Blogging by Voice: Part 1 – Voice-to-Text Blogging on Your iPod! (via Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app for iPhone/iPod)

Hello, chickadees. Here I am sitting in my jammies, with my cup of coffee, and my hurt hand. In case you are wondering why you haven’t heard very much from me lately, it’s because I need to rest my hand. I thought, sadly, that my blogging days were over for awhile. But guess what? I’m ba-a-a-a-ck!

Today I am going to tell you how to blog even if you, like me, have a hurt hand and cannot type very well. All you need is an iPhone or an iPod Touch, a WordPress blog, a microphone-enabled earphone, plus a newly revised totally cool — and free! — iPhone app called Dragon Dictation 2.0, available through the Apple iTunes store. Or read more about it and download it at the provider Nuance’s mobile app site here and more info on their blog here. The revised version of this app was just released two weeks ago — perfect timing for me.

It is being advertised as a way to speak your Facebook or Twitter posts. However, being a clever chickadee, I thought since WordPress has a function allowing posts by e-mail, and Dragon Dictation has an e-mail sharing function, why not combine them both and dictate posts to my WordPress blog! How delighted I am to find out that it works.

The exciting thing is that, by using a WordPress blog, you can dictate your posts, then e-mail them to your blog, and they will be posted in text automatically. How cool is that!

This is the first post in my series on Blogging by Voice, using the newly updated (July 23, 2010) Dragon Dictation 2.0 iPhone/iPod app on  a WordPress blog.  I have dictated all posts in this series using Dragon, also editing them by voice (tidying up with a little hand-editing to insert links, headlines, graphics, and the like).

Posts in this series:

Part 1 -Voice-to-Text Blogging on Your iPod! (via Dragon Dictation 2.0) – overview

Part 2 -Edit by Voice on Your iPod Touch/iPhone in Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app

Part 3-Tell Your Blog What to Do! (Syntax  commands for Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app for iPod/iPhone)

Part 4-Edit by Touchscreen Keyboard on Your iPod Touch/iPhone in Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app

This blog post is the first one where I am trying out voice-to-text blogging: dictate, e-mail, instant blog post! And, best of all, it’s free.

Here’s how:

  • Go to your WordPress blog’s dashboard and choose My Blog in the menu block down the left side.
  • Choose the option Post by E-mail in the window that opens, and you will be offered a secret e-mail. Isn’t that exciting? This is the e-mail address where you will send your posts to your blog — but more about that later.
  • Scroll through the e-mails on offer until you find one that you like, one that will be easy for you to remember.
  • Take the time now to enter that e-mail into your iPhone or iPod contacts, so that you can enter it automatically later on.
  • Next, download the iPhone app called Dragon Dictation 2.0. It’s free (though Nuance warns that’s just for a little while).
  • Open Dragon Dictation 2.0 on your iPod Touch/iPhone, with your microphone-enabled earphone plugged in, and you are ready to blog! I use Apple’s earphone, but make sure you get the one with a microphone.
  • Dictate your blog post, speaking directly into the microphone. It helps to position the microphone right in front of your mouth as you dictate. And now comes the real magic!

What you dictate is automatically transcribed into text, which will appear on your iPod screen after you dictate. Every 15-30 seconds, the recording will interrupt itself, and the screen with the transcribed text will appear. This is normal — do not think, as I did at first, that your connection has been dropped. It’s just Dragon’s way of transcribing — in segments. To avoid Dragon interrupting me at inconvenient moments, I dictate in paragraphs, then click the Done button to define the segment myself, rather than waiting for Dragon to do it. Either way, you must dictate your post in 15-30 second segments.

It is important to realize that this text is not being stored anywhere on your iPhone/iPod. Instead, it is being transcribed in real-time on the servers at Nuance, the makers of this app. There has been some privacy complaints regarding this practice; however, Nuance has assured us that all communications are transcribed by machines, not people. But if the thought of your post being routed via the Nuance servers bothers you at all, this app may not be for you. Since I am blogging to the world, I figure the more who read my posts, the better!

Careful!

  • Keep the app open as you dictate from segment to segment. If you close it, your current post will be lost, as it does not reside on the iPod/iPhone anywhere.
  • Make sure that your cursor appears at the end of the text, before dictating the next segment. Otherwise, your upcoming dictation will appear where the cursor sits, which may be in the middle of your post.
  • There are times, however, when an insertion at a particular point may be just what you want. Perhaps you forgot to include a thought a few paragraphs up. No problem. Just position the cursor where you want the thought, press record, record your piece, press the big red Done bar, and your new text will appear exactly where you want it. Be sure to position the cursor at the and of the text before proceeding.

Save Your Blog Post as a WordPress Draft

At first, you will probably want your post to be saved as a WordPress draft blog post, rather than a published post, in your blog —  since the original transcription draft will probably be a little rough. If so, you must type the following text somewhere in your post: [status.draft]

After saving it as a draft, you can finalize it and then publish it later from inside WordPress.

Edit Various Drafts of Your Post

I usually re-dictate later drafts of a post by reading them into Dragon, editing as I go along. Dragon’s recognition seems to improve as the versions progress, when I am reading rather than composing. For this post, for example, I went through four drafts before I got one that seemed about 80% correct. Then I hand-tidied the remaining 20%.

Editing As You Go

You can also edit your post by using Dragon’s voice-driven editing interface, which I have explained in my post here, or by using the touchscreen keyboard-driven editing interface, which I have explained here. Also, the Dragon syntax commands greatly decrease your need for post-dictation editing — see my separate post on spoken commands here.

Done!

  • Once you have finished your post, simply click the big red Done bar at the bottom of the screen.
  • The entire text of your post will now appear on the screen.
  • On the right side at the bottom of the screen you will see is a small upward arrow indicating the Share function.
  • Tap it, and one of the choices that appears will be E-mail.

And now, chickadees, get ready for the real magic!

  • E-mail your completed post to the secret e-mail address given to you earlier by WordPress.
  • Automatically, quickly (within a few seconds!), magically . . . your post will appear in text on your blog –as a draft, as long as you have included the [status.draft] code in your post that I mentioned above.
  • Edit the draft post within WordPress, if you wish.
  • Or re-dictate further drafts in Dragon, then e-mail them to WordPress.
  • When you are satisfied with your post, and press Publish inside WordPress.

Congratulations. Your first voice-to-text blog post!

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