Tag Archives: Dragon Dictation

What Smartphone Apps Have Changed Your Life?

10 Jan

Has the way you live evovled by way of a smartphone app? What’s a non-standard add-on (besides maps, texting, etc.) that’s changed – hopefully for the better – the way you conduct daily life? Not necessarily saying they’re the very best, here are my immediate top three:

Instagram App1. Instagram

This app has literally changed the way I see the world and connected me with people from all over the globe through a very user-friendly interface, turning ordinary snapshots into art with the barest minimum of effort. I now see the world through “Instagram Eyes” and have gotten so much from what it offers Although the recent spam influx and terms of service update now have me exploring elsewhere, there’s no denying Instagram’s impact.

Dragon Dictation2. Dragon Dictation

This app listens to what you say and turns it into text. It’s like magic. It’s fast, intuitive, and lets you easily email, MMS, or copy and paste what you say. I’ve used it for years to handle texting and  composing blog posts, and it accurately gets the job done every single time. It’s been life-changing by by bringing my phone new functionality with incredible convenience and capability. Now that speech-to-text is built into the iPhone, I’ve been using Dragon less, but they were the ones to get it right first.

Pandora3. Pandora

This is the mobile version of the already robust website, but I mention it here because of how it’s impacted my enjoyment of music. Pandora is streaming radio where you create stations based on artists, songs or themes. It serves up related music, and gets better over time as you thumbs-up or thumbs-down what plays. I couldn’t begin tell you how much great music I’ve discovered this way. It’s a simple premise: “if you like this, then you might also like this” — and Pandora’s highly personalized  approach wins the day for me, even though I also enjoy similar services like 8Tracks. Even TheStreet.com says Pandora has “rendered terrestrial radio, on a grand scale, obsolete.” Consider how long radio has been in our lives as you consider that statement.

What do you think? What apps have made a difference in the way you do things? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Write As You Speak? Or While You Speak?

25 May
Ghost Writer - click for more like thisat my Pinterest board

I call this one “Ghost Writer.”
It was shot via Hipstamatic with the Salvador 84 lens and Rock BW-11 film, then processed in TTV PS and Noir. If you like this, definitely follow the
Pinterest board of my iPhoneography
for more image fun with iPhone apps.

Although some people are much better at verbalizing than writing, it’s just impractical to write in the same way that you speak. Ever since I heard that advice in grade school, I never thought it made good sense.

Now, if by “write like you speak” you mean “write clearly and to the point,” then yes, that is good advice. For anyone who has ever actually transcribed an interview or their own speech (go ahead and try it sometime) it’s very clear that the spoken word differs greatly from the written.

Catch A Dragon By the Tale

Dragon DictationThe whole reason I’m writing about this today – or rather, speaking  – is that I am dictating this via Dragon Dictation, the mind-blowing, powerful speech-to-text transcriber iPhone app. I’ve  used it for other posts in the past but not for one like this in its entirety. So if this prose seems rambling, that’s why. Before posting, I will have gone in and cleaned up some punctuation, added links, and added some graphics, but the bulk of this text has come to you first via audio. And I think that’s pretty amazing.

What do you think? Have you ever used Dragon Dictation or similar software? What’s your experience been like? Do you write as you speak, and do you think that’s good advice or not? Let us hear from you in the comments!

6 Mandatory Posting Steps for New Bloggers

4 Jan
That's my computer.

Blogging is your friend; you’re reading one now.

I’ve been blogging for a few months now, incorporating some techniques for engagement that I believe can also help in composing posts. I share these with you with the hope of improving and encouraging your own blog development.

As with any writing, simply getting started or maintaining consistency can be obstacles, but when you have a sense of the elements in mind already, the going can be easier because as you compose, you’re doing so with an idea of what could come next.

Like these images? See the full series at Flickr.
Free to download for your own use (with credit).

