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voice-recognition software

Fellow writers and computer users: Can you recommend voice-recognition software? For a number of reasons - including freedom, avoiding wrist & other pains, portability, and so on - I want to try writing without using a keyboard.

Do you use something that you would recommend? Because I plan to use this for fiction-writing, I don't care if it integrates well with spreadsheets, special codes, and so on, but it needs to be good at understanding my voice and making sentences magically appear on the computer as I talk to it. Accurate ones, ones that don't require a lot of correction via mouse and keyboard.

And if there's a demo version I can download to see what I think of it, that would be perfect.

Thank you!
Chris

Comments

( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
gryphonrose
Jan. 24th, 2007 04:15 pm (UTC)
If you find one that's good and Mac-compatible, let me know. I've been looking myself. iListen is supposed to be decent but I don't have a mike so I haven't been able to train it to my voice properly. I've seen people recommend Dragon Naturally Speaking as well.
geekmom
Jan. 24th, 2007 05:10 pm (UTC)
I'll have to look into it. Have you played with the built in speech recognition? It wouldn't take dictation or anything, but occasionally I get a kick out of telling my computer to open Firefox or close this window.
gryphonrose
Jan. 24th, 2007 09:42 pm (UTC)
Definitely let me know if you find anything.
I've looked at the built-in stuff, but that's basically for voice commands rather than writing. I write fast, so any program I used would have to allow me to dictate/transcribe even faster to be worthwhile, and that means handling a lot of text all at once.
nous_athanatos
Jan. 24th, 2007 04:19 pm (UTC)
If you are on a PC I would recommend Dragon Naturally Speaking. I've got friends who use it and say it works well even for an academic with a much larger lexicon than the average user. It also consistently gets the best ratings from disability services. I'd own it if I had a PC.

Good luck if you have a Mac. It's an underdeveloped market. There really isn't much of anything that works as well with it. MacSpeech is the best, but it is not as developed as Dragon and you can expect lower accuracy and longer training to get it to work.
geekmom
Jan. 24th, 2007 05:17 pm (UTC)
It's really a pity, because OSX has already done a lot of the groundwork: http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/speech/
nous_athanatos
Jan. 24th, 2007 06:34 pm (UTC)
I've been coveting something for my Mac for a while. Years of programming and academia have done a number on me and I'd like to have a backup plan ahead of my dissertation.

So far, though...
silverfae
Jan. 24th, 2007 04:23 pm (UTC)
Can't find a demo, but I think that's what they used at Independence Inc.
article here
Hey, maybe Independence Inc folks would let you try it out in their comp lab?
clevermanka
Jan. 24th, 2007 04:35 pm (UTC)
I've not had much luck with them, but I'm not patient enough to train them well. Please see this article from the Onion. It reflects pretty accurately my experience.
holyoutlaw
Jan. 24th, 2007 06:51 pm (UTC)
I'm off, now, to add "god ram plucking pizza ship" to my vocabulary.
mckitterick
Jan. 24th, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC)
You made me LOL!
edichka2
Jan. 24th, 2007 04:43 pm (UTC)
A couple of years ago the surgical group I worked for started using Dragon, and it was a mess.

Me (slowly and carefully): "Mr. Smith is a 45-year-old man who presents today complaining of a hernia."

Dragon: [pause] [pause] "Messed-up meth sorting ban hasn't to play gum raining of knee a."

I made that up, but it was as bad as that. And that was with the medical vocab module installed, and after weeks of "training." (The "training" was mostly an exercise in submission to the inevitable.) It was much faster, and vastly less frustrating, just to type the fucker.

I hear it's better now, but I'm awfully wary.

- Eddie
mckitterick
Jan. 24th, 2007 04:53 pm (UTC)
See, now that's been my experience so far. By the time I've trained it - that is, endured the process of masochistic submission - I could have written a novel. Hm.

(Also note that this one is the highest-rated by those above. Hm indeed.)
(Deleted comment)
edichka2
Jan. 25th, 2007 02:16 am (UTC)
Each member of the group had his/her own account. One or two people had the kind of voice or diction that the software liked, but the rest of us found it a misery.
bdkellmer
Jan. 24th, 2007 05:14 pm (UTC)
I was considering getting something of the sort not too long ago and tried a copy of Dragon Naturally Speaking basic (when I say not too long ago, I mean within the last couple of months). I was skeptical -- the voice recog software of even a couple of years ago was pretty crappy.

