Dragon NS 12.5 and WriteMonkey

I have recently updated my Dragon NaturallySpeaking to the latest version of 12.5. Currently I am using it mainly with WriteMonkey, as I like to write in a minimalist environment. But while I was playing around with Dragon today, I realised that it is also possible to dictate directly into ConnectedText (or any other software not directly supported by Dragon), if you permanently turn off the Dragon Dictation Box feature that pops up. This might mean that not all of Dragon’s features will work in those unsupported software, but I only ever use dictation anyway.

I’m impressed how well Dragon dictation works with WriteMonkey. I wonder what it is about WM that makes it not to trigger the Dragon Dictation Box, as opposed to most of my other non-mainstream writing software…

Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 and ConnectedText

I have been a Dragon user (I’m talking about the speech recognition software) since version 9, although I have only started using it on a regular basis since version 11, as previously it was just far too temperamental. Version 11, and especially 11.5, on the other hand reached near perfection compared to what it had been before, with its 99% plus accuracy (as long as you used Dragon’s own DragonPad to dictate). Unfortunately it didn’t play nicely with ConnectedText, producing errors that made Dragon effectively unusable with CT.

A month or so ago Dragon 12 arrived on the block, pre-marketed to existing users initially. Up until today I held off, thinking, “I’m not going to risk having to upgrade my hardware, should it turn out to be a monster of an upgrade” (like version 11 was), not to mention the amount of money it costs to upgrade from what numerically seems like a tiny step from 11.5 to 12. But this morning a discounted offer landed in my mailbox and it made me think: “What if…? What if this upgrade might just make Dragon compatible with CT? I could always downgrade and ask for my money back…”

Information on CT’s compatibility with DNS12 was nowhere to be found, so I took the plunge and bought the upgrade this morning. As I started installing it, there were a few hitches which almost made me regret my decision. First, InstallShield wasn’t able to close down one of the applications that it needed closed down: “Acresso software manager.” I tried to go into “msconfig” and shut it down, it still wouldn’t do so. In the end I tried to click “Help” on the “InstallShield” window to find a solution, which it somehow interpreted as “next” and carried on and installed the software anyway. After the installation I discovered that the problem apparently was caused by InstallShield itself, as the name of its company – and therefore of the software – changed from Acresso” to FLEXnet because of trademark infringement. So it was a weird loop caused by InstallShield not recognising itself, it seems.

The second hitch was a cryptic message at one point in the installation process, which said something along the lines of “Dragon has installed C++, do you want to remove C++?” What?? Why are you asking me that for?? It would have been one thing to say one was an older version than the other and no longer needed, but there was no additional information whatsoever. I wonder how they expect average Joe Bloggs to know what that was all about. In the end I decided to keep C++. If Dragon had bothered to install it, I assume it knew what it was doing? Anyway, so far there haven’t been any adverse consequences of that decision.

The third hitch presented itself during the upgrade tutorial. After a few screens Dragon just stopped recognising my input, suggesting that what I said was not recognisable or that my mic was not up to the task. I have a Plantronics headset that I bought specifically for Dragon a few years ago, and while this model is obsolete, it worked just fine with v. 11.5. “Here we go,” I thought, “I can start shopping for a new headset. So that’s why they gave me a Logitech 30% discount voucher at the checkout…” But, once I finished the tutorial and launched Dragon proper, my Plantronics mic worked perfectly again.

All’s well that ends well… After the somewhat rocky installation Dragon ended up working like a dream. The touted 20% improvement in accuracy (which is already around 99%) was noticeable to me because there were only 1 or 2 corrections to be made where I would have had 5 or 6 mis-recognitions before. This is near perfection.

However, the litmus test and indeed the whole rationale of the purchase was to see whether Dragon 12 would work with CT. I was pleasantly surprised. It’s not the perfect solution yet, but progress has been made. The perfect solution would be if I could just dictate straight into CT and it would work like it does in DragonPad. We’re not there yet. However, dictating into CT now triggers Dragon’s Dictation Box, which then pastes the contents directly into CT. See the two screenshots below for the Dictation Box and the results pasted in. This is an improvement, as it saves having to dictate into DragonPad and then do CTRL+A, CTRL+C, and CTRL+V, plus having to click in and out of windows to activate them, in order to copy and paste content (which I didn’t bother to do anyway). With the Dictation Box, it’s now down to one or two clicks. Just wake up Dragon (I assigned it to F1), and start talking, then click “transfer” and that’s it. I might start using Dragon with CT more frequently after all.

Verdict: I’m happy with this purchase (minus the initial aggravation).

Dragon’s Dictation Box:

And the results transferred into CT: