Remember several weeks back when I told you of my struggles to find an easy way to transcribe lengthy interviews? (It’s right here if you missed it. Go ahead. I’ll wait.) At that time, I purchased the Scribe program from MacSpeech, only to find it didn’t work the way I needed. It can’t handle multiple speakers, for example, and has to “learn” the sound of your own voice — at which point you can then speak into the computer and have your words magically appear on screen. That’s cool and all, but since I don’t write by dictating, that’s not what I wanted or needed.
When I called MacSpeech to let them know of my issue, I was told that since the program was “working as it should,” it was likely I would not be issued a refund — the problem was on my end, not theirs. I groaned at that, but fair enough — I wrote it off to the Lesson Learned Department.
Well. To my surprise, several days ago, I noticed that MacSpeech had credited my bank account for the cost of the program. Yes, they refunded my money — no real hassles, no follow up questions, no fireworks. They didn’t even notify me that they were doing so.
So, since I initially grumbled a bit after my initial contact with MacSpeech, I wanted to follow up and give them a shout out and some credit where credit’s due. Thanks for understanding my issue, MacSpeech, and for refunding my money. I appreciate it.
And while we’re at it, let me also give a plug to the transcription company I’m using to have my interviews transcribed. It’s Production Transcripts out in California, and they’ve been nothing short of fantastic. I got an electronic file within two days, and the transcript was accurate and virtually error-free. Their costs are based on the length of your recorded interview — they charge by the recorded minute — which allows you to get a fairly good ballpark figure on costs before you send anything. It was a top-notch job, and I’ll be sending more work their way.
My plans for voice recognition software were thwarted.
As Jane Smith — from How Publishing Really Works — pointed out in the comments section, voice recognition software is fairly voice specific. You have to “train” it to recognize your own voice, at which point you can play your own recorded voice back to it (or speak through a microphone) and the program will recognize your own words well enough to come up with a reasonable transcription.
My problem, however, is that that’s not really what I needed. I wanted to be able to play back an interview between two people, and have the VRS system be able to transcribe it. That, alas, is beyond the capability of most VRS systems.
The literature for MacSpeech didn’t really make that clear — I thought it was going to be a technological wunderkind, capable of transcribing whatever I might play through it (“Revolution 9” from The Beatles might have been fun), no questions asked. That wasn’t the case — and since I don’t work by dictating into the computer, Scribe is pretty much a useless program for me.
Unfortunately, when I called customer service at MacSpeech to see if I could get a refund on the program — since it really didn’t do what I needed it to do — they told me no dice, since the program “was working as it was supposed to.” Rats.
So I’ve gone back to Plan B — having the conversation transcribed. I did learn, however, that if your transcription doesn’t have to carry a standard of “legal weight” — meaning it won’t be scrutinized in a courtroom — you can have things transcribed for a much more reasonable rate. I’m supposed to have my transcript back soon. I’ll let you know how they did — and if it looks good, I’ll let you know who I used.
I’m in the process of getting the interview I conducted the last week in February transcribed — or, rather, I’m in the process of trying to get it transcribed. I’ve got four hours of conversation to convert, and initially, I was planning on doing it myself. I’ve transcribed interviews before, but nothing quite this long — and after taking 20 minutes or so to transcribe about five minutes of conversation . . . well, that’s an unimpressive effort-to-product ratio. Clearly, I need another system.
For Plan B, I checked with a few professional transcription services, but the per-page costs of transcribing were a bit jaw-dropping. Probably nothing your average law firm can’t soak up, but for a company of one, it was gonna leave a mark.
That left Plan C. I’m in the process of loading voice-recognition software onto my laptop to see how well it does. I chose the Scribe program from MacSpeech, mainly because it allows you to open a sound file directly through the program. Now the only problem is the operating system on my MacBook. It runs Leopard, and I need Snow Leopard. So I had to order the upgrade from Apple (for some reason, they won’t let you download it from their site) and my package is still enroute with the FedEx man. Or woman.
Anyhow, I’ll let you know how it works. Anyone else have experience with a similar program?