I’ve always been enamored with the idea of speech recognit(ion softwa)re. Ever since Dragon NaturallySpeaking, I have attempted to incorporate dictation software into my workflow.While it is not always the most natural way fo(r) one to control their computer or even bang out one or t(wo emails,) its utility in creating long pieces of narrativeis frankly quite impressive. When MacSpeech’s d(ictate) was acquired by Nuance, the developers behind the Windows version of NaturallySpeaking, I was hopefu(l) a program would acquire som(e of) the Windows versions ease-of-use.
I chose to use Dragon Dictate to write the first paragraph of this post to illustrate the central point. The parenthetical portions are words that were not transcribed. The paragraph above is actually a very generous deviation from the norm. I regularly drop a word from every other sentence.
The problem isn’t the recognition. I know this because I have Growl set up to detect what the software is hearing and display it as a pop-up as it’s being transcribed into the text field.
The “hearing” is fine, but the transcription suffers from something that required some digging on MacSpeech’s discussion boards (the problem apparently dates back to MacSpeech Dictate. Nice to see that Nuance’s acquisition of Dictate from MacSpeech – and “major” product update that milked another $49 from its users kept this bug intact). Apps or programs running in the background on your Mac that use any kind of auto-completion can conflict with Dictate’s ability to make words appear as they’re heard. The fix: shut off these programs or deactivate those preference panes if you want to use Dictate. A partial list of those programs include Typinator, TypeIt4Me, Clips, Pastebot – basically anything that can produce text from an abbreviation or a keyboard shortcut.
This is bullshit.
First of all, this makes zero sense to me intuitively. As I mentioned, the Growl dialog box displays what I’m saying perfectly, so there is some ability to properly turn my voice to words. But I’m sure there’s some awesomely technical explanation as to why that has nothing to do with solving the problem. Here’s the point: Dictate is productivity software and I doubt there is a single person using Dictate that isn’t using at least one of blacklisted programs. Personally, I have 3 running on that partial list. If you can’t have your program work with other processes, you shouldn’t be on the Mac platform. The fact that you’re the only option for recognition software might make you think you don’t have to make this work. I’m here to tell you that if you don’t get your shit straight, you’re on your way to failure on the Mac platform. People didn’t buy a Mac to fuck around with their preference panes to accommodate a poorly-coded program. Nuance is carrying the equivalent of a System 9 extension conflict as a major bug in its shipping software.
Fix it or fail.