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I'm going to be a bit scarce around here this week.

That's because after my last blog entry, I had a bad attack of RSI (subtype: numbness and tingling in fingertips, rather than shooting/stabbing pains in wrists) and need to lay off typing for a bit, and save what keystrokes I've got for the actual day job—that's the novel that is a few months behind schedule and facing a looming deadline.

No, I don't need your helpful tips on how to deal with RSI via furniture, posture, work breaks, or physio: I already have a recovery plan and know what to do. No, speech recognition software will not help me write fiction. (However, once I've trained it and learned all the speech commands, Dragon Express will probably do fine for blog entries—they're more conversational in tone and thus more compatible with dictation.) I just need to lay off the keyboard long enough to heal, then change the bad habit that's triggered this attack. You will not help me maintain my AFK status and recover if you ask me questions or attempt to engage me in discussion, so although I'm going to allow comments on this blog entry I probably won't respond to them.

174 Comments

1:

I had similar symptoms recently. They disappeared over the past few days as I got high doses of Methylcobalamin due to something unrelated (or so I thought). For the record: I am a vegetarian. According to Wikipedia this actually makes sense: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_B12

2:

No advice, just a hearty hope that you'll be doing better soon. Best wishes and lots of happy thoughts for your recovery.

3:

Unsolicited advice: Consider Dvorak (if you don't already).

I made the switch a few years ago, when typing a lot caused me wrist pains. It forced me to relearn touch typing properly and get rid of all my bad typing habits. It's also much more comfortable, with none of the awkward finger straining letter combinations you get with qwerty. Nowadays I have to type at least three or four times as much to get to the same level of discomfort.

Something else that helps is a good keyboard. My recommendation is a Realforce 86U or similar keyboard with individually weighted Topre switches. Not having to mash keys hard to the bottom to make them reliably register is quite a comfort improvement.

4:

Hope you're feeling better very soon Charlie!

5:

1. No, no Dvorak for me. I need to be able to type on anything that I sit in front of, not be restricted to devices with Dvorak support.

2. I use an Apple chiclet keyboard by preference and am a very light typist these days. Buckling-spring microswitches actually annoy me now -- too much travel, too much force.

6:

Feel better soon!

7:

You could get an actual person and dictate to them.

(Finding volunteer scribes would not likely be a problem, finding someone competent *and* trustworthy probably would be)

8:

Yeah . I get RSI from my crappy job. The only thing that helps when it is that bad is time off
Sounds like you need a type-minion sir

9:

Carpal tunnel syndrome

10:

1) I was afraid of that, but as you say, practical concerns also matter!

2) Ah, but the Topre switches are not anything like buckling spring mechanical ones! I don't like those either -- as you say, too much force and an uneven jolt when it bounces. The Topre switches are feather light with individual rubber dome-over-a-spring with a capacitive trigger. Silky smooth travel, and an early response way before the key bottoms out.

11:

If you're using a mouse as much as a keyboard (this is probably aimed more at other sufferers than Charlie), there are ergonomic mice that you hold in a fist-like grip a la joystick; a couple of our RSI-prone types at my place of software work swore by them, although both have since recovered and made the move to trackballs.

Google "3M Ergonomic Mouse"

12:

I get the aches if I use anything other than a good ergo keyboard for a length of time - to the point where I have to carry a keyboard in my luggage when I travel somewhere. Kinesis make my keyboards of choice. Expensive - but I have to write a minimum of several thousand words a day and I spend more time with my keyboard than any object other than my chair (run of the mill Aeron). If only they made backlit ergo keyboards ...

13:

My sympathies, Charlie. I've had to give up climbing, and learn a new style of playing guitar after a hand injury. And also had to change my doctor.

14:

@11: "3M Ergonomic Mouse"

Right handed only. Not good for us left handed mousers. (No idea which OGH is.) This is a pet peeve of mind - over the years I've come across mice that I'd like to switch to, and very few of them are ambidextrous or available in LH configurations.

15:

My sympathies. Enjoy your rest break and good luck with recovery. I will be buying your next book in hardcover in order to send royalties in your direction...

16:

You can get wrist splint things from the chemists- tr y sleeping with those on
Helped no end for me

17:

I'm a lefty. Also a Mac user, which rules out around 90% of rodents from the get-go.

(Signing off now because I just added 2000 words to the novel this morning and really don't want to provoke my hands further ...)

18:

Arthur - check out Evoluent Left Handed Vertical Mouse through your favourite search engine.

19:

It looked like something I might buy until I saw the price. Fortunately the current mouse isn't too bad.

20:

I've got an old "V-shaped" keyboard if you want it. It's got a PS-2 connector and (unfortunately) a Microsoft logo, but I'll stick it in a box and send it to you if you'd like. It's not Dvorak, so transitioning from it to laptop-type devices shouldn't be a problem.

21:

I vote for having the blog entries as both audio and the transcribed text!

22:

Maybe, when you come back to the keyboard after a suitable rest, you could share your recovery plan? Until then, enjoy the real world.

23:

Take care of yourself.
I'd say enjoy your time off, but suspect you might be the restless type, particularly when deadlines are involved. And other things to do.

I've no advice. No RSI or Carpal Tunnel for me, but Reynaud's/Arthritis. Fingers ache pretty much constantly, especially when cold. My mother knitted me a nice pair of long gloves without fingertips, good for typing while chilled. Can't play guitar with them, though.

I'm currently getting used to the ZaggFolio keyboard--thinner than I'm used to, but works well. Apparently it bypasses the auto-correct on the iPad.

24:

I'd like to know what Charlie found that works for this. Like most people who have been keyboarding for 30+ years I've suffered the dreaded numb fingers and tingling.
Years ago I spent 8 hours a day coding COBOL The World's Wordiest Language on IBM dumb terminals. I never had a single hand problem. When we switched to IMB PCs and their kbds, after a few months I'd be waking up in the middle of the night with numb fingers.

25:

Keyboards are a good example of a thoroughly broken paradigm that keeps on going due to the size of their installed base.

It's not just the QWERTY part, or the fact that almost all modern keyboards are relentlessly asymmetrical for right-handers, as it is that the designers (if, in fact, any "design" was involved) still assume the operators are typists or transcriptionists, sitting bolt upright with the keyboard down below ordinary desktop level, hammering nothing but letters and numbers out. I'm using an IBM keyboard now that's a good example of this; it's an AT/339 101-key board, and it is substantially dished. If it was sitting in my lap it would be ergonomic and comfortable; as it is, it sits pushed up against the monitors, with the trackball in front of it, and room for papers and reference material between the trackball and the edge of the desk. I type the equivalent of a full-size novel every month - about a megabyte, not including editing. The keyboard sucks, but it's the best of many I've tried.

