Wednesday, June 27, 2007

TECH TIPS FOR PR: “Typing by Talking”

This edition of my blog is being written without me touching the keyboard.

As I dictate this column, the words appear on the screen as fast as I can say them. The future has finally arrived! My computer is listening to me.

Voice recognition software has come a long way since I first tested Dragon “Naturally Speaking” about five years ago. The newest edition of the software from Nuance is up to version 9 and is a quantum leap from the earlier versions.

I have to give credit to David Pogue of the New York Times for turning me on to the software though I had seen it heavily advertised before. Pogue was being interviewed on Connecticut public radio when he recommended the program has been nothing short of brilliant. He was right.

Truth be told, I’m turning into something of a Pogue groupie. Not only do I read his column, but religiously watch his TiVo-cast, and his new series on discovery HD, “It’s All Geek To Me.” He was also one of the keynote speakers at the recent Bulldog conference and wowed the audience.

The “Naturally Speaking” software package costs all of a hundred bucks, including the headset and microphone. Unlike earlier versions, this one requires no learning for the software to adjust your voice. All you do is load the CDs and go.

Ironically, it’s taking some getting used to, to be able to think and speak as fast as this program can keep up with you. It used to be the typing was slow enough you could collect your thoughts before the words were committed to paper. But this program screams it so fast.

I learned to type 40 years ago the old-fashioned way, two fingers at the time but fast. My daughter, who’s in high school, can type faster than me, but is probably in the last generation that will be the perfect keyboard skills.

If you do a lot of typing in your work, whether for e-mail or documents, you should definitely check out this program. It will make your life a lot simpler.

(Full disclosure: OK… I’ll admit I did have to spend 2 minutes correcting a few errors after dictating this column, but it was so much faster than keyboarding the whole thing!)

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