julesjones: (Default)
Over the last couple of weeks I've been busy writing on the bus using a notebook of the dead tree variety, and then transcribing it when I get home using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. While I generally keep away from writing anything too steamy when I might have an audience, I have just discovered that Dragon recognises the word "fuckable". Since I haven't actually trained the new installation on most of my document files, I suspect it didn't learn that from me, which leads me to wonder why it's in Dragon's vocabulary…
julesjones: (Default)
Still writing every day, although not always on the same project, which makes it hard to keep track. I'm plugging away at the erotic romance WIP (the baronetcy one), but as light relief I thought I'd pick up an idea I had a while back for a porn short story series.

The idea here was to have a second pseudonym to experiment with self-published strokefic shorts, of the sort that get sold on Smashwords and Amazon as short series with another story released every so often and then bundled together in a bargain bundle. Reasons for doing this include seeing how it works, it's fun, to prove to my editor at Loose Id that I can so write a short story and *keep* it short, needing a break from the WIP, and sometimes because Weird Shit turns up in my head and the only way to make it go away is put it in someone else's head. The reason for doing it last week is that my hands were sore from too much typing, and while I can't use Dragon for writing a novel, I can manage to dictate at least rough notes for Plot What Plot short stories, and often chunks of rough draft. Smashwords is running a promo at the moment which would make it useful to throw together a couple of short strokefics and get them up there before the end of July, which makes a handy target for Pico. I wouldn't need the second one to be complete, just enough of a draft to be confident about making it available for pre-order.

Of course, last night some plot sneaked in while I wasn't looking, and this morning I had an idea which made this planned four-pack of shorts a 13 part series, with a Plot. Not much of a plot, I grant you, but definite Plot. Or at least Story Arc. So this morning's word count quota turned out to be 500 words of outline written over breakfast.


Why does my muse do this to me?

Anyway, the detailed word count since I sent the Nice Tie sequel to my editor:

9- 231 smut, 10- 180 smut, 11- 782 smut, 12- not recorded, 13- 436 WIP, 14- 960 smut (including approx 200 from 12th) , 15- 240 smut, 16-398 WIP , 17- 474 WIP & 195 smut, 18- 162 WIP & 1739 smut, 19- 502 smut outline.

After yesterday's binge, it may be back to Dragon for a few days...
julesjones: (Default)
I have, as usual, been taking part in PicoWrimo, for values of "taking part in" that include being too busy getting in my 200 words a day to participate in the comm itself most days. I've been even worse than usual this time round because the day job is well and truly eating my brain, to the point where I dropped my "hope to reach" target to 200 words a day because I knew 300 wasn't realistic.

It has, however, been successful as usual in getting me to get actual words down on page. For June Pico I wrote at least 200 words a day every single day on the current novel length work-in-progress. I was all set to continue with this in July, but on the 2nd of July Loose Id posted an internal call for submissions asking for wedding sequels to gay romance novels in the catalogue which didn't already have a wedding. As occasionally happens, the first line appeared in my brain while I was on my way to work that morning and insisted that I write the rest of the story. On 8 July a 6200 word wedding story for Nice Tie went off to the beta readers, and on 9 July it went off to my editor (who is still thinking about it).

Strangely enough, my hands hurt after that. I've still managed to write something every day, but it's been using Dragon to dictate a rough outline for a short and notes for some story ideas. Dragon is extremely useful, but it's hard work for fiction, and really does change my voice, so in general I don't find it worthwhile to try to write manuscript with it if there are notes I could be writing.
julesjones: (Default)
I've been more or less off the air for the last three months, for a variety of reasons. Those reasons include the purchase and setting up of a shiny new computer, all the better with which to run Dragon. Which is a good thing, because having finally come to the end of a long run of reasons why I don't have time to play with my new toy... my shoulder's gone again. I've been reliant on Dragon to type more than a sentence or two for the last couple of days. I'm also now on enough codeine to be in "hello world, hello sky" mode, which does *wonders* for the concentration needed to use Dragon, let me tell you. This is because without codeine I will be on not enough sleep, ditto.

