June 18, 2001-- Newsletter #135

By Joe Burns

Goodies to Go (tm)
June 18, 2001--Newsletter #135

This newsletter is part of the internet.com network.

Please visit http://www.htmlgoodies.com

Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors,

OK! OK! I give up! If I buy an " X10 tiny wireless video" camera will you stop popping up those windows?!?! Have you seen this? Every other pop-up window advertisement lately is for this camera. It seems like the company bought out the Web. Geeze.

Did you hear...

Scientists in Australia are now stating that so-called "mimic" birds have begun duplicating the sound of cellular phones. Birds sing to attract a female. Teen boys have cellular phones to impress teen girls. OK, I can see that.

My hometown of Cleveland, Ohio has set up a 24-hour system that allows people in the city's main counties to contact a reference librarian. The Cleveland Public Library debuted the system this past Monday. The only downfall is that after nine PM, the system is actually answered by a company in Maryland. Too bad. It's fun to talk to people in Cleveland after dark.

You MAC users who giggle every time we PC types get nailed by a new virus might want to suppress the next round of smirks. A new virus aimed right at the MAC system is making the rounds. The virus has been nicknamed "Simpsons". It spreads much like the PC Melissa-style viruses. Watch out for subject lines that read "Secret Simpsons Episodes". The body of the email then suggests the attachment is one of the secret episodes. Open it and the worm proliferates. D'oh!

Now onto today's topic...

A couple of newsletters back I wrote how e-books weren't quite taking off like sellers thought they should. The newsletter prompted a run of email from people that told me that they didn't enjoy reading an e-book because the light-emitting display tired their eyes.

I responded that I knew what they were talking about. I keep eye drops right there next to my monitor. I hardly ever put the dropper into the desk drawer because I use it a good deal.

I had forgotten about the emails until I was reading over the USA Today tech section today. The page had a story about how the Mayo Clinic will soon release the results of a study that states that "heavy" computer use is NOT a big factor as to why a person has Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).

That's right... is NOT a big factor.

CTS is associated with repetitive motion. It would only make sense that heavy computer use would cause the stress that would lead to CTS. Nope. Only slightly more than 10% of those noted as a heavy computer user had signs of CTS. Furthermore, two-thirds of that ten percent showed only "very mild" signs of the syndrome.

The full results of the survey will be published in the journal Neurology. You can read more about it right now at: http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/nb/nb3.htm. The Mayo Clinic page regarding CTS itself is at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/home?id=DS00326.

But...but...but...after finishing up a newsletter and tutorial, I'm in pain.

Does this happen to you? I have this odd ability to simply zone out when I get on the computer. My wife calls it "going savant". I'll sit down with a blank page and just "go away". The next thing I know it's seven hours later and I have ten written pages. I haven't eaten, bathed, or dressed for the day. And I am in pain!

If you are anything like the people that wrote to me about their hurting eyes, you have gotten up from the computer in pain. I have.

The funny thing is, I hurt most in my right wrist. That's why the Mayo Clinic study caught my eye. No, I never thought I had CTS. I know the reason. It's my mouse placement. I like my mouse pad right up against the edge of the desk. Thus, my wrist sits right on the sharp edge. After a few hours of that, there's some real pain. Don't bother telling me about wrist pads. I can't stand them.

I bought a big, comfy, leather chair for my home office. It was one of my few over-indulgences. I'm sure it's made for sitting up straight, but I never do it. I sink into that puppy to the point where I'm almost bent into a Z. My computer armoire has a great slide-out platform for the keyboard so no matter what position I roll myself into the keyboard comes right to me.

I dislike light when I'm on the computer. I am writing this newsletter at 1:15 PM and I've got every drape in the room drawn. The only light is coming from my computer screen. I do the same thing at work. I can't tell you how many times my department head has come in and turned on my light before sitting down to hold a conference. She leaves and I turn the light right back off. Many of my students have simply stopped asking to turn on the light and sit in the dark if they want to talk to me.

Put all of those variables together and let them run for five hours and you get up pretty stiff and sore. Too many times I've gotten up and walked right to the Tylenol.

I'm not looking for sympathy. On the contrary, I am simply displaying my red badges of courage.

The emails from the readers regarding my e-book newsletter were fun because I started going back and forth with a few people talking about the little aches and pains that come with using a computer a great deal. It was as if we were athletes attempting to out-pain one another.

Have you ever gotten into these types of discussions? The emails from readers convinced me that it's not just something only a few people do either. The amount of computer work and the level of computer work are measured in pain.

It's the nerd's equal to the scar comparison scene in Jaws. I was in more pain than you were thus I worked harder. I lost more sleep then you thus I did more. I drank an entire pot of coffee whereas you only had a cup. I am more awake than you.

Now don't tell me that this is just silly man-stuff. I get into just as many of these pain fights with women.

Oh, it may sound like complaining to the uninitiated, but it's not. We of the Internet measure our labor not only in the volumes of work we produce but also the toll we take on our bodies.

Now before you attempt to out-pain me in an email remember this; no one has yet beaten my record of having had to replace my keyboard three times. I simply typed em' to death.

Ooooo. That hurt.


That's that. Thanks for reading. I have to stop now. It hurts.

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

And Remember: People got a kick out of last week's multiple definitions of "Ps and Qs" so let's do another just like it. Where did the term "Jazz" come from? Here are a few theories I've found. Many say it came from a mispronunciation of "Mr. Razz," a conductor in New Orleans in the early 1900s. The same theory of the term coming from a person's name has also been applied to the late 1890s drummer Charles Washington whom everyone called "Chaz". Then there's Charles Alexander, of Alexander's Rag Time Band fame, whose name was also abbreviated as "Chas" on music programs. A few far-out theories have "Jazz" coming from the Arabic word for dance, "chasse" or an African dialect word for "distant drums," "jaiza". I live just north of New Orleans and from what I've found around here, no one really cares where the term came from. They just want to know where they can hear it.

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