Coded green.

Wednesday 3 July 2002

Screenshot DAoC

Pic of the day: Sometimes words are not required. (Screenshot from Dark Age of Camelot.)

Word completion

My hand is slightly better, but still far from healed. I look forward to trying out the speech recognition software, once it arrives. It will still be some time, I guess, since this is an international delivery.

In the meantime, my condition has prodded me to look at another type of software. I remembered a cool little word processor back in my MS-DOS days, called MindReader (from Brown Bag). It had word completion / word prediction. Not the most advanced algorithm by any means, but often as not the word I looked for would pop up in the list. Actually I used it mostly for COBOL programming, but the word completion feature came to mind now. Normally I type so fast that stopping to look through a list would slow me down; but with the repetitive strain injury, I have slowed down a bit.

Sadly I discovered that it does not work under the newer versions of Windows. It was never a Windows program, but most DOS programs can be run in a DOS box under Windows. Even Daggerfall can run there, though sound may be lacking in whole or in part. But MindReader did not start at all on my Windows ME machine, and crashed quickly under Windows XP and Windows 98. Almost certainly it had some smart code that used un-documented features in MS-DOS 3. (This was common at the time, to squeeze out a decent performance from computers 1/100 as fast as today's.) Well, too bad.

StarOffice has a word completion feature, but it does not offer alternatives. It just writes out the rest of the word and waits for you to press Enter or type on. Better than nothing, but not by much. Not a choice for the disabled, I would say.

I have looked up various alternatives on the Net. After quite a while, I gave up. There are several very good looking programs with word completion and much more. In fact, they are all quite loaded with features. Somehow they seem targeted more at the brain disabled than the wrist disabled. I fail to see how word completion confers much of an advantage if you don't know what to write, but I guess there are intermediate cases such as dyslexia where you know what word you want but not how it looks. One of the programs will, for instance, expand "fo" to "phone", which certainly seems to fit that bill.

Speaking of bills, however, the programs are all quite expensive. This is to be expected when they speak out the words for you, among many other things. I wonder, though ... here in Scandinavia the state will pay for tools like that for the literary challenged, but I suspect that in most of the world they are not known for their affluence. Perhaps the USA and the UK are more concerned about the welfare of their challenged citizens than you would expect from the rhetoric. The fact that the English-speaking market can support a wide range of competing products, all huge and pricey, supports this theory. Perhaps some of my overseas readers have experience with this.

Anyway, I'm still waiting for the speech recognition.

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