Saturday, January 13, 2018

This is not a Medieval Dragon

"Speak, your servant is listening."

My friend Jane has a friend (  Irma, not her real name ) who is interested in turning her lengthy story into a memoire, or book, or something; but first she has to turn it into some sort of editable electronic record.

"My friend has asked me to help her," Jane, told me, "with Dragon. Do you know anything about it?"


"Yes, Dragon."

"Could you provide me some help … like what's the context?"

"Computer. Software."

I don't mean to disparage Jane. She is a generous person, willing to give you the blouse off her back. A computer whiz she is not. If Irma is asking her for computer help, Irma is in desperate need. ( You might remember Jane and I really got acquainted because she needed some ( computer ) help, first with Windows 8 and then with her genealogy project. ) Two prior stories are here and here.

"Yes, I know something, though nearly nothing, about Dragon. It's about speaking to your computer instead of keyboarding."

"She needs help installing it. The instructions don't make any sense to her."

After a large amount of hemming and hawing at home, I finally told my wife I knew enough about it that I was willing to see what I could do. Soon enough she, Jane and I were at Irma's house, munching on the pizza she offered in exchange for the help I was about to provide.

First sign of trouble: I noticed that the laptop on the kitchen table, which seemed to be the unit on which we'd be working, was an Apple machine and the box for Dragon said it is for IOS. I am a Windows guy.

Next, it wasn't installation Irma was having trouble with; it was use. Opening the laptop, I saw that the dragon icon was open and instructions opened. It seemed straightforward enough. I was able to get the microphone icon inside the window to turn on and off in response to my wanting the microphone to listen or not. Irma's daughter had shown her how to use it and had dictated into an application and Irma saw the text in the document. Dragon worked; but Irma's daughter had done everything so quickly nobody knew more about how to use Dragon after she left than they did before she showed up.

Finally, I realized the problem was understanding the entire procedure for opening a document, entering data, editing it, saving it and opening it later to continue. Irma had no idea what applications she had which might offer this functionality.

After poking around as best as I could ( which likely was not very good on the Apple computer ) I thought, "Google Docs!" Irma has a gmail account, so I asked her to log into her account. I then took the machine, clicked on the nine-dot icon to get to Google docs, opened a new DOC document, and we used Dragon to enter text into the document. ( Metaphorically, Dragon said to me, "Speak, your servant is listening." ) Having done that, I closed Google Docs, closed gmail, and I told her Google would automatically save the document, and she could later return to open it and edit it as needed. Having closed Google Docs and her gmail, I had her reopen gmail, click the nine-dot Google tools icon, find and click the Docs icon within, and open the document we had just created. Viola! It was there, she opened it, and she was happy as a clam.

My wife and I were able to go home with a sense of accomplishment.

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