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Cool Technology You May Already Possess…

March 9, 2012

So it is with some embarrassment, that I must admit I broke my arm this week attempting to manually pull down the garage door by the little rope attached to the release.  I pulled so hard that the rope broke and I landed on the concrete driveway unconsciously catching myself with my left hand.  I knew I had broken something, having done this a few times in my life. Bruised and battered, I drove myself to urgent care single-handedly (pun intended) and was told my self-diagnosis was correct.  Not a serious break, just six weeks of being annoyed by my poorly applied use of force. 

Unemployed, not flush with money, and now temporarily damaged, I had a burning desire to find the silver lining to this experience. 

As I contemplated how I was going to fill out job applications, write cover letters, etc.  I remembered that I had previously set up the speech recognition that comes with MS Word 10.0 and is often made fun of.  Having used Dragon Naturally Speaking for a number of years, I was not initially impressed.  However, it was free and not difficult to set up.  I spent some time training “it” to recognize my voice and learn some commands.

So this morning I opened up Word and hit control panel/ease of access/start speech recognition and began to work on documents and email.  The program is working so well, I may have to continue using it after all 10 fingers are restored to health!  Talking instead of typing really makes the composition process a lot more fun.  Even if you can type, when you get to be over 50 it just isn’t that much fun.

I have talked to many people about why they don’t use speech recognition and the universal complaint is that the computer will not consistently recognize their words.  If you’re going to be successful with any speech recognition software, you are going to have to train yourself to enunciate.  Most of us are pretty lazy in our normal conversations because other life forms listening to you automatically compensate for what they believe you said.  Training yourself to use the same volume while you are dictating helps great deal as well.  The speech tutorial provided in the setup can be used multiple times if necessary to achieve dictation with very few errors.  You must also keep the microphone at the same distance from your mouth on a consistent basis or you’ll have to go through the setup process again to get consistent results.  You may also add words to the speech dictionary that are highly specialized but necessary to your particular writing.

Not surprisingly, there is a great merge between this software and Internet explorer.  However I have found using it with Chrome is sketchy.  A simple work around is to dictate into word copy and paste into whatever browser you’re working with.  If you are a visual learner there are a series of videos available on YouTube.

The social media implications are straightforward.  I just dictated this blog and touched the keyboard very few times.  This only encourages a wannabe geek…

Garage door guy just came by and the door worked perfectly…I need a job so I’m not at home making bad domestic decisions!!  Will work for sanity!


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  1. Cecelia permalink

    I’m sure a fabulous job is just around the corner. Good luck!

    • Thanks for your optimism, Cecilia! I am never without a job for very long, but I get bored easily and then I get into trouble…

  2. sheryl permalink

    Another suggestion when using speech recognition……do not attempt while drinking wine! 🙂

  3. I love your writing! And you have encouraged me to try the voice thing. Blog, these next 6 weeks, and be personal. Be your self, and put it on yur resume. Now what I just said is either the dumbest thing in the world to do, or a great idea. I, and other intelligent individuals like reading things that are real, simple, and interesting. Sorry about your broken arm, but please keep blogging. Please keep blogging! Everyone likes reading a story that is not full of crap that is not boring. The fact that you are a personal friend may weigh a bit on my interest, but I doubt it. Keep blogging!

  4. Closet Geek permalink

    Chuck, well done! Technology is for all ages, not just the vacuous youth as commonly presented in the media. I have already adopted one of the methods you describe, pre-typing in a word document and then pasting into browsers. This allows me to use the spelling and grammar check functions and generally goes much faster. Maybe I will have to give the voice recognition software a try, thanks for the tip!

  5. I can’t believe there is a blog about a smart compassionate man with a broken arm and too much brain power than he knows what to do with. Now, I know what Elton was thinking when he wrote Rocket Man. “And all this science I don’t understand It’s just my job five days a week A rocket man, a rocket man”. Don’t worry friend, you can still fly with a broken arm… there is still voice over or in this case Speech Recognition.

  6. really_old_geel_WB permalink

    Since I can’t type and have a degree in speech this sounds like a perfect solution. Although in the length of time it takes MS-Word to load, I may forget how to talk.

  7. really_old_geek_WB permalink

    Told you I couldn’t type!

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