Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Voice Recognition Programmes

I did a mad, mad thing. I fell for all that blurb on Amazon about voice recognition programmes. Yes, I fantasized about doubling, perhaps even quadrupling my writing output - dictating as I cleaned the kitchen, scrubbed the floor and even as I worked out on my Wii. Not only would I finish my book in a matter of weeks I would soon be working on a sequel to War and Peace.

So, having read all the customer reviews, I made a decision - I decided all the negative reviews were from people who hadn't set the programme up properly and hadn't gone through all the voice recognition tutorials. Yes, I decided that with my English accent and clear pronunciation I would be exempt from the troubles of mere amateurs.

I was completely wrong. I followed everything to the letter; I even did the advanced speech recognition programme...and yet the bloody thing is utterly, utterly hopeless.

As evidence of this I am posting my first attempt which was an email to Gary Davison. (The words in italics are the words I added afterwards so he might get a vague idea of what I was actually talking about.) I ought to point out that a serious amount of expletives were used in the making of the email...and believe me there were many, many more that you simply won't realise from the rather confusing text. In fact, at one point I was actually trying to say "cow dung" in an attempt to make Gary understand what "Bolsheviks" meant. "Cow dung" turned out to be "Carol" and "him." Bolsheviks also means the same as "proof sheets."

Okay, so here we go;

Good afternoon Gary,you'll never believe what I'm doing here! RA's just set my computer to do one of these the police recognition programs serve you probably tend to get a few words that it completely wrong. Yes I can see quite a few narrow which are already wrong. I think it's going to take quite a while before it actually costs the hang of possibly in the long term it might work out quite now. Sad quite frustrating Moments because the words status just, and I've no idea why that is come up because really I speak one clearly said Gartner's (That was meant to be "God knows") wouldn't be like for someone new one has got an accident accent yes that's right the second time luckily. Is any of this making sense? Him and I think it will take some time before this works really well. I was sort of how hoping that I'd just be up to stop forking and he would more turn that absolutely perfectly but that's not going to help plan the it happened while. It because at the moment it's looking like I'm talking complete Sleep hard abortion it him him and.

While the punctuation seems to work quite well anyway. At the moment it's taking me considerably longer to do anything which is disappointing because I was hoping that this was going to work really well but it's it doesn't appear to be working that well and I've learnt to say scratch that's pretty well because scratch that is what I have to say when I want to effectively were bank something. Broadband something no no no not vote band some think it's no no no no no no no no no real need and getting very very be there be a straight frustrated.

Well my conclusion is that at present, and this is complete the world of proof sheets. It no not proof sheets are a set she it. I'll try again she know I'm trying to say Bolsheviks are we are used to the that a simple shapes. A set poll shakes P. you double out Ali sagged. I.e. I am trying to say the word Bolsheviks, no that's not the word Bolsheviks I'm trying to say the word Carol Carol Carol him him him him him. All. I'm trying to say is the words which have a remarkable similarity to handle time can come Old as a new ascertain moved more.

Flock. Fark. Talk. Fark fark fark fark fark fark fark fark not knock no room I am going to spell it helps fark fark fark for for for a give up love and the serious, entire

Macy's no Notts Macy's Macy's James Jenny's Cheney clearly him. Off the

I advise you not to buy a voice recognition programme, Gary. It doesn't recognise the words fuck and bullshit which is rather unfortunate.

Jesus what a waste of money.

Mrs Turley - which according to this software is Macy's Cheny.


I haven't stopped laughing reading this back - it was worth the 60 quid just for the laugh.


  1. You've convinced me... Perhaps in a few years the technology will be much better. I hate it when I call in somewhere and get one of the antiquated voice recognition packages. Drives me nuts! Funny post...

  2. Oh brilliant! Can I come round and have a go?

    Have you stopped forking now?

  3. Well this package was the basic Dragon Naturally Speaking 10.0 - there are more advanced ones at over twice the price Mr I. I'm sure somehow it must be able to work more successfully than my first attempt - otherwise folks would just return it as "not fit for purpose" I'll have to stick with it and see if I can improve the results but it's definately not going to do the job I wanted it to do in the short term which is a shame. What a disappointment - all those choccy bars I'll have to miss out on as compensation!

