As promised, the explaination for this week’s header:

I am a coder, a writer, a usenetter, a sysadmin, an IRC person, and a whole host of other things which usually require me to use a keyboard for long periods of time.

This means that one of the continual dangers of my existance is RSI. There are several ways of countering this, starting with setting up decent ergonomics at every desk I work at, buying a decent keyboard and generally following precautions.

The other is the frowny lightbulb.

The Frowny Lightbulb is what Workrave displays if you keep typing while it’s telling you need a microbreak, a rest break, or to stop for the day.

Workrave is an AntiRSI program for Windows. It sits in it’s little window, giving readouts for how long until you need a restbreak, micropause, and to stop typing. When any of the countdowns get to zero, a popup window appears with an ‘idea’ lightbulb in it and twenty seconds to stop typing. If you don’t, a dialog box appears saying “You need a micropause/restbreak/to go home” with skip, postpone or take options.

When you’re taking a break, be it for a 20 second microbreak or a 30 minute rest break, the screen is blanked out until the time counts down or you cancel the break. You can’t read the screen, type an article, finish your sentance even. You are forced to take a break.

If you keep typing while the lightbulb is telling you to stop, it changes from a happy, shiny lightbulb to an unhappy frowny one.

And that’s the frowny lightbulb thing. It’s all Workrave’s fault. It comes for Windows & Linux. I suspect that one of my first actions as a Mac user might just be to port it…