10 Years With RSI [en]

[fr] Plus de 10 ans que mes mains ont commencé à faire mal. Bilan: c'est sous contrôle, même s'il y a certaines choses que je ne peux plus faire. J'ai aussi procédé à des aménagements pour certaines activités.

In September 2002 my hands started hurting really badly at the computer. I had to take three breaks while writing this article. I took some time off, and when I got back to work, within half a day, things were back where they were. I panicked for a few days. A lot of my life revolved around computers. How would I finish my studies? I discovered it was possible to use a computer with speech recognition, and that reassured me a bit. I saw the doctor, spent 5 weeks off work and computers (well, at work but not allowed to type, it was dreadful, actually), the neurologist confirmed my nerves were all right, I got Dragon NaturallySpeaking (version 5 at the time) and started speaking to my computer.

Life resumed, at home and work. I practically stopped using my hands with my computer and dictated for pretty much a whole year, including my university dissertation and my last written exam (they stuck me in my teacher’s office for that).

When I left my job at Orange, I got an iBook, which meant I said goodbye to speech recognition. By then the rest had done its job, and I had also made some changes which certainly helped improve things:

  • I got rid of my old clunky keyboard and moved the computer away from the drafty window
  • I got a laptop, actually, which meant I started varying the positions in which I typed
  • I started paying attention to my hands: was I in pain? was I uncomfortable?
  • I used a break timer to force myself to learn to stop and take breaks
  • I learned to say “no” a bit more, and give a higher priority to myself over others (ie, taking care of my hands became top priority, whereas others’ needs used to be what came first)
  • In general, I started listening to myself more: how was I feeling? was I stressed? was I tired? did I want to do what I was doing? etc.
  • I made sure I continued to get (gentle) exercise; I went easy on my hands at judo for a couple of years.

Where am I at now, 10 years later? Well, I still say I have RSI, because it’s just around the corner, but most of the time it doesn’t bother me. It’s “under control”. Many years ago my osteopath actually managed to do something to make my hands hurt less. Something to do with my arteries, it seems. No guarantee it will be the same for everyone with RSI, but it does it for me. So when my hands start feeling painful again, I head off to my osteo. With the years, I’ve learnt to recognize my hands hurting as a warning sign rather than a problem in itself. They don’t normally hurt. If they hurt and I go to my osteo, she’ll usually find a whole bunch of things that are, let’s say, “out of balance”.

Here’s what my life with RSI is, 10 years later:

  • I type on my Macbook in all sorts of non-ergonomic positions: I vary
  • At my desk though, I make sure that I am sitting high enough that my elbow makes a 90°+ angle (for me the most comfortable place to type is on my knees => laptop)
  • I never use a mouse, and know tons of keyboard shortcuts
  • I have Dragon Dictate but don’t use it enough — I haven’t invested the time to be comfortable with it
  • I have discovered speech recognition on my iPhone and use it whenever I can
  • I cannot carry my groceries very far without taking a break, even though I have plenty of upper-body strength (I have a rollie-bag)
  • I avoid repetitive hand movements: chopping lots of hard stuff, screwing with a manual screwdriver, polishing by hand… if I have to I take breaks, but if possible I’ll let somebody else do that kind of job
  • I’m still doing judo, and can fight “normally”, though it hurts “more than it should” when people rip their sleeves out of my hands or when I’ve been strangling somebody really hard 😉
  • If I feel RSI coming back, I run to the osteo
  • In general, I take much better care of myself than I used to, and I am much “softer” on myself (I used to be the “tough it out” type, RSI cured me from that)
  • I cannot write by hand more than a few lines anymore; this is a combination of lack of practice (I always type) and some loss of fine motor control probably due to RSI. If I try to write, I become illegible after a few lines, and it hurts. So I don’t.

Over the years, I have seen so many people develop RSI in some form or other. Don’t overwork yourself. Take care of your hands before they start hurting.

