Waiting for Ergo Godot


Nothing ever happens in the time one expects, does it? I took delivery of a new ergonomic desk today that needed a service call to get set up properly. They originally told me the guys would arrive in the morning, but they didn’t get here until 4pm. And my monitor and work area were all disassembled waiting for them to put the desk in place, so there went most of my productivity today. Oh well, it is now installed and I quite like it. I have been reading a lot recently about how bad it is to be sitting all day, or to be in just one position all day, and I had been researching standing desk solutions, but all of them were really ugly. Then I found this one (see below) and really loved the look of it. After saving for a few months and with the help of an Architect’s discount (thanks Bob!) I finally ordered it. So far, I love it. And it moves really smoothly from sitting to standing and back, all on the hydraulic support piston in the center (and with no electricity needed). I feel healthier already.

Cogito ergonomics


As you probably know, I am a web designer and developer. Since it is how I make my living, I am at my computer a hell of a lot more than most people. And much of that time is used furiously clicking and pointing with my mouse. When my right arm was out of commission last year, I learned to use my mouse with my left hand, and this was useful even after I got better to distribute the repetitive stress between my two hands. But still, I would notice after a long day that I would have aches from all the clicking and moving of the mouse. In addition, there were a number of things that were nicer about my laptop’s trackpad when I used it, such as scrolling and gestures. The problem was, I almost always keep my laptop closed and use an external keyboard, monitor and mouse.

That was, until recently, when I bought one of Apple’s new input devices, something named (ridiculously) Magic Trackpad:


After only a short while with it, I have to admit I love it. And with all the gestures available for it, I am doing a lot less hard clicking, and my hand sits in a much more neutral position. The large surface is great, and I find I can do anything with it as well or better than my mouse, including pointing and clicking (with one finger), scrolling and scaling (with two fingers), moving windows and selecting text (with three), and switching windows (four), among other things. And at the end of a long period, my hand feels fine compared with the same period with a mouse. And because it doesn’t move like a mouse does, I don’t have to keep readjusting my arm and hand to find it. And design geek that I am, it doesn’t hurt that is matches the look of my laptop and keyboard.

Subway seating chart


Since I have spent a fair amount of time on the subway recently, and I have a little time to kill waiting to get to my destination, I start to wonder about some of the choices the system designers made. For example, many of the cars have individually delineated seats (as opposed to smooth bench style). Now the thing about these seats that strikes me as a little odd is that they are just too small for a good deal (perhaps 30 percent) of the passengers, and so many of them end up straddling more than one (with the plastic bump riding up their ass) or at least spreading their legs good and wide enough to not allow anyone next to them. Most of these seats are in cars that I think were designed at least 30 years ago, so it begs the question(s): Have people generally gotten bigger over the past 30 years, or have they become more rude, or both? And I am not just talking obesity here, although there is certainly a fair amount of that. Many people who are not fat are nevertheless too wide to fit. Even I find that I need to be sitting next to someone rather petite for my shoulders not to push them and vice versa. And although people start out rather rudely trying to hog as much space as they can, they will move in almost all cases to accommodate another, even if it means leaning forward or back for the entire ride. I surmise that there has been a gradual and imperceptible shift in body size over the intervening years since the design, and no one has thought to re-evaluate and replace these cars. Or it could be just a budgetary problem, as they must be expensive to replace. I do notice on many of the lines with newer cars that the seats tend to be long smooth benches, which allow as many as can fit, each in the space they need.