Ergonomic things.

I get wrist pain in … well, obviously, my wrists.

Man, that was a bit of a daft start to a post.

Especially when using a mouse, but also when I have to do a lot of typing.  I do touch type, but not ‘formally’, with perfect  full-hand position, and so on.

Anyway, to try and make things better, here are some of the things I’m using

Microsoft Natural 4000 Keyboard

One of the weird things about keyboards is that essentially, we still use the exact same design that was needed for swinging arm typewriters. Stuffing all the keys as close together as we can, in orderly rows, so that the arm can hit the paper in the same place every time.
Actually, though, our hands would be a lot happier somewhat spaced apart, and at an angle, rather than trying to line up next to each other.

I have been using one of these Microsoft Keyboards for over a year now at work, and although it’s not perfect, it is a lot nicer than regular cheap and nasty keyboards, and a lot cheaper than some other Ergonomic Keyboards.

I currently have it at home, as, since this is a bit of a quiet time at OMNIvision, I thought I should finally get around to learning a more sane keyboard layout than QWERTY.  I’m learning Workman, which is a little obscure at the moment, but to me makes sense.  We’ll see if it takes off at all in the future…

Kensington Trackball

 The thing which makes my wrists hurt the most is using a mouse, so I’ve been playing for a while with using the popular alternative to mice: trackballs.  This one is really cool, in that it has a built in scroll wheel.  That’s normal on mice, but for no apparent reason, is kind of unusual on trackballs.

I’m not 100% sold on trackballs as the answer, I think probably as big a part of it as anything is having to reach way over to the side and grip at an angle.  So I try to keep the trackball in the middle of the desk, and I have it also on an angle using an old empty CD spool.

Wowpen Joy

At home, I tried for a while using another trackball I got on ebay, as it was cheap, as it was second-hand.  It also wasn’t very reliable, so it ended up being more frustrating than helpful.  I then looked at Vertical Mice – mice which are designed to keep your hand in the ‘handshake position’ more naturally than the twisted flat position of normal mice.
A lot of vertical mice, like ergonomic keyboards, are pretty expensive.  However, on ebay there were a lot of these incredibly named ‘WowPen Joy’ mice.  The name itself is enough to put you off.  Anyway, I thought I’d try and see how one was.  It’s actually very nice.  It is kind of small, but still works fine with my big hands, I just use my middle and ring fingers to click, not index and middle.
Yes, I think it’s helping.  But still sometimes my wrists are painful, so much that I have to stop mousing or typing at all for a while.  I need to work on my posture, I think.  I’m considering trying a standing desk at work for a few months, as whenever I sit I do tend to slouch, no matter how many times I try to remember to sit up properly.
I also use “Time Out” computer break software on my work machine, which is really annoying, but almost certainly a good idea. Every so often it jumps up on my screen and tells me to stretch, and take a 10 second break from the keyboard, and then every 45 minutes or so, tells me to take a 5 minute break, which I use to do some cleaning, make coffee, go hang out with someone, or get one of the other non-computer jobs done that I need to.  Sometimes, if I have nothing else really to do, then:

Contact juggling

I keep a contact juggling ball around, and play with that during the micro breaks, which is supposed to be good for muscles and stretching…

So why, you may ask, am I writing all this boring waffle about keyboards and so on.  Well, partly, because it is kind of interesting to me. Partly it’s because I do find it easier to get started writing about factual/techy stuff – maybe that’s part of being an INFP, extroverting my TJ side, I dunno.  I have some more philosophical thoughts which I can relate through all this geeky ergonomic clobber. I’ll post it soon.

You become your parents,

Or so they say.

And hereby, I think I will prove it true, to some degree:

Yes, I’m blogging pictures of settlers games, and home made food.

Now for some context.

So we got back from honeymoon two weeks ago – which means we’ve been married now for a month! Incredible.

