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Australian Tax Office Seeks Keylogger To Combat RSI

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the hot-key-for-naughty dept.

Australia 138

schliz writes "The Australian Tax Office plans to track employees' keystrokes and mouse clicks in attempts to address the growing incidence of repetitive strain injuries (RSI) among staff. It hopes to purchase commercial, off-the-shelf 'pause or exercise break software' that delivers safety messages to users, while determining 'more information about the nature of computing use in the workplace.'"

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Of course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36069096)

What could possibly go wrong!

Re:Of course! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36069176)

What could possibly go wrong!

well for starters, niggers and sand niggers could keep multiplying at a geometric rate.

Re:Of course! (0)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069214)

Just like every other population [wikipedia.org] , under favorable circumstances.

Re:Of course! (-1, Offtopic)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069382)

Every other population? Really? That demographic time bomb in Europe must be a myth.

Keystroke counter != Keylogger (5, Informative)

Billlagr (931034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069108)

Umm...no. Nothing to see here, move along. From TFA -

use of the proposed software would be voluntary and intended only to count keystrokes and mouse clicks rather than the content of the work being completed

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (-1, Flamebait)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069114)

Unless it's open source, no real way to verify that.

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (1)

SlightOverdose (689181) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069234)

Sure, but absolutely any software on (a windows) machine could be a keylogger by that logic.

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (2)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069428)

And according to /. popular opinion, they are.

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (1, Redundant)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069616)

And according to /. popular opinion, they are worse.

FTFY

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (1)

__Paul__ (1570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069254)

And as long as someone trustworthy monitors the build and deployment. Open source, as much as I like it, isn't a panacea for these sort of things - they could easily slip something nasty into any open source package.

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069400)

>they could easily slip something nasty into any open source package.

Repeat after me:

NOT EVERYONE IS KEN THOMPSON.

Also

While it's not a panacea, Open Source is still better than closed especially when it comes to stuff like this. With Open Source, you're able to look. With closed, you've got nothing.

--
BMO

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (1)

__Paul__ (1570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069430)

While it's not a panacea, Open Source is still better than closed especially when it comes to stuff like this.

True. Don't get me wrong, I make a livelihood almost entirely out of open source software. But it's still amazing how many people blindly recite the "open source is safer" mantra without looking at the issues of who they get their software from, who it was compiled by and how safe it really is...

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069534)

With something like this, people are motivated to look. It shouldn't be too difficult, unless the code is deliberately obfuscated. At that point, you just reject the application for being poorly written and say "try again, asshole."

Inb4 the software becomes "required" for government contracts.

--
BMO

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (1)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 3 years ago | (#36070378)

Many people do not build their open source software from source.

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36070514)

and with ANY source, it takes even more effort to verify that the binary running on the machine is the same as the binary that is created from the compile of the source.

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36069378)

Right. And if it's open source, then what? If your employer tells you "we're running $PROGRAM", how do you know they really are? Even if they are, how do you know that the source code you're looking at is actually that used to compile the code that's running on the machine? Even if it is, how do you know the compiler wasn't bugged? Even if it wasn't, how do you know the hardware isn't bugged? How do you know whether the CPU is executing the compiled code you feed it? How do you rule out regular hardware keyloggers?

The answer is, you don't know any of these things. So a) trust your employer (or quit), and b) don't do anything sensitive on a machine that doesn't belong to you. Oh, and c) think about the actual issues instead of blindly screaming "open source" as if that will somehow save you.

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36070534)

"Right. And if it's open source, then what? If your employer tells you "we're running $PROGRAM", how do you know they really are? "

well if you have any education at all in software....

copy the binary on your $MACHINE of $PROGRAM ont oa thumb drive or other medium or transfer.
go home and download $PROGRAM from $WEBSITE and compile it in $COMPILER.

diff $PROGRAM with $PROGRAM_FROM WORK PC.. and enjoy all the changes they made.

