Ergonomic Tips in Using Your Laptop

While laptops give us convenience in many ways, they also place us at risk for injuries. The reason being is because the keyboard and the screen are attached in such a way that you cannot work your way around this particular design.

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The risks –

  • Awkward wrist position
  • Pressure on the carpal tunnel
  • Flexed neck
  • Rounded shoulder

The best that you can do is to minimize the risks associated with using laptops.

  • Work on a table that is appropriate for your height
  • Sit close to the table on a comfortable chair
  • Bend your head as little as possible
  • Make sure your ears are directly above your shoulders
  • If you intend to use your laptop for long periods of time, it is best to get separate monitor, mouse and keyboard to decrease the risk for injuries
  • Have a laptop stand or alternatively use books underneath the laptop
  • Do not rest for your hands on the laptop surface while typing and make use of a 3-ring binder under the laptop. This decreases the risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Make sure your elbows are not bent more than 90 degrees and this is best achieved by getting a high-enough chair
  • Reduce strain on your back by making sure you have footrest if your chair is high.

There will never be a true ergonomic position when using laptops thus it is still important to take a break and change position often.

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8 tips to save your battery

My MacBook’s battery lasts ages, even when I’m running ten programs and watching a movie. But my Gateway laptop’s battery lasts about an hour, and it’s new. PCs generally have very limited battery life and here’s some tips I’ve gathered to help keep your battery lasting longer.

Make your battery last longer now

  • Let your laptop control the battery. They usually have default settings that will minimize battery usage and when you need the battery to last through an entire flight, keeping it on those settings will help.
  • Don’t multi task. Running just one program at a time can seriously help.
  • Power down when necessary. If you’re waiting in line or otherwise can’t use your laptop, turn it off to avoid battery drain. It’s small, but it still helps.
  • I know laptops are called that for a reason, but avoid putting it on your lap unless you have to. There’s plenty of tables and other flat surfaces that will help keep the heat down.

Extending battery life

  • Don’t leave your laptop on a bed, couch, or pillow for long periods of time. Your computer is unable to breathe, which leads to higher temperatures, which lead to battery death.
  • Don’t leave it in a car on a really hot day (90 degrees Fahrenheit or more), if it’s hot enough to kill a dog, it can kill your battery.
  • Don’t expose most batteries to extreme cold temperatures either (Lithium Ion batteries, however, are best stored at freezing temperatures.)
  • If you aren’t going to being using your laptop/cell phone/ipod for a month or longer, take out the battery and store it properly. If it’s a Lithium Ion battery, you can freeze it at a 50% charge.

For more battery related information, check out the Battery University.

I am the proud owner of a MyBook external hard drive

Western Digital MyBook I am a serious computer user and I slow mine down. No matter what the specs are, I always manage to somehow make even the fastest computer slow. I’ve had both PCs and Macs and both have needed to be fixed up a few times. I don’t know how to reformat hard drives and for what I’m trying to do, reinstalling the operating system works fine. This is the second time I’ve reinstalled OS X on this MacBook, which I got in January 2007. To make things easier this go around, I bought a Western Digital MyBook external hard drive at Circuit City.

It’s a 320GB Essential Edition, is plenty for me, especially because it was only $100. It doesn’t have a lot of fancy features, but I really just wanted something inexpensive and reliable to back up my files on. I’m going to store my enormous media collection on it, mostly filled with movies and TV shows, as well as keep backups of my very important website files.

So far I’m very happy with it, except it took me ages to move everything over last night, but I think that was because my computer has been incredibly slow lately. When I moved files back to the fresh OS, the transfer went much smoother. I’m going to leave Illustrator and Photoshop on MyBook because they take up a lot of resources and I don’t use them very much. I think I’ve used Photoshop once. Illustrator is more for when I’m actually feeling inspired, which hasn’t been lately.

Don’t spend money on software

Finding good, reliable software is hard sometimes, especially after being spoiled by programs like Photoshop or Coda. But spending precious money on software is not the smartest thing to do when you can find equally good (and sometimes better) programs for free. Almost all of the programs on my computer were free, with the exception of Illustrator, Photoshop and Coda.

Software for Starving Students is a great resource for both Mac and PC users. (Again, sorry Linux) Their collection of freeware is geared toward students, although anyone could find most of the programs useful. They have a version for both Mac and PC. There is a good number of programs (30+ in both packages) and I have most of them. Unfortunately, you have to download the file and burn it to a CD that will install everything. If you don’t want to do that, they have a list of all the included software and you can pick and choose which to install.

Two other great websites are Open Source Windows and its Mac equivalent, Open Source Mac. They list the essential types of software, including browsers, word processors, graphic programs, and instant messengers.

For Mac users, FreeMacWare is a great resource for free software. They have almost every free program that’s available. If you’re looking for programs not offered at the above websites or just want to clutter up your Applications folder, this website will help you.