Home Blog Cool Stuff to Check Out: 12/28/09

Cool Stuff to Check Out: 12/28/09

Written on December 28, 2009 at 2:44 pm, by Eric Cressey

I thought I’d use a quick blog post here to tell you about three of my holiday gifts this year that might interest a lot of you.  With it being a few days after Christmas, a lot of stores are running big sales, and you could probably pick these up at big discounts.

Dragon Naturally Speaking Software – This is a speech recognition software that works with your computer to directly translate what you say into a microphone into a word processing document or email. My hope is that it’ll make it easy for me to dictate blogs and emails while in the car on my 40-minute commute to and from Cressey Performance each day.


Admittedly, I am still feeling this one out, as it takes some “calibrating” to learn how to interpret your voice correctly (I read John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address into it the other night).  However, I’m really psyched about how this could improve my efficiency in 2010; check it out for yourself.

What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures – Tony Gentilcore (and others) turned me on to Malcolm Gladwell’s writing in 2009, and I absolutely loved it (including The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers).  This is his newest work, and it is actually a collection of his short pieces that were featured in The New Yorker, where Gladwell is a staff writer.


Tony got me the audio CDs for this, and I listened to it on my hours and hours of driving to and from Maine for the holiday.  It’s excellent: very entertaining, educational, and thought provoking. Something pretty cool: you can buy all four of these books from Gladwell on Amazon for under $40 right now (including free shipping).  That’s a tremendous value.

Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow – This book by Chip Conley was actually a gift to me from Alwyn Cosgrove about a month ago, and I’m about halfway through it.  As I’ve read, it’s made me realize several reasons that we’ve been successful in our business model at Cressey Performance (including 15% growth this year in spite of the “recession”).  Regardless of the industry in which you work, if you manage employees, I’d highly recommend it.


5 Responses to “Cool Stuff to Check Out: 12/28/09”

  1. Sean Lacey Says:


    I was looking into getting a smartpen for the notes I’ll be taking in the Spring. . . Dragon looks like the cost-efficient alternative 🙂 Thanks for posting that.

    -Sean Lacey

  2. Mark Young Says:

    Hey Eric,

    I also got What the Dog Saw for Christmas (the print version) and am looking forward to reading it. Gladwell’s stuff is great!

    I’ve also been thinking about the Dragon software, but have heard mixed reviews. If you wouldn’t mind, please let us know how this pans out in a future post.

    Have a great one!

  3. Jason Hodges Says:

    At my work, (radiology) we use two different voice recognition packages for dictations. Both use the Dragon engine under the hood. I believe both use the version 9 engine. (I don’t have experience with the Dragon software itself, it just powers the recogntion engine in our apps) It works pretty impressively. You can speak with a normal speed and cadence. We were trained that we had to speak our punctuation (“period”, “comma”, “new paragraph”, etc) which is easy to get used to. You still have to proofread your text, but it is better than 95% accurate. It does a good job with big words. But you have to double check the small words. It frequently messes up “in the” and “and”. Sometimes it gives the craziest sound-alikes. One time I dictated “cysticercosis” (which is has in the medical dictionary) and it substituted “sister psychosis”. “cyst in” gets botched into “system”, etc. So, beware of crazy sound-alike substituions and double check the small words. If the Dragon 10 engine is an improvement, (which I assume) then I hope our vendors upgrade their software to take advantage of it.

  4. herringtoniii Says:

    The Dragon voice recognition software is excellent, and I have used it for several years, in my work and at home. One piece of advice: don’t go cheap on the microphone. Results were acceptable with the $25 headset model that often comes with the software. But, after it broke and I spent 50 to 60 on the next one, the accuracy of the transcription was significantly improved. There is a table-top model for about $125 that is the best.

  5. Bryan Dorman Says:

    I second what herrington says: the key is getting a really good microphone. I had a somewhat different experience with the mic that came with the software –my feeling is that you can basically throw this el cheapo mic in the trash. You also need to practice a bit before the system really works well–for example, I found that getting the software to distinguish between “the” and “a” was quite a chore, but maybe you won’t have this problem with the new version. Good luck.

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