Here be a Dragon

Today, I’ve got quite a few different things for you.

First off, I finally got my copy of Dragon Dictate working again after my recent hard drive accident. I had been using the program for a number of months when the accident happened and I had to do without it for a good couple of weeks.

I was actually quite surprised at how much I missed being able to dictate my various bits and pieces into the computer and have Dragon magically type them out for me. I suppose the true test of a piece of new technology is whether or not you miss it when it’s taken away from you.

I didn’t miss many of the programs that I use every day, like Open Office, but it was a very different story with Dragon. I suppose its proof that speech recognition is a technology whose time has come and that typing has suddenly become so ‘yesterday’.

The other day, while reading David Ziser’s photography blog, I saw that he too, had acquired Dragon Dictate and was having great success with it.

My only reservation with the version of Dragon that I’ve got at the moment is it came free with a dictaphone and the makers would clearly like me to upgrade to a new and better version. I reinstalled the program OK but it resolutely refused to let me import my precious speech files and made me go through the whole training process again.

That was certainly annoying but the value I find in the program is such that I will buy an upgraded version in the near future. And that brings me to my next point, which is that I’m going to make very sure that any new software I buy is fully compatible with Windows 7.

My tip for you today is, when buying anything in the PC line in the next couple of months, that you check very carefully to make sure it is compatible with Windows 7. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I would not now buy a PC unless the vendor was prepared to guarantee a free upgrade to Windows 7 when it is released in October.

I haven’t heard anything official as yet but believe that Microsoft will at some point start offering a free upgrade to buyers of new systems. Without such a guarantee, I would personally choose to defer a PC purchase until after Windows 7 is launched.

Last week I talked about a free service called Alltop (alltop.com) which is a website which allows you to search for blogs and websites publishing information on any of a wide variety of subjects. By registering with Alltop, I explained, you can establish a page on which all your favourite websites and blogs are listed and which is updated when new material is added to any of the blogs or websites that you subscribe to.

Google offers a free feed reader service which does something similar and also allows you to subscribe to any website or blog, and read the latest content from any of those sites without leaving the Google feed reader page.

It does help to make life simpler by collecting all the stories you want to read together in one place, and the tool is quite easy to use, but it does have the drawback that you have to know about a particular site before you can subscribe to it.

I find I much prefer the AllTop service because it allows you to search by topic and provides you with a list of blogs and websites that pertain to that. You can then browse through the list and find interesting sites that you wouldn’t otherwise have known about.

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