Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Voice Dictation Ramblings

Does the voice dictation software worked with windows life writer?  It seems to, but with vista ultimate even though the voice dictation software seems to be more efficient in detecting words and some earlier versions of software I have used, it still gets into difficulty with commands.  Start straying into any vocabulary which contains command words which could be misunderstood, and you will immediately in difficulty.

The other nuisance is that it still seems to insist on interpreting punctuation in the American sense, so that for example if you say the word.  Sometimes you get a.  And sometimes you get the period if you see what I mean.  It seems easier sometimes just to use the American punctuation to avoid all that  difficulty.

Why is it also that the he seems to be only two pieces of text that can be used to train the computer to understand speech recognition better?  The old Dragon software I had even had the excerpts from Alice in Wonderland and other classic works which could keep you amused when you are dictating to the computer.  I sometimes think in the old versions of voice dictation software that the more you trained a computer by less accurate it became.  For this reason sometimes when things got really bad, I used to delete all of the training files and then found that the accuracy tended to improve.

There is no doubt that things had got a great deal better than the last 10 or 15 years. I remember seeing a friend of mine whose name was Ken Ashcroft trying out a very early version of Viavoice using a headset and a laptop.  He was the finance director of Amstrad at the time and got to play with pieces of software, new computers which will blindingly fast for example the 386 which wren had an amazing 20 MHZ, and of course the first Sky satellite dishes.  I had one of those before the Astra satellite even started transmitting.  It stood on a tripod, and I placed it on the balcony of my flat in Airlie Gardens.  When the satellite started operating test transmissions, I had somebody watch the television whilst I manipulated the dish up and down, sideways and around until I got the best possible picture.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Walking by Matterhorn


Last week I visited Yvonne Borloz in Geneva. The flight with Easyjet was only £3.99 each way.  I Had intended to go by train, taking the Eurostar to Paris which would have cost £59.00 and then the TGV from Paris to Geneva.  The cheapest TGV there I found was a piccolo fare which only cost about €15.00.  Even so, nothing could compare with the Easyjet price.  I would certainly have preferred to go by train, if only because the budget airlines seen to be having such an effect on climate change if the scientists are to be believed, but so often the airlines are so much cheaper than the trains.

Nevertheless, whilst I was in Geneva we had the freedom of Swiss railways for one day when citizens of Geneva are permitted to buy rail pass tickets at a very low price.  There are only so many of these tickets are available each day, and so you need to book a long way ahead.  Last time we did this, we spent all day from Geneva to Montreux and across the Bernese Oberland to Berne.

This time we got up very early and took a train from Geneva to Visp where we changed to the local train to Zermatt. From there we took an underground railway steeply up to about 2000 metres, and then a cable car up to 2600 metres where we began our walk.  We walked all day in the mountains in full sight of the Matterhorn.  Altogether we must have covered 18.1 km.

Our plan was to take another train back to Brig to the Italian Cisalpino tilting Pendolino PCR train at brig for the return to Geneva. Unfortunately this train was more than 1 hour late, but while we were awaiting we got talking to the driver of the train, who invited me to ride in his cab all the way back to Geneva.  This seemed something almost impossible in any other country where security considerations would have prevented any such intrusion into his work space, but it seems that in Switzerland this was allowed.

It was somewhat scary to be travelling at 160 kilometres an hour in the dark, when there were various alarms indicating parts of the train at had gone wrong, signals to be observed , parts of the line which had been closed for maintenance, and contacts on the radio and by mobile phone or to be dealt with whilst we were travelling at speed.

I don't think I shall ever again have the opportunity of riding in the cabin of a tilting train, although I do hope the new Virgin fleet will be more reliable than the train I took back to Geneva.

Sunday, 26 August 2007


I recorded my sermon this morning. It was about Greed. Not only about Greed and Gluttony, two of the seven deadly sins, but all about the environment and creation. About riches on earth, or riches in heaven.

Here is the sermon.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007


A cafe in the Tarn Valley, FranceR

I used to write blogs years ago, but have now moved on. Moved to my London Walks podcast. There is a blog attached to it as Show Notes. So far over 200,000 people have downloaded my walks around London, and many have been in touch with me, either by email or directly when they visit the capital. Most are American.

Moved also to my self-supporting ministry in the Church of England. You can find my church at St Katherine's in East Acton and even read some of my sermons there. 

There seems to be some point in writing a Blog attached to a podcast because you have something useful to say. Most Blogs have nothing to say except to reflect the ramblings of their writers, but there are exceptions.

I don't know what I shall put in this one or whether it will be worth reading. It may join the millions of others in the rubbish dump of Internet 2.0 or it may have a use. We'll have to wait and see.