As a developer and a PhD Fellow I spend a lot of time in front of a monitor, screen, mouse, and keyboard and have done so for quite a while. To put it into perspective when I was fifteen I earned money for the first website I made for some else, by the time I was 18 I coded Java for companies in my spare time. During my summer holiday at 18 I coded 8-16 hours a day for a start-up company and basically in 2 months I shattered my wrists. It got really bad, but I thought I was young a powered through, resulting in RSI pains in my wrists. I had to dramatically decrease my working hours and focus on studying (though I did work anyway) and through exercises I got to a point where I could type for 5-6 hours, which is decent even for an everyday working developer. But prolonged use of standard keyboards still gives me pain, so I had to come up with a solution to this problem. In this post I will cover the hardware I use to achieve a ergonomic desk setup and share links to some of the stuff, bare in mind none is sponsored it is purely my recommendation.
For years I used a standard Apple full-size DK layout keybard, the one in aluminium with white keys, and it actually served me great. In my opinion it is one of the best membrane keyboards out there, as it causes me minimal pain to use. I have had mine since 2008 and used everyday until late 2014, so a six year run. On occasion I will still whip it out and I will explain later why. But what happened in 2014? I got hired by Steinwurf ApS and saw the work setup the CTO at his desk sat one of the craziest keyboards I had ever seen. It was a Kinesis Advantage 2 LF which is a keyboard build for ergonomics instead of looking pretty and to be honest it is amazing. In the time I have used it (so roughly 5 and half years years now) I haven’t really experienced any wrist pains unless I work for more than 8 hours straight (which does happen on occasion) and last year I went abbroad for 6 months without my beloved keyboard and the pains returned and when I returned to the Kinesis keyboard the pain disappeared quickly. Now the keyboard does have a few drawbacks, it takes a while to get use to type on and will reduce your productivity for a while. Additionally colleagues who have to help you at your desk, they will have a bit of a hard time using your keyboards. I actually keep an auxiliary keyboard at hand for that. But that is about all the disadvantages I whole heartily recommend this keyboard, I recommend it so much that I have to myself. If you want to see a more in-depth review of this Linus Tech Tips have a good one: The Most BIZARRE Keyboard…
Now back to why I some times whip out my Apple keyboard and others. Some times I get a weird pain in my shoulder (due to a bike crash a few years back) and the only way I have found to lessen the pain while I work is to switch between different keyboards. At home this it is the Apple keyboard and at work I have a Das Keyboard 4 Professional and a Vortex Pok3r. I actually got the Pok3r first on the recommendation of a friend, who loves it, but the only positive thing I have to say about that keyboard is that it can be used as a blunt weapon in an emergency situation. I can, best case, use it for 45 minutes before I have so much pain in my wrists that I need to take a 30 minute break and my shoulders will start acing pretty quickly after. This is of cause without having pain in the should before. Multiple people have claimed that this is just because I am not use to using it and that my fingers are not used to Cherry MX Blue switches. Well the should pain maybe, but I love MX Blue switches and all though my Kinesis is not with MX Blues I would love it to be and I actually have had a Das Keyboard 4 Professional with MX Blues at a former employer which was amazing. The Das Keyboard I have at work now is MX Browns, just to not have my colleagues kill me when I type on it and it helps a lot on the should pains I fell from time to time. I think it is simply down to the switch of position and it is also the keyboard I use as auxiliary keyboard.
Next, mouse! What type of mouse do I use? I am ergonomic lover and therefore I love trackball mice. At work I use a Logitech M570 which Logitech no longer makes and it has been replaced by the mouse I have at home, which is the Ergo M575. Both mice are amazing and I have no complaints. Well I have one, but I am not sure if that is the M570 or my Mac being annoying. At work I mainly use a Dell XPS 15” (model 9560 I think) running (surprise) Fedora which the M570 just works with no problem what so ever. But if I connect the M570 to my MacBook Pro the connection is often dropped and I have been unable to figure out why. Finally at home I also use an Apple Magic trackpad (gen 1) and I have done so for years, since it was available in Denmark I have had one. The reason being that moving windows between spaces on macOS with the keyboard is just a pain in the arse and none of the tools I found did a good job. So for that I use the trackpad and nothing else really. I have had a Magic Mouse (gen 1) as well and that is mouse send from hell, it is even worse that the Pok3r at providing wrist pain. I much prefer the old Apple Mighty Mouse, which I still have a few off and use to play Warcraft.
So this is the hardware I use and what I have tried.
I use a Kinesis Advantage 2 LF keyboard and Logitech M570 and M575 trackball mice.