    Miss Hyde,

    I've temporarily stopped forking now. But it's possible I may start again.

    Oh dear, I laughed so much I cried which kinda of made up for the price tag!


  4. Yes a while back, somebody bought one of these for my mum. she tried for a couple of days with the advance voice recognition thing and then just gave it up. And here we thought it was because of our Indian accents!!

  5. This cracks me up, Jane, and largely because I've always hankered after playing with one to write something. Am having second thoughts now... unless it's your accent, Macy's Cheny.

    Dearly Beloved's car phone has a hand's free voice recognition package, but struggles with my accent. I asked it to phone Home the other day and it decided to start dialling a number in central Africa, I think.

    You'd think "fuck" and "bullshit" would be part of its core language.

  6. Ah I have discerned the problem with this package.

    It is speaking fluent Dragon.

    Friday it is!

  7. Sue,

    No it's definately not your accent Sue. Theoretically it should work becuase when you do the intial reading test it's listening to your voice and registering your speech patterns but of course - if you have a wide vocabularly (or a colourful one) that could be a problem - even if it's listening to inflections etc. I did the advance one yesterday thinking that would be better but now I'm going to try a simple one. I've also worked out that you must speak as naturally as possible, over pronunciation just confuses it!


    But I have no accent! I'm a well posh bitch! I should have dictated an entire manuscript by now - but alas I've spent more time fiddling around with it than writing. Damn, me and my pathetic ideas....

    I've just had an idea if I say Bolsheviks maybe it will write bullshit !

    Right, that'll be another half an hour wasted......

    Miss Hyde,

    A very perceptive observation; I believe you are correct!

  8. Hmmmm...if this is what I have to look forward to in the upcoming years when my hands finally bite the dust, then I am in deep, deep doggy-do.

    Note: I have a neuro-muscular disease that right now is concentrated in my hands. Thus, my ability to be a functioning unit with using things like a laptop, has been severely curtailed.

  9. Brilliant Mrs T - youve just convinced me to go out and buy one !

  10. Georgie,

    Well I'm very sorry to hear that you have such a debilatating condition. I'm amazed that you manage to write as much as you do -given the pain you must experience - I guess when you really love doing something you can find a way to do it.

    Well I still haven't managed to use the programme successfully. I have found that you can train individual words if the system repeatedly gets them wrong - this did work for some words but not for "bullshit!" (Possibly there's a filter for expletives - although I cannot find anything to say there is.) However, this is a very tedious proceedure for me as it is just not recognizing my voice correctly - a few changes wouldn't be so bad but with the amount I need to do it's incredibly frustrating.

    Interestingly, my friend tried it and it worked much better for her (maybe about 80% accurate) but as we both have no discernable accent I can't figure out exactly why. Possibility, because she has more experience with microphones but that does seem a rather tenuous suggestion. Currently I'm using a freestanding microphone rather than the headset that came with it but I'm going to switch to the headset and see if that makes a difference.

    A crucial point maybe because the system does not have a programme for UK English - only American English - so I'm thinking that you may have a lot more success than I am.

    There are a number of different passages you can read whilst "training" the programme to recognise your voice - this does seem to have an effect - I've read 4/5 and the degree of recognition does vary - although it's still pretty poor.

    I guess I'm going to keep trying for a few mins every day and see if I can improve it.

    It's difficult to say if it would be worth you investing - theoretically if it worked it could be a marvellous tool - Especially as the software will also transcribe material uploaded from my digital voice reocrder - So in principle I could record on the move, up load and then let Dragon transcribe which would be fantastic.

    However, it just not working for me! But given your situation Georgie it's got to be worth giving it a shot. I bought the basic package but there are more expensive ones that might work better. Personally I think an American accent might have more success - unless a lot of people are lying in those Amazon reviews clearly it does work for some people.

    You could try getting one cheap on Ebay for starters and,I guess, the sooner the better because it takes a while to train it and obviously you would want to do that before the situation with your hands became worse.

    I'll let you know if I make any more headway!

  11. Mrs G - if you want a laugh then definately get one - otherwise unless you've got heaps of time to spare training it, stick to a keyboard or pen and paper!


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