I remember as a child I would watch my mum as she would type so fast, not looking at the typewriter keyboard but looking ahead or to the journalist who was dictating the latest story to appear on the nightly news bulletin. Or she would write down some scribbly looking notes that turned out to be the now defunct art of shorthand. I would come along with her to work sometimes, sit myself up with a typewriter and just bash out that keyboard like I was writing the next instalment of War and Peace. Her co workers would look over my shoulder and remark on the fascinating story I was writing and how my mum ought to be careful or I would put her out of a job. Humouring my mumbo jumbo of letters that didn’t resemble words let alone make any sense!
I thought I just wanted to type back then. Well before computers were even on our radar. A few years down the track and what did come to being was a love of writing. Of getting thoughts out of my head and on to paper….either via my increasingly hard to understand handwriting , my two finger typing on the ipad or my now nicely evolving touch typing skills on the Mac (still not as quick as my mum but certainly getting there).
Now I have been asked to try out the Dragon Dictate 4 for Mac, voice recognition software by Nuance. It means I can just talk away and it dictates my words to the screen. I am always scribbling stuff down. I have more notebooks than a kikki K store and I have the questions and answers to every conceivable parenting question out there……all on scraps of paper and in the notes section of a number of different technological devices. I know I wouldn’t ever completely get rid of the scribbled notes, but having my own personal scribe sounded like something I could get used to.
I must admit there was a little trepidation when I set up my Dragon. You know when technology that is supposed to save you time but ends up being more trouble than it’s worth? I thought this may have been the case but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Not straight away, as it did take the Dragon Dictate 4 and myself a couple of goes to get used to each other. But with a little perseverance, some very helpful tutorials and some fine tuning of my voice, intonation, frequently used words and phrases, Dragon Dictate 4 actually started to scribe the words as per my intention.
Then I started to think of some of the other ways this could be used. My son who is visually impaired and gets tired from typing and writing . My other son who writes minimal text as he thinks it all takes too long, and well, there are other things he could be doing with his time! I haven’t got the kids to have much of a go yet as I have been playing around myself, and lets face it, being school holidays they are not going to do anything ‘extra’ on anything that is perceived as schoolwork!
Dragon Dictate 4 could be a great asset to those that do a lot of writing, typing or just thinking that needs to be put down in ink somewhere! It is made by the peeps that are the world leader in speech recognition software so the quality is great and whilst not the cheapest at $199.95, it is still affordable (There are also Windows versions of Dragon – Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home at $99.95 and Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium at $199.95). I certainly wouldn’t bother mucking around with cheaper versions that meant I would have to go and retype anything for all the misunderstood dictation. And aside form the obvious benefits of dictation, including preventing RSI fingers, the Dragon can also launch applications, format text, search the internet and even send emails.
So if you think this is something that would help your kids study or help yourself at work or play, then the good news is I have five to give away!
All you have to do is tell me how you would use Dragon speech recognition software from Nuance?
Competition open to Australian residents only and closes 5pm AEST, 27/10/14.