Staying at your peak while Stuck at your desk

Computer Workstation Variables (Wikipedia)[/caption] Today we’re going to talk about Ergonomics. After 17+ years of working at a desk for long hours, I know a little something about keeping my best asset at its best. I can always tell when I haven’t been seated at my desk correctly, my back hurts.  When I sit right in the chair, utilize the lumbar, footrest and position everything in the right place I don’t hurt.  Having said that… over the years I have learned some lessons. Buy good ergonomic equipment: I prefer the natural wave type keyboard – I don’t care if its wireless and would probably not use it properly if it were.  Your hands need to be at a natural position, its more natural for our wrist almost even your fingers so try to get used to a keyboard that lets you position them that way. Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 is a good option. I have been using Microsoft’s natural keyboards for many years and consider them as important as a good computer. The keys are large and naturally spaced so you’re not over reaching – and this helps me since my hands are very small.

  • Your mouse is the next most important piece of equipment since you will be clicking hours at a time, especially during research. Its really important to use an ergonomic mouse since your index and middle fingers can develop repetitive motion disorders. I have used a trackball by Logitech for many years and since I made the transition I have never felt pain in my mousing hand. I love that I can program the buttons, and I no longer have feelings of numbness and tingling in my thumb, and fingers.  Since I have had surgery for a radial nerve entrapment (workplace accident in 1993) I need to be especially cautious.
  • Your chair…  There are several schools of thought on the correct chair to be ergonomic.  I prefer an adjustable chair, good lumbar support, and armless. I’m short, and to get me where I need to be to actually be able to SEE the monitor, I scoot up as close as possible. (Yes, this sometimes means my keyboard is partly under the desk with the keyboard tray pushed in closer.)  I prefer armless because invariably I’m scooting my chair in closer and pinching my fingers between the chair arms and keyboard tray!  I think my next desk chair will be fabric or mesh, not leather. My office tends to get hot in the summer and I think fabric or mesh would be more comfortable.
  • Your footrest. If you’re short like I am, you’ll need a good footrest to rest your feet on. Since I have to raise the chair up to make my hands rest properly, my legs dangle… (Ok, I’m REALLY vertically challenged all right??? lol) The footrest doesn’t have to be expensive. I’ve used a Fellowes Standard Foot Rest for years that was very inexpensive.
For your desk, I’m sure there are tons of different ideas on the proper desk. I purchased my desk configuration one step at a time. The main desk/workstation first, it has the drawers, printer trays and such to the right of the keyboard/monitor area. Then I found the hutch for on top of the desk, its got all the shelves, cubbies and cabinets to the right of the monitor except for the area above the monitor has a shelf which is removable. Since my eyesight is so bad, I can change the monitor for a larger one as I need. I have a left return (of sorts) that is actually a dining room table and is about 2 inches shorter than the desk. But, I don’t mind since I have my second monitor there and its adjustable in height. I keep my journal to the left, the phone (or laptop/ipad) and the TV is there.  And, a second hutch, which gives me some more storage, and makes me feel more ‘executive’. Overall, the setup works well for me. Recently I changed my phone system to all digital on the laptop – which is older and beginning to be troublesome – to an IP phone on my desk. I still highly recommend a headset though. Since my IP phone is very basic, I don’t have the option of a cordless headset like I did with the laptop, but with a long cord this is all right for now. When I update the phone (I’ll want a larger display) I’ll update the headset then. I didn’t opt for a more advanced phone because my service provider and I were not sure the display would work for my particular setup and now that we know it does, I’ll upgrade later on.) How is your work area configured?  I’d love to see your pictures and if you send them to me I’ll post them!  Here’s mine. Have a great day!  Kathy McCabe [caption id="attachment_638" align="alignnone" width="300"]Kathy's work area configuration Kathy’s work area configuration[/caption]]]>

Must Have iPad App: Air Display

I am in love with a new (new to me!) iPad app!  Air Display allows you to add an additional screen to your desktop (PC or Mac) and at $9.99 is far less expensive than a new monitor (available in the iTunes store). Anyone who knows me also knows I love screen real estate.  I have an extra monitor on my desktop, my phone system is digital and on my laptop, and now, with Air Display, I can drag windows from my desktop right onto my iPad (I use it for my website visitor monitoring, webcam window so far I’m sure I’ll find more!) and be even more productive! For me it’s a no-brainer, this is one of the best investments I’ve ever made. Speaking on investments, I was reading the 17 trading books and got some great ideas on how I can invest and make money. So now, I’m using my iPad even more as an extension to my office. When I’m away from the office, I log in using’s Ignition, and at the desk, I easily incorporate a third screen. Now that I have it, I wonder why I never invested in a third screen before! 🙂 Thank you Ed Kaplan for the heads up! (One thing to note, it would be efficient to use a power supply with it since it is always ‘on’ and doesn’t allow the iPad to sleep.) WP_20130823_007 WP_20130823_006 WP_20130823_002 Make it a great day! Kathy McCabe]]>

