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When voice recognition software doesn’t listen

August 29, 2016
by Kathleen Mears
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Two-and-a-half years ago I got a laptop so I could write, read, watch YouTube videos, stream Netflix and surf the Internet while I have my feet up in bed in the evenings. My goal was to no longer be dependent on cable TV for entertainment.

I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech recognition software. It is a necessity for my writing because I cannot type quickly enough. This is my first experience having Dragon on a laptop. From the beginning, Dragon has been quirky. But it worked, and I was able to write by dictating.

When the free Windows 10 upgrade came along, I procrastinated. I finally downloaded and installed a year. However, during the installation I lost my Office software and could not retrieve it without repurchasing it. I have used a free word processor since.

Even though I lost software, I never thought about turning my laptop back to Windows 8.1, which came with it. I thought subsequent updates would fix some of the quirks.

After a Windows 10 update in June, Dragon would no longer save my user files. I knew I was in trouble but decided to keep using Dragon as long as it would function. Three weeks ago, Dragon stopped recognizing my voice. The microphone sensor on the DragonBar disappeared.

Since then, I switched headsets, uninstalled/reinstalled Dragon, changed settings and updated drivers. I can still only create a user file and then the microphone sensor bar empties. It is absolutely maddening!

I have been to online computer/software forums and have been given some good information. My sister helped me discover the microphone is shutting itself off automatically. I turned it back on and before long it shuts off without me doing anything.

The whole experience is rather frustrating because I cannot plug and unplug peripherals to endlessly test what the cause might be. We considered it could be a virus, but I have antivirus software. Without Dragon on my laptop, I have to use the on-screen keyboard and point and click to type. It is painfully slow, much too slow to write.

Two weeks ago, I was able to uninstall USB drivers and restart. My Dragon worked for an hour-and-a-half with it recognizing my voice almost flawlessly before it shut the microphone off automatically. I could not get it to stay on.

In order to have Dragon to use in the afternoons, I am using my desktop. That means my bed has been moved and set up is a bit cumbersome. But it works, and I can write.

I guess I will have to call a computer tech to figure out what is going on with my laptop.


Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...