Thursday, September 10, 2009

Here's Hoping

In my effort to discover hand writing recognition software I learned that no such thing exists. Or at least there is no software available that does the job I'm looking for. Most OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software works wonders provided that what you are scanning in is already printed text. Meaning if I printed something out of my computer I could scan it back in and the software could read it and then process it in a word document. Then I could edit it. This of course is completely useless. If I already have it in text form it would stand to reason that it is already on my computer, or could easily be transferred to it. Now granted if your dealing with people that are handing you a ton a printed material that you need to edit this software would be ideal for you.

I was told that OCR programs might, just might, be able to read handwriting. As long as it was nearly identical to print. Also if the document I was scanning in was arranged as a form chances for the OCR program to successfully read it would increase. The IRS uses software like this to process taxes, but it wouldn't be very helpful to me. I tried to find out if the powerful "Programmers That Be" were anywhere close to a program that could do what I wanted. The vague "don't hold us to it" answer that I got was ten years. Ten years away from hand writing recognition. My heart sank.

But then I stumbled upon this.

Speech recognition software. If it works all I would have to do is read my stories into the computer.

I have been writing stories since before I knew my alphabet. (First story I ever wrote was about a presidential election between Fire and Water.) So I have literal heaps (I call them heaps even though they are trying to be stacks, but lets face it, they're heaps.) of paper scattered throughout my domicile. I have accumulated them over several decades. The prospect of waiting yet another decade before I could get them onto a computer was not an appealing one. Sure I could type them out. But that might take anther decade, or more, in and of itself. It takes me about twice as long to transcribe my hand written work onto the computer as it does to write them.

So this Dragon program (and as I fantasy writer I can't help but love the name regardless of how little sense it makes) promises to cut my work in half, maybe more. The promo claims that the average person types at 40 words per minute. I'm probably slower. I know other people have said to me that while them may like writing by hand they just can't do it that way because it's too slow. I marvel at that as I have a hard time typing because I can write by hand faster than I can type. The Dragon promo says that people on average talk at about 120 words a minute. That's three times faster than typing, and in my case it might be four times faster. I'm really a lousy typist. I utilize a odd alchemical mesh of home key position and the good old hunt and peck technique.

I am really excited about this and have already ordered myself the program. I am a bit worried as the product has gotten mixed reviews. Yet it does seem to be the best speech recognition software out there. I'll let you know how it goes. here is a link to the promo

and a link to the amazon product page

I think it can be inferred from my admittedly bad typing skills I am not terribly tec savvy so please forgive the messiness of the links.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Better than Socks!

So it has been a little while since my last post. I have a good reason for this. Literally every free moment that I have had has been devoted to writing a story for my sister’s birthday. I was giving up sleep to get it done. I am pleased to report that the story was finished in time. It wasn’t quite publishing quality but it was presentable. I used my mad Macgyver skills and whipped up a rather nice looking book if I do say so my self. It consisted of a three ring binder, pager protectors, stolen art from the internet, my printed text, and a hand drawn cover illustration. Throw in a paper clip and a pocket knife and it will not only ninja kick smugglers but also do your taxes.

All in all this is what the finished product looked like.

Pretty snazzy if you ask me. The nifty blue thing in the back was the wrapping paper. It was in truth a faux leather document case. It came with the coolest lock I've ever seen. So cool I can't describe it. At the bottom was a hand made treasure map which would lead her to the first clue in a set of hidden clues. That's right I wrote a story about Space Pirates (titled originally enough as Space Pirates) and gave it to my sister as a gift, but before she could find it she had to go on a treasure hunt. Get it? Pirates and treasure. I'm sure you got it. Your smart people. I write this over explanatory explanation simply to rub my genius in your face. (Now please note that I am just being silly here. I'm not a genius, I was just trying to joke around. But there I go over explaining again.)

And... in case you wanted a better look at my stellar artwork here it is

Now before you start flooding me with requests for drawings of your own, I feel I should point out that most of what you see above was traced. The only things I drew myself were the octopus, the ball of light, and the big rock dude. But much of the other figures I had to ad lib their poses , and that took no small effort and I don't mind telling you. I also did all the coloring myself. The very astute may notice that I directly ripped off Wobbuffet from Pokemon. I have no apologies and no regrets for this. Now to be honest I had something different in mind when I set out to make a cover. But I don't think that this is that shabby either.

What I am pleased with the most about this whole endeavor was my sister's reaction. I was hoping for her to either cry tears of joy or jump up and down screaming with excitement. She did both. That right there is part of the reason why I write.

I learned a lot of things from all this. There are many things I need to work on. Getting this story done helped me realize what they are. But lessons learned are the subject of another post on another day. For now I wish to simply bask in the warm glow of accomplishment.

Keep Writing.