Honeymoon was amazing – the perfect holiday, I think. We stayed in this gorgeous cottage / gatehouse / lodge , in Gatehouse of fleet:

Went for loads of walks (Dumfries & Galloway are lovely!):

(where I took quite a few photos of flowers and insects, cos it’s cool)

Yeah. Honeymoon was cool! I thoroughly recommend it. Getting married first is a pretty good idea, too.

We visited Cream of Galloway who make icecreams:

(I love this photo!!! Becky isn’t so keen on it though. heh heh heh)

Drank lots of coffee:

(I figure if I put a funny one of me, I’ll get less flak for putting a crazy one of Becky…)

The house had a log fire,
where we made smores:

And generally had a wonderful time. Thanks to everyone who came to the wedding, helped us in so many ways, and gave us gifts and all that cool stuff. Getting married is awesome! Being married is even better.

So now we’re back, we’ve been playing with some new kitchen toys (real chef knives, a blender, breadmaker, new plates and bowls and pans and pots and a yoghurt maker… wow! I feel really thankful and very embarrassed in a good way…). Thus the food pictures:

(making pancakes using a blender to make the batter – is this the ultimate in laziness? Whatever – it’s fun! 🙂 )

Yes – we’re having fun. Not having to walk half an hour home each night is VERY nice too. I may well post more pictures too, as I slowly sort them out. We haven’t actually got all the pictures back from the wedding, we’ve seen some of them, but I’ll post some of those too, later.

This week…

Some pictures from the week.
Treatment for insect bites.
Measurements of the new theatre building.
My blender mockup. We’re still discussing.
You can’t work efficiently in blender on a laptop without an external keyboard and mouse.
Beautiful Greek letters! I find keyboards and mice from supermarkets are the cheapest, and the longest lasting. Apple and Microsoft branded mice – just say NO!
More clutter destined for the trash.

between a clock and the next place…

Again, it’s that weird time – about a week before leaving. Time to start packing and preparing, yet also not quite late enough that you can pack everything without needing to unpack bits again over the next week.

I’ve just been reading this book, which is quite challenging. I recomend reading it. Basically, it’s the story of a young radical student type, who couldn’t sit back and watch all the injustice and insanity in the world, and couldn’t support ways to end it from his couch or by sending a tenner a month to TearFund, but actually had to get his hands dirty, go live with the homeless in his area, visit Mother Teresa, work with them, and so on. The longish review on is good – it is quite an americo-centric take on things. But suck the juice, spit the pips, you know.

So – yeah. Becky and I will be heading over to Cyprus in about a week, for a few months. It feels quite weird. We should be back here by September, God willing. So many details to organise, and also so much to just trust God about, things we have no control over.

Oh, btw, Bridget, this photo is for you:

OMNIvision’s new mobile book shop opened for the first time yesterday! Since Becky has been running the thing so far, sorting the books and generally making things happen, she was running the cashdesk (the ones from Doulos, strangely enough, which got shipped over to us) and I was able to take her out for a tea and cheesecake break in the afternoon. Cheesecake is good stuff. The bookshop is doing well, we’re all pretty excited to be able to provide this service for the church in Carlisle.

And here’s the last photo for the day:

Playing with my camera, I found some open source firmware which lets me do very fast shutter speeds. A bit of a hack, but hey. Fun to play with.

AV updates, mid drydock.


I think it looks a little better. Still messy, but at least understandable. Pretty much everything is plugged in now, and from preliminary tests, we appear to have somewhat better clarity in EVERYTHING, and some of the video signals are visibly higher signal-to-noise with much less interference.
We bought two new audio patch panels too, Behringer ones. Strangely, Behringer also seem to do unbalanced patch panels. Fortunately, the shop had both, and I noticed. What on earth would anyone want unbalanced patch panels for?!

I also had to butcher the two panels which we were replacing to get enough parts to fix a third panel which was very glitchy. Here are some of the internals which are slightly broken.

You can see a bit of corrosion on the top contact – even with jackplug cleaners and everything, the equipment is just plain old.

Today, hopefully, I can do the full system tests (need to borrow a oscilliscope and reference signal generators…), and then get the whole thing boxed up and leave it until the end of drydock. Then I can work on more fun projects. Videos, song composition, etc.

