Comparing Dictation from AT2020 Microphone to ipod

I wanted to compare the new Dragon Dictate 5.0 using both the newly acquired AT 2020 compared to just an iPod. I spoke into the AT2020 as I normally would in a quiet room. I then held the iPod from my face and I spoke into it calmly, without any attached microphone. I was quite pleased with the transcription results. I compared the results to the same passage that I typed. I think that I had more errors typing the passage that I actually did have in transcribing the passage, with either technique.

I suspect, the improvement in transcribing is more likely the result of whatever changes in code were made to Dragon Dictate 5. In comparison, Dragon Dictate 4, using the same transcription file from the iPod, had an error rate of 7.1%. So Dragon Dictate 5.0 is truly much more accurate than the previous version and seems much more tolerant of microphone quality. However, the tendency not to show correction windows when appropriate is annoying.

Overall, I think Dragon Dictate five is a better product. I think Nuance was trying to achieve a lot with this version. The application no longer acts as an application but as as a service. It also seems more stable in my machine. Unfortunately, there are times when it does crash. But unlike the previous versions, I seem to be able to use Dragon for several days in a row without having to shut the machine down. In the previous version, the longer the machine stayed on, the more likely Dragon was clinical.I think the programmers also believe that their engine was much better at transcribing than the previous version. While I think this true, I also think the users would’ve been better served by having more choices in the correction window.

Errors from the AT2020

  • possessive one’s was missed
  • two commas were missed but this was user error – I forgot to speak them
  • missed one dash
  • spelt 10th as tent
  • 3 errors/224 words or 1.3 % error

Errors from the iPod alone without a microphone

  • possessive one’s was missed
  • , instead of a dash (operator error ?)
  • that instead of the bad
  • spelt 10th as tent
  • and instead of is a
  • 4 errors/224 or 1.7% error

Dragon Dictate 4 with iPod alone with a microphone (same transcription file)

  • One’s success
  • of instead of are
  • deeply instead of daily
  • convenient instead of good in you
  • Completely missed the last sentence: 12 words
  • 16/224 or 7.1 %

Life as a Dictater… or Getting Dictation to Work

I have been struggling with Dragon for Mac for a few years.I was ready to quit Dragon after my initial frustration. I could not get the thing to work and I was mad after having payed over $100 for the software. But listening to the sound files I found that the Apple Router created interference with the Dragon headset. Placing the router further away from the computer saved my sanity. Dictation worked well enough but not enough that I would trust it. Besides, I “thought” with my keyboard.

At some point the headset that came with my Dragon software stop working. I upgraded to a Plantronics audio 628 exterior USB headset. It worked fairly well for a number of years. It was better than the original headset that came with Dragon and it was less cheaply made. But transcription never worked as smoothly as I thought it could. Afterc listening to the Mac power users, I was sure I could to better. One of the hosts , David Sparks had dictated serveral books. What was he doing that I was not .

I finally read the book by Monica Leonelle: “Dictate your book”. But I never quite believed it. I always thought that my Plantronics headset did a good job in terms of rendering sound. Then I listened to an interview Monica Leonelle on the Creative Pen Podcast . That gave me the impetus to replace the headset with an AT 2020 condenser microphone.

It has made an incredible difference in how smoothly the dictation occurs. My words seem to flow much faster and smoother. I no longer have to distrust my software quite as much. The equipment that I used:

The next mental hurdle is getting over the ingrained habit of thinking with the keyboard.

Loss of function

It seems that Circus Ponies Notebook is out of business.Aperture, which I find suits my needs perfectly well, is not supported in El Captain. Lightroom, which is its nearest competitor has a horrible user interface and I am sure will eventually go to a subscription only model just like every other Adobe product. YNAB 5 is going for a subscription model. Your personal financial data does not belong in the cloud. The new version of Dragon Dictate 5 is less than spectacular. It’s better than when it first came out, but it offers fewer choices for correcting mistakes. Since I use a lot of non-English names, it makes it much harder to do any kind of personal writing. Nuance is also pushing Dragon Dictate 5. I received more phone calls trying to sell this edition than before; this is even after I bought Dragon Dictate 5. They must not be liking the backlash of users that are displeased with their new version. I wonder how long it will be before they decide to go to a subscription model as well.The more time that passes, the less functional my software becomes and all I want to do is maintain what I have.

