Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Repetitive Stress, Voice Recognition Software & Macros

I am writing this post with Dragon NaturallySpeaking 8.0 voice recognition software. I took up this software this summer when my wrist was injured from typing too much. It takes a while to learn how to dictate, but within half an hour of setting it up you can really get it to type for you. There are many little tricks to learning how to dictate and punctuate, and to improve the software's accuracy. I recommend it for anyone who is tired of typing and who does not have an officemate who will be bothered by the sound of dictation. It is particularly good for reading in long passages of text that you want to quote, a chore that I never relished. It makes proofreading tougher and it makes you think before you speak, but overall it's a terrific program that should improve your efficiency. You really need at least 500 MB of RAM, and since RAM is so cheap you should really have a gig or two.

Something else I did last summer at my editor's suggestion and instruction, was to create a number of macros. I had messed around with macros many years ago and they brought me nothing but grief and confusion. My new experience with macros was terrific, I found a number of repetitive things could be recorded, particularly for legal citations. I did some research and on the WordPerfect web site there was a lawyer named Doug Loudenback in Oklahoma who had created an entire library of macros for practice in those states. He's written a free online manual called A Common Person's WordPerfect Macro Manual. It looks quite intimidating. The best macro I've written was "Respectfully yours," followed by two hard returns and my signature. I suspect that if I invest more time in it, I'd find a lot of other ways to reduce repetitive work through macros.

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