I like using personal technology to make more efficient use of my personal time and as an unapologetic techie, I have fun while doing it. During the past year, I've been using Naturally Speaking 11.5 from Dragon (Nuance) to accelerate the process of moving the text of my latest novel from hard copy notebooks into a Microsoft Word document (see a related blog post here). In the early days, the dictation went very fast and it was a nice change of pace from typing. But more recently, as the manuscript has approached 100K words, the combination of Word and Dragon started to break down, with symptoms which included very slow response, loss not only of words but full paragraphs and a very slow reaction during the corrections phase.
I put my problem solving hat on and tried an experiment. I took the latest chapter I was working on and opened up a new Word doc, then loaded Dragon. I started dictating and the results were near miraculous -- once again, the speech to text program had no problem keeping up and the corrections mode now worked smoothly again. In essence, I re-learned an old lesson from my days in editing international standards -- Microsoft Word starts to become unstable when working with large documents, so it's best to work around that. This workaround -- using a new document and then doing a cut and paste of the results into the large manuscript -- worked just fine.
I'm also in the midst of a career change due to a re-structuring within my current company, so I've been using software tools in this effort as well. In order to keep track of my networking and company research efforts, I'm using an Excel spreadsheet keep track of current activities and next steps. In networking calls or meetings, I'm getting a lot of information, so I've recently started to use Naturally Speaking to dictate information into OneNote (I've previously blogged about the virtues of OneNote here and here). Dragon and OneNote are an effective combination. OneNote is much more lightweight than Word and is a good way to capture the essence of a meeting in a series of bullets.
I've also been doing more updates on my personal web site and paying more attention to web analytics, but that's a discussion for another post.
Do you like to use personal technology? What are some of your favorite tools and tricks of the trade?