Saturday, August 29, 2009

The dawning of the Windows era

Recently the RSI stress in my right hand is becoming too much to bear. I needed to find a way to reduce the stress on my hands so I went to pick up Dragon NaturallySpeaking. The idea is, for me to use voice recognition to do regular English writing, such as e-mails, blogs, and other non-coding writing.

Since trading NaturallySpeaking is a Windows only product, and the open source speech recognition tools are not nearly mature enough, this is meant that I've had to officially convert one of my machines to Windows. I think Dragon NaturallySpeaking can be made to work in wine, but when it comes to something as serious as my health I'd rather just bite the bullet, and exchange OS preference for physical comfort.

I purchased a Compaq Mini 10 inch laptop, with Windows XP installed, so that I can take it into a quiet room in order to dictate. The first thing I did with the laptop is remove all the preinstalled software that came with the laptop, and installed from source alternatives like Firefox, OpenOffice, VideoLAN, and ClamAV.

So far using Dragon NaturallySpeaking has been as smooth as silk, the error rate is extremely low, and if there is a mistake it's usually because I slurred my speech. In fact this whole blog entry has been dictated through Dragon NaturallySpeaking; in far less time and far more comfort than had I had to type it out. The only adaptation being having to think about what you say before you speak it,and make sure you enunciate clearly. it also includes a startlingly large dictionary with plenty of technical terms included such as Windows, Linux, Firefox, OpenOffice; all dictated directly without need for correction.

If there is one drawback, it's that writing become so easy, there is a tendency to carry on far too long. :)

Here's hoping someday open source speech dictation becomes as good as this.

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