What users say about Instant Text

Answers to Questions by Mary Morken
on Instant Text

by Robert Hill

Robert Hill answers questions by Mary Morken on Instant Text:

Mary:   Are you producing work faster using Instant Text than you were with PRD or whatever you used before?

Robert:   Yes, I'm producing work faster. I am now able to put the pedal to the metal and keep it there. That is, I can keep up with the dictators whereas I could not before, and I consider this a big improvement. And it's easier. I constantly used to try a code, realize that it was wrong, erase it, and try another. No more of that. Like Smartype, Instant Text gives a list of possible expansions so you can see it before you select it and send it to the Expansion Window.

Instant Text also provides sentence continuations.That is, Instant Text frequently knows what I need to type next, and all I need to do is tell it to go ahead. As I'm quoted as saying in the Instant Text ads that have come out, it's like catching a wave and riding it.

In my old system where I was trying to remember 8,000+ codes, I was fast. With Instant Text I'm faster, and I don't have to remember those stupid codes any more.

Mary:   How much of the time do you have to type out words? How much of the time are you able to use abbreviations and markers? Can you guess at percentages?

Robert:   I rarely type out entire words with the exception of very small words. It would be of little use to use an abbreviation to produce the two-letter word is and stupid to use an abbreviation to produce the one-letter article a, so these are typed manually. On the other hand, the abbreviation ia can produce the phrase is a. The old style coding systems involve going back and forth between code and expansion, code and expansion, code and expansion. If there is no code or you can't remember it, then you have to type it manually. Thus, you are aware of whether you are using a code or having to type things manually.

Instant Text is a very different animal. I don't focus on codes (idfoc). If I type idfoc, then the phrase I don't focus on codes appears in the Advisory Window. Then I press one more key to expand it.

Rather, I focus on the end-result words and phrases. Instant Text has already digested my previous work, and so it has automatically generated a list of words and phrases that I've actually used in the past. All possible abbreviations are calculated on-the-fly; therefore, when I type idfoc, Instant Text figures there is only one match in the glossary for that abbreviation, I don't focus on codes.

About markers, I use markers constantly. The same abbreviation ifdoc is considered for whether it is a word or a phrase. It is necessary to tell Instant Text whether I want the word expansion, the phrase expansion, or the letters ifdoc sent verbatim to the expansion window. This distinction is easier to understand with a different abbreviation, something like fs. If fs is in the input window, Instant Text can suggest the word fascia or the phrase frozen section, but I must tell it which one to use. I can pick and choose from 21 different characters to be my word or phrase markers.

Percentage wise, I would say that 90% of what I type is done automatically, the other 10% manually. This is in large part because of the sentence continuations. To continue the sentence I've started, I just press another marker, and it's done. No abbreviation input necessary.

Mary:  What if a word or phrase is not in the glossary?

Robert:  You are going to come across words that are not already in the glossary. For instance, yesterday I learned Heineke-Mikulicz pyloroplasty. Since I had never typed it, Instant Text did not know about it. I typed it in manually but then enriched my glossary so that it is now included for future reference. Now that it's in MY glossary, I can share it with you so that you don't have to look it up for yourself when you stumble across it. Thus, once these terms have been incorporated into the abbreviation system, Instant Text can serve as a reference source. I imagine someone online creating a list of antibiotics for the rest of us, someone else making a list of catheters, etc. Any user of Instant Text can share the glossaries of any other user and incorporate them into their own.

Mary:   How many of the abbreviations did you make and how many did Instant Text make for you?

Robert:   It made about 97% of the abbreviations for me, and I made 3% manually. I've added a few things that Instant Text would never have been able to guess.

For instance, Dr. B. always, always, always, always starts his report with The patient was brought to the operating room, put on the table, given IV sedation, and prepped and draped in the usual sterile fashion. I have manually made an abbreviation called openb to open a Dr. B report.

Mary:   Did you have Instant Text read you documents before using it to build the vocabulary?

Robert:   Yes. It is easy, fast, and amazing. However, you do need to see to it that you run ENOUGH text through the glossary compilation process. Otherwise, you won't get a glossary that is truly representative of all your work.

I've made subglossaries for different doctors, different specialties, and different hospitals.

Mary:   Are you finding it quicker to choose from the list?

Robert:  Yes, absolutely. Very quickly, one learns that one can isolate expansions by adding a single letter to the abbreviation. For instance, if you enter the abbreviation fz, Instant Text can imagine several possible words that you can be looking for and display frozen, freeze, or frontozygomatic. By adding one more letter to the input abbreviation fzc, there is only ONE possible match, frontozygomatic. So, you can be clever and limit your choices by adding one keystroke here to save two there, and it speeds up the selection process.

Mary:   Are you using Windows 95?

Robert:   Yes, I'm using Windows 95. I started working with Instant Text using Windows 3.11. Instant Text works perfectly with Windows 95, but it is designed to work with any version of Windows. Further, Instant Text can run on a 386 with 4 MB of RAM using Windows 3.1. As with everything in the computer world, the newer and more powerful the machine, the better the performance. But, any machine that can run Windows can run Instant Text.

[More recent versions of Instant Text no longer support Windows 3.1 and work with Windows 95/98/Me/NT/XP or 2000.]