I used to type 100 wpm. Piano players tend to be very good typers. But my health changed. Pain, fatigue, tremors. Now I am down to maybe 10 wpm. Sometimes two fingered if I’m really shaky. So many mistakes. So I bought Dragon Naturally Speaking speech recognition software. The idea is to write hands free. Speaking to the Dragon, and having it type things for you based on what you said. The Dragon comes with these instructions: The computer is not a person, so it won’t help to:
- T a a a a l k s l o o o o o w w w l y y y y…….
- Say. Only. One. Word. At. A. Time.
I had a good laugh. Then I tried my Dragon. There were some problems. It didn’t listen to me. Ignored my commands. If I was a Sims Medieval Queen, this Dragon would be in the pit. I was so fed up, I just wanted to quit.
“Turn off,” I command. Stays on.
“Shut down.” Nothing happens.
I unsuccessfully tried every computer command I could think of. “TURN OFF!!” I yelled. I was ejected me from the room. There was too much yelling, cursing and rude comments. None of them captured correctly by my Dragon.
I used the Dragon Training and Troubleshooting Tutorial. I kept training my Dragon. I didn’t give up. And my Dragon started getting better. Making some error correction suggestions that were very close to what I was trying to say. But not close enough. I know it could be at least partially because of my mildly stammering slurred speech. Possibly my Canadian accent? Apparently when I’m speaking, my s – t – g – c – p – k consonants all sound the same. Some words—like character names—I train on over and over and it still doesn’t get them. It comes up with bizarre text. Is it my speech condition? The Dragon? Or probably a combination of both?
Linguistically, the Dragon’s errors puzzle me. It has no problem with complex multisyllabic words, e.g. rhetorically, acquaintance. Here are some examples of what it does with other words even after training, training, training:
is that a joke = artichoke
hearing aids = hearing either
like = the
delete command = opens up window to post to twitter
she’d be = she bee (okay that one was close)
skype open request = Hearst paper quest (didn’t open skype)
aren’t you going to = arena tickets
insert quotation marks = types fishman or pensioner
As a writer, this is extremely frustrating. Dragon has another neat trick. It randomly jumps the cursor to a different spot in the document. So it keeps typing what you’re saying (kind of), and then you realize it’s all in the wrong spot in the story line. So you have to go find where it went, get it back to where it was supposed to be, and carry on until the cursor jumps away again with no notice. This happened to me repeatedly. It’s especially terrible during editing. I’m thinking about my story and characters. Not watching the cursor.
Dragon started dying and taking Word down with it. Error messages. Fear inspiring. I uninstalled and reinstalled Dragon. Same fiery crashing deaths. I started getting Norton high performance warnings: over 100% CPU usage by Dragon. When I wasn’t even using it. I got help from Dragon software support, and they were fine. But computer system/software compatibility issues kept happening. How can I write if my Dragon doesn’t like Microsoft Word? My Dragon just never worked the way it was supposed to.
It’s really disappointing, since I bought it to help me keep writing with less pain. Maybe part of it is the way I talk. Because I know people do use Dragon Naturally Speaking speech recognition software successfully. But I quit completely. I couldn’t take the aggravation.
© 2017 Jan L. Mayes