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (2)

asifyoucare (302582) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069648)

Many years ago I worked at the ATO, programming their branch office systems that were used for data entry. The union was granted access to parts of the source code so it could verify that productivity data (such as keystrokes per day) was not being recorded for individual data entry staff. I imagine something similar still exists, though this article (of course I didn't read it) might be for non-data-entry positions, given that most data-entry positions would have disappeared.

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36069882)

I hear that a lot on here as well as elsewhere on the tubes. Is there some magic version of objdump where it won't tell you exactly what any executable does?

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (2)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069208)

But the most important thing about RSI is the WAY you make those keystrokes and mouse clicks. It's not how many of them you do, it is how your hands/wrists are kept when making them.

Wrists off table is BAD. It's that simple.

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (1)

Billlagr (931034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069232)

I agree. Which makes counting clicks somewhat..useless, unless it is used as part of an overall strategy, and not just counting for the sake of it. The ATO could of course just be looking at new and creative ways of spending the revenue they gouge out of us.

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (2)

Cato (8296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069878)

> Wrists off table is BAD. It's that simple.

Absolute rubbish. Typical ergonomic advice is to keep your wrists at a natural angle, whereas keeping your wrists on the table forces the hand to be bent somewhat backward. Something like this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/onekell/2570138754/ [flickr.com]

There's debate about whether wrist pads that support the wrist are a good or a bad thing.

To get some accurate information, see this FAQ: http://www.rsiprevention.com/rsi_faq.php [rsiprevention.com]

It's not just posture in any case - total hours worked per day, taking breaks away from the keyboard, and stress management are also very important.

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (2)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#36070104)

I've come to the conclusion that a fair portion of the crap sold as "ergonomic" is a scam.

Last big company I worked for was big into it and some of the equipment was good but some shyster salesman got them to buy a large quantity of very expensive "ergonomic" keyboards for when people are in meetings with their laptops.

They were laptop keyboards, same layout, same shape.
People would have been better off unplugging their full sized keyboards from their desks and bringing them with them.

I was also sorely(litterally) disappointed with the "ergonomic" chair. After a couple of months sitting in it my back was hurting: it was all properly adjusted, it was just crap. quietly switched back to a normal non-ergonomic cheap chair when the boss wasn't around and my back went back to normal.

It makes me wonder if perhaps the companies selling "ergonomic" equipment have some kind of incentive to make sure that ergonomics becomes a serious issue in their clients workplaces.

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36070318)

So by a fair portion, you mean two things?

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#36070558)

yes, you've got me.
I've never done a randomised controlled trial of ergonomic equipment, nor have I compiled extensive stats.

All I can go on is the handful of items I've encountered sold specifically as "ergonomic".

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 3 years ago | (#36070628)

Well, I've been playing 6-14 hours of video games since ~'95, and now I program 8 hours a day then come home and play another 6 hours of games.

The only issues I have had were related to bad posture or poorly design keyboards/mice. I can usually sense an issue starting up and fix it before it becomes bad. Either way, I have always fix any RSI style issues on my own by new input devices or fixing my posture. The biggest posture issue I've noticed is I like to lean on my left arm. The leaning means my neck is at an angle which has once caused my neck muscles on one side to burn for a month. I've always figured this stuff out on my own.

16 years of constant keyboard and mouse usage. When does total hours become a cause?

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (2)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069256)

I dunno, that phrase "while determining 'more information about the nature of computing use in the workplace.'" seems pretty indicative that they plan on doing some higher-level processing. Even if the actual words you type aren't logged, I bet this will eventually end up being used to detect people slacking off, web browsing or IM'ing.

Re:Keystroke counter != Keylogger (1)

heathen_01 (1191043) | more than 3 years ago | (#36070608)

I bet this will eventually end up being used to detect people slacking off, web browsing or IM'ing.

Yes, but thats just the group of people without RSI, no keylogger required.

The obvious man behind the curtain! (5, Funny)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069110)

In related news, the Australian government will be placing monitoring devices inside phones to monitor decibel levels and signal quality.

Re:The obvious man behind the curtain! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36070666)

Monitoring devices? Signal quality? Smells like a fresh pile of Carrier IQ, old chap.

Nothing to do with clicks! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36069112)

Repetitive stress injury how little to do with actual clicks. It has everything to do with the way people hold their hands over the keyboards and mice.

