This year’s bout of RSI has finally caugh up with me.
It’s a bit later in the year than last time, but I’ve had to curtail my computer use somewhat in the past few days due to persistent finger and wrist pain.
I’m fortunate than most because I can manage both cause and treatment without undue hassle, but it’s always somewhat unexpected because I get too caught up on things to notice the effects until it’s too late.
It invariably happens after a period of stress or – as is the case this time around, too many evenings in a row spent in front of a keyboard – and usually goes away after a few days of forced rest, but I can’t help but point out that the current state of affairs in technology doesn’t do much (if anything) to alleviate it.
Oh, of course we have text auto-completion, vim and whatnot, but it’s always more about the context and environs than the actual amount of typing involved. Using vim as an editor can be terrifyingly efficient sometimes (and I’m very happy with my kitted out version, even if orthodox views prevent the changes from being folded back into mainline), but there’s nothing to protect you from overdoing things.
Alternate input methods are helpful, but they still leave much to be desired. I started drafting this on an Android device with predictive input and a Swype-like keyboard, but that doesn’t really reduce wrist and thumb strain – at best, it creates the illusion of doing so by replacing quick tapping with moderately smooth swiping.
Dictation has improved markedly over the past few years (and is a mainstay of either dominant platform), but is a lot more time consuming to revise given that we naturally excise from speech a lot of the structure, formalism and precision we expect to find in the written word (all of which has to be grafted back if the result is to be a pleasurable, consistent read).
It works far better than it used to but still makes me feel self-conscious, even when alone, so I’ve been loath to resort to it except for a few text messages (a couple of which it got spectacularly wrong, as in Newton-grade wrong). Add to that incipient support for my native tongue, and the use cases for speech input are tantamount to those for silk pajamas - i.e. expensive, somewhat slippery and preferably for private settings.
Serendipitously, I got an e-mail today telling me my LeapMotion controller has shipped (from the Czech Republic, no less), so I may well be risking further injury and ridicule soon enough.