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Microsoft Study Says Repetitive Strain Injury Costs $600m

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the still-free-to-me-just-painful dept.

Medicine 169

4roddas writes "Work-related RSI cases are at an all-time high and the cost to businesses is spiraling, new Microsoft research reveals. Repetitive strain injury cases have soared by over 30 percent in the last year, costing businesses over US$600 million in lost working hours — and causing pain and debilitating discomfort to over-worked staff. Microsoft claims the rapidly emerging trend of 'mobile working' — with office-based employees now working on the move for an average of an hour more per day than they did two years ago using laptops and mobile devices — is behind this alarming climb in work-related injury. The company arrived at its conclusions in a poll among over 1,000 office workers, HR managers and office managers. This showed that 68 percent of office workers suffered from aches and pains, with the most common symptoms including back ache, shoulder pain and wrist/hand pain."

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169 comments

I hate to sound cynical, but ... (5, Insightful)

querist (97166) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666917)

I hate to be cynical, but why would Microsoft fund this study? They sell ergonomic keyboards. I wonder if they're coming out with some new ergonomic device, if they are trying to prop up sales of their current line of ergonomic devices, or if their funding of the study was simply an act of generosity (otherwise known as a tax write-off).

Also, first post?

Re:I hate to sound cynical, but ... (5, Informative)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666981)

why would Microsoft fund this study?

Dont you read /.?

Yesterday they announced MicroSoft "Touch" - today they announce a reason to want it.

Plus ca change...

Re:I hate to sound cynical, but ... (0, Troll)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668557)

Also, apparently [slashdot.org] this is the year of Linux on the ultra-mobile laptop. No wonder they're trying to diss mobile computing.

Re:I hate to sound cynical, but ... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23667011)

What about the greater threat here? I think it's easy to overlook the fact that repetive Jew injury is a much greater problem than the liberal media is willing to admit.

Re:I hate to sound cynical, but ... (4, Informative)

will_die (586523) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667251)

Correct.
Here [microsoft.com] is the original article from Microsoft, most of it is an ad for thier products.
One thing to note, Microsoft did not release this as a press release it is just part of the normal "Here is a way Microsoft can help you" marketing.

Re:I hate to sound cynical, but ... (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667481)

it is just part of the normal "Here is a way Microsoft can help you" marketing.
As in: "Hi, we're from the government, we're here to help you".

Re:I hate to sound cynical, but ... (2, Interesting)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668939)

While I view Microsoft as evil, and frequently illegal, and frequently amoral, and wanting to get my money through lockin, oddly I do still feel that they care about my needs.

They are like some sort of evil parent that loves you but doesn't want you to grow up and go out on your own life.

Re:I hate to sound cynical, but ... (4, Informative)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667751)

Here is the original article from Microsoft, most of it is an ad for thier products.
What, you mean the one line that says "Microsoft led the way in ergonomic design, having introduced the Natural Ergonomic Keyboard in 1994, and more recently the Natural Wireless Mouse 6000"?

How on earth did that transform to 'most of the article' when you decided to point it out?

Re:I hate to sound cynical, but ... (2, Informative)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667263)

It's true that microsoft sells ergonomic keyboards [microsoft.com]. I think their most famous ones are the "split" or "natural hand" boards (that's the ones I know, and the names I know them under), i.e. the one I linked to.

The problem is that it's not a good keyboard design. If we stick to a (roughly) flat board with buttons on it, you first of all want more space between the hands, since that's how you hold them naturally. Second of all, you want vertically aligned keys (the unaligned keys is a holdover from typewriter manufacturing constraints).

Third of all, you want something that takes the shape and anatomy of the human hand into account. Your fingers don't have equal length. When you rest your palm, you tend to want to let your fingers "hang", being in rest at a lower place than the palm. Your thumb can do useful work besides just hitting the space bar.

Kinesis [kinesis-ergo.com] has made a quite good keyboard [kinesis-ergo.com], taking the above considerations into account.

If you want to move away from the board-with-buttons, I've heard many good things about the datahand [nongnu.org] (sorry, couldn't find a picture from the makers).

On top of picking a good keyboard, you may want to pick a good keyboard layout. I'm very happy using dvorak, and I hear that people with RSI can type with less pain (some with no pain at all) on dvorak. Comparison: on qwerty, you move your fingers 15-20 miles per day, compared to 1 mile on dvorak for (I assume) the same workload.

For a longer explanation about dvorak, see dv zine [dvzine.org]. It's in my experience well worth the time spent learning a new keyboard layout.