List of stuff To Do, for triage tomorrow, because PicoWrimo starts tomorrow:
--private commission
--review of Being Small (sorry, Chaz, really wanted to get this done earlier, but wasn't up to it)
--review of feminist historical romance series (is brilliant, lots of you will love it and need to know about it)
--book log
--revise novelette originally written for Dreamspinner anthology, then check current markets it might suit.
--work on one of the novel WIPs
--one or more of the ideas for porn short stories lying around in the ideas file

Any of the above to count towards 150 words a day for PicoWrimo, because it may be entirely random as to what I can focus on well enough to dictate. I suspect mostly porn shorts because I can dump snippets into a text file for later revision without worrying too much if they link up with an existing story.

Also need to
--update website
--check current calls
--send W9 forms to Smashwords
--trawl trunk for stuff to put on Smashwords
--put profic pseud and free pieces on AO3 (per discussion at Absolute Write)
--look over possible story for current Dreamspinner anthology call
--contemplate present to leave under the Gauda Prime tree farm this year
julesjones: (Default)
I'd originally intended to install Dragon 10 and wait for one of the frequent cheap upgrade offers for registered customers. I'd never upgraded because the XP box could barely cope with 10, and besides, we're still on 10 at work, but I was quite willing to pay to upgrade to 12 once I had kit that could run it.

Gues what dropped into my inbox two days after I bought the shiny? The pre-release announcement and early bird offer for Dragon 13. :-) I dithered for a few days, because initially it was only the upgrade from an existing 11 or higher, but then found a link to the full version at the offer price. £80 probably sounds extravagent if you don't need it, but for me, it's worth paying to get a current version. That got installed last night. Late last night, so I haven't done anything but run through the basic demo yet. $FANNISH_COLLEAGUE (who is also in "install all the shinies!" mood) has been somewhat cynical about release day bugs and intends to wait before buying hers, but I have a legal copy of 10 to fall back to if necessary.

I've just installed Skype, but I've also set it up with a brand new account rather than desperately try to remember the login details for the old one.

I had to reboot at some point last night, and was provided with evidence that the SmartSuite install had worked, in the form of the SmartCentre toolbar popping up. It has been told to go away again, as there isn't the screen estate on the laptop's own screen.
julesjones: (Default)
Parking here for reference, and for those of you who were interested in why I was looking at an insanely over-specced machine. I would note that Elderly Thinkpad does in fact meet the minimum specification for version 10, which is why I know that "minimum" means "can barely run the dictation module, can't run the natural language commands, and only if you don't want to run anything else much at the same time". (Elderly Thinkpad is running XP Pro on a Pentium M 1.73GH, with 1.49GB 795MHz RAM, according to its "about me".)

I need at least the recommended specification to be able to use all the stuff I often need to use, and more would be A Good Thing to get the full benefit from the package -- especially as I would find the recording/playback module useful, even if not necessary. Seriously, the more power you can throw at Dragon, the more usable it is, because it's noticeably faster at recognition with better CPU/RAM specs.


Read more... )
julesjones: (Default)
One of the really annoying things about being dependent on Dragon is that a throat infection means a sudden reduction in the amount of computer work that can be done. Fortunately I'm not completely dependent on Dragon, but for the last few days I've had severely reduced capacity for keyboard work. As in, at best I could just about manage to get through the day job, and on Wednesday I went off and spent the afternoon doing something that kept me off the computer because I was too damned sore to do any more hands-type typing.

It's not just the obvious "can't talk", either. Using Dragon requires more concentration than typing on a keyboard, at least for me, and concentration is also in somewhat short supply at the moment. :-/ So nothing done this week by way of writing other than dealing with the prep work for the new release in two or three weeks' time. The weekend looks to be more of the same. The book log backlog will have to wait another week...
julesjones: (Default)
Friday night a week and a bit ago I felt up to experimenting with using Dragon to write new fiction material. I specify fiction, because a lot of my blog posts over the last few months have been written at least partly with Dragon, and an awful lot of my typing at work has been with Dragon rather than keyboard. But fiction's different, for various reasons.

The current primary WIP is one that I wouldn't even attempt to use Dragon on. There's too much staring into space while I turn shape of story into words, and dealing with the error correction would thoroughly disrupt my train of thought. But occasionally I have a chunk of text right there in my head, and that might be more amenable to scribbling it down quickly via dictation rather than via keyboard or handwriting recognition (I still carry around a Palm IIIxe for the latter purpose, even if it doesn't get much use nowadays).

