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Beware of RSI []

Not usually a source of serious journalism, the register highlights the risks of RSI in their article Beware of RSI.

I'm not sure what their scientific backing for their fact is, but they claim that touch typing is less likely to cause injury which I found interesting.

I also had a friend get very serious RSI. She got it from playing musical instruments, not typing, but the injury is basically the same. For many years she couldn't write and had to pay an assistant to go with her to lectures and take notes. Thankfully she recovered fully, but then she was only 20 at the time - our bodies don't recover quite so easily at 30 and 40.

Avoiding RSI is why I bring my own Kinesis Ergo keyboard to work. Sure it cost me about $300 USD by the time I had it shipped to Australia, but I figure it's worth it to avoid crippling pain in my 40s. I have never replaced my old trackball though, I just try not to use the mouse much.

As an added bonus, once you become proficient at touch typing on the Kinesis contour keyboard you will probably be able to type faster as well as in much more comfort. It has an optimised layout (still qwerty) that reduces the distances your fingers have to reach (especially your pinkies) and makes better use of your strongest digits (those thumbs that are normally wasted on the spacebar). In addition, the keyswitches require less pressure (to reduce fatigue) and the key activation point is halfway down the travel so you don't need to pound the key all the way down (reducing impact).

PS: Eternal thanks to Lars for putting me onto the best keyboard ever.

10:00 PM, 27 Apr 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Get well Bob!

My good friend Bob (not his real name - he has an anonymous blog...) has been in hospital with a pneumonia-like condition. We're thinking of you and praying for you Bob (I *know* you'll have found a way to get net access in hospital ;)

And hey, blancmange is a tasty desert, a "moderately successful" 1980s synthpop band (but I'm sure you already knew that) and a type of fractal curve!

08:18 PM, 27 Apr 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

The Student magazine of ACM (Association for Computing Machinery - the US equivalent of Australia's ACS but more relevant) has interviewedPaul Graham.

The interview ranges from the future of programming, problem solving strategies and international outsourcing.

Interestingly Paul subscribes to the same problem solving strategy as I do, simply to get to know enough information about the problem so as to be able to "rotate and rearrange them in my head [like a mathematical problem]".

An extension that he applies that I really like is that once you take a mathematical-esque approach to the information, you can then run "thought experiments" or test hypotheses. His two hypothetical examples aren't particularly enlightening but the idea is otherwise a very useful tool.

12:58 AM, 27 Apr 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Family []

Jeffrey Zeldman (of A List Apart fame) has written a very moving article about his mum: Hi Mom!

Don't read where you will be embarrased to tear up. Thanks to Lars for the link. It's posts like this that build community and help us all. I love it. Thank's Jeff.

11:06 PM, 26 Apr 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Happy Birthday Elizabeth

Happy 80th birthday to the Queen for today (or is it yesterday? This timezone thing can get confusing). Even the Queen gets oversized novelty birthday cards.

09:42 PM, 20 Apr 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

I feel like I'm making progress

It's taken me nearly 3 years, but I've finally come to terms with leaving the 80s behind and gotten rid of the ASCII art page headers on my website.

It was a bit of an impulsive move last night - I did the artwork and html/css last night (took about 40 minutes) so I'm sure it's not perfect in all browsers, and the other colours used in the site clash with the blue.

So I reckon I'm probably about web 1.5 now. The header image works at all window sizes but to be really web 2.0 I need fat (or is that phat) borders that waste 30% of your expensive 20" lcd screen. I'm also using inneficient circa 2001 code (OpenACS 4.something) and of course to get to web 2.0 I'll need to start using typo and Ruby.

Still, it's a start ;)

09:17 PM, 20 Apr 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (1)

Air travel should be more exciting

Kath and I arrived back in Sydney this morning after our bus ride from Singapore. Excellent, uneventful, but slightly boring Qantas flight as always. This particular 747 didn't even have the upgraded on-demand entertainment system.

I'm always hoping to get to use those inflateable slides one day but nothing ever happens on my flights.

Unlike last Friday's BA10 to London. I flew to London on BA a few weeks ago, but I didn't have the excitement of diverting to Uralsk, Kazakhstan. You can read the SMH article for yourself (A bumpy surprise halfway to London) but the highlight moments would have been landing a 747 on a runway "not suitable for 747s" and that one pilot called "probably one of the bumpiest in living memory".

