[AI] Your workplace should be comfortable as well as efficient

Sanjay ilovecold at gmail.com
Thu Aug 19 06:41:19 EDT 2010


Your workplace should be comfortable as well as efficient.

CARRIE-ANN SKINNER's simple tips and software solutions will help you reduce
clutter, improve posture and minimise eyestrain

Comforting thoughts

Working at a PC for hours isn't much fun.  But it can also be physically
painful; aches and pains may be your body's way of telling you that you have
a
poor posture.  If you don't do something about it, these aches and pains
could
lead to more severe problems.

Training yourself to sit correctly at your desk is a fairly simple task.
Adjusting the position of your monitor in line with NHS guidelines is a good
start ( bit.ly/2oE89x).

Your screen should be directly in front of you rather than off to one side.
It
may be less convenient, but you won't get a stiff neck from sitting at an
awkward angle.

The display should be positioned an arm's length from your eye, which should
be level with the top of the screen.  If your display height isn't
adjustable,
consider investing in a monitor stand.

Alter the height, back position and tilt of your chair so that your knees
are
level

with your hips.  If your chair doesn't allow for this, use a footrest.  And
always sit with your bottom fully on the seat to avoid slumping.

Remembering to adopt the correct posture while concentrating on the task at
hand
isn't easy.  Ideally, you need someone - or something - to monitor your
posture and give you a nudge when it needs correcting.

PostureMinder software ( postureminder.co.uk) uses a webcam to do exactly
this,
displaying onscreen alerts when you need to sit up straight or take a break.

PostureMinder costs ukp30 for the full version, but a free 30-day trial is
also
available.

Finally, assess the tidiness of your desk and general working area.  Health
and
safety guidelines exist not only to ensure that your desk and working area
aren't detrimental to your health, but to make sure you're comfortable while
you work.

IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE AND WORK ENVIRONMENT

START Download the PostureMinder trial from postureminder.co.uk.  Launch the
app, create a username and click Start.  The software will ask a series of
questions regarding your general computing habits; answer truthfully and
click
Next.  PostureMinder will then estimate your risk of bad posture.

2 PostureMinder offers some advice on maintaining good posture and losing
any
bad habits.  You'll then be asked about other elements of your working
environment, such as the position of your screen and keyboard.  Using your
answers it generates an Issues record that can be saved and printed.

3 Select the webcam you want to use for monitoring purposes.  Press Ok to
start
the calibration process.  Adopt a good posture but don't be tempted to sit
bolt upright - PostureMinder expects you to keep that position throughout
the
day.  Look at the screen rather than webcam, then hit 'Capture reference
image'.

4 An oval will appear on top of your captured image.  Use the handles to
adjust
its size and position to match your face.  The top-centre handle should sit
on
your hairline, and the bottom-centre should rest on your chin.  This will
create
the guide that the software uses to check your position.  Click Finish.

5 From now on, PostureMinder will run in the background, analysing your
position
with reference to the guide you created earlier.  If it detects you slumping
or
sitting at an angle, an alert will appear at the bottom of the screen.
PostureMinder alerts also remind you when to take a break.

6 The PostureMinder Control Centre lets you alter any settings or recreate
your
reference image; access it by clicking PostureMinder's Taskbar icon and
selecting 'Open PostureMinder Control Center'.  If you're seeing
notifications too often, click 'Your settings' to reduce the number of
alerts you receive.

7 Click 'View your statistics' to see your rating on a graph.  Good periods
are green, while red means you were leaning forward and orange that you were
slumped back.  You can adjust the timeframe to view the last hour, week,
month
or year.  Select 'How am I doing?' to get a full breakdown and performance
rating.

8 Now it's time to assess your work environment.  Make sure that the objects
you use most frequently are easily accessible, so that you don't have to
repeatedly stretch or twist to reach them.

If you spend a lot of time on the phone, get a headset.  This will prevent
you
from straining the muscles in your neck.

9 Make sure your desk is free of clutter.  Use an in tray for loose bits of
paper and a desk tidy for your stationery.  If you often copy-type from
paper
documents, use a holder to position them close to and level with your
monitor.
Also tidy any cables out of the way.  See bit.ly/aPJzy5 for more
de-cluttering
advice.

10 Try not to eat at your desk.  Crumbs and leftover food create a unhealthy
working environment, while spilled drinks can damage electronic equipment.
If
you must eat and type, regularly use antibacterial wipes to clean your desk
and
use a can of compressed gas to blast away the crumbs from your keyboard.