Disaster Preparedness

NOT be one of those that never reopen. Plan your recovery before its needed. To see the supplies that recommends please visit and look at the various kits with supplies needed. Common sense tells us, that businesses should keep copies of their most important files offsite. Personally, I use several methods personally, I use an external drive that is a complete copy and I can grab it and run if need be as well as online methods.  There are numerous online backup options that are very good. . Carbonite,, and others as well as, and similar to drop in files you’ll need if working away from home.  Also, I backup onto DVDs and store these in fireproof safes, and the really urgent information is easily grabbed as I’m running out the door.  I use Nero BackItUp 12  for my backups to the external drive and to DVD. Be prepared. Your equipment should be insured. Don’t use a rider on your homeowner’s policy, you should have business insurance that covers your equipment. All of it. Make an inventory of all the software you have, whether its installed or not, list your peripherals List your books. If you have a radio in your office, list that! List EVERYTHING! Take pictures of your equipment, store your receipts with your inventory, OFF SITE (or in digital format offsite). My Office inventory is electronic, and is stored offsite, AND backed up regularly. Keep your inventory up to date. When you prepare your inventory, don’t forget about your various logins and account access codes and passwords. I have a book of key codes, kept in my fireproof safe. For my more sensitive logins, those are encrypted on a flash drive in the safe. Keep this list as up to date as possible. During severe weather, surges often cripple your equipment, which is why it is vital your equipment be protected with high quality surge protection, and if you lose power suddenly, having an uninteruptable power supply (UPS) can give you the time you need to save what you’re working on and shut your equipment down (or get out and start the generator).  High quality UPS systems also include surge protection. Include your PHONES on the surge protection. Often, your telephone is one piece of equipment that is forgotten about when it comes to equipment protection. I use a cloud based telephone which I can access from anywhere, and easily forward calls to my cell from the office. Visit for more information about disaster preparedness for your home and your business. Become familiar with what you need to do, and what needs to be on hand. Stay alert to the news, and be prepared. Sending my thoughts and prayers to all effected by the destructive weather this season. Kathy McCabe]]>

Planned Obsolescence

Planned Obsolescence. We all know what it is. It’s that lovely time when a new model or operating system comes out and suddenly all your really big dollar software is not ‘supported’ by the new operating system. Such is the case with Quickbooks. I had Quickbooks Pro 2011 that worked wonderfully well, was a dream to work with… But as soon as it was installed in my gorgeous new Windows 8 computer (thank you Michael!!) it suddenly doesn’t work so wonderfully. Turns out, it is not supported on Windows 8, and there are not plans to support it. Gee… Thanks. But hey. you can get the brand spanking new Quickbooks Pro 2012 for this many hundreds of dollars! (can you see me rolling my eyes?) So, you’re faced with a choice, do you take that same wonderful QBPro 2011 and move it to the clunky old laptop with a supported OS? Or, do you bite the bullet and shell out for the latest and greatest? I would bet you could guess which option I chose (especially since new computer has 23 inches of lovely viewable space and the old laptop has 14. Grrrr….. Ok, ranting done for the day. Kathy McCabe]]>

My Journey with Windows 8

I was fortunate enough to be gifted by Michael with a top of the line Dell ‘One’ 2323 Touchscreen 23″ all in one computer. I absolutely love it, and it is by far the nicest computer I’ve ever owned. Windows 8 is not entirely different than what we’re used to with other versions of Windows operating systems. The major difference is in the start menu. What I’ve realized is the new start menu is just a different – more interactive, and more “powered” up – version of the older start menus. Personally I really love it. I know there are many who don’t but its so…. geeky LOL which suits me perfectly. (Anyone who knows me also knows how much of a geek-ette I can be.) What I love the most is that I can stream my social media (Facebook and twitter for now) in the side panel while I’m working in the main panel. I love being on the start screen and seeing everything auto updating. Very cool. The lock screen is also different, than what used to be. It now allows for a picture, and shows one of two active Windows 8 Apps that will update while on the lock screen. Weather or Calendar. (Being a weather junkie, I’m sure you can guess which one I chose.) You can also personalize the lock screen and use one of your own. I have not tried the picture password yet, but I also think that would be neat too. I saw the videos explaining that and showing examples so I know its a feature I’ll implement but haven’t had a chance to set it up yet. 20121111-185253.jpg I also like using the ‘charms’ to the right of the screen. A quick swipe from the right will bring them up, from there you can pick the start screen, settings and more. What I quickly realized is that if you choose settings from anything other than the desktop, you’ll get settings that are relevant to the screen you’re in. We got the new computer the day before hurricane Sandy was due to hit. I have to say that thankfully, by time the power went out, it was already late for us and we just went to bed and tried to sleep. But since then, I’ve been blessed to be able to help several temporary clients with their office services while they were waiting for power, phones, internet or waiting to find temporary office space. As a result, I’ve been pretty busy and haven’t had the luxury of really playing with and getting to know the new computer. I still have my phone system on my old Windows XP laptop, and haven’t had the chance to try it on the new system. Will have to do an update once I’ve tried that out. I will have to replace that old laptop at some point but for now, it will do. Between the laptop, the TV Michael gave me for Christmas last year, the new computer and the second monitor, then the iPad also on the desk… I think that when someone coined the phrase “Screen Real Estate” he wasn’t referring to that! Nope… I’m NOT posting a picture of that – until I’ve put the mountain of CDs and DVDs away from reloading my software. 🙂 Right now I’m on the iPad writing this with my leg propped up like a good girl. And remotely controlling the new computer upstairs. I’ve discovered it doesn’t really like the 20121111-185312.jpgnew start menu, but, still controls the desktop and second screen with no problems. The screen shots in this article were taken logged into the desktop from the iPad. I love technology… 😉 Kathy McCabe    ]]>