I almost want to freeze this Mac in time. Disconnected from Internet and keep the functionality that I have. Of course I need the Internet for some of the functionality. George R.R. Martin wrote “The Game of Thrones” in Wordstar. Perhaps, he had the right idea. Maybe keeping things old-school and text based is a better way to go. I know I won’t go this route and I say these things out of frustration and anger. Whether this is sad and depressing but perfectly good tools are cast away. Newer and supposedly better tools have no added functionality and are just a disguised way of getting more money in the pockets of companies.

Change the CAPSLOCK to “Hyper” on press and ESCAPE on Tap

Please see:

http://brettterpstra.com/2012/12/08/a-useful-caps-lock-key/

for the original code and explanation of how to change the CAPSLOCK to “Hyer” on hold and  ESCAPE. The names of the tools have changed to Seil(https://pqrs.org/osx/karabiner/seil.html.en) and Karbiner(https://pqrs.org/osx/karabiner/index.html.en).

To keep the CAPSLOCK  function:

http://brettterpstra.com/2015/12/18/a-hyper-key-that-can-still-yell/

Read more of this post

No Knead Bread

No Knead Bread

This has to be the most forgiving and easy recipe for bread making. It is so simple and forgiving that I often don’t want to tell people how to make it. That way I get to maintain the authority of a “baker”. But, the recipe is too good not to share.

History

The recipe was first introduced Jim Layhey and popularized by Mark Bitman. The goal of the recipe was to produce crusty bread that was porous inside without having to use a steam injection oven. It succeeded.

There have been many variations since. But, the best description of the recipe is here from Simply so Good. This is a easy recipe to follow- and the pictures are useful, but I have made a few modifications to make things easier.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of water (or more if needed, usually slightly warm)
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of quick rising yeast (if you want it to rise faster, use more yeast.)

Mix the dry ingredients in a wide mouthed bowl. Add the water gradually, to ensure good mixing. This will form a sticky dough. If the water is insufficient, I will slowly add more water till I have incorporated all of the dry ingredients. Once formed the sticky dough slowly slides in the bowl like slime. If you have made bread before – do not be discouraged by the lack of stiffness and the wetness of the dough.

I put the uncovered bowl in the oven and let it sit for 12 hours or more. In a pinch you can use 1 Tablespoon of yeast and let it sit for 2 hours, but I think the flavour is less complex when the dough rises too quickly. When the dough is ready, it will be very bubbly and jiggle like Jello. I used to place the dough on a wax paper and coat the surfaces with flour or corn meal, then fold the dough and let it sit for 1-2 hours. Now, I simply form a ball (be gentle as you don’t want to break down the bubbles) with the dough still in the mixing bowl. I then coat the sticky surfaces with corn meal.

I coat a small amount of oil on the bottom and sides of a steel pot. Place the dough in the steel pot. Many recipes will call for preheating the pot in the oven before adding the dough – I find this unnecessary and just complicates the workflow. Preheat the oven to 450 Celsius. Bake the steel pot with the lid on for 30 to 40 minutes. Take the top off and bake for another 15 minutes to create the thick crust.

Hope

Hope

Canada recently elected a new leader – another Trudeau.
After such a hopeless time under Harper, we finally had a change – I hope.
I remember when Jean Chretien signed Canada up for the Kyoto Protocol.
To my utter horror, Steven Harper widthdrew Canada from the treaty.
This act summed up the Harper regime.
Harper was only thinking of the here and now.
There are people that said he was a good PM.
He had kept Canada stable during volatile economic times.
However Harper’s vision of the future included muzzling the truth.
He did not allow Canada’s scientist to publicly speak about their work .
This was a government that knew the truth and decided nobody else needed to concern themselves.

Based on data for the first 10 months of the year, “We feel very confident… that 2015 will be the warmest year on record…What we call a cold year now would have been considered a record warm year before 1997,” said Michel Jarraud, head of the World Meteorological Organization.

This world no longer has time to act like ostriches.
Harper and leaders like him may be good in the short term.
But they have no vision for the future.
I think in these modern times, where the call to do more shopping seems to be an act of valor, we need to realize the last thing the world needs is one more shopping mall.

