Look Back – start and move forward

Welcome to the computers with ease podcast. One of my favourite things to do is work on audio and video projects, I’ve been doing it for several years now and I wanted to look back at where I had started and give some of my favourite tips as it were.

As I look back on what was important when I started and what I know now, one of the first things I remember is being so afraid of recording either audio or video and not sure what it was going to look like or sound like. Looking back I wish I had just started and done what was in my head at that particular moment.

It doesn’t really matter what equipment you use and to a certain degree the result isn’t as important as the doing. I always thought that I had to have the best equipment possible and I remember reading as much as I could about things such as lighting setups, what equipment we needed, how long the video should be.

Looking at other people’s top 5 top 10 tips and thinking how in the world am I going to remember all of this and just being somewhat overwhelmed and therefore scared to start so it took me quite a while to finally get to the point where I would put a project together record an  audio whatever it was.

Now I have all the tools that I need it’s taken me several years to get to this point, I now have a process that works for me and I want to tell people to get started use whatever you have whether it’s your iPad your phone, your photographic camera for video whatever it is go ahead and use it and create because what I found was the more I did the better the results were and the more that I do the more comfortable I get sitting here as I am now recording this podcast for you.

The more that you do the more ideas that you have, and once you get started everything else will happen and flow and yes as you do more you will want to upgrade your equipment. You will want to change and you will certainly have questions all those things are fine just be willing to keep going.

One of  the other things that I want to make sure that I say is don’t be too hard on yourself, no matter how the project turns out what you think of it give yourself a break and look at it as objectively as you can. It’s not as bad as you think no matter how bad you think it is it’s not that bad. Give yourself credit for doing it and keep doing it.

One of the things that I’ve found is as I have an idea go ahead and do it set up your equipment and do it while you’re thinking about it, you can always work on it later edit it for example whatever as long as you have done it. I found that if I didn’t sit down and do it at the time I was thinking about it, it would get forgotten or never done because other stuff would come up and it never happened so now I tend to when I have an idea I go ahead and do it. If I can’t get to it to edit it or complete it I store it away and will go back to it.

I hope these thoughts and tips have been helpful, if you have any questions please feel free to email me at darrell@computerswithease.com Thank you very much.

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Dragon Professional Individual – a user perspective

Welcome to the computers with ease podcast. I’m going to talk about one of the programs that I use on a daily basis and that’s Dragon Naturally Speaking, their latest version has been out for a little while now it’s the Dragon professional individual.

This would be if we were counting versions this would be version 14, I have been a Dragon NaturallySpeaking user since version 4. Now that I’ve used the program for several weeks I have found that there are several enhancements that I like a great deal.

The first thing that I noticed him when I installed this version was the fact that it took my previous user file and adapted it to the new formats for the program as did version 13 however I found this version worked incredibly well.

One of the other enhancements that I really like is the fact you have the option to say “what can I say” and it will give you a list of the different categories and then if you speak the category such as navigation or correction it will give you a list of the commands that you can say.

I like this better than having the help system open up in a separate window which was part of what earlier versions had, I found having the separate window opened distracting and it took up valuable screen real estate.

One of the difficulties I have had with Dragon for several versions was the fact that I had trouble saying commands such as menu items for example if I wanted to open the file menu in word I had difficulty doing that, and so I ended up opening file menus and so on using my mouse which I found was distracting in terms of my thought process.

I had to actually stop my thought and go ahead and open menu or click on an item and then get back to my thought process, with this new version of the program I find it that this is greatly been enhanced it works much better for me in particular and  so I find it a great enhancement.

One of the things that I would still recommend is doing additional training even though the program is very good out of the box, I would still recommend doing an additional training just to increase the efficiency of the program and the recognition factor.

I have done one additional training with this new version and my recognition has gone from about 90 to 95%. I’m also able to speak much faster and the program will keep up with me and the text will appear on the screen almost instantaneously.

So over all I would highly recommend for people who have used Dragon and are considering doing an upgrade this would certainly be an upgrade to consider, for anyone who is new to speech recognition and wondering if it’s something that would be useful my recommendation would be give it a try.

You will find yourself far more productive than you ever thought possible. I now use Dragon for all my creative processes when it comes to having to write something I automatically now  start Dragon and do it that way because that is so much faster for me.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me at darrell@computerswiththese.com. Please also feel free to sign up for my subscriber list and I will keep you posted on new items that will be of interest to you thank you very much.

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Welcome to 2016

Hello and welcome to the computers with ease podcast, welcome to 2016. I hope this will be a wonderful year for everyone, I personally am glad to see 2015 disappear although I know it could’ve been much worse it was not one of the more memorable years for me.

