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System for taking and organising reading notes

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Posted by Gary Carson
Dec 5, 2011 at 03:21 PM


“...quotes need to be 100 percent perfect, otherwise that could cause problems later. How do you deal with that?”

I usually transcribe my recordings into DragonPad, the text editor that comes with Dragon. That way, if a section of the transcript gets garbled, I can highlight it and have Dragon play back the original recording for that particular section.



Posted by WSP
Dec 5, 2011 at 03:43 PM


I keep most of my notes in either MyInfo or Evernote.

I use MyInfo for specific writing projects (books and articles) because it is capable of organizing and connecting information in all sorts of interesting ways. It also has a smooth UI and is really just a pleasure to use.

For miscellaneous information not connected with particular projects, I use Evernote. The main advantages of Evernote are that it makes it extremely easy to record data from a variety of sources (I particularly like its ability to find text in images—e.g. photographs of printed pages, usually imported from my smartphone), it is capable of handling huge amounts of material, and of course it synchronizes across devices.

This makes my choices sound sweetly reasonable, but in fact I am constantly dithering between these two pieces of software: I sometimes wish they would marry and have a child. Evernote looks like a good long-term solution, yet I am put off by its relatively primitive organizational features, and I am constantly thinking about ways (tags, note naming conventions, links, etc.) of overcoming its weaknesses. Evernote also seems unusually ugly on the screen to me, but that’s just a subjective view.


Posted by Gary Carson
Dec 5, 2011 at 03:52 PM



If the woman who wrote that Amazon review was only getting 50 per cent accuracy with Dragon, then something was really wrong with her setup. Most likely, it was her equipment. I’m guessing that her recorder was the problem. With voice recognition, you get what you pay for. Cheap, consumer-grade recorders are inadequate for any kind of serious dictation. Also, if she was driving around while she was dictating, she should have been using a noise-canceling headset microphone. It’s a necessity when there’s a lot of background noise. (Maybe she was—I just skimmed through her review). Another common cause of recognition errors is unclear speech. Dictation’s a tricky skill to learn (I’m still pretty bad at it myself). After years of messing around with various recorders, I would expect to get something like 98 per cent accuracy after initial training. Improvements in accuracy after that are mostly a matter of how clearly you can dictate.


Posted by Pavi
Dec 5, 2011 at 04:00 PM



I thought I would chime in. I have a similar setup for academic use, which a key exception that I am using Windows only.

I currently use Ultra Recall (notes, PDFs, documents, email, handwritten notes via livescribe, web clippings, etc.), Livescribe Echo (seminar, conference and meeting notes), and will add an Epson BX925 (Workforce 845) for duplex scanning (both papers and books). This setup allows me to keep everything indexed and linked within UR, including mail which is essential to academic projects. The “flatbed” scanner capabilities of the Epson negate the need for a scanning pen as you suggested you might need, while still allowing document feed. I think it’s the perfect setup!

I have written about how to incorporate an MS Word writing environment in UR, using either Zotero or Mendeley for references. Search is very robust in UR, plus the hierarchical structure has advantages over Evernote, and I am not a fan of the cloud anyway. The only drawback is likely to be UltraRecall’s performance running on a virtual machine in Linux/Mac OS. Handwritten notes with the Echo can be transcribed with the optional MyScript, or just indexed with keywords.

Best, /Pavi


Posted by Gary Carson
Dec 5, 2011 at 04:13 PM


“Firstly, I did my research. The Nuance website has plenty of graphs on the best voice recorders for their software. I eventually went with the Philips Black Digital Voice Tracer 0660 - an inexpensive model (due to its lack of bells and whistles that I didn’t need) that records with crystal clarity, has one of the best ratings on the Nuance site, and is *optionally bundled with this version of the software*. I want to emphasize that point - I own the recommended digital voice recorder that Nuance bundles with this device (for an extra $100, of course). “

I think this was her problem. The recorder that comes bundled with some packages of Dragon is almost completely worthless and Nuance doesn’t actually test the recorders on their recommended-recorders list. I got all that information from Knowbrainer.com (I’m not affiliated with them, just a customer—one of the guys who works there used to work for Nuance and the Knowbrainer team really know their stuff when it comes to voice recognition).

Voice recognition is one of those areas where the quality of your hardware is really critical.


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