If you have to lift your hand from the desk or wrist rest, then you are doing it wrong. It's that simple.

Re:Nothing to do with clicks! (2)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069192)

Weirdly, when I tried to type the "right way", the way that typing teachers teach you to type (with your wrists held up in the air), I got RSI, and it hurt.

When I do it the wrong way, with the palms/wrists resting on the wristrest, it's great, and I've not had a problem. I curve my back, scrunch up, put my feet on a footrest (or not), and it's all good.

But when I'm hurting, there's almost nothing I can do to not make it hurt.

I've come to the conclusion that general bodily health is the most important factor in whether you experience RSI or not.

Re:Nothing to do with clicks! (2)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069274)

I've always countered the "you should aim for perfect Victorian posture" line with "when did you ever see a monkey sit up straight?"

I agree that keeping generally fit and typing in the manner you find most comfortable (ie. the way in which you feel least strain) is the way to go. I've only ever had RSI problems when I was (a) stressed out and not exercising, and (b) unconsciously tensing up my mousing hand. When I addressed those two factors I went back to being able to use a computer for 12+ hours a day with no issues.

Re:Nothing to do with clicks! (2)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069336)

Not saying that the posture people are right, but when did you ever see a monkey live to 80? Some of the posture suggestions are sensible, though of course there's no need to be rigid all day.

Re:Nothing to do with clicks! (1)

sincewhen (640526) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069656)

What about baboons? They seem to sit with a straight back.

Re:Nothing to do with clicks! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36069814)

"when did you ever see a monkey sit up straight?"

Shortly after he finished the bible.

Re:Nothing to do with clicks! (3, Informative)

blackest_k (761565) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069408)

But when I'm hurting, there's almost nothing I can do to not make it hurt.

May I recommend a cod liver oil or Omega 3 capsule a day. While I can offer no scientific evidence other than it works for me. My Doctor diagnosed me with carpal tunnel and my fingers were in a terrible state (playing a guitar became impossible since i couldn't hold a chord without severe pain). I decided to take the capsules to help my over all level of health (and they were cheap enough to buy) I already was taking a bunch of other meds due to diabetes and a heart attack so one more thing to take was no big deal.

The results were unexpected but my physical symptoms disappeared of course when i got to the end of the bottle I stopped and within 2 weeks the pain returned. I restarted and have had very little trouble since.
I've been taking 1 a day now for around 2 years now. It seems to work for other people I know as well.

Nothing to lose by trying it for a month and seeing if it improves things. Has anyone else any experience with cod liver oil / omega 3 giving relief or not ?

Re:Nothing to do with clicks! (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069490)

Thanks for the suggestion. Hope it helps someone.

I actually misspoke. There is one thing that relieves the pain for me: The Cat's Paw [catspaw.com] .

It's just a piece of flexible material with holes cut for your fingers. You make you fingers flex outwards, and it relieves pain in your arm/wrist.

By giving you something to resist against, you get better relief.

I keep one on hand just in case I develop another case of RSI.

Re:Nothing to do with clicks! (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#36070418)

I would have thought that a cat's paw [wikipedia.org] would mean you duped a lackey into doing your typing for you....

Re:Nothing to do with clicks! (1)

mr_stark (242856) | more than 3 years ago | (#36070284)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids supress inflamation which is whats causing the pain in your RSI

More info at here [jacn.org] .

Re:Nothing to do with clicks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36070552)

My setup is very different from the "right way". The keyboard and mouse are pushed *far* ahead on the table, to the point that my elbows rest inside the edge of the desk. My whole forearm rests on the desk surface, tilted slightly upwards so my hands are on the slightly tilted keyboard. NONE of my wrists touches anything. You do need a wide desk for this, and in the past, with CRT displays, it was more of a problem to arrange. With LCDs, it's easy to have the display a bit further back, which is probably better for eyestrain too. In order for this arrangement to work comfortably you do need a relatively high chair back.

