KnowBrainer Speech Recognition
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Topic Title: Using speech with PostBox email program?
Topic Summary: eg SAPI, speech commands (Dragon, KnowBrainer, ...)
Created On: 05/31/2021 10:58 PM
Status: Post and Reply
Linear : Threading : Single : Branch
 Using speech with PostBox email program?   - Ag - 05/31/2021 10:58 PM  
 Using speech with PostBox email program?   - Alan Cantor - 06/01/2021 10:26 AM  
 Using speech with PostBox email program?   - Lunis Orcutt - 06/01/2021 10:50 AM  
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 05/31/2021 10:58 PM
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Ag
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Posts: 641
Joined: 07/08/2019

BRIEF: I appreciate any reports, good or bad, using the postbox email program with speech recognition. Particularly in comparison to Thunderbird, Outlook, or Gmail web interface.

 

I suppose I should also ask questions about generic PostBox features such as handling Gmail labels, version control of search folders, etc.

 

(Mention of other email options also appreciated, although please let's not hijack this thread overmuch away from PostBox. if there is a lot of discussion about alternatives to Outlook/Thunderbird/PostBox, let's start a new thread.)

 

DETAIL:  

 

It is time for me to make yet another attempt to improve my toolchain. In particular, email.  Since I restarted using speech recognition, my email efficiency has been much lower than it was when I was typing and mousing all the time.

 

When I restarted using speech recognition, at first I tried using Outlook, and then quickly switched to using Thunderbird.  My email server remains Gmail, both personal and work.

 

 

---+ Why Not Outlook?

 

Outlook seems to be the most widely recommended email program used via speech recognition. As one might hope for a Microsoft application[*], Outlook is almost completely speech aware.

 

(Note *: I could only wish that Microsoft OneNote were equally speech ready.)

 

Unfortunately, as I have noted elsewhere Outlook produces HTML email that is often unreadable by many of the people I interact with - some of whom are using Gmail on the web, some other UNIX-ish email programs. I want to continue using HTML email, not have to fall back to using plaintext, but I also want to interact with these people.

 

Furthermore, I make extensive use of search folders and email classification rules, and I think that it is very important to be able to version control and diff these things. Standard Outlook does not support that. I have purchased Sperry Software's Power Rules Manager (https://www.sperrysoftware.com/Email-Tools/product/power-rules-manager), which allows rules to be version controlled.  Since search folders are very similar to rules, I am surprised they are not supported, but they aren't :-(

 

Outlook interfaces to Gmail via IMAP, and has the usual problems handling Gmail labels (mis)interpreted as IMAP folders.

 

 

---+ Thunderbird issues 

 

Probably the biggest issue with Thunderbird is that one has this itchy feeling that it is on the verge of being orphaned. Also, recent versions of Thunderbird have broken compatibility with many of the add-ins that were historically attractive.

 

The main reasons I have been using Thunderbird had been (a) it produces HTML email that everybody I correspond with can read, unlike Outlook, and (b) I can version control its saved folders and rules.  Plus (c) lots of plug-ins, some of which I have been able to modify to better suit my needs.

 

My main reason to consider leaving Thunderbird is how poorly Thunderbird/IMAP's folders interact with Gmail labels.   Thunderbird and IMAP only really understand a message being in one folder at a time, whereas in Gmail a message can have multiple labels at the same time.    I really want to have queries of the form

      in:Inbox AND (from:mailing-list-foo OR label:Foo OR label:Fubar)

but as far as I can tell there is no way of doing this, since Gmail labels map to IMAP folders, and a message can only be in one folder at any time.  Gmail messages with multiple labels appear in multiple folders, but Thunderbird/IMAP does not understand this. 

 

However, Outlook has the same limitation.  PostBox is reported to handle Gmail labels better.

 

 

 

 

---+ Q: is PostBox a better email program?

PostBox, https://www.postbox-inc.com, is a commercial email program, $40 lifetime. Windows on Mac. Apparently not mobile phones, that's probably OK for me, since I have learned the hard way that thumb typing on mobile phones is a big cause of my computeritis. 

 

PostBox says "Postbox supports Gmail or GSuite labels and matches much of the organizational behavior of Google accounts online."  As far as I can tell it only means hits handling delete in a semi-reasonable manner. There is no evidence that it can understand the message having multiple labels in its queries.  (this may be something I just need to test manually, but I have been disappointed so often ...)

