Sunday, 14 September 2008

Alternatives to Typing

Given that I will be spending a lot of time reading and taking notes from books I thought it would be worth looking into some ways of speeding up the process. In the last week I have looked at speech recognition and pen scanners.

I tried speech recognition first. Windows Vista has its own built in speech recognition software. You take a twenty minute tutorial that trains it in how you speak and then you are ready for action. Now, admittedly I didn’t have a fancy microphone and my accent is somewhat ‘mixed’ shall we say (!), but this is what it came up with for the quote below:

When we come to seem that it was no mere man who suffered on our own little more than one these are more than warrants operation to help the society then all were Rivers up, and the has smiled up on the battlefields of history

You can see that that would need almost as much work to tidy up as typing the whole thing in the first place. That said – it is free and probably if I spoke properly and had a better microphone I could improve the hit-rate.

I then – on the basis of some on-line reviews – decided to buy a pen scanner. I settled on the C-Pen 20 Scanner which costs around £100 – not cheap at all. When it arrived it came with a hard-wired exit cable to insert into your computer. The problem was it didn’t fit my computer. Further, PC World did not have an adapter for it to USB. Upon some investigation I found it was a USB ‘A’ mini. I spent around 4 hours looking for a converter that will convert USB "A" Male to USB "Mini A", 5 Pin, Female. As far as I can tell it does not exist. Talk about frustration. I then happened to look inside the box that it came in...and there was my converter! That’s right folks four hours of my life gone for no reason whatsoever! Think of all the text I could have been typing in that four hours....

So, anyway, when I plugged it in I scanned the quote below and this is what came out:

When we come to see that it wa^as no mere man who suffered on Calvary but the Lord of Glory, then we shall be willing to say that one drop of the precious blood of Jesus is ofmore value, for our own salvation and the hope of society,than all the rivers of blood that have flowed upon the battlefields of history.”

Which, as you can see, is much better than the speech software.

So, in conclusion – the scanner seems to be the way to go if you can afford it, but it may be worth giving the SRS a better go – or trying Dragon Dictate which is meant to be much better (but seemingly not much cheaper than a scanner).

Whatever you go for - make sure you check the box!


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