julesjones: (Default)
Had a relapse on the RSI at work yesterday - not bad, but I had to step away from the computer for a couple of hours, and did nothing more than check my email when I got home.

Bad timing, because the email included one from my editor telling me I've got the first round of edits on Bargain to look through. Fortunately we've got some time in hand, but I need to step away from the keyboard *now*, even though I had a long break from the keyboard at work today, and I suspect will be in the same position for the next couple of days.
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)
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)
Well, re-release of something that's been out of print for a while. Just been given access to my account on Musa's manuscript management database, which has a proposed release date in November for And if I offered thee a bargain. This is just a short story, but given that my last release was in August 2008, I'll be glad to have something coming out this year.

I've had to stop work on writing Taxman because of the RSI (Dragon is not really suitable for writing fiction), but I'm now slowly building up my time on the keyboard, so hoping to get back to that in the next couple of weeks. Definitely not going to have the draft of that finished any time soon, alas, but still hoping to have a finished draft before year's end. On the other hand, if [livejournal.com profile] predatrix feels up to working on the Ipswich novelette, that means that I don't have to do the typing on that...
julesjones: (Default)
Just dropped a mug of tea -- as I was thinking that my grip has improved significantly with the physiotherapy...
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)
Apparently I have not needed to use Dragon since I rebuilt the laptop software install last year. Because I've just had to install it, not having done so at the time...

Probably easier to re-train from scratch than dig out the old training files. But either way, it's a job for tomorrow. It's taken all evening just to install it, register it, and download and install the service pack. Note to self, in future do not wait until you actually need it before installing it.
julesjones: (Default)
Stuff going on at $DAY_JOB has set off the RSI in a bad way. normally i'd switch to dragon, but i also have a throat infection. i can type as long as i keep it brief and avoid the mouse. this is frustrating, as apart from the book there are lj posts i want to write. i think i'm going to have to seriously consider going back to dragon full time at home once i can talk normally again, because the rsi has reached the point of no return on the new damage -- it will now take weeks if not months to recover even when the problem that caused it is fixed. also going to have to seriously consider getting a new workstation at home, because the current one is good enough in normal circumstances but may not give me enough support now. i hate shopping for desks, nothing's ever quite what i need. :-(

need to look up the windows keyboard commands as i haven't had to use them in a long time. this is why i hate websites that insist on using fancy tricks that require a mouse to use the website.


Feb. 12th, 2012 07:09 pm
julesjones: (Default)
Wordage was non-existent for a couple of months, what with Christmas, more than the usual number of migraines, and a bout of flu. But I started back on Taxman last weekend, taking the running total from 25195 to 25392 on Saturday, and to 25618 on Sunday. I had to stop there because I had a very bad flare-up of the RSI and staying away from the keyboard for a few days was a Really Good Idea, but got back to work today, and it's now at 27034. Not all of that is new words, as some is a copy-n-paste of a chunk from the notes section and then re-working, but there are still at least a thousand new words in there.

My arms ache again, so time to stop for the night, and I'll probably be limited during the week, but it's definitely flowing for now.
julesjones: (Default)
I hope it's just RSI, and not vitamin D deficiency or med side-effects again. But I started Thursday with a faint twinge in my bad shoulder, and ended the workday by getting out the hot water bottle I keep in my desk. Friday I woke up still very sore in the shoulder, and mild twinges right through the arm and hand. The 400 mg of ibuprofen in the morning did nothing for it, although the aspirin/codeine I took in the afternoon when the twinges spread to the other hand was a lot more effective. Woke up this morning with a shoulder that was so sore I seriously considered getting out of bed immediately simply because it might hurt less standing up. Which given that it was Saturday and I wanted a lie-in...

It's a lot less painful after a walk to the village this morning to do some shopping and loosen up, but I definitely need to take aspirin/codeine before going to bed this evening, to discourage it seizing up overnight. And ration my time on the computer.
julesjones: (Default)
Tried installing Dragon Naturally Speaking 10 today. It looked okay until it got to the registration (which asked for a load of personal data then informed me that registration had not been completed). And then it refused to start the programme up on the ground that C:\windows\speech\speech.dll had version 4.04.2109 installed and version 4.04.2512 was required. It further informed me that maybe rebooting the computer or reinstalling Dragon would help.

Tried both those options. More than once. No, they did not help.

The Nuance website had nothing. Tried Google. Eventually found this forum post, which explained what the issue was:
Nobrainer forum
and went and retrieved the required Sapi 4 speech files from the downloads section of the Nuance website (they own Dragon). It appears to be working now. Am *not* impressed with the not-help message in the software, and the not-help on the Nuance website.

Off to train my Dragon now.
julesjones: (Default)
They ordered an ergonomic keyboard for me when I started this new job -- a Microsoft 4000, a clone of the one I have at home, or at least the UK version thereof. It failed to appear. When I started making yelping noises and visibly fuzzing out due to pain late last week, working out why the damn thing hadn't arrived suddenly became a priority -- they do take disability adjustments seriously. I'm not sure quite what happened last night, but I think someone actually went out and bought one on petty cash somewhere in one of the suburban sheds, having failed to find any of the city centre shops that would admit to having one in stock. It was on my desk when I arrived this morning.

I still hurt, and I'm not going to be doing any serious typing at home for at least another week and probably longer, but I feel *noticeably* better already.

But I'm going to spend the money and get that Dragon with Bluetooth package for home. If I can work with the modern version even on fiction (I couldn't use V4 for fiction), it will be well worth the money.
julesjones: (Default)
After months of being okay, something went ping in my wrist this morning. My typing's shot, and I need to restrict how much I do. I'm not deliberately ignoring anyone...
julesjones: (Default)
Done something to set the RSI off -- had to take codeine about 3:30 this morning, because my arm was aching enough to keep me awake after something else woke me up. It's my left arm, which is the one that's usually okay. Not good, given I use a left-handed mouse for ergonomic reasons.

Might have to keep an eye out for a cheap copy of Dragon, in case this happens again. It was a nuisance to use the last time I had occasion to, several years ago, but it's improved a lot in the time since.
julesjones: (Default)
Spent a couple of days assembling Ikeaware, moving boxes out of the way to have room to put the Ikeaware somewhere, emptying some of the boxes onto the Ikeaware, and then rearranging the remaining not-empty boxes into a tasteful pattern that allows us to reclaim our living space instead of climbing over boxes.

The Good: the flat looks like a flat again instead of a self-storage unit, and I have my ergonomic workstation set up again after some months of the laptop keyboard and screen.

The Bad: I'm going to *need* the ergonomics. I buggered my wrists while wielding the screwdriver. That's starting to feel a little better already, now that I've stopped the screwdriver abuse. *But*, and this is a very big but, in the last couple of hours I've done something or other which was the last straw as far as my shoulder's concerned. And past experience suggests that it's going to be sore for at least a few days.

The Ugly: I've got a presentation to prepare on the Day Job side. With Powerpoint, which I have no experience of, neither that nor its OpenOffice clone. Much mousing. Much clicking. Not happy...

Add to this the joy that is discovering that my arms are suddenly getting shorter at an alarming rate (or in other words, my very intermittent need for reading glasses is suddenly no longer that intermittent). I am *not* enjoying this introduction to the joys of middle age.

I might get back to writing the Lord and Master sequel at the end of the week. Or I might not. It depends on how many other bits of my body go on strike this week...

(ObPlagiarismReference: this post alludes to a film title. I'll let you work out which one.)


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