I thought I’d just do a quick blog post, because for the first time in probably two years, I’m using dictation software again.

I used to write quite a bit using dictation software and it was all right, but I would always have to go back and correct some of the words afterwards. I thought it had probably been long enough to warrant giving it another try. And hopefully this will make my writing a little bit faster.

Today was an interesting one. I had a meeting with a guy from a record label in New Zealand who also works at the British Council. He was over here organising some events for next year, and has asked me to go and speak at a couple of things in July next year in Auckland.

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time on Skype today. Tutorials with distance learning students, meetings with project partners and potential project partners in Budapest and Stavanger, chats with colleagues.

As I’m spending so much time on Skype at the moment, and I really wanted for the dictation software to pick up my voice accurately, I ended up buying myself a USB headset microphone. I’m still a little slow and awkward in dictating my words to the computer and it still feels a little odd to do so, but the accuracy rate seems a lot better than it used to be and if I can get used to this over a period of time it should help with the sheer volume of writing I have to do over the next 12 months.

For instance this piece of writing – this blog post – has taken me in total about 4 min to compose to this point. There’s been one error along the way and that was of the spelling of Stavanger. I had to teach it the word but now it knows it. So that’s pretty good.

The rest of my time has been spent listening to music and thinking about my next review for the Bandcamp front-page. I’ve had a lot of really good response to the article that I wrote, but also a lot of e-mails from bands who want me to listen to their album and feature them as album of the week on the website.

It would be fine if there was a clear division between a few really great pieces of music and a lot of nonsense, but actually almost everything I’ve been sent so far (and there’s been a lot of it) has been of a pretty high quality. In fact I’m discovering some really great music this way. Far too much for just one album per week.

I’ve made a point of responding personally to every single e-mail that has come in so far from bands and musicians sending me their music. There’s been a lot of e-mails, as you might expect, and that was another prompt for me to start using dictation software. People seem to like it when you don’t just send them a form response, but actually think about what they’ve sent you and respond specifically to that. So I’d like to try whatever I can to continue that.

I type about 40 words per minute. I speak at about 160 words per minute. If I can keep the accuracy up then actually this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The only thing that trips me up is the fact that people like to call their bands strange names. Dictation software doesn’t deal very well with that.

The other thing that is difficult for dictation software is the name Dubber. It took me about half an hour today to convince it that I wasn’t saying the word double. I sign all my e-mails just “Dubber”. So that was very frustrating.

So there you go. A largely pointless blog post, but it served to demonstrate a point – to me if to no one else – that it’s actually possible to construct a decent sized body of text in a reasonably short space of time without too much difficulty. I thought I would give myself 15 min and see how far I can get a blog post. That 15 min is up now.

So that’s not too bad.