At Cat in the Corner, Thursdays are typically the day I write about different authors or their writing groups. As far as I know, Phil Bonnington, a department manager at Amarillo’s Office Depot is not a writer, but without his help today, I would have quit.
I told Phil my hubby gave me Dragon NaturallySpeaking, purchased elsewhere, for Christmas 2011, but I hadn't had a chance to use it. During the first quarter of 2012, I spent the time I’d set aside for learning to use the speech recognition software on problems with our new computer and internet service. By then it was tax time. With taxes finally caught up (late), I’d fallen behind on everything else.
2013 arrived. My new beginnings would start with the very thing I’d planned one year ago. Back to the program, I began to follow prompts that would allow it to recognize my voice. I tried everything I knew to do but could not get past the application’s microphone test.
According to a tech at Dragon Naturally Speaking, Dragon and my computer are incompatible. And, oh, by the way, since I had not been able to use the device yet, they’d waive the cost of the phone call. Next time, despite the fact that a foreign accent slows communication and makes the situation even more frustrating, I’d pay about $20 per hour for technical help.
I needed a certain type of adapter that had to fit a USB port, the techie finally decided.
That’s why I went to Office Depot. Seeking a solution to the problem, Phil and I looked over a row of products. He actually opened one package to see its contents better. Like so many packages today, when you cut open (and how else do you get into the darn things?) knife-sharp edges threaten you. Your hands might better survive an effort to separate two warring tomcats.
We weren't sure that any of those products (headsets) would work. I called Dragon’s help line. I hate being heavy handed, but I suggested they waive the fee for tech help. Then I named groups of writers—from local to international— who would hear about the situation within hours if Dragon stuck me with $20/hr for the conversation.
Whether prompted by ethics or numbers, the Dragon folks said we could talk for free.
Phil stayed there while a Dragon rep and I spoke. It took a long time. Dragon offered options. I was almost ready to spend more at Office Depot for a new headset than purchase one from the company that had packaged a lemon in my Christmas gift. Finally they offered an upgrade which included 3 months of technical support, for about $50, and I agreed to it.
Phil Bonnington spent considerable time with me today, and he didn't make a sale. Because of him, I’m writing tonight. And I’ll write, do research or conduct an interview again tomorrow.
Writers need certain tools, and learning to use them can be frustrating. If you are a writer who feels undone at times by technical changes, drive over to Office Depot. I've patronized that store enough to know you’ll find the writing tools you need and staff willing to help you. That makes Phil Bonnington a writers’ assistant, doesn't it?
(c) 2013, Bernice W. Simpson