So yeah, microsoft sells ergonomic keyboards, but you can get better elsewhere. I've tried both a microsoft ergonomic board and the kinesis, and the kinesis definitely wins any comparison hands down; except when you spill coke into one and not the other.

Re:I hate to sound cynical, but ... (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667345)

I find it incredibly hard to believe that the movement savings are anywhere near that.

Now, I'm not saying it's useless either, and there are efficiency gains to be made, but 15:1? I doubt that.

Cool but useless. (2, Insightful)

DrYak (748999) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667983)

Those weird martian keyboards definitely look cool, but critically fail to take into account the most important part :
Nobody stay immobile the whole day with their back straight hand laid down in optimal(c) position(r) the whole day.
Or if they actually do, they're going to have lots of back and neck pain very fast.

All these device are optimised for a specific optimal position.
Whereas, changing position often is critical against back/neck pains.
Thus these devices aren't polyvalant enough for someone who's going to use them the whole day. I mean they can't even be used one handed (whereas a keyboard can... as proven by countless single /. geeks).

Dvorak v. Qwerty (2, Informative)

hankwang (413283) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668129)

Comparison: on qwerty, you move your fingers 15-20 miles per day, compared to 1 mile on dvorak for (I assume) the same workload.

The ratio is more like 1.7:1 according to this keyboard analysis on prose [siteuri.ro]. For 250 kB of text, you travel 6.3 km on Qwerty and 3.7 km on Dvorak (only horizontal travel counted). If you don't spend too much time thinking about what you write, you might be able to type that amount in 3 days or so, so 2 versus 1.3 km per day.

(Happily using Dvorak since 1995)

Re:I hate to sound cynical, but ... (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668553)

i have rsi and i do actually like some microsoft keyboards - that natural ergonomics 4000 and the comfort curve 2000. they really relieve the wrists.
a colleague of mine has now rsi, too and has bought the natural ergonomics 4000 keyboard because he has seen mine. he likes it, too.

Re:I hate to sound cynical, but ... (1)

Syberz (1170343) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668635)

The above poster makes some good points about keyboards but one thing that most posters seem to forget is that keyboards aren't the only requirement for a workspace. A good chair and adequate desk height do count for a lot in a worker's comfort yet are overlooked by most companies (in my experience at any rate).

At the office I suffer from shoulder and wrist pain after a long day of typing and mousing, conditions which do not appear when I'm at home on a gaming marathon.

I find that a long gaming session puts more strain on my joints as I tend to get more engrossed and reflexively press harder on the keys when trying to avoid being shot. In theory this added strain should translate into more pain but it does not, why? My computer desk is at the perfect height for me and so is my chair, I also have a larger, clutter free, mousing surface whereas at work I don't have any of these.

Re:I hate to sound cynical, but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23667487)

Also, first post?

FR1ST... OUCH!

Re:I hate to sound cynical, but ... (1)

rishistar (662278) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667791)

The main issue from the study points to the increase being down to mobile devices, not desktops, being used more. These are inherently unlike desktop keyboards, though the fact they have a wrist rest present by default is one bonus. Personally, I have an ergonomic keyboard for my desktop, but the laptop has what it comes with.

Re:I hate to sound cynical, but ... (1)

roster238 (969495) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668521)

"Re:I hate to sound cynical, but ..."

If you hate to sound cynical then don't be cynical. If MS gave a billion dollars to the children's burn center and the news were posted on \. most of the responses would tell in great detail how Windows based computers spontaneously combust and the only reason MS is doing it is to avoid federal penalties. It should be a goal not to be a party to that negative and nasty crowd who seem to get an erection by bashing MS. It's a simple study about ergonomics in the workplace. Thousands have been done before and it won't be the last. If Bill Gates were as evil as \. seems to think wouldn't he be in politics?

Does Slashdot become PRO-repetitive stress? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23668603)

Now that MS has declared being against repetitive stress injuries, does this mean Slashdotters will have to be in favor of them?

I can see it now, all FOSS apps, especially Open Office, will now be marketted as not only free, but the fastest and easiest way to get a repetitive stress injury. People with wrist braces will gain even MOAR geek cred- it will become a badge by which only the hardest of the hardcore FOSSies and Stallmanistas will be known.

Just think of the poor workers (0, Offtopic)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666925)

those actors in the porn movies who must suffer from repetitively moving to and fro, always in and out of their workplace. It must be real hard to not know where you've been or where you're going next when the threat of Repetitive strain injury starts to affect your closest of kin that lives next to the twins.

moron studying slave labor/hostage market (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666939)

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In other words (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666955)

From the article: The research suggests that one of the main factors behind the high number of injuries is because not enough companies are replacing their existing office equipment with ergonomic hardware that can significantly reduce the risk of RSI.

