A bit of an experiment today – take that as yesterday, Friday, May 2nd, the day before this nominally posts.
As I mentioned in our last thrilling episode (and, yes, I’m easily thrilled) I’ve got both Dragon NaturallySpeaking and my DVR up and running. So today when I took Emma Dog for a walk down by the Nature Center, I decided to try my hand at an audio diary. I keep a journal of our walks anyway, and it’s struck me several times just how convenient it’d be to be able to record interesting events, sights, impressions, and suchlike, just by speaking. I do carry my beloved Pilot T/X religiously, but writing into it’s … not so efficient. Especially since Graffiti 2, their writing interface software, basically sucks. Although in truth I’ve never been terribly accurate at writing on my PDA.
But talking, obviously, is pretty easy.
Also, of course, it’s my intent to dictate my fiction on the go, implementing what I’ve long thought of as my “Man in Motion” concept. So I reckoned this’d be a prime opportunity to test several things at once.
What follows, therefore, is my transcript of the day’s session. It runs 1006 words. It’s proofread, but not edited – I’m proud I only said “um” once. It’s as close to word-by-word as I could make it.
Feel free to skip this one. If not – here goes:
Okay this is me, down on the covered trail by the Río Grande Nature Center, and once I got to the levee path it wasn’t a bad day. The wind’s mostly blocked off, so it’s mostly cool and pleasant, and I’m glad I’m in the shorts. Just heard a woodpecker going off; there’re many swallows curveting around, many, many, and the Nature Center fields here right by the bridge back east across from the bike path are flooded into such an extent we actually have Canada geese swimming in some of it, which means it’s flooded pretty deep. I guess that’s the way our government saves our precious water resources, although in truth the runoff this year is liable to be high. Anyway, it’s about 4:37 p.m. if I didn’t mention that. I’m gonna try keeping an audio diary here some, and just see how this works. We’ve got the machine set up so that it’ll transcribe into Dragon on the notebook computer, so good for us.
My God! Couple minutes later – I saw my first hummingbird of the year hovering up here by a tree and while I was at it I saw another one – there’s two of them! Hooray for that. A flicker just went by. Actually saw the first swallows a couple weeks ago when we were out here. And as I say, they’re really going to town down here now. . . .
You know, it really is so beautiful down here – I sat as the wind starts to mount, fortunately mostly over my head – that as always after I’ve laid off a few days I wonder why I’m not out here every day and possibly all day every day.
My God, here’s a dead tree to the side of the road, that looks as if it’s been pretty recently gnawed on by beavers – it’s not actually the road; it’s the foot trail still – along the east side of the clear ditch, but, wasn’t that way when we were last here. Actually haven’t been this way in a few weeks, plus the wood is still kind of yellow, almost orange, meaning it’s fresh. Haven’t seen beavers down here in years and years, but evidently they’re still here. The color of the wood is actually a lot like the color of the bellies of some of the swallows that we have; I can never remember if they’re barn or cave swallows whose bellies range from yellow to an orange that’s almost red, with very shiny blue backs. We have some of those as well as some of the white-bellied ones skimming along not for above the water. I guess there’s bugs down there.
We’re a few yards in the past where the beavers were, and something big just went into the water, although oddly enough it kind of seems as if it went into the water from a low-hanging branch, which doesn’t make sense, so I’m wondering if instead something big such as, well, possibly a beaver disturbed the branch as we passed. And now we have kind of a shrike-y looking bird, sitting up here on a branch as we approach the cut-out where Emma’s gonna go get water and I’m going to turn back.
Now, also the last time we were down here we saw a couple o’ muskrats gamboling right down by the cut-out where we’re now heading down . . . don’t see ‘em today. Here comes a mallard. . . .
It occurs to me in my vanity that regardless of how well this turns out transcribing in Dragon, I’m going to save it off as an MP3 and then save it to CD, in my vanity, as an audio diary, so there. I’m, in fact I’m so vain I may decide to put some of these up on my blog for download, and, as a play on “podcasts” call them “oddcasts.”
Okay, I noticed that every time I stop and start again, I start a new audio file, which doesn’t really break anything. However, um, I’ll go ahead and hit “Pause” from now on until I’m done for the day to simplify things. I’m, I’m guessing that using Audacity I can go ahead and join these files together if it really is important to me to do so, and it probably won’t hurt with the transcribing at all.
Okay, we’re back on the levee bike path now approaching the bridge back to the Nature Center, and Emma just found something down in the bosque to our right that was really interesting to her, and she really wanted to go and see and I wouldn’t let her, pursuant to our rule that I don’t want her making any . . . ooh, wait, Emma! Huh. I wonder if there’s lizards out, she just did it again. I don’t want her making any little friends I can’t see, and the corollary’s, I don’t want her making any little friends that I can see. I basically don’t want her sticking her nose in any place and coming out with something clinging to it. So . . . the poor child has had to cope with frustration here.
I also note as we approach it again that the sign by the entry to the Bosque Loop path says that the fire danger today is “very high,” which I don’t recall seeing before. I don’t know what the difference is between that and “extreme!” Here’s Emma peering out in the, out in the leaves again. I don’t know if it’s just wind rustling or there’s really something out there. Anyway, what I figure is that they had some extra money for their sign budget that they had to spend.
Okay, we’re back in the car. We did 3 miles straight up. Hadn’t intended to go that far. It’s 5:13 PM. We did 5295 steps, 4664 aerobic steps, 48 aerobic minutes – that’s pretty good – 361 kilocalories, and – that’s it, this is Victor, signing off his very first audio diary for May the Second of 2008.
And there you have it. And I did: I did save the files as MP3s, although I’ve not yet burned them to CD. Reckon I’ll wait till I have more.
On the whole I’d have to call it a successful experiment. It took me a while, maybe an hour, to proof it against the MP3s played in WinAmp, so it wasn’t real efficient. This time.
But I expect there’s a learning curve, in dictation as well as transcription. For that matter I dictated a mess o’ Annja earlier today, and discovered again how I can get frustrated with DNS; sometimes it just seems obtuse in transcribing what I say. And of course a fair amount of that is my simply not e-nun-ci-ating clearly enough. Practice will fix a lot of that, especially since the program also learns from my corrections.
On the whole the recording came across pretty clear and the transcription was reasonably accurate. One complicating factor was the aforementioned wind: there were times, especially when we were on the elevated bike path, that the wind boomed loud enough to register as attempted words when I did the voice recognition thing.
In any event, there’s a lot of what I was up to today (as I said, technically yesterday; but to me the day don’t change until I’ve been to sleep. Or decided not to go to sleep.) Both personally and professionally.