I recently finished reading Jim Denney’s book, Writing in Overdrive. As a consequence, today I found myself loading the Dragon NaturallySpeaking software he recommends onto my computer. As per normal, I struggled with things that most people would probably find easy. However, in case there are some of you out there like me, who find relatively easy technological things challenging, I have decided to compose a blog about what troubled me the most – setting my iPhone up as a Remote Microphone and also as a Recorder.
Before you do anything else, you need to download the appropriate Apps to your iPhone. (I’m sure the following applies to any smart phone, but as I only have an iPhone I will be talking exclusively about them.) In your Apple App Store search for the Dragon Recorder and Dragon Microphone Apps. These are both free to download, so do this before you do anything else.
You will also need both your computer and iPhone to be operating on the same wireless Internet connection for this to work, and you will want to remove any time lock you have on your phone. Otherwise the microphone/recorder becomes disabled when the lock is activated.
Setting your iPhone up as a Remote Microphone
The iPhone, and indeed any smart phone, makes an ideal microphone. It is far more comfortable to use than wearing a headset as it is hands free. I had a headache within 10 minutes of the headset and was relieved when I was finally able to use my phone.
When you initially set up your software you will set up your User Profile and will most probably choose the microphone jack-in as your primary dictation source. To add extra sources click on Profile at the top right hand side of the page. A drop down box will present, in this box select Add dictation source to current User Profile. From here choose to add the Remote Microphone. (If you have selected it as your primary dictation source the following will also be true.)
A Preparing for Communication box will open with a box-like bar code. Apparently the Dragon Remote Microphone Application supports Bonjour – which was active on my computer – but I’ll be buggered if I could work out how to use it to link my iPhone to my laptop. Instead I am going to discuss the bar code method.
Open up your Dragon Microphone App and choose the Bar Code method. The camera on your phone will activate. Aim it at the bar code but don’t take a photo. It will read the bar code and get information about your PC from this.
I was pretty excited when I got this far, having spent the previous thirty minutes trying to get the Dragon Recorder App to do this very thing (I know, I know, sometimes I’m not the sharpest pencil in the pack), but of course, even after this it didn’t work correctly. If you tap the record button in the middle of the phone screen and it comes up saying it can’t connect to your computer go back to the App settings. Tap on the PC information and you will find there is another option – your IP address. Scroll onto this and your problem should be solved.
Now it will want you to read text so that it can improve its accuracy by working out how you speak. Once you have done this, you will be able to use the iPhone as a microphone by selecting Profile – Open User Profile – and selecting the correct Source – Remote Microphone.
Setting your iPhone up as a Recorder
You add this into your profile in the same way you did the remote microphone. Profile – Add dictation source to current User Profile. This time choose Handheld or Smartphone with Recording Application. It will take you through four steps, the first of which – adding the app to your phone – you have already done. Click next and it will take you to the text it wants you to read. Choose one of them and read for at least five minutes into your phone while recording; longer is better. Tap once if you need to pause the recording, again to restart it, and double tap when you want to end it.
Once you have finished the recording, click on Next. It will ask you to transfer the recording to your computer. You will need to save it to your PC so that you can browse for the file it is in. I set up a file on my desktop – Dragon Recording – to move mine into.
In the phone app click on Options. On the next screen move the Wi-Fi sharing to On. If you know how to work Bonjour go for it, but I had to open up the http:// file it lists on my laptop. This took me to a page which showed all my recordings. Right click on the audio file you want to move and choose Save Link As. Then select the file you set up on the desktop as its destination.
I initially drag-and-dropped the audio file onto my desktop and browsed for that file to transcribe but it didn’t work. When I put it into the folder and browsed for that, it opened up the folder, allowing me to choose the audio file I wanted Dragon to evaluate. (Not sure why that worked when the other method didn’t, and I’m not ever likely to know. Where computers are involved I just go with the flow.) If you have a lot of audio files saved, you can change the name of them by clicking on the blue arrow next to them in the iPhone app, making it easier to identify them later.
When the file has uploaded, Dragon will evaluate your reading style to improve its accuracy on translation.
Once it is working, you can ask Dragon to transcribe an audio file in two ways. Firstly, click on the two downward facing arrows at the far right of the Dragon top bar. A second bar will open underneath it and you will see the option to Transcribe. The other method is to click on Transcribe Recording under Tools at the top right. You upload your file in the same manner as previously described. It will transcribe into a DragonPad document from which you can cut-and-paste your words.
I’ve only been using the Dragon NaturallySpeaking for a day, but it is already becoming more natural for me than it was in the beginning. I can see that over the coming weeks this will become a truly enjoyable and extremely fast way to write.
Please Note – if you are looking at purchasing the software and want to use your phone wirelessly as I have just described, make sure you purchase the correct version.