10 July 2008


I recently purchased two new pieces of hardware to improve the ergonomics of my workstations. This decision arises out of the fact that my wrists have been aching more or less constantly for a couple of years. As a programmer, I keyboard for a living and while I keep thinking of career changes that I might undertake, I don't really want to and I don't see how I could continue to provide the same standard of living for my family. Also, I've been holding the degeneration of my wrists back by wearing braces for like ten or twelve hours each day, my fingers have recently started to hurt too.

So, the first of these new devices is the Kinesis Advantage keyboard. Golly, but it's strange. This is the first document that I'm typing on it and some things are interesting. I'll let you read all the specific features and claims made by the manufacturer, but I'll note that the seemingly awkward depression in which the keys lie really does lessen the reach and flex of each finger. I am also starting to believe in the value of this device because in the (painfully long) time that it has taken me to type this short note, my unbraced wrists have been markedly pain-free. So, while it is really hard to get used to the new key-layout, I think I will and I am currently thinking that it's a good thing.

Something unexpected about this experience is that I have identified a bunch of poor typing habits that are deep-rooted in me. Apparently, I hit the Y key with my left pointer habitually. Same with the C! Like, what am I thinking? I took mandatory typing class in 5-7th grades and another semester in high school. And I type nearly as fast as I can compose my thoughts. I should know how to do this all right. And yet, I see that I also use only the left shift key under normal circumstances and I also routinely glance at the keyboard as I type. Bad me! Anyway, neat stuff to observe.

The other new piece of hardware is the Evoluent Vertical Mouse 3. The main idea is that it keeps your mouse-arm more naturally aligned. It seems to make perfect sense that that would be desirable, but it's hard to use comfortably. It is much more like a normal mouse than the new keyboard is normal, but in some ways it feels subtly more awkward. There is a slight ledge on the bottom right of the mouse's body that feels like it must be where to rest your pinky-finger. But when I do, it seems that my fingers don't line up naturally with the buttons. My pointer is on the top button (left-click) and my middle finger is lined up with the second button (I have this set up to switch between open apps) and then my ring and pinky fingers both rest on the bottom button (right-click). The two problems I'm currently experiencing with this is that using the scroll-wheel (between the pointer and middle fingers) is awkward with either finger and then the bottom button feels awkward -- maybe like it's too small for my two fingers or something. Also, these are my impressions after using it for less than an hour -- maybe I'll just get used to it and it will be second nature. Hopefully.

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