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“Say” What You Mean

I love dictation software. I say what I would otherwise type, see the words on the screen, and edit to be sure it says what I mean to say. Wonderful.

Is it really this easy? Yes.

The software most synonymous with this technology is Dragon, the program from Nuance that advertises that you can “control your computer with your voice.” You purchase the software — which comes with a headset microphone — and “teach” it your voice through a series of short exercises. Once it knows your voice, you can effectively dictate text (and punctuation) in documents and emails, as well as “command” your computer to “open,” “close,” and “save.”

This software is wonderful if you have a lot to say — perhaps you are writing a novel, recording your memoirs, or documenting your family history — or in any scenario in which you believe that your poor typing skills are keeping you from expressing yourself.

The popularity of this technology inspired Apple and Android to pre-install the Dragon technology on their devices. If you have a mobile device that has Siri and/or a microphone icon in the lower left corner of the virtual keyboard, you can verbally ask questions, initiate commands, and dictate emails, texts, notes, and events.

A few words about … words:

  • Limit background noise as much as possible to allow the device to hear only you.
  • Don’t look at the screen as you talk; the characters will lag behind your dictation and if you wait for them you might lose the rhythm of what you are saying.
  • Dictate for a short period of time, stop, and let the machine catch up. Then resume dictating.
  • Edit. Edit. Edit. The machine will not get it 100%. You will need to edit whatever you dictate to catch minor and major “misunderstandings.”

And, even though it might seem that dictating is less distracting than typing, it is still not advisable to do it while driving.