Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Talking to Dragons

Many of my friends will tell you that I lead a strange and bizarre life. My best
friend actually came up with the phrase 'living my life slightly left of centre', which I sometimes use to describe myself in bios. I also hear the statement 'that could only happen to you' quite a bit. I fail to believe the last is true. I'm sure oddly strange things happen to all of us, I just admit when the silly and bizarre come my way. Which is a nice segue into my topic of choice today.

I've had a bit of trouble writing recently. There are lots of reason for that, which I may blog about at some stage, but not today. Anyway, I came up with a brilliant solution for the problem. Admittedly I was in bed that week drugged to the eyeballs on cold and flu medication and antibiotics so, in hindsight, the brilliant and solution become questionable. I kept thinking to myself...I need to write, I should be writing. I remained horizontal though, until my light bulb moment hit. I can lay in bed and still work, I just need a voice recognition program so I can speak my book onto the page. After all, I can tell a good story, and talking is easier than sitting and typing.

Convinced I was a genius, I dragged my fevered body over to my desk and googled voice recognition programs, downloaded a trial version of the one I thought would best suit my needs and hey presto, I'm in action. The next day, after overcoming the exhaustion of hitting a few computer keys and half a dozen clicks of the mouse to get the program on the laptop, I was ready to go. I did the tutorial, read through the practice pages so the program became used to my voice and went back to sleep satisfied I was set to have my next novel ready to send to the publisher in a week. Once I logged into my manuscript, the words would fly onto the page as fast as I could speak them, which I assumed would be infinitely faster than I type. The word foolish springs to mind, but let's not go there.

By day three (yep, I was really sick) I was ready to write, or speak as was the case. I rested the laptop on the bed, popped on the headphones, opened the manuscript, started the voice program and began telling the computer my story. I fully expected there would be some errors as the program doing a WTF over a few words it hadn't been able to decipher, after all I'd only done limited voice training with the program, but a couple of words would be easy to fix. The first few lines seemed to go well, not many errors so I confidently lay back down, closed my eyes and kept talking. At this point I should probably mention that foolish word once more.

I'm not sure how long I rabbited on before falling asleep, but when I woke up and checked the computer I was astounded at the number of words I'd produced. Of course very few of them made sense. I stared at  a wealth of useless sentences with very few that I recognised the meaning of. I assumed it couldn't get any worse and kept scrolling down the pages. I was so wrong. At one point I decided, in my brilliance, to stop the punctuation points, figuring I could add those myself later. The manuscript had turned into a huge universal word puzzle. I could find words in every direction, vertical, horizontal, backwards, frontwards, on angular slants to the left and right. The problem was I didn't have coherent sentences and unlike some of the previous punctuated mess the program typed, I couldn't even figure out what I had said. As I hit delete I decided, rather than look for more shortcuts and quick fixes to not feeling like writing, I'd concentrate on getting well and look at the program again when I had a clearer head.

I looked at the program after I regained my health. It may eventually work but I will have to do a lot of 'training' to get it to recognize my voice (minus snuffly cold symptoms) and actually work effectively. At this point I type faster than the program does and with less errors. the incentive to train the thing isn't a  high priority. I mean if I wanted to train anything I'd get a pet, at least a kitten or puppy would be company while I work and probably take less effort to do so. At least a puppy or kitten would be cute, fluffy and adorable, giving me affection in return for the work I put into their training.
Dreamstime Stock Photos

So does anyone else use a word recognition program to write or conduct their daily business? If you do, what tips can you give on how to train my dragon. Apart from not operating it while under the influence of cold and flu meds of course.

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