Author Topic: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse  (Read 1977 times)

Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« on: November 30, 2020, 08:51:09 am »
My right hand developed RSI 20 years ago so I taught myself to use a mouse with my left hand.  This lasted a lot better but has now gone the same way (painful tendinitis in the tendon working the thumb, different to the RH failure mode, which was a trapped nerve).  Symptoms disappear after 2-3 weeks of not using the mouse but return very quickly if I do in either hand.  I am currently alternating and trying to do as little mouse-heavy work as possible.

Laptop trackpads (or "clickpads" these days) don't work for me, and trackballs are much too slow.  Has anyone used a pen-based graphics tablet as a mouse?  I need to squeeze another 3 years out somehow before I can chuck in the desk job!
And Darkness and Decay and the Coronavirus held illimitable dominion over all.

Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2020, 08:58:18 am »
Similar situation here: golfers elbow rhs 15 years ago so switched mouse hand. Now both elbows have it ::-)
I’m awaiting a referral to occ health to whether they have any alternative gadgets (or maybe my own personal typist?).
I’ll be interested in any replies you get.
L'enfer, c'est les autos.

Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2020, 09:10:23 am »
We have a bodycare specialist but COVID means the usual consultations aren't available.
And Darkness and Decay and the Coronavirus held illimitable dominion over all.

T42

  • *** fool in a hurry
Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2020, 09:36:18 am »
I've been using a graphic tablet since the early naughties, though I use it mostly with the dedicated mouse.  It's OK, although hovering the mouse pointer is exactly that, i.e. you can't let the point down or you've clicked the link.  I also found at the start that the hard plastic surface chilled my hand in winter and made it sweaty in summer, so I fold a sheet of A4 around it. That works, although it gets cruddy after a while so I have to change it.  If you draw a lot will also wear the tip of the stylus down a bit faster.

Double-clicking you can do with a double tap, but on mine (Wacom something or other, discontinued for the last 15 years) there's also a very inconvenient button in the side of the stylus that does a double click for you.  There's no equivalent of the mouse wheel, but there might be nowadays.

The stylus itself is a bit narrow for continuous use so I slid a bit of aquarium tubing over it, with a hole cut out for the button.  A chum with arthritis in the fingers does this too and finds it OK.

Mine came with a dedicated mouse (with a wheel!) that I use more than the stylus. The Teflon feet wore off years ago and the casing is just about through, but it still works.  What I like about it is that it uses the coordinates of the mouse on the pad to steer the cursor rather than movement of the mouse itself. This means that if a colleague commandeers your mouse while leaning in from the side in "look, I'll show you" mode they can't steer it and give up in disgust. ;D

Generally, I find the stylus more tiring over long periods than the mouse.

I've dusted all those old bottles and set them up straight.

Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2020, 09:58:38 am »
If you're able to work using an iPad, then this has the option of using an apple pencil on-screen along with an external keyboard. However this is likely to throw up various other ergonomic problems...

Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2020, 10:26:20 am »
Have you considered a trackball? they have helped me in the past when I have RSI niggles.
I have the classic Logitech trackball, I think a Marble Mouse.
This looks pretty funky too - have a look?  https://www.theregister.com/2020/11/24/review_logitech_ergo_m575/

One of the comments:
The problem with your fingers is that ALL of the tendons that move them pass through the carpal tunnel, and if any of them start to swell for whatever reason then you're on the downward path to carpal tunnel syndrome.

The tendons for your thumb are all external to that tunnel, and so if they start to swell ...... you don't even notice.

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2020, 10:38:54 am »
Like T42 I used a mouse on a graphics tablet and I loved its accuracy and the lack of input from cat hairs that you get with a laser mouse.

However, for some reason I forget (probably compatibility) I switched to an Apple Magic Mouse 2. Virtually no grip required, and a very light tap on the top surface, either left or right clicking. I've no idea if you could use an Apple Mouse on a PC...
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ian

  • feat. Undead Jess & Finestre, Queen of Hell
Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2020, 10:51:04 am »
I used to use one on my mothership Dell – there's a driver for bootcamp.

They're love-hate mice, of course. I love them for the same reason, you don't have meaty-paw molest them to get them to do anything, they nudge mice that you work with a finger or two and a bit of wrist action (*cough*). There's no thumb action really requited, everything is up top. I drive mine with the first two fingers.
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Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2020, 11:01:39 am »
I switcher to using a "vertical" mouse, which has alleviated the discomfort I was suffering.

https://www.logitech.com/en-gb/products/mice/mx-vertical-ergonomic-mouse.910-005448.html
We are making a New World (Paul Nash, 1918)

Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2020, 12:01:41 pm »
Personally I find the ergonomic issue with using a mouse (and why I don't use one) is the "gripping" action required to operate it - i.e. the hand has to be curled up rather than stretched out/relaxed.
I haven't tried one, but I would personally not use a stylus (or something that has to be gripped like a pen) for the same reason - the hand has to grip it.

With a trackpad you are not really using the muscles in your hand, so you are not holding it in constant tension. Your hand isn't completely stretched out - but it is relaxed, you are using the muscles in your arm to move it.
It seems to me that the issue isn't really using the muscles as such, but the quiescent state of holding certain muscle(s) in constant tension, which is the issue for me with using a mouse.
As well as the fact you don't have to grip it to operate it, with a trackpad, you only touch it when you actually want to do something with it, whereas with a mouse (and I guess a stylus as well) the temptation is to continue holding it between successive uses.

I personally use an Apple trackpad. It's probably not quite as accurate/quick as using a mouse, but the ergonomic benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.
The main