Arranged the "right way", with the keyboard at the edge of the desk, I used to get a lot of RSI pain in my wrists. It got worse and worse as time went on. With the arrangement described above, it never happens. I can type all day for hours with no issue. I think it works because my arms and hands are in a more natural position, without as much of an angle between the forearm and wrists, and no pressure on the bottom of the wrists either. If I have the keyboard at the edge of the desk, my wrists are bent more and I have to hold my arms up rather than let them rest on the desk surface.

If you want to try this arrangement, just pull your chair up to the desk as close as you can get in a comfortable position, and rest your arms on the desk surface in a relaxed position. Move the keyboard and mouse as little as possible to fit under that "rest position". The way I have it, the keyboard will be 2 to 3x its width in from the edge of the desk. Arm length will vary it, I presume.

Other people's mileage may vary, but what this showed me is how important it is to experiment with different arrangements, including ones contrary to common advice.

Re:Nothing to do with clicks! (1)

Cato (8296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069888)

> If you have to lift your hand from the desk or wrist rest, then you are doing it wrong. It's that simple.

Wrong - see my answer to this mostly duplicate comment at http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2136538&cid=36069878 [slashdot.org]

Is this still... (3, Interesting)

Fjodor42 (181415) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069118)

...a built in, ready to activate, feature of GNOME?

Re:Is this still... (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069314)

>...a built in, ready to activate, feature of GNOME?

Well, it was in Gnome2: System > Preferences > Keyboard Preferences > Typing Break.

It's not as full-featured as Workrave, and it doesn't lead you through exercises.

I have no idea whether the so-called "new/improved" Gnome3 or Unity still have it.

Re:Is this still... (1)

Fjodor42 (181415) | more than 3 years ago | (#36070008)

Typical for /., I could just have checked - it's still here, but still without excercises.
It does remind me, though, of someone I have bought some hardware from, from time to time. He is a long time Mac user (i.e. before OSX), as his eyesight is bordering on complete blindness, and where the older Mac OS' (as OSX, I imagine) and for some time now also Linux has built-in tools for extreme screen magnification, the Windows versions of the day would only let you select higher contrast colour schemes, unless you shelled out DKK 5,000.- (approx. $1,000,-) for a commercial solution.
I imagine that the Wins are somewhat up to speed nowadays, but the habit of buying things that should be built in appears to die hard...

RSIGuard (3, Informative)

peterofoz (1038508) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069128)

This one seems ok. We use it at work also. http://www.rsiguard.com/ [rsiguard.com]

Re:RSIGuard (3, Informative)

dr_dex (49357) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069478)

Or use the free WorkRave program for Windows. You can find it at workrave.org. I must admit that at times I find these RSI-prevention programs a bit annoying, but it is when they actually tell you to stop that you need it the most (to avoid RSI).

hockey jerseys (1)

kintalucy (2017912) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069132)

hockey jerseys supply from www.nhljerseysell.com

They do this every few years (3, Interesting)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069144)

A number of Australian government departments toyed with a program called 'Workpace' (made in the Netherlands I believe). I fondly recall a pop-up window telling me to exercise my fingers by employing something that looked remarkably like the shocker.

In the end, it was just an annoyance. It doesn't take a program to tell you your staff need more frequent breaks, better equipment and better OHS reporting.

Re:They do this every few years (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36069496)

Presumably if your boss tells you to get back to work, you can point at the helpful dialogue box on the screen?

Re:They do this every few years (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36069526)

Yeah but this is the management way of sorting the problem

Spend money, get statistics, show a markable improvement.

The alternative might be cheaper and make more common sense but it isn't trackable and suffers from wing-creep

A Sickie (2)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069158)

RSI for a large amount of people is little more than the modern day equivalent of a sickie. You would have better luck nailing down the root cause by monitoring pubs and and sporting events to find where the days out correspond.

Re:A Sickie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36069166)

Very true. But RSI is an excellent way to recieve long term workcover benefits, be pensioned off, or recieve a large lump sum for workplace injury in a disability lawsuit. A "RSI monitoring software" lowers the ATO's liability in just such a suit.

