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Author Topic: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?  (Read 7587 times)

barney

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Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« on: November 21, 2010, 01:55:16 AM »
Got the results of some tests - which seemed overly extensive to me  :( - today.  Seems that I'm due for some abstruse carving & bleeding first part of 2011.  Said carving will render my dexterity pretty much absent for some number of months, so I'm looking for alternatives.  (I don't think there is a twelve-step program for the Web, and I prolly wouldn't enroll, anyway.)

Dragon is the only voice control system I've ever used, but that was several years agone, version 2 - 3? 4? - and I was somewhat underwhelmed.  However, some of the latest reviews - not on the vendor's site  :D - indicate that it has improved significantly with version eleven (v.11).

So I'm interested in first person experiences/opinions of that product ... or any alternative product, for that matter.

While I'd like to keep the monetary outlay as low as possible, I'm not too concerned about it if I can get something that works.  I'll likely get a Plantronics Bluetooth headset, as I tend to walk when I talk, so the product will likely affect the headset choice, and I'm open to advice in that arena as well.

This is not, in and of itself, time-critical ... but the sooner it can be resolved, the more time will be available for configuration and practice - reckon I'll need all the time I can get  :-[.

Deozaan

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2010, 01:24:37 AM »
I have a friend who is dyslexic and not very computer literate (to put it nicely) and she uses and very much likes Dragon Naturally Speaking.

Of course, since I don't use it I can't necessarily recommend it myself. And saying she loves it doesn't necessarily mean it's awesome, either. She just might not know any alternatives exist and may just be happy that she doesn't have to attempt typing anymore. On the other hand, it just might be awesome after all.

So take that for what it's worth.

Good luck with your carving and bleeding.


David1904

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2010, 03:49:49 AM »
I tried the earlier versions of Dragon 3/4/5 and the time spent making corrections took longer than typing it would have (at about 30-40 wpm).
Convinced that it had to be the way ahead I persisted in getting upgrades to new versions with ongoing disappointment at the amount of money I had spent for the benefit gained.
However I tried again with ver 10 and was impressed with improvements. Now I have got ver 11 (and a Win 7 64 bit computer with 8Gb RAM and an i7 2.8Ghz cpu) and a Plantronics bluetooth headset. Just beginning to work with it but it looks really good. Although - I did have one occasion when it slowed to an abject crawl (like 5-10 seconds before responding to a phrase!) Next time I fired it up the problem had disappeared. Not sure what happened - a web search indicated that folks have experienced that sort of problem from time to time. I'm not sure of the technical issues, you can follow it up here if you like http://www.knowbrain...FA48B0005thread55159   
The little I have used the headset has been sitting in front of the screen. However I have tried it in an adjacent room and it worked fine, even without a clear line of sight. Twenty meters up the hall and with 5 walls and a shower in between it didn't work at all! For walking around in the same room you should be just fine.
In case you're wondering - no, I didn't use it to dictate this. I don't tend to use it unless I know I am going to be doing a significant amount of typing/dictation and I didn't intend to ramble on as much as I have.
Hope this helps.

cranioscopical

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2010, 07:00:07 AM »
For me, Dragon began getting seriously better at around v8.
I've used 10 Preferred since it came out and that was the first edition to really facilitate some some serious work. I find it good enough to dictate a >50 page report.
Version 10 is good enough that I'm not sure the upgrade to v11 will be worth the extra cash.
I believe that starting out with v11 would be easy and effective.
The more horsepower your machine has the better: one wants the accuracy turned up to maximum.

And, sorry to learn of your upcoming discomfort. Best wishes for a good recovery!

40hz

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2010, 09:33:42 AM »
Like Barney, I started out ages ago with something like version 4 and wound up abandoning it.

I got a copy of version 9 (on sale @50%-off) when it first came out and was much more impressed. I guess the hardware finally caught up to what voice recognition required by that time.

