Softnet Systems, Inc. Speech Recognition Specialists

Release 8 Hints

Upgrade Advice for Dragon Naturally Speaking Users

Release 6 Users

If using Release 6 then we advise most users to upgrade. There are three reasons not to upgrade:

  1. You are a masochist and enjoy living with the Dragon NaturallySpeaking® 6 problems. Plus, you enjoy paying extra money so you will wait until Release 9 so you can pay full price for Dragon NaturallySpeaking® Professional or Medical or Legal.
  2. You regularly work with very unusual applications which happen to work well with Release 6 but not 8. We’ve heard of a couple of programmers in this situation but don’t have the details about their programming tools.
  3. Your computer system fails to meet the Release 8 minimum requirements of 500MHz and 256MB RAM.

Just the number of corrections in the software between Releases 6 and 8 are enough to convince us that there is very little reason to remain on Release 6.

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Release 7 Users

For Release 7 users, the jury is still out although as yet we see no reason not to upgrade. But if you are generally satisfied with it, get good accuracy, use Dragon NaturallySpeaking® on only one system with only one input device, and like the way numbers are formatted and Release 7 is stable then your benefits may be marginal and we’d suggest upgrading when you upgrade your computer system or when Release 9 is available, whichever comes first.

Benefits of Release 8

What are the major benefits? The following are written based on reviewing the Professional and a cursory review of Medical and Preferred.

Improved Accuracy

This varies so widely person to person we will refuse to make a blanket statement that YOU will have improved accuracy. From results seen to date, it seems that the claims of 20%-30% fewer misrecognitions may be reasonable, but it will depend on what you dictate, how well you pronounce words, how consistent you are in your diction, whether you use Vocabulary Builder or not, and a myriad of other subtle factors. Please do not ask us if YOU will get better accuracy. We don’t know. We don’t think anyone else can tell ahead of time. But on average, we think there will be fewer misrecognitions. That is partly because of the next two benefits, and for Medical there is a third benefit, more specialty language models, that probably improves accuracy.

More Control

This isn’t really touted in the ScanSoft press releases. But the ability to better control, on a word-by-word basis, what will be displayed is a HUGE improvement for some. Much of this control is related to numeric formatting, but some applies regardless of whether numbers are involved or not. If you are a diplomat and almost all of the time you say “state” you want it to be capitalized, you can do so. If you always want a word abbreviated, you can do so. YOU choose whether to generally use contractions or not. YOU choose whether to generally use abbreviations or not. You have to be a little picky to appreciate the value of this improvement.

Better Numeric Formatting Control

This is huge for some, a minor issue for others. You the users asked for better control and you got it. If you want digits spelled out (e.g. “three”) before the word “trees” and you want it in Arabic numerals after the word “shrubs” you can command Dragon NaturallySpeaking® to do so. If you prefer to not have a space between a number and a measurement unit (e.g. 7kHz) you can do so. You may spend a few minutes setting this up, but once set these rules seem to stick. As part of getting picky, ScanSoft failed to include an option to dictate lower-case Roman numerals.

Medical Specialty Vocabularies (Medical only)

There are now 12 different vocabularies, each seemingly built for the specific specialty. For instance, in the Neurology vocabulary there are now about 135 words beginning with “neur” in the active vocabulary. There are not near as many such words in the mental health vocabulary. Many more drug names are present in the active vocabularies that have been reviewed so far, and there are many additional detailed changes in the vocabularies. Because there are so many of these vocabularies, I’d like to hear of any specific comparisons or experiences with these vocabularies.

Easier Text and Graphics Commands with Variables (Pro/Med/Legal)

I’m upset with ScanSoft because this may reduce the sales of “Scripting for Dragon NaturallySpeaking 8.” That is, if users can easily create the commands they need, they won’t buy my book! For people using a lot of boilerplate text who need a few variations, this new feature will simplify the task of building commands that are more complex than what could easily be done with earlier releases.

Product Activation

Unfortunately, NaturallySpeaking 7 was heavily pirated. This essentially forced ScanSoft to introduce a product activation scheme or take other anti-piracy measures. With care, this activation won’t be too intrusive.

  • Activation Rule 1: PUT IN THE CORRECT SERIAL NUMBER! Case doesn’t matter. Do not input the hyphens – they are already included.
  • If you do this and are connected to the Internet, activation is trivial to do.
  • If your system is not connected to the Internet, activation requires copying a bunch of numbers from one system to another that is connected to the Internet. I suggest that the activation number provided when you go to the ScanSoft web site be copied to a file (Notepad is fine). If that is done, then it can be pasted, all as one 60-digit number, as one "paste" into 15, 4-character activation fields.
  • If the system is not normally connected to the Internet, but can be connected within a minute or two, it is worth connecting.
  • Activation Rule 2: If you do not put your serial number in correctly, you will need to either reinstall or get help from ScanSoft Technical Support. Sorry, I can’t help you.
  • Suggestion: If doing manual activation, I suggest you take screen shots of the activation screens using Ctrl+PrtScrn, then paste them into Word or WordPad. That way you'll be positive that you have the correct numbers.
  • I've used the same serial number for multiple activations without problem. There are probably limits but I’ve not yet seen specifics. I have gotten mixed information about how and whether Tech Support can authorize additional activations when justified. The intent is to prevent piracy, not to prevent valid use of the license! Given the extent of the piracy that occurred with DNS 7, I understand why ScanSoft expended the effort to implement this even though I wish it wasn't needed.
Roaming User (Pro/Med/Legal)

It appears that this provides benefits to those dictating on several systems. My own testing of this is limited. Unfortunately, this does not specifically mean that doctors roaming the halls of hospitals or lawyers roaming courthouses automatically get better results!

Multiple Dictation Sources (Pro/Med/Legal)

Use the same vocabulary for multiple input devices. That means one vocabulary for recorder usage, no need for separate users based on different microphones.

Detailed Changes
  • Revised Command Browser: This is cleaned up a little, still allows taking a break while loading, and we still suggest that serious command builders review SayWhatPro (see www.speechutilities.com) when it has a Release 8 version.
  • Revised Vocabulary Builder: Release 8 makes it easier for most users to find Vocabulary tools which were somewhat hidden on earlier releases. We don’t know yet whether they are just repackaged or substantial improvements. The Pro/Med/Legal user can now get to the more powerful VocTools from the Programs menu.
  • Added Command Options: There is now a programmable option which greatly limits the commands recognized for a particular field, and which prompts the user for those values. Another broader option allows defining commands that are available in a specific “state” which a programmer can control.
  • System Requirements: In observation on two different machines, I see no significant difference between Release 7 and 8 in terms of performance.
  • Bug Fixes: MANY tiny things fixed, probably more new ones to be found.
  • Pricing: for new buyers, price went up for Pro/Medical/Legal by $100.
  • Tutorial: Very similar to Release 7
  • Help Files and User Documentation: very similar to Release 7

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