Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dragon Naturally Speaking

Joe, my upstairs neighbor, (I really should call him Dr. Joe since he went to the trouble of earning a PhD) works on his computer constantly but rarely uses a keyboard. He swears by Dragon Naturally Speaking. Me, I swear at Dragon Naturally Speaking.

My first exposure to the program came some five years ago when the VA provided me with the software. I eagerly embraced the idea and installed it on my computer.

Well, the honeymoon didn’t last long. Either Dragon did not recognize an Oklahoma drawl, or else I did not enunciate well. The first time I dictated a sentence, each of us put on boxing gloves and assumed a fighting stance. If I recall, the sentence was something like: “I woke early and lay in my sleeping bag watching the morning sun struggle to reach the horizon.”

Dragon chose to interpret it as: I broke early and play in my peeing bag watching the mourning son straggle to breach the Oregon.”

It took me longer to correct the mangled sentence than it would have taken me to type it ten times over. Needless to say, when I got a new computer, I didn’t bother to install Dragon.

Along comes Dr. Joe singing the praises of the very program that dealt me such misery. I told him of my problems, and he had me drag out the green box containing my version of  Dragon.

“Aha!” he said. (He’s a PhD and can get away with such expressions. Heck, he could probably say “Eureka” in scholarly tones without causing an eyebrow to twitch.) Anyway, he said, “Aha! This is Version 11. I use Version 12, which is far superior to 11. The technology progressed tremendously between the two." (He’s big on technology and can give a learned discourse on the subject at the drop of a hat. I’m intimidated by it and avoid such discussions.) “Not only that, but Dragon 13 is due out in August," he declared. "And the technology on 13 has improved exponentially.”

That sent me to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary where I learned “exponentially” is an adverb meaning “of or relating to an exponent” and that <10x is an exponential expression. After wading through that nonsense, the dictionary condescended to tell me it meant "a rapid increase in something."

Well, I bought the new technology—plus an expensive set of wireless headphones—and Dr. Joe installed Dragon Naturally Speaking (Version 13) on my new Dell Inspiron All-in-One machine.

I should inform the reader that I write my novels just as if they were movies unfolding before me, so  this fantastic software ought to save me a whole bunch of time. I lie in bed at night and build scenes effortlessly. And Dr. Joe was right. Version 13 was much better than Version 11. I proved that to myself when I read from one of my books, and Dragon typed the passage flawlessly—no sloppy misunderstandings or misspellings as I had experienced with that terribly inept older software.

So I sat down yesterday, created a new Word document, angled my headset just right, and turned on Dragon. I took a moment to contemplate the flowing prose I'd use in my scene and went to work.

“Wake up,” I told Dragon.

Dragon went green…meaning he had obeyed my command.

I opened my mouth to speak, and my mind went “Ffttz.”

My mouth said, “Uh….”

And Dragon typed, “The.”

This post was not created using Dragon. I didn’t have the time.

That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading, and let me hear from you.


New posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

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