of Dragon Naturally Speaking. An old, slower machine is unlikely to be sufficient. You also need a good microphone. A headset is included in some versions of the package, but you won’t get the best results from it. Using a higher-quality microphone, although at an expense, makes this package work the way you would expect it to.
As far as accuracy is concerned, it’s correctly recognizing what I am saying. If you do make a mistake, it’s possible to correct it by voice, or by keyboard. The process of correction actually updates your personal profile, so that accuracy is better in the future. In other words, the more you use it, the better it gets!
It’s also possible to use Dragon to control some of your applications, surf the Web, and run voice macros – voice macros give you the ability to predefine blocks of text and/or images, such as your home address, or a scanned signature, or your company logo. For anyone working with documents that require fairly standard blocks of text, it would be possible to build a library of voice macros that let you create an entire letter in just a few commands. I’ll show you an example right now.
I’ve set up some example voice commands, to show you how you can build up your own voice macros. Now, in the sidebar, I’m using the “My Commands” tab to remind me of the particular voice macros I’ve already created. I can format these entries so that the voice macro would, for example, make this bold every time it goes in. In the “Tools” menu, choose the command “Browser,” pick the command that you want to choose – in my case the “Comp. Close” – and then view and edit the script.
We can also add graphics if we wish – if we had a company logo, for example – and as you can see, with this kind of facility, you can build up complex documents very quickly as long as you’re using standardized phrasing.
What’s the verdict on Dragon? Well for me, it’s a success. While I’m concentration on the actual typing, I’m not concentrating on what I’m thinking. When I can leave the typing to take care of itself, I can put all my effort into the thinking. As I’m getting older, my fingers can certainly feel the difference after a day of typing – at least, they can after a day when I don’t have to do any typing!
There were a couple of mistakes in this text, and I corrected them with a combination of keyboard and voice correction. Those corrections will go into my user profile, and in the future, those particular problems are less likely to occur. You can speak more quickly than I have been doing, and Dragon Naturally Speaking will keep up with you. What you will see is that the text takes a few seconds to appear, and generally waits until you have finished speaking. Highly recommended!
You can use Dragon Naturally Speaking to dictate into other text boxes, as I am doing here. I have now selected Notepad. I can dictate into Notepad as easily as I can do in the Dragon special version, which is called DragonPad. I can even use this to dictate my emails, in most applications. Here is an example of an email, and the dictation works perfectly in this window as well. I can switch from one window to another, and the dictation manages to keep up with me. All I have to do is select the text box by clicking with the mouse, and then the window with the focus is where my dictated text will go.
Tim Chaten, The Possibilities Podcast: Today’s show is about RSI. What is that? That is repetitive strain injury, and a possible cure for this, a possible way that people can avoid coming down with this injury. The thing I’m going to be talking about is voice; how voice really changed it all, and how voice has changed things for me personally.
RSI can happen when you do a LOT of typing. You’re just typing all day, you’re doing the same thing over and over again, so in this case we’re going to talk about how to cure RSI for typing. With voice, with tools like Dragon Nuance’s Naturally Speaking, on the Windows side, or Mac Speech Dictate on the Mac side, you no longer need a keyboard to run your day. You really don’t need a keyboard anymore to enter text, to open applications, to really do anything. You can just talk to your computer, and that is how you get work done.
In the past, you really needed to type out everything, you needed to do all of these repetitive tasks over and over and over. That is just not the case anymore. We have tools now, where you can simply talk to your Mac, talk to your Windows machine, and it will open the things that need to be opened, it will dictate the things that need to be dictated, it will do all of your typing for you without you lifting a finger. You can simply navigate the mouse, click on what you need to click, have your thoughts ready and start talking to your machine and have it accomplish what you need to accomplish.
What I have found in my own usage of it, is that I am typing less; I am just talking to my Mac, and it’s extremely accurate as far as what it can do. It can do very complex things, it can dictate amazingly well, so you can write your letters now by just talking to your machine. You can answer emails that way, you can work with Excel documents that way; you can do whatever you need to do to get your work done by simply talking to your machine. And for those that are skeptics, saying, “Hey, this is going to take a lot more time,” it really doesn’t; it actually speeds up your workflow, because you are working in a more natural state. Talking is much more natural than typing; you are able to get your thoughts out much more quickly.
You don’t have to worry about spelling anymore! And that’s the cool thing – you don’t have to worry about that. Spelling is a non-issue because of this. Spelling does not matter, because you’re just talking. And when you’re talking, it’s got a dictionary that it’s using; it knows the different words that are possible, and it will use the correct spelling. That’s exciting because for me, I’m not the best speller in the world; I can use spellcheck and figure it out, but I sometimes hesitate when typing because I’m not sure what the spelling I should is. With speaking, it’s not an issue; I know what words I want to use, I just don’t know how to spell it in some cases, so why not dictate it? It’s quicker, much quicker, and in many people’s cases – even though I’m a fast typer, I can get 60, 70 words out a minute, sometimes 80 words a minute depending on how fast I’m going that day – it’s still faster. It’s still less stressful, and that’s a big thing; if you’re working, you want to have a stress-free environment; if you’re able to just talk and speak to your computer, you’ll be much more relaxed, much more at ease as you’re working, as you’re composing your emails, as you’re going through your day. So, much less stressful of an environment.
It frees up your mind to think about the things that need to be thought about; you don’t have to think about what your hands need to do. Those are free, you can use your mouse and just have your hands devoted to finding what you need to click on the screen, while you just talk. You’re able to free up your mind, and just dictate what you need to dictate. You’re able to say “Open Safari,” and it will open Safari. You’re able to say “Close Safari”, and it closes. You’re able to say “Hide all other applications,” and it will hide all of the applications that aren’t in use at the time. Those are Mac commands; I’m sure they have those on Windows. You’re able to just talk to your Mac, and it understands what you need by those words, and that’s an exciting thing.
I really do believe the future is in voice; we’re just going to be talking as our form of entry. In most cases, that will be the future. In circumstances when we are able to talk, we will talk; we may come to a point in time where there’s microphones by our mouths, just tiny little microphones that you’re able to talk to your phone, talk to your computer in a whisper, or some sort of quiet way; you’re able to say “Open machine, open, open, close.” You’ll be able to dictate “Text Joe Schmo.” You’re able to just dictate very quietly because the mic is right by your mouth. I think that will be the future; we’ll have mics. We’ll be in a state where we’re able to get things done by just talking; by speech. And this is sort of going back where we came from; the age where we did use telephones more, we did voice communication more. That just doesn’t happen as much anymore; people are texting, people are using that way to communicate. We’ll be going back on ourselves a little bit by talking, to send the same information to people. The same information that, you’ll be talking, and it will be sent via text message to people. And perhaps it’ll even be read back to them, in an earpiece, what was sent to them. So we may enter this environment where everything is done by voice. We’re hearing our stuff back by voice, we’re entering the data by voice, and I think that is what we’ll have in the future. That’s exciting to me, and I think it may be a downer for a lot of people, but I think that’s soemthing that will come about, and I think this may be a possible cure for RSI. People are typing more and more, and I think that just doesn’t need to happen. RSI can be cured by voice entry, and utilizing that on a daily basis, and in combination with keyboard stuff. You may still need to use a keyboard, but with voice, you’ll cut down on usage of your keyboard, and that could save you a lot of stress and a lot of injuries.