This leads me to a question what would you like to see happen for you in 2016? I know for myself I have many things planned for my business as well as some interesting things I would like to do personally.

One of the things that I want to do in terms of my business is connect with more of you I want to be more available for you questions and I want to help you with your most frustrating and troublesome tech questions.

I also want to be able to produce podcasts and videos on a regular basis that are of interest to everyone and I look forward to learning more about the technology that we all use and find new ways to use it.

I hope that the start of 2016 has been everything that you hoped it would be and that as 2016 moves along it provides you with the opportunities to achieve your most monumental goals and more.

Please let me know what topics you would like to hear featured on this podcast this year I look forward to hearing your comments. Thank you very much

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Painlessly convert stereo audio to mono

Here is my latest video to show how to easily convert audio from stereo to mono.  Enjoy


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Painlessly convert stereo files to mono

Hello welcome to the computers with the podcast. As many of you know I recently purchased a zoom portable recorder to make doing podcasts and videos easier and more professional for myself, upon doing some research about what would be the best recorder settings for doing video I found that 48 kHz was best for video.

I’m using the recorder in stereo and when I had done a test recording with the recorder it worked fine however when I went to transcribe the recording using Dragon NaturallySpeaking, I got an error message in Dragon that said you could not transcribe a stereo recording it had to be mono. it could be anything up to 99khz at that point I did what most of the people do which is do a Google search to see what I could find for a solution to this particular problem.

As I began to investigate most of the information said that it was impossible to transcribe a stereo recording upon finding this, I simply went okay let’s take this stereo recording and turn it into a mono recording and save it as a separate file and then create the transcript using the mono file.

I use a program called audacity which is a free audio editing program to edit all my podcasts and my videos and when I looked in to how to create a mono file from a stereo file it is very simple in audacity. Load your stereo recording into audacity and then go to the tracks menu at the top of the program, click on it and one of the choices you will see and in fact I think it may actually be the very first choice is stereo track to mono.

When you select this option audacity automatically will create a mono file which you can then save to any location on your computer and then you can proceed in Dragon to transcribe the new mono file that you have just created and saved. When I tried this the transcription worked very very well and is a useful option if you have a stereo file that you need in this format for transcription purposes

I hope you found this information useful if you have any other questions please feel free to email me @ darrell@computerswiththese.com Thank you very much

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My new equipment

Welcome to the computers with ease podcast. Recently I was able to purchase something that’s going to help create better content in not only my podcasts but my videos as well, I was able to purchase a Zoom portable recorder and a Rode lavaliere microphone.

One of the things I’ve wanted to be able to do was as I created my podcasts I also wanted to be able to generate the transcript at the same time, until getting this new equipment it meant recording the podcast audio first and then transcribing the audio using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Which worked significantly well however it meant I had to spend time editing the transcript and matching up the text from the transcript to the audio file.

This was a time-consuming and somewhat frustrating process because the audio when transcribed is not 100% accurate, with the new recorder that I have I’m now able to record the audio at the same time I’m dictating into the headset that I use for Dragon. and I’m able to see the text immediately on the screen so I can flag errors as they come up and I don’t have to worry about the audio because it’s being recorded separately at the same time.

Utilizing this new process will allow me to create not only better podcasts but also allow many create more podcasts in a much shorter period of time because I won’t have to spend as much time editing the transcript and I certainly don’t have to spend as much time editing the audio file itself because the zoom recorder gives me a much cleaner recording the first time so this is been one of my how shall I say dream items because I’m able to now create what I want to create in the way that makes the most sense for me and gives me the most freedom to do what I love to do which is create content that others can use and enjoy for their own use what have you been wanting to do that you’ve been putting off or have been unable to find a way to do that satisfies not only your needs but allows you to work and create in the most comfortable way for you I look forward to reading your comments you are welcome to check out my website which is www.computerswiththese.com thank you very much

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Windows 10 – windows 7 & windows 8.1 merged

Hello and welcome to the computers with ease podcast. Windows 10 has been out for a month now and I’ve been using it for several weeks and I thought I would give everyone my initial thoughts on the program itself.

When you first look at it, it looks like a cross between Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. By that I mean we now have a start button that looks like the Windows symbol and when you click on that you actually get the list of items that we had in Windows 7 such as settings but alongside that you get the tiles or squares that were part of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.

So all of the major items that are on your computer or there, either in the tiles or you can get to them from all apps so in earlier versions of Windows it was all programs now it’s called all apps same thing just a different name.

One of the things that I did find that was a little unusual for me at first was in earlier versions you could get to accessories such as your defrag tool and a lot of those items were just under accessories, now they’ve renamed it to Windows accessories. So it just means that we have to scroll a bit further down on the all apps list to get to it but it took me a little while to figure out that’s what they had called it.