Re:A Sickie (1)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069308)

RSI for a large amount of people is little more than the modern day equivalent of a sickie. You would have better luck nailing down the root cause by monitoring pubs and and sporting events to find where the days out correspond.

Yes, I can see how the doctors, Workcover, workers and businesses conspire to make this happen.

You're talking about the exception rather than the rule.

Re:A Sickie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36069370)

I personally only know of 3 people that have taken leave for RSI, incidently none of them strictly speaking should have gotten it. One was actually an injury caused from indoor cricket, another was from motorbike injury and the last was because he stays up all night playing computer games. Now I am sure my anecdotal evidence is hardly condemming but if you think that people faking it or lieing about their injury is the exception rather than the rule then you are living in a fairy land.

Re:A Sickie (2)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069622)

I personally only know of 3 people that have taken leave for RSI, incidently none of them strictly speaking should have gotten it. One was actually an injury caused from indoor cricket, another was from motorbike injury and the last was because he stays up all night playing computer games. Now I am sure my anecdotal evidence is hardly condemming but if you think that people faking it or lieing about their injury is the exception rather than the rule then you are living in a fairy land.

You are correct. Your anecdotal evidence is worth nothing.

Claiming Worksafe compensation in Australia is quite difficult for an average worker. Once they (Worksafe) are convinced there's a problem from reading your claim, the business has a 38 days to basically respond to it (I've personally never seen a business respond immediately, but to be fair I'll count my anecdotal evidence as worthy as yours). During this time, the claiment is probably not getting paid. After all this, their workplace is probably disputing it, stretching it out so that you can no longer financially support your action (days, years).

All this for not incredible amounts of money that someone could claim just as easily on the dole (the difference being that they had to convince a medical professional to lie and risk their reputation rather than convince a potential employer they were looking for employment). Yah. Great scam.

Re:A Sickie (1)

blackdropbear (554444) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069762)

Considering the ATO is covered under Comcare and not Worksafe your examples are a bit off the mark. Comcare is much, much nastier than worksafe.

Re:A Sickie (1)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069804)

Considering the ATO is covered under Comcare and not Worksafe your examples are a bit off the mark. Comcare is much, much nastier than worksafe.

I'm probably more using them to show how not* easy it is to scam for workers comp and that it tends to be pointless. Comcare, you are correct, are much nastier.

Re:A Sickie (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069692)

yeah they do that, by giving baaaaaaaad advice about how to use a keyboard and a mouse.

they should use it to find out which can touch type and which can't. if you can't, your wrists are GOING TO BE FUCKED, there's a longer explanation too. and if you can't, your neck is going to be fucked too.

the problem is that they usually go and recommend bad products, bad tables. and real workplace experts are the worst because they never spend any extended length of time working on a keyboard themselfs.

Easy solution (2)

Quick Reply (688867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069164)

Just stop playing Mafia Wars and Farmville.

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36069682)

You may be trying to be funny, but they actually block many external websites including those in the categories of games, email and even some under "computers".
Between that and the only available browser being IE6, not a lot of the web is available.

Re:Easy solution (1)

NoAkai (2036200) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069982)

Whilst bypassing a proxy filter can be difficult, most browser-based and local filtering can easily be bypassed by a quick registry hack, or even just a hidden away option for example, my previous employer allowed access to Facebook and news-sites during lunch hours, using a combination of a registry entry to lock down IE6 settings, and obtaining the settings from a script hosted on the LAN. All you had to do was unlock the settings, and input the proxy address manually. And if I'm not mistaken, the proxy only filtered on a DNS basis, so IPs were cool.

Workrave (5, Informative)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069168)

Works great.

It's available for Win and Lin [workrave.org] .

You can set times for mini-breaks and full breaks separately. Full breaks lead you through a configurable series of animated exercises.

I can vouch that they really do work if you do them diligently.

It allows you to (configurably) cancel or postpone a break, but it's geared toward locking the screen so you you're less tempted to skip breaks. You can even set a max time on the computer per day plus log work/breaks on the network.

