Happiness is a USB foot control

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The Infinity USB Foot Control

I don’t think I have loved a piece of technology more than I currently love my new Infinity USB foot control.  I’m  transcribing hours of interviews for my dissertation, and although I type fast, it’s been a very slow process, because the transport controls on iTunes have little finesse, and you need to keep switching focus on the screen, move your hands to stop and start and so on.  Oh for the days of transcription machines which had foot pedals (I used to temp as an audio typist between music jobs, and I loved them).

Searching around the net on Saturday, I read an article about a poor bloke who had spent 40 hours transcribing one hour of audio because he didn’t know about digital transcribing machines (i.e., these days, foot pedal + software).  That’s me I thought, and read on.

Within minutes, I’d ordered an Infinity USB foot control (£47) from Amazon, and downloaded the free transcription software Express Scribe. The pedal arrived yesterday, and the results are amazing. If you’ve ever had to do it, you’ll share my enthusiasm: I transcribed about 15 minutes of audio/3,000 words in well under an hour and a half, and I was getting faster all the time. I’ve also now downloaded the open source QDA software TAMS analyser , which is one of the few programs of its type to work with Mac, and it’s free. (Mentioning no names, but how can you charge $800 dollars for a Windows only program these days? Bloody hell.)

For me, interfaces are much more interesting than the technology behind them. We’re already at a stage where computers can do stuff quickly, and have been for a long time. The challenge now is to find the interfaces which enable us to interact with the technology efficiently and in meaningful human ways.  Frankly, whoever conceived a computer without a foot-control was an idiot: what missed opportunities. Laugh if you like, but I’m saving myself hours and hours that I shall spend doing something more interesting than pointing and clicking at a screen.

For the record, my transcription toolkit, which works brilliantly

  • Apple iPhone voice memo recorder for interviews (+ iTunes to import audio)
  • Macbook
  • Logic Studio (to enhance audio, though there are easier options)
  • Express Scribe transcription Software
  • Microsoft word
  • Infinity USB foot control