That’s all for now, I’ll post more shorter posts later, with more pictures.

Bolts and other bits and bobs

Ever wonder what a stainless steel bolt looks like when it completely rusts into oblivion?

Well. Now you know. This fell off one of our lifeboats. Makes you feel very secure, right?

This is the latest addition to the AV room:

It’s getting quite full, these days. Well, it has been for YEARS now. Any time we want to change anything, it gets quite major and complicated, trying to shuffle things around. Basically, I was fed up of having our stationary drawer jam because of too many tools inside it, so had the carpenters make us this. Makes me feel all reminiscent of the keyshop. *sigh* good old days.

Here it is, in place. As you can tell, the room isn’t all that tidy, still. Just SO MUCH STUFF! Other additions, the mug hooks on the wall, the per-day form hooks too, and also a removable wall-mount for the fan (which always used to just sit on the floor and get kicked…)

and lastly, we’ve FINALLY got the slot on the door for request forms!

exciting! I’ll post pictures of the opposite side of this amazing slot soon. It’s small, subtle, elegantly engineered and discreet. You’ll love it.

Long time no update

Hi Blog.

Long time no update, I blame I.T. and specifically I blame Blip, who works in I.T. I don’t blame her because it’s probably her fault, but because she deserves it. I can’t access blogspot, so have to go back to the old email-mum-with-stuff-to-blog method.


So. Many changes in the last few months.

I went on break for a week last port in Manila. Yes, Manila again. So I’ve been there 3 times now, total of 3 months. Quite cool. Anyway, we only managed to actually get to where we wanted to go for 2 days of the week of shore-leave, but it was so peaceful there. We went up to the mountains, near a place called Taal where there’s a volcano and so on.

Back on the ship, AV wise, I’ve been doing a bit more guerrilla carpentry.

Here’s our laptop/workstation. Things to note: the amazing wall-mount for the screen. Made from 100% recyclable natural products. Also, the big screen is showing mac OS. This is from Ant’s mac mini which is also hidden in the shot. The laptop is the A/V laptop, and running windows. The big screen can also show the A/V second screen quite happily, just by pressing a button on the screen. So. Two computers, but only one mouse and keyboard? Yep! Thanks to the amazing “Synergy” software, you can scroll the mouse off the left of the laptop screen and it jumps onto the mac, and vice versa! Very cool.

We had a Jazz recording session last monday, our amazing sax player just left the ship, so before he went we spent a whole afternoon recording with the band, and then had an evening for the ship’s company to come and hang out while the band jammed in a quiet atmosphere. This is the old 4 channel data minidisk recorder that we found in a closet and used for recording each channel individually as well as the main mix on the computer.

And team changes. Here’s one of the mainstays of the AV team, who just left yesterday. She’s finished her commitment on Doulos, and has gone back to Europe. I’ll miss her a lot. She’s American. On the team currently we have a Swedish guy, two German lunatic men, an American videographer dude, or cat, or whatever historical term of endearment he currently is using, one strapping British lad who’s currently in the UK for 2 months cross-training/work with the team there (like I did last year) and me.

Notice anything? Yep. All Westerners, and all guys. In a sense, that’s pretty understandable. Of the kinds of people who join the ship, the western guys tend to be the group who are into tech/arts. But, it’s also quite unbalanced. So in a week’s time, we’ll have a new member of the team, a Korean lady! She’s worked as videographer in a big church in Korea for several years, so that’s quite exciting. Both of the Germans will be leaving at the end of this port, around the 30th, and the Brit will be coming back. So we’ll be somewhat smaller again, hopefully we’ll get someone else soon, but who knows.

Anyway. It’s a time of changes. I’m excited, and hope I can use these changes to bring better changes throughout the whole team and work we do.

And finally.

This is proof that the evil sock monster exists. We put all our underwear into bags before it goes to laundry, to keep it together and not let anything get lost, and yet, somehow, I’ve got here 7 – yes, count them – 7 non-matching socks.

What the heck?!