Let your computer or phone type for you: it’s like having superpowers!

By December 18, 2012 apple, tech, web-tech
If you hate typing with a computer keyboard, I feel your pain. Even if you can type pretty well it’s frustrating to have to key in your thoughts. Why can’t you just speak to your device and have it type for you?
 
Well, odds are you now have a phone that can. Your computer can definitely do it, but you may need to buy some software. Either way, the key point here is this: you have this ability lurking around you; the barrier to using it is your failure to take advantage of speech recognition software.
 
Let me help you over the hump. I have experience with this hump, and I know it’s not so much of a tech-barrier as it is a human-nature thing.
 
Most of us think that, since speech-recognition is so magical, it should be really easy to adopt. It’s not, because you still have to learn to issue forth the proper commands. So it’s still a little like learning to use a keyboard. The trick is to persist until you get comfortable enough not to have to think too much about how you dictate.
 
If you have one of the recent edition iPhones then you can start by using the free Dragon Dictation app, or the Google Search app (click here for a 50 second demo video) Apple’s Siri is promising but still too unreliable, and nowhere near the Google app. Other smartphones, such as Android phones, have had speech recognition for even longer. Start using your phone to practice using dictation. You’ll only be allowed to say basic things, like a phrase, followed by some punctuation: “period, comma, new line, new paragraph.”
 
After you master those commands, work up to using commands that invoke capitalization (e.g. “all caps” or “Cap that”). If you can find a master list of the acceptable commands print it out, and resolve to learn a few new commands each week.
 
You’ll also have to develop a way of handling mistakes, but that’s part of the learning curve too. If you can get past the common problems you’ll soon find yourself dictating easily and often. At that point you’re probably ready to start using a full-fledged speech recognition program on your computer. The best one to get is the basic one called Dragon Naturally Speaking, by Nuance. They have a Mac version called Dragon Dictate. The Mac version is $129, and the PC version is about $60 and is much more evolved.
 
You don’t need the fancy “legal version,” just the basic one. What you most need after that is some practice. If you stick with it you’ll soon find yourself blasting out text like a super-human. Believe me, it’s a good feeling. Just make sure you use your superpowers for good, and not evil.
 

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