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Well that ended my study phase

I guess it’s about time that I updated the site and clarified what’s been going on with me and around me.

The work I was doing for that University course never got completed and got recorded as a Fail. I went through several weeks of on-again off-again pain and the Tramadol taken with the Lyrica blew my concentration out the window. At times the sedation was affecting me so much that I would fall asleep every 30 minutes or so and if I was reading I’d forget what was the last sentence that I had read.

Even though I was given extra time, by July I had told the school and Open Universities that it simply wasn’t working out and to take me off their lists.

Since then I’ve focused on just getting through the day and doing as little as possible that might upset my arms and caused me to hit the painkillers again. Every now and then I find that I’ve been unsuccessful, the pain comes, I take the painkillers, I lose a day in a haze.

I’m still a little active, I still do chores around the house, at least the chores that I can do without causing the problems to exacerbate. At present I’m volunteering each weekend at the local hospital where I act as a patient guide providing information and physical guidance to help visitors get around the hospital. It is a lot of fun and the physical activity, I walk miles during a shift, it is very good for me and I feel better inside and out for doing the work.

So back to this site. I intend to keep it going.  It will cover the kinds of things that I’m doing or things I might want to add a comment about or events and activities that I get involved in.It will expand to cover other aspects of my life such as my Model Railway hobbies.

I hope I am able to keep a regular posting schedule but that depends on too many factors for me to say it’s going to happen like that.

I thank you for hanging around while all of this circus was taking place in my life and I hope in the future I can find more interesting things to share with you.

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A Small Contribution for Nonexpert Speech Recognition Users

Sorry that I have not been posting any updates. I have been having a horrible time due to a flare-up of my RSI Injury and the subsequent medication and adjustment. At present I’m on indeterminate leave from my University studies and I just don’t know when I will be able to continue them. The combination of pain and sedation really doesn’t give me much chance of study and research.

I have just found a very interesting post in the Forums of SpeechComputing.com

Let me share the full post from this contributor as he has quite a story to tell which in many respects is similar to my situation and where I’m headed…

A Small Contribution for Nonexpert Speech Recognition Users

via A Small Contribution for Nonexpert Speech Recognition Users | Speech Computing73384.

Below you will find my personal survival guide for navigating personal computers through speech recognition. I have compiled it over years as some sort of personal blog, taking note of useful software and tricks as they came along.

I am posting it in the hope that other folks who are suddenly forced to abandon using keyboard and mouse will realize that there is hope, and so others may benefit from little tricks that took me forever to figure out. A lot of these are available elsewhere online, but I thought it might be useful to collect them together so that they are easily available for new or less experienced users. Some of these I came up myself, although I would not be surprised this others before me have also documented them.

Wherever possible I have tried to link to the original source of the helpful material. I am grateful to the speech recognition user community for their active and useful presence online. The various topics are presented in order of importance in my opinion. I will not be able to maintain and update this regularly, but I do plan to continue collecting interesting hints and tips, and if these additions reach critical mass I will try my best to repost.

My personal story is that as a result of round-the-clock coding since a very young age I am no longer able to use my hands to control a keyboard, mouse, iPhone/iPad, etc. So, I am forced to rely on speech recognition exclusively. The positive message that I would like to convey is that if you invest in conquering the admittedly very steep learning curve, you will be able to do the vast majority of the things that you need on a desktop, and even be faster at some of them. A top-of-the-line machine with all the necessary software should cost you less than $3000 and if your employer will not cover this cost you might be able to get financial assistance elsewhere.

I have no commercial interests of any kind in any of the programs or suggestions mentioned below.

You will note that some of the useful tricks below rely on free third-party software. To the extent that you can, please donate to the authors of the software.

Good luck to everyone!

https://docs.google.com/document/d/11igSgg23TKOunwB7MilWdyUmazJlrbgT6cdq9JwjS2s/pub385

Update: I did ask the author for permission to post this here and his response was;

that’s no problem at all. I hope you find it helpful, and good luck.
Submitted by DragonSpeechRookie on Tue, 03/19/2013 – 02:27.

it is all done hands-free

“it is all done hands-free with Dragon”

I do most of my programming these days in C# and it is all done hands-free with Dragon with some added voice commands (scripts) for automation purposes.

