Testing and more testing

Somehow I have ended up with a copy of ViaVoice for Mac OS X. It appears to be the newest version, although I recall hearing something about it not being updated in the last couple years. This could be a problem for a new macbook. I decided to give it a try anyway.

The package comes with an instruction book and CD, a headphone/microphone combination attached to a USB adapter, and an audio plug to connect the USB adapter box to the audio output port on the computer. There are also a few other things I haven’t figured out yet.

I inserted the CD into the macbook slot, decided to actually read the instructions in the book and try tp follow them, and found the first minor glitch. The book assumes the CD will start on its own. I helped out and opened the CD. From there it is pretty much a no brainer, going step by step through plugging all the devices in and positioning the headphone/microphone, then going through an initial test to see if all the parts are working. Audio: check. Microphone: problem. It suggested I close the setup assistant and start over. Same thing. It suggested I restart the computer after plugging in the USB. O.K. Once again, the message: “It appears that your microphone may not be connected. Check your connections, close SetUpAssistant, and repeat this setup test again. You may need to restart your compuer after plugging in the mic.” Hmmmm. Back to the book: Getting Help; Obtaining Technical Support: “A solution to your problem might already exist! Before contacting technical support, check the Frequently Asked Questions database and the Tested Systems list. The Internet address is http://www.ibm.com/viavoice. Click the support link in the left panel on the web page. Then, select your speech product.”

I typed in the url and ended up at IBM software through a redirect. Clicking on the support link took me to their websphere section. Backing up and trying the support & download link at the top and searching through their software by name and category got me nowhere. There is no more viavoice on their site. There is a Websphere Voice, however. But there is no Macintosh version (I should have paid more attention to the discussion about ViaVoice a couple months ago). Nothing, nada, nowhere.

So I made a trip to friend Google and found: Nuance – IBM ViaVoice Release 10 Mac OS X Edition. Hey! The picture looks just like the box I have here! O.K., so after navigating through the site, I found this knowledgebase article: “Error message: ‘The microphone does not appear to be connected’ when using OS 10.2.” It actually has some very good information there, like turning ON the speech and microphone recognition in System Preferences. In OS 10.4 that turns on the native speech recognition, but ViaVoice still couldn’t get through. So, the next step was to reboot and try it again. Next: Remove the ViaVoice folder from the Applications folder, and the ViaVoice login from the users folder. But there is no ViaVoice login in the users folder. Sooo, Spotlight! then trash all the ViaVoice files (about 20 of them!), and empty the trash. Reboot, re-install, reboot, download and install the update, reboot, and try again.

Oooookay, first there’s the warning on the update download page, saying this is only for OS 10.2. But I download, reboot, install, and reboot anyway. It says to start the setup assistant from a specified path in the Finder menu, but it’s not there. Spotlight! again. This time it acted like it was recognizing the microphone, but not me. After a couple tries, and taking off the headphone, I tried one last time, fairly shouting the passage. Amazingly, that worked. So I put the headphone back on, and shouted into the microphone. Finally past that hurdle, I got to the testing voice quality. I spoke slightly louder than normal, and it said the quality was good. I tried again in a normal voice and the quality dropped to poor. After getting it back up to fair quality, I moved to the next section, which is to read passages as they are displayed.

I don’t think it’s supposed to be this hard. It’s beginning to dawn on me why I ended up with this: last one to arrive, having missed out on the previous conversation about how bad it is? But giving in to a masochistic streak, I finished the setup, and now have no idea what to do with it, especially since I’m now hoarse from reading aloud. On the upside, the reading passages were interesting.

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