I had to take a brief break from this blog due to vacation and a couple of emergency issues; however, I'm now back and ready to go with some more useful tech tips for lawyers.
Today's tip deals with how to turn your Windows 7 computer into a dictation machine without buying extra software. When I first started practicing in a medium sized law firm, I regularly dictated into a micro-cassette recorder and a secretary would transcribe everything for me. Where I'm at now, such a system is impractical. And while I can type quickly, I have found that my best work is still done through dictation.
Windows 7 comes with a program called "Windows Speech Recognition" already installed. It can be found in the "Ease of Access" folder, which is located in the "Accessories" folder. Go purchase a decent headset microphone, hook up to your computer, and open this program.
There will be a simple setup wizard you need to complete. And there are additional training options you can go through to both learn how to use the program and to help it to better understand what you say.
Then, you will be able to talk to your computer and let it transcribe what you say. Is it perfect? No, but that's what proofreading is for. I've found that it does a decent job, and while not as refined as commercial programs like Dragon Dictate, it can still be effective.
I do have a couple of tips for using it. First, get a decent microphone. The better quality microphone, the more clearly the program will hear and understand what you're saying, which will increase its accuracy. Second, if you are like me, you will need to talk a little bit slower and enunciate clearly. Lastly, I'd recommend doing the extra training. The more the computer hears you talk, the better able it is to understand what you are saying and not make the same mistakes in the future.