I HATE MY DICTAPHONE, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!!!!

August 26, 2009 at 10:09 am (Uncategorized)

Just a petit post from me tonight (speaking of petit – and petty – last night I dreamt Llew and I were in Paris. But no. That would be L, as of Monday. Bitch.) – would you look at the time! Nearly a quarter to eight and I’ve not even thought about dinner. It’s been a day of work-related pains in the rear. Transcribing: UGH. It takes forever, it’s sooo boring, and I am such a picture of mediocrity in the typing pool that it is one long stop, start palaver. Worse, my dictaphone seems to take severe umbrage to my attempts to conduct interviews on a mobile phone. I’ve tried tricking it by sitting as far away as possible, using a microphone, ear-pieces – basically every waxy accessory at my disposal – all to no avail. And yet sometimes it doesn’t mind at all. I can’t figure it out. Why do some interviews so enrage it? And look, it could be an Obsolete Item Complex. Remember how your Walkman got really nasty one day and ate your favourite New Order tape? It knew CDs were coming. And then remember how VCRs started gnawing through your video library and gouged the guts out of Top Gun? Spiteful obsolete items. So I look at my dictaphone and I almost feel sorry for it, because I think it knows its days are numbered. They’re certainly on the clock in this office; I can’t wait to throw this aggressive useless piece of crap in the bin.

I’ll tell you why.

Transcribing yesterday’s interview – just 15 minutes’ worth of chat – took me basically until lunchtime. There was so much static, ASIO couldn’t run interference more effectively. I was forced to hold STBOI (that’s soon-to-be-obsolete-item) right up close to my ear, just trying to decipher a key word or phrase that would help me make sense of the rest of it. I had to stop, rewind, and play every few seconds, trying to almost exorcise the ghost of my interview from beneath the aural squall raging above the machine. Excruciating doesn’t cover it. I was screaming and swearing at no one and nothing, shaking STBOI and sending Llew little text updates at enraged intervals, messages like, ‘This recording system is fucked. Makes job hard and unpleasant.’ A little while later, ‘I can’t even hear this guy over the fucking static on this fucking recording.’ The good news is, my virtual ranting in Llew’s own ear meant my dear, dear, dear, so beloved and wonderful husband went hunting solutions while I continued wrangling with STBOI (also known as Shit Technology Bastard Obsolete Item).


I mean, I liked him before, have loved him for nearly 13 years, but today, we hit new heights of spousal adoration. He called and said, “Google 1300RECORD.”

I scrambled for a pen.



I complied. And then I signed up. And then I initiated my membership. And then I called Llew to do a test run, making sure to tell him that the conversation was being recorded because, well, that’s the law, and also because he’d just been to IVF to deliver a, um, sample, and I could tell he was on the cusp of saying something very indiscreet. After we hung up, I went back into the 1300RECORD site, and THERE IT WAS. I pressed play, and our conversation came through my computer like music to my ears. I nearly wept. It was biblical. Had there been a single cloud in the sky on this indecently perfect day, it would surely have parted.

This afternoon’s late interview was stress-free, and transcribing was a breeze. A breeze blowing on the pain in my arse that is transcribing, but a breeze nonetheless (if only they had figured out how to record and transcribe…). I just followed the prompts afer pressing 1300RECORD on my phone, and I was away.

So easy. Not cheap, mind you, but I tell you, I’d rather starve for a week – okay, a day, I’d never last a week – than have to sit hunched and broken-willed over that piece of shit dictaphone ever again. You hear that, obsolete item? You’re done here. We. Are. Through.



  1. Charlotte said,

    This is wild! So the answer to a journo’s recording prayers, wish I’d had it years ago when I was doing interviews … but it’s kind of out there, isn’t it, in privacy terms? Do the people know they’re being recorded if you didn’t tell them? Does it have pips like the old phone recording thingos used to? more info please!

    • doctordi said,

      It’s certainly the answer to MY prayers, Lady Charlotte! I love it. I think as far as the privacy laws go, the main thing is telling people they’re being recorded and indeed asking for their permission to be recorded. It’s one of the terms and conditions you agree to when you sign up to 1300RECORD, along with deleting the recording once it is no longer required. My dictaphone doesn’t emit pips either, so I commence every interview with a request to record the conversation. This was exactly the same. The only downside as far as I can see is the cost, but I was so desperate yesterday I would have sold my shabby soul.

  2. Pete said,

    Is this part of Skype? I’m so behind technology that I haven’t even reached the dictaphone stage yet. I still have a miniatureish tape recorder somewhere that was so incredibly bad at recording interviews that I often had to give up in disgust and try and rely on my notes instead. One of the reasons I opted out of journalism, perhaps? But well done on the technological breakthrough (and the clever husband).

    • doctordi said,

      I don’t know, Pete… it doesn’t mention Skype… I don’t think… but Skype did cross my mind yesterday – I’m not sure if it’s got a recording function? It’s incredible how few phones do; iPhones don’t and apparently won’t in future iterations. Everyone’s so paranoid! I have tried numerous dictaphones, digital, analogue, they all suck. This is far and away the most superior and mobile option I’ve ever used. Clever husband notwithstanding.

  3. Grad said,

    I tried to use technology once. I got this “thing”…that included a headpiece that somehow got connected to the computer and you’d talk into it and the program would type into your word processing program as you talked (I guess thereby eliminating the need for people). Before you used it, however, you had to train it to recognize your voice and take your commands…kind of like obedience school. I’d be in my office saying stuff like, “Go to sleep.” (to turn it off) or “Wake Up” or “paragraph”. This in itself, caused people to poke in their heads and ask what was going on. The added voices in the room would drive the “thing” crazy, and I’d have to start the retraining all over again because “thing” was so confused at that point, not knowing which voice was mine and who was saying “What the hell is going on in here?” So, I practiced and trained and then I was ready, until “in response to your letter of last week,” became “in riddance to for better awful lest geek,” Technology and me…cheese and chalk. I still get up from the couch to change the channel.

    • doctordi said,

      That’s hilarious, Grad!!! Theoretically, I love the idea of a voice recognition device, because of the promise of a transcription-free existence, but yeah, in practice all I’ve heard are bad stories of uncontrollable, illiterate “things” running totally amok. But I think your cheese is slightly chalky – you do blog, after all!

  4. Lilian Nattel said,

    hurray for 1300record!

  5. kate4samh said,

    Llew rocks! He is your best resource but 1300record sounds pretty cool too!!

    • doctordi said,

      It’s so nice that Llew’s the secretary for a change!

      • kate4samh said,

        Well, you are also his greatest resource : )

  6. Fugitive Pieces said,

    Would he be available to re-organise the comms in Fugitiveville, perchance? I was two glasses of mulled wine down when I tried to introduce the multi-function wireless printer/fax to the network. Their first date was not a success. I’m now too tetchy to try it again, and too embarrassed to ask anyone I know…
    (Yes, the Fugitive does have a home. Clearly oxymoronic, but I apply the escapist principle to the housework, instead.)

  7. doctordi said,

    Fugitive, I’m thinking maybe go easy on the mulled wine and have another crack! I’m sure this wireless stuff is supposed to make life easier, not harder, but, um, I still don’t really get it. I think that set-up calls for a professional – who sold you this thing?! Get ’em on the blower! And I’m very glad to know you’re not actually homeless or on the run.

    • Fugitive Pieces said,

      I wrote you an long reply, and my Safari browser crashed, losing it. I regard this as a divine signal that I was getting prolix in someone else’s space…so, to boil myself down:
      1/ I will indeed have another, sober crack at it. Failing that, I’ll call in my Geek Squad of carefully nurtured nerds. I let them mock me, then fix my technology. Everyone’s happy.
      2/ The day Officeworks provide after-sales tech support is the day I eat my favourite trilby.
      3/ If you own a iPhone – voice recorders are available as apps:
      However – the file sizes are huge (1MB a minute? please), so not really practical for interviews. 1300RECORD prolly the best option. Or shorthand. Yeah, no…

  8. litlove said,

    I have absolutely no idea what 1300record is, but I’m happy that it exists and that it won Llew brownie points. My husband is always thrilled when his credit rises because he says he can spend so prodigiously of the marital goodwill when he forgets himself. I have a dictaphone somewhere. I was recording a novel onto tape for my son (just reading it out loud, you understand, not composing it). Alas, he is too old for the novel now, which probably makes my intentions far more obsolete than the piece of kit.

  9. doctordi said,

    Fugitive, this is a job for the Geek Squad! That sounds like a win/win if ever I’ve heard one. Shorthand, no. Gigantic iPhone files, no. But it’s good to consider all options before running back into the safe and true arms of 1300RECORD…

    Litlove, that’s it exactly. He will be dining out (and in) on heroically saving the day for the foreseeable future. If you want to make an audiobook, how about Ulysses for this little piggy?!

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