Talking to the computer

Hilary Cadman Software 1 Comment

A few things came together this week to persuade me that I need to start using voice recognition software. First, I gave myself sore shoulders by working all day on a formatting job while (yet again!) ignoring most of the reminders that popped up telling me to take a break. Then, in tidying my office, I came across a print out of Hilary Power’s book Making Word work for you. In a note at the start of the book, the author mentions voice command processing in Word. This prompted me to investigate how to set my computer up for speech recognition.

I downloaded the requisite programs for Microsoft Speech Recognition and have now started to use it. So far, the main thing I can do is to open programs – I love saying ‘Open Word’, ‘Open Excel’, etc, and having the programs open as if by magic. However, most other things are beyond me. My attempts to use speech recognition to write text in Word were intensely frustrating; for example, when I said ‘A style guide’, the computer gave me ‘A Stahel to go’, and when I said ‘abbreviations’ it gave me a list of options, most of which were variations on ‘A be or Asian’, and other such nonsense.

It seems that I need to train the computer to recognise my particular speech patterns, so this  morning I spent a cheery hour chatting to it, reading out training text (sentences such as ‘I am now speaking to my computer’ and ‘Speech recognition can recognise many different speakers very accurately.’). I’m not sure how much difference that is making, given that the computer just interpreted me saying the word ‘points’ as ‘at clotting’, but I will persevere.

Hilary CadmanTalking to the computer

Comments 1

  1. Hilary Powers

    Cool post! It’s fun to see the book mentioned. (Google Alert is a wonderful service!)

    Reading test passages really does help – but I don’t recognize those sentences. What Word 2003 gave me was little paragraphs. It also listens only inside Word, so I suspect we’re using different code for speech recognition. (And I didn’t download anything – just activated something from the Office installation disk.)

    Anyway – I get the most mileage out of built-in commands. “Page Down” and “Page Up” make a huge difference to the shoulders, as it’s much less tempting to sit with hands poised over the keyboard while working on something that’s basically in good shape if there’s a chance of reading more than one page without touching the keyboard. Try that, at least….

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