3rd #back2blog challenge
(7/10), with: Brigitte Djajasasmita (@bibiweb), Baudouin Van Humbeeck (@somebaudy), Mlle Cassis (@mlle_cassis), Luca Palli (@lpalli), Yann Kerveno (@justaboutvelo), Annemarie Fuschetto (@libellula_free), Ewan Spence (@ewan), Kantu (@kantutita), Jean-François Genoud (@jfgpro), Michelle Carrupt (@cmic), Sally O’Brien (@swissingaround), Adam Tinworth (@adders), Mathieu Laferrière (@mlaferriere), Graham Holliday (@noodlepie), Denis Dogvopoliy (@dennydov), Christine Cavalier (@purplecar), Emmanuel Clément (@emmanuelc), Xavier Bertschy (@xavier83). Follow #back2blog.

Bilingual Frustrations, Still in 2013 (With Siri and Dragon Dictate) [en]

[fr] J'adore Siri, mais qu'est-ce que j'aimerais que les logiciels à "intelligence linguistique" puisse fonctionner en mode multilingue. En tant que bilingue, je trouve extrêmement frustrant de devoir (a) m'en tenir à une seule langue (b) me souvenir dans quelle langue j'ai "configuré" le logiciel en question!

Before leaving for India last year, my earbuds died, which I took as a sign to head out and upgrade my iPhone, something I was due for sooner or later (in Switzerland, your mobile phone is tied to your subscription, and you get a discounted phone every one or two years).

This means I got an iPhone 5, and was finally able to play about with Siri. I love Siri and voice commands/dictation in general. But as a bilingual person, I find it really sad that there is no voice command to switch languages. I do it many many times a day! Bilingual mode would be the best. Sure, it would double Siri’s vocabulary, but I’m sure with today’s technology and if Siri knows which two languages I’m speaking it’s doable.

Plus I read in a forum (link lost since then) that changing languages resets all the “learning” aspect of Siri? That really sucks and should qualify as a bug.

When will people making software that has language intelligence understand that there are bilingual people out there who juggle with two (ore more!) languages constantly throughout their day? I have exactly the same grief with Dragon Dictate.

Remember: most people are multilingual. And if you’re interested in bilingualism, you should be reading François Grosjean‘s “Life as a Bilingual” blog.

2nd Back to Blogging Challenge, day 3. Others: Nathalie Hamidi(@nathaliehamidi), Evren Kiefer (@evrenk), Claude Vedovini (@cvedovini), Luca Palli (@lpalli), Fleur Marty (@flaoua), Xavier Borderie (@xibe), Rémy Bigot (@remybigot),Jean-François Genoud (@jfgpro), Sally O’Brien (@swissingaround), Marie-Aude Koiransky (@mezgarne), Anne Pastori Zumbach (@anna_zap), Martin Röll (@martinroell), Gabriela Avram (@gabig58), Manuel Schmalstieg (@16kbit), Jan Van Mol (@janvanmol). Hashtag:#back2blog.

Retour au Dragon [en]

[fr] Each time I go through a bad bout of RSI, I can be certain that my speech recognition setup breaks down. This time, my microphone died, and I had to buy a new headset, which seems to be working correctly, as you can see. Business seems to be slowly picking up again after the summer break, but there's nothing really solid for the moment. I will be travelling beginning of October and beginning of November (conferences I've been invited to speak at, and others that I'm attending), but things are unfortunately too uncertain financially for me to make definite plans about the trip in India I was thinking about for this winter. As for my book project, I decided that I actively need to seek a way to finance it at least partially, so that I can relax enough about the money issues to really get to work on it. If you have any ideas or contacts that could help me in that direction, they are most welcome.

Comme toujours, lorsque mes douleurs aux mains reprennent, le Dragon se met en grève. Là, en l’occurrence, c’est le microphone de mon casque qui semble avoir rendu l’âme. Après une bonne prise de tête en ligne il y a déjà quelques semaines, un peu de troubleshooting à l’aide d’un casque prêté (merci Pierre !), j’ai acheté ce matin un casque Logitech (modèle 250, USB) qui semble très bien marcher, preuve en est le texte que vous êtes en train de lire.

