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Dragon 11.5 free upgrade finally here

By Kimberly Patch

If you already use Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11, you’re entitled to a free upgrade to 11.5.

You must access the upgrade from within Dragon 11 — Click on “Help\ Check for Updates”, select “Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5” and follow the instructions to download the upgrade. Once it’s downloaded, click on the upgrade to install.

There’s more information here:  nuance.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/6213

We strongly recommend upgrading. The upgrade fixes several bugs and gives you the ability to use your iPhone as a wireless microphone over a wifi network.

Utter Command is fully compatible with Dragon 11.5.

Making Google+ easier to use

By Kimberly Patch

Here are a couple of Firefox add-ons that make Google+ easier to use.

– Google+Manager
This adds the keyboard shortcuts Google should have included in the first place, a translate button for every post, a drop-down menu for common functions, and a tiny URL generator.

– i rec Plus 1 and Like
This adds a “+f” icon in Firefox next to the homepage button (near the top right corner). Click the button to get Google +1 and Facebook Like buttons for any webpage. You can use the Utter Command naming-a-mouse-click utility to click the button, then click the icon to share to either service using a single speech command (details in UC Lesson 10.24).

Quick Hotmail control by speech

By Kimberly Patch

I got a question today about controlling Hotmail by speech. Here’s a short answer.

The good news about web programs is more of them now have keyboard shortcuts, and more of the shortcuts are standard. This makes it easier to use speech control without customization.

Do a web search for “Hotmail keyboard shortcuts” and you’ll find several lists. Here’s one from about.com.

Hotmail has a pretty good set of shortcuts, including some defacto standards. Utter Command e-mail commands like “New Message”, “This Reply”, “Reply All” and “This Save” work in Hotmail because Hotmail uses the common shortcuts for these functions (see UC Lesson 8.3).

For the less standard functions you can speak keyboard. Here are a few that are particularly useful:
“Letter fi” or “Foxtrot India” goes to the Inbox folder
“Letter fs” or “Foxtrot Sierra” goes to the Sent folder
“Control Dot” goes to the next message
“Control Comma” goes to the previous message
“Control Enter” sends

Tip: Make sure to say “Shift” before “Control “ if you use any of the shift control commands.

Probably the best way to control drop-down menus that you use frequently in web programs is to use the naming-a-mouse-click ability (see UC Lesson 10.24). You can say two mouse clicks in a row to control a drop-down using a single speech command.

Heat and computers

Those of us who use speech recognition are giving our computers a pretty good workout — the speech engine takes a lot of compute power. As long as you have a fairly powerful computer and do a couple minutes of maintenance every few weeks you’ll be all set.

Unless, like last week, it’s very hot, and you try to use your computer in a room that’s not air-conditioned.

Computers naturally get warmer when you use them. On a cool day the heat dissipates pretty well by itself. Last week was a different story, however. When a computer gets too hot, the computer fan kicks on to cool it down. If it’s still too hot the chip will automatically slow down. This all presents problems for the speech user. First, the excess noise of the fan can make it harder for the microphone to process your speech, and can make the signal that ultimately passes to the computer chip less clean so the computer has to work harder to decipher it. These can both increase the lag between you saying a command and the computer recognizing it. And if the chip slows down, processing slows down further.

The moral of the story is if you find yourself trying to use speech on a hot day and you think the computer is slowing down, it probably is. Turn it off for little while and it will do better when you turn a back on. Find air-conditioning or wait till the air temperature is cooler and it will do even better. And make it a habit to turn off your computer when you’re not using it so it can cool down completely.

FYI Here’s advice on the ideal setup for speech-recognition and a two-step maintenance program for speech-recognition.