Basically using Visual Studio and even DNS Premium you can quite happily program completely hands-free in either C# or Visual Basic .net simply by using the already available tools that come with the Premium version.

I want to be able to use my Dragon tools to allow me to build the coding behind web sites, HTML and JavaScript for example. I am very happy to hear this person say that it is possible, it was a task that was worrying me if I had to do it by hand that would be a course I would have to avoid.

The text comes from a thread at KnowBrainer.com, a Speech Recognition provider and support base.

Natlink – what is it to Dragon NaturallySpeaking?

So the question I had was just what is this Natlink? I have installed it and it seems to work well but just what is it?

I found this amongst the messages on SpeechComputing.com:

NatLink is an platform built on top of DNS that allows writing extremely powerful voice commands (more powerful than what you can do with Advanced Scripting) by writing entire Python programs. Pretty much unusable directly unless you’re a programmer.

Building on top of NatLink are:

Vocola 2: implements a very simple and concise language for writing voice commands that handles 95% of the commands you might want.

Unimacro: a series of ready to use powerful grammars for things like switching tasks, opening folders, and editing lines.

Dragonfly: a higher level, more object-oriented interface for NatLink. Somewhat usable by nonprogrammers using cut-and-paste programming.

Both Vocola and dragonfly can be used with Windows speech recognition as well. There is a somewhat dated comparison between Vocola 2 and Unimacro at

http://qh.antenna.nl/unimacro/features/unimacroand…

that you may find useful. Note that you can call Unimacro actions from Vocola 2 if you have both installed.

via Natlink, Python, etc. please outline the features of these addons-they sound useful | Speech Computing.

The Power of Restarting Your Computer and the effects on Dragon NaturallySpeaking | Speakeasy Solutions Blog

Just found this useful little article. Nice site too.

One of the most frequent tech support calls that we receive pertains to “Dragon is not functioning well” or “at all”. And while it’s not always Dragon that suffers; other applications and PC operability are stifled in some way. Why?

Windows does not manage its memory very well. It doesn’t matter what the OS is, but Windows quite simply does not fully restore memory when programs are closed. Theoretically this is supposed to occur, but let’s face it, when do computers and software function as advertised? If you think I’m being cynical, please understand I am a hard core computer user with very stringent demands, but I’m also a realist. I do not expect computers to work as advertised because they seldom do. I find it less stressful to not expect computers to work perfectly and be pleasantly surprised when something does work well. But I digress…

Things happen. Usually when Windows is not functioning well.

  • Simple. Restart your computer once per day! Yes, it’s that simple.

Either shut down your computer every night or restart it in the morning while you are obtaining your coffee. This does not include logging off and then logging on. Logging is not restarting the computer itself. This will not help. Restart or shut down and start. If your needs exceed your computer’s abilities, you may need to even restart the computer twice per day (i.e. at lunch time).

Obviously it’s wise to ensure that the RAM is suitable for the system, and there is no malware present. However, if by restarting your computer the usual symptoms vanish, then it is likely that such can be attributed to Windows not managing its memory well. If symptoms persist despite restarting daily, then further investigation definitely has merit and should be pursued.

The bottom line? Restart your computer daily. This trick will not only salvage your sanity when using a computer, but it will minimize “problems” with Dragon and other applications.

The Power of Restarting Your Computer and the effects on Dragon NaturallySpeaking | Speakeasy Solutions Blog.

 

 

The Dragon gets new teeth

An update to my problems trying to get Dragon NaturallySpeaking to navigate the Internet through the Firefox browser. Earlier this week there was an update to a tool called NatLink / Unimacro which you can find at:

  1. Natlink (old pages)
  2. Unimacro & Natlink (new pages)

This tool does many things using scripts that plugs straight into Dragon NaturallySpeaking but the one that is really helping me at the moment makes the Firefox add-on that I had talked about before, Mouseless Browsing work under the Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 which is what I’m running. Until this latest update of NatLink / Unimacro, Mouseless Browsing would not respond to voice commands, it would only operate from the number pad of my keyboard. Now when I have Dragon NaturallySpeaking running and Firefox running with Mouseless Browsing turned on. Then I give the voice command to Dragon NaturallySpeaking, “Numbers on” and the numbers appear alongside every link. Then I just tell Dragon NaturallySpeaking to ‘Press 6’ or else ‘Press 107’ and that link will be slected and activated.

mouseless-browsingIf you click on my screen grab (see alongside) it shows you how these programs put numbers onto the screen for every link, the goal of course is to minimise use of the mouse. Some things on the browser still have to be “mouse’d” but nowhere near the same amount had I not installed those tools.

My next trick is trying to get Zotero to work responding to Dragon NaturallySpeaking within Microsoft Word. All I’m getting for my effort is frustration up to DEFCON 2.

Not a good day :(

Facebook asks for a Status update saying, “How’s it going Ian?”
Well if you must ask its all going to garbage the moment. Seems that lugging my suitcase around on Saturday after my arrival back from the Linux Conference in Canberra has really upset my arms to the point I’m going to see the quack this afternoon to try and find some sort of relief other than painkillers that make me sleep or take my brain away for a holiday.
I’m having trouble doing the lightest of keyboard tasks and so relying on Dragon to type for me and may be even do some navigation of the browser.

I have 1000 word essay due on Friday and still have not been able to get the system working for me to get it started, to even find the rest of the research that I want to do on it, because when the pain comes my brain goes away. I’m already into a week’s extension that needs this to go away before I can start to concentrate and do some research, some study, some writing, hell even do some work, that would have been nice!

Sorry for not posting much but I’m just not up to it at this time.

Update on the Dragon Demonstration saga

Well I did manage to get CamStudio working and I did finally get it all fine-tuned to where I was able to record an AVI format video showing a short demonstration of Dragon at work.

I uploaded it to YouTube – took an hour! When I looked at the resulting video it was ALL Slanted at 45 degrees off level! Something has gone wrong in the transfer and I probably need to convert the AVI down to another format. More research needed. It will happen. It may not be successful for another few weeks.

old dragon 4.02 Australian

old dragon 4.02 Australian by ilox101
old dragon 4.02 Australian, a photo by ilox101 on Flickr.

This was one of the first of the Dragons to have a specific Australian language file. From memory it worked pretty well but it became easier to just not do as much typing then to persist in getting it to recognise what I was saying.
From memory I bought this back in 1999/2000 when I was trying to do an IT degree at Uni of SA. I got into problems trying to get it to do coding and I was also under a lot of pressure from the studies and some ^##% lecturers. This led to a complete physical collapse and me dropping out of the courses as the fight between the drugs and the pain left little ability to do any clear thinking and studying.
It was in 1999 that Centrelink accepted my Disability as long-term and put me on the pension.

Listen to me Write!

I am doing an Open University Australia Course on Web Communications.

The problem is that this is going to require a lot of writing and keyboarding. I don’t have that opportunity other than a little bit here a little bit there, anything requiring a decent amount of wordage such as the essays that are still coming, will have to be dictated using Dragon naturally speaking.

Although I have been using voice recognition tools on and off for quite a number of years I have not used Dragon on a regular basis for probably four or five years and now I have to get back into the swing of things. I’m using dragon 12 professional and so far it does seem to be picking up most of what I say although it’s not real good on where I want a capital and sometimes it completely goes and loses the plot.

Such as this morning while trying to finish off my first assignment I tried to use the word no one/Nolan/no/no no no no. It just doesn’t seem to get that I want to have it use the word known. Like I had to just now, I had to go into correct mode and then into spell mode simply to get to understand the word I was trying to say.

Generally speaking this will recognise my words straight out of the box without much practice, the better I get speaking with it the better it will get recognising the kind of words I use the more accurate will be my dictation.

In the past people have said to me, “if you’re going to go in and correct it why bother dictating it?” It’s a simple law of numbers if I can get it to tight for me approximately 97% of the words that I wanted to say then I may have to change perhaps 3% of them that still works out to about 95+ percent of the words that I haven’t had to type. With my disability that adds up to do I have pain at the end of it or do I not have pain.

Dragon naturally speaking has wide capabilities. It is supposed to have been able to help me navigate the web. It is supposed to be able to help me do many different tasks that I might otherwise use keyboard and mouse with. Chances are that I eventually will learn how to do these things for now just getting it to do the text is a big step ahead.

This blog is intended to be an irregular discussion on my progress in learning Dragon and conversely in how well Dragon is able to learn me.

Thanks for dropping by and if you have any comments or advice I’d be very happy to hear them.

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