Translation:

"...not enough companies are replacing their existing office equipment with ergonomic hardware that can run Vista."

Re:In other words (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666989)

"...not enough companies are replacing their existing office equipment with ergonomic hardware that can run Vista."
Vista needs a special "Vista Ready" keyboard and mouse???

Re:In other words (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667385)

Vista needs a special "Vista Ready" keyboard and mouse???
No, silly! The programmable chips in the keyboards and mice run Vista.

Re:In other words (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668049)

Actually, there are Vista design guidelines for keyboards, if not mice.

IIRC, the Windows key has to be dimpled, and there might be some positioning requirements.

Article is biased (0, Offtopic)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667759)

The RSI was not caused by computer equipment as such but the repetitive wrist movements of M$ employees during idle hours watching footage of chair-throwing-fetish videos.

Actually (1)

junglee_iitk (651040) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668183)

Microsoft Study Says Ballmer costs $600m.

The research stuggests that one of the main factory behind the high number of injuries is because Microsoft is replacing their existing office equipment with chairs.

not to mention the eye strain (2, Interesting)

huit (1285438) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666975)

I use a 15" at work, would much prefer a desktop with a decent screen. By the time you hook up external keyboard and mouse it has to sit so far away you need an external monitor as well.

Re:not to mention the eye strain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23667139)

I use a 15" at work
Was this supposed to be a reply to the "Poor Poor Star" comment?

Hit Reply on the comment to make it a child!

I don't think Microsoft wants to go there... (4, Funny)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666985)

Next they should do a study on how much extra "Your computer wants to do something mundane and we need to you click another box. Confirm or Deny?" clicks contribute to RSI.

Re:I don't think Microsoft wants to go there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23667527)

Not to mention repeatedly keying the awkward Ctrl-Alt-Delete combo....

Re:I don't think Microsoft wants to go there... (2, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668667)

actually repeatedly moving between keyboard and mouse seems to be the biggest issue. many people I know were just fine for years with text based terminals but have started having problems since moving to GUI based systems, usually affecting the hand that operates the mouse.

Seems to be the opposite of what I thought (4, Interesting)

nauseum_dot (1291664) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666987)

I have to say that this is amazing, when you give your employees the ability to work at home, they over work themselves.

That seems the opposite of conventional wisdom, and I remember reading another story here, some time ago, that said that in the office employees think that telecommuters appear to be doing less work.

Re:Seems to be the opposite of what I thought (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667083)

when you give your employees the ability to work at home, they over work themselves.

Because you know you are one click away from redundancy by SMS message.

Re:Seems to be the opposite of what I thought (2, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667215)

I find I'm much more productive when I'm out of the office and therefore not being interrupted every 30 seconds by someone who wants me to do something for them.

Re:Seems to be the opposite of what I thought (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668857)

similarly for me most offices I have worked in are poor environments. often no aircon, as there are laws about making people work in the cold but not in excessive heat. often lots of noise, or a silence policy which can be even worse. sometimes you are forced to listen to someone else choice of music, or suffer the noise smell and disease of someone who is ill. and then there could just be people in the office you don't like.

Re:Seems to be the opposite of what I thought (3, Insightful)

CensorshipDonkey (1108755) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667815)

No one seems to be commenting on what I consider to be an obvious theory: mobile hardware is not ergonomically designed.

We went through this in the 90's on desktop hardware. There was a rash of repetitive strain injuries, and almost every office made some concession to ergonomics. Keyboard trays that could be precisely positioned, wrist pads and adjustable chairs became the norm. Every office seemed to offer courses on how to avoid RSI's at your desk including how to sit properly, how to position your keyboard properly, etc.

However, all that training and equipment remains in the office. The Microsoft study points to the rising use of mobile hardware. People work on their laptops holding them hunched over their knees, balanced on books on a couch, etc etc. How many times can you get your laptop positioned at just the right angle for your wrists? How much different is your laptop keyboard's size and aspect ratio from the desktop keyboard? Once your at the optimal distance for typing, do you find yourself bending over to see the smaller, dimmer screen more easily?

Re:Seems to be the opposite of what I thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23668075)

I wonder if it isn't a form of re-establishing the boundaries around work. The work-home division has been eroded by mobile computing, so now workforce resistance to being expected to work all the time is 'can't, it's making me sick.' Being sick has always been an effective means of passive resistance.

