Windows and Dragon One More Time

I had a serious and scary flareup of RSI this weekend, so I decided to give Dragon NaturallySpeaking and Windows one more chance. If Dragon craps out on me again, I’ve discovered that I may actually be able to get in touch with Nuance technical support by posting nasty comments about them on their Amazon product pages. You’d think it would be more efficient to just answer customer e-mails in the first place, but apparently Nuance doesn’t agree.

One other thing I’m trying, is to run Dragon NaturallySpeaking in Parallels 5 on my Mac. Parallels 5 is a little faster than VMWare Fusion was, and is actually usable on my MacBook for basic web surfing and other simple operations. However, I’m skeptical of its ability to run CPU intensive applications like Dragon NaturallySpeaking and FPS games. I am considering upgrading my Mac to either one of the new MacBook Pros or perhaps a Mac Pro if Apple ever gets around to releasing new models.

Annoyingly though, both Dragon and Windows want to be reactivated in the Parallels VM. Dragon didn’t seem to have a major problem with this — it was just a single button click — but Windows got completely confused, and wouldn’t even let me buy a new license. What’s the point of activation anyway if Microsoft won’t even sell you the software? Possibly I should just try to reimport my entire Windows PC directly into the Parallels VM instead of converting the VMware Fusion VM. I have expected the original VMware Fusion VM that I imported from my actual PC to require reactivation but for some reason it didn’t. all this Windows activation and deactivation and reactivation is a colossal hassle and a strong reason to prefer Macs in the first place. If only there were decent speech recognition software on the Mac. In fact, if only there were decent speech recognition on some platform. Dragon’s great when it works but I haven’t been able to make it work for more than 30 minutes for months.

I’ve also ordered a Logitech air mouse which some folks report has dramatically improved their wrist pain. Despite years of searching I’ve never been able to find a truly comfortable combination of desk and chair configuration that really allows me to mouse and type comfortably. I do think I’m going to splurge on a Herman Miller Embody Chair in the very near future. however, a decent desk is even harder to find. If there’s one out there that’s any good, I’ve never seen it. I suspect what I need may be some system that allows me to adjust the keyboard, mouse platform, and monitor surfaces independently including both height and tilt. Unfortunately all the desks I’ve ever seen that even attempt this are incredibly flimsy and bounce with even like typing or motion. I want to be able to move the keyboard tray and a very large mouse tray around almost arbitrarily while firmly locking them into position.

Even the high-end manufacturers like Anthro have the problem that they don’t really have any show rooms or on-site support. You’re supposed to order multi-thousand dollar desks from a catalog or website without actually trying them out in the show room, assemble it yourself, and then, if you don’t like it, disassemble it and send it all back. I would absolutely pay several thousand dollars for a desk I was really comfortable with, but I’m still hesitant to pay that much for something that may or may not work.

In any case, I’ve now gotten to the end of this random blog post without Dragon NaturallySpeaking crashing and burning on me, so I guess I’ll just keep using it until it does and then see what happens.

5 Responses to “Windows and Dragon One More Time”

  1. JD Says:

    As long as you’re contemplating a new, healthier workstation, you might also consider a desk that allows you to stand while working.

    This recent NYT article discusses such furniture:

  2. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    I’ve seen that but I just can’t bring myself to believe that would work for me. I could be wrong though. I’m more inclined to using a recliner or knelling chair with the ability to move and tilt the work surfaces into convenient positions. I’m not sure anyone makes such things though.

    I do like the look of the GeekDesk mentioned in that article though. It’s not my Holy Grail of desks but it is a large, electronically adjustable height desk which beats my current setup: an equivalently sized board placed over manually adjustable height legs designed for musical instruments. Plus it looks like it will adjust to the millimeter whereas my current setup jumps in about 1.5cm increments. And it’s a lot cheaper than the Anthro options. And as long as I’ve got one, it’s easy to try standing for a little while and switch back to sitting if I don’t like it. That’s definitely worth checking out. Thanks!

  3. Jim Fenner Says:

    Hi Randy, re the RSI, I am 56 and have managed RSI since 1985.
    Please try lap swimming. Swimming is so beneficial, it’s better than magic, and not just for the wrists.
    For me, the chlorine used to be a huge put-off, but this time around it isn’t bothering me at all, go figure.
    Thanks for maintaining a website which has been (one of ) my home page sites for 12 years.
    Cafeaulait is magic too.
    Good luck, Jim, Canberra

  4. Dereck Says:

    Not sure if you are a pure touch typist, but if so I’d suggest SafeType keyboards. I think it is The keyboards look a bit like an accordian :-). But the wrists are never pronated while using the keyboard.

    I’ve never had RSI pain but I’ve used these keyboards exclusively for ~6 years.

  5. Richard Says:

    You might try an Evoluent Vertical Mouse. Basically it’s a mouse rotated 90 degrees so you hold it with your wrist in the same position that you shake hands. I switched to one 3 years ago and it solved my wrist problems due to standard mice.
    Please keep writing – I check your blog daily!

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