I've got Voice Recognition working...

It's not easy. I was so excited when I bought Dragon NaturallySpeaking and the digital voice recorder. I thought I would be able to record while commuting and walking and exercising, then be able to hook up the recorder to the computer and walk away.


Alas, background noise and other factors prevent Dragon NaturallySpeaking from transcribing directly from the digital voice recorder with acceptable accuracy.  So it didn't work that smoothly, but I have found a way to make this work. 

What I have discovered is that I can be playing the voice file on my speakers, and speaking the text into my headset. In a way this gives me an opportunity to revise the raw speech that I may have uttered on the fly, so the speech that gets transcribed by the computer.

It turns out that when I am commuting or walking, I'm able to talk relatively quickly. Going over the recordings from the last couple of days, I had in excess of 10,000 words. It is perhaps taking me twice as long to get the computer to transcribe the information as it would if the digital voice recorder files would get transcribed directly. But 10,000 words across two days is much faster than I would be able to do if I were merely sitting at the computer typing.

The other thing that is absolutely thrilling is to sit at the computer talking at a regular rate and see the text get transcribed as I'm talking. And that is something I would miss if I were merely plugging in the digital voice recording or walking away.

So I've got my method now. And I am happy.


Nanowrimo approaches...

It's that time of year again - New writers will chomp at the bit to start writing at 12:01 am on November 1, 2008, signing up to do the literary equivalent of a marathon by writing a 50,000 word novel in a single calendar month.

As one who "won" Nanowrimo in the past, I'm invoking the Zokutou clause (http://www.zokutou.co.uk/theclause.html):

"If you have already attained the status of Winner, you do not need to start a new novel, as your main aim is now to finish one. You can now consider yourself a winner if, by midnight on the 30th of November, you have either:

1. Written 50,000 words on one or more previous works. 2. Completed your novel's first draft."

I'm in the throes of actively working on my historical fiction novel about Saint Margaret of Scotland, with an outside of Nanowrimo deadline to finish something that will be judged by *other people* on 15 December.

I'm meg.stout at http://www.nanowrimo.org - see you in November!


Technology... is

After a week on the other side of the world, I've now had a long weekend to play with all my new software and techno toys.

The good news is that I can talk at the itty bitty Olympus digital voice recorder, then plug the sucker into my USB port and have Dragon Naturally Speaking (ver 10, Preferred) make sufficient sense of my noises that I can go on to edit it to a clean draft.

On the path to this achievement, I've decided I very much love Ubuntu (which unfortunately can't run Dragon) and I very much dislike Windows XP (which unfortunately is required for Dragon).

Total cash outlay:

Computer equipment - free to me
Ubuntu - free to me
Open Office - $35 for 3 year registration
Internet - already "own"
XP - $76 off eBay
Dragon - $89 off eBay
Digital Voice Recorder - $32 off eBay

So $232 all told (includes shipping) plus a lot of time I probably wouldn't have spent writing anyway.

Ah, the time outlay. Did I mention that I very much dislike Windows XP?

But there it is. I am now without excuses. I even did a lot towards outlining my historical fiction novels - the basic shell is there in both cases with 85% or more of the amazing complications that make my characters very unhappy (and me very happy).

In completely unrelated news, my girlies (10 and 12) both were video-taped for upcoming episodes of Astrocast.TV . Sometime in the future you and your star-loving friends around the globe will be able to see said girlies asking 1) the age of Jupiter and 2) when will the sun subsume the orbit of the earth, along with the answers from GMU's Dr. Harold Geller.


LDS Temple to be Built in Rome Italy

President Monson just announced the location of five new LDS temples:

Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Cordoba, Argentina
Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States


Rome, Italy

So the joyful screaming you may have heard at 1215 EDT today was from Annandale, VA.
[I was an LDS missionary in the Rome, Italy, mission from 1984 to 1985.]



Creativity and technology

First - I love gmail. I know I've mentioned that before, but I really, really do love it. One of the things I love is the ability to create groups, made sweeter by the fact that gmail will proactively suggest the name of contacts and groups that fit what I'm typing.

If I want to e-mail all my family members, I type "chiuf," hit return, and all the addresses I've added to my "chiufam" group show up. If I want to post to my blogs (at blogger and livejournal), "bl" is sufficient. And so forth.

Anyway, creativity. Fortunately, unfortunately, my job gives me lots of opportunities to be creative. Save the world creative. I love it.

Alas, my novels suffer. It's like I have a finite amount of creativity per day. Some days the paying job sucks down the entire allotment.

However, I am committed to writing a new novel this year, as well as writing a new from scratch draft of my 2006 Nanowrimo novel as soon as possible. I just reviewed my notes from the novel-writing workshop I took with Dave Wolverton, and I'm jazzed. Great stuff. Motivational.

[FYI, he's offering two new workshops next April - one for writing outlines and another novel-writing workshop. For more information, the link is at: http://www.runelords.com/journal/?p=68 ]

I'm all fired up to get cracking on my writing again, and I'm hoping that I can bring technology to bear. I have the little ASUS Eee laptop(s), which allow me to type in many odd moments (commuting on the metro, riding planes). A good (but insufficient) first step.

Now I'm going to see if I can increase my production using voice recognition software. Dragon Naturally Speaking Preferred is looking really good, which would allow me to either talk at my computer or talk into a digital voice recorder (letting the computer parse it into editable text later). I've got most of one novel composed as a detailed outline, with a paragraph or two for each of the 75-90 scenes that I envision in the work. The hypothesis (to be tested) is that I can get my first draft in the computer by:

* Reviewing the scene description
* Telling the scene out loud to the recorder
* Having Dragon Naturally Speaking convert the audio file to text
* Editing the text
* Reviewing the next scene description, and so forth.

I know there are several best-selling authors who "write" this way. I tried doing the audiotape/transcription (e.g., true cheapskate) way of doing this, and it was sufficiently successful for a first draft. Alas, the transcription part was too labor-intensive for me to continue.

I have a few days before I'll be able to test Dragon Preferred and the recorder, since I'm unwilling to pay the money I'd have to fork over to buy these things new at a brick and mortar store. So I plan to spend the next few days while product is enroute completing the detailed outline for the first book and starting/completing the detailed outline for the second book.