Clearly, what is needed is a new interface (2, Interesting)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666993)

Clearly, what we need is a new way to interface with a computer, something like speaking/yelling at it and/or a touchscreen interface.
Naively I ask, does Microsoft have any such projects in development?
hmmm....

Idiots. If they wouldn't pop up a notification every time a computer farts or a mouse is plugged in, maybe interfacing with the computer wouldn't be so, you know, repetitive!

Re:Clearly, what is needed is a new interface (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23667261)

mouse is plugged in

Bad example. So you don't want to know if your computer is sensing your mouse? XP does a little balloon message and it promptly disappears.

Microsoft Surface to the rescue! (1, Troll)

mfearby (1653) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666995)

Let me guess... Microsoft has the answer, and it's called Surface?

This is just so that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666997)

they can herald the end of the mouse. Brought to you tonite by Micro$oft.

Finally.... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23667005)

Microsoft admits the reinstalling Windows each day causes medical problems.

Well, of course, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23667009)

those chairs are HEAVY, dammit!

Conspiracy theory one: (3, Insightful)

Icarium (1109647) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667013)

1. Write software that requires the grunt of a desktop machine to run.
2. Discredit mobile computing (where you aren't doing so well) by blaming it for a medical condition.
3. Profit!

Seriously though, how is it news that performing more of a repetitive action that causes RSI causes (wait for it!) more incidents of RSI?

I'm more interested in the phenomenon whereby technology that is supposed to make our working lives easier and faster is actually making us work more. (I know, it's not *making* us work more, but why on Earth would anyone want to do more work in more time? Doing the same work in less time, or more work in the same time I can understand).

We have treatment options at work (3, Interesting)

bunyip (17018) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667033)

My employer (Sabre Holdings) offers Active Release Therapy (ART) for RSI and similar problems. The doctor that does this comes into the office two mornings a week and does 15 minute treatment sessions. No complex insurance forms and the associated cost of running around and taking time off to get it treated. It's a nice benefit to have :-)

I've had ART done on me for running injuries (repetitive strain) and it's worked really well, I recommend it.

Re:We have treatment options at work (2, Insightful)

eth1 (94901) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667447)

I was just about to say something similar. Any wrist pain I've ever had has been solved in about 5 minutes by my chiropractor. Ditto for back, knee, neck, etc.

I don't think the original "injury" is usually caused by the repetitive motions, it's just aggravated by it. Fix the problem, not the symptoms.

Wish the company would have one on staff, so I didn't have to pay for it, though...

I wonder how much (0, Troll)

handmedowns (628517) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667045)

Microsoft has caused business to lose in working hours from:

* Work / time lost directly due to viruses
* Work / time lost indirectly due to dealing with spam / botnets (due to insecure Windows Machines)
* Incompatibilities between MS Office versions
* Certifying what Hardware / Software Vista REALLY supports
etc etc.


I'd have to imagine that the bottleneck would be Microsoft before anything like carpal tunnel, RSI, MS, or blindness.


Re:I wonder how much (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668429)

Yes, but as everyone knows: "you can't be fired for choosing MS (over cheaper and better alternatives)"

Known cure (3, Informative)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667047)

The only known cure for "repetitive stain injury" is to take up embroidery (hand, not computer).

The underlying cause of RSI is that you dont need to be very accurate to hit keys on a keyboard, and so you can be fairly indiscriminate about which keys you hit. The nerves all activate together, and, over a long period, you lose the ability to distinguish between nerve fibres.

Enbroidery requires you to be very accurate, and you re-learn the use of the individual nerves.

I leave google as an exercise for the reader, while I get back to my needlework.

Re:Known cure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23667347)

This is a joke, right? I mean, guitar playing is a well-known cause of RSI (specifically, carpal tunnel) while by your reckoning it should be an effective treatment. And "you can be fairly indiscriminate about which keys you hit"? You mean like klqwoiwwefoiasjdf;l,wlkjwa;eaw;fj;woainvnk? Yeah, that works.

Re:Known cure (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23667453)

How about playing instruments? I've been both an avid computer user and a piano player for years and never had any problems with my hands or arms. I can imagine that string instruments that require a lot of precision would help as well.

Re:Known cure (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667723)

Funny, I have to be more accurate to hit the keys I actually want. I've been on computers for hours every day for almost 20 years now. The only time I thought I had CT was actually a pinched nerve from when I bumped my elbow on a sharp corner.

Re:Known cure (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667805)

Enbroidery requires you to be very accurate, and you re-learn the use of the individual nerves.

Sounds interesting, but I'd wager that learning to type does the same. By that I mean learning correct posture and arm and wrist position/angle, etc. before you start the process of learning to hit keys.

