Wake up, Nuance!

This is a repost of something I yanked because I thought I came off sounding too harsh. I wish I’d kept the draft, though, because my annoyance has returned. The difference is that my sense of proportion is better, and while I’m still increasingly exasperated at the way Nuance conducts business in certain areas, I can clarify why exactly this annoys me.

The bottom line is this. I know speech recognition is a lot of work to program, and I know the programmers are busy. Small bugs are inevitable, and we learn to work around them. But when it comes to very basic things, I’m sorry — if you design assistive technology on which people depend for their education or employment, you have a greater responsibility to ensure that the things that should work ACTUALLY WORK. Furthermore, when a customer calls you with tech support questions, you should try to replicate the incident yourself, which — in the situation I’m going to describe — isn’t hard. If you can’t replicate the incident over the phone, you might offer to get back to the caller if that’s feasible. If you don’t try to replicate the incident, you’re going to give the customer a lot of useless information. When you’re talking to the customer, by the way, please let him or her finish a sentence. Even though we use speech recognition, that doesn’t mean we can all speak as quickly to people as we do to our machines.

You know how I’ve been telling you that you need an add-on program to simulate middle clicking, and thus to use auto scrolling in applicable programs so you don’t go hoarse? The reason is not that Dragon didn’t include a native command. “Mouse middle click” is in fact listed in the Command Browser. However, the code which is supposed to activate the command is, from what I’ve gathered, either missing or just broken. It has been broken for at least the past 2 versions. Nobody noticed because nobody asked, and obviously the programmers never tested it. So, a friend of mine offered to post on the support forum — I was away from my computer — and I contacted Nuance. I’ve never called them before, so at least I didn’t have to pay the 20 bucks.

The upshot was that the tech had never tried to use the middle button auto scrolling method himself, so I was trying to explain it to him and couldn’t get a word out. Yes, I said, I know that its function is to scroll. That’s what I’m trying to explain to you. Whereby the tech informs me that Dragon has a “scroll down” command. No kidding, Sherlock — that’s the command people don’t want to keep saying over and over. (I didn’t say that out loud.) So then, the tech tells me that I have to buy a 3 button mouse — which for me would basically be a paperweight since I can’t physically use a mouse — in order to activate the command. That’s bull. The “middle mouse drag” command works for me, and there’s middle click in there somewhere, and I haven’t had a mouse connected to my machine for years. If every click and drag and movement function works mouselessly except for the middle click, logic dictates that the middle click command would work too if it were actually functional. Telling people to waste their money is a no go. If the tech had just tried the command himself, he would understand that there was something up. By this point I was starting to stammer with the effort of trying to get the words out in an order that he would understand, so I thanked him for his time and gave up.

According to the Know Brainer discussion, this little question uncovered flaws that have been around since version 4, and have never been fixed. Add these oversights to the borderline false advertising regarding compatibility with certain programs, and you can see why these little things annoy me. You want to know what else? Nuance recently sent out a survey to its “valued customers”, asking them what could be improved. But the only people that can take the survey are Professional and Legal users — Preferred and Standard users don’t count, apparently. Hopefully enough of the code is similar that their fixes can be applied to the lowly “poor people” as well. NOTE: it’s possible that the site just may be down, but I had no luck in finding a similar survey.  At this point, I’m really rooting for Windows speech recognition to hurry up and get with it, because I’m starting to really dislike the way Nuance treats their customers.

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2 Responses to Wake up, Nuance!

  1. Tim Harper says:

    Have you tried Dragon 10? They’ve added an auto-scroll command to it. I had the opportunity to play with a copy and tried it out, seemed to work really well. I think you say “start scrolling”, “speed up”, “slow down”, and “stop scrolling”.

    As for Dragon 10, I’m super stoked about it, and am definitely going to upgrade.

  2. hand2mouth says:

    I have Dragon 10. Unfortunately, I have the Preferred version, which does not include an auto scrolling command. You must have tried Professional.

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