L’été touche gentiment à sa fin, c’est la rentrée scolaire, j’ai quelques rendez-vous pour discuter de projets possibles, mais rien n’est encore très concret. J’ai des voyages prévus à l’étranger, début octobre et début novembre, des conférences auxquelles j’ai été invitée à faire une présentation, et d’autres auxquelles j’assisterai simplement. J’ai caressé l’idée de partir un mois en Inde cet hiver — je n’y ai pas encore tout à fait renoncé, mais les mois à venir sont trop incertains (financièrement, bêtement) pour que je prenne des engagements de ce côté-là maintenant.

Et puis il y a le livre, oui, le fameux livre. Je dois me rendre à l’évidence : entre autres obstacles à son écriture, le stress de l’incertitude financière liée à mon statut d’indépendante ne me laisse pas la disponibilité d’esprit dont j’ai besoin pour m’atteler à une tâche pareille, même si je pourrais objectivement libérer le temps nécessaire. Je vais donc activement me mettre en quête de solutions pour financer au moins partiellement ce projet. Du coup, si vous avez des idées, des tuyaux, des relations, ils seront les bienvenus.

Fresh Lime Soda Episode 5: Multitasking and Dragon [en]

[fr] Un nouvel épisode du podcast que je co-anime avec Suw Charman, Fresh Lime Soda. En anglais.

Finally, Suw and I have got episode 5 of Fresh Lime Soda ready for public consumption. We talk about a bunch of things, including (but not limited to): Dragon NaturallySpeaking, multitasking, writing and blogging, tinnitus, guilt, and shitty first drafts. As you’ll understand if you listen to it, everything is related. If you don’t want to download the 12Mb MP3, you can listen to it on the Fresh Lime Soda site with the embedded player.

As I was in London, we shot another video episode (wayyy more informative than the first, episode 4), which should be up… shortly. 🙂

Success: Dragon NaturallySpeaking in Parallels [en]

[fr] Voici le récit de mon installation sans histoire du Dragon dans Parallels, ce qui me permet maintenant de dicter sur mon Mac.

One of the things I wanted to do during my two weeks in England (besides go down to London and have some fun there with friends) was get Dragon NaturallySpeaking working in Parallels, and get seriously started on this bookwriting thing. Said bookwriting thing is happening in French, which means I’m afraid there will not be much in that department for my English readers.

Getting Dragon to work was a breeze. I had already installed Parallels once, but before I managed to install Dragon on it the virtual machine crashed so badly I gave up. My hands were hurting pretty badly at that time, so instead, I concentrated on spending less time online.

This time, I downloaded a fresh version of Parallels, ran the uninstaller first to make sure any traces of the previous installation had disappeared (I had deleted things manually), installed it and did an express install of Windows XP. Maybe I was lucky, but everything went smoothly. Oh, yes, I almost forgot: before installing Parallels, I plugged in my USB microphone and selected it as the default input in OSX audio settings.

The installation of Dragon went smoothly too, much to my surprise. I’m so used to things not going the way I want them to when it comes to computers! I edited the virtual machine to add a bit of memory, restarted it, launched Dragon, and created a user. The microphone passed the test straight away. And the recognition accuracy of Dragon 9 is just incredible!

Using the “coherence mode” in Parallels, I can get rid of the Windows OS cruft which surrounds my Dragon. It makes switching back and forth from dictating in DragonPad and goofing around in my OSX applications really easy. This is what it looks like:

Using Dragon in Parallels (Coherence mode)

I’m just disappointed that I haven’t managed to get the VNC hack to work, as it would allow me to dictate directly into OSX applications. But other than that, I’m really happy and reconnecting with the joys of dictation, which I had sadly forgotten during these last years in OSX land. It’s really much, much more comfortable than typing.

Nouveau Dragon [en]

[fr] I've got Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9 working in Parallels. Yay!