Click here to install [apt] in Debian/Ubuntu/Mint

use trackerball instead (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36069188)

I had signs of RSI in the past when using a mouse. After changing from right hand 'mousing' to left hand 'mousing' the problems moved with it and did not disappear. After going to trackerball all problems went away. Added bonus: you need much less free area for the trackerball compared to the use of a mouse.

Body Insight (3, Informative)

jrozzi (1279772) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069202)

There are companies who focus on these kind of things and can help individuals who work on computers with training exercises and other ways to prevent RSI, back and neck pain, knee pain, etc. I have gotten a lot of help from Body Insight [bodyinsight.com] . They also suggest the use of RSIGuard.

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU (0)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069210)

Ergonomic keyboards, Workrave & maybe a copy of the Dvorak zine for everyone. #problemsolved

RSI or... (1)

dark grep (766587) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069240)

I am pretty sure no one who has a high degree of job satisfaction gets RSI. Maybe the headline should better read 'ATO a crap place to work.... staff jump on RSI bandwagon to get more time off'

Re:RSI or... (2)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069268)

Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski loves his work passionately and lives in pain from carpal tunnel syndrome.

Re:RSI or... (5, Informative)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069542)

RSI is not a bandwagon, it's not something you can use to get a day off. Quite simply because it's not an issue that appears and disappears overnight, it's a long term problem. My girlfriend really loves her job at a bakery, but after years of preparing the icing on donuts she now can't make that movement without physical pain. Other movements are fine, and she still beats me at tennis, but that specific wave of the hand that is repeated over and over again when icing a tray of donuts is completely out of the question. She is slowly recovery now. She has been banned from icing for the last 12 months and is moving onto other activities.

I like my job too yet quite frequently I'll spend all day typing some crap long-winded report. I don't want to do that in pain down the line. But I likely won't have that problem. My office is assessed frequently by ergonomic specialists. Last time round they got me a bigger monitor for no other reason than every so often I cram too much stuff on the screen and lean forward slightly. But then I also have back problems too.

Ergonomics is a serious issue. Treat it like one.

Re:RSI or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36070142)

A friend had to give up knitting for the same reason. I don't think she was too stressed by the activity as it was what she did for relaxation. Watching TV, travelling on buses. Quite remarkable to watch the way she could set her hands on automatic and be holding a conversation or watch the world go by from the bus window. And then she couldn't any more. And having been retired for many years the "Sickie" wasn't going to do her a lot of good. You might want to come out of your mothers basement for a while and notice the people who exist in the world around you. A lot of what is wrong with America right now come down to a lack of empathy and an assumption that everyone is just trying to rip us off.

Been There, Done That (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36069276)

Ergonomics fucktards at my work tried this.
"Your department doesn't have a specific policy against it, so we didn't do anything wrong."

I shoved an "ergonomic" keyboard with the shitty z fold, split mountain design up her urethra.

The Dark Side (1)

fonitrus (1763632) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069300)

Bad things are always wrapped in colourfull nice emotion driven packages.

So a keylogger tells you when its time to take a break. My brain does the same when it feels pain from the sensors in my hand.

What these keyloggers will most likely be used is for staff performance. if your APM suffers you may lose your job as you are no longer in the pro league :) :)

Re:The Dark Side (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069504)

The point of RSI tools is to tell you to take a break *before* your hand starts hurting.

I agree with the fact that some employers will use any excuse to monitor workers, but Workrave and friends is something you'd want to use even if you were working for yourself.

Annoying software IMO (1)

AnonymmousCoward (2026904) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069342)

I had similar software installed on my work box. Every now and then it would nag you to take a break because you were typing too much or moving the mouse too much. This software was configured so that it could not be disabled by the normal machine user, and was very annoying with its constant chiming and messages. The one funny part about it though, is that there was a small meter in the task bar that showed your usage level. If you continued to use your mouse and keyboard without a break the meter would fill up over time. We would usually have informal contests to see who could max it out.

WorkRave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36069358)

Apparently the ATO can't use Google and instead likes to outsource such incredible research (and possibly custom software).
Workrave [workrave.org] .
Ugh. Tax dollars hard at work.
End thread.

easy answer (2)

pbjones (315127) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069360)

buy better keyboards and mice, instead of those cheap crappy ones.

