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Hi there, and welcome to my website. This is my first attempt at making a website so please bear with me I undoubtedly will make many mistakes. The essence of this site is to talk about writing whether it be fiction or fact. I am here going to put down some of the things that I found on my journey as an author. As I said above this is my first attempt to build a website. In the future I hope to make it interactive. However, at the moment it basically will be me talking about some of the problems I've had and the solutions found for them. I will be adding to this as new experiences happen to me. So read on and enjoy! I hope!!

I have been writing all my life in one way or another.  When I was in industry I would write reports, analysis, and really boring stuff like this.  When I became a teacher of craft studies and product design my report writing/educational stuff became a little bit more entertaining but as my students will undoubtedly confirm not really gripping reading.  Over the years I've written a short story here a short story there but nothing really substantial. That is until now.

BOOKS

Deadmans Locks           

        New release!

Sarah just in her teens faces mystic forces far beyond her! She finds herself in the middle of a mystery that spans four generations of her family. What is the great secret that keeps her grandfather so worried? What dark spectre seems to be shadowing them? What is there that is so sinister about the old Canal upon the common? Will she be able to solve the mystery and save her family or will they fall foul of the evil that storks them? She needs all of her courage and more in the days to come.
This is the first book in a series about the adventures of a teenage girl who can tap into supernatural powers that allow her to see things that ordinary people cannot. This coupled with her insatiable curiosity gets her into deeper and deeper trouble as she tries to make sense of the strange World that is unfolding about her. his is just a place holder, so you can see what the site would look like.

 

 Blood of Life


  Man has in his power the technology to change the World. For better or worse. Man can now play God with life itself. How long will it be before our meddling leads to our downfall? This story looks at one possible disaster that could be in our near future. A future that not only destroys us but all life on Earth.










                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Canal boat Art



A look back at the history of the Canals of Great Britain and the people that worked them. How they decorated their boats with paintings of Roses and Castle and how you can paint in the same style yourself. Full colour instructions and diagrams showing methods that will allow you to paint your own Roses & Castles in this fascinating art form. From simple stencils that will allow anybody to paint a swag of roses to free hand work for the more adventurous artist and those that want to use modern tools like computers to plan and develop their work. This is the book that will open the doors to a fascinating skill of yesterday to one and all.






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Speech recognition: the idle way to write or is it?


Some years ago I hurt my back and this has caused a great deal of pressure to be placed on the nerves that runs to my arms. This has made it impossible for me to type for any length of time without feeling pain. This is not an ideal situation for a writer. I am not one to give up so I looked into other methods to get words onto paper as it were. So I tried some voice recognition software and below is what I found out.

Speech recognition as come a long way in the past few years.  However, for most of us paying the prices for the state-of-the-art speech recognition software is still out of our price range for the amount of use we would put this software to. So, paying hundreds of pounds for professional speech recognition software is out of the question.  So I looked around for some older software.  I have got an old computer running on Windows 98 and on Ebay there was IBM's ViaVoice 98, brand-new never taken out of the box, speech recognition software.  I got this for only a few pounds.  However, I was never able to get the software to run properly on my computer.  It seemed to have a problem with my sound card. I changed my sound card but this didn't help matters. In the end I gave up and brought a new USB microphone.  This did not solve the problem.  The programme still insisted that there was a problem with the sound card.  I spent a couple of weeks, on and off trying to get this ViaVoice 98 working, I never did.

I saw on eBay ViaVoice 9 USB for sale.  I had read some reviewers of this software and they were all pretty good.  So I decided to buy.  It was less than £10, a bargain.  However, I found on installing this programme I had initially the same problem I had had with the ViaVoice 98 it still said there was something wrong with my sound card.  However, I was running this on my other computer which has windows XP as the operating system.  The USB sound adapter just plugs into your USB ports and then you plug your headphones into it.  When I did this ViaVoice 9 USB edition accepted my microphone!  I was then able to train the software and that was very long winded indeed.  However, after some hours, and I mean hours, and hours of training the software, it was quite usable with about 90 percent or so accuracy.  I believe this would get better the more you use the system.

I was browsing through eBay and found an advert for Dragon natural speaking version 5 (an old version).  Well, Dragon Naturally Speaking it up to about version 10 now.  So, version 5 is a bit long in the tooth now, but it was being sold for less than a fiver and it was new, never registered.  So I got myself a copy.  I didn't expect anything fantastic when I loaded it on to my windows XP computer.  I went to the microphone setup wizard with no problems and my analogue microphone was accepted.  I read through two of the training sessions and allowed the software to analyse my documents this took about an hour and a half of training,(Not all in one session) then I began to dictate.  What a surprise I had!  About 90 percent of the words I spoke appeared before me as if by magic!  This was a much better response than I had had with ViaVoice.  I could not believe it!  A piece of software that was years old and less than a fiver that did what it said on the box.  The more you use Dragon 5 the better it gets.  I am up to about 95% accuracy at the moment.  Also, the system has no problem with my sound card in any of my computer I have tried it in.  It also works with my analogue headset microphone, my USB hybrid analogue microphone, and also my new USB microphone headset.  I have also played my hand held tape recorder into the computer using the microphone imports socket and Dragon natural speaking five understood about 85 percent of what my crackle tape-recorded voice was  saying.

I believe it is the best fiver I have ever spent on software!  However, there are a few problems, well not problems perhaps, just some little niggles. The Dragon software tries to think ahead and put the most likely word into place that you may use.  However, there is a little problem with this, if you dictate something the computer was not expecting, you may find you have an extra word.  This is not really a problem because you should read through what you have written before you send it off to someone else.  The more you use the system the less of a problem this is.  I also have found that when I breathe through my nose the system sometimes thinks I am saying the words "the"; that's my fault really for having a loud nose.  Dragon say that you are to speak in your normal tone of voice as if you were talking to someone else.  Whereas in the ViaVoice system you have to talk in the (there it is; that 'the' was my nose talking!) more of a one word at a time dictation method so the software can understand each word. 

There is another problem I have encountered with both the software packages above.  As far as I can tell there is no way to transfer your speech profiles from one computer to another (I could be wrong about this.  I no experts.) This means that you have two train each computer you put the programmes on.  Therefore, I would say the Dragon software is the easiest to set up and get working on a new computer.

Both ViaVoice and Dragon allow you to control the computer by Voice Commands.  However, I have not tried this function out because I only wish to dictate so I can't comment on how well it works.  I have used ViaVoice in Word and Dragon in Word and OpenOffice and they have worked quite well. However, they both work better in their respective Note Pads.

I finally shelled out the £39.99 for the home version of Dragon 9.5 and I am using this now. This version will allow you to make copies of you user file so you can move between computers with more ease. I have not found that the accuracy rate as improved much over version 5 but, the ability to easily move between computers is great.

My kids bought me an iPad last Christmas and I was very happy to find that Dragon had a programme for the iPad. I have used this and found it to have good voice recognition qualities. However, it is great for doing emails and writing the occasional letter but, writing a whole book whilst holding an iPad microphone up to your mouth is not as easy as it sounds. The voice recognition on my laptop version of Dragon is still more accurate than my iPad's.

I hope the above will be of help to you.  This review has been written using Dragon 9.5 natural speaking software and I have not corrected any of the mistakes Dragon has done. That's why my spellings so good!  Good luck with your speech recognition if you want to go that way.


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