Battling The Dragon

At Salon, Mary Grover shares her experiences working with Dragon Dictate for Macintosh:

What I needed was a personal secretary.

In the advertisement, he said that he specialized in assisting people who suffered from my condition. He assured me that my hands needn’t touch the computer keyboard: He could take dictation, check my email, and help me do searches on the Internet! He wanted very much to help.

He moved in. Our relationship soon became more intimate than any I had previously experienced. I was filled with needy desperation, and he had absolutely no interpersonal boundaries.

His name was Dragon Dictate for Macintosh.

In the honeymoon period, I found his mistakes adorable. Actually, I assumed that he garbled my words to charm me.

Long story short, Dragon Dictate proved endlessly frustrating.

Her experiences with Dragon Naturally Speaking for Windows were quite different:

One of my students, a PC devotee, kept telling me that everything would get better if I invested in a PC and dumped Dictate; there was a program for PCs that worked much better. I kept hearing the same thing, even from Mac lovers. What finally impelled me to move on was the great disparity between Dick’s enthusiasm and the real quality of his love. The gulf between the two had filled me to overflowing with bitter resentment.

I bought an inexpensive PC (which predictably freezes up more than my Mac), and installed Dragon Naturally Speaking, the PC-compatible version.

The first time I used the program, I cried. I could center text instantly, change the font of a word, line or paragraph, strike out words, page up, page down, rapidly read and delete emails, and most astonishingly, say things I thought made sense and be perfectly understood.

I wonder if the programs are that different, or if, as one commenter suggested, the quality of speech recognition has more to do with processor speed and available memory than with operating system?

If you’ve used these two program, feel free to weigh in with your experiences…

Read Mary’s full article at When I lost the ability to type.

Randy Rasa

Randy is an engineer/programmer/web designer who has suffered from repetitive strain injury off and on for over a decade.

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