By Steven Kemper
Tired of typing? Aren’t we all! Then I have a hack for you that I use every day. You’ll never have to type again.
I figure that I’ve typed about 50 million words—at least 15 million on manual and electric typewriters before keyboards came along. The ends of my fingers are all splayed out and look like hammer heads.
Now that I’m getting on, my typing skills are deteriorating. I miss vowels, continually type works like “Coach” as ‘Caoch.” The mistakes are far easier to correct that on a typewriter with two carbons, but it is still a pain. Spellcheck helps a bit, but my poems still look like they were typed by a chimpanzee. But this hack is a lifesaver.
I looked into those dictation programs. You talk, it types for you. They are expensive, don’t work very well, take a lot time to learn, and a lot of skill to use.
Here’s what I discovered: Your computer (laptop, desktop, portable, or whatever) is really just a machine that someone else programmed to do certain things—like put an “e” on the screen when you push the correct key. Otherwise, it’s just another boat anchor. Some bright youngsters typed a few million lines of senseless (to me) code in a box and taught the computer how to do its thing. They then snuck in a bunch of additional code that does its best to keep you from altering their code. Of course, there’s a key to get in, but you don’t have it.
Well, now you do. Because I’m going to give it to you.
My friend, Joshua Slocum (not his real name), is a programmer, sworn to secrecy. However, when I threatened to shoot him in the most precious part of his body with my crossbow at point blank range, he reneged on his vow of silence. I’m sharing his knowledge.
Ready to turn your computer into a dictation machine?
- First set up the microphone.
Locate the keys “W,” “X,” “H,” “P,” and “?.” Now you have to push them all at once. Perfectly, all at once. That’s the “key” I’m giving you.
Nothing will happen on the screen because your computer is now waiting for you.
Setting up your microphone is critical. Read the following into the microphone clearly, your mouth close to the microphone, and at a moderate pace so the computer ‘learns” your voice:
“Good morning. My name is (Your Name Here) and I am setting up the microphone to make my computer into a dictating machine. I am speaking in a normal tone speed and cadence. I am sick to death of typing.”
Still nothing will happen on the screen because the computer is waiting for your next command.
Push keys “W,” “X,” “H,” “P,” and “?” again, all together, three times. Now start dictating. The words will flow from your lips onto the screen. You can turn the computer off and on, the dictating instructions will always be there, ready for you to use. Imagine! No more typing.
If the commands don’t work the first time you try, go through them again. (start from the initial command sequence, set up the microphone, and do the sequence again three times) Sometimes, if you do not hit the keys perfectly, then the command does not go through. Do not give up. Keep trying, everybody gets it in a few tries.
Now: Enjoy your new found dictating machine.
Steven Kemper is a professional poet and amateur beekeeper in St. Augustine, FL who loves computer hacks and handcrafted 110 proof bourbon.