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Techno Grumbles

After work yesterday, I swung by CompUSA to check out their assortment of Trackballs, wireless keyboards, and mice. And I was sorely disappointed.

As I understand it, Microsoft first brought the scroll wheel to the mouse, and I have been in love with that feature since I first used one. And for some reason, the standard Microsoft mouse form perfectly fits my hand -- Logitech may make fine products, but they just don't "feel" right to my largish hand.

But for some unknown reason, Microsoft has decided to ruin their perfect mouse. Nearly all the newer models have disposed of one of the most tactilely satisfying elements, the detents ("clicks") in the scroll wheel. They freely spin, without any confirming feedback that one is actually achieving something. I spent 20 minutes playing with various mice, and not one suited me.

Then I moved on to keyboards. I prefer a wireless keyboard, as it lets me lean back from the desk and type away furiously. And in the last couple of days since I switched back to my Microsoft ergonomic keyboard, I find I rather like having it back. But you simply can't get a wireless keyboard without paying for a mouse, too -- and I'm happy with my current mouse.

Right now, I'm using the ergo keyboard and an improvised wrist pad (a folded-over pair of brand new tube socks), and they seem to be helping. I'm also considering ginabina's suggestion about wrapping my wrist in ace bandages at night.

Finally, a certain fellow Granite Stater has offered to put me in touch with a superb orthopedist who is apparently legendary with wrist problems.

My thanks to all the suggestions, and I hope this will help me get back to my normal level of productivity.

Comments (15)

I went to an ergo keyboard ... (Below threshold)

I went to an ergo keyboard years ago at work and at home. For years I would have to wear braces at night due to pain, and after switching it helped a great deal and I don't wear the braces anymore. I would suggest you doing so if you're still having pain until you can see a doctor to work with you. I know what you mean about the mice -- but I prefer Logitec's trackball systems. Each to their own, but I feel trackballs are better for the arms/wrists than the regular ones you have to chase all over the desk.

I don't type heaps (I spend... (Below threshold)

I don't type heaps (I spend time thinking and looking too) but I've had a Kinesis keyboard for about 6 years now. It's lasted longer than any of my previous keyboards. All the other ones had keys that wore out. Even one which had a "lifetime warranty"!

They're not cheap, but I think it's worth it. I type more accurately and with less hand movements and less effort. They make a couple of different types, mine is a Kinesis Classic, which has two "bowls" of keys, one for each hand, and thumb buttons.

The only thing I don't like about the Kinesis keyboards are the F-keys. But, that's something I can live with.

My hands used to ache after long typing sessions, but they don't any more. However, I never really had any kind of serious RSI. Just mild pain that went away when I stopped.

I don't think they make any wireless models, but you can get PS/2 and USB extension cables which let you reach pretty far. You may even be able to get an adapter which converts a USB keyboard into a wireless keyboard.

I hope that helps!


P.S. They used some of these keyboards as props in "Men in Black" - spray painted silver and with the cords cut off ;)

1) Go to Best Buy. They hav... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

1) Go to Best Buy. They have other MS mice that have the detents in the wheel.
2) Don't use the ace bandages... Go to Walgreens and get a wrist brace made for the purpose, and wear it during the day. It can be a bit unwieldy at first, but it will help if you've already got symptoms.

The scroll wheel was introd... (Below threshold)

The scroll wheel was introduced not by Microsoft but by Mouse Systems Corporation, formerly Rodent Associates. You can pretty much bet that anything Microsoft does has been done before.

Get a Logitech mouse. They are the best.

It's been my experience tha... (Below threshold)

It's been my experience that overusing the wheel on wheely mice will do the most to make my wrist sore. Give up the wheel for a few weeks abd see if things get better.

Also, don't use the liitle legs on the back of your keyboard that are used to tilt it toward you. Use the keybaord in its most horizontal postion. This well reduce the wrist bending involved with typing.