We do not inherit the earth, we borrow it from our children

Thinking ahead seven generations should be mandatory for any undertaking.

Saving this world for our children is something worthy to aspire to.
I hope with the climate talks in Paris we can have hope again.
I hope that my child can live in world where people are not living in poverty and ignorance – both material and spiritual.
I hope that my child can live in world that has room for tigers and bears, trees and beauty.

Using Live Comp On EM 10 for Fireworks

We had our Beaumont Daze yesterday and it was an excellent opportunity to try the OMD EM10 live comp function. The live comp function differs from Bulb and Live Time in that it only includes exposures that are brighter than the reference photo; this means that it will not overexpose the background or previous exposures.

To photograph fireworks I:
+ turned Noise Reduction off(note not noise filter; Look under the E menu)
+ Placed the camera on a tripod (on a side note, because the EM10 has a LCD screen that slides out, it did not matter that the travel tripod I chose was shorter than I was. I was comfortable able to view the screen.)
+ Turned the dial to Manual Mode
+ Turned focus to manual and focussed to a distant point
+ selected an aperture f11-f20 (You need a small aperture to handle the bright lights)
+ Turned the Shutter dial until Live Comp came up
+ Hit the menu button and chose the time for each capture
+ since the area I was had enough stray lighting, I chose 1 second
+ Pressed the shutter once to get a reference photo
+ Pressed the shutter a second time to start the Live Comp

The picture develops on the screen. When you like what you see, hit the shutter again to stop taking photos. It is important to have noise reduction (note not noise filter) turned off, otherwise composing the picture can take along time. This was significantly easier than taking long exposures with the Nikon D7000.

P6200819
P6200823
P6200824

I am not a Coder – Why Would I Learn Vim?

I have been trying to learn Vim. Why would I want to learn the 20-year-old editor? What are the deficiencies of modern editors that make me want to choose something so ancient ? Efficiency of movement. Vim was created before the mouse, so it has much more efficient cursor movement and text manipulation shortcuts. Vim’s commands are snippets of text that have meaning, grammar and structure .The commands are “composable” . This means that you can figure commands out based on a logical structure without having to memorize arbitrary keyboard combinations or codes.It is almost like lego for editing.

Learning Vim commands is not easy.But, small snippets of text with a consistent grammar are easier to remember than abstract keyboard shortcuts. Keyboard shortcuts are abstract because they have no meaning by themselves. Mac Os X keyboard shortcuts for cursor movement are not as powerful as Vim movement commands. There is no way to move or manipulate sentences as a unit. You can jump by words and paragraphs but not sentences. There are Emacs keybindings, but they require holding down the CNTR key. I wanted to avoid having to press multiple keys. This is hard on the fingers and not at all pleasant when trying to write with a DVORAK keyboard. But, why all this keyboard magic, what is wrong with the mouse?

The mouse is easy to use. It does not require much training, but it requires more precision. Carefully having to select between words is easy enough but it gets tedious. I seem to work slower with a mouse when editing text. I do not know if this is an illusion or not. But, I just don’t like the strain of switching between the mouse and the keyboard. Is this more efficient than taking the time to remember keyboard shortcuts ? I think once a shortcut is memorized, it is much easier and faster to stick to the keyboard rather than reach for the mouse.

There is no easy way of integrating Mac Os X terminal Vim and the system clipboard. Of course the file system is inaccessible with anything but the CLI. There are concerns about formatting which I still haven’t quite figured out yet(extra tabs and spaces appearing). I will also hit some mysterious combination of letters and the text rearranges or disappears.I wonder if the time I’m spending learning Vim is not better spent actually writing? Since using MacVim instead of terminal Vim, my concerns about integrating the editor into the Mac Os X are unfounded and I get to use Mac Os X keyboard shortcuts (the very thing that I said I wanted to avoid -turns out I don’t want to avoid them that much, but would prefer not to have to use keyboard cursor movements.)

I am enjoying the experience of editing in Vim. But, I’m anything but efficient.This is more a matter of learning and experience, but is the payoff of learning this system worth the effort? Perhaps, I would be even more efficient if I just spend more time writing rather than having to fiddle with a 20-year-old editor. But, editing with Vim is almost like a game; what magic combination of codes do I need to make my change?