Re:easy answer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36069394)

You can get an excellent keyboard for 10 euro. And many expensive keyboards are actually bad for you.
An ergonomic mouse doesn't need to be expensive either.
But the real cause of RSI (or rather, several different otherwise unrelated injuries caused by bad working habits) are things like bad posture, working too fast or too forcefully, stress, long work hours, lack of micro-breaks and such. By the way, these diseases aren't at all new, scribes used to have ailments that sound suspiciously like modern-day RSI. I think the main reason we're hearing more about this is that people finally stop putting up with it.

Re:easy answer (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069464)

Yeah, try to justify the expense for an $80 Unicomp Customizer ("the son of Model M") versus some $5 no-brand junk. Of course, the $80 one is absurdly more comfortable and will last for decades, and the $5 will likely be unusable in a year or two, but people tend to be short-sighted, bureaucrats doubly so.

Re:easy answer (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069994)

what kind of professional won't get something that saves his life on his own? 80 bucks is nothing if you're working.

tables now on the other hand.. harder to bring your own if the one included in the office has a shitty small keyboard platform.

Re:easy answer (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069896)

Or better: buy something realy user-friendly instead of the pimped version of the 1960's teletype terminal. Integrate a keyboard into a monitor and point on your screen. Mount that screen slightly tilted from horizontal in front of you. This way, you actually look where you work, which gives you a way better position. Looking front, typing down and mousing sideways is just a worsening of the 1960 situation (which was never meant to be used all day long).

Re:easy answer (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#36070540)

I brought in my own. Logitech MX700; One of the few mice I've found large enough to fit my hand. I rest my palm on the rear of the mouse, and click with the 3rd finger joint. I've also set my mouse to be SLLLLOOOOOWWWWW so I have to use my arm to manoeuvre across the screen, not my wrist.

If anything, this means that my hands aren't completely ruined by the time I get home and start gaming ;)

And it won't help... (4, Informative)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069410)

Keystroke and mouse movement information won't help. The information you need is "What hand/forearm position are the typists using?", and software can't record that.

To quote my typing teacher, "*smack* Wrists UP!".

NB: proper typing position has the forearms parallel to floor, back of hand flat relative to top of forearm. Raise or lose the seat to achieve this. Fingers should dangle onto the keys, if the first fingerbone is horizontal your seat is too low and needs raised slightly.

Re:And it won't help... (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069564)

I actually think that "wrists up" may harken back to the days when you had to actually pound the keys on a mechanical typewriter (although I have no proof of this and it's really just conjecture). Anyway, I am most comfortable typing with my forearms resting on the edge of the desk so my wrists are "half up" (if that makes sense) but I can easily rest them if required.

Re:And it won't help... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36070078)

i like to type with wrists on desk, with the keyboard far enough on the desk that it's supported. so hands are most of the time totally relaxed laying on hard surface. keeping the wrists up gets painful pretty fast. it would get so even without a keyboard being there. this is the way i've found most comfortable for sitting at a computer all day or all night just typing stuff out. I even prefer a plastic poolside lounge chair(1 piece, cheap, doesn't soak up sweat, doesn't roll around, doesn't break) and this is what I've preferred for more than half my life. those adjustable small keyboard platforms on some desks are the ultimate evil and wrist destroyer, even though they're "adjustable", but you can't adjust the size.

he should have smacked his typist teacher. we didn't do that, but scored full points on the tests and were totally out of control in class. she had been used to teaching on typing machines I suppose, couldn't handle IT tech.

this is also a lot more comfortable than using touchscreen all day long.

Re:And it won't help... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36070638)

Keyboard pushed in far on the desk surface? That's exactly the arrangement I have, and it works great. I can type all day with minimal breaks. Adopting the "correct" arrangement was painful for me when I started typing a great deal in graduate school, and I converged on the "far from the desk edge" arrangement by noticing how much more relaxed my arms were in that position. You do need a relatively high chair back position for it to work, however. I'm sure everyone is different, but for some people the "correct" posture is clearly wrong, and yeah, keyboard platforms hung below the edge of the desk are an evil experience for me as well -- even worse than putting the keyboard on the edge of the desk.

