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Take a break or get hurt

February 7, 2008 2 comments

What do serious athletes, professional musicians and computer users have in common? They can all get hurt from doing the same motion again and again. Whether it’s holding and playing your instrument the same way, hitting the racket with a ball again and again, or typing at the keyboard, when you do the same motion again and again and again, you have a good chance of hurting yourself. The result is repetitive strain injury, RSI. If you think that you really need to finish this urgent job that you’re working on, and you’ll just ignore the pain, you’re making a big mistake. You might end up not being able to type for days and maybe weeks, and maybe even have surgery.

One way to mitigate RSI is to vary the motion. Try to switch keyboards, from a traditional flat keyboard to an ergonomic one and back every few days or few weeks. The change that I found most effective, though, is to use a program that reminds me to take a break from typing every so often.

Workrave to the rescue

Workrave is a free program that reminds you every so often to take a break. It has two types of breaks. A micro-pause of 30 seconds or so every 10 minutes
Micro-pause

and a rest-break of 3-5 minutes every hour or so. During the first part of the rest-break, it walks you through some exercises.

Rest break

I used to do these, but don’t lately.

At some point, I reduced the frequency of the breaks, and the pains came back. I reduced them and things are better. You can configure the duration and frequency of all the breaks.

All in all this is a great program that does what it’s supposed to. Everything works as advertised.

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Categories: technical Tags: ,

Playing with EC2

February 1, 2008 Leave a comment

I’m playing with EC2 a bit, and the firefox extension makes life a lot easier. I launched an Ubuntu AMI quite easily. One of the things that confused me was the whole issue of the key pairs and ssh.

Here’s the sequence.

  1. Generate a key pair in the “Key Pairs” tab. You’ll be prompted to put it in a file.
  2. Launch the AMI using this key-pair. Right click on the AMI, choose Launch ,a and from the option choose the key-pair from 1.
  3. SSH to the AMI using the public DNS address. In my case I did ssh -v -i ec2-keys/ubuntu1.pem root@ec2-72-44-44-15.z-2.compute-1.amazonaws.com where
    • ec2-keys/ubuntu1.pem is where I stored the private key
    • ec2-72-44-44-15.z-2.compute-1.amazonaws.com
Categories: technical, Uncategorized

Using gmail, Imap, Google Apps for Your domain

January 29, 2008 Leave a comment

As a die hard Unix/Linux user I have a real hard time using webmail. Gmail has some nice features, but even with it’s keyboard shortcuts, even with spidermonkey’s addon, there are still too many things you need the mouse for. I’m ten time more effective in mutt.
There are, however things that gmail is really good at. Probably the top two are spam filtering and searching.
So, I finally broke down when gmail started offering an imap interface and tried it out, and I’m happy to report that it works quite nicely.
Here’s my config.

———————————
set imap_user = ‘dror@zapatec.net’
set spoolfile =”imaps://imap.gmail.com:993/INBOX”
set folder =”imaps://imap.gmail.com:993″
set record=”imaps://imap.gmail.com/[Gmail]/Sent Mail”
#set postponed=”imaps://imap.gmail.com/[Gmail]/Drafts”]
set header_cache=”~/.mutt_header_cache”
set message_cachedir=”~/.mutt/msgcache/”
set imap_check_subscribed=”yes”
set imap_list_subscribed=”yes”
set imap_keepalive = 5
set use_domain = “yes”
set hostname = “zapatec.net”
———————————

The only issue I have is with doing searches in the headers in mutt. I can search “~C username” or “~s subject” but I can’t just do “user or subject” search since then it’ll start bringing in the bodies of all my messages.

Other than that, it works quite nicely.

Categories: technical