Alternatively, I suppose, one could use a "natural" keyboard, in the same way one can learn to slouch in a comfy chair and watch TV "comfortably". Or make up for one's lousy posture and bad habits by getting an occasional massage or visiting a chiropracter, despite the fact that both are the blowjob equivalents of pain relief and do little to make up for what's causing problems in the first place.

Me, I took typing in high school (to meet girls) and walked away from the experience knowing how to type properly. Embroidery might just do the same, but either way, there's no way anyone can spend spend their days at a keyboard effectively without learning how to do it properly.

That's a roundabout way of underscoring what we both agree on, and that is that there's nothing "natural" about typing, just like there's nothing natural about playing a piano, guitar or anything else that requires dexterity and movement. The only thing that's a natural is that doing it wrong causes you problems that are fixed by going back to square one and unlearning everything you think you know.

Re:Known cure (2, Informative)

Yxven (1100075) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668587)

I guess I failed the exercise.

Searching for "embroidery repetitive strain injury" on google only finds articles on how to prevent developing rsi while doing needlework.

http://needlework.craftgossip.com/rsi-repetative-stress-injuries/2008/03/05/ [craftgossip.com]
http://www.punchneedleembroidery.com/pages/default.cfm?page_id=6180 [punchneedl...oidery.com]
http://www.content4reprint.com/hobbies/arts-and-crafts/how-to-avoid-repetitive-strain-injury-rsi-when-cross-stitching.htm [content4reprint.com]

So if you wouldn't mind sourcing your statement, I would appreciate it.

Ironic (2, Insightful)

G-News.ch (793321) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667053)

Funny how the increase in workhours is mostly due to technology Microsoft introduced themselves, among others. Windows Mobile comes to mind. What a handy business model, when you're the reason and the cure for a popular problem all at once. Greatest invention since the postal undertaker.

Why the sudden interest (2, Interesting)

stavros-59 (1102263) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667059)

...in something that's been known about and documented over the last 20 odd years. Any one pounding keys all day is at risk for this. I'm not sure a survey was needed. I'm trying to work out what Microsoft are doing these sort of surveys for now. Maybe even find out why they are doing it now.

Re:Why the sudden interest (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667953)

...in something that's been known about and documented over the last 20 odd years.

Not really. The widespread diagnosis of RSI is a fairly recent phenomenon, and then it applies, outside of industrial or factory environments, mostly to office workers using keyboards, and not to those who pounded their days away on Underwoods or, if they were lucky, IBM Selectrics.

It's the opposite in the Netherlands (4, Interesting)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667079)

According to this article from may 16th

http://www.nu.nl/news/1569649/36/rss/RSI-klachten_weer_op_niveau_van_10_jaar_geleden.html [www.nu.nl]

(sorry it's in dutch) our RSI numbers are down to the same as ten years ago. So we don't see to have the problem that MS is warning us about.
I wonder why that is?

Re:It's the opposite in the Netherlands (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668733)

Most of the injuries they talk about are caused primarily by a lack of exercise. It's not just that they're typing, or using mobile devices too much... It's that they're doing those things without exercising the parts of their bodies that are idle while they work.

Of course, people would rather blame somebody other than themselves for their injuries, and companies like Microsoft would rather sell you software or hardware to solve the problem...

RSI = Banging head on desk for.... (1)

cryptodan (1098165) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667107)

getting random BSOD's, and IT Help Desk people from walking to and from computer terminals to fix simple issues. I guess the more that you are up and about the more likelihood of getting hurt. No wonder Linux saves money it hardly goes down and usually a simple SSH Session is needed to fix something unless SSHD is dead.

Dvorak (2, Interesting)

mwilliamson (672411) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667111)

I'm on a computer a good portion of the day and really enjoy using the Dvorak keyboard layout. Some studies say they layout results in faster typing, some say not, however the amount of finger travel required to type on Dvorak is substantially less than qwerty. I've been using Dvorak for about 12 years now and haven't had any wrist trouble.

It just makes sense to use a optimized keyboard layout instead of an intentionally de-optimized layout from 130 years ago that was primarly designed to prevent typewriter hammers from sticking together. To further show how asinine the qwerty layout is, one of the marketing directives was to put all the letters to spell TYPE WRITER, which was the machines' brand name, on the top row so salesmen would have an easy demo.

This also keeps co-workers off my console in the event I forget to lock it. What's even more amusing is to change someone else's layout to dvorak and be there when they get confused. I quickly ask them to show me and I type something in front of them. We go back and forth a few times and for a split second, I take amusement in that person questioning their own sanity.