That still wouldn't work for anything longer than one or two sentences using my normal mode of dictating, which is to dictate a sentence or two and then do the corrections. But Dragon can also transcribe from a sound file with previously recorded dictation, and my shiny new headset came with sound recording software.

I had something that wasn't full on "the text is in my head and I simply need to type it before I forget the words", but did have a reasonable chance of me being able to witter on for more than one sentence before having to stop to formulate the next bit. That makes it feasible to dictate a passage, and then go through the complete transcription file afterwards to clean up the errors by listening to the recording and making corrections. (Cleaning up the errors via Dragon is essential to improve recognition in the future.)

Alas, I'd left it a bit too long before doing something with it, and some of the words had escaped. There was much pausing to think of how the next bit should be phrased, and thus many points where I paused the recording in order to stare into space.

The actual dictating into recorder bit -- not entirely a success. It made me much more consciously aware of how much I sit and spare into space, for one thing. :-) But the two big problems I consciously noticed were that I find it much more difficult to compose the next sentence without the visual feedback of the previous sentence on the screen/page in front of me, and that I still find it disruptive to my train of thought to have to explicitly dictate punctuation. However, the punctuation problem is, I think, less noticeable when doing this sort of "dictate for later transcription" than when doing real-time dictating/correcting.

The sound file I ended up with is 9m38s long, according to Audio Commander. That's with a fair bit of hitting the pause button when I needed to stare into space, and I'm not quite sure how long I was actually dictating for, although I doubt it was longer than 20m.

The raw transcript has a word count of 829 words. Many of those words are not what I actually said. Some of them are words that I did in fact say, but intended to be dictation commands rather than text. The transcription is actually pretty appalling, compare to how I'm getting on with using Dragon at work to dictate letters etc. :-) This may be partly because I didn't remember to RTFM before starting this lark, and thus didn't set up the digital recorder as a separate source. I did shift the accuracy-speed balance all the way over to accuracy, so that's not the problem. Or it may be that I haven't written any fiction with this profile, so its sampling of my likely pattern of word usage is off.

It's taken about 20 minutes to go through the transcript playing back the audio and correcting it where necessary. That's just the first pass, to correct the transcript to what I actually said, glitches and all. This is necessary to teach Dragon to adapt to my speech patterns -- if I don't correct it accurately to exactly what I said, rather than what I meant, that will decrease its recognition accuracy in future.

Next pass will be to go through and take out the commands it mis-recognised as text, and do the corrections I was trying to do with those commands (typically deleting a few words because I'd changed my mind about what I wanted to type). And after that I'll do a revision pass.

So, slow and tedious. But doable, and could be useful in certain circumstances. I might put the raw transcript and the various editing passes online, if people are interested in seeing what sort of errors Dragon is making.
julesjones: (Default)
Just tried using the sound recorder function in Audio Commander to dictate my notes for " the Elves and the Shoemaker " and then transcribe it with Dragon. This should be a fairly easy test, as all I'm doing is reading aloud existing handwritten notes. On the other hand, I had to stop on occasions to actually try work what my handwritten notes said. :-)

3 1/2 pages in a reporter's notebook, which will be around 500 words with my handwriting. It took about four minutes to dictate, and 2 or 3 minutes to transcribe, and about 15 minutes to do the corrections... that's rather annoying, particularly as the high error rate is actually higher than I'm achieving most of the time now with dictating blog posts. On the other hand, it will get better as Dragon hears more of my fiction, and part of the problem is that my current computer is pretty much as low a spec as you can get away with and still run Dragon at all. So it's a trade off between speed of recognition and accuracy of recognition, and the install wizard quite rightly went for speed over accuracy. Speed is more important for live dictation, but as it's irrelevant for transcribing a recording, I might fiddle with the settings when I'm doing transcribing.

Dragon does have its own sound recorder built in, which you can use while doing corrections to play back what you said, but in the lower editions this will hold the sound file only until you close the DragonPad document/Dragon itself (still haven't quite worked out which it is). You need to cough up for Professional or its variants to get the facility to save the .wav file permanently so you can transcribe it later.