Which leads me to the "natural" keyboards and "ergonomic" mice, which mostly slam right into the wall of "WTF!?" They're usually worse than what they're trying to fix. If I hold my arms out in front of me, my hands fall into position facing each other at about 90 degrees, palms down about 45 degrees from horizontal, fingers curled down, fingertip pads pointing back at my chest. ("stick your hands out" test repeated on many co-workers and relatives; results usually similar)

A "proper" keyboard should conform to the positions of my hands at rest, should not require tension lifting my fingers and forearms off the keys or desk when at rest, and should require minimal finger and wrist movement to operate. What I want is something that looks like a giant curved bean, with my palms resting on the top, curved rows of buttons cross the front (monitor side), and a big pocket for my thumbs in front, for the spacebar and special keys.

There's nothing like it that I've seen. Though if the RSI problem gets much worse, I'll probably try building one.

If you've ever looked into the history of typewriters, I'm describing something conceptually closer to the 19th-century "writing balls" than columns and rows of keys.

Most people don't know or care how bad they keyboard sucks; they peck out a memo or URL or text message a few times a day. Even an "on-screen" keyboard works for that...

I'd ditch the keyboard entirely and try a puck, except most of those are shaped just as bad as keyboards, plus I use the directional and function keys heavily for the things I do, and once you add those, and there's no easy way to jam that many (easily useable) keys onto a single puck. There have been attempts at two-puck systems, but those usually wind up as some variant of "split keyboard". I'm not necessarily against that, but it's not a solution that fits my requirements well.

The stories of Charles Moore pucking FORTH source code while driving still amuse me, though...


I've noticed a few odd things since RSI has shown up, though:

1) simply hammering text into a file doesn't bother me at all

2) it doesn't take much editing before the pain starts. I use the arrow pad for most of that, so the range of motion is very small, compared to the much larger range of motion (and more fingers being used) for text. I'm assuming there's a causal link there.

3) mousing (or trackballing) in general falls in between 1) and 2), but the more precise I have to be, the sooner it starts to hurt. Graphics and sound editing stuff will result in pain and numbness even before 2).

26:

Good luck with finishing the project and getting on with the recovery, Charlie.

Speaking as another lefty, I have no idea how to use a left-handed mouse. I'm so used to using a right-handed mouse left handed that switching the buttons would simply require learning curve. For most editing, I use the mosh pad on my laptop.

27:

More unsolicited advice, but perhaps worth a try, following the athletes RICE to promote healing. It stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. compression and elevation is impractical but I find that icing my wrists with bags of Tescos finest frozen peas as well as rest, helps. Well, helps me in any case.

Best of luck.

28:

@13:
I've had to give up climbing

---

I gave up my motorcycle. It got to where I couldn't ride for more than ten or fifteen minutes before the pain overcame the fun. The last couple of years I gave up riding on the street and just trailered it to the drag strip, but it finally got to the point where that hurt, too.

29:

Yes, indeed -- take care of yourself!

Love, C.

30:

Take some time off, keep away from any computational devices, preferably by some stoll-ish hiking followed by relaxing in a hot tub.
When you're free of pain and feel relaxed and full of energy you'll more than make up for the time spent recovering.
Take Care

31:

It is kind of amazing how many of us, when faced with someone we barely know saying "I have Disease X", will immediately blurt out things that we think will relieve Disease X, even if we only have that belief second- or third-hand.

Be glad you didn't say "I have a good friend with cancer"; the stream of suggestions would be an order of magnitude wider (and even wider if you said you had cancer).

32:

The solution I've found that works for mice is to switch it from right handed to left handed whenever the first symptoms appear. Keyboards aren't so easy, but I'm a programmer, so most of my time at the keyboard is with all keys silent, as I scroll back and forth over the code. (OK, so I'm not some sort of uber-programmer that can hold it all in memory. Recently I even had to look up an insertion sort.)

33:

Hope it all clears up for you, Charlie. I feel you pain (literally some days).

34:

I occasionally suffer from "mouse finger"

35:

@ 14
"Right Handed"
What is this thing?
I suppose I'm marginally RH - I can write with my left, but it's very bad-spidery.
But I fence with my left hand for preference, and the ONLY time I've shot pistol, I was much bteer LH - probably a result of my previous form as an Archer.
I uses a standard RH semi-ergonomic mouse, but LEFT-handed, without reversing the keys - confuses the hell out of watchers.

36:
What I want is something that looks like a giant curved bean, with my palms resting on the top, curved rows of buttons cross the front (monitor side), and a big pocket for my thumbs in front, for the spacebar and special keys.

You mean something like this? I've been using a Maltron 3D keyboard for about a decade now, and have found it hugely better than anything else.

37:

Get well soon.

38:

Get well soon Charlie.

39:

Not sure if your recovery program includes a chiropractor. If not try to find one that uses a decompression or traction technique. Hope everything works out well.

40:

I don't use quacks.

41:

I suppose I'm marginally RH

Heh. I'm nominally left-handed because I write with my left hand. I'll play billiards left-handed. But I shoot right-handed. When I tried playing guitar it felt natural to do right-handed, same with golf.

I'll use a mouse with either hand though usually the right - but prefer left-handed for touchpads... When driving old Ferguson tractors with the gearlever in the middle, I'll change gears with either hand.

It's not an either-or thing.

42:

I use a mouse left-handed.

An accident of history, really. The computer I first used a mouse with was one of those early all-in-one keyboard things, and the disk drive ejected out of the right-hand side. So I put the mouse-pad and mouse on the left-hand side. No fancy drivers, I just do the basic mouse-click with my middle finger, because that's how I learned.

We're all different.

43:

Hope you recover soon!

44:

Have you tried baby pills? Because this is apparently a thing you can get now: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17980177

Hope there's still a chance to sneak it into the upcoming laundry book!

45:

Wot everyone else sed re get better soon.

I'm RH for just about everything but chopsticks, which I only really learnt to use in my mid-30s. As I'm British I'm used to using a fork in my LH when eating Western-style, but chopsticks in my RH never felt right.

46:

RSI sucks. Feel better soon.

47:

I'm sorry about this - no fun [and no advice]. I've had both wrists "done" [carpal tunnel and guyon's canal releases] and now after 9ish years am starting to get some symptoms again. Blech. I hope you heal quickly and well.

48:

Chiropractic is quackery; but there is decent clinical evidence for it in treating lower back pain and neck pain. Like with Osteopathy the theory is absurd but the actual manipulation is fairly well supported by evidence. Physiotherapy, Osteopathy and Chiropractic have roughly equal success rates and work in different patients. Due to significant differences in the risks involved Physiotherapy should be tried first if that doesn't work Osteopathy second with the much more risky Chiropractic only if the others don't work.

49:

Charlie, hope it gets better real quick.

Anonymous @44: Ewwww! The human flesh dimension gives the squick factor but that they also contain harmful superbacteria, that's scary.

50:

Speaking as someone who's bought not one but two Maltron keyboards and swears by them, they are awesome things as long as you don't mind their grey plastic main battle tank appearance -- but they are not a thing that would solve the problem TRX mentioned: they do not let you type with your hands facing each other.

For that, you need even weirder ergonomic keyboards, like ergonomic chording keyboards. These are much harder to adapt to because unlike Maltron and Kinesis keyboards, which move the non-alphanumeric keys around but at least *allow* you to continue using QWERTY, the chorded keyboards force you to completely relearn typing, and learn something that is probably specific to that one model of keyboard. But they *do* let you type with your hands by your side, and they're the only thing I've ever seen that let you do that. (I've never tried one because I don't fancy relearning typing and because I already own my giant chunky Maltron.)

51:

In general: get better soon, best wishes. I have to presume anyone who writes for a living and cares about the scientific method and gadgets will have figured out the optimal treatment for themselves by now.

That said -- For everyone else -- I'm quite interested in what your keyboard / writing setups are. Maltron keyboards have had several mentions, and Kinesis has a couple; which models, which types do you like?

I'm currently using a Kinesis Freestyle (Solo 8" extension), which I adore.

52:

@36:
You mean something like this?

---

No, that's a good example of what I *don't* want.

53:

Actually, if you put a pencil up your nose and use that to tap the keys you can avoid RSI

54:

you can always type with yer nose, I s'pose

I hope you recover full use of your extremeties soon...

time for a DSE assessment at Schloss Stross, I think...

55:

RSI is a colossal pain but it can heal. I had 'tennis elbow', lateral epicondylitis in 2010 and it took 4 months of therapy for the torn tendon to heal. I suspect the therapy was mostly just paying people for 3 hours/week while the shredded cells re-grew but you never know. The massages were nice. This year it was a torn shoulder tendon that took 9 months to get better. It's a pleasure to be able to wear pull-over shirts again. And I learned not to move full sized commercial refrigerators around by myself.

56:

"Mosh pad" for the failing-to-be-a-mouse pad is the best neologism this month. Well done. ",)

57:

Don't forget prion disease.

58:

Good luck with your recovery Mr. Stross.

ps.
Idly I wonder if that phone alt-keyboard Swipe will be coming out with a design option that will allow typing/swiping with "alternate bodyparts" (nose, elbow , other , etc.) for RSI sufferers.
(yes, i'm skipping the obvious dirty jokes)

59:

Hope it gets better soon , Charlie. I get the numb/tingly fingertip thing from time to time, just assumed it was old age catching up with me...

60:

Look, my mother was a city wide champion typist at far more than 200 WPM. After looking at the first people using computers she said see could not see why they were not all crippled. She was trained to hold her wrist well above the keys. Much more than those pads you buy do. But she was using manual typewriters and needed the force. But after years of being paid by the word she has no nerve damage.

61:

Hope you feel better soon. Take as much time as you need. We're not waiting anxiously for your next book, no, nothing like that.

62:

If it's mousing that does it, I switched to using trackballs, and after a little while to (when actively typing or mousing a lot all day) to both right and left trackballs. I will navigate with one and push the buttons on the other, switching back and forth every hour or so.

If it's actual keyboard doing it to you, that's not at all useful and I feel for you. If it's the touchpad doing it to you, getting an external mouse or trackball may help.

63:

I've had carpal tunnel (numb/tingling fingertips) and it is very disconcerting for those of us who make a living at the keyboard. In my case, a combination of splinting, better ergonomics (most office furniture is NOT by default created for those of us who are not average height), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories sent it away after a few weeks, never to return. Here's hoping your recovery is as quick!

64:

No advice here Charlie,
Do what works for you and I hope it eases off quickly and well.

I had RSI and tennis elbow from using hand tools in a production job I had years ago. The only thing that worked for me in that situation was going out and getting a power screwdriver with multiple heads for the different assembly parts.

Cheap bastards wouldn't buy one for me though, had to buy my own. That started me looking for another gig. Found one, never looked back.

65:

Feel better soon.

66:

Ten years ago, when I first experienced RSI, I spent a year trying RICE, traditional physical therapy, ergonomic improvements, etc, and nothing helped. Acupuncture finally did the trick.

Maybe once a year or so if flares up, if I overdo things too much, and when it does, I go again to the acupuncturist once a week for three or four visits, and the symptoms subside.

Good luck.

(BTW, when I first transitioned to the Mac two years ago, the mouse acceleration curves nearly killed me. I installed USB Overdrive and turned off mouse acceleration, and it was much better.)

67:

My father tried the local chiropractor when he had back pain. The guy was straight enough to recognise there wasn't anything he could do, and sent Dad to the physiotherapists.

There's definitely a feel of quackery at the higher levels of the chiropractic movement, but at that time and place, the GP and the chiropractor and the physiotherapy people seemed able to work together. It may well be different now, they'd call it "alternative medicine", but my father is old enough to remember the traditional non-Doctors, and so was the GP at the time: personal reputation, rather than a framed certificate on the wall.

Me, I can never remember what the distinctions are between an occupational therapist and a physiotherapist, but I suspect that a problem such as Charlie's could go either way, depending on what the cause is.

68:

Here's to a speedy recovery.

69:

Sorry to hear of your troubles with RSI and having seen others suffer, know it's horrible to live with. Hope you get well soon!

70:

Heh. I'm nominally left-handed because I write with my left hand. I'll play billiards left-handed. But I shoot right-handed.

I'm assuming that you're right-eye-dominant?

If I'm coaching beginner (rifle) shooters, I advise them to use the side of the dominant eye - this is nearly always the side of the dominant hand, but not always (e.g. my mother is right-handed, left eye dominant).

71:

Enjoy a speedy recovery AFK!

72:

RSI can heal -- but it's not going to heal if you're paid to do the thing that's causing the damage, because you won't be able to stop. If you're doing a lot of typing in the service of a big enough company you're probably going to be able to get appropriate remedies (i.e. a wildly different keyboard) from them without actual human sacrifice. If it's a smaller company (and we're talking here *only* thousands of employees), give up, especially if it's a UK company. British managers are famously unwilling to part with a penny for capital equipment. (It took me four years to get a decent keyboard out of my old work, armed with a doctor's note in such firm language as to amount to an order. Even the dread words 'health and safety' and 'legal obligation' did not shift them. My going on effective strike while on the critical path and an irreplaceable employee and saying 'I'm not typing another word on this keyboard' worked... but most people cannot rely on *that* working. By that point I didn't care: if they got me another keyboard, that was good, and if they fired me, that was good too, because in neither case would I be using the agony keyboard anymore.)

73:

Hmm, well don't take this as unsolicited advice, just my 2 cents worth of experience, had a seriously bad dose about 10 years ago when I first started doing 3d work heavily and I found a little piece of shareware called rsiguard that has a lot of configurable options, autoclick when the mouse stops moving and a break timer that disables input (You can configure frequency and severity of the lockout) based on your reported level of injury.

The interesting thing is, an enforced timer break of 5-10 minutes every 30-40 minutes (Depends on activity, if you're doing lots of stuff the breaks will get triggered faster) actually works better than a longer break taken "when it hurts". I do have to admit it knocks you right out of "the zone" to actually take them, but for me it worked to remove the pain. I skip most of the breaks nowadays but I still have it on as a reminder.

It's a windows app but there's a mac os version here and there seems to be a linux version too. (I'm not associated with the company other than as a satisfied user, btw)

74:

There could well be something to that, but then again it might also be her being blessed with good genes. This probably bears further study; any medcial academics in the audience feel like pitching it to the grants committee?

Also, I wonder if I'm going to be helped or hindered in fifteen years or so by my complete inability to touch-type; I spent years trying to master it, but I'm so hopelessly right-handed that it always turned out slower than when I just used the one finger.

75:

If you can't type, but can talk.
Have you considered podcasting? Something like audioboo for example
(standard public service announcement - others are also available)

76:

I think what Charles needs is for all of us to google his symptoms in case it is indicative of something far worse, then report back on the possibilities.

77:

It occurs to me that this comment thread is the SF-lover's equivalent of those conversations football fans have down the pub about hamstring injuries and metatarsal fractures.

Except, if we were down the pub, there'd probably be drunken jokes about wanking. Every conversation I've ever had about RSI, it's come up some time.

78:

Thanks for that, I really needed a good belly laugh.

79:

I mashed up a hand badly enough to need three months off work a while back - I sometimes wish I had worked harder on the physio, but even so, I did get most of the range of motion back, and during the time off work learned to mouse left-handed (with reversed buttons)

An older relative once told me that milking the goats by hand was a very good treatment for her arthritis - how many goats could you get to graze on the roof of your building, Charlie? :)

80:

serious reply - buildings like the one Charlie lives in here in Scotland typically have a 40 to 45 degree roof pitch.

81:

Also, we've had winds gusting to 100mph overhead a couple of times this year so far. Goats on a damp, windy pitched roof with a forty foot drop onto pedestrians and traffic on a busy main road: not a good combination.

82:

"Goats on a damp, windy pitched roof with a forty foot drop onto pedestrians and traffic on a busy main road: not a good combination."

Cue Eric Idle in 3, 2, 1...

83:

45 degress is nothing to a proper goat so this need not be a problem!

http://karahanson.net/arestaurant/about.php

84:

This reminds me of my occasional wish to build a USB knee pointer - Doug Engelbart experimented with one and found that in some ways, you could work more efficiently than with the mouse he invented, but the experimental subjects preferred the mouse.

85:

Well, if the hand doesn't get better, you can switch to blissymbols. The vocabulary is a bit limited, but the range of non-stressful input devices is much wider...

86:

@60:
She was trained to hold her wrist well above the keys.
---
I tried to make that point earlier. The old OSHA recommendation for keyboard height was around belly-button level, which is why old office furniture often has a "typewriter return", with the bottom of the typewriter cutout brushing the tops of your thighs.

Computer users normally have the keyboard *much* higher, which throws the geometry off considerably. Moving from row to row at the "proper" height doesn't involve the large forearm movements often required by a computer keyboard laying on a table or desk.

87:

@70:
use the side of the dominant eye - this is nearly always the side of the dominant hand, but not always
---
An acquaintance's wife has an H&K P90. She's extremely cross-dominant, to the point she couldn't really shoot the rifle and hope to hit anything. So Pookie machined an offset bracket and mounted an Aimpoint a full four inches off to the left side, which results in one of the craziest-looking firearms I've ever seen, but he says she has no problem correcting for the offset when shooting.

88:

@77:
Except, if we were down the pub, there'd probably be drunken jokes about wanking. Every conversation I've ever had about RSI, it's come up some time.
---
I'll bet US$10 there's a vending machine somewhere in Japan with a USB device for just that purpose...

89:

That's not 45deg pitch, not covered in slate, not raining, not blowing a full hurricane, and not a 40 foot drop from eaves to busy sidwalt.

90:
My recommendation is a Realforce 86U or similar keyboard
I've heard good things about those. How would one go about getting to try one if you live in northern Europe? There was a distributor listed in Helsinki, Finland; which is pretty close to here, but not any more it seems.

(And keyboards are marketed on all the wrong things – backlit keys! blue LEDs! highlighted WASD keys! – so it's hard to see that any large chain would make a point of having something as unsexy as a good keyboard to type on...)

91:

Feel better soon.

(Should I be surprised that a blog post that specifically says "do not give me advice" has a comment thread composed entirely of advice?)

92:

Funny that you would throw away empirical evidence because medical doctors don't like the theory. I can use my left arm and hand today because I went against the advice of my MD and used the services of a Chiropractor. In British Columbia our workers compensation board will recommend chiropractors over doctors for most back and rpi cases because people heal in about a third the time and have fewer relapses. Acupuncture may also help, again based on empirical evidence which many western medicine practitioners won't try to understand. I have 20 plus years experience in Industrial First Aid.

93:

What evidence?

As far as I am aware there are no respectable trials which show that chiropractic treatment is any better than placebo. Can you provide links to the evidence you claim exists?

94:

WARNING: Further discussion of chiropractice is forbidden.

Comments on that topic after this one will be deleted.

(Reason: See the moderation policy, and consider the implications of this lawsuit.)

95:

*erk*

96:

Simon Singh won the case.

However, as I understand it, the legal costs of his defense exceeded the market value of my home.

I don't want to go there. (Or be taken there by well-intentioned idiots spouting off in my blog comments.)

OK?

97:
That's not 45deg pitch, not covered in slate, not raining, not blowing a full hurricane, and not a 40 foot drop from eaves to busy sidwalt.


Well, yes, but apart from that, what's the problem (and what have the Roman goats ever done for us)?

98:

Well, I don't think the goats would play well with the 17 year old cat.

Or the trapdoor in a ceiling ten feet up that you have to climb through to get onto the roof in the first place.

99:

A 17 year old cat?! That's 119 in human years, so they say. Last time around I got a Maine Coon Queen who is currently 15 and a bit. Her birth certificate makes the Queen of England look like an pretender to the throne.

But I have to say compared to the Heinz 57 cats I've had in the past, she's an idiot. But then when you're about the size of a dwarf lion I don't suppose that matters much.

Mind you, I have this theory that one day I'll get me a male Leopard/Bengal Cat and a female Norwegian Forest cat, and in one generation I'll have a cut price leopard and possibly less toes than I currently have.

Do you do health insurance for your cat? I use petplan where "lifetime cover" actually means something.

Or the trapdoor in a ceiling ten feet up that you have to climb through to get onto the roof in the first place.
This would be not even worth the challenge to a proper goat even if it didn't have pitons.
100:

I was intrigued by this line in the webpage for Sven's Swedish Restaurant:

"With it's authentic wood exterior, grass roof, wait staff dressed in traditional Swedish clothing and goats, a trip to this restaurant will be memorable for the whole family."

Hmm. I must say, visiting a restaurant where people wear goats would indeed be a memorable experience.

Apropos of anything else, I'm a big fan of thumb operated trackballs. Started around 15 years ago with a Microsoft branded Trackman Marble, just bought 2 new wireless Logitech M570's. Now only have one left as my 13 yr old son nicked one next day for his Minecrafting...

Get well soon Charlie!

101:

Do you do health insurance for your cat?

AhahahahaHA!

When we got her, from a rescue shelter, she was already too old to insure. (There was an upper age limit of 8 for cats back then. Since then they've raised it, but she's still too old.)

Luckily she's relatively cheap to run, but for a while the late Frigg (RIP) was costing more to keep going than my car. (Okay, it was an elderly and very reliable -- and cheap -- motor, but even so ...)

102:

I started getting tingling in my hands about four years ago. Worried me for a while that did (me being a software engineer).

It was sort of a relief when I started getting it in my feet and face as well to be honest...

(No, it's not MS. I got tested for that a while back. It's also not a huge long list of other things. More blood is at the testers at the moment.)

103:

I considered insuring the cat for £1m against having a fatal accident, but apparently it doesn't work like that...

104:

Rest.

We have the world's first professor of alternative and complementary medicine in this city.

We also know there is a word for "alternative medicine which works", the word is medicine.

Being essentially unprincipled as to source, if something actually works, we'll steal it in an instant.

Rest.

105:
This would be not even worth the challenge to a proper goat even if it didn't have pitons.
Indeed, all you'd have to do to get them up it would be to set up the ladder, open the trapdoor, and make it very clear they shouldn't go that way. You might have to as far as trying to chase them away from the base of the ladder, but sure as eggs is eggs, they'll end up on that roof... ",)
106:

Much as I love this blog and it's dedication to diversity and irreverence I need them new Stross novels way, way more. Look after yourself and, if nothing else, please post when the new book(s) are on their way...

107:

Indeed that is one weird rifle since there's no such thing as an "H&K P90".

108:

I find that the only thing that helps is ice. Preferably in a small glass, washed with scotch.

If that doesn't work, I move on to trout in white wine.

The hands still hurt, but the rest of me feels better.

Good luck with it.

109:

Used to work on a computer magazine years ago and when we tested keyboards for ergonomics, the best was the Maltron. Kinesis wouldn't send a review sample so I can't speak as to their effectiveness, other than that their design is eerily similar to the Maltron design, so that they should be OK.
Have heard about someone who took the split keyboard thing to an interesting extreme, mounting the two halves of a keyboard on his office chair, one to each side, so his arms hung straight down.
Personally, am getting used to a chordal keyboard as one of my hands doesn't work so well for typing anymore, again interesting experience so far.

110:

@81 "Goats on a damp, windy pitched roof with a forty foot drop onto pedestrians and traffic on a busy main road: not a good combination."

@82 Cue Eric Idle in 3, 2, 1...

I'd just like to point out that technically the Ibex is a type of goat. The Ibex laughs at your 45deg pitched roof and 4 story altitude.

http://neveryetmelted.com/categories/chamois/

111:

"With it's authentic wood exterior, grass roof, wait staff dressed in traditional Swedish clothing and goats, a trip to this restaurant will be memorable for the whole family."

Hmm. I must say, visiting a restaurant where people wear goats would indeed be a memorable experience.

Ok, not a goat, but note Norway's "hat" http://satwcomic.com/

112:

I think there is a range of activities in all this. Some techniques might plausibly have results, others, in the advocated contexts, start to look pretty far-fetched. And some particular bodies of alternative medicine might already have been mined out for what works.

In another context, with the same application of scientific knowledge, there is the world of agricultural and horticultural pesticides. It was never quite unscientific in my time, but I can recall such substances as nicotine being an approved insecticide. The modern farmer uses synthetic compounds which are tested, at great expense, for efficacy and safety. And even then there were some chemicals which scared me.

Some of the reactions from the "green" movement are consistent with a belief in homeopathic medicine. I used the concentrate, I had to be careful. When a couple of kilograms of active ingredient were spread over a hectare—10,000 square metres—and a significant fraction doesn't stick to the plants, that's a huge change in the dose. And then the chemical is spread across the whole plant, which reduces even further the dose to the human eating it. Finally plants are alive, and their own biological mechanisms will change these alien molecules. One of the important tests is to determine how long before the harvest is safe to apply the chemical.

No, for some people is just has to be "organic". No chemicals, except some of the old, "traditional", ones.

Maybe all it is is the culinary equivalent of the placebo effect. What you believe about the food affects your perception of the taste. There are good and bad things about farming, and they don't always match well that somewhat arbitrary idea of organic food.


113:

Charlie,
You've written about (and essentially dismissed) speech recognition as a writing tool before.

What about experimenting with it for non-essential writing, like blog entries?

Even if it didn't work, at least it would bring the spelling and grammar Nazis out of the woodwork.

114:

I am in fact planning that. Except I'm a bit too busy right now; I've fallen into the death march to the end of a novel (during which period nothing else gets done, much).

115:

No, for some people is just has to be "organic". No chemicals, except some of the old, "traditional", ones.

If you want some innocent entertainment, try asking an "organic" advocate what the difference between nitrates from the dung heap and those from the Haber process actually is!

There is an issue with ground "depletion" using full-on intensive farming techniques, but that's due to poor land husbandry rather than artificial fertilisers.

116:

The Haber process costs money; a dung heap comes for free with your goats. ",)

117:

But you have to run down and sweep it off the pavement all the time. Not very efficient.

118:

Don't be so hasty, Alain - the P90 is a pistol, which is probably why an Aimpoint was involved.

One of the complaints levelled against the current British service weapon is that it can only be fired from the right shoulder, aimed using the right eye; conveniently forgetting that the same has always applied to the Bren gun, Sterling and Sten SMGs, and most man-portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons - none of which come in "left-handed".

