Dougal Campbell's geek ramblings

WordPress, web development, and world domination.

Software Hurts

For the last several weeks, I have had accute pain and some weakness in my left wrist. At first, I thought I must have stressed it when I was picking up my son, so I tried to be more aware and avoid putting further strain on it. However, the pain persisted, and I began to wonder if I was suffering from carpal tunnel or some other kind of computer-related RSI. The only problem with that theory is that I feel like I do a pretty good job of giving my hands a break from the keyboard and mouse at intervals throughout the day, and this pain came on me fairly quickly. However, yesterday, I think I finally figured out the cause, and I believe it is RSI.

In late January, I began using a news aggregator called Syndirella. This program automagically fetches headlines from a selection of about 50 web sites that I have chosen, and presents them in an easy-to-manage format which easily allows me to see which sites have updated, quickly skim their headlines, and read the stories that look useful or interesting.

Of course, with that much information, I am not going to read every single story on all 50 of those sites, and Syndirella gives its users a couple of different ways to mark all the remaining headlines in a newsfeed as read, either by right-clicking the feed and choosing Mark as Read from the context menu, or by hitting CTRL-M on the keyboard. I quickly settled on the keyboard option, since that allows me to minimize mouse movement. However, in order to keep my left hand near the home keys, I was activating the CTRL-M combination by putting my pinky on the left CTRL key, and stretching my index finger over to the M. And yesterday, I finally realized that this action is stretching my hand out while simultaneously bending back my wrist slightly. And I was keeping my hand in that position for several minutes at a time.

I’m submitting a feature request to the author of Syndirella to ask for an alternate, or user-configurable key combination. In the meantime, I’m trying to form a new habit of moving my left hand over and using the CTRL key on the right side of the keyboard, to reduce the stress on my hand. Hopefully the pain will begin to go away in a few days.

Of course, Dmitry (Syndirella’s author) couldn’t have forseen this. And my choice to stretch my hand out like that is probably not the norm among the program’s users. And I’d still recommend the program highly to anyone who is willing to suffer the huge .NET download required to run it.

About Dougal Campbell

Dougal is a web developer, and a "Developer Emeritus" for the WordPress platform. When he's not coding PHP, Perl, CSS, JavaScript, or whatnot, he spends time with his wife, three children, a dog, and a cat in their Atlanta area home.
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