Trying Dictation Software [en]

If, like Samuel, you are tempted to try Dragon NaturallySpeaking, you need to be aware of the following.

You did not become as proficient as you are now with your keyboard and mouse in a few weeks. It probably took you years. With proper equipment and practice, speech recognition can be more efficient than traditional ways of controlling your computer. When you start using dictation software, however, it feels a bit like learning to use your computer all over again — especially the “controlling” part. Straightforward dictation itself is pretty easy to grasp, and you quickly find that editing a text is much nicer to do when you can just say things like “insert before this or that word”, “select previous five lines”, or “move down two paragraphs”. Dictation itself is much quicker than typing. Corrections take time, therefore the better your recognition accuracy, the more efficient you will find your dictation program.

I can only encourage you to try before you really need it. It works, it’s fun, and it will certainly save you time and pain in the long run. Learning does not go without frustrations. You’ll have trouble using it in the beginning, especially when giving commands to your computer. Do not expect to install speech recognition and be as efficient with it with it as you are with your keyboard and mouse within two days, two weeks, or even two months, probably. If you are aware that you are going to have to learn a whole different way of interacting with your computer, you’ll actually be surprised at how reasonably painless it is.

Within a couple of hours, I was capable of dictating an e-mail with a reasonable number of corrections. A few days later, I was chatting by voice with enough ease that the people I was talking with were not immediately aware that I was dictating. Today, 10 days after installing the programme, I’m comfortable dictating, but still pretty clumsy and slow giving commands or doing HTML other than “open p” and “insert link”. But it’s getting better.

I don’t want to paint the picture black, but I don’t want to paint it too pink either. It is not overwhelmingly difficult. But it is not that easy either. It’s worth the effort, and you get well paid for your efforts, but it does require perseverance on your part. I was honestly expecting it to be more difficult, because I had been warned so much not to expect it to be straightforward.

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