This is the first in a number of posts about RSI, or Repetitive Strain Injury, the subject of this week’s column, out tomorrow. Here is a collection of software designed to ease RSI. RSI software tries to help in a number of ways:
- working out how long you’ve been at the keyboard and reminds you to take breaks;
- suggesting exercises for you to perform while you’re taking those breaks;
- records macros (shortcuts) to specific tasks you do a lot so you don’t have to use the keyboard as much (especially keystroke combinations);
- reduces mouse usage by allowing you to control the mouse from the keyboard (including dragging)
- reducing mouse clicks by automating the process (move the cursor over something you want to click on and hold it there, and the software figures out you want to click and does it for you)
Here are some programs I found. I’m sure there are more. Let me know!
RSI Shield provides breaks, records macros and controls the mouse via hovering or via the keyboard. For Windows only. About $40 from RSI-Shield.
RSI Guard includes a break timer that suggests breaks at appropriate times, mouse automatic-clicking option and shows animations of exercises. Windows only. £81 from Back in Action, or $40 for the Standard and $65 for the Stretch Edition from RSI Guard.
Workrave frequently alerts you to take micro-pauses, rest breaks and restricts you to your daily limit. For GNU/Linux and Windows (can be run on a Mac using Fink). Free from Workrave.
WorkPace Personal charts your activity, reminds you to take breaks and guides you through exercises. For Windows and Mac. $50 from Wellnomics.
AntiRSI forces you to take regular breaks, yet without getting in the way. It also detects natural breaks so it won’t force too many breaks on you. For Macs, free (donations welcome) from TECH.inhelsinki.nl.
Xwrits reminds you to take wrist breaks, with a rather cute but graphic graphic of a wrist which pops up an X window when you should rest. For Unix only. Free from Eddie Kohler’s Little Cambridgeport Design Factory.
OosTime Break Software for reminding yourself to take rest breaks from your computer. For Windows only, from the University of Calgary. Another break reminder: Stress Buster for Windows, £10, from ThreadBuilder. Another break reminder for Windows, also called, er, Break Reminder for $60 a year (that can’t be right) from Cheqsoft.
Stretch Break reminds you to stretch, then shows you how with Yoga-based stretches and relaxing background music. For Windows only, $45 from Paratec.
ergonomix monitors keyboard and mouse activity and helps structure computer use. For Windows only, $50 from publicspace.net. (A Mac version called MacBreakZ is also available for $20.)
ActiveClick automatically clicks, drags content and makes you stretch. For Windows only, $19 from ActiveClick.
No-RSI monitors keyboard and mouse activity and suggests you to take a break regularly. For Windows only, $15 from BlueChillies.
Also check out the Typing Injury FAQ for some more RSI software. A more recent collection can be found in a piece by Laurie Bouck at The Pacemaker. A good piece, too, by Jono Bacon at ONLamp.com.
There are also mice that try to help counter RSI. The Hoverstop, for example, “detects if your hand is on the mouse. It then monitors if you are actually using it (clicking, scrolling). If you are not using it for more than 10 seconds, it will vibrate softly to remind you to take your hand away and relax.” About $90 from Hoverstop.
My favorite? Workrave, though I must confess I often ignore the breaks. More fool me.