I learned how to type on conventional, mechanical typewriters before graduating to electric and computer keyboards. I know what the "correct" posture is supposed to be, and I used to use it. It does work better for accessing the keys when touch-typing, but it is worse for strain on the arms and wrists. I'll take the less precise typing over increasing wrist pain, thanks.

Re:And it won't help... (2)

Cato (8296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069904)

It's not just posture, it's also hours worked per day, timing/duration of breaks, etc. I know someone who worked 36 hours solid at the end of a project with 16 hour days for weeks, and got RSI quite badly. The posture was only one factor there.

Re:And it won't help... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#36070610)

I know someone who worked 36 hours solid at the end of a project with 16 hour days for weeks, and got RSI quite badly.

I worked on fishing trawlers in Bass Straight during the early 80's; it meant stuffing 100kg bags of shellfish into the cargo hold for 30hrs straight and staying awake for 60hrs (due to the travel time to the fishing grounds, and the impossibility of sleeping in 5-10 meter swells on a 20 meter boat). I didn't get RSI, but the resulting mental state from lack of sleep had me dodging one eyed goblins, poker dotted aborigines, and other hallucinatory road hazards on the 30min drive home. After that I got the wife to do the driving to and from the warf.

Follow the sheep (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36069552)

http://www.workrave.org/ [workrave.org]
For all your Open Source RSI prevention needs (out of luck if you're using a Mac, but if the Australian Tax Office is using Macs, the cause of the RSI might be self evident then).

A cynical citizens natural response (1)

neurosine (549673) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069712)

I can't help but to suspect a secondary agenda. If you just begin to imagine the resources required to monitor keystrokes, you quickly come to the conclusion that there must be an automated system looking for key words, raising flags. I honestly don't think they care so much for the cattle, or they'd simply pay for ergonomic keyboards...it's just so obvious....are they stupid, or do they think we are? Or are both things true? I dunno.

Re:A cynical citizens natural response (2)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069832)

You assume they look for keywords but the most likely and doable thing is monitoring employees' activity.
(keystrokes + mouse clicks)/hour * ratio of work-related websites visited = "productivity"
It has begun. [wikipedia.org]

Cynical secondary agenda without paranoia (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#36070058)

The budget is coming up and staff cuts will be made.
Suddenly some of the facebook surfing HR people are now working on what they call a workplace health and safe issue so have suddenly become essential staff.
Implementing it by talking about keyloggers when financially sensitive confidential information is being handled is just showing that either they have not thought it through seriously, have tried to think about it seriously but have not run it past an adult, or most likely the journalist who wrote the story mixed up some technical terms.
To the layman something that logs if the keyboard is being used or not sounds a bit like a keylogger even if the term really means something that captures which actual keys have been pressed (and is a massive potential or actual security breach).

I'm probably posting a dupe comment but... (1)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069792)

http://www.workrave.org/ [workrave.org]

Re:I'm probably posting a dupe comment but... (1)

Glorat (414139) | more than 3 years ago | (#36070278)

Mod parent up!

They're asking for a fair bit of trust here. (1)

ancienthart (924862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069824)

Because we've never had the Australian government put some thing in place, and then use it for some dubious use beyond the original purpose ... you know, like the Goods and Services Tax.

apt-get install rsibreak (2)

RichiH (749257) | more than 3 years ago | (#36069990)

Also, get a Microsoft Natural Keyboard 4000.

Aussie Tax Office plans to spy on employees (1)

doperative (1958782) | more than 3 years ago | (#36070064)

There, that's the corrected headline ... How about they give the staff less work to do for the same money, that would help combat RSA.

They don't care about your health (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36070130)

All they want is an excuse not to pay out compensation when people do get problems.

There is a huge mistake here! (1)

evanism (600676) | more than 3 years ago | (#36070410)

Public servants don't WORK, the software is surely to MAKE them work. In-between their challenging 9 to 5 with 3 breaks and an hour lunch, there is very little time for actual WORK.

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