Peripheral, or key board?

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.

Something's wrong but I can't put my finger on it.

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:

What, you need explanatory text for a keyboard?

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.

The only thing missing is actual work.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.)

Photos in my collage:
Blue Shirt Guy by yasuhisa,
Woman and Stool by Crocidillicus / Erin Hovland,
Red Cap Guy by MReece.
Whiteboard Command Centerphotos by me.

5 thoughts on “Peripheral, or key board?

  1. I use a MacBook, with an external monitor, which gives me 2 monitors with OS X. I also use the bluetooth Apple keyboard, that lacks the number pad and makes it easier to use my bluetooth RazorFish mouse. So far best system I’ve had.

  2. The two-monitor system can be great. The docking station allows me to hook a second monitor up when I want to; if I could easily hang it on the wall, I’d leave it connected all the time. The biggest nuisance is that the resolutions don’t quite match.

    Second biggest: although I can multiple docs in Word and have them in separate windows (monitor 1 and monitor 2), I can’t do that in PowerPoint. Folks at Microsoft need to talk more.

  3. Kia ora Dave

    I can’t use a laptop keyboard for any length of time else I get pain in my elbows and wrists. I certainly wouldn’t want to enter a letter or report on it. Yet I have a laptop as my machine at work – standard issue. I plug a Microsoft ergonomic keypad into the laptop. The ergonomic keypad is very easy on the elbows, wrists and fingers.

    For years I put up with pain in my right hand and used to think it was because I was using the mouse till a physiotherapist examined me at my desk and threw the mouse in the bin. I now have an ergonomic mouse. Now there is no pain, except that it took me a few days to get used to both of these devices.

    It’s strange how we falaciously accept the equipment given us to do our daily duties and then think that when things start to go wrong it’s our fault for not using them properly.

    Now with a docking station I have two screens so that the ergonomics are (supposedly) better.

    Having a switcher for headphones makes my life easier too, for I don’t have to wrestle with the phone in one hand when I’m administering to learners from the keyboard with the other.

    It’s all very well having to multi-task; I haven’t got multi-hands!

    Catchya later

  4. I might have considered a similar keyboard if I could have found one without the useless-to-me number pad. It’s built in for the manufacturer’s convenience; otherwise, you could attach it left, right, or above as you prefer.

    I’m with you on the headphone. I even have a cheap one that plugs into my non-bluetooth landline handset.

  5. Love Whiteboard central! BTW…I work on a Dell laptop with a 15″ screen with busted keys on a desk that’s too big for me and use a wireless mouse that I hit against the desk when the batteries need replaced. But, hey I’ve given birth so that’s nothing really.

Comments are closed.