The KeyMouse – Looks Promising….

KeyMouse is a new way of looking at the way we work on our computer.  The project is still in the Kickstarter phase and the founders are looking for backers.

What intrigued me about this is that it get’s around the whole ergonomic problem of keyboards and mice by having a mobile keyboard.  Once you have a mobile keyboard then you don’t have to twist your wrists, which will reduce pressure and therefore will be a reduction in stress.  This is just the type of equipment that holds significant promise for reducing injuries at the computer.

Wrist positions illustrated from the KeyMouse kickstarter site.
To fully benefit from the KeyMouse you’ll need touch-typing.  There is no way you are going to be able to benefit from this design unless you can touch type (more on that later in another blog).

That’s pretty cool!  Check out their Explanation Video for more details and then checkout their kickstarter website.

Setting Up Your Workstation – A Quick HowTo

The great thing about the internet is there is so much out there!  Anything you want, you can find.  The terrible thing about the internet is there is so much out there and it is ridiculously easy to get bad information.  So one thing we’ll do hear is to comb through information, throw out the bad, and bring you the good.  And that’s what I’m writing about today.

Ergonomics is not rocket science, it’s more like a forgotten science.  It once was all the rage and people had funky looking keyboards, under-the-desk trays, and all the works.  Now….  Not so much.  In a world of laptops, working at the local coffee shop, shared desk space and communal work areas, ergonomics doesn’t seem practical.  It has been swept under the table.  (It’s also a much less straight-forward when you are on the go.)
On to the post.  Here is a great overview from Sharon Vaknin at CNet:

YouTube Video

In watching this video there are a few things to watch out for, especially when choosing a keyboard tray:
  1. Did you notice when she was typing on the keyboard tray?  It was wobbling.  If you end up getting one, don’t skimp, get one that doesn’t wobble.  And, by the way, keyboard trays are only good if you know how to touch-type.  If you don’t, then you’ll be robbing Peter to pay Paul by introducing additional neck strain.
  2. If you decide to place your mouse on the keyboard tray, you’ll probably need a good mousepad because the keyboard tray’s surface tends to be designed for the keyboard.
  3. Many keyboard trays, including the one pictured, are not wide enough to give you room to use your mouse effectively.
What I really like about this video is that it is quick and to the point.  Sharon demonstrates everything and if you have all the equipment, then setting things up like this takes no more than 10-15 minutes.

Mousepads with Wrist Rests Can Be Harmful but Don’t Have To Be

Egads!!!!  Mousepads harmful?  And putting this information on this site?  Sam, what were you thinking?!!!
Well…  Ummm….  I was doing research on healthy workspaces and I came upon this recommendation from CUErgo (Cornell University’s Ergonomics Lab):

Don’t use a Wrist Rest – research has shown that using a wrist rest doubles the pressure inside the carpal tunnel, because the floor of the tunnel is a more flexible ligament that transmits external pressure changes directly into the carpal tunnel (the roof of the tunnel is bone so the pressure doesn’t get transmitted on through the hand). Indeed, one test for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), know as Tinel’s sign, simply involves tapping on the palmar surface of the wrist, which is enough to cause tingling and numbness in someone developing CTS.

That’s pretty straight-forward.  But then I stopped panicking and thought about this carefully.  I actually have had carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and know exactly what it feels like and know the tingling sensation they warn about through personal experience.  And they are right – IF you happen to put all of your weight on your wrists.
See, here’s the deal.  The Mayo Clinic tells us that:

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs as a result of compression of the median nerve.

And that happens usually from two things:
  1. Bending your wrist while typing/mousing for extended periods of time.
  2. Putting pressure on your wrist by resting it on the wrist rest (duh!).
But that’s not how many of us use a mousepad with a wrist rest.  In fact we use the wrist rest as a guide that keeps our wrists straight (item number 1) without putting pressure or pinching the median nerve (item number 2).  Here’s a visual shown from DePaul University’s Ergonomics Lab:
Image From DePaul University's Ergonomics Lab
So an ergonomic mousepad with a wrist rest can work as a guide to avoid the wrong positions.  The shape will keep you from bending your hands too much to the left or right and the pad will keep you from bending your wrist at the wrong angle.
After reading the article, then thinking this through, I wanted to blog about it.  If you have The Pad or any other mousepad with a wrist rest please be careful.  You can use it correctly to reduce strain or, if you are not careful, you might accidentally increase your problem.

Laptop Ergonomics

The Ergonomics Lab at Cornell (CUErgo) does great research on workstation health.  Recently I read an article on the ergonomics of laptops.  I was surprised to see just how bad they are.  You see, it seems that laptops break a rule that we’ve known a very long time – you MUST separate the keyboard and screen – otherwise you will sacrifice one part of your body’s proper posture for another.  Another way to say this is that you either screw up your neck or you screw up your wrist.  Bummer.

This is the way we are supposed to sit while working on a computer which is impossible on a laptop.

Ideal Typing Position (CUErgo)
So what’s a computer junkie to do?  And what about computer junkies who travel?  And those who work in cafe’s and on the road?  Argh!  CUErgo has a wealth of information on the do’s and don’ts of workstation setup.  But unfortunately for many of us, it is a bit…  shall we say…  academic 🙂
Okay the best thing to do is to setup your workstation as shown above with a “negative tilt” keyboard tray (I just learned that today), an external keyboard, and either an external monitor or a laptop tray that raises the laptop for a proper viewing angle, and also get an adjustable tray for your mouse (separate from the keyboard tray).
However, if you’re not going to do that, or you use your laptop other than at your workstation (such as the kitchen table, or you local coffee house), all is not completely lost.  The advice is to sacrifice your neck posture for proper wrist posture.  What you need to do is find the most neutral wrist posture.  That means that your wrist does not bend (check out the green fuzzy areas around the wrist in the picture – that needs to be a straight line).
What I haven’t been able to figure out yet is what to do for someone like me – who works on their laptop all the time and travels.  Also how does the whole standing desk thing fit into all of this?  It would seem reasonable that the only thing that changes is the desk height, but we still need to maintain proper neck and wrist and elbow posture.
And MOST important of all – where does my coffee mug go?!
This is the first of many blogs on this subject as we at Tangled Wires work to bring you the best knowledge and equipment for a healthy and fun workstation.
– Sam Mousa

Cable Management

Okay, so our company is called Tangled Wires, so the topic of cable management is spot on.  Many of us, have way too many wires and cables all around.  There are a few different solutions out there that are popular.  On my desk specifically there are at least 5-8 wires depending on what’s going on and many of them find their way into my USB hub.  Things get dusty and icky really fast.  And, of course, because I travel frequently, they end up going with me at client sites.  (Don’t you hate it when your white kindle charging cable looks brownish from all the dust and travel?!)

Anyway, back the the point.  There are many different out there, and here are two that we’ve found useful:

Cable drops which are useful when you have a few dangling cables but isn’t the most useful if you have a large number of cables:

YouTube Video

And there is a multiple solution like Quirky Cordies:

YouTube Video

A couple of these are good for multiple cables.  Also, because of lack of adhesive, they can travel well also.
We’re currently researching creating a premium version of these products of higher quality – specifically with respect to adhesives in the drop cable solution and stability in the multi-cable solution.  We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with these and other cable solutions as well as recommendations for our next product lines.