Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Carma’s Corner: Taming the Dragon

I have become slave to a dragon. Yes, I’m at the mercy of a dragon, and, trust me, this dragon is no Puff the magic dragon who lives by the sea and frolics in the autumn mist. No, this dragon is stubborn, ornery, and disruptive on bad days and understanding, cooperative, and a blessing on good days. But I never know when good or bad days will occur; I just wait and see for the dragon to reveal its daily attitude.

For the last 12 years, my life has revolved around this dragon; I live with it; I work with it, and I even socialize with it. By this point, the secret is probably becoming clearer that the dragon isn’t a fire-breathing, winged creature (although there are days when the dragon makes me breathe fire)—no, the dragon is found in my computer and is known as DragonDictate, or as I like to call the dragon, Princeton.

When I was a senior in high school, I was introduced to DragonDictate as I had lost all abilities in my hands. DragonDictate is a voice-activated computer program that can operate a computer via voice. Dictation appears as text on a computer screen, and voice commands are used to navigate the mouse and other functions of a computer—on good days, that is.

In the beginning, I’ll admit I was not one bit impressed with DragonDictate; it was much easier to tell someone else what needed to be typed. But I was assured DragonDictate only needed to be trained in order to follow my dictation and commands. Training was a rigorous 30,000 word vocabulary repeated three times. I laughed, wondering if DragonDictate would rule me, or if someday I would master it.

The first year of the relationship was frustrating, tiring, and slow. DragonDictate’s favorite word to print was “Princeton”—no matter what I said—it was always “Princeton”. Hence, I named DragonDictate, Princeton—the name has stuck for the last 12 years, although the dragon rarely feels the need to print its name anymore.

Today I have a love/hate relationship with Princeton. Some days I rule over Princeton, but the next day Princeton rudely reminds me that I’m not the master. Nonsense words appear on the page, and little to no commands are followed to operate the computer. On these bad days, I simply state, “Princeton has an attitude.”

Over the last couple weeks, I have been in basic training once again with Princeton—my fourth time in basic training. Computer problems caused issues with the voice activation program, which only leaves one option: repeating a 30,000 word vocabulary list. At this point, I’m in the “taming the dragon” phase, convincing it that cooperation is much easier. Even though training is tedious and time-consuming, I don’t mind doing it because the freedom and independence I receive from Princeton far outweighs the frustration.

I am thankful for Princeton because I know God is using it as a tool to allow me to be an active member in society. DragonDictate (Princeton) is more than just a voice-activated computer program to me; it’s one of the keys to show how God can use all people, even technology, for His glory. With God, all “dragons” can be tamed!

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