Conclusions from a brief experiment, then:

The sound file from Audio Commander is usable with Dragon, and at the default sampling rate of 11025 Hz. On my elderly laptop the recognition error rate is pretty high, but certainly acceptable for copy typing in situations where I might not be able to type. It would also be usable for jotting down notes and scraps of dialogue, at least if I could get over my horror at having to listen to my own voice on playback. This might sound daft if you've never tried it, but a couple of my writer friends have also mentioned having the same sort of problem with it. It is actually very disconcerting to listen to your own voice on playback if you're not used to it, as it inevitably sounds different the way you normally hear yourself.

I've saved both the raw transcript and the corrected version as separate files, and might put them online in Google Docs at some point if anyone wants to do a compare and contrast -- it's a useful demonstration of both the types of error and the number of errors.


Jul. 7th, 2012 10:22 pm
julesjones: (Default)
I'm actually up to trying to type 300 words this weekend, so did so. It ended up as 400 words. :-) Taxman has gone from 27977 to 28375 words.

I've also got a possible market and some further editing suggestions for Circle of Glass, which will probably have to wait until Alex and I are available and alert at the same time. Might poke at that tomorrow, if not it's probably going to be next weekend before we can do so.

I want to try using the dictaphone function in Dragon in combination with the sound recorder in the headphones software to experiment with dictating fiction. As a general rule, I can't do this, because various things about using Dragon break my train of thought and I lose track of what I wanted to write. However, I've considered in the past using a dictaphone and then feeding into Dragon, rather than correcting recognition errors on the fly.

I never got around to it, in part because it would still probably be rather disruptive to my train of thought as far as actual editing/rewriting on the fly was concerned. I was also rather reluctant to shell out on a digital voice recorder given that they were fairly expensive at the time, at least for one good enough to use with older versions of Dragon. However, the reason I was considering it was because I get the occasional bout of having the story pretty much ready to go in my head before I ever lay fingers on keys -- and *that*, even if it was simply a chapter or scene, would be much more amenable to dictate first and correct recognition errors after.

The muse dumped a story idea on me a couple of weeks back, along with a chunk of dialogue. Some of it's going to be sitting at the keyboard staring into space, but some of it at least I could probably rattle off into a dictaphone. And the sound recorder is a good way to see if this actually works for me. Unfortunately I've been too tired since then to be able to try, because composing my thoughts and then saying them accurately requires concentration. So that's probably tomorrow's writing task, if I get a decent night's sleep tonight.
julesjones: (Default)
I'd been getting pretty fed up with the Bluetooth microphone, which was included with the Bluetooth edition of Dragon which I bought back in 2008.The Bluetooth didn't fit me very well, and as it was an over the ear Model rather than a headband model, tended to drift out of alignment. Consistent microphone position is actually very important for recognition, so using Dragon involved much fighting with the software correcting the recognition errors. I still found it very useful for some things, most notably entering data into LibraryThing, but failed to get around to reinstalling it after I had to reformat and reinstall Windows last year.

The headset I was issued with at work to use with Dragon as part of my return to work support turned out to be much, much better. By the end of the first day, the error rate on the copy at work was already as good as on the copy at home, which by then I'd already been training for over a month. Some of that was obviously just down to the computer at work being much newer and therefore higher specced, but within a few days I was sure that some of it was the headset. So I went ahead and ordered one to use at home.

What I actually ordered was the stereo version, because I thought that would be slightly more comfortable to wear than the mono version that I had at work. I dithered a bit, because I was concerned that using a stereo set might block out outside sounds, such as a phone ringing elsewhere in the house. But I'm glad I went for the stereo version, because they are slightly more comfortable to wear, at least with reading glasses on, and they're not designed to block out outside sound.

The headset in question is the Andrea NC185 VM USB, which includes an on-board sound card in the USB dongle. Andrea also do a companion piece of software which you have to download from their website rather than it being included in the box. Weirdly, while I didn't need to install it on the computer at work to get the headset to work with Dragon, I did need to use it on the ThinkPad before I could get the sound levels adjusted to be compatible with Dragon.

One doesn't expect to have to install drivers for something like a mike. Once I'd got past that little hurdle...

