Thursday, November 20, 2008

George and his fear of floats.

George has developed some curious preferences. He seems to like lions a lot, but he is afraid of swimming floats. This doesn't seem to me to be a very good survival instinct.

I don't think he'd last a very long in the wild.

The final payment for the trilobites animation came through yesterday. My bank account is now in positive territory for the first time in years.

My latest new toy arrived yesterday. I'm having a go at replacing typing (I'm actually quite a good typist -- I took touch typing at school and that's one of the few things I learned there that I use regularly in my life now) with speech recognition. I've invested in Dragon dictate and the best microphone I can buy for that with £15. I'm actually quite amazed at how good it is. I can speak almost at normal speed and as long as I pronounce my words pretty well, it recognizes moral less everything I say.

I once say using it is instinctive, but it really is pretty good from the moment you install it. I've spent about 10 minutes training it (and all that means is reading a few paragraphs aloud), and it's spent a few minutes going through my “ my documents” folder getting used to my style of writing. It's probably been given a bit of a head start because I write a lot, and most of it I have to say is probably fairly formulaic -- after all, I write a lot of tutorials and reviews for similar kinds of magazine. There are also couple of books I've written in those folders, so there's a lot of material for it to do what it calls a collocational analysis on. Basically this means working out what words are unlikely to say given what's already in the sentence. As a writer, it's a bit dispiriting to realise that a computer can predict with a relatively high accuracy what you're going to write based entirely on how similar it is to what you've already written in the past. And there was I thinking I was being original.

And it said that the success rate is very high. I'm having to get used to saying the word comma and the word full stop, so this entry is probably lacking in punctuation. Dictating this sentence I realised that I don't know how to actually write the word comma -- I have decided with the keyboard because whenever I say it the computer adds a punctuation mark.

Not sure to what extent using voice recognition will change the way I write. The problem with typing is that however fast you type you tend to forget what you were writing before you get to the end of the sentence and that means you tend to rewrite as you go along. With voice recognition things go onto the page almost as quickly as you think them, so perhaps it's possible to be a bit more flowing. On the other hand, maybe that's not a good thing. Maybe you need the time it takes you to actually type to work out whether what you were going to say makes sense or not.

Probably, it's just about getting used to the system.

One problem I think and have is that the programme takes a lot of processing power so if I'm doing something else, which I usually am, it slows right down. Given that if I'm writing a tutorial I'm usually running the programme the tutorial is about in the background that might be a problem.

Andrew's back problem, which has been troubling him for a while, has got a lot worse. He's had to take several weeks off work (something he never does) and move back into my parents house. And with mum recovering from her operation and unable to bend down and him on painkillers and unable to stand up it sounds like things are a little difficult in the house. It's a lot for dad to cope with I imagine.

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