YOU SHOULD LET YOUR COMPUTER LISTEN TO YOU
Why and How Your Computer Can Listen to You and How It Is a Good Thing
I must start this informational presentation by offering the disclaimer that I’m a terrible listener. I would have normally known this, as others have historically told me this, but I really wasn’t listening at the time. People that are trying to talk to me generally have to tell me that they want me to listen and when, or it simply won’t happen.
Since I’m not a good listener, I’ve given it some thought, and I’ve determined that a good listener probably has the following traits or characteristics when listening to someone:
- Focused Attention — A good listener will give you full, undivided attention.
- Demonstrates They’ve Listened — A good listener will repeat back to you or verify what they’ve heard.
- Demonstrates Value — A good listener will demonstrate that they value that you are communicating with them.
- Grateful — A good listener will value your time and demonstrate that they are grateful you spoke to them.
YOUR COMPUTER IS CAPABLE OF LISTENING
Your computer listens to you, or is capable of listening to you, because most computers have a microphone built into them now. Some still do not have microphones. But most computers are capable of listening to you. And most of them have been capable of this for years. Listening devices and software like Alexa, and others, have made most people more aware of this ability that is built into computers.
For years, computers have been capable of listening but have been terrible listeners, like me. Every couple of years, I have installed software programs that allow you to talk to your computer and then convert your speech into text, or dictation programs. For years, they have demonstrated that they are terrible listeners. I would tell the computer something like: “Please take this parrot off my shoulder,” and the computer would display something like “Peas and carrots fall off my shoulder.” I’d spend more time correcting my text and words than typing them initially, and I would just give up. There simply wasn’t enough alcohol in a well stocked bar to make the process enjoyable.
MICROSOFT WORD GETS IT RIGHT
Imagine my surprise, about a month ago, when I started down this path of trying various speech-to-text software programs again, and found one that works well. I’m so used to profound failures that I kept trying it, to just be sure it wasn’t my imagination. But, like my wonderful wife of thirty plus years, Microsoft Word will now listen to my speech and convert those sounds to legible text, correctly, most of the time. The level of quality is amazing. More evidence that a blind squirrel will eventually find a nut some day.
FAILURES STILL EXIST
I couldn’t get Cortana to recognize my words using speech recognition built into Windows 10, so I was shocked when the version built into Microsoft Word worked well, even the web based and browser based versions of Microsoft Word.
So, if you struggle with typing and have a hard time getting your computer to listen, you might want to consider the “Dictation” button built into Microsoft Word. Even though I type relatively quickly, I am now using the “Dictation” button all the time. For you attorneys out there, the web or browser based version of Microsoft Word even has a “Transcribe” button, where you can upload your sound files, and it will do an amazing job of transcribing your speech into text.
MICROSOFT OUTLOOK AND EMAIL
While I haven’t used Microsoft Outlook with the same “Dictation” option, I have found myself in the rare and unique position of sharing joy about a functioning feature in Office. A friend of mine, who is a wise sage, tried the feature in Microsoft Outlook and reports to me that the feature works really well and has improved his productivity immensely. So, if you use Microsoft Outlook as part of Microsoft 365 or Office 365 to send your email, you may want to try this new feature out there as well.
For those that wonder, this feature in Microsoft Word uses a cloud based service called Microsoft Azure Cognitive Speech Services, which is a service that computer programmers can use to integrate this ability into their various programs. So, if you have privacy concerns, then you will want to avoid the feature, because, like your TV, Car, and other devices, people can do bad things if they want and exploit the data. Like everything else, there are steps you can take to reduce your risks.
So, I’m spending my next month of free time exploring the various features of Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services, because I have hope again. I’m usually a harsh critic of many Microsoft products, and wanted to be fair and give them credit where it is due. This is a fine product and service as it stands now. If you wish to explore Microsoft 365 or Word, you can test it using your computer, microphone, and one of their plans at:
I will try to write future articles using their dictation feature, and I’ll let you know as I test their other new features. As I find other useful tips that may improve your productivity, I will let you know. Feel free to follow my dictated ramblings at the links listed below: