Look Ma! No hands!

Our cup runneth over. And then freezeth on the road.
Our cup runneth over. And then freezeth on the road.

It would help if I really had something to say, but barring that, I’ll just tell you that this is the first post to fragments from Floyd using MacSpeech dictate software.

Over time, as I become used to the awkwardness of simply speaking what’s on my mind as opposed to routing it through my fingers as has been my habit for the last seven years, I feel certain that my hands will be happy for giving my mouth more of the responsibilities of getting words to the page. My fingers are getting tired of doing the walking.

One thing about having a microphone strapped on my head and talking to the monitor is that it’s very awkward to do when someone is here. So I suppose it’s fortunate that I spend so much time alone and that the dog really doesn’t care that I’m talking to nobody. He knows I’m talking to him all the time, I am certain.

This will be my weekend at home alone. It’s a good thing I do okay with solitude. I learned how the year I spent alone in a cabin on Walnut knob in 1997. I wrote about that in Slow Road Home in a piece called On Eagles Wings. At least now, it’s usually not more than two days I spend in my own company, and I’m pretty good with filling in the time–between writing projects, reading, and chores around the house and farm. I had thought I would fill the time this January and February writing a novel, but I’m beginning to think I’m too lazy to finish it. It’s just too much like work. We’ll see. Maybe the fluidity of speaking the novel will rejuvenate my interest.

I won’t say much about the software I’m using to dictate speech to text, but I know there are probably some of you out there in the same orthopedic condition I’m in with regards to thumbs, wrists, fingers, and hands. I used DragonDictate NaturallySpeaking on my PC back a few years ago, and find that this newer version for the Mac to be an improvement in both speed and accuracy. I’m sure I won’t get full use out of the program, as I will tend to type blocks of text and cut and paste them into the blog or word processor. I’ll not use all the commands to operate the computer at large, as the program is fully capable of doing.

So, if you see odd mistakes in grammar, blame the software. I only work here.

Share this with your friends!

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

Articles: 3013


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Although I have never tried speaking software I always thought that I could not compose a decent piece of “Writing” in this manner. When I speak it never seems to come out with any fluidity. Writing or rather word processing is slow, gives my brain a chance to catch up. I’m curious if you have had a period of adjustment relative to the composition in what you are saying.

    I’d like to hear more about this experience.


  2. There are pros and there are cons (such is life!) and it will be a love-hate relationship, to some degree imposed by the outlived warranty on the joints.

    I think I can use the dictation to get the rough draft down, then finesse in the manual edits–a compromise–with the final form being to do it the old fashioned way. Well, not very old. I’ll not be going back to a quill pen any time soon.

    Stay tuned!