The airport had no stairs tall enough, so to transfer to some smaller planes for their onward journey, "the passengers boarded by stepping onto the roof of an airport vehicle and then onto a stairway". That was, however, after enjoying some local cuisine - suggested to have been horse sausage.

It turned out there was no fault with the 747, just a false alert from afire warning light. I have had many flights delayed by faulty warning lights. Pesky things - they should just get rid of them. That would make things a bit more exciting ;)

Update:Here is the airport on Google Earth. I don't seem to be able to find any photos of the event itself :(

08:17 PM, 17 Apr 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (3)

Thawing to Java

Just as the mainstream IT world is getting over it's honeymoon with Java I figure it might be worth getting better acquainted!

My previous experience with Java has always been awt and swing gui applications - the most tedious and verbose coding to be had anywhere.

I have spent a little time focussing only on the language and test-driven development (using Junit) within the eclipse IDE (set to emacs keys of course). I have to say I am pleasantly surprised.

Maybe it's because I'm browsing through Agile Java which seems like quite a good book. Maybe it's because I've done a fair bit of C and Objective-C programming lately and I've grown more accepting of less-than-flexible languages.

Anyway I'm quite enjoying it. After all, I'm running out of new languages to learn - I'll have to write my own soon!

03:12 AM, 10 Apr 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Artful Sentences - Virginia Tufte []

To write is to bring structure to ideas, information, feelings. Here are many creative strategies, in a unique book that is informed, affirming, lively, and of lasting value.

This looks like a real winner. Can anyone say "birthday present" ;)

08:36 PM, 09 Apr 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

This is quite a good analysis (imo) of the latest Davinci-Code-esque news story. To the great credit of Google News, I found it linked there.

The gospel of ignorance — []

07:42 PM, 09 Apr 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

(With apologies to Brian May for the title).

I quite enjoyed this ValleyWag deconstruction of Business Week's latest Steve Jobs "puff piece".

As much as you all know that I love most things Steve and Apple, I think the popular press's love for Steve Jobs is getting a bit out of hand.

If I didn't know better, I'd call it the Reality distortion bubble.

Let's see if that catches on ;)

03:12 AM, 07 Apr 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Kick your Mac screaming into the world of Windows with Boot Camp

It boots Windows and it's a little bit camp - it's Apple Boot Camp!

Apple have released a beta version of a tool that allows owners of Intel Macs to partition their hard drive and install Windows XP with all the appropriate drivers (it even includes a driver for the eject and brightness keys :). You need a single disc installer for Windows XP. Apple won't sell you that!

Mac firmware already includes a boot manager so it's easy to choose MacOS X or Windows XP on startup.

Apparently it's planned as a regular feature in Leopard (MacOS X 10.5) and the current version is beta. I think it will be almost all positive but it's an interesting move from Apple. It will be fun to see what the overall outcome is. One reason I can imagine that Apple has gone this route is to remove one of the reasons why people would want to run MacOS X on generic Intel hardware.

Something that strikes me looking at the screenshot is that Windows people who try it out will wonder why things like disk partitioning and boot switching have been such an ugly pain on Wintel machines when it can be so smooth and easy as this process seems to be.

Press release: Apple Introduces Boot Camp Public Beta Software Enables Intel-based Macs to Run Windows XP.

Main page: Boot Camp Public Beta Macs do Windows, too.

Setup documentation: Boot Camp Beta Installation & Setup Guide.

Om Malik's commentary: MacXP.

It wouldn't be Apple if they didn't stick the boot into a competitor's misfortune/stupidity:

Macs use an ultra-modern industry standard technology called EFI to handle booting. Sadly, Windows XP, and even the upcoming Vista, are stuck in the 1980s with old-fashioned BIOS. But with Boot Camp, the Mac can operate smoothly in both centuries.

One problem they haven't worked around smoothly is the hardware clock - Windows expects the hardware clock to be the time where you are right now whereas MacOS X (like other Unix OSs) expects the hardware clock to be in UTC (aka GMT) time and the OS takes care of timezone related issues. Hard to see a way around that unless you provided OS context sensitive code in the EFI firmware (which could be nasty).

10:40 PM, 05 Apr 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Amusing parody video - worth the 2min 54s to watch.

10:10 PM, 03 Apr 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

I cannot believe that I will be flying while the Melbourne GP is racing. That is bad planning right there. To rub salt in the wound, Jenson Button has scored a rare pole and is (I believe) well placed to win at Albert Park. To think I might miss his first win - maybe I can get Kath to tape it for me...

02:44 PM, 01 Apr 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)


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