I find that my fingers get ... (Below threshold)

I find that my fingers get stiff in the night from mousing. It gets hard to make a fist, but once I do and start moving them around for a while, the pain mostly goes away. Dang that Arthur Writus.

My husband is looking into ... (Below threshold)

My husband is looking into getting one of these, for much the same reason-

Vertical Mouse

Seems odd and I'm not sure I could get used to it, but he's going to give it a try.

Also, for what it's worth, using wrist braces and/or the gel type wrist pads while typing have helped both of us with this problem, as we spend WAY toomuch time at the computers!

Jay Tea,I'm going ... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea,

I'm going to say it one more time: you need the Kensington Expert Mouse.

I have the grey track ball ... (Below threshold)

I have the grey track ball logitec two button with detented wheel The wheel also is a third button if you press on it. Its the USB corded type although I believe it comes in a wireless model as well. It took some time to get used to it but I have grown to like it alot. I work on CAD systems most of the time so I do more mousing than keying. I am interesetd in the mouse that Kyrie has linked to. I hope they make a track ball version.

Hmm, the "expert mouse" app... (Below threshold)

Hmm, the "expert mouse" appears, in fact, to be a trackball.

I've used Kensington trackballs and they're fine. I've also used Logitech trackballs with good results. The best thing about them is you move your fingers, not your hand, so it saves on wrist and arm strain.

I've experienced hand pain in the past from mouse usage, but since I got the Logitech MX1000 Laser Mouse, which fits my (not huge) hands very comfortably, I only get slight discomfort from those rare occasions I play a game for several hours.

I believe how you sit matters. I have a fairly high keyboard/mouse tray and I sit even higher above them, resting my arms on the armrests of my chair which sit just above the level of the top of the keyboard so my hands naturally rest on top of it. I find this more comfortable and natural than other positions. My best advice is to try different chair/desk/keyboard/mouse geometry configurations until you find one that is natural, relaxing and comfortable for you.

Definitely the right hardwa... (Below threshold)

Definitely the right hardware helps, but consider investing in some software too. Workpace is software that helps prevent repetitive stress injuries. I was contracted to do some technical writing for Chevron, and it was installed on my computer there. I ended up buying it - $50 - for use at home too. Basically it assesses your risk, and puts you on a break schedule, with guided stretching exercises to help prevent carpal tunnel, etc. It can be annoying to have the computer interrupt me for a break, but no more pain, and who knows how much money saved from not needing surgery and time off of work makes those interruptions a lot easier to take.

What's amazing is right win... (Below threshold)
Not Surprised:

What's amazing is right wing bloggers can't ever seem to get their facts straight, as evinced by this, "As I understand it, Microsoft first brought the scroll wheel to the mouse..."
Your "understanding" is, as ever, completely defective.
And no I won't tell you who did come up with the scroll wheel, I want you to learn to fact check. I'm certain that will happen right after I'm declared King of all Britain.

To echo Nicholas, how you s... (Below threshold)
Mike G in Corvallis:

To echo Nicholas, how you sit really matters. I was having RSI problems until I realized that my mouse was too low, even though it was at the same level as my keyboard. I now have my mouse pad on a small table immediately to the right of my computer desk; I rest my forearm on the table in such a way that when I use the mouse, the back of my hand is parallel with my forearm. No RSI problems! You might give it a try.

You might want to consider ... (Below threshold)
John Fisher:

You might want to consider bagging the mouse entirely and using the keyboard if the mouse is what is giving you trouble. My son (who has cerebral palsey) uses an adaptive keyboard and does not use a mouse. He has found that with a little learning all of Windows and Microsoft office can be navigated perfectly well without ever touching a mouse. Note that this is NOT true for a MAC however.

A second endorsement for th... (Below threshold)

A second endorsement for the evoluent mouse.

If you're having wrist problems w/ the mouse hand (r or l), the evoluent puts your hand in a "neutral" position.

Standard mouse position pronates your hand.

Also, put a timer next to yourself that rings every 30-40 minutes. Stand up, stretch, etc. whenever the timer rings!






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