I'm currently using version 10 Preferred, and I'm generally happy with it. But like crainioscopical I mostly use it for draft dictation. How well it would work as my primary interface to a PC is anybody's guess since I never had the patience (or necessity, as in your case) to learn how to use it that way. I'm guessing if it's smart enough to get most of what I dictate correctly the first time, it should work quite well.

Some things I learned using the Dragon:

1. Quieter environments are better for it. Dragon is very tolerant of background noise and has noise filtration capabilities. But only up to a point. Continuous "droney" sounds in the vocal frequency range (like my neighbor's bloody leaf blower!) will cause it the most problems. Sporadic, sharp sounds, like fireworks or dog barks, are more easily ignored.

2. This is speaking purely from my own experiences so your milage may vary: Stay as digital as possible. A DSP-type "signal" generated by a USB microphone or headset works a whole lot better than an analogue device put through a soundcard's mic input. Especially if it's the built-in "sound system" found on most PCs.

3. Use one of the recommended input devices whenever possible. They do seem to work better. I use a (now discontinued) Logitech USB headset who's microphone was (allegedly) designed specifically for voice dictation and gaming command use. Not much to say other than it works better than anything else I've ever tried.

4. Read the instructions, do the complete setup, and do all the tutorials. Contrary to what some people say, Dragon requires training. Both of you and it. Dragon's marketing tends to downplay this for obvious reasons. They get away with it because Dragon is 80-85% accurate (for most people) right out of the box. This leads to a false sense of security. Don't fall for it! To get the most out of this product you need to put some (not a huge amount, but still some) effort into getting it working up to its full capabilities. Most everyone I know who gave up on voice dictation software did so because they got impatient and never bothered to train their app - or learn how to use it correctly .

5. Try to speak "naturally" in a clear voice. I discovered that any time I tried to "help things along" by altering my voice, my speaking cadence, or by slowing way down, it only caused the app to become more confused. So speak naturally and avoid adopting a 'staccato' speaking style. The Dragon really seems to hate it when you do a lot of 'choppy talk'. (One side benefit is that you'll discover you're soon speaking more slowly and clearly - and with better diction - if you use Dragon regularly. Almost like having a voice coach!)

6. Being real-time and software based, The Dragon likes it's resources. A fast CPU, plenty of RAM, and a "clean" OS setup works wonders for its recognition accuracy.

And that's my :two: for Dragon Preferred.   :)

---

P.S. Alexis and I hope for all the best with your upcoming ordeal. Our prayers and best wishes follow you.

« Last Edit: November 22, 2010, 09:58:50 AM by 40hz »

barney

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2010, 10:37:21 AM »
Quote
4. Read the instructions, do the complete setup, and do all the tutorials.
That was why I dropped it after trying it, but, as mentioned, that was years ago, comparatively early version, and 'tis likely my hardware really wasn't up to the task - I know the [analog] mike was hit-or-miss, mostly miss  ;D.

OK, looks as though v11 is gonna be a go.  Nuance recommends the Plantronics Calisto (I wonder how they pronounce that  :huh: :D?) USB headset, so that'll be on the list as well.  I'll just have to be patient enough this time around to do proper training  :-[, although patience with software is not always my long suit  ;D.

Thanks for the information, folk, and for the well-wishes.  While this is not gonna be as serious as open-heart surgery, the medicos say it will require a protracted recovery time.  Part of that is due to the fact that they won't do both arms at the same time, their reasoning being that I'd be basically helpless  :o afterward.  Probably TMI, but the condition is akin to carpal tunnel - the medicos told me to think of it as extended or super carpal tunnel.  Don't care what they call it, as long as they can fix it  ;).

Once again, thank you all.

