Several comments regarding previous articles have had people asking me to explain more about macros. Vista speech recognition is currently beta testing their macros and I cannot comment about them since I have not used Vista speech as of yet. (I will be testing Vista speech in the near future.) Macros are not available for XP speech. Dragon Speech recognition offers the opportunity to create macros which I like to term “cheats”. I use the term ““cheatsÃ¢â‚¬Â as a way of describing complex tasks made extremely simple by using voice commands. These voice commands set off a chain of events ultimately ending in whatever task completion you have arranged the macro to do.
Here are several examples describing how macros can be applied. First, Dragon speech can create voice commands for almost any software application. If you commonly use repeated paragraphs or sentences of text (this is a common occurrence in healthcare applications) text blocks can be inserted. We can use a voice command to do complex keyboard sequences that are time consuming or difficult to perform. Data can be entered in one area of a program and used in multiple applications.
I was not aware before researching this article on macros, but I have now discovered that you can use macros with QuickBooks or AutoCAD.
Let’s get a little bit more detail about what types of things Dragon macros can do. Imagine that you often cut-and-paste from one document into another document. We can create a voice command that automatically does this for you. You no longer have to move your cursor or use keystrokes to create a cut command or a paste command.
Think of all the steps necessary for this common task. You must put your cursor over edit. You must then choose cut or copy. You must then paste the material into a new article.
This can be done automatically with a macro. I use this speech command already and it is a timesaver. I know that when I do it by hand it can take 10 to 15 seconds. When I use it with a macro it takes approximately 3 to four seconds. Granted, this is not hours of time saved. However, I may use this command six times a day. I might gain several minutes each day. Over the course of a week I have gained maybe 10 to 15 minutes. Over the course of a month that may turn into an hour. Over the course of the year that’s many hours.
Imagine that you wanted to place last week’s date in a specific spot in a document. You can create a command for this. How about next weeks date? Say a command. No looking for the date, no pulling up the calendar (and in my case screwing up the time while I find the right date.)
I have created commands which take demographic information about people such as name and address and age and placed it into formal fields in a chart. Get the information onetime and I can apply it to several applications all at once. Just by my voice. No keyboard, no stylus, just my Sennheiser 431 microphone. Neat, huh?
Dragon Naturally Speaking creates these macros by using a specialized area in the program called the Command Browser. I will admit I am not very sophisticated or skilled in creating macro commands. The guru of commands for Dragon is a person named Larry Allen. He has written a fantastic book called “Scripting for Dragon Naturally Speaking“. This book has made it possible for a beginner in macros to learn basic steps. He also takes you all the way up to very sophisticated programs. Anything that you want to do via keyboard can be done with the use of a macro. All the necessary steps in the keyboard are done automatically and much more swiftly. It is amazing how much time this can save.
I understand that the concept of the macro may be hard to grasp. Most people seem to be aware of only the ability to use speech recognition to transcribe text. Speech recognition is a much more powerful tool than just a transcription device. With the use of macros one can easily make timesaving mechanisms that allow a computer to be used more effectively in every day applications.