Blogging is more fun and you’ll likely be more motivated when you’ve got some back-and-forth with like-minded bloggers. And with every post, there are a few basic things you can do to spark discourse. Good general tips on interaction and growing site traffic abound — and you should definitely do those other things — but the focus of this post is methodology.

Now, the tips…

This. Weekly.

1. Post Regularly

I make it a point to do at least one post per week, going into detail about a singular topic at length. Part of the appeal of blogging for me is that this can be accomplished with as few as four or five sentences, especially if the main focus is an embedded video — sometimes those speak for themselves. Otherwise, just a few paragraphs are plenty enough for the quick-scan reading format of online publishing.

Regardless of length, commit to something; pick a schedule and do your best to stick to it, whether monthly, biweekly, or maybe just a sentence here and there every few days. I’ve found weekly works best for me, because as the days move on beyond a post, I’m noticing topics that might make interesting material for next time.

Blog About Blogging – A Metablog?

2. And Post When You Feel Like It!

Sometimes I’ll get inspired to share a quick photo immediately with maybe a paragraph or some thoughts on something I’ve just discovered online. The WordPress app makes doing this ridiculously easy for anyone with a smartphone. Plus, coming to do a quick writeup at the PC with the plan of only composing three or four sentences and an image can be all you need for a solid expression.

You can always save the post to flesh out later, or complete it and schedule for publishing at a later date and time (again, WordPress makes this easy). Even when posting by phone, you can revisit from the PC to add links or other content. Sometimes I’ll file them away mentally, or sometimes I’ll save an ongoing draft to flesh out later. Much of this very post I actually dictated using Dragon Dictation in the morning, coming back to add images and a few edits here in the evening. The important thing is just to get started — take that first step and you’re more likely to complete the journey.

Links. Gotta’ Have ‘Em.

3. Link Your Words

I’ll always link to other sites offering further explanation on subjects I think readers may find interesting. I search for relevant news articles, other bloggers’ writings, and sometimes just link directly to an image search result for a broad visual reference.

Seeking out and including just the right links (even to your own previous posts) is like adding spice to the sauce,  part of the creative process of your composition.

4. Always include a picture. This isn’t Twitter.

Whatever you’re writing about, it’s always more interesting with an image. The Internet is a visual medium, and pictures are easy enough to include, especially in your blog (vs. the text-centric Twitter). Chances are you have a camera in your pocket right now attached to your music player which also makes phone calls. So it can be just as simple to create original visual material for your blog as doing an image search. If you do include images found elsewhere, always give credit and copyright details.

Click to view the full-size series

How dull would this post be without images? Y a w w w n…

5. Ask The Question. Prompt Discussion.

Since comments and discussion amplify the rewards of blogging, I like to start the discussion just as readers have finished cruising the page, always ending each post with open-ended questions. I learned this from the site Mashable, a tech blog that does this with nearly every article.

Use the Related Articles tool to give props to other bloggers.

6. Include Related Articles

Finally, I’ll always add related articles as trackbacks, or, links to other blogs and sites. I’ve gotten a few trackbacks from other sites myself, and it’s a very cool complement to know someone else sees your work as authoritative enough to reference in their own post. WordPress makes this easy with its automatically included Related Articles tool, and it’s always worthwhile to seek out bloggers like yourself and link to their sites. Just search for topics akin to your subjects, then share your thoughts on those posts in the comments with a polite invitation to do the same at your place followed by a link. You’re also more likely to see interaction from individuals than major news outlets, so try to link to homegrown bloggers if practical (thanks, Sherrilynne Starkie for that tip).

So there you have some best practice basics for blogging excitement. These may or may not work for you, and they certainly aren’t required. But as part of the creative process, doing these things will very likely foster participation and to give greater dimension to your content.

What do you think? What techniques like these do you use on your blog? What’s your experience with blogging been like? How has it evolved from your first post to how you create now? What’s your process of creating a post like? Let us hear from you in the comments!
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