You can buy offset sight mounts for target rifles that allow for cross-lateral firers. The argument arises when you start trying to work out whether this makes them more or less sensitive in how the point of impact varies in relation to the point of aim, when you change the cant angle on the firearm. I use sight raising blocks to cope with head position changes between the prone and standing positions, and a similar discussion arises... And yes, we've all seen the joke sight mounts for gangsta-style sideways aiming :)

Anyway, next door have an at-least-17-year-old cat called Holly - an utterly bombproof and unbelievably tolerant one-eyed Heinz, who gently introduced both of our boys to the concept of catdom. Still active, just not hunting the grey squirrels like she used to (our houses back onto mature woodland).

119:

One of the complaints levelled against the current British service weapon is that it can only be fired from the right shoulder, aimed using the right eye; conveniently forgetting that the same has always applied to the Bren gun, Sterling and Sten SMGs,
You know someone who could shoulder-fire a carried Bren!?

120:

@107:
Indeed that is one weird rifle since there's no such thing as an "H&K P90".
---
Indeed. A recurrent cerebral parity error consistently returns "H&K" for "FN". Which is particularly embarrassing since I have various P90 parts laying on my desk at this very moment...

121:

You know someone who could shoulder-fire a carried Bren!?

Errr... everyone? I didn't say "from the standing position" :)

The unintuitive thing about machine-gunnery is that they have very little felt recoil (this is the point at which we can start muttering about "balancing the gun")

I did compete with a Bren; they were rechambered from .303 into 7.62 and renamed the LMG. We had a petite 5'2" lass in our unit shooting team, back in the days of the SLR; she was perfectly happy with a rifle or LMG, our worry was that she'd shoot well enough to make it into the LMG pair (sprinting 400m while carrying 27lb of metal in one hand is harder if you only weigh 100lbs...)

122:

And that's sort of my point too; a Bren may not be naturally left-eyed (but the ejector chute has to point somewhere) but 27lb is too much to easily lift to the shoulder and fire standing (no similar reservations about slinging and firing from the waist/hip). OTOH the Bren's ejector chute does not throw cases into the left-eyed firer's nose, nor does the bolt break his jaw.

123:

Indeed. A recurrent cerebral parity error consistently returns "H&K" for "FN".

Not just you. I managed to see "H&K P90" my mental picture was that of an H&K VP70... hence my "it's a pistol" reply.

...but yes, the P90 is weird-looking (it's the thing they used in "Stargate")

124:

27lb is too much to easily lift to the shoulder and fire standing

Lifting and firing it isn't really the problem - finding somewhere to hold it that won't burn you or chew your fingers is the problem :) It's designed to be supported by the bipod at the front, with both hands at the back.

It's all in the technique; if you use muscle power to hold and point the weapon, you're entirely right, it's too heavy. If you use balance and bones, it's entirely possible for a target shooter - it's just not a very useful firing position for a soldier.

My wife's and my own ISSF-style smallbore target rifles run at 6.5kg or so; the Bren (according to online sources) at 8.7kg. When we were training seriously, we could happily spend several hours a day shooting from the standing position, almost completely relaxed.

If you look at the scores of the Olympic three-position shooters, it's not unusual to see higher scores in the standing position than in the kneeling position...

125:

The pistol is the Walther P99
The P90 is a super ugly machine pistol by FN which shoots the same ammo as the FiveSeven pistol.

126:

But what kind of target rifle would you recommend Charlie use to get the goat off his roof?

127:

Ballista. Will get them off your roof and onto someone else's. And it's humane! I mean, you're catching them live and releasing them....

128:

Ruger make a P-90 pistol. I thought I recalled a H&K P90 - a handgun with grip safety (9mm? or firing a low velocity round designed for aircraft security?), but google doesn't seem to have heard of it.

I met someone once who lost the end of their little finger due to holding a Sten wrong.

re:poetry. I used to work for a chap who actually made money publishing poetry - one year he made a whole £30! (Before you deduct his costs, that is).

re:goats I spent some time trying to spread the meme "Goat on a pole!" but it didn't catch on.

129:

Our local vet has a 22 year-old permanently resident cat. All indications are that she is perfectly healthy and entirely unaware (and unconcerned) that she should have been dead several years ago.

130:

There is a H&K 90 rifle- a variant of the PSG-1

131:

Even if you can hold it, the leverage of a Bren makes it awkeward as a plain held weapon. It was designed to be slung (like Lock, Stock & 2 Smoking Barrels", bipods as you say, or even tripod or pintol mounted, and possibly crew-served.
In fact my Dad's army unit had a few guys who proved that a tripod-mounted Bren with a sniper scope was accurate out to about a mile.

If we're going to discuss target shooting, I know more about biathlon than Bisley-style disciplines. I believe your accuracy claims, but target rifles are designed to be fired from the shoulder, and we've both demonstrated that the Bren emphatically wasn't!

132:

"But what kind of target rifle would you recommend Charlie use to get the goat off his roof? "

Pellet gun. Quiet, non-lethal but extremely annoying.

133:

Charlie @ 94 & 96
I also understand Simon Singh had his costs paid - because the Chriopractic people ... (erm - I'd better not say that had I?)

Anyway, we STILL don't want to go there until our absurd libel laws are reformed - sometime SOON, pretty please?

As for hand/wrist injuries, well I've had Carpal Tunnel (small surgical nick cured problem, but everyoneios different - what works for me may not work for you.
Take general points about keyboard positioning, though.

Conan E. Moorcock @ 99
Yes, Norwegian Forests CLIMB - I've got Hex(adecimal) - 11 years old on May Day rumbling on my lap as I type this.
Crossing them with either a Bengal or a Birman is interesting. Or Birman tom has worked out LIDS - oh dear.
As for age, the great and still-lamented Hermann made it to 18 - and he still took a lump out of the vet at age 16(!) Mind you at top weight, he was 7.6kg of stripey killer - dogs were just wind-up toys as far as he was concerned.
& @ 118
Squirrels?
I live in London, and both our cats have brought squirrels in - 2 dead, 2 alive - so far.....

@ 112
There are still "Nicotinoid" pesticides, which are ascribed to be a prime causative agent in Bee decline.
They are not noce to play with, and attempts are being made to thin them out.

Oh, and there used to be a cat that lived mostly in the "ladies" at Kings' Cross station.
She died aged 32 IIRC

134:

http://world.guns.ru/sniper/large-caliber-sniper-rifles/hr/rt-20-e.html

It would get the goats off every roof in Edinburgh. Makes a bit of a mess if fired from the bedroom window.

135:

If we can resolve the targetting issues, Feorag and Charlie could stay in bed and shoot the goats through the roof!

136:

If we can resolve the targetting issues, Feorag and Charlie could stay in bed and shoot the goats through the roof!

I recommend a WWII era Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle with a krummlauf, or, for more modern guns, a Cornershot. That way they can lie in bed, point the gun out the window, and sweep the roof for those goats whenever they feel the urge to give someone some goat curry.

Of course, treating the goats kindly and getting them accustomed to coming when called is all-in-all a much more preferable solution, but why bother with free kindness, when there's bloody hardware to be bought?

Has the topic wandered sufficiently yet?

137:

You want to fire that indoors?!

138:

But, Charlie's RSI might interfere with his aim. I guess Feorag might have to do all the serious shooting.

139:

It's OK as long as the room is reasonable size

140:

>> My recommendation is a Realforce 86U or similar keyboard

>I've heard good things about those. How would one go about getting to try one if you live in northern Europe?

I ordered mine direct from Japan, but that particular export company went out of business when the people who ran the company left Japan after the Fukushima disaster. Today I would order from http://www.keyboardco.com/ (based in the UK) as they have recently started selling Realforce brand keyboards.

141:

@128:
re:goats I spent some time trying to spread the meme "Goat on a pole!" but it didn't catch on.
---
Sounds like the "midget Amish" meme I caught. It didn't go anywhere either, but the vision of dour little fellas with dark suits and floppy hats haunted me for weeks.

142:

Nightmare! Get well soon. I'd sooner go blind than lose the ability to type fiction. Except that I'm not a touch typer. If I don't see my words on the screen or paper, I lose my place, and produce nothing but frame shift mutations. Good luck on both health, and the bittersweet sensation of completing a novel, and saying good-bye to those characters, even as they whisper about sequels.

143:

@134:
If we can resolve the targetting issues, Feorag and Charlie could stay in bed and shoot the goats through the roof!
---
Sentry gun. Add wifi and use your smartphone to select targets instead of simply blasting anything that moves. There are a number of airsoft sentry guns out there now.

They were science fiction when they appears in "Aliens." Now they're DIY technology...

"Ah, Charlie, why are those goats on your roof flourescent yellow?"

144:

Charlie; no idea if you've seen this already (and almost completely irrelevant to your post), but saw ths: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sajidcreative/touchtype-a-case-for-ipad-and-apple-wireless-keybo/comments and thought it might be relevant to your interests, given previous comments regarding working on the ipad.

145:
Today I would order from [keyboardco.com] (based in the UK)
Right, that site looks familiar.

But... that's only the buying part, or "won't somebody please take my money!", which I've been assuming is not going to be much of a problem. Getting one to try is a bit harder, and I'm reluctant to part with, let's see, £160 just to find out whether I like the feel or not.

On the other hand the UK is a lot closer than Japan at least. :-)

146:
No, no Dvorak for me. I need to be able to type on anything that I sit in front of, not be restricted to devices with Dvorak support.

I switched to (a slightly modified) Dvorak layout a while back, and it hasn't destroyed my ability to type on any keyboard that I can't easily switch layouts on. Feels like I'm stupidly slow, but that might just be from lack of practice since 99% of the time I'm at home with my own keyboard. More importantly, in those 99% it's an improvement.

Anyway, it's a keyboard layout, not a cult; nobody is going around publically shaming people for secretly keeping QWERTY around on a second computer, or for certain tasks. (Sort of like how a friend described vegetarian cooking to me a while back – you don't have to "become a vegetarian", it's okay to just cook without meat some days of the week, you don't have to register with The Bureau of Diet and disown all your old friends – so go on, give it a try.)

147:

Charlie@ 96
IIRC one is allowed to QUOTE court decisions, since they are protected by legal privelige.
Again IIRC, someone used this against the El-Rons to great effect.
Not that I'm going there, right now, you understand?

148:

It doesn't matter who is right and who is wrong if by the time it gets before a judge you are bankrupt. You only have rights if you can afford to enforce them, and most people cannot.

149:

You know there are a lot more gun nuts here than there would be in America out-side a gun magazine. I don't mind it, but this American just don't know what you are talking about. To a farm boy in hill country, or a GI in the boondocks, guns are almost always better than the shooter in real life. And I was a target shooter.

150:

#142 - "They're inside the room Man!!"

#148 - You say this like it's a bad thing.

151:

Er, no. What I'm currently drooling on (and using with my ipad) is this, from Logitech.

152:

Coming in way late (end of semester, finals to administer, excuses to listen to, sigh), but everyone knows that one doctor joke right? The one where the patient says "Doc, it hurts whenever I do this", and the doctor says, "Well, don't do that"?

I'd be interested in hearing what the bad habit is (was) so that I don't do it myself. It is a terrible thing in this day and age to lose the ability to type on a keyboard - I'm guessing the nineteenth century equivalent would be a coal-shoveling stevedore losing an arm.

153:

Bad habit: working at my desk, with keyboard and mouse.

Solution: work on laptop, on the sofa. Move around a lot. More regular typing breaks.

154:

Basically, what Charlie said, but extended. The "Bad Habit" is "doing the same thing a lot", and the solution is taking breaks and introducing as much variety as possible.

155:

Charlie @ 150
No wonder you have RSI, given the illustration.
It is much too cramped.

Does anyone make a 'board with fold-out "wings" I wonder, which is also reasoaby robust?

Trouble is, if you use a bigger, especially WIDER keyboard (And I' using an older design of Logitech wirelss right now) then you've got portability problems ....
I wonder if, when at home, at least, you MIGHT be better off with an old-fashioned typing desk, as used by secretaries in the days of manual tyoewriters, so that your wrist/arm/hand angles were completely different. Though that also has problems.
There are so many variables in play here, are there not?

156:

Catie Murphy has an interesting setup — there may be pictures somewhere, but I can't find them right now — which involves a split keyboard. She can sit with a straight back, arms along the arms of her chair, and there's half a keyboard under each hand.

157:

I've not got enough kit to test, but it would surprise me if you couldn't simply connect two bluetooth keyboards to an iPad/laptop and use them simultanously, one mounted on each arm rest.

(t'Intarwebs thinks this would indeed work, at least to a Mac)

158:

@154:
Does anyone make a 'board with fold-out "wings" I wonder, which is also reasonably robust?
---
Back in the mid'90s one of the palmtops did that - you grabbed the sides and pulled them out, unjamming all the tightly-packed keys and this putting space between them. When I read about it in the magazines it just sounded like a gimmick. I played with one in a store, and it was amazingly effective.

Unfortunately, I no longer remember the brand or model name. The gimmick might have been "expandable keyboard."

@155:
interesting setup
---
Magazines like "Popular Science" sometimes had pictures of "computer workstations of the future!" circa mid-1970s. Most of them seemed to be based on an easy chair/recliner with the monitor on an overhead support in front of you and the keyboard supported (usually) by some kind of adjustable arm.

The setups looked like just the ticket for "computer back", but it was obvious none of the designers knew squat about typing. Plus there was the problem that there was no desktop. Even subtracting the clutter that accumulates on my desk, I still need space for reference material, papers, etc.

159:

After a chunk of googling™, I've found a picture from Kinesis:
Catie confirms this is it.

Sadly, it appears that it's no longer made. As far as I can determine, it was about $500 for the setup (chair + keyboard), which isn't all that much for a full time professional writer.

160:

IBM had a design for, if I remember correctly, a notebook keyboard that would slide out as you opened the lid. Doesn't sound exactly like what you are describing though.

Ah, apparently it's called the "TrackWrite". See: Wikipedia, Youtube. Want.

161:

You Mean ..... Ah!!! ... Cheese !!....


" .. In the Fall of 2006, I was contacted by Brad Bird to create a series of animated vignettes for his movie Ratatouille. The concept was to design and animate abstract representations of what the character was tasting. " ...


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xizttM_Cbuc

162:

Oh ..Forgot to Say ...and Thats JAZZ !!

163:

The Problem ..The REAL Problem .. is not one of Shooting our hosts Roof Farm Goats ..any fool could manage that with a sniper team from a great distance ..


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QsO372nscY


No ! The problem is ... Who is to Milk The Goats and when are they to be Milked and How?

Kill a Goat and you have a meal- perhaps only ONE Meal - Milk a Goat and you have Milk ...for The Cats .. and, with further effort .. by our hosts Spousal Unit ?, for he is bound to be ever so busy .. Goats Milk Cheese.

Why cant you humans think this Through?!

164:

" The Ibex laughs at your 45deg pitched roof and 4 story altitude."


True Enough, but there's the problem of Edinburghs Urban Foxes though ...


http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8355000/8355177.stm

165:

@159:
Blimey, I think that's it!

That inch or so to each side doesn't look like much at all in the picture, but like I said, it sure made a difference using it.

I had one running a serial bridge and modem to link an ancient (even for 1995) proprietary e-mail system to the current-but-weirdball e-mail system my then-employer was trying to standardize on, despite the smtp writing on the wall...

166:

I thought I recalled a H&K P90 - a handgun with grip safety...

You're thinking of the H&K P7 - quite an interesting pistol, and one I've wanted to try for years. It looks like a nice one.

167:

I've not got enough kit to test, but it would surprise me if you couldn't simply connect two bluetooth keyboards to an iPad/laptop and use them simultanously, one mounted on each arm rest.

I don't know about Macs with Bluetooth, but it does work on my Windows machine. Right now I've got two keyboards plugged in anyway - the full-grown "real" keyboard for heavy typing and a keen but smaller illuminated USB keyboard for typing in the dark. I've hauled out both of them at once to try typing this, and while it takes some getting used to and multiplied typos from the novelty, I can indeed type perfectly well this way (even using the shift key on one to get uppercase letters out of the other).

How the iPad would take to these kind of antics I couldn't guess, not having one myself. Certainly someone here must have all the toys needed to try it, yes?

168:

Another crazy project would be to plug in two numerical keypads, and figure out a way to use that. You'd need to turn them sideways, at a minimum, and work out a layout with lots of shift keys..

(I picked up two out of a bargain bin for about €10; the major unforseen obstacle is that they use the same layout (duh) and there doesn't seem to be a way to map, say, "qwer" on one and "uiop" on the other without some hardware hacking.)

169:

@166:
Windows machine. Right now I've got two keyboards plugged in anyway
---
Works fine on Xorg/KDE, too!

From a practical standpoint, it's sometimes useful to have a "compact" or infrared keyboard that takes up less desk space or lets you move around the room.

170:

I'm sort of using a 2-keyboard set up at the moment; I have the regular keyboard plus a numeric keypad which I am using for the 'Enter' key when I have to do a lot of data entry... With my trackball right-handed it means I just tap the 'Enter' key with my little or ring fingers instead of stretching my thumb to the keyboard.

After a bad bout of RSI 5 or 6 years ago, at work I switched from the standard Dell keyboard + Logitech Marble Mouse to an A4 Tech A-shaped ultraslim keyboard + Logitech trackball. I also junked the wrist rest as I found it was putting pressure on the nerves in my wrist and replaced it with a pair of Fellowes forearm cradles (sadly no longer available - thank the deity of your choice I had the foresight to buy several). I still use the A4-Tech keyboard but now use a Kensington trackball with scroll wheel.

At home I use the Apple aluminium keyboard that came with my iMac, the afore-mentioned forearm cradles and Kensington trackball.

I found that typing with my forearms flat on the desk didn't put as much pressure on my wrists (and latterly the strained shoulder I damaged when I fell onto it nearly 2 years ago). This meant keeping my hands and wrists in as straight a line as possible. The other thing about the A4 Tech keyboard is that it allows a more natural position for my hands - a 45 degree angle pointing in which standard keyboards don't. It also helps I don't touch type (never have done either).

171:

I'm a big fan of the Logitech Trackman Marble myself - but I accept that it's not for everybody. For one thing, many people are too used to shoving a rodent around to point any other way... My first one was the old two-button version, and the four button upgrade is nice; if they figure out a way to squeeze in a scroll wheel it'll be pretty much perfect (but this would require a case redesign).

172:

I found the Trackman Marble too narrow when I was doing a lot of highlight/copy/paste operations which is why I switched to a thumb-controlled trackball. Trouble is, I have arthritis in the thumb joints and found the finger-operated ambidextrous Kensington Orbit trackballs to be better for me than the right hand Logitechs (mostly because I could switch hands if necessary).

My current Kensington has left & right buttons and a scroll wheel and am I so pleased with the one I got for home, I went out and got one for the office and one to keep at my mother's for when I am there.

173:

I've moderate rsi in the wrists from computer use; some pain, some reduced grip strength.

What helps for me is to take 1/3 cup ground flax meal once daily. The omega 3 fatty acid in the flax is apparently an anti-inflammatory.

I grind the flax in a coffee grinder and store the flax meal in the freezer, and than ladle out 1/3 cup into my rolled oats each morning. (It's a pretty straightforward lifestyle change to make.)

The ground flax has basically made the pain and weakness go away. When the freezer is bare and I stop eating the stuff for a week, the pain and weakness comes back.

174:

I would suggest a trackball, but no one makes good ones anymore. Microsoft's Trackball Explorer was the best ever, but for some reason MS got out of the trackball business entirely and has ignored the fact that used models sell for $500+ on eBay, so there is clearly a demand for their product.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on May 7, 2012 11:06 AM.

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