How War and Peace can help make your PC easier to use

By | September 15, 2011
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In the Computers newsletter this month:
  • How War and Peace can help make your PC easier to use
  • Next Week: Windows 8, but not on a PC
  • A quick update on Family History
  • A tribute to the founder of Project Gutenberg
  • Alastair’s shaky steps
Hello ,

I know plenty of people who use a PC a lot. And quite a few of them suffer from twinges and aches when they spend a long day at the computer. Even if you don’t spend all day at the computer desk, you can get sore arms, wrists or shoulders if you don’t take just a little bit of care. But there are some pretty simple things you can do to help – here you go!

Tim’s 5 top tips for making using your PC comfortable
If you’re just using your PC now and then at home, you’re unlikely to be struck by full-blown RSI – that’s repetitive strain injury, when you damage your joints from using the PC. But if you use your PC a lot it’s a real risk. I knew one guy who got so bad he had trouble carrying his shopping bags. It can be that serious. And even if you only use your PC a little, having it all set up right can make it significantly more comfortable for you.

Here are my 5 tips for making sure your set up is comfortable:

  1. Put the monitor at the right height – when you’re sat at your desk, your eyes should be roughly the height of the top of the monitor. You can get special monitor stands or just use a stack of old books (Put War and Peace with spine facing the front to look clever, Mills and Boon facing away if you want to hide a guilty secret…)
  2. You don’t want your monitor too close or far away either – it can strain your eyes. Sit at your desk and reach out your arms – the monitor should be roughly knuckle distance away!
  3. Put the keyboard with the bit with the letters on straight in front of you so that your wrists are as straight as possible when you type. Try not to bend them inwards.
  4. Don’t grip the mouse too hard and try to keep your wrist straight when you use it. If you use it a lot, don’t rest your wrist on the desk (or a “wrist rest”) while you’re actually moving the mouse. Resting it in-between moving the mouse is fine, though.
  5. Most of all, if you’re using the keyboard and mouse lots, don’t forget to take a break and stretch every so often!

Follow those tips and you’ll find using the PC nice and comfortable – and even if you use it lots, you’re much less likely to suffer from RSI.

By the way, this is something I previously wrote about in Simple Ways to Make Your PC Easier To Use. It’s full of tips to make using your PC easier, quicker and less stressful, including the very first thing the owner of a multi-million pound business taught me when I went to work for him that I use every day. The book is for sale at =A35.99 but you can get it free – read more here: (If you’re a member of the Inner Circle you can already access this from the Download section)

Next week: Windows 8, but not on a PC
There are rumours that next week will see Microsoft demonstrate the forthcoming Windows 8 – but not on a PC. Apparently they’ll demonstrate a tablet running Windows 8. A tablet is a bit like a laptop but with no keyboard or mouse – you just touch the screen to tell it what you want to do.

The idea is that the same version of Windows will run on PCs and on tablets so you only have one system to learn. It sounds like a good idea, if they can make it work.

Either way, though, the system they’re demonstrating won’t be available to buy for a good while yet – they’re just trying to tease us!

Family History update
I’m still beavering away at the Family History book I mentioned last time (I’ve been thinking about writing this book since 2005, so now I’m finally doing it, I want to get it right!). But you can still watch the video from last time. The one about my Great-Grandfather, the London newspaper that I tracked down a mention of him in:

Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg, dies
I don’t usually like to have sad news in this newsletter, but I think this chap deserves my respect. He set up , a website where you can download ebooks that are out of copyright, free.

Although I like paper books, I still think it’s an important website. It’s great for students or academics, it means you can get at a book instantly, instead of waiting until you visit a bookshop (or until they can get it in stock) and it includes lots of books that are out of print and hard to find in paper form. And of course, it’s great for students in parts of the world where they might have access to the internet but have a very limited library.

When he set it up he set the aim to have 10,000 of the most referred to books available – to anyone, in any country. He not only saw that goal achieved, it’s currently at 36,000.

Project Gutenberg has plenty of people involved so even without him it’ll carry on from strength to strength.

Alastair’s shaky steps
I don’t like to end on a sad note, so even though it’s nothing to do with computers, if you go here, you can see a short video of some of Alastair’s first (rather shaky but very smiley) steps:

Tim Wakeling

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