A More Durable Watch

I broke another Timex expedition watch(T40091). The stem broke without good reason while the watch was protected in my pocket. The previous expedition was destroyed when the stem was forcibly removed when gardening( T47902). So much for the “takes a licking and keeps on ticking”. I had some high hopes for the Expedition series. I thought they would be more durable than they actually were. I replaced the Timex with the Momentum Steelix watch. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA What I wanted:

  1. Durable construction. The body and pins had to be made of something strong.I have had the pins bend, and the holes enlarge and deform. Supposedly durable and rugged plastic has ripped on me as well. The steelix has 316L marine grade stainless.

  2. Water proof 20ATM steel casing (water resistant to 200m) 2. Locked down crown. This keeps dust and grime out and protects the stem from being ripped out. I was not familar with this option, till I had my second stem disembowlment. It is a bit of a pain having to unscrew the crown, but knowing that it is protected is worth it. Interestingly the stem is set at the 4 o’clock position, offsetting it from a bent wrist.

  3. Scratch resistant glass— [saphire crystal]. Saphire crystal is highly scratch resistant but may shatter with the right force. The first things I notice as a watch ages are fine scratches on the watch face. After wearing the steelix for 5 months, there is not a scratch on the face.

Comparing Omnioutliner and Circus Ponies Notebook

Why write an Outline

I wrote an outline, once, in high school, when computers were big and screens were green. I did not understand the purpose of it and the numbering conventions seemed arcane. I was so confused that, I wrote the outline after I had written the paper, completely defeating its purpose. Writing down a proposed structure seemed a waste of time because a paper outline is not malleable. An outline is an exploration of structure and exploration requires revision.

What I did not understand at the time was the efficiency of writing an outline. Nothing slows down writing than not know where the piece is going. It is easier and faster to create the structure and flow of a document and then write what you think you need.

The use writing as a sole means of a discovery takes a long time and is incomplete. mind mapping is a better tool 1 for discovering the links and in your topic. Outlines are a means to structure those connections.

Outlines are guides but they should not necessarily restrict the writing. The outline is only a means of exploration and clarification; deviation and modification are expected and encouraged.

What Software is available

There are some interesting online outlining applications:

  1. Ginko – a horizontal outliner
  2. Fargo 
  3. Mind Meister

But, since I like the ability to be work offline, my choices for Mac Os X are:

Dr.Drang has given an overview of most of these outliners. It is also worth reading Arno’s Tech Tools  for more analysis.

Folding text a markdown outliner. There some ingenious bit of programming to accomplish outlines in plain text. It is the fastest way of getting from an outline to a markdown document. Unfortunately development seems to have stopped for Folding Text.

The Tree offers some interesting possibilities as a horizontal outliner – but I have a difficult time wrapping my head around the concept. Horizontal outlines provide a view of the structure and content of the document in a compressed format. Not Nursed Ratchetoffers an interesting modification to Tree to compose markdown documents.

Opal is solid, straightforward and handles OPML well – it is just a little limiting and has some obscure shortcuts. Neo is crazy powerful,is incredibly obscure and uses non-standard shortcuts.

Neo is an extremely powerful, advanced and capable outliner. Unfortunately, it is obtuse, and uses non standard keybindings and conventions.

I have been using Circus Ponies Notebook for a few years and it has worked well, but I wanted to give Omnioutliner 4 another try.

Comparing Omnioutliner 4 and Circus Ponies Notebook

Cost

Omnioutliner comes in two versions: Standard ($50) and Pro ($100). The biggest difference is the two is AppleScript. The Pro version has row to row linking.

Circus Ponies Notebook cost $49.95.

Advanced Outlining

Omnioutliner 4 Pro allows for hyperlinking within a document. Circus Ponies Notebook allows for linking within an outlines and between outlines within a document.

Both programs support hoisting but not cloning.

Omnioutliner allows for multiple columns. Circus Ponies Notebook allows for keywords to be placed outside of a row.

Styling

Text can be styled according to outline level in both programs. However, Omnioutliner makes the process much easier as style choices are readily available in the sidebar. These styles can be transferred from document to document. Different “Themes” can be applied on the fly to a document. Omnioutliner can make an outline look good. Unfortunately, only the Pro version comes with the option of turning off row handles.