 All Mail and Important folders are also supported.

 

---+ Speech control of Outlook, Thunderbird, PostBox, and ...

As mentioned above, Outlook probably has the best speech control.

 

I have been using Thunderbird for a year or so, and have a fairly good set of speech commands.

 

Most important, I have a methodology that allows me to fairly quickly create the command sets I need for a new application. So I doubt that postbox will be a very big problem. Unless... its menu navigation shortcuts are highly highly highly context specific, and AutoHotKey cannot detect the context by looking at window titles or control names.

 

Outlook of course has full Select-and-Say control for correcting dictation. Thunderbird does not, and I suspect neither does the PostBox app.  However, DragonCapture helps a lot, and I hope that I can use an approach similar to what Vocola's author provided - allowing select interaction within a window of recent commands, emulated using backspace. (Darn, I cannot find the post that described this...)  (I also hope that Rudiger implements this in DragonCapture before I get around to doing it myself - though I was well on my way before I learned that Vocola had already implemented something like this.)  (Or, using Edgar's approach of vacuuming stuff out of a text box into something like Notepad, editing there using Select-and-Say, and then blowing it back into the text box.)

 

---+ bottom line Q:

 

I can see that several people posting on this form have used the PostBox app.

 

Q: how good is it with respect to speech control "naked" adding nothing? E.g. raw navigation of menus?

 

Q: are its menu structures amenable to speech control by emulating keystrokes?   

 

Q: context sensitivity...

 

Q: And generic email goodness, such as interaction with Gmail labels

 

 



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 06/01/2021 10:26 AM
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Alan Cantor
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Unfortunately, as I have noted elsewhere Outlook produces HTML email that is often unreadable by many of the people I interact with - some of whom are using Gmail on the web, some other UNIX-ish email programs. I want to continue using HTML email, not have to fall back to using plaintext, but I also want to interact with these people.


Are you saying the HTML messages Outlook produces are bloated with extra code? That would not surprise me. But is the code really so bad that people using gmail and UNIX-based systems can't read them?

I personally don't mind receiving plain text emails. I sometimes send plain text messages, and so far I've received no complaints!

What happens if you create messages as plain text, change them to HTML, and then format them? I realize it's common to write and format at the same time, but I find I spend less time per message if I separate the tasks: first compose and revise; then format. (I use custom commands to quickly change Outlook messages to HTML, plain text, and RTF.)

Because Outlook is the speech-friendliest program available, I'm willing to find workarounds to its many, many idiosyncrasies so that I can continue to drive it with Dragon.
 06/01/2021 10:50 AM
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Lunis Orcutt
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Joined: 10/01/2006

We are only commenting on Outlook because in our opinion, it is the only practical Dragon friendly email utility.


When creating an Outlook message you have the option of HTML (default) Plain Text or Rich Text. Outlook offers Rich Text for exactly this reason and you can make it the default setting. Rich Text looks like HTML and includes most of the capabilities like embedded hyperlinks and most specialized formatting.


We have never heard of any version/edition of Outlook that doesn't permit searching but perhaps we are wrong. Having said that, your KnowBrainer 2017 includes vastly superior one step search commands like Seach Contacts for . KnowBrainer includes full Outlook support and doesn't bother with other email utilities because they are simply not Dragon friendly. Technically, Gmail is Dragon friendly but not exactly Dragon efficient because you are limited to the browser. In the end, you are likely to regret using anything that isn't Dragon friendly and that's why we only directly support Outlook. If an email utility is going to play a major role in your workflow, our recommendation is to go with Microsoft 365 for ease-of-use and efficiency. Select-&-Say is a major plus.


PS: OneNote isn't Dragon friendly but is heavily supported by KnowBrainer and your DragonCapture utility. It is also time to upgrade KnowBrainer with our complimentary KBCommandsUpdater but if you haven't installed KnowBrainer in a while, we recommend uninstalling it, reinstalling it (internal Ver. 4.5), running it twice and then running the KBCommandUpdater. It sounds a bit convoluted but it's worth the time. You'll find details at KnowBrainer 2017 Download which includes our installation guide and download instructions. 



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