Solutions At Hand

Handhelds, smartphones, mobile technology and the digital lifestyle.

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    Michael is a trainer and consultant specializing in making mobility technology work in people's everyday lives.
  • September 2007
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Avoid RSI, gain productivity and increase your IQ.

Posted by Michael Brown on September 27, 2007

I ran across a story at LifeHacker which echoes something I’ve been doing for a while. For right handed people who use a computer, mousing with the right hand can lead to Repetitive Strain Injuries or RSI. It’s also not that ergonomic, when you really think about it. Most keyboards have the numeric keypad on the right hand side, which would mean your mouse is even farther out from the centerline of your body when you use the mouse on the right. If you were to move it to the left, it would be pretty much in the same place on the left as the numeric pad on the right, meaning that your arms would lay more naturally when it comes to positioning. You can see below what I mean…

My Keyboard/mouse set-up

In the above picture, you can see that I have a mouse on the left side of the keyboard, and a mouse/tablet stylus on the right. When you sit at the keyboard, the center of your body should be centered between the ‘G’ and ‘H’ keys (or where the grey area is on the Palm rest).The mouse on the left is roughly where the numeric pad on the right is sitting with respect to how your arms will usually lay. The mouse on the right is out far enough that it will cause you to need to hold your arm out further from your body than is normal for a “resting” position, which can lead to RSI’s in the shoulder.

I primarily mouse on the left side now (even though I’m right handed), and I will use the tablet stylus or other mouse on the right occasionally or for a change of pace. With the Wacom Tablets, you can use the stylus as a mouse, which is another way to avoid RSI’s (by switching between the mouse and the stylus). The neat thing is, you can use two mice in Windows by using two different types of mice with their controls managed by their own drivers. So, my MS Laser 5000 is managed by the MS Intellipoint driver and is configured for left hand use, and the Wacom Graphire is managed by it’s driver, and is configured for right hand use. That makes it handy for my wife, as she can just use the Wacom mouse on that computer, as she’s right handed (and prefers to mouse with the right). The same setup works in Linux(Ubuntu), using the Gnome control panel; the mouse is configured as a left-handed, and the Wacom is configured through the X-org.conf file as right-handed.

This LifeHacker article is a good read for those thinking of switching their mouse to the other side. As for increasing you IQ, this article by the DumbLittleMan blog indicates that regular use of your non-dominate hand builds better ties between the two hemispheres of your brain, strengthening it’s development.

2 Responses to “Avoid RSI, gain productivity and increase your IQ.”

  1. Believe me mice destroy your wrists and forearms! You should use shortcuts as much as possible. Consider an Enterpad or any other overlay keyboard if you have too many shortcuts to remember.

  2. Dr Revlis said

    All those wires, all that desk. Free yourself from the desk with wireless, deskfree left/right handed, lean back and point & click, such as WeraMouse.
    Made to beat RSI.

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