Circus Ponies Notebook allows for styling as well but it requires a deep dive into preferences. Styling options are not as complete. Styles can not be transferred to another outline. This means you would have to start with a blank notebook without the styles that you wanted for a given project or recreate them for each new project. However, Circus Ponies Notebook does allow you to turn off row handles if you want without having to pay for the “pro” version.

Features outside of outlining

Annotations

Circus Ponies Notebook allows:
+ diagramming
+ stickies
+ Flags
+ Due dates/creation dates
+ Highlighting
These annotations with the exception of highlighting and dates occurs at the level of the page and not the cell.

Metadata

Circus Ponies Notebook allows for keywords to be added in the column for any given cell. Omnioutliner allows for multiple columns – a column could easily hold a keyword. Circus Ponies Notebook can highlight words in cell. Omnioutliner applies styles to selected text. However, Circus Ponies Notebook has the multidex. The multidex is a collection of indexed data :
+ index words
+ keywords
+ highlights
+ dates
+ attachments
+ Superfind – multiple user defined search criteria

For creating multiple connected outlines, Circus Ponies Notebook has far more profound organizing capabilities.

Audio

Both programs support attachments, and audio recordings but Circus Ponies Notebook does a better job of tracking what you type with what is being said. This means you can go back to a specific part of the recording by clicking on the appropriate text. Omnioutliner just pastes the recording in one spot, which is really not that useful.

Keyboard Shortcuts

I prefer Omnioutliner keyboard shortcuts for expanding and collapsing a line/outline. Omnioutliner is able to collapse rows and sections without obscure shortcuts. Circus Ponies Notebook has more multiple key keyboard shortcuts which do not work as seamlessly.

This may seem like a trivial difference, but I like to maintain flow when I am writing. I would prefer not having to reach for the mouse if I do not need to or think about what keyboard shortcut I need.

Systems

Circus Ponies Notebook allows for multiple outlines in one document. These outlines are easily accessible using the notebook metaphor as well as “Superfind” and an “Multidex”, indexing text, keywords etc…

iPad version

Both Omnioutliner($30) and Circus Ponies Notebook(4.99 – was $30) come with iPad versions. Circus Ponies Notebook’s iPad version works wells as a reader for documents- it is fast and renders attached PDFs well. However, the Omnioutliner iPad version works better for creating or modifying outlines.

Omnioutliner allows for more intuitive editing that does not disrupt the flow of thoughts. Circus Ponies Notebook requires two taps before being able to write. That is one annoying tap too many.

Both iPad version handle attaching media poorly. I managed to crash the iPad while trying to include a PDF in a cell of both Circus Ponies Notebook and Omnioutliner.

Circus Ponies Notebook does a better job of rendering the PDF. Circus Ponies Notebook simply opens the PDF for reading. Omnioutliner requires that the PDF be opened in Goodreader or other PDF reader. I like to use the iOS version of Circus Ponies Notebook as a repository for PDFs and travel notes when I am traveling. Omnioutliner for iOS makes reading PDFs in the outline tedious.

Conclusion

Both programs are excellent for creating outlines. I find Omnioutliner more intuitive because of better keyboard shortcuts for outline navigation and application of styles. Outlines just look better in Omnioutliner.

But, Circus Ponies Notebook has far better tools for organizing and finding information. It is meant as a repository for multiple related outlines of information. The Multidex and Superfind are robust methods of finding information buried in outlines. It is considerably cheaper than Omnioutliner Pro and has many comparable features. But, it is harder for me to create outlines because of the annoying keyboard shortcuts (can be remedied with Keyboard Maestro) and the difficulty of changing styles.

I find that I am using Omnioutliner more for outlines where I need to create the structure and Circus Ponies Notebook for outlines where I want a repository of information that is immediately available or for organizing PDFs for travel.


  1. As an aside, for the exploration of a topic, mind mapping is much more useful than outlining. Without knowing your content, structure is impossible and trying to force structure on while exploring a topic is to push the mind opposite directions.

    David Sparks has talked about how he uses mind mapping to help him write books.

    http://macsparky.com/blog/2013/11/mindnode-for-ios-version-3
    http://www.macpowerusers.com/2012/04/23/mpu-082-cooking-ideas/ 

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