Sir Terry Pratchett recently turned to TalkingPoint for help with his existing Dragon installation. Here is what he thinks of TalkingPoint.
"I have been using Talking Point for several months now, and I can say that it has changed my life"
When it became clear to me that my illness had reduced my touch typing skill to a tediously slow point-and-click, I threw in the towel and bought Dragon Dictate, a speech-to-text program that I had tried in the distant past and hadn't thought very much of.
I found it had much improved, but still wasn't all I thought it could be, and I said as much online. The lads behind Talking Point read this, and were brave enough to ring me. In a couple of weeks, I was running it, and, frankly, it's great. I have it running on three machines.
In a nutshell, it puts a more usable front-end on Dragon's rather good engine, and allows all kinds of customisation. Without a shadow of a doubt, I must be one of the toughest customers to accommodate; as an author I use a huge working vocabulary and let us say an idiosyncratic writing style. But I did have one big advantage. We dumped all of my novels, in electronic format into the computer, which overnight absorbed my personal vocabulary into its own; don't ask me about the algorithms involved, but it can make a pretty good stab at understanding me, amazingly so, I will add, given that I have an accent like David Bellamy with his hand caught in an electric fire.
Even so, with the most minimal of training, both of myself and of the machine, I was producing decent copy by the end of day one. Complex words were no problem at all; talking point loves complex words, because they are more distinctive.
It pays to put in the time to use the functions that allow you to customise and correct the vocabulary, and frankly that is almost fun. The software learns. Mind you, so do I. I've developed to feel for how the program responds, and automatically adjust my speed and intonation; it's a bit like playing the piano, but without the piano. Even now I haven't explored all the features.
Let me say right now that I'm not being paid in any way for this endorsement, except, I suppose for the good will of the guys who answer the phone when I have a query. And if you are minded to try Talking Point you will have queries, oh my word yes; it took me some while to grasp that in the world of Talking Point a word was, for the benefit of the computer, considered to be a phrase. I think the training that they offer is essential, unless you are really very clever, or know somebody who is. Your grandchildren will probably get the hang of it in five minutes. It's not too hard once you get to grips with it, but I have to say that it could do with some work on the manual and on the presentation of the software. This is not a criticism. Not so many years ago, if you owned and drove a car, you needed to know a certain amount about how cars worked; now that knowledge is minimal. Until the guys get a shiny front-end on the software, you do need to know, as it were, how to clean a spark plug. For example a minute ago the software persisted in printing work every time I said worked. I don't know why this was. Perhaps I had slurred the word. To be on the safe side I spent
25 seconds to educate it a little and, I hope, it worked. "Oh, good"
And so we progress. I am so confident in the software now that we are developing other ways to make use of it, such as utilising a decent standard recorder to record my voice whenever I'm out for a walk, for example, and letting Talking Point transcribe it when I get home; the technology is in place. In fact, if my typing skill mysteriously came back to me I suspect that I would opt to continue saying my work. It feels more natural!
PS There are 693 words in this document, spoken by someone who is by no means a clear orator. I had to edit Talking Point's choices twice; work for worked, as mentioned above, and replace an 'a' with a 'the', which was quite possibly my fault in the first place. Oddly enough, it accepted the name David Bellamy with no training whatsoever, which I find a wee bit creepy.