I recorded the entire book ‘Lord Allenby‘ using Dragon NaturallySpeaking – software which turns speech into text. It probably took longer at first to correct the mistakes it made than it would have done to just type it up from the handwritten manuscript I was reading from, but I persisted because part of the idea was to ‘train’ the software to recognise my voice and the manner of my speech. As I’ve progressed with the training, it has become much quicker, so that now it works pretty well. It would probably work better if I wasn’t reading from a manuscript but dictating straight into the software. The process of reading a bit, then checking it has correctly typed what I’ve read is quite laborious. If I was just reading what it typed as I spoke it would no doubt be far faster.

The version I have (9.10) doesn’t play well with MS Word but once I’d worked that out, and used the inbuilt ‘Dragonpad’ to record things onto instead, things sped up no end. It also seemed to have problems with how I say certain words. It wouldn’t, for example, correctly write “hasn’t”, so I gave up in the end and said “has not”. There are some natural problems too. In the handwritten manuscript, one of the characters was called “Anne”. Every time I said her name, Dragon NaturallySpeaking would type “an”. An easy mistake to make, I guess. So for the purposes of dictation I changed the character’s name to Mary. (I used ‘find and replace’ to change Mary back to Anne once the book was finished, so I won in the end.)
It works well with email too, typing directly into Outlook. I haven’t tried it with WordPress, to use it to blog and to create pages such as this. I guess I should, and will fairly soon.

The only ‘down’ side is having to put on a headset to speak into. I guess that problem would be solved by using a better microphone than the one in the Logitec webcam that I first tried.

All in all, it’s well worth persisting with. A little bit like hard work to start with, but it gets easier, and once it’s started to get properly trained it really pays back time invested in it.

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