Friday, 30 May 2008

Ergonomics

I've been typing (and later, mousing) aggressively for the last 24 years. I've been very fortunate to never have any kind of repetitive stress injury affecting my work. I've never even taken ergonomics all that seriously; if anything starts to hurt I adjust my environment until it goes away. Often that just means that I've changed the layout of my work area for some reason, and the change turns out to cause ergonomic trouble so I revert it.

Recently my right elbow and right little finger started hurting. The problem seemed to be related to use of the Macbook Pro trackpad, where I have a habit of sticking my little finger out while I'm operating it with my index finger. I don't know how I got that habit. The trackpad always felt slower than a real mouse, so I just went out and bought a USB mouse and started using it in the office. Over the last few weeks that seems to have cleared things up just fine.

I still use the trackpad at home and on the road, and even though I used exclusively for the whole of last year, it still feels slower than the mouse to me. Perhaps it's a cognitive effect and not a real limitation. It would be interesting to try some tests to see which one is really more effective for me. I guess a game like Missile Command would be the right sort of test, but I don't know if that's really representative of browsing and text editing. Hmm...



3 comments:

  1. I've found it's best to leave mobile computing for mobile use. When you can, definitely use a mouse. If you can even a real keyboard is better.
    Also found a regular keyboard has a lower error rate than using a laptop keyboard (likely due to a little extra spacing).

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  2. Sebastian Redl30 May 2008 15:54

    A touchpad is a lot less precise than a mouse. To make up for it, it has dynamic speed adjustment. (Move quickly over a distance, the cursor moves farther than if you move slowly over the same distance.) This means that muscle memory, which is mostly about position and less about speed, is less efficient working with a touchpad than a mouse.
    End result: a mouse is simply faster.

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  3. instead of missile command you could try this: http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/squares2

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