Tag Archives: Desktop

Reach Out, Touch Me

I just saw a question on life hacker about why you would want a touch screen PC. The thing I found interesting is the talk of ‘Gorilla arm’ whereby your arm gets fatigued because of having to be in an unnatural position for long periods. There are studies done on this topic such as ‘Human arm stiffness characteristics during the maintenance of posture’ and ‘Dynamic and loaded impedance components in the maintenance of Human Arm Posture’.

The biggest thing you have to remember is

  • Ergonomics are important whether you’re using a laptop, desktop, mobile or tablet
  • As a developer you should imprint ergonomics into your daily routine. Reduce your stress, stay healthy, alternate between a standing and seated desk and most importantly, be considerate to your poor wrists.
  • If you’re not a developer, but still use technology, learn about the best ergonomical positions for that device. Then teach your family, kids especially about this. The sooner you teach them and imprint upon them the importance of ergonomics, the better it will be for them in the long run by reducing injuries.

There are numerous studies done on tablet size and usage position:

The image above shows just how complicated ergonomics is from a business perspective. Getting businesses to change their approach to ergonomics is a slow process and neither you or I have the time to pursue such a goal. Take matters into your own hands. After all this is your health and your life. So what can you do?

Companies have been creating ergonomic products to use with computers for a while. Ergotron is probably the best known manufacturer of single and multiple monitor arms.

See LifeHackers post on Ergonomics for more info. Here are some noteworthy posts.

If you do one thing this year, invest in your health. We need you. (NOTE TO SELF: EXERCISE YOU LAZY SOD!)

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Skype Devices

I have been a long time user of Skype and love it. I call locally in the US, and internationally to Europe, Asia and Africa. It’s convenient to call someone up while working on the computer. Since Skype introduced the flat plan for local US calling, I have invested in a multitude of dedicated Skype Phones and my experience has been mixed.

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Belkin Wi-Fi Phone for Skype with Boingo Hot Spot Manager ( F1PP000GN-SK )  starstarstar

Pros:
Wireless so call from anywhere in the house
Skype Contacts list to easily dial from
Charge lasts a few days
Incoming calls, voicemail etc are all available on this phone

Cons:
Wireless is intermittent. This impacts the call quality
Wireless needs WEP. I don’t like to keep my network so vulnerable

I gave up on this phone because the call quality was just so horrible. Even locally in the US, people were having trouble hearing me.

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D-Link DPH-50U Skype USB Phone Adapter star

Pros:
Cheap.
Works by plugging in a home phone into the VOIP socket

Cons:
Usability is horrible. You have some weird number sequence you have to press to make a call. And even then, it doesn’t work until you try it for about 20 minutes
Call quality is poor
No Skype list to call from
Tethered to a desktop. Which means you have to have the machine on all the time

I gave up on this phone too. If making a call requires 20 minutes and an always on computer, might as well just use a headset on the computer.

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Belkin F1PP010EN-SK Desktop Internet Phone for Skype (Black) starstarstarstar

Pros:
Slim design
Skype contacts list
Connects to your router
Incoming calls, voicemail etc are all available on this phone

Cons:
No wireless which means you are tethered to its location
Call quality is semi-decent

I settled on this phone because it seems to just work. I find that after a few days of usage, you have to turn the power off completely for about 30 seconds and then call quality is acceptable again. After searching the internet on ways to hack this, I came across Wiretrip Hardhack which was very revealing. The phone is actually a server which means you can see a UI that will let you update its firmware. BTW, there was NO mention of this in the documentation that came with the phone. Believe it or not, I setup QOS and also tried putting this phone in a DMZ in order to improve call quality before I found the power cycle fix.

From a security perspective, running a server is bad especially if the username is admin and the password is blank. Anyone can get in and if they have a hack for the firmware, upload a malicious firmware which will let them snoop on calls and get access to the rest of your network. If you have this device behind a router with a good firewall (I use DD-WRT) then you should be ok.

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