Monday, September 10, 2007

Saved By Vista

It's been awhile since I've talked about using the Vista operating system, a little over two months I guess. After the initial difficulties I had getting it setup, it has been running flawlessly for me. However, I have not used my new laptop with Vista for very much besides blogging and surfing the web. I've been slow to add new software for the simple reason that much is still not available in a version compatible with the Vista operating system.

In the last few days I've had to learn to use voice recognition software. I'm suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome and I have to rest my arm for at least two weeks. The repetitive motion that is causing me pain involves using the mouse and typing on a keyboard. I make a point of splitting my work over my various computers so as to minimize the risk of just this sort of thing. But between my web design work, my blogging, and my work on the creative team for Stone Accents Studio, I'm just plain over using my arm. Still, the idea of not using my computers for weeks was enough to send me into a near panic state. I'm a techie girl after all!

So what does this have to do with the Vista operating system? Well, as it turns out Vista has voice recognition software built into it. I previously tried to use the voice recognition software that was a part of the Windows XP operating system and experienced nothing but frustration. However, the voice recognition software in Vista is really terrific! It is capable of doing much more than the previous version, at least as I remember it. And it does what it's supposed to do much better. I have discovered that I can launch programs, surf the web, read my feeds, and dictate text all quite easily… Much to my delight! In fact, I'm finding it so easy to use I may never go back to typing again! (Randy, please don't pay any attention to what I'm writing here. For if you ever realize how easy this is you'll no doubt start putting out 10 blog posts a day and put the rest of us to shame: -) Not only did I dictate this blog post using speech recognition software but I did the same on my previous post, A Successful Day of Research.

I don't mean to imply that using this speech recognition software allows me to do everything on the Internet. For instance, I can't navigate within either Yahoo mail or Google mail. I can get to those pages but can't figure out how to access my folders there by voice command alone. But I do still have complete use of my left arm and hand and am perfectly capable of using them to navigate my e-mail accounts. So all is not lost.

And just to make this post genealogy-related... I was able to launch my Legacy software with no probem. However I wasn't able to do anything in it by voice command. I suspect this is the fault of the Legacy programmers though and not the fault of the voice recognition software.

I should also mention that the microphone built into my laptop was not sufficient to make the speech recognition software work efficiently. It's recommended that you use a noise canceling, USB connected headset. So I went out and bought one that was labeled as Vista compatible. Of course it wasn't, not really. I am currently waiting for Microsoft to send me the drivers that will make the USB connection work. In the meantime I am using the headset directly connected to my laptop using the headset and microphone plugs. Having a good quality head set makes all the difference. It cost me $30.00 on sale (half price this week at Circuit City) and it was worth every penny.

Unfortunately, I don't have a good solution that will allow me to continue doing my graphics projects. So those I will have to just put on hold for a couple of weeks and hope for the best. I will continue blogging and who knows, you may even see more blog posts from me. This is just too fun!

Anyone else out there using voice recognition software to write their blog posts?