Thinking, Learning & Doing – October 7, 2020

🤔 💬 Thinking About Problems

Dictation Software

I want to do dictation on macOS. I find it useful for getting ideas down without doing lots of unconscious filtering. After getting the unfiltered ideas down, I can edit the result and get something more coherent and readable.

The standard macOS dictation feature has a 30 second limit, which IMHO is bad. You also can’t do commands like “new paragraph” and stuff like that. They used to have a different option called Enhanced Dictation that didn’t have the 30 second restriction. Unfortunately for me, Apple replaced the Enhanced Dictation feature with something called Voice Control. When I try to use Voice Control, my entire computer lags constantly and is basically unusable. My computer is a bit old now (2015 iMac) but pretty powerful, so I don’t think it should be performing like this. I think something is wrong. I looked online and found many complaints about the performance of the Voice Control feature.

Dragon stopped making dictation software for the Mac. The other thing people typically recommend is Google Docs voice typing, but I hate Google Docs and don’t want to use it. I also have tried it before and don’t recall being particularly impressed with its audio performance.

One thing I considered was recording an audio file and then having it transcribed, but that seemed like it’d be a bit ridiculous/slow/heavyweight for what I want. I want to be able to quickly jot down thoughts with minimal turnaround time.

One idea I came up with in the course of writing this post was to try Otter. Otter is a web service that I already use for various transcription purposes. My normal workflow is to import some audio or video file or whatever that’s already already been pre recorded into Otter in order to generate a transcript of that file. But they also let you record speech directly in the app. And this works through their web interface and their iOS app. And it’s a bit limited, and that I don’t know that you can do the commands like new paragraph and that sort of stuff. And you can’t do it in any arbitrary app, you have to do it through their web browser app or through their iOS app. You also have to export to get plain text, as opposed to what I’d prefer, which is the transcription working directly in the app I’m using to write. OTOH it does seem to work okay. It displays the transcription of your speech on screen instantly, but it takes a bit to for stuff to process so that you can actually export a text file. Otter is also service I’m already paying for. And it doesn’t lag my computer. So it may be good enough for my purposes right now. I’ll try it and see how it goes.

👨🏻‍💻 Activities


I worked through some of this tutorial and have been working on a small docassemble project that I intend to actually use. I’ve been making steady progress/mostly not getting stuck, so I’m pretty happy with how things are going so far. I did spend more time on some DNS/SSL configuration related stuff than I would have liked, but I ultimately got everything working after reading a bit about how Docker works. As an overall comment, I’m finding that frequently switching activities and taking regular breaks helps prevent me from spending lots of time grinding away at the same problem ineffectively.

Reporting Bugs

I’ve been aggressively reporting software bugs lately. Ulysses has gotten a few reports from me lately, including a couple of video demonstrations of the bug. Their response time and seriousness level about bugs seems solid.


I’ve been spending time on grammar. I made a list of posts that are all about grammar or have significant grammar content. I’m not sure how I’ll integrate that list into my site yet.

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