I was really surprised -- pleasantly, I might add. It didn't take very long for me to train the software, and it was pretty accurate for what I was doing (working on my novel). And you can get it from Amazon for $75 or less. While I didn't get it in the end, it was because I decided that I didn't need it, not because it wasn't good enough for me -- if I change my mind, that's what I'd get.

That being said, the important things that make it work for me may fit for you, or they may not. I have a very neutral and stable accent, and my vocabulary wasn't terribly unusual for what I was writing. If you've got a lot of new or technical words in what you're working on, it may not work as well (which may account for the issues with the medical vocab module). As well, I used the headset that came with it -- if you use a non-headset microphone, it probably wouldn't work as well either.

In short, you'll need to make up your own mind (obviously), but it's WAY better than it was even a couple of years ago, and not really all that expensive if you decide you don't like it.
mckitterick
Jan. 24th, 2007 07:18 pm (UTC)
Well, perhaps it's worth a try, anyhow, if things have progressed that much just recently. Thanks!
the_monkey_king
Jan. 24th, 2007 06:00 pm (UTC)
I've worked with the team from the Accessibility lab, and they consistently say Dragon Naturally Speaking is the choice for employees who need it. Not everyone loves it, but it works pretty well for those who suffer RSI or other issues.

There is built-in speech recognition in Windows Vista (which means you save $75), but it's not as good as Dragon, which has been on the market for a decade or more. Still, if you just want to mess around with it for a while, or use it as a replacement for keyboard shortcuts or whatever, install Vista and go to town.
(Deleted comment)
the_monkey_king
Jan. 25th, 2007 01:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, gimme a break.

mckitterick worked with beta OS installs for years. It's just like tinkering with hot rods or motorcycles, only with reg edits; he can handle the release version of Vista just fine.
mckitterick
Jan. 25th, 2007 03:20 pm (UTC)
Heck, I worked with Alpha versions on my home test machine, and never had much of a problem. Usually the new software - even in test form - was as good as what was already out. Granted, XP is light-years ahead of 98 or NT, and I doubt the beta version of Vista was better than XP stability-wise, but if it's released, tends of thousands of Microsoft-employees have already been running it for months and years on their home and work machines.

I haven't heard anything about Vista's DRM, but that stuff is, well, the law, right? I have heard of pople owning thousands of songs without ever having paid for them, and that's not cool. I have no problem with making it difficult for people to steal stuff *g*

Oh, and I bet that those bad reviews you've heard are the typical anti-Microsoftees belly-achin'. I heard one negative review that amounted to, "It's just not that much better than XP." Um, okay, so keep using something's that's almost as good.
(Deleted comment)
mckitterick
Jan. 31st, 2007 10:23 pm (UTC)
I read that and didn't see anything about what you mean; I wonder if they changed the article since you read it? Now it just says that Vista will downgrade illegal copies of policy-protected HDDVDs and Blu-Ray discs. Right? Um, I don't have a problem with that. Copyright is copyright, and if I'm trying to play a stolen movie or CD, well, that's better than jail, I say.
(Deleted comment)
mckitterick
Feb. 1st, 2007 01:58 pm (UTC)
Wow, you're still using Windows 2000? Really, XP is even more stable; it's basically 2000 with all the bugs fixed and nice new features. Oh, but it does use more than 6KB of space *g* (Note, however, that computers nowadays come with 100GB drives... 15MB is nuthin'.)
mckitterick
Jan. 31st, 2007 10:25 pm (UTC)
See the linked story below; am I missing something that Kalimeg suggests is there?
(Deleted comment)
gryphonrose
Jan. 24th, 2007 09:41 pm (UTC)
One thing you might consider is actually dictating it and then having someone transcribe it. There are evidently outfits that will do that for you online--you send them the sound file and they'll transcribe it and send it back and bill you. I hear they're pretty fast and of course you have the advantage of ahving a real person doing it rather than a machine.
mckitterick
Jan. 25th, 2007 03:23 pm (UTC)
Ooh, so I'd be keeping little Third-World children busy typing in their dark dungeon offices? *g* Seriously, though, that's interesting, but I bet really not economical... unless one uses those aforementioned slave-children.
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )

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