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Progressing with voice recognition software, some bioengineering feats I’d still like to see, and some ultimate questions

May 20, 2009

Dragon NaturallySpeaking is becoming more natural to use. I’m able to compose e-mail; however, the Dragon still refuses to learn the names of my correspondents. My husband’s name, for instance, is “Vic.” But the Dragon consistently insists on naming him “Dick.” I have no idea why he is not “Rick” or “Nick.” So every time I want to e-mail my husband, I have to go through the following sequence: “select recipients”; “spell cap victor india charlie okay.”

An important thing I have learned about using voice recognition software is its limitations. Some websites I use are filled with tripwires, presumably inadvertent, and a few, like my bank, I simply can no longer use. The WordPress edit screen is also a Dragon-hostile environment. Dragon’s editing functions do not interface with the WordPress WYSIWYG. The course of least resistance for composing a blog post or comment is to compose everything on DragonPad and then cut and paste to the desired destination. This eliminates no end of frustrations that are due simply to the fact the Dragon NaturallySpeaking does not interface with every site with which I interact. It’s on me to reroute my life and not expect the world to change.

Our household errands have doubled in frequency since I’ve had to deal with the limitations of my RSI. We go to the store once to purchase a device to make life easier, and once again to return it. Our latest acquisition in the return cycle involved a 2-pound electric sweeper that had looked terrific. For two weeks it was terrific. Then the motor began to flag a bit. When my burning wrists are providing the energy for a device, I will brook no insubordination. When I had to scrub over a stubborn speck of kitty litter more than twice, the device’s tenure in our household was history. And I am back to the dustmop, whisk broom, and dust pan from which the sweeper was advertised to liberate me.

RSIs are now the most prevalent OSHA injury. Presumably, voice recognition software will slouch out of the clay tablet and stylus stage, but far too often it is a tertiary remedy when it should be a primary remedy. If people are going to be extensions of computers for their life work, they should begin with voice recognition software — before they are injured.

Bright bioengineers should be alert to a burgeoning RSI market out there. I’d love to see a voice-activated nail file.

I was limited by fibromyalgia for many years before developing this RSI. I was accustomed to thinking ahead to make efficient use of my time and energy. I have always sought the most ergonomic equipment possible in every sphere of life. However, the threat of losing the use of my hands directed my attention to some ultimate questions. All right, I’ve been a little gonzo. I’ve always worked past pain, but I couldn’t work past my hands turning to wood. How important was it really to have fresh material on my blog constantly, answer every e-mail immediately, check a dozen news sources throughout the day, and generally web gaze? After being off the computer completely for two weeks and realizing I hadn’t missed a thing, I have to say, not very important. I’m realizing that I might even have to face life with specks of kitty litter on the floor. I have a new category for things like this: WTHCA, or, Who the Hell Cares Anyway?

  1. Vic permalink
    May 20, 2009 10:03 am

    That is a lovely way of observing the hidden obvious thing: our computers and our gadgets demand us to be accessories to their purpose.

    Regarding WTHCA and the news, I’m thinking of Ecclesiastes 1:9.

    And of course Eccl. 3:20 for cat litter: in the end the dust finds its place too.

  2. October 22, 2009 6:18 pm

    We sure agree with you here, but start insisting on ‘point & clik’ applications, wireless keyboards that you can take away from the desk, and a wireless – deskfree mouse, for the same reasons. We always recommend WeraMouse in my practice.

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