The Dragon, the Mouse, and Dictation for All

It’s soapbox time. I think some people might have the perception that speech recognition software is just for people who have carpal tunnel syndrome or some other kind of injury or limitation. So not true. This week’s post contains a list of three reasons why dictation could be good for everyone.

1. Be Healthy: Preventative care is the way to go, right? If you know there’s a risk of incurring some kind of injury or illness, you wear knee pads and helmet, eat extra vitamin C and wash your hands frequently. So why not care for your body preventatively as you use technology? Using speech recognition software whether it’s on your phone, your iPad, or your laptop can help you avoid repetitive stress or postural injuries to your wrists, fingers, neck, shoulders, back . . .

2. Be Efficient: I recently wrote a post about the ability Dragon offers for a user to create custom commands. Any dictation software that offers this feature allows users to create shortcuts and avoid typing or speaking the same text repeatedly.

3. Be on the Edge: I’m convinced that speech recognition technology is the new sliced bread. More and more technological devices have the capacity for it, and companies are creating new and better versions of dictation software all the time. They’re also beginning to allow users to control their computer by voice rather than just typing by voice. I’ve discovered that by becoming intimately familiar with my dictation software, I’m finding other technologies that were confusing before to be more intuitive for me now. In fact, this summer I was able to demonstrate to my new employer that I’m tech savvy by explaining that I do all of my computer work by voice. Using dictation software whether by choice or because you have to can definitely be advantageous.

Question of the week: Now that I stepped down off my dictation soapbox, it’s your turn. What’s your favorite new technology and why?


The Dragon and the Mouse at Work

I started a new job this week! I’m excited to report that I’m now working as an instructional consultant for TAs with Duquesne University’s Center for Teaching Excellence. I’ll still be writing my dissertation, but I’m now able to devote 15 hours a week to talking and writing about one of my favorite things, teaching. This is so good!

My new employers were kind enough to provide me with the latest edition of Dragon premium on my work computer so I can continue my quest to go hands-free. In this week’s post I offer a tip on using Dragon at work.

I’ll call this the password protection and shortcut tip. It’s certainly easy to have your web browser store your passwords to sites you use frequently, but not everyone sees this as a secure solution to the problem of having to input login information often. And when you start a new job, like I did three days ago, you begin from the ground up without any Internet memory of your favorite sites or your most cryptic passwords. So I’ve been making my adjustment to a new set of responsibilities easier by relying on Dragon’s ability to produce customized commands.

Here’s how it works: In the Dragon toolbar under “tools,” I select the option “add new command.” I can then link an easy-to-remember phrase to text that I don’t want to have to frequently repeat out loud. For example, it’s quite cumbersome to say “www dot Outlook dot com slash duq dot edu” whenever I want to access my work/school email. And besides being cumbersome, for some reason Dragon always leaves a space between “u” and “q” which requires me to then say “insert before q,” “backspace,” and “press u.” So using the “add new command” feature, I made it possible to say “go to Duquesne email” and then have Dragon respond by typing the appropriate web address. The only catch is that you have to be careful not to name your new command using a phrase or single word you dictate very often. For example, I wouldn’t want Dragon to type the web address for my email every time I said the word “email.”

Back to passwords. I’ve created similar commands for passwords I find myself having to reenter frequently. The interface that I interact with most often at work/school is called Dori and it frustratingly refuses to save my password. So now all I have to do is say “Dori password” and Dragon types the appropriate string of characters into the text field. Part of my plan this week is to create similar password commands for each program I use as part of my new job. I now no longer have to choose between speaking my password out loud or causing myself pain by typing it each time.

So if you dictate but haven’t yet created custom commands, give it a try! You’ll find yourself even more inclined to call Dragon friend rather than foe the more you use features like this one that help you save time and increase privacy.

Question of the week: what are your favorite shortcuts made possible by technology?