Using voice to text to write blog posts

I am sitting in our car with the dog while my wife has gone into the food store wearing a mask to buy groceries. I’m experimenting today to see how well writing a blog post using voice-to-text on my phone works.

As far as I know, there aren’t any good inexpensive or free ways to do this on my Linux-based desktop computer, which I usually use for writing blog posts. But I find the voice-to-text feature that my phone has works extraordinarily well.

I’m sure there are similar options for users running Windows or Mac OS, but it doesn’t matter. This post isn’t about the availability of voice-to-text on different platforms.

So what I’m finding is that it works pretty well. All you have to do is spend a few minutes thinking through the purpose of the blog post. Then, you spend a few moments before each long sentence or paragraph thinking through what you want to say next. Then you narrate it.

Editing works the same way it does all the time, which is to say that you touch the screen where you want to insert text, or you select words that you want to delete.

I find that I tend to do a lot less editing this way because my spoken phrases tend to be very natural and clear.

To summarize, I find the process pretty natural and easy. It seems to go a lot faster than typing blog posts. I’ll try composing blog posts this way more often.

Rotate your stock

As a university student, I worked one summer as a line cook in a new-age tempura restaurant. The chef there was a grizzled US Navy veteran who went by Lodi. He spoke with a New Hampshire accent and worked his knife like a man gutting fish on a trawler coming ’round the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse.

My first day on the job, he showed me the walk-in refrigerator, a cold, damp, vault with shelves from floor to ceiling. He said:

Upper and lower shelves are for produce boxes fresh off the truck.  Shelves from your head to your waist are for food that’s ready-to-cook or ready-to-serve.

Always put a lid on your containers and always rotate your stock. Everything should have an expiration date. Toss out everything that’s expired. Cut off anything that’s spoiled. Sniff or eyeball everything and ask yourself if you’d eat it. If in doubt, toss it out.

Then, bring the good stuff forward to make space behind it. Before the lunch rush and any time you’ve got a minute to spare, cut vegetables and prepare food to fill these empty spaces.

It seems like common sense now, but as a young man, this system made a big impression on me.

I’m still doing it in my work today. I just finished a project where I inspected my team’s entire doc repository, tossed out the obsolete, refreshed the good, and moved it forward.

You can do this, too. For tech docs or blog posts:

  • Inspect your legacy content at regular intervals.
  • Remove what’s obsolete.
  • Refresh what’s good and bring it forward.
  • Fill your customers’ information needs with new content.
  • Take steps to make the process more systematic.

In tech docs, there are ways to make replacing content easier:

  • Keep a release-cycle checklist with a “remove obsolete content” task on it.
  • Write modular documentation.
  • Tag content that’s version-specific so you can search for it.
  • Use link checking software.