2010-03-09

keep your hands healthy

On Mar 8, 10:52 am, Thad Floryan wrote:
> On 3/8/2010 6:53 AM, Xah Lee wrote:
> > • Why You Should Not Swap Caps Lock With Control
> > http://xahlee.org/emacs/swap_CapsLock_Ctrl.html
> > [...]
>
> It's really a preference. A person with small hands may have problems
> if the [Caps Lock] is made to be a [Ctrl], but they will have even a
> worse problem (and real pain) continuing to use the [Ctrl] key at the
> lower left of the keyboard.

yeah much of it is preference, but i think few scientific principle can still be applied to arrived at a better habit with respect to efficiency of keyboard use and ergonomic of keyboard design. Here's a few points i think are important.

• Do you touch type? Anyone programer who do not touch type yet, should consider learning it now. Touch typing is quite significant improvement in your keyboard use efficiency and hand health, much more so than the position of Ctrl key at corner vs Caps Locks position.

• Do you use a full-sized keyboard? Typing 8 hours a day on a laptop keyboard is very unhealthy. The laptop keyboard's size and key design and placement are severely restrained by the laptop size, weight, etc. If you type a lot, consider getting a full sized keyboard for your laptop.

• Here's a point that's a bit more controversial: Do you use a ergonomic keyboard? That is, the keys are curved, or split into 2 sections with a gap in the middle, each section for each of your hand. (Microsoft keyboards are the most popular of this) Arguably, it is a matter preference. However, to some degree it is a preference, but if you do prolonged typing, the ergonomic keyboard are scientifically better.

I've been touch typing since 1991, and touch typing on Dvorak since 1993, started to use emacs, and daily, since 1998. I never liked the Microsoft ergonomic keyboards or any split ones. And have strong opinions, or several reasons, against using it. I have my own habits of keeping my hand healthy, and never had any problem. Until, in 2004-2005 i was typing on laptop daily for about a year, and my hands started to have some funny feelings. This is when i decided to use a full keyboard to be plugged in to my laptop, and in the process, i decided to buy the Microsoft ergonomic keyboard. I forced myself to get used to it. Forced in physically adopting the keyboard, as well as any issues with shortcuts in emacs (i.e. remap keys if necessary). I can honestly say, that ever since i adopted the ergonomic keyboard, when i type on a straight keyboard, even just few minutes i find my hand uncomfortable.

i think the above are some important points for those who type many hours a day and is concerned about hand health and efficiency. In summary: touch type, use full keyboard, use ergonomic keyboard. Other more important issues is of course: take at least 10 min break every 2 hours, don't type yourself to death.

these points doesn't have much to do with position of Control key, but in the context of argument about better position of Ctrl key, they are much more important ones.

Xah
∑ http://xahlee.org/

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