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Tribulations of a Dragon NaturallySpeaking blogger

May 28, 2009

A day doesn’t go by that I don’t wonder whether my next blog post will be titled, “Gonzo blogger grounded by RSI!”

Dragon NaturallySpeaking isn’t the problem; WordPress isn’t the problem: as is so often the case in various spheres of life, the problem is that these lifeline entities don’t share information.

When I was able to type, my mechanisms of interaction with WordPress were intuitive and usually fairly trouble-free unless WordPress was having a problem. When my repetitive strain injury became chronic and I could no longer type, I was highly motivated to learn Dragon NaturallySpeaking and turn my entire computer life, including my blog, over to voice recognition technology. However, the interface — or lack of it — between Dragon NaturallySpeaking and WordPress poses several challenges, some of which can be met with tedious bypasses, while others remain insurmountable, at least at my current level of competence. I suspect that other bloggers using Dragon NaturallySpeaking have noted similar difficulties.

For one thing, the WordPress WYSIWYG is not a stable editing platform when using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. You’ll soon notice that commands to insert your cursor in various places or to select things go completely unheeded, especially if they happened to work a few minutes earlier. If you compose your draft using Works, or Word, or DragonPad and then paste it to your WYSIWYG, you’ll notice that all of your carefully installed bold and italic fonts and any other HTML tags have been summarily stripped. You can upload a photo, but you have no dictation capability in your caption box. However, if you are very resourceful, you can dictate your caption into Notepad, even with HTML tags, and paste it into the caption box. I have found that only Notepad will transfer its contents with formatting intact. But of course Notepad has its own limitations.

The way around your WYSIWYG page of course is to zero in on the desired button or box using a sequence of mouse grids. The trouble with most websites, including your blog, is that your cursor becomes trapped in a particular field even though your mind is following a more unified concept of the site as a single field. The only way to jump from field to field is with mouse grids.

Your readers of course have no idea what you’re going through just to launch a post, much less the whole process of dictating and editing it. But then, you don’t know that you have any readers, because it’s too much trouble to check your stats.

If your hands go down, Dragon NaturallySpeaking enables life and blogging to go on pretty much as normal. Just don’t expect normal ever be the same again.

  1. heidi permalink
    May 29, 2009 6:41 am

    ‘Just don’t expect normal to ever be the same again’. That’s classic Lauren — there are some things even RSI, dragons, and unstable editing platforms can’t change :-).

  2. hand2mouth permalink
    May 29, 2009 7:17 am

    It’s usually a good idea to compose your posts in a text editor first, then copy and paste, as you say. However, rich text format works better for pasting in. (The format stripping is unfortunate design.) Or, for a short one, use the dictation box. For italics etc., there are WordPress keyboard shortcuts for the buttons (they’re not obvious; I should post a list). Regarding navigation in general — are you using Firefox or Internet Explorer? There are workarounds, but it depends on the browser.

  3. May 29, 2009 7:33 am

    I use Internet Explorer. I know there are zillions of macros out there and I need to start learning them! Thank you.

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