(Edited for typos.)
« Last Edit: November 22, 2010, 10:42:45 AM by barney »

CodeTRUCKER

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2010, 01:17:08 PM »
Timing is everything!  I *just* got off with the phone with my wife who was standing in an "Office Depot!"  I found this thread because I, "just wanted to check out what DC might have to say,,," and BINGO!  It was already done for me!  :)

I, too, appreciate all the comments on Dragon, but was wondering how it compares to the native SAPI5 available with the Vista OS?

kip

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2010, 05:41:34 PM »
Guys, I demo DNS for clients in situations similar to those barney describes on a day to day basis as part of my work.  DNS has been pretty hot stuff since V10, and if you have good vocal control you can get away without doing any initial training if you want, just set up your headset and away you go. 
To answer CodeTRUCKER, VR in Vista is pants, however it is pretty damn good in Win 7, but it has limitations on voice control and software compatibility which can be overcome more easily with DNS. 
The extra bonus with DNS is the macros are written using a subset of VBA, so you can really make it sit up and sing if you want to.  Another advantage to DNS is you can alter a large number of the built in commands to more memorable words and phrases if you want. 
OS VR does not give you macros or the option to alter the commands.
Hope this helps.

barney

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2010, 07:54:02 PM »
Quote
subset of VBA, so you can really make it sit up and sing
Now that is an intriguing statement at the very least.  Does the product provide instruction in that capability, or is it something to be researched?  Not a deal-breaker either way, but a definite curiosity.  Sounds as if it would be the equivalent of ShortKeys, which I use for mucho PHP scripting.  If so, could make the learning curve much more pleasant - not less steep, just more pleasant  :P.

40hz

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2010, 08:55:14 AM »
+1 with barney.

I vaguely remember hearing about that. (And it went in one ear and out the other like so much else does with me these days...)  ;D

@kip - Thanks for bringing that to our attention! :Thmbsup:

cranioscopical

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2010, 01:10:13 PM »
I vaguely remember hearing about that. (And it went in one ear and out the other like so much else does with me these days...)
People used to ask Van Gogh why he knew so much.
His explanation
Everything I hear goes in one ear…


40hz

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2010, 06:18:34 PM »
I vaguely remember hearing about that. (And it went in one ear and out the other like so much else does with me these days...)
People used to ask Van Gogh why he knew so much.

Hear! Hear!  ;D

(Or in Vincent's case, maybe more like: Hear!)



barney

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2010, 07:33:23 PM »
Update.

Pundits aside, I just made the order.  Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium 11 Bluetooth.  Took a while to find out just what Bluetooth meant.  Checked the Nuance site -the nicest thing I can say is, "Boy, is that site disorganized!"  Nothing found there, so back to Amazon, found a revue which 'splained the Bluetooth designation means that it includes the Plantronics Calisto bluetooth headset, the combination being significantly less than buying both independently.  Just in case anyone else is interested.

Oh, btw, the revue was by a medical type, if that matters.  He was basically supportive, although did mention a few disadvantages - which made me more inclined to believe his appreciative remarks.  He did mention the VBS/macro capability, which sound more and more attractive, even though I have an intense dislike for macros in general.

cranioscopical

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2010, 08:47:21 PM »
Quote from: barney
I just made the order.  Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium 11 Bluetooth

Well, this topic finally prompted me to move to 11. So now I can blame you for my being impecunious  :o

barney

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2010, 09:31:22 PM »
Quote
So now I can blame you for my being impecunious

Gee, I'm so-o-o-o sorry ... I didn't know impecuniousity was contagious over the Web.  Next time I'll wear a mask  :P.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #15 on: November 24, 2010, 05:12:56 AM »
A few questions:

  • Anyone know how the license works? Is it activated to only one computer or can you install on desktop and laptop? They introduced activation to one computer with OmniPage a wehile back which is when I dropped the purchased version and started using the latest free version supplied with printers!
  • Can more than one person use the software or is the training specific to a single voice?
  • Can you use multiple languages?
  • If you have a bluetooth headset can you just buy the home or premium version or do you need a version with specific support for bluetooth?
I have to say Nuance's website has always been truly awful - it seems to be designed to be deliberately confusing and in the past I have found you can order the same products at different prices depending on which page you look at! They seem to work on the basis of acquiring established titles (OmniPage is another one they bought from TextBridge) and then hiking the prices.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2010, 05:16:44 AM by Carol Haynes »

