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More Adventures in Dictation

Yesterday, I got the idea in my head that maybe my dictation problem was my software, since, after all, byrne seemed to be getting some mileage from hers. So I looked up what people had to say about the difference between iListen and MacSpeech Dictation. I'd thought it was just a new name. Nope, everywhere I read said iListen is a dog, and MacSpeech has "the same speech recognition engine as Naturally Speaking." Which I gather is superior.

Well, no problem, I'd upgrade. I was supposed to get some kind of discount for being an iListen owner. Fast forward a couple of hours--I'll spare you the gristly details, but I really friggin' hate paying for something I don't have to pay for, I have certain money issues where doing something like this would take up way too many brain cells and leave me startling awake in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. Anyhow, my upgrade priveliges had run out. And a 20% coupon they'd emailed me had expired 2 days ago.

Finally, I thought, screw it. If Dragon's speech-recognition is the gold standard, how much does Dragon itself cost? 'Cos I'd rather work in my office on my PC anyway, if my PC is robust enough. More research. Everything seems to check out, although I might need to increase my RAM, but we'll see. If I do, that's just 40 bucks. Dragon Naturally Speaking is ordered.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, a WTF moment from Camp Hell, courtesy of iListen:

If I’ve poured some into the coffee cup and Todd bit. Resulting. I shattered and accords more.

Luckily, even as I was dictating, I saw this and realize I'd never know what it was supposed to be, and I typed it in.

I poured some into the coffee cup and chugged it. Revolting. I shuddered and poured some more.

Help me, Dragon. Help me.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 3rd, 2008 01:53 pm (UTC)
Good lord. That's some rotten translation, there.

Mac Speech was awful to install -- they had a production issue that apparently isn't resolved. But I got the patch and within a couple of hours I was good to go. It was a disheartening start, but I've been pleased with the results.

I'm finding that where the mic is in relation to my breathing is key; if the stream of my exhale from my nose does not fall on the mic, it's all good. When I suddenly start getting errors it's due to my mic being moved (I take off my headset pretty often to chase kids or get water and snacks) or because my voice has become gravelly. Thus the water! :D

Twice it's done that weird 'insert a block of what the hell text in the middle of things'. Both times that happened after I've been using the keyboard and mouse to edit the document while the Mac Speech program was running -- mic off, but running. Apparently doing that confuses the program; it thinks the cursor should be somewhere else and does this... thing.

There have been two times when I could NOT get it to recognize a word - very frustrating. By then, though, I'd figured out the block of text thing, so I closed the program, edited by keystroke out of frustration, went to get a drink and then restarted when I was a bit happier.

There is definitely a switch between 'writing with my fingers' and 'writing with my voice'. I found it took me a few hours over a couple of days to get into the swing of dictating story, and as expected I dictate dialogue very well, and have to piece narrative together a bit slower. When I get on a roll I forget about punctuation, too, but I'm getting better about that. If I'm really on a roll I forget to say 'period' in a slightly different way and wind up having to change a few 'period's to '.' .

Aug. 3rd, 2008 04:44 pm (UTC)
There is definitely a switch between 'writing with my fingers' and 'writing with my voice'.

I felt that switch happening, which made me happy. But I do sense that my software is a problem. I hope it all turns out for the best. If they made it less restrictive for me to upgrade, that's what I would've done. (Also, it happened on the day I lost 5 bucks at iStockphoto due to my credits expiring, so I was super pissed off and in my Money Nazi mode.)

I can tell from my podcast that my voice is gravelly from allergies anyway, but still, I think it was a software issue.
Aug. 3rd, 2008 02:09 pm (UTC)
I have no success with any kind of voice recognition application. They never, ever, register what I say. When I have to use one (usually an automated phone thing for a credit card company) I just say random words to get it to toss me from the system and transfer me to a person as quickly as possible. So picture me holding the phone saying. "Baboon. Kumquat. Battleship."
Aug. 3rd, 2008 04:44 pm (UTC)
LOL, one of these days, you'll end up in the super-sekkrit portion of the phone bank because you stumbled on a code word :D

I have hopes for Dragon. We'll see.
Aug. 3rd, 2008 02:48 pm (UTC)
Dragon IS better, and it comes with a really good headset. The headset is key to good VR. I would blame your bad translation there on your mic/graphics card. :(
Aug. 3rd, 2008 04:44 pm (UTC)
Actually, I have a souped-up Mac and a very good USB mic that I use for podcasting. My guess is that I jumped on the software bandwagon before they adapted a good software for mac. I'll see how Dragon goes on my PC.
Aug. 3rd, 2008 05:14 pm (UTC)
That might do it. I've found that Dragon/Nuance has incredibly high standards for their mics. The one that came with my program is superior to the $70 professional headset I'd been using. Now, that one's not a USB, neither are, and I am wondering if I'd get better mileage still out of a USB mic. I don't know what the comparison is.
Aug. 3rd, 2008 05:26 pm (UTC)
I think it's probable that USB mics tend to be better because they're going into a powered port. I guess some mics run off batteries whereas others (how do they work with no batteries, going into that mini-jack? It's a mystery!)

When I was in bands and everything was analog, in general, the fatter your cord was, the better sound you knew you'd get from it because it had more cord-stuff inside to bring the highs and lows from your mic or instrument to your amp. I wonder if the same can be said for digital audio input and that tiny little mini-jack. I can't imagine you can get a great quality from that little input, though I'll bet a good mic makes up for some of it.

(Highly un-scientifc theory above--but probably has a basis in fact somewhere. Maybe a music store employee told me about the fat cord thing.)

I'm happy to hear Dragon comes with a decent headset, though, since I'll be setting up another whole audio setup in a separate room. I'll have to try both and see if one is better than the other. I guess it's no big hardship to go get my USB mic when I'm sitting down to podcast ;-)
Aug. 4th, 2008 06:14 am (UTC)
Sporffles. I never got past the first word I was supposed to read out loud, Con gradual Asians. (congratulations) I never, ever got it to hear me right.

Thank you. I have to type, I guess, as I have a weird foreign accent it cannot understand.
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:31 am (UTC)
It's easier for me when something just doesn't work whatsoever. It's easier to let it go and say, "Not worth my time."

It's when something kinda, sorta works (or intermittently works) that I go batshit trying to make it work well!

Aug. 5th, 2008 02:50 am (UTC)
Isn't that Pavlov's much beloved partial reinforcement schedule? I believe we're all experiments... (ooh. Paranoia moment.) I worked for hours and hours reading to that software... But still. Con Gradual Asians. The first fricking word! Yeesh.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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