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Sunday, 8 November 2009

The Olympus DSS Player is less contentious than sex education in secondary schools, which is the topic I had initially selected for today's blog post. It's a great tool for journalists who don't have shorthand, especially if you buy the model with the foot-pedal controller.

While I fulsomely agree with improving sex education in secondary schools, and deplore objections from Catholic schools head Dan White, I'm just so sick of the media's aggressive language and conflict-driven methodology for stories on social subjects. So instead of writing, at length, about how sick the whole debate makes me feel, I thought I'd try to say something positive.

After all, new ways to improve your worklife are uncontentious, though hopefully not unpreposessingly bland. The DSS Player has changed my life.

I was going to attend j-school for a few months to learn shorthand but then the move up here to Queesland scotched that. Instead, I found another way to alleviate the massive sensation of irritation I used to feel whenever it came to contemplating a large transcription job.

Getting words into a WP file is 100 times easier, now, with the foot-operated DSS Player.

To remove the recording from the VN-960PC Digital Voice Recorder, I just plug it into a USB port. The Olympus Digital Wave Player opens automatically and the file gets transferred by the driver software into a folder that is created automatically for the purpose of holding the file. The folder is dated. The file on the recorder can now be automatically deleted - you must use a pre-set in the Wave Player interface.

Then you open up the DSS Player software and place the window on the screen near the Wave Player window. You just drag the file across to the DSS Player, which has several folders available for temporary file storage.

The foot pedal playback unit sits on the floor under my desk, and is connected to the back of the computer via a USB port. Once you highlight a file inside the DSS Player window, you just step on the right-hand pedal of the controller and playback starts.

So instead of twiddling with the tiny buttons of the VN-960PC Voice Recorder, I can use both hands to type while playing the recording using my feet on the control pedals.

There's a rewind pedal as well. In addition, the DSS Player interface shows with an indicator where you currently are located in the recording, so it's easy to move back and forwards. And it's easy to go back to a location you want to hear again.

After completing a transcription, I drag the file out of the DSS Player interface into a storage folder along with the other files for the story, so they're all stored together, for future reference. This way, if I ever need to find the file again, it's very easy to do so.

Recently, I transcribed about an hour's-worth of recordings in less than two hours. This facility lets me concentrate on writing immediately, instead of breaking off work and coming back to do the actual writing later. It's a huge efficiency.

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