This blogpost was first written when I started my site and didn’t have a proper ‘About me’ page in place. I now have one, and you can find it here.
About Janneke den Draak
This is the first time that I have created an international website and most probably you’ve have never heard of me. I believe that it is important to introduce myself properly. So here goes… my name is Janneke. And in case you are curious: this is pronounced Yáh-neh-ke. My last name, Den Draak, means “the Dragon”. Appropriate, isn’t it? Some people have said that this cannot be coincidence, but I do have a large family and – as far as I know – I am absolutely the only one of them involved in Dragon speech recognition. But I still think it is great 🙂
I was born in the Netherlands and that is where my business is located. I have an office in the beautiful city of Nijmegen. Nothing fancy, but it suits me. Nijmegen is very close to the Dutch-German border and I live in Germany. It is only about 13 km (8 miles) to my office, so that’s a very modest commute. Since I mostly train people individually at their workplace, I do travel a lot despite this short commute. I go everywhere in the Netherlands, though admittedly we do not have a very big country.
My husband and I live in a detached house and we have a cat to keep us company. As a matter of fact, she is lying (asleep, of course, she IS a cat) right next to my keyboard while I am dictating this blog post.
As a hobby I grow some fruits and vegetables in the garden and I also like music (singing) and reading books. The link between health and nutrition has my special interest and I am studying part-time for a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and dietetics. Due to time constraints I’m sure it will be at least 2020 before I get my degree.
Why speech recognition?
Over 20 years ago I was working as a network engineer at the ICT department of a large Dutch company. I enjoyed my work very much, but within a few years I developed Repetitive Strain Injury. Working that many hours at the computer was not healthy for me. Using the mouse and keyboard became extremely painful after just a few minutes of computer work. Unfortunately, that meant that I could not work for quite some time. And it wasn’t just computer work that became impossible; even brushing my teeth was painful.
Even back then, the first thing an ICT person would do was search the Internet. I tried to find out whether it was possible to talk to the computer and have it write down what you said. And I discovered that this was, indeed, possible! But not in Dutch. Bummer. Still, I got started with Dragon NaturallySpeaking 3.5 US and shortly afterwards this version came out in Dutch. This version of Dragon only had dictation. For commands I used the first incarnation of Dragon speech recognition: Dragon Dictate. (Not to be confused with the current Dragon Dictate for Mac) Still on sick leave, I quickly became proficient in using the speech recognition software.
When it became clear that I wouldn’t be able to go back to my previous job, I was fortunate enough to find a job as a speech recognition trainer and consultant. I worked in this position for about 10 years and in 2010 I started my own business: Den Draak Speech Recognition. Many of my clients are individuals who have trouble using mouse and keyboard. One of my clients is a large European organisation and that means I train their employees in English. So, even though most of my experience is with the Dutch version of Dragon, I am very well versed in the English version too.
While some people recover from Reptetitive Strain Injury pretty completely, I have never been able to do so. Fortunately I am doing much better than 20 years ago, but I am still quite limited in what I can do. This means that I still use speech recognition every day and I am dependent on it to be able to do my work. This constantly motivates me to improve myself, so that I can better assist my clients.
Well, now you’ve learned a lot more about me and how I got involved with Dragon. I hope you didn’t fall asleep!
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