Look, Ma, No Hands?


Like Gifted Typist and First-Person Narrator, I've got something nasty going on in my neck and shoulders. I injured something about a month ago during a week of travel--all that hefting heavy luggage onto the overhead racks or compartments in trains and planes--afterwards it hurt to lift my right arm above the level of my shoulder. But it got better after a few days, at least until this weekend, when I did something worse. I thought maybe yoga or a little weight-lifting would help the muscles heal, and I didn't think I overdid things, but apparently I was wrong....

Anyway, commenters suggested that Gifted Typist look into voice recognition software. And I thought, maybe I should look into that myself.... Dragon Naturally Speaking Standard seems like it would fit my needs, such as they are.... I mean, do I really need software that transcribes what I say? Has anyone used this? I type pretty fast, and I like typing, and I also like the way typing makes me reflect on what I write.... I'm not sure transcribing everything I say would make my writing better; it just would mean I could do it without hands.

Or maybe it would completely change my life, and I just can't imagine how.

Advice, anyone?


Through Microsoft Word, I have the ability to use voice-recognition software (I think it comes with the MS Office suite). Using a microphone headset plugged into the USB port on your computer, you first use the "training" software to teach your computer how to recognize your voice by reading a pre-set text and watching it appear on screen. Once you have your computer trained, you can then create Word documents by speaking into the microphone; your words will appear onscreen, almost by magic. It isn't a hundred percent accurate, but you can go back and edit it manually later. Our IT guy showed me how to do this when I needed to do some transcription of an oral history. I think the headset ran about a hundred dollars, two years ago.

One of my profs, a brilliant scholar and writer, had an accident that made it very difficult for her to spend any amount of time sitting and writing. She used this method to great effect.

A really good massage therapist might help your muscles.

Hi Juti--thanks for the advice. I went ahead and ordered the software after I wrote the next entry on "Good Grief"--transcribing that passage from William James was a pain in the butt, and I thought how much easier it would have been if I could just read it. It has already shipped, so I should get it some time this week. I'm really looking forward to it.

And I see a massage therapist every three weeks or so. It was her insistence that I really needed to start doing yoga again that got me into my current mess. :-)

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on March 4, 2008 9:49 AM.

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