Ahh that explains... (3, Funny)

Splab (574204) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667113)

why Microsoft insists on changing user interface on each and every release - they are doing it to protect us! My heroes!

Ow! (1)

beadfulthings (975812) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667141)

While I'm a bit dubious of why Microsoft cares, I'm also coming off two weeks of appalling pain in my left (non dominant) hand. It arrived in the middle of the night after a long day at the keyboard, with enough force to wake me up and keep me awake. A little thought revealed the culprit: A decorative metal strip (sort of like half a pipe) runs around the table where I sit, and my wrists were resting directly on it. Plenty of ibuprofen and padding with a soft towel took care of the immediate problem, but I probably lost three days of productive work. Actually I couldn't drive properly either. A padded wrist rest seems to be helping now. I think it's very easy to sit there and work while being entirely unaware of a low level of discomfort that can then become acute.

Re:Ow! (1)

ianmh (818287) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668421)

Yeah, I've commented on this before, until you get an RSI injury it all seems like a big joke, but when it hits, it can be extremely debilitating. About 5 years ago I got it pretty bad to the point where I had trouble opening doors and my hands would shake when holding a glass of water. I also find once you have had an RSI like carpal tunnel you notice the signs right away and correct your posture before it's too late.

What OS though? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23667161)

I've often thought Windows keyboard shortcuts poorly thought out compared to MacOS. On the Mac most shortcuts are based around the Command modifier key which naturally sits beneath your thumb, making most shortcuts a simple reach, whereas on Windows PCs many shortcuts are based around Ctrl which sits under your little finger making even the most simple of key combos more of a stretch... and not a comfortable stretch at that.

I've never had RSI issues using a Mac (16+ hours per day), whereas I often have pains in my left hand from the overreach required for shortcuts if I have to spend more than a few hours working on one of the Windows boxes in the office.

It'd be interesting to see the OS split for the data that MS gathered over this RSI issue as I'm convinced that bad ergonomic layout of keyboard shortcuts is a major factor in the problem for anyone sat for long periods of time at a machine.

left hand or right?? (2, Insightful)

crisper (12620) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667201)

I bet construction workers are sore everyday they work their whole lives. I wonder if it is more the right hand for right handed guys and the left hand for left handed guys.....

Microsoft makes ergonomic input devices (0, Redundant)

kriston (7886) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667421)

Great, we have yet another self-promoting missive from a company that manufactures ergonomic keyboards and pointing devices.

Does RSI exist? (1)

Evildonald (983517) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667423)

A psychiatrist friend of mine has a whole section in her website on whether RSI even exists. http://www.lucire.com.au/writers_cramp_main.aspx [lucire.com.au]

Re:Does RSI exist? (1)

Alpha830RulZ (939527) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667731)

Let me guess, she thinks it's all in the patient's mind, and she has a special program for dealing with it...

Re:Does RSI exist? (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668247)

Yeah, right. Tell that to the millions of people who have had one. It's not like it's a new problem, suddenly springing up because computers were invented.

Re:Does RSI exist? (1)

Evildonald (983517) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668515)

She's not unsympathetic to their obvious pain, just that a lot of what is labelled "RSI" isn't RSI. However I understand what you're saying about historic RSI. I heard the real reason King Arthur couldn't find the holy grail was because of RSI.

I imagine (3, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667431)

this is from people continuously having to press CTRL + ALT + DEL

Thank you, I'm here all night! Try the veal!

question of metrics (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667495)

I wonder how much of this is an actual increase in the problem, or an increase in the reporting of the problem?

pffft (3, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667575)

most of these injuries are due to the poor ergonomics of stooping over a laptop placed on your lap

what i've done is devoted my eating regimen to ice cream, fast food, and sugary sodas, thereby establishing a nice shelf space, massive rolls of belly fat, on which to perch my laptop. now that my laptop is securely nestled close to my face, my wrists assume a natural curvature during typing, my back is straight rather than stooped over, and i've even reduced my eye strain

therefore, i heartily (cough wheeze) endorse a high calorie regimen to decrease RSI via belly perching your laptop for better ergonomics. its a dramatic improvement in joint health

Ergonomic keyboards FTW (1)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667611)

