Friday, July 30, 2010


Yesterday was a day that I won't be forgetting anytime soon.

Even as a young man in journalism school at Point Park College, I was never a very good typist... but I got by. Of course in those days there was no backspace key, only Whiteout. I can remember being self-conscious in my journalism classes about the fact that I didn't have the typing capabilities that some of my classmates did. As I became older, unfortunately, I began to develop problems with my hands. The best way to describe it is that I began losing the dexterity in my fingers and my hands can feel clumsy.

Over the last two years, I have posted a great number of articles here at "Pittsburgh's Black and Gold", but as my hand difficulties increased over the last several months, my writing has slowed to a veritable crawl. It had become too aggravating to write. That is now about to change.

Enter "Dragon Naturally Speaking 10".

I was attending a therapy session at the Hand Center at Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy Associates in Uniontown and I was bemoaning the fact to my therapist that my hands had regressed to the point where I was practically unable to continue writing stories for you here at "Pittsburgh's Black and Gold". That's when my therapist that day, a wonderful gal by the name of Sue Anne, suggested that I purchase a product called, "Dragon." "Dragon", she explained, would turn dictation into written text. This seemed too good to be true, so I immediately began searching for this software.

ABOVE: Here's a plug for the great physical therapists at O.S.P.T.A.!

Thankfully, it didn't take much of an investigation to locate the speech recognition software. When I found it in my local Staples store, I saw that there were actually two different varieties of speech recognition software available. One was $199.95, the other, "Dragon" was just $99.99. But wait, the "Dragon" was also on sale, to my good fortune, for just $49.99! I also had in my possession, a 15% off coupon from Staples, as well as a Staples rebate coupon good for $29.75. Once all of my discounts were applied, this software that was originally selling for $99.99 had a bottom-line price to me of just $13.51! But it gets even better. Inside the box I found another mail in rebate for $40! So basically, once I get the rebate back, I will be ahead by $26.49 plus be unshackled from the tedium (for me) of typing forever!!!

When I got home I anxiously began the process of installing the "Dragon" software. During the installation, I learned that this technology needs to acclimate itself to the users speech patterns. The more often and longer that you use "Dragon", the more accurate its recognition becomes. Also, for the user, there is a learning curve to smoothly translate and dictate your thoughts into written text. In order to give you an idea as to how the software can interpret words, I'm going to allow the next paragraph to be displayed as I'm seeing it on my monitor immediately after dictating it (without corrections).

ABOVE: There are only two things that I don't "get" about this product: The name and the lame graphics on the box. So where's the picture of the Dragon? Or is she the actual dragon?

As you will see, most of the time the software is interpreting the spoken word very accurately. But every once in a while, there were be a situation where no matter how many times you speak a certain word, what you're saying is not what you're seeing on the screen. Early on, what I have found is that words that begin with the letter D or H seem to be the most problematic for me. However for a person who has been struggling with typing for his entire lifetime, the prospects of going back and correcting a few mistakes is certainly a heck of a lot better than typing an entire document and then going back and correcting my own voluminous amount of typos. I'll take that deal any time!!!

Since that last paragraph happened to come across without any errors, I'm going to finish the rest of this story allowing any errors that occu for surer (occur) To remain at (but) typing in any corrections (such as the one I just made) in parentheses. The misinterpretation will appear in boldface.

I'm sharing this story with you, because this is certainly a red letter day for me. I'm sure in the future you'll be seeing many more additions (editions) of "Pittsburgh's Black and Gold" then (than) you would have seen as a result of my hand limitations. I'm also posting this story for the very obvious reason that for people who are suffering with and (hand) problems or who are faced with typing volumes of material daily, or who simply just never learned how to type in the first place, this software is for you!!!

As you can see, there haven't been that many errors in the text, and I've just begun using it, so the prospects for it improving and my having extremely accurate interpretation in the future looks very good.

I want to again thank Sue in (Anne), Robin, Lauren and Carissa and the great staff at O.S.P.T.A. for their great help and compassion in helping me deal with my hand problems. But in particular, I have to single out soon and (Sue Anne) for recommending this software to make (me). More importantly, I look forward to reconnecting with my readers here at "its birds ("Pittsburgh's) Black and Gold". I'll make sure that I proofread my work so that these kinds of mistakes don't sneak into the text in the future.

We have a lot of catching up to do, that's for sure!!!