Even with having to set up a new input device on my Dragon profile, it was, out of the box, a clear improvement over the Bluetooth. I would very much benefit from buying a new laptop with the muscle to run Dragon at speed, but the fifty pounds invested in this headset makes it feasible to put off the laptop replacement for a while. The Bluetooth is still going to be useful for travel purposes, because it's much smaller and easier to pack, and it has the obvious advantage for some uses of not tethering me to the computer (although the Andrea comes with an 8 feet cable). But the Andrea is my primary headset from now on.

The other advantage of the Andrea is that the software comes with a sound recorder, which might come in handy as a substitute for a dictaphone. More later on why that's of interest to me.
julesjones: (Default)
For anyone UK-based thinking of buying Dragon 11.5, the UK online shop is having a six hour sale from 9 to 3 today on the Windows Premium edition, in basic, bluetooth and digital recorder versions -- more details here. From past experience with Nuance sales, do check the prices against the discount prices available from places like Amazon, because they're not always that much of a deal. But sometimes they do offer a worthwhile discount off street price, and these prices are a serious discount compared to what Amazon is offering me today.

I don't particularly recommend the Bluetooth edition. The included Bluetooth headset appears to be the cheapest, crappiest one of the Plantronics Calisto range, and I suspect an OEM-only model. The actual mike is fine, but it's an over-the-ear set with a one-size-doesn't-fit-everybody earplug and loop, which I find is impossible to keep in place for any length of time. There's no charging stand, only a flimsy charging cable. Nice idea to not have to be taking the headset off and on to move away from the computer, but if it doesn't fit your ear you're going to be constantly fiddling with it anyway. It's usable, it's useful for work where you don't want to be tethered to the computer, and it's useful for travelling because of the small size, but I'm about to buy a headband mike (specifically the model I've been supplied with at work, which seems to suit me).
julesjones: (Default)
As of today I have Dragon available at $DAY_JOB, to general hilarity from my teammates. I'm sure the novelty will wear off eventually, but for now it causes vast amusement to treat "go to sleep", "wake up", "close window" etc as normal conversation rather than voice operation of the computer. :-)

Also, I have already demonstrated exactly why my workload should not yet include any document that will be seen outside the office. I did remember to tell the mike to go to sleep before expressing my opinion of my teammates -- alas, it treated this as dictation and not a command... I am a little disappointed that nobody has yet done the "format C" routine. This makes me feel old, for I am old enough to *remember* command line interface, and am now feeling my age.

It does lead me to think that it's time to start budgeting for a replacement for Thinkpad. Thinkpad is a solidly built and specced machine (it's an IBM Thinkpad, duh), but it's also 6 years old, and Dragon is hugely resource-intensive. Dragon is noticeably faster at recognition and able to handle natural language commands on the work machine, even though I've barely started training it.

This may be in part down to the mike -- my home copy has an in/over-the-ear bluetooth headset, which is prone to drifting out of alignment. The one at work is a USB headset with headband, and seems to have better sound quality. The bluetooth's very convenient for some things, but I'm seriously considering buying my own one of the model that work supplied.
julesjones: (Default)
and you can see from the timestamps on the previous two public posts just how long it takes to do anything with Dragon ....
julesjones: (Default)
1) Zeborah noted in comments to my previous entry about the Mouse Grid that you can also control the mouse by saying "move mouse up", etc, and that you can change the speed by saying "faster". I tried it and it works. As she said, this is also incredibly tedious. Poking about in the options, I found that you can actually change the default speed for the mouse to move. They've actually picked a good speed for learning with, and I'm going to leave it on the slow speed for now, although I will probably change it to a faster speed once I'm used to it.

Which way is better depends on how far the mouse is from where you want it to be and how finely you need to control it. For some things I'm finding that the best way is to actually use the mouse grid to get approximately in the right place, and then use the move commands to place the cursor precisely. You use the "cancel" command to clear the mouse grid and leave the cursor where you'd moved it to.

2) I didn't note in my previous post about the Dictation Box that the other big advantage of using it is that you don't have to manually select all, copy and paste in order to copy the text you've just dictated into the target window. There's a single word transfer command, which makes life much easier.
julesjones: (Default)
I'm still working my way through the manual.Yesterday's discovery -- that saying "mouse click" does exactly that. Now, if you can more or less shove the mouse around the mat but clicking it hurts, this is extremely useful all by itself. But mention was made of the Mouse Grid. I left that for today. This command does indeed lay a 3 x 3 grid over the screen, you pick the numbered cell that you want, and a smaller grid pops up in that cell, with the mouse pointer in the centre. You can repeat this several times, and use the "mouse click" command as soon as you get the mouse pointer where you need it on the screen. This can be unbelievably tedious, but is also very useful when the verbal commands for selecting links fail you. I could have done with knowing about this a week ago, when even pushing the mouse around hurt.

