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Monday, 26 February 2024

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Mice and trackballs also force your wrists into an extended position. After some really bad RSI troubles that made my hands and fingers tremble, shake, and hurt, I moved away from mice and went to using a WACOM pen pad. That mostly cured my problem. The pad sits where the mouse pad used to. I've learned to hold the pen in my fingers while I type so I don't have to pick it up and put it down all the time.

I wouldn't be able to use a computer at all by now if I hadn't made the change.

Like playing a musical instrument at a high level, intensive typing is an athletic activity, and anyone who does it should warm up before, cool down and stretch after, and take frequent breaks. I'm sure there are injury-prevention tutorials out there for typing, as there are for musicians. Here's one for gamers: https://youtu.be/degYaAE0Ehs

Aren't writers, editors and typists the default market for keyboards? Kind of like right-handedness?*

Anyway, it's really in software that marketing focuses on those groups, via macros, UIs, etc., and it can get highly specialized, as with screenwriting or transcribing. Much of this is aimed at reducing repetitive tasks and keystrokes, so there we have another kind of ergonomic solution.

When I got RSI I had a job that largely consisted of correcting and laying out camera-ready copy. It initially involved physically moving between dedicated stations, and a wide variety of small and large body movements. But when the office went digital, the job became sitting at one desk all day and mostly using the same couple of fingers and keys over and over to navigate and correct digital text. Eventually, mouse clicking was added. All this on the lowest-cost equipment the company could find.

Then I would go home and play computer games on my own cheap equipment, and do very similar repetitive keying and/or mouse-ing, except at higher intensity.

Which is to say: 1) I don't find it weird that there are keyboards aimed at gamers (especially now that it's a profession);** 2) Computers save us a lot of retyping, while introduce other ways to injure ourselves; and 3) Ergonomic keyboard layouts would not have helped me avoid RSI in the above situation, though it's possible that good key switches--one focus of today's gaming and coding keyboards--might have.

*Though I would not be surprised if there are more professional coders today than professional writers.

**Also, gamers prefer dark rooms, to aid immersion and focus, which is why gaming keyboards and mice are illuminated.

Six degrees of irrelevance..
Throckmorton, as a name, would seem to me to be quite uncommon ( based on absolutely no research by me). Today however, I have been aware of the name twice! Being an unapologetic fan of CNN and Fareed Zakaria's GPS show, I thought to educate myself about his background. Lo and behold his ex-wife's maiden name is - Throckmorton. As Paul Harvey would say "and that's the rest of the story".

I read with great interest, until I see a photo of a split, tented, glowing keyboard of great thoughtfulness and price, with an ergonomic nightmare of a mouse in-betwixt. My wrist hurts as much as my brain to view it.

[

Don't knock it till you've tried it! --Mike]

Time to investigate speech to text or better yet thought to text.
Guessing you’re not ready for Neuralink.

Related to Ken James's comment about mice, I have never been able to use a scrollwheel mouse. Within 5 minutes of using the wheel, my wrists are on fire.

But I hate trackpads (and trackballs, remember those?). What I find most amazing -- and have been using for nearly 20 years -- is "Middle Mouse Button Scroll". With a classic three-button mouse, holding the middle button down allows movement of the mouse to move the document on the screen. It's like using the spacebar in Photoshop to drag the photo around, but it works in every application.

Easy on the hands? Check. Wide range of movement? Check. Fine-grained control? Check.

For years, I have hoarded my old three-button mice, using PS/2-to-USB adapters to connect them, and cleaning the ball from time to time (some of you won't even know what half this sentence means). Recently I found a decent wireless (RF) three-button laser mouse. I bought two.

Middle Mouse Button scrolling can be configured on Linux or Windows machines in the settings. On my MacBook, I had to install an extension (https://marcmoini.com/sx_en.html, they call the feature "Grab Scroll").

Very possible to type fast with a light, diaphanous touch - but is absolutely guaranteed to cause RSI. An important reason that pianists are taught to hold their hands with wrists up and play with finger tips is to avoid RSI by engaging the whole forearm muscle strength. RSI is, of course, an absolute nightmare for any professional pianist -potentially career ending. A firm touch using the whole of the finger strength also helps prevent RSI - hence the high-speed bangers on the typewriters who don't care about the noise - not so good for a sustained presto yet pianissimo passage...

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