I keep forgetting how happy I am to have found a solution to two problems.
Problem one: ergonomically, typing on a laptop isn’t good for you. Your head, your arms, or your wrists are probably not in the best position.
I got a stand to put my laptop in, but was using a leftover standard keyboard like the one below, with the numeric keypad and all those cursor controls on the right.
Problem two: I’m a fast typist, and I use the mouse a lot. (Fast typing and unconscious mouse use are two of the few psychomotor skills I have.)
If you’re like me, you end up either with the keyboard off-center (relative to your body), or else with a lot of right-wrist pain from always reaching off to the side.
My wife deals with this by placing the mouse to the left of her computer. She also reverses the buttons (so you right-click with the left button). I’m glad this works for her, but when I try doing something on her machine, it feels like one of those psych experiments where you try drawing with your wrong hand while looking in a mirror.
I end up using the touchpad, a device designed by people who didn’t have any work they needed to do with a computer. Editing text with a touchpad is like spreading concrete with a pancake turner.
Anyway, back in November, I took a gamble and bought the Adesso Mini Trackball Keyboard. It looks like this:
A lot like a laptop keyboard (the image is clickable if you’re curious about the layout). The non-typing keys do tend to be narrow. I occasionally hit Home instead of backspace, and once in a blue moon Del instead of left-arrow. But I realized earlier this week that I’ve been using this so easily that I hadn’t thought much about in in the last two months.
It connects to a USB port, though you can get it with a PS/2 connection if you’re nostalgic (or have used up all the USB ports). It was about $50 from Amazon.
That”s the Whiteboard Command Center on the left. I tidied up just for this post. And cropped.
I have a Kensington stand(a cousin of this one); you can’t see the docking station attached to the back. You can adjust the angle to suit your height–or your decor. As I type this, if I look straight ahead, my eyes are just above even with the top of the laptop screen.
I open the laptop and slide it in place, then connect the power cord and one USB cable (from the docking station). That’s it. The docking station has connections to my USB hub, the external hard drive, and (I suddenly realize) the parallel printer I took out last week.
(I keep a spare power cordin my laptop bag, so I don’t have to crawl under the desk and disconnect things. Same for a wireless mouse and a 1G USB drive: in the bag. I really hate disconnecting things.)