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Thu, 2004-Aug-26

A little technical editing...

I haven't gotten much done lately on my little hobby project. I'm in the process of writing up a bit of documentation about what I want to achieve to some level of detail. I'm used to having (ancient versions of) visio and word to develop this kind of documentation with, and it has been a bit of a rude shock trying to get openoffice and relevent diagramming tools to come along to the party. Really. Is it that hard to get a few basic tables and styles functions to work in ways that don't annoy the user population?

The thing that was really holding me up for at least two weekends has been my foray into technical editing. I have reviewed the last few chapters of a book on sqlite for the friendly people at SAMS Publishing. If all goes well and their accouting department can work out how to pay an Australian citizen I should even see a little money for it.

The workload hasn't been too significant. Most of the book (I'm lead to beleive) was already reviewed by Dan Kennedy, a former co-worker of mine who has gone onto fulltime development of sqlite with its principal author D. Richard Hipp. I dipped into perl and python while reviewing the chapters associated with various language interfaces. I even got to review the chapter talking about what changes have taken place in sqlite version three. Fun and interesting stuff. If you read the book and find any technical errors I'll be sure to claim they were in Dan's part ;)

I actually don't know the title of the book, but apparently I'll receive a copy in due course. I hope it isn't too long before printing because the focus is really on sqlite 2.x and 3.x is going to emerge from beta pretty soon methinks. A lot of software that uses sqlite has already made the switch.

Oh well, even if they can't work out how to pay me I like the idea of having a somewhat tangential kind of experience to put on my resume. It's nice to be able to do something different for a while. After all: Those who can't do, teach... and those who can't teach write books... and those who can't write books become book critics... so I'm only two steps away from making an impact on society!

Benjamin

Thu, 2004-Aug-26

Everyone is talking about the control key

By "Everyone", I at least mean Adrian, Jason, and some guy named Tor that I hadn't heard of until reading the blog entries from the previous two individuals :)

Well, I might as well put my two cents in. I've been doing some pretty long hours at work lately. I've had software releases going on and a lot of documentation being written that previously didn't exist in any way, shape or form. I was starting to feel it pretty badly in my wrists and hands.

To avoid the kind of strain that requires surgery (I know at least one person who is not quite the same after that outcome) I took particular note of my posture and usage of my hands over the next few days. Making sure my shoulders were relaxed and not leaning forward made a big difference, but the biggest single impact I felt from the work I was doing was to make sure I used alternating hands for my control keys.

By alternating hands, I mean that I've been using the control key like the typing tutors teach you to use shift. When you press a captial "Q", you press the "q/Q" key with your left hand while pressing right shift with your right hand. When you press a capital "P", you press the "p/P" key with your right hand while pressing the left shift with your left hand. Simple, really, but I feel that my constant pressing of Ctrl-C, Ctrl-D, Ctrl-Z and the like using only my left hand to press both keys was a major cause of fatigue and stress on those important anatomical features.

When it comes to control keys, I don't really mind where they are so long as there are two of them. I need to have two to minimise the impact on my body of pressing those awkward combinations. Given that, the closer the control key is to "Shift" I think the more natural things are. In my opinion, any key that must be pressed in combination with alphanumeric keys should be pretty close to where we see control and alt on the old 104-key keyboard.

Benjamin