Boy oh boy, people are tough! Just several days on the job and I did not expect the amount of comments that are already taking place regarding the differences between the three versions of Dragon Naturally Speaking.
This article was originally going to be about what I use Dragon for. I now recognize that I must become much more of an expert rather than a heavy user of Dragon to keep up with all of these requests.
I still am going to go ahead with what I had originally thought I wanted to write about. I will additionally write about what everybody wants me to write about.
With the forum comments in mind I did do some research in terms of the differences between the three versions. I want to remind everybody that I always have used the professional version. In the speech forum groups I’ve participated heavily in over the years, those members also used the professional version and it was very unusual to have anyone that used preferred. Standard version was never acknowledged or seen on the sites.
There are primarily three functional reasons why people use speech recognition. First, dictation can be changed from spoken language and transcribed into text. Secondly, Dragon allows you to control all aspects of your computer by using speech commands. Finally, there is a text to speech component where written text is allowed to be played back for a listener.
Reasons for using speech recognition vary. I use it because of my poor typing skills. Many others seem to use it for this reason also. Those with physical disabilities have found that Dragon can allow them to navigate successfully through all aspects of their computer. There is no reason to use an external keyboard or an external mouse when using Dragon. The only time human intervention is necessary is to turn the computer on. Dragon can even successfully shut down the computer. The text-to-speech function is great for blind people. They can select material and hear it played back to them.
Here are some examples as to how I use Dragon daily. Imagine that I want to write a letter to someone. I actually can just say the technical term "Letterhead" and this will open up a document with my letterhead, my address and my professional designations all nicely done in a print style of my choice. After I dictate the body of my letter I can then say the term "salutation" and it will then dictate my name, and my professional titles.
What is neat about this is that I have created what is called a "macro." This means that it knows how to indent my salutation, it knows the style of type that I want, and it knows where to place it in the letterhead. My 1-word command does many things.
Another example of a macro is how I open up patient notes in my electronic medical record. I use the term "do it." This command opens up all of my patient notes for a particular person, goes to the end of all the documents, starts a new paragraph, puts in the date for today, starts another new paragraph and places the cursor for me. I have timed this when I do it manually or just through regular speech recognition. It can take up to 10 seconds to do this. When I voice this one command it takes approximately 2 to three seconds. Wow! Is this crazy or what?
Now here’s some more information… Ouch! Oh no! I have reinjured my index finger. Once again I have done a "George Jetson." I’ll be back in a minute after I put the bandage on.
Okay, I’m back. But now what? I can no longer right-click or left click with the mouse. I can no longer scroll the touchpad with my index finger. This Article Will Not Get Done in Time! I’ll have an editor very upset with me!
Luckily, I have Dragon Professional. It’s as easy as me saying to my microphone "double-click." Yes, I am able to control my whole computer through my microphone. Sure I have to remember all the commands, but once memorized I no longer need my keyboard. I can even create a grid on my screen that allows me to place my mouse cursor precisely where I want it.
All right, all right. Now I’ll attempt to talk about the differences between the three versions. Dragon standard has to be bought with each new version. You cannot buy an upgrade. This means that ultimately it might be cheaper to buy a preferred version. The most important feature of why it is important to have the preferred over the standard version is the ability to manage the user files. A user file is created every time a user speaks and updated every time the user speaks. The updates occur when we make corrections. A good user file takes time to create. The difference between good accuracy and only fair to poor accuracy is a good user file. Having to start all over with a user file can be maddening for the first week. The preferred version also has the ability to do some basic text macros. This is not possible in the standard version. The standard version does not offer text macros or any type of macros. The professional version can offer specialized vocabularies. The professional version can also do the network profile which was spoken about earlier in the forum. I have not had to use a network profile and I am not familiar with it. The professional version is integrated with Outlook. The professional version also can import and export the user file and also the vocabulary independently. The ability to use sophisticated macros occurs only in the professional version. I only have one or two of these sophisticated macros but I am lost without them.
I still hold to the belief that many people can get by with the preferred version. I understand that people are having success with the standard version, but I believe that there are limitations that make it less user friendly. I personally, could not be successful the way I am successful with speech recognition by using the preferred version. I do require these precise technical macros. They have made my life much easier. I freely acknowledge that it was very expensive for me to set up my version of Dragon professional. I feel that the cost is more than justified by the time that it saves me and the ability to work effectively.
So, are you getting the itch yet to try speech? Or are you nervous that speech is too much work for too little outcome? I am here to try and help you overcome your hesitation with speech. I personally know it can be a fantastic way to work with the computer! I hope I can sell you on the merits that speech recognition brings to tablet computers.