RSI, Tendonitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome...

I suppose it was inevitable that after so much time spent writing stories and articles and programming, I would suffer from Repetitive Strain Injury.

I've taken care of myself over the years: making sure I set up my work station properly, doing exercises, buying a suitable chair, using an ergonomic keyboard. Even so, things are getting more uncomfortable…

So now I've taken three further steps, as follows:


I've installed the i3 tiling window manager on my Ubuntu setup. (Here's an article on why you should use a tiling window manager)

I've used i3 for some time on my Arch Linux setup, mainly for speed and simplicity. As it has become apparent that using the mouse gives me the greatest amount of pain, it seems sensible to do anything to reduce its use. The i3 desktop is the perfect solution. It allows you to do nearly everything using the keyboard, which has the added bonus of increasing productivity.

I now deliberately push the mouse away from the keyboard so as to lead me not into temptation whilst I work. Doing this has encouraged me to learn the shortcut keys for applications such as Chrome and even things like VLC and Spotify. If I'm honest, it's only laziness that's stopped me learning them in the past: I could have searched for the Chrome shortcuts at any time, but it was easier just to use the mouse.

i3wm sits nicely on top of Ubuntu. Installing on Ubuntu is a great way to get used to using it, as you have the fallback of logging into Unity when you need it.

Evil Mode

If you read my blog, you'll know I'm an Emacs user. However, as I said in this blog entry, you have to admit that vi has a great set of key bindings. I do my planning and structural editing in Emacs - there's nothing faster - but When it comes down to plain text editing I find the vi commands easier on my poor hands. That's why I use evil-mode.

I've set up my .emacs file (see below) so that I can turn evil-mode on or off by pressing F6. I've also added code which I found on Stack Overflow that causes evil-mode to go to Emacs mode when I press any insert command. Switching between modes allows me to get the best of both editors. For example, I much prefer vi's ma and `a to set a mark and jump to it, rather than Emacs's rather cumbersome C-x r SPC a. Points marked in vi are remembered no matter how often you turn on and off evil-mode in a session.

Dictation Software

Lastly, I've taken the plunge and bought voice recognition software, the software used to dictate this blog entry, as a matter of fact. On the plus side, it saves using my hands, on the minus side, Dragon Naturally Speaking only comes in a Windows version. I suppose I should have a look at installing it on Linux using Wine.

I'm finding using Windows 10 extremely depressing experience. Still, I'm only there long enough to dictate notes. After that it's back onto Linux and Emacs where I use my precious hands to do the editing. I'm currently clocking myself on Emacs, comparing my typing rate with my dictation rate. It will be interesting to see which is faster. I'm having to get used to thinking my thoughts then speaking them rather than just typing and thinking at the same time. I wonder if it will have an effect the creative process? More on that another time…

.emacs and evil-mode

(require 'evil) ;; installed using Elpa

;;  The following ensures j,k for up and down follow visual-line-mode 
(define-key evil-normal-state-map (kbd "<remap> <evil-next-line>") 'evil-next-visual-line)
(define-key evil-normal-state-map (kbd "<remap> <evil-previous-line>") 'evil-previous-visual-line)
(setq-default evil-cross-lines t)

;; i a o etc go to emacs mode 
(defalias 'evil-insert-state 'evil-emacs-state)

;; Turn on and off evil-mode
(global-set-key (kbd "<f6>") 'evil-mode)
(global-set-key (kbd "C-M-z") 'evil-mode)