Now that I’m using Windows 10 and hadn’t updated the system for several days I thought I would see if there were any update to Windows 10 itself, and I had gone into Control Panel and looked for Windows updates and I could not find it. Upon further investigation I found that you have to go to start and then select settings and then it’s in there on the right-hand side under Windows update’s and then you can check for and install the Windows updates.

I think over all the changes have been successful, the program definitely does start faster than Windows 8.1 did so that’s a definite improvement. I think that the other changes it’s just going to be a matter of time from a user’s perspective until you get comfortable with where the new items are and some of the name changes that they’ve implemented. My best advice is to hang in there keep using it and it will eventually become familiar the way earlier versions did the longer we used them.

If you have any comments or questions please feel free to email me at darrell@computerswithease.com you can also visit my website which is computerswithease.com Thank you very much

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First thoughts on Dragon Naturally Speaking version 13

Hello welcome to the computers with ease podcast, this podcast I am going to be talking about the newly released Dragon version 13.  I believe as of today you can order it I was lucky enough to be able to preorder it and get my copy several days ago.

I have been experimenting with the new version and so I thought I would let you in on some of my first opinions on this particular version.  I have used almost every version of Dragon since version 4.

With this particular version I found it extremely easy to set up on my computer, you can transfer existing user profiles I unfortunately had to create a brand-new one because I also got a new microphone at the same time but you can transfer and use your existing profiles.

I normally dictate into Microsoft Word, upon setting up Dragon and starting to use it it worked extremely well with no training at all right out of the box I would say I got 95% recognition.

I found that to use some of the newer features you had to be using the new version of the Dragon bar rather than the classic Dragon bar, particularly using some of the system control and command functions.

When I was in word and tried to do insert a picture into a document everything worked fine until I went to open the actual folder that had my picture, this I found difficult with Dragon and therefore went back to using the mouse in combination with the voice commands.

One of the things that I tried to do in this version which I hadn’t in earlier versions was to use my voice to open programs such as Firefox and other system commands, these works very well.

One of the other items that I was particularly happy to see in version 13 was the fact that you could use Dragon to dictate into programs such as Gmail.  In earlier versions you would dictate and if you are in something like Gmail that was not a recognized text field you got a dictation box and it would put you text in there, and then you could transfer it into whatever application you are using that Dragon didn’t recognize such as Gmail.

Although I appreciated the ability to do this having the dictation box come up and then having to transfer it into the appropriate application was an extra step and after a while it just got frustrating.  However now with the advent of being able to dictate directly into email in Gmail it’s much more conducive to actually using it for things like that, even for a very short emails.

I was glad to see that this feature had been added and at this point it does seem to work.  I’ve noticed that having your handset on and situated properly is important, I also highly recommend doing extra training even though the recognition is very good right out of the box. I found by doing an additional training and letting Dragon learn from your existing documents such as your emails and your word files for example, the recognition becomes much more consistent and over time the recognition will get better and better.

Thus making you the user much more productive with less stress and less frustration and it will be easier on your voice as well.  Overall I think Nuance the makers of Dragon have made some very good improvements to the program, and I look forward to continuing to use it and see how well it improves over time.

If you have any questions please feel free to email me at darrell@computerswithease.com  Thank you very much.


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Will windows xp work with no support?

If you are a Windows XP user, you may have questions about what to do because Microsoft has discontinued support in all forms for Windows XP. Some of your questions may include:

Will my computer still work?
Can I still get to my files and are my files safe?
Do I need to upgrade my computer and software?

All of these questions answered and more.

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Help learning software

Hello welcome to the computers with ease podcast. I often get asked during my classes how to make learning computer programs easier, for many people it’s one of the most frustrating and stressful things to do.

So I have a few tips that should make the learning of new software programs and the computer in general easier and more pleasurable of an experience.

First of all take your time don’t try and rush through it, the more you rush the more frustrated you will become.  When you trying to learn a specific piece of software as an example let’s say Excel pick specific tasks you want to do with the specific program your learning. For example you may want to learn how to do you basic budget in Excel

Next keep practicing those things you want to learn how to do on a daily basis, I recommend trying to spend half to three quarters of an hour every day while you’re learning the new peace of software and keep practicing as you go along.

Another tip that helps is to use some of the online resources such as videos, written tutorials, as well as any of the other number of resources that are available.  You can simply type in what it is you are trying to do and you will most likely get a significant number of websites with information on those specific items that you’re looking for.
Another tip I have is have fun, the more fun you have the easier it will be and the more you learn. I hope these tips will allow you to learn not only the computer but the software that you need more easily, more effectively, and most important more enjoyably

If you have any comments concerns or questions please feel free to email me at darrell@computerswithease.com

Thank you very much.

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