Hari Shanker R

Hari Shanker R

A Happiness Engineer at Automattic.

Beware, all you typists!

Ever seen fingers fly on the keyboard? Just take a look a professional typists. Some of them type over a hundred words per minute. Imagine! A HUNDRED word per minute! That would amount to 10 sentences or a whole paragraph in hardly a minute! How cool could that be? For geeks, bloggers and addicted chat-freaks, a 100 words per minute is nirvana! Professionals invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in typing tutor software just to optimize their typing speed. A fast typing speed is particularly significant in this information age. Roughly speaking, even Sixty words per minute is impressive. A speed-typist myself, people look up to me with awe (and malice), cross-questioning me to learn how I ‘mastered’ the skill. These days, I fend off such people with arbit replies, not mentioning to them the name of the typing tutor software that helped me hit the magical ‘sixty’ mark.

And I have my reasons. I learned them the hard way.

I’ve had problems with typing since God-knows-when. First I would type reports for my preoccupied dad. The reports would run unto hundreds of pages sometimes, and I would have to coop up in front of the PC for hours on end. Gradually, I started to notice pain in my wrists. But I wouldn’t give a damn about wrist-pain. It’s all part-of the game, I felt. It was then that I mastered the art of speed-typing using a Typing Tutor software. Typing became easier, and increasingly painful, but I didn’t mind. I was dismissive of the whole bandwagon related to typing injuries until I met Guillaume Marceau, Theoretical computer scientist from Canada, at the BlogCamp. His experience brought me back to reality. This man was a victim of the Repetitive Strain Injury, a serious issue brought about by relentless hours of non-stop typing! His right had was permanently damaged and he had to wear ‘wrist-braces’ for life. This man has to rely on Speech to text software for his data entry requirement.


Wrist braces used for typing injuries. Courtesy: Wikipedia

His words brought a shudder in my spine. Ergo, I did some research on typing injuries and found myself too vulnerable for a typing injury! I don’t want to bore you with all the technical details, but typing injuries are among the most common issues faced by computer professionals! Hundreds of professionals regularly use ‘wrist braces’ and are rendered redundant for life, by this problem. Carpel Tunnel Syndrome is another serious typing injury that could debilitate you for life!

If you too feel pains while typing away, beware! You could be at risk!

But there’s no need to paranoid! Most typing injuries are caused by appalling typing habits. Just keep the following in mind when you type away the next time:

  • Maintain a good posture while you type. Give ample rest to your back and also shift postures occasionally. It’s a good idea to take ten minutes break for every hour of work.
  • Keep a neutral wrist position. Make sure that your fingernails are short and your fingers are curved as you type.
  • Practice good ergonomics. An ergonomic keyboard and well-designed computer table will make your work easy.
  • Type leisurely when you can. There’s no point firing your fingers away!! If you can type eighty words per minute, reduce it to sixty unless it isn’t too urgent.
  • If you begin to feel severe pain in your wrists as you type, take a break. Stretch your fingers.
  • Maintain good sleep habits and have a balanced diet. Yes, this matters a lot!
  • Hold a ninety degree angle between your lower legs, thighs, and upper body.

Every technology is disruptive in its own regard. Alright, typing injury is too niche to be highlighted by the mainstream media. But it is a problem, a tangible one. Typing, in general, causes immense strain to the wrist muscles and bones. Good speech recognition technologies are the only way out of this quandary. Unfortunately, speech recognition hasn’t caught up with the time. I’ve used the bundled speech recognition software of MS Office, which sucks hard. It wouldn’t recognize my Indian accent, and I half learned US accent in a bid to train it! 🙂 Dragon Naturally Speaking is the best in the speech recognition industry, but it’s too expensive ($200 or more) for and average person.

Unless speech recognition really catches up with times, the world will lose more Computer Scientists to Typing Injuries!

Fore more info on typing injuries, visit: http://www.tifaq.com and http://www.tifaq.org/

9 Comments

  1. n i t i n

    first things first…
    yaah! I’m the first to commment..First!

    ahem..so back to the post..

    I’m happy n satisfied…I barely type 35 to 38 words per minute at a max scale…without any typing software….so I’m content with that.

  2. mea culpa

    speech recognition !!! sounds good… but have u thaught, how it would be like, if all of them in office just start to speak, and not type …hmm…lemme jus imagine…
    …topsy-turvydom…

  3. Sriram

    Well I took the test at: http://www.powertyping.com/typing_test/typing_test.shtml and I managed a decent 55-57 wpm each time. the only problem is, too many mistakes! I tried three times, and made 4 to 5 mistakes each time. Maybe its because I havent learnt it properly, with any tutor or with fingers positioned at ASDF_JKL;
    I just typed normally, the way we progressed from hunt-pick-and-type to a good enough pace.

  4. Hari Vishnu

    wow..yea ive heard of these med problems associated with ‘typists’.. but i dint know they were so common or serious.. nice u did some research on it and posted this one..thanx a bunch for thos tips..

    (Wall-E review is up.. Well, not a review exactly, but wat i carried over from the movie..)

  5. Hari

    @ nitin:
    First come, first served! 🙂

    35-38 is cool. Still, you gotta be careful, bud!

    @ mea culpa:
    That’s a moot point. Guillaume says it can be solved by using noise reduction headphones which can capture the minutest of voices. All you have to do is to speak in a reduced volume. He even demonstrated successful voice recognition, converting speech to text amid the cacophony in the houseboat that day 😀

    @ ms cris:
    Eww.Not really. 🙂 Don’t think I’m affected as yet. 😀

    @ jakeup:
    Thanks for the links, man! 🙂

    @ hari vishnu:
    They are, man. Trust me. 😀
    Read your review and commented too! 😀

  6. Hari

    @ sriram:
    Sorry for this! 🙁 Didn’t see your comment first!

    55-57 is fast enough man! 😛 The average typing speed of an average guy is around 20-30 if I’m not wrong.

    And yeah, learn positioning! Hunk-and-peck crap makes the damages hard!

  7. manoranjini

    that was a really nice n informative piece ; though it wasn’t news to me .we have sessions on ergonomics once in a while to scare the hell out of us too ..
    this is what i would call a responsible blog post !way to go Hari !Awesome of u to take the responsibility to talk about some thing like this 🙂

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