Thursday, May 1, 2008

How bad does Dragon suck?

Most people who use Dragon NaturallySpeaking will admit that the program requires time, patience, and perhaps creativity (not to mention luck) to get it to work well. Nonusers often ask how difficult the program is to use. It is hard to give an answer because it is used for many different things in many different contexts. I would consider Dragon an amazing product if my goal were to purely dictate. Or if I used Dragon to transcribe my digital recordings I would think it was a miracle every time the words appeared on the screen. Not surprisingly Dragon is most popular in the medical & legal fields. However, I use Dragon for hands-free computing, what I believe is called "command & control", completing tasks that require rapidly switching between multiple programs. While Nuance markets the product to the disabled community, product team insiders are always for defensive about the products shortcomings claiming that the product was not designed with hands-free computing in mind. alas, the suck factor is relative.

I define success with Dragon in terms of productivity & lack of pain after working on the computer. Metrics of success include recognition accuracy, system performance, and how I'm able to apply my knowledge of DNS to the task at hand and avoid reaching for the keyboard & mouse. accuracy & performance & pain are all subjective, there are not really accurate ways to measure any of these. Trying to determine how successful I am with Dragon is simply a gut feeling.

I don't understand the relationship between recognition accuracy & system performance, but occasionally they work really well together, and when one sucks the other one seems to suck in equal proportion. this makes troubleshooting very difficult & frustrating. When Dragon is not working well there is like a list of at least 35 things to test & tinker with. I will get to that list later...

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