11 Your wrists should be level with your keyboard when typing; a wristrest
can
help you get into this habit.  Keep your elbows directly under your
shoulders
and close to your sides.  If you use a keyboard regularly but can't
touch-type, learning to do so will help reduce finger strain.

12 Your mouse should be positioned close to your keyboard and comfortable to
use.  For everyday working, make sure it's a full-size device.  Mouse mats
are
available with built-in wristrests, helping to keep your wrist straight
during
use.  Roll and flex your wrists regularly to help prevent carpal tunnel
syndrome.

13 To prevent you squinting at the monitor, opt for a nonreflective screen
and
identify and eliminate the cause of any glare.  Closing blinds or using
table
lamps rather than ceiling lights may help, as will changing your screen
settings
and brightness and contrast levels.  Have an eye test at least once every
two
years.

14 Now look at your feet, which should be flat on the floor (and not under
your
bottom).  Invest in a footrest if needs be.  Remove any clutter from
underneath
your desk, and ensure power sockets aren't overloaded.  Finally, regularly
roll your ankles to prevent your joints from stiffening up.

USEFUL PRODUCTS

Kensington SlimBlade Trackball

Many peripherals are described as ergonomic, but most are merely
comfortable.  A
rollerball mouse is easier on the fingers than a mouse you have to grip to
control.  This is the principle behind the Slimblade Trackball, which
dispenses
with clicks and vertical scrolling in favour of freewheeling.  ukp83 inc VAT
uk.kensington.com

Trust Full Motion Desk Mount for LCD Monitor

If you often find yourself slumping in your seat, it's likely that your
monitor is too low.  If your screen height isn't adjustable, try raising it
on
a stand.  Trust's Full Motion Desk Mount for LCD Monitor is a stylish way to
ensure your display is correctly positioned.  The mount lets you adjust the
height and tilt of your screen; move it closer or further away to find the
perfect viewing angle.  The Trust can be secured to the desk without you
drilling any holes, and the fittings are compatible with most LCD screens.

ukp76 inc VAT trust.com

SCREEN SETTINGS TO AVOID SORE EYES

Windows has a number of tools for calibrating screen colours, altering the
size
of text and icons and adjusting the resolution.  Use these to stop yourself
from
squinting or straining your eyes.

Go to Start, Control Panel and select the Display option.  In Windows 7 and
Vista, the next screen lets you adjust the size of text and icons on the
screen.
Choose Smaller (100 percent), the default Medium (125 percent) or Larger
(150
percent).  Click Apply.

Next, click 'Adjust resolution' and ensure the recommended resolution
(usually the largest) is selected.  If it isn't, adjust the resolution and
then click Apply, Ok.  Finally, select Calibrate Color to ensure that
onscreen
colours appear accurately.  Move the window that appears on to the display
you
want to calibrate and follow the onscreen instructions.

Some of the tools you need to adjust the display are found under the
Accessibility Options menus.  Go to Start, Control Panel, Accessibility in
XP.
In Vista and Windows 7, go to Start, Control Panel, then choose the blue
Ease of
Access option.  Enabling ClearType results in smoother fonts that are easier
to
read.

For more onscreen options, see Get a better view of Windows (
bit.ly/aTHmgO).

TAKE A BREAK

Take a break from your desk every 30 minutes or so.  This will keep your
muscles
active and prevent the build-up of blood clots.

If possible, try to get outside into the fresh air.  Take a few deep breaths
to
increase the supply of oxygen to your brain, which helps you to stay alert
and
productive.  Also drink plenty of water.

Stretch Break Pro

Screen breaks prevent eyestrain and can help you keep your mind fresh and
focused on the task in hand.  Work too long without a break and you'll begin
to make mistakes.

Stretch Break Pro (bit.ly/9VyATt) is a free download that helps ensure you
give
yourself regular breaks from staring at your computer screen.

Every 30 minutes Stretch Break Pro notifies you that it's time to take a
break
with a pop-up warning.  Animated figures demonstrate stretches you can do
during
this time, which should ensure your body stays supple and reduce the risk of
aches and pains.

You can adjust the time between stretch sessions and the number of stretches
included per session.


Technical telepathy: 09969636745
Saints are not always saints; sinners are not always sinners.






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