About 10 years ago I started having problems with pains in one of my wrists. I was a software engineer and I'm now a sysadmin so keyboards are critical to my work. When I first started getting the pains I got one of those wrist braces and it would help for a while but when I stopped wearing it the soreness would eventually return. I knew a guy around that time who was a professional chef, and apparently they get RSI injures quite a bit due to the repetitive motions used in food preperation. He also managed the openings of some restaurants and used a computer quite a bit for that as well as to manage recipes, menus, etc. He ended up having surgery on both wrists but also got one of the first generations ergonomic keyboards from Microsoft. I tried that keyboard out myself and I've been using them religiously ever since. I find the layout of the keys & the shape of the keyboard much more natural to the way my hands naturally rest on it compared with "straight" keyboards. Now any time I have to use a regular keyboard it makes me feel like my hands are crowded and in a forced unnatural position. I haven't felt any problems in my wrists or had to wear a wrist brace in close to a decade thanks to switching almost exclusively to the ergonomic keyboards. I'm not saying that the MS keyboards will work for everybody but if you do a lot of computer work you should try out various ergonomic keyboards and find one that feels comfortable to you. It can make a HUGE difference.

Re:Ergonomic keyboards FTW (1)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668185)

I'm also a software engineer and an avid gamer. I've also experienced some pretty bad pains in my right arm/hand/wrist from endless 16 hour days in front of computers. The pain got so bad that I started worrying I'd have to take time off from work. I got one of those wrist braces and changed my mice over to that baseball-looking Microsoft Natural mouse. It really did help. At work, I tilted my keyboard surface away from me (higher at the space bar than at the funciton keys) and even got one of those curved (but not split) MS natural keyboards.

All of those combined actions helped me reduce and finally eliminate the pain. I still use the mice as a sort of maintenance program, but the wrist strap is off and that damned curved keyboard (which really slowed down my typing and increased typos) is on the shelf (but ready to go). RSI and Carpal Tunnel are very real and can be very debilitating, but it's been my experience that it got so bad because I ignored the early warning signs. I'm a bit more self-aware now, and I make it a point to try and change up my seating/typing/mousing position a bit here and there so I don't go so far into painville again.

I took care of all of this myself. I did not need a doctor or a diagnosis to know I had an issue or to know what to do about it. However, if I hadn't had luck with self-treatment, it may have gotten quite costly in terms of medical help and lost time at work. I have no idea if the numbers presented in TFA are anywhere close, but it's possible to avoid or reduce the pain and debilitation if you catch it early. Don't ignore it as long as I did... it really sucks.

Chris Hildebrandt (1)

wmaster (987425) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667729)

... and Microsoft is responsible for 50% of the damage because they invented the double-click where 1 single click would be sufficient. Greetings, Chris

LIES (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667877)

Does the story right the dreams or do the dreams right the stories?

People are constantly hearing about carpel tunnel and RSI, it's really going to get in their heads. Testing for nerve damage from RSI is a little expensive, even if it's short and easy if a little painful. People aren't rushing out to get this done.

These studies are probably based on "Do your hands hurt when you use the computer a lot?" and how many people say yes? Using keyboards and mice for a really long time hurts, it's just the way it is, but that doesn't mean it's definitely doing damage to you.

This is clearly just Microsoft bullshit. I can say that with full authority because everyone knows everything Microsoft says and does is bullshit.

This "$600 million" number is meaningless (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667891)

This number is meaningless. Is that a lot? It sounds like a lot, but I have no frame of reference. A 30% increase from its previous value sounds significant, but it, too, is meaningless it's based on a value that has no comparison to anything else. It might not be so significant if, for example, accidental stapling of documents to people's fingers (which rarely happens...at least, where I work) costs industry $800 billion a year.

Ergonomic Chairs (1)

pcolaman (1208838) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668045)

What they did not mention is that a side study shows that most workplace injuries come from tossed Ergonomic Chairs. Which then identifies how much sense it makes that Microsoft funded this study.

Does this strike anyone else ? (2, Insightful)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668089)

Studies are showing RSI costs $600m.

Why is it that money is more important, aside the fact businesses enslave their employees through overwork and deadlines?

RSI is not only caused by bad positioning, but also by expecting more than which can be given. By stressing the body way overtime.

What's going to be next ? Sleep deprivation costs businesses $600m ?

To my opinion the root cause should be talked about instead of the result in an entities wallet.

Treat the root-problem instead of looking to the consequences only.

Are you sure? (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668181)

Are you sure you want to continue? Yes / No

This will screw something up if you continue, are you really sure? Yes / No

Press "Okay" to continue.

Finger RSI from Microsoft.

Microsoft ALWAYS tells the truth! (1)

djfuq (1151563) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668251)

-Look at this spam from my inbox of my hotmale account:

Welcome to the special bonus edition of TechNet Flash featuring content specifically selected to inform and ease your Windows Vista deployment.
You here that sound? it is the sound of very useful information speaking to you!

