Increasing Productivity Using Speech Recognition Software

One of the things that I have on my bucket list is to write a book, but I am not sure that I am disciplined enough to sit there for hours on end and write it all out. It’s funny, if I am writing code for an application that I am building, I can sit there for hours and never have any issues. When it comes to writing, I just can’t seem to sit there for very long.

I recently read an article that discussed how writers are now turning to speech recognition software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking to write books and that really caught my eye. So, I purchased the software and started playing around with it to see if it is something that will save me some time.

Speech recognition has been around for quite some time, but just in the last few years it has really gained popularity. If you have ever used Siri on your Iphone or Cortana on Windows 10 you know that these applications are very popular and in some cases can save time, especially on small devices such as smart phones. I like to use Siri when I am driving to find directions and respond to texts.

Now it seems that speech recognition can be used to help writers dictate instead of typing on the keyboard. It is suppose to save time in the long run but in order to get to the time saving part, you have have to set it up and have it recognize your voice so that it can interpret what you are saying and write out the words.

In order to use any of the speech recognition software tools on the market today you will need to purchase a good set of bluetooth headphones with a microphone. This will allow the software to listen to your voice and write out the words that you are saying.

One of the things that you will need to do in order to get it set up is to practice speaking into the software. You have to train it to understand you and understand how you talk. This can take some practice and I haven’t totally mastered that yet.

You also have to be somewhat consistent in the way that you talk. If you say words differently each time you say them, the software has a hard time understanding that those words are the same.

Here are a few things that have helped me get started in training the software for my voice and my environment:

  1. When you create the user profile, make sure that  you do it in the same environment that you will be in when you dictate. Ambient noise can interfere with the process.
  2. Make sure that you specify the right dictation source. If you are using a usb microphone, choose that one. If you are using wireless bluetooth microphone, choose that one. It really does make a difference so choose this wisely.
  3. Make sure that you have the proper microphone placement. I have found that having the microphone about a thumbs space away from the corner of your mouth is optimum.
  4. Consistency is key. Make sure that you place the microphone the same distance each time you use it. Also, practice dictation when it doesn’t matter. In other words, just practice when you aren’t trying to create something like a paper or article.
  5. When you speak, try and use the same pace, tone and speaking volume. Again, consistency is key when training and using the software.

So far I really like the hands off approach of dictation. I do have to go back at times and make corrections, but all in all it is pretty cool.

You need to understand that speech recognition is not 100% accurate and it will make mistakes that you will need to go back and correct. Right now, I am not so sure that it is helping me save time, but hopefully once I get it setup and working properly I can use it to check off another item on my bucket list.

Using Web Automation To Speed Up Time Consuming Tasks

Businesses are always looking for ways to cut costs and make employees more productive. For those businesses in the IT space who have lots of employees that do data entry, finding a way to automate those tasks would be a sure fire way to increase productivity and save money.

Most of the data entry done today goes into an online system via a web browser. There are products on the market today that will allow you to script those tasks and automatically fill in the necessary fields in the web browser thousands of times over. Its called web browser automation and its quickly finding its way into mainstream businesses.

What Is Web Browser Automation?

Web browser automation is simply recording and replaying step by step a task that you would normally do by hand.

An example would be an auto login script. Normally, you would go to a web site, type in your username and password, click the submit button and then log in. You could automate this process by using a tool or program to automatically launch the browser, enter your credentials and submit the login form. An advantage would be not having to remember your login and password as it would be saved in the program and you could do it all from the click of a button.

Tools For Web Browser Automation

There are several programs on the market today that allow end users or people who aren’t tech savvy to create these types of automated scripts. Let’s take a look at a couple of the most popular tools that do not require a PhD to use.


iMacros says that whatever you can do with a browser they can automate. Not only can it do data entry, it can also do data extraction and web testing.

Web testing is geared more toward developers who write web applications and want to automate the testing of certain processes to ensure that they haven’t broken anything when they finish developing new features.

Data extraction is the process of “scraping” or grabbing data from a web page and then either saving the data (think database or text file) or using that data in another process or task. Applications that scrape stock quotes or monitor weather data from an online system would be examples.

iMacros has support for Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox. It works by recording your tasks and then creating a script based on the interactions you have with the web browser. You can then save those scripts off for future use or you can enhance them further and create even more complicated automated scripts.

One of the neat things about iMacros is that it has image recognition capabilities that allow you to interact with images as opposed to x and y coordinates for clicking objects on the screen.

They also have integration with 3rd party development tools such as Microsoft’s .NET platform.

Ubot Studio

Ubot Studio is a desktop application that allows you to not only script automated web tasks, but you can take it a step further and interact with the computer it runs on and other services such as web services and email.

If you are into drag and drop, like I am, you can see the value in this wonderful tool. Just drag a task on the designer, fill in a few boxes and you have an awesome automated web task. It even has a built in web browser.

It doesn’t stop there. You can export your web task as a stand alone desktop executable (.exe) file which can be run from any desktop or laptop computer.

Another great feature of Ubot Studio is the ability to create plugins to further enhance your application. You would need to find a developer to create the plugin for you or if you are a developer you can pick this up rather easily.

They have extensive documentation and even a ubot tutorial section of their website to show you step by step how to use the tool.

If you are looking to add a few hours extra to your day, take a look at both of these great tools. Sure, you will pay a little up front, but you will save a lot over time when you put these scripts into practice.