SKA

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #16 on: November 24, 2010, 05:48:57 AM »
Carol

1. Licensing: maybe 10 activations per user (Nuance says only 5) - see here :
http://www.knowbrain...7bc757285f262238111e

2. Its per user (not per PC).  So doubt more than one user / one voice input permitted.

3. Multiple Languages - Not sure.

4. All versions support bluetooth.  

Knowbrainer forums seem to be ONLY place where users discuss DNS !   Thanks David!

SKA

Carol Haynes

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #17 on: November 24, 2010, 06:47:20 AM »
Thanks - that's helpful.

brahman

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #18 on: November 24, 2010, 10:42:14 AM »
Carol-

AFAIK the English versions sold in US and UK can only do English.

But if you know exactly what other language you want DNS to do, you can buy DNS in the country where this language is natively spoken and then it will do that countries native language *plus* English.

Be careful with your bluetooth headset, it may not work as good as you may think if it is an inexpensive one. DNS seems to give strongly varying results with different headsets.

The headsets that do give really good results are usually quite expensive, sometimes quite a bit more than DNS itself.
Regards, Brahman

Carol Haynes

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #19 on: November 24, 2010, 11:21:18 AM »
Thanks.

cranioscopical

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #20 on: November 25, 2010, 08:36:03 PM »
I didn't know impecuniousity was contagious over the Web.
Well, I have my Dragon 11, ordered it on Tuesday from Amazon.ca and it arrived at midday today (Thursday).

I've never really bothered to control the computer itself by voice. In the past I've tried that and abandoned it because I found that getting it right was more tedious than it's worth — my hands are working just fine. So, I gave it another go with 11. You're going to need to get in some serious practice before the steel merchant has at you.

I'm pretty sure that you'll be able to make things sing and dance but it will take some effort to become a virtuoso. Perhaps kip can offer useful tips on the fastest way to master the particular aspect of application control. Dragon 11 seems to have no trouble dealing with simple dictation. It has filled out this message for me without difficulty, having picked up and converted my previous vocabulary files.

barney

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #21 on: November 25, 2010, 09:00:14 PM »
Yeah, got mine yesterday ... initial install failed with some obtuse message ... 2nd time installed fine, and initial voice recognition testing completed well.  Been catching up today, but I forsee a few days reading & practicing, just to get started  :huh:.  Then prolly a month, at least, of making things work  :o.  I'm a bit disappointed in their documentation - for that price, I expect a real manual, not a pdf  :mad: - but that seems to be pretty much in line with current practices.

Oh, well, time to get dictionally rehearsive  :P.

cranioscopical

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Re: Anyone using Nuance's 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' or equivalent?
« Reply #22 on: November 25, 2010, 11:55:23 PM »
Yeah, got mine yesterday ... initial install failed with some obtuse message
I'm a bit disappointed in their documentation - for that price, I expect a real manual, not a pdf  :mad: - but that seems to be pretty much in line with current practices.

Mine installed fine but in \Documentation\enx (referred to on the physical quick-ref card) there was… nothing!

At the top level was
Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.pdf. That got me:
Quote
Acrobat could not open 'Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.pdf' because it is either
not a supported file type or because the file has been damaged (for example, it
was sent as an email attachment and wasn't correctly decoded).

To create an Adobe PDF document, go to the source application. Then print the
document to Adobe PDF.

From the supposed masters of PDF at Nuance  ;D

Sloppy job of mastering/duplicating!
Far too many packages have this sort of nonsense occurring.

All the documents are available from Nuance, easy enough to download but still…

Good luck with your experimentation. With a bit of perseverance I reckon you'll be all set.