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The benefits of ergonomic keyboards and mice

I'm stunned by how many companies now give developers two large flat screen monitors by default but scoff at the idea of getting them ergonomic keyboards and mice. The cost is a fraction of that of a single monitor and can prevent injuries (downtime) to people who are critical to company operations. I imagine it's because dual monitors have been widely praised for providing a productivity boost to developers (and rightly so), but ergonomic keyboards and mice have not been; health concerns are just a tougher sell.

The surprising thing about ergonomic keyboards and mice is that they tend to have productivity features built into them, including programmable keys that can be customized per application. The added productivity from this, even if you consider it to be rather minimal, adds up to to more than enough on a programmers salary over a year to justify it's purchase. Unfortunately these gains are not yet being shouted from the rooftops, so it may be sometime before companies come around.

I was looking forward to posting about my weekend acquisition of a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, one of the most well designed and pleasing devices I've ever used (and it has tons of programmable features to boot). So I was surprised and little peeve yesterday morning to find that Jeff Atwood over at Coding Horror stole my thunder by touting his re-purchase of the Keyboard 4000. My only consolation is that at least he didn't purchase a Logitech Marble® Mouse, my second favorite piece of data-entry paraphernalia, so I can independently tout it's virtues.

The Marble® Mouse is a trackball and its symmetrical design means that it can just as easily be used by you lefties out there. It has two additional programmable buttons that can be set to nearly any function you like. While it may take a little adjustment for those of you who haven't used a trackball before, I think it's far superior to any other mouse I've used; even more so if you have limited desk space, as I do.

I realize that my preference for these particular ergonomic devices is to some degree a matter of taste but, what ever device you choose, I would encourage you to to start using ergonomic devices as early in your career as possible to ward off future problems. And if you're already having problems... QUIT PUTTING IT OFF! I don't know why but we developers, myself especially, seem to ignore common sense measure at taking care of ourselves. As the minor health annoyances of middle age and the detrimental effects of a sedentary carreer in front of a computer start to set in, I'm starting to take things like this more seriously.

0 - What do you think?: