July 16, 2008

In Praise of Vista's Speech Recognition Software

I know that a lot of people hate Microsoft and think that Vista is unstable bloatware. I come not to bury Vista but to praise part of it.

I have been having some problems with my wrist lately. Long bouts of typing are painful, so I’ve been trying to minimize when keyboarding. For that reason, I’ve been using the speech recognition software that comes bundled with Vista. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good and does some unexpected things.

For example, I was surprised to find that the first time I said the name of the city I live in, the software recognized it and spelled it correctly. Now, if I lived in New York or Dallas, that wouldn’t be saying much, but I live in Worcester. For those who don’t live near here, that’s pronounced “woostah.” Getting that right the first time is something that eludes most humans.

In fact, thanks to a little time put into training the software, it can now recognize obscure mycological jargon. It has no problem with words like Phellinus, Fulvifomes, cystidia and pileus. It can even handle “dikaryotic nuclei,” which isn’t bad for a laptop.

This very entry has been composed entirely using only the speech recognition software. I’ve touched neither the keyboard nor mouse once while writing this. My wrist thanks you, Microsoft!

The biggest problem it has is that it doesn't work very well with Firefox. If anyone knows of a patch for this problem, please let me know.

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