Speech Recognition in Vista

Here's a bit of an update on my experience with the Speech Recognition software in Vista. I'm still learning the system, but maybe this will help people understand whether it is something they want to try.

The system works both as dictation software and for navigating around the desktop. I'm finding that as a dictation program, it is very accurate. Amazingly accurate, as a matter of fact. However, I haven't concentrated on the dictation function so much, because it doesn't work well with Firefox. For navigation yes, but for dictation no. And since I use Firefox for blogging, I have less experience with it as a dictation tool.

But it is quite useful for surfing the web. The software has a preordained set of instructions that work quite well. For instance, if you say "back", both Firefox and IE7 will go to the previous web page. Say "open tab" and both browsers will do so. There are many other instructions like these. Sometimes you have to repeat instructions, but not very often.

I'm finding the software most useful as a kind of addendum to the mouse and keyboard. For instance, let's say I'm reading something and I want to know more about the subject. Rather than going to the search box in my browser and typing in the phrase, I simply say "search whatever". A new tab automatically pops up with the search results. It is then possible to simply say the name of the link or document from the list on Google, Wikipedia, or whatever.

Another way I tend to use it is to click on links in a page. Rather than running the mouse over to the link, I simply say all or part of the phrase that is underlined. Again, the link opens in a new tab.

The software has a useful feature called "keyboard press". With this you say "press" and any combination of keyboard strokes. As many of you know, the average geek hates his mouse, so browsers have a ton of functions available as keyboard strokes. For example, to zoom a document in Firefox, you simply say "press, control, +" and the document zooms one level. If you say, "press, control, + two times", it zooms two levels.

There are a lot of functions like these with which I am becoming more familiar everyday. It would be great if the software let you program your own instructions - to say "zoom", instead of the "press, control, +", for instance. Maybe that will come in later versions. I can imagine people designing fun, personal languages for their computers.

I'd say I'm about ten percent through the process of properly learning this software. I'll keep you posted, but first impressions are very good.

PS - Not that this a particularly well written post, but it's not half as bad as the first one that was "published" inadvertently. Sorry to anyone who subscribes to this feed and got the mess that went out early.

On a related note, I often continue to edit my posts even after they're published. So if you subscribe to the feed and see a ton of errors, please go to the web page. Not that I always catch all the mistakes. But I usually get most of them. Not a natural editor, as anyone who comes by here often knows.