Lots of news this month, so we're keeping the feature short. We're starting a new feature called "Free Software of the Month." Each month, we plan to highlight a free software package. There are some amazing software titles out there that do cool things for your business, your home, and your communities. Some of these run on a server, which we can host. Others are complete operating systems or packages you can use to replace expensive commercial software packages. We're starting out with a simple one you can install no matter what type of computer you use.
Free Software of the Month: Workrave
How much time do you spend in front of a computer every day? The answer for many of us is too much. If you work in an office environment, chances are you spend many hours a day in front of a computer, and are at risk for repetitive stress injuries such as tendinitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.
While no software can reduce your workload, taking frequent breaks and doing exercises to keep your muscles loose can help prevent injury.
Enter the most annoying software in my arsenal: Workrave.
Workrave runs in the background and forces you to take frequent breaks by popping up, interrupting what you're doing, and encouraging you to take your hands off the keyboard.
It starts with a nag, telling you to take a break. You can ignore this nagging a couple times before it becomes more insistent, when it interrupts what you're doing and sits in front of everything, giving you an exercise to do.
It has three different types of breaks: "Micro breaks," breaks for a few seconds to rest your hands; "Rest breaks," longer intervals complete with animated exercises, and "Daily Limit," after which it tells you to do things besides typing on your computer.
It only tracks the time you spend actually typing or using the mouse--if you take a natural break, it resets each timer. A cool statistics feature tells you how many breaks you've taken of each type, as well as how far you've moved your mouse and how many keystrokes you've made for the day. You can browse back through the calendar for a full history of your work activity, too. You can even install it on multiple computers and have it track your activity through the network.
You can configure the length and intervals for each of these breaks. I have it set for a micro-break of 10 seconds every 10 minutes, a 5 minute rest break every hour, and 8 hours maximum time behind the keyboard. If you're recovering from an RSI injury, you probably want these set much more aggressively.
Workrave is available for Linux or Windows, and is completely free. Download it at http://www.workrave.org. If you spend hours at the computer on a daily basis, your arms will thank you.
Lots of stuff to report...
I'm speaking at the BNI Technology Alliance this coming Monday evening, November 6. Read more detail here.
My wife, Jill, is joining Freelock Computing in a more substantial role. She will be helping define our products, organizing the web site, documenting our solutions, and leading our customer training division. Expect to hear more from her soon!
We have a new part time system administrator, Aaron Peterson. Aaron has extensive expertise in MediaWiki, one of our favorite systems for managing knowledge both inside and outside companies. Aaron will be helping us keep customer systems up-to-date, and may move into more of a tech support role over time.
Finally, we're in discussion with a couple other web development companies about merging businesses... stay tuned, because there could be major changes ahead!
About Freelock Computing
We're technology experts who provide the running rigging for your business, helping you get that edge you need to compete in today's business world. We specialize in Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP, what is known as the "LAMP stack," and in open source consulting.
In short, if you know anyone who needs help installing or administering a Linux server, finding and implementing free software for business, or developing custom web applications, we can help. Your referrals are much appreciated!
Until next time,
Manager, Freelock, LLC
This newsletter is available on line at http://freelock.com/news/1106.php . Feel free to forward on to anyone you'd like! Also note that any links to Amazon in this newsletter and on the Freelock sites are affiliate links--if you purchase a book by following one of these links, I get a small commission.