Let’s take a break from that computer

workrave exercises I’ve been accused of sitting at a computer for far too long.  “Get up and go for a walk”, I tell myself.  I never do, as I get too wrapped up in the current task I’m working on.  That’s why I so like the idea of ErgoMinder.

From a support perspective, I thought the personnel department were trying to impose their “touchy, feely” policy on the rest of us.  Now I’m older and wiser, I understand the importance of taking a break.  Shame Ergominder is no longer being sold.

The importance of a product like ErgoMinder, is for the recovery from, and the prevention of Repetitive Strain Injury.  RSI is a type of Musculoskeletal disorder.

… many MSD occur due to daily work involving the maintenance of static postures, which result in muscle fatigue, for example, holding the telephone, and repetitive work such as keyboard and mouse tasks. Conditions that have this type of gradual onset are probably more common in office work than sudden injuries.
– WorkSafe Victoria – Officewise: A guide to Health & Safety In The Office

So with ErgoMinder no longer being available, and no time to develop a clone of it*, I looked around for a replacement product.

I’ve started to use Workrave, and I’m beginning to like it.

My first impressions are that it does everything ErgoMinder does, but it has less exercises (9 vs. 15).  I’ll let you know what I think in two weeks time.

* – it would be fairly easy to clone ErgoMinder.  All the exercises and screenshots are easily extractable, I would just need to write the “timer” program.  Other priorities though.

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It’s the ErgoDudes to the rescue!

ErgoMinder, from a support perspective, had it’s problems.  ErgoMinder described itself as:

Pray for a raise

ErgoMinder is a program with three cartoon characters – called Ergo-Dudes – who remind you in a light-hearted fashion to take micro-breaks from your computer work. Most people know that they need to take breaks from computer work, and that they need to move and stretch regularly. The problem is remembering to do this while your mind is on your work. ErgoMinder solves the problem by giving friendly reminders, at interval times of your choice, in which the Dudes suggest easy exercises that you can carry out on the spot in less than a minute.

It was a Visual Basic 4 program, and it was fairly simple, as all it needed to do was:

  • at the time interval set by the user, remind the user to do an exercise.
  • keep track of which exercises were displayed,
  • but don’t display certain exercises, for the user who said “I have RSI” or “I have back issues”.

Now Ergominder had a couple of support issues:

  • didn’t support Citrix or Microsoft Terminal Server
  • the help file was expected to be in c:\windows\ergodata.
  • wouldn’t run off a network share, had to be copied down to each users PC.

Even with those issues, I still like it, as it got people taking micro-breaks.  Which reduces fatigue, and the chance of RSI with it.

ErgoMinder is no longer sold, which is a great shame as it was a fun product, Ergo-Dudes and all.

You can Google for an alternate selection of micro-break software here.

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