And yes, there is a command for right clicking, and you can instruct it to press specific keys on the keypad. Of course, its recognition of individual letters isn't always that wonderful, but it does recognise the alpha bravo codes, which I am going to have to relearn.

And this little lot took me over 10 minutes to dictate. This is one of the reasons why it's not terribly practical for writing a novel with, at least for me. I await with interest Charlie Stross's report on his experiment with dictating to his iPad. (And I didn't have to spell out Charlie's name. Any of it.)
julesjones: (Default)
Turning off Protected Mode seems to have worked. So now I'm busy working my way through the user guide, learning about some of the tools and commands I don't remember using before. I think one or two of them may actually be new in Service Pack 1.

For future reference, Service Pack 1 seems to work better with Dreamwidth, or possibly the other way around. But the command "open Dictation Box" is useful for quickly dictating text with all the standard Dragon commands available when you're in a window that's not entirely compatible with Dragon. I'm just testing that now.

You may well get (very slowly) spammed with the book log today as I practice using Dragon for more than the odd bit of entering books into LibraryThing. :-)
julesjones: (Default)
So, the error message I get when I try to open a PDF with Dragon running is:
"COM returned an unexpected error code: Details are HOOKERR_NONOTIFYWINDOW."
and Dragon then falls over, either immediately or within the next few minutes. Putting "dragon 10 acrobat reader" into Google got me the following as the first result (note that it's affecting Dragon v11 as well):


And in case that thread disappears, Dragon and Adobe are blaming each other, the possible fixes are to buy the full Acrobat X, turn off protected mode in Acrobat Reader (works for some people but not others), or roll Reader back to a previous version. Or, as the original poster in the thread was thinking of, finding some other pdf reader...

The second link was
and apparently it was all over the speech recognition fora when Acrobat Reader X came out. There's a link in that thread to a technical note at Nuance (the people who own Dragon):

If it comes down to having to ditch one of the programs, it's Reader that's getting the boot. And I'm not impressed with Adobe breaking one of the most widely used accessibility programs out there while supposedly improving accessibility.

ETA: another useful link: http://www.speakeasysolutions.com/blog/2011/03/07/dragon-error-com-returned-an-unexpected-error-code-details-are-hookerr_nonotifywindow/
julesjones: (Default)
I wonder how many obscene words are in the built-in vocabulary? Because it will probably have learned a few new ones by the end of the week. So far using it to navigate around the desktop has been less than successful, ranging from general flakiness to closing the entire Mozilla when all I wanted it to do was switch to the next tab. Oh, and the microphone randomly switches off in software.

But for the absolute pinnacle of bloody annoyingness, we must go to its refusal to be open at the same time as its PDF manual. I have no idea what the problem is other than that this is the 2008 version of Dragon, and I'm running the latest version of Adobe Reader, so it's possible that something new in Reader isn't compatible.

In spite of all which, I am so glad that I have Dragon, and I am already used to using it, even if I haven't used it for a while and can't remember most of the commands. This entry has taken about 10 minutes to dictate, and a lot of muttering while the microphone was off, but it might well have taken me 10 minutes to type it, given the current state of my hands.


Mar. 11th, 2012 06:07 pm
julesjones: (Default)
The RSI is now sufficiently bad that Dragon is no longer an option. I've spent a lot of the last two days relearning how to use it. When I say "a lot", I mean 15 minutes at a time, and then taking a break. As it points out somewhere in the manual, you can also get RSI of the vocal cords. And it's a good thing that one of the commands I could remember is the one to turn the microphone off for a bit, because with just having got over a sore throat, I need to stop to clear my throat every sentence or two. It's also getting bloody annoying that the microphone doesn't fit properly and keeps drifting out of alignment. It doesn't help that I've acquired reading glasses since I was last using this program regularly.


julesjones: (Default)

April 2019

14151617 181920


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Active Entries

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags