Well this is going to be an experiment. Yesterday I got a copy of Dragon Dictate 11 and decided to install it on this computer. I was extremely curious to understand how this program worked after reading an e-mail sent to a friend of mine that was dictated entirely using this program. At one level it’s extremely easy to use, you just need to talk. However the truth is that the real trick to controlling this program and to become productive, is to understand the command structure. Not only are there commands for controlling punctuation, corrections, editing and formatting text and moving around your document, there are also hundreds of commands for controlling your desktop writing e-mails, sending e-mails, using your address book, using calendars, using the web, searching on the web, copying text, pasting.
What I’m also finding the challenge is that after years and years of using a keyboard input text your brain is wired to actually create sentences in such a way that you can write them quickly and easily. What I am finding with this program is that you have to learn to create your sentences completely differently, probably using a different part of your brain, and to speak these sentences in away that requires minimal changes, and minimal editing. This is clearly going to be quite a steep learning curve. I have to admit that I really am quite amazed at the accuracy of this program. The amount of spelling errors is really minimal and correcting them is actually quite easy. All you need to do is tell the program to select certain word, which it does really quickly and then it also displays a drop-down list of all the alternative words that you may have meant. Each of the suggestions is numbered and then all you have to do is choose the correct number and it automatically corrects the word.
Within any application you can choose the file commands at the top, you can select the sub commands, and the sub commands below that. I can also switch between open programs on the desktop, take certain actions by voice, and then minimise that program or switch between another one.
All in all, I’m really quite amazed by this program. In truth writing this post would have been a lot faster using a keyboard but I can see that with some practice, learning the commands and knowing how to use them correctly, I think it would be a much faster alternative to using a keyboard. This entire post has been written and corrected just using my voice.
If anyone else is using DragonDictate, I’ll be really interested to hear your feedback, your experience, and how long it took you to become proficient in its use.