Re: Interleaf, Stress, and RSI

Subject: Re: Interleaf, Stress, and RSI
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 5 Apr 1996 09:18:15 PST

Jim Grey writes:

>I'm very surprised to read the many complaints of RSI from using Interleaf.
>Most complaints fingered Interleaf on Sun, and now Melonie Holliman
><mrh -at- ABMDATA -dot- COM> has complained of RSI from using Interleaf on Macintosh.
>I'm very surprised to read these complaints. I had a long, enjoyable,
>pain-free experience with Interleaf.

I've been using Interleaf on Sun workstations since 1985. While Interleaf's
context-sensitive pop-up menus minimize the amount of mouse movement per
command, it also means that you're doing vast numbers of short mouse
movements and clicks. When diagramming, I've seen people go for over an
hour without touching the keyboard at all, because the diagramming system
is entirely accessible through the mouse.

Systems that force you to move your hand between mouse and keyboard a
lot might give you tennis elbow, but it slows you down so much that it's
hard to get RSI in your wrist. (The same concept probably applies to
electric typewriters. They weren't as fast-acting as computer keyboards,
and having to put in new sheets of paper gave you frequent breaks from
steady keyboarding.)

As for Sun workstations, in my opinion their keyboards have been going
steadily downhill, as far as ergonomics of the individual key switches,
since the Sun-2 keyboard. It clicked and it clacked, but it wasn't
spongy, and you could type with a light touch (much like the IBM PC
keyboards). The Sun mouse is a three-button optical mouse. If you
let the pad or the felts on the mouse get dirty, it's hard to move around,
and the mouse buttons were extremely stiff until just recently.

I think that ergonomic furniture is also important. Most of the people
I know with RSI have been short women for whom the default office furniture
could not be adjusted to fit.

-- Robert
Robert Plamondon, President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

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