Ask Mr. Modem: Tips For Comfy Computing

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Click to read more about Mr. Modem.

Ergonomic and environmental issues can be particularly troublesome for computer users. This month, I’d like to share several tips you can use to keep your computing comfortable, productive and, ideally, injury-free.

1. Position your keyboard so that you can type while keeping your hands in a
neutral, flat posture. Place your keyboard on a height-adjustable, negative
slope (a fancy-shmancy way of saying “away from you”) keyboard tray that attaches
to the underside of a desk or a table. For additional information, read Healthy
Computing’s Keyboard Tray Buyer’s Guide at
Frequent laptop users, consider a Laptop Desk ( that provides a stable, ergo-friendly surface. If you have restricted hand mobility, consider a one-handed keyboard, available through

2. When seated, position your mouse on a stable surface as close to your body as is naturally comfortable, approximately elbow high.

3. As you sit back in your chair, with your arms extended, your fingers should just about touch the center of the computer screen. You should be able to look straight ahead at the monitor without tilting your head back or looking down.
If you cannot comfortably read your screen, increase the font size within a given program. WebEyes ( works well with Internet Explorer and can greatly increase the size of on-screen fonts for visually impaired individuals.

4. Place your screen so it does not face or back up to an uncovered window, unless you can lower blinds to reduce glare. Keep room lighting dim so the screen can be seen without any glare.

5. Use a document holder that it is height adjustable to reduce awkward head and neck postures, fatigue, headache, eye strain and unsightly chafing. See eBay’s “Document Holders Buyer’s Guide” at for additional information.

6. A comfortable computing chair, with lower back support, is a little slice of heaven. If the chair does not feel comfortable after you have been sitting for awhile, consider purchasing a gel-type seat cushion. For additional information, read “How to Choose an Ergonomic Chair” at

7. Get in the habit of taking a two- to three-minute break every 30 minutes. Stand up, walk around and look out the window to rest your eyes. I use an inexpensive kitchen timer, placed across the room, set for 30 minutes. Every half hour, the alarm goes off and scares the bejesus out of me. When I regain consciousness, I get up, stagger across the room and tap the timer to reset it for another 30 minutes. It’s simple, it’s highly annoying, but it works like a charm.

8. While at the computer, your feet should be positioned firmly on the floor or a footstool. Dangling feet and dangling participles are to be avoided at all costs – though while writing this article, my cat fell asleep on the keyboard.

Mr. Modem’s Web Sites Of The Month

8-Track Heaven
Forget iPods, iTunes, downloadable MP3 files, CDs and DVDs. They are all just passing fads. Groovy hipsters like Mr. Modem know that the only truly worthwhile musical format is the almighty 8-track tape. Visit this happy hunting ground for all things 8-track related.

Pictures That Lie
A picture is worth a thousand words, unless of course, it’s a fake. This site, hosted by C/Net, presents examples of media images that have been doctored, altered or otherwise manipulated before being publicly released.

Say Cheesburger!
In the mid-1920’s, a gentleman named Lionel Sternberger (what are the odds?), in a slice of culinary genius, added cheese to a hamburger patty, thus inventing the Sternpatty. No, that’s not right, he invented the cheeseburger. Here you can read the complete history of the cheeseburger (assuming the above doesn’t about cover it), obtain recipes and read life-altering, heart-warming cheeseburger stories.


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