Fun with iDictate Transcription

At work, we’ve started using iDictate for transcribing audio. After sending them an MP3, they send back a written transcription within an hour or two for about $.01/word. (They split the audio into manageable chunks, distribute it to typists around the world, reassemble the text, and send it back.)

Phil noticed that they offered a 100-word free trial by phone, so decided to have a little fun. He called their toll-free number, started his favorite MP3, and held the phone up to the speakers. They e-mailed him the transcript below. (They couldn’t figure out the words “find emotion” and left it blank.)

Try it out! Call 1-877-DICTATE (1-877-342-8283), press “1” to dictate, then “1” to do the free trial, and start recording. If you have any good results, post them in the comments.

Update: Ryan sent them They Might Be Giants’ “Exquisite Dead Guy.” They mangled the lyrics.


She’s just a small town girl living in a lonely world. She took the midnight train going anywhere.

Just a city boy born and raised in South Detroit. He took the midnight train going anywhere.

A singer in a smoky room, smell of wine and cheap perfume, for a smile they could share the night, it goes on and on and on, come on.

Strangers dancing, walking down the boulevard as shadows dancing in the night. Streetlights, people, living just to ****, just hiding somewhere in the night.


    Are the typists from the US and would probably recognize the song, or are they in some third world country with but a keyboard and monitor? (and some sort of playback device)

    Damn… looks like they caught on. I tried to get Rapper’s Delight transcribed & received this reply: “Sorry, but your dictated/recorded material could not be transcribed…CyberSecretaries cannot transcribe radio, CDs, DVD’s, or any other music medium.” I’ll keep trying, perhaps with something simpler.

    They rejected “Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down” by Interpol. I may try that “Please Don’t Go Topless Mother” song.

    I phoned in the first two stanzas of Lewis Carrol’s fabulous poem “Jabberwocky” just to see what would happen.

    The Real Poem:

    `Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

    All mimsy were the borogoves,

    And the mome raths outgrabe.

    “Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

    The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

    Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

    The frumious Bandersnatch!”

    And the Transcription:

    Twas brilly and the slimy toads

    that Gier and Gimble in the wave

    on nimbly burrow rose

    and the moon wrath outgrade.

    Beware of the devil walk, my son.

    The jaws that bite the claws that catch

    beware of the jug jug bird

    and shun the humorous Vander snatch.

    I tried this audioblogger post and recieved this email in return:

    “Sorry, but your dictated/recorded material could not be transcribed, because:

    Too many people speaking at the same time.

    We do the best we can to transcribe your work on each job, so if you could improve this portion of your dictation preparation, we will do everything we can to complete every job for you.”


    “My neck, my back” by Khia was a no go.

    …cannot transcribe music medium.

    I put the number in my phone though. For that price, I might try using it for taking memos for myself when driving or whatever.

    I’ve actually used iDictate for business dictation by dialing in while on a conference call. It works pretty well, and it sure beats writing conference reports — even if they can’t transcribe “Jabberwocky,” they’ve got their marketing buzz-words covered…

    I know that song from Family Guy!!! You know, the one when they make a mega mall and the bar starts losing buissnes. Then Peter and Cleveland and Quagmire start singing kareoke. Then everyone forms a crowd to listen to them. Oh, nevermind.

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