When we released Windows Vista, security was clearly a top priority. However, one of the implications of the increased focus on security was that compatibility with Windows Vista was not where we wanted it to be at launch. Over the past eighteen months, Microsoft and our partners have made tremendous progress in compatibility, performance, and battery life. Here are updates on a few key facts:

âWindows Vista now supports more than 77,000 printers, cameras, speakers and other devices.
-OMG THAT is just like sooooo spiffy! My current OS supports everything I have too!

â More than 2,700 software programs are âoeCertified forâ or âoeWorks withâ Windows Vista-logoed; 97 of the top 100 consumer applications are compatible.
-Holy shit! All the shit I use works with the OSes I have installed as well, what a coincidence!

â 62% of small businesses said Windows Vista saves them time, and 70% said it makes them more productive, according to an independent survey.
-8% find that it DOES NOT save them time but makes them productive! LOL!!!!

â More than 140 million copies of Windows Vista have been sold, making it the fastest selling operating system in Microsoft history. Even Macs run it.
-Sold to whom? They went out and bought it on purpose huh?

â 71 percent of Windows Vista customers like it better than their last operating system.
-71% of Vista owners just switched from Windows ME? Or DOS?

âPeople familiar with Windows Vista are two to three times more likely to have a favorable impression of it.
-When I wake up in the morning I am two times more likely to smoke a cigarette before I take a shit.

âEvery 10 PCs that switch to Windows Vista is the equivalent of taking an automobile off the road, in terms of greenhouse gases.
-Wow lets hook up every PC we can find, even if they are powered off or if they are in storage, and install Vista on them and leave them on! IT WILL SAVE THE FUCKIN WORLD!! HELL YEAH!!! WOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOO SAVE THE WORLD!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! YEAHHHH BABY!

Weak (1)

speroni (1258316) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668259)

If my dad complained about an ache or a pain, while working in the factory, he would have been laughed at. If he later complained about his hands hurting from typing, he likely would have gotten his a** kicked.

I doubt the injuries are going up, if anything they are probably going down. I suspect the reporting/complaining is going up because its not a factor in maintaining your manhood anymore.

Also how people react to actual pain is different now as well. My brother is older than I am, and works in a garage. A rim blew off a truck tire and took off his fingernail (down to the root) He slapped a band-aid on it and went back to work.

In related news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23668341)

The number of RSI cases drops to almost zero, if you disable UAC in Vista.

RSI? (1)

Klync (152475) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668385)

Hmmm.... does answering the same question over and over count as repetitive strain? If so, I think I've got RSI of the head.

You call RSI a problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23668661)

Pah! RSI only costs the US $600 million. That's almost two orders of magnitude less than what piracy costs !!CANADA!! (ie. $30 billion... if you don't believe me Google it). Geez Louise! All those thieving nerds deserve crippling anyway.

RSI easily beatable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23668665)

just wank yourself off every 30 mins or so. Take a picture of Balmer into the bogs and try and shoot him between the eyes with the pink pistol.

Bad Keyboard or Bad Life Style? (1)

framauro13 (1148721) | more than 5 years ago | (#23668687)

I don't know if this is so much an issue with bad or unhealthy hardware as it is people's lack of basic fitness. I work in an IT shop, and see a lot of guys in their early to mid 20's complaining about bad wrists, elbows, shoulders, backs, etc. Some are even complaining about arthritis already. They drop serious cash on ergonomic chairs, mice and keyboards, wristbraces, everything.

So what do they do once they leave work? They go home and sit in front of their home computer for another 5 hours before going to bed, coming back to work, and doing the same thing again the next day. Yet a lot of my other coworkers (ranging in age from 20's to 40's) who regularly exercise seem to be void of these problems.

I try to make it a point to at least step out for a short lunch and spend some time at home in the evenings doing something other than sitting on the couch or in front of the PC. The human body is not designed (or has evolved, whatever your point of view is :)) to spend all day slouched in a chair typing or clicking away at a terminal. Take some time to step away from the keyboard and get some exercise. My mother has worked as a typist for the last 35 years (with periods of months of 12 hour work days) and has less health problems than half the early twenty year olds in the office who spend most of their time in front of their comptuer. Why? She works outside on the weekends and gets some basic exercise. If you neglect the human body, it deteriorates. Don't be suprised that you have back and wrist problems if your butt never leaves your computer chair. You can take a few minutes a day away from your computer and work without it being counter-productive.

It's not your bad keyboard or small monitor's fault you can't take basic care of yourself.
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