Je suis assez épatée. En relativement peu de temps, j’ai installé Parallels, Windows, et le Dragon sur mon Macbook. Je ne sais pas encore si je parviendrai à dicter dans des applications Mac facilement, mais en tout cas, c’est bon, je vais pouvoir dicter mon livre sur mon Macbook.

Avec la version cinq de Dragon, j’avais créé toute une série de raccourcis qui me permettaient d’insérer du HTML dans ce que j’écrivais. Il est clair qu’il va falloir le refaire à nouveau.

Et là, en mode « cohérence », la fenêtre Windows dans laquelle je dicte apparaît sur mon bureau juste comme une autre fenêtre OS X. Je peux copier et coller du texte entre les fenêtres. C’est déjà pas mal !

Version française du semblant de podcast précédent [fr]

[en] A French version of this post: This Is Supposed To Be a Podcast.

Bon, allez, je suis bilingue, il faut que j’assume (hein Thierry)! Je viens de mettre en ligne un billet audio en anglais, et voici donc une version française qui recouvre à peu près ce dont je parle. C’est plus facile de faire deux versions par oral que par écrit.


Pour les liens relatifs à ce que je mentionne dans ce bla-bla, visitez la version anglaise de ce billet. En bonus pour la version française:

Si vous avez un truc pour qu’il y ait moins de bruit dans le micro, volontiers. J’ai essayé de l’éloigner de ma bouche mais le résultat n’était pas terrible.

This Is Supposed To Be a Podcast [en]

[fr] Un embryon de podcast, en anglais. Quelques banalités comme la difficulté de parler à "personne", malgré mon experience de dictée avec Dragon, un peu de pub pour coComment et mes vidéos d'Inde, et ma première publication audio en novembre 2002. Il y a une version française maintenant.

Well, here we are. Sorry for the air in the microphone, I’ll get better at this.


Download the audio file or use the widget above.

Errata: I mentioned coComment in #wordpress, not #joiito; I finally used a 48kbs mp3 format instead of 128kbs.

Links I mentioned:

Thanks to leftjustified, I will soon be optimising the mp3 file you’re listening to. I’ll blog the instructions separately.

Reconnaissance vocale pour OSX [fr]

A la recherche d’une solution pour avoir de la reconnaissance vocale en français sur mon Mac.

[en] Because of the limitations imposed on the purchase of US products in France, there is no planned French version of iListen, the most viable speech recognition software for Mac.

Mise à jour 09.2007: Bonne nouvelle pour tous, Dragon NaturallySpeaking tourne très bien sous Parallels avec OSX. On peut donc dicter sur nos Macs!

J’aime mon Mac. Mon entourage a d’ailleurs remarqué que depuis ma conversion, je suis devenue une irrépressible ambassadrice Mac.

Quand je pense à ma vie avant OSX, je regrette une seule chose: mon Dragon.

Ces temps, j’ai de nouveau mal aux mains, donc je me dis de nouveau que je dois vraiment acheter un logiciel de reconnaissance vocale pour mon iBook. Puisque Dragon n’existe pas pour Mac, il y a deux solutions: ViaVoice et iListen. ViaVoice n’est plus en développement actif, donc le choix serait plutôt iListen, dont j’ai entendu beaucoup de bien, et qui a l’avantage de bien s’intégrer dans l’environnement OSX.

Seul hic? Pas de version française, et pas de projets (aux dernières nouvelles) d’en produire une, vu les limitations imposées aux institutions françaises concernant l’achat de produits non-français.

Solution, que me souffle mon ami Kevin: mettre un place une société française pour faire l’intermédiaire avec MacSpeech et vendre le produit en France.

Il y a des volontaires?

Autre, idée, si l’architecture du logiciel le permet: faire développer indépendamment le vocabulaire et la grammaire français. Il existe en tous cas une version allemande et une version italienne de iListen, donc, ce n’est pas un problème technique, mais bien politique.