A couple of days ago doing something simple I hurt my back. Unfortunately I have the "bad back" gene and back problems have plagued me my entire adult life. Twice over the years I had to have back surgery to remove my lowest disc when those injuries were too severe for therapy and the pain was too intense to endure. Both times recovery was very good and the immediate relief from a pain too horrible to describe was wonderful. So I’m very familiar with my back limitations and am very careful with my actions. This new injury was a surprise in how debilitating it was immediately after it hit me. I have been unable to sit, lie down or walk for any length of time at all due to the pain. As you can see that pretty much covers all activity of any type.
Yesterday I had a lot of items I wanted to post on jkOTR and a couple of articles to finish up but I just couldn’t do it. While my intensive program of alternating heat and ice to my lower back is showing good results (I am much more mobile today than yesterday) I still can’t sit or use a keyboard for more than a few minutes at a time. So what I decided to do this morning was practice what I recently preached on the Tablet PC Show and pull out my USB microphone and dictate my articles using the speech recognition integrated into the Tablet OS.
I have to confess it is so easy to forget speech on the Tablet. Inking and using an external keyboard is very easy to do and speech just gets lost in the shuffle. Nothing like necessity to make me dust the cobwebs off the microphone and get talking. I have corresponded in the past with a disabled college student who owns a Sony U and uses speech recognition almost exclusively to work with the computer. He told me that speech recognition is a lifesaver for him and his lifeline to the outside world and his work. I figured that was good enough for me so today I have been dictating everything. I have to admit it’s somewhat liberating to just talk into the Tablet and have my witty words appear on the screen.
I use a Plantronics DSP-100 microphone which connects to the Tablet via USB and I get very good results. The DSP-100 is a noise cancelling headset that is designed for good speech recognition. A lot of people who try the speech functions on the Tablet use the microphones integrated into the Tablet which is something I don’t recommend. Even the sophisticated array microphones that many Tablets provide now won’t do as good a job as a noise-cancelling headset at removing background noise from the dictated speech which is essential for accurate recognition. A good headset is the way to go for this reason.
When I first set speech up on the Tablet I went through all the training exercises that are offered via the speech options on the TIP. It took about an hour but the recognition engine is more accurate the more training you give it and the effort was worth it. I find I get very good accuracy while dictating articles and other normal text, with only acronyms and proper names causing problems. These are easily corrected with the pen so I don’t worry too much about that. You can even spell words you know will not be recognized by simply saying "spell it" and then spelling the word or acronym.
I heartily recommend all Tablet owners to give speech recognition a try. Train it up the best you can and then work with it a while and get used to it. It is really cool to enter text and even control the PC with voice.