Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wired, Working and Watching

I've been incredibly busy lately, bringing work home and unable to sleep some nights thinking about cases. But I love baseball, love the story of the Rays, who had the worst record in the American League last year as well as the second lowest payroll in baseball. Now they're in the World Series, so I don't want to miss an inning.

Last Sunday night, as I watched the Rays beat the Red Sox, I had to transcribe a tape recording quickly, for the next day, but didn't want to miss the game. So, I came up with a solution:

1. Hook up Mac Dictate, the talk to text application that brought the "engine" behind Dragon Naturally Speaking to Macs, the headset covering one of my ears.

2. Hook up the headphone from the digital recorder to the other ear and simply repeat the words I hear into the microphone, in theory at least, turning the spoken words into text to create a "transcript."

3. Put the Macbook on my lap to correct the inevitable misspellings or to add text when it's faster to type than to speak.

I had good reasons for doing it this way (I needed a working transcript quickly) but there are obviously much better ways to do it if you have the time.

Still, as I worked on three different electronic devices while trying to watch baseball on a fourth, I thought of the way technology saves us time but how we tend to fill any extra time up with more tasks.

It worked and I got a reasonably good transcript quickly while at least being able to check in on the game once in awhile.

And the underdog won, which is always encouraging.

Note: I recommend Mac Dictate or its PC companion Dragon Naturally Speaking but they do require some training to get "up to speed." I like it, though, because it makes typing less stressful as I can sit back and add text fairly accurately without having to hunch over a keyboard. My letters are a little wordier now (and last week I learned how important proofreading is when I wrote about a "canny attorney) but it's worth the money if you do much typing.

Be careful though. Make sure the microphone is off when you want it to be! Late in the evening, hurrying to pick my wife up but wanting to get one last letter out, I finished the letter. It was late and it was a long letter so I may have said a couple colorful words as I loaded the printer and the envelope. Then, right before I hit "print" I noticed that the green light was still on, meaning that the application/ program was still converting my talk into text.


After checking to make sure no four letter words showed up in the letter, I finally sent it off. The next day I tested it. Apparently the developers anticipated this scenario as none of George Carlin's Seven Dirty Words was in the memory. It was a little embarrassing to have to explain to the secretary next door that I was "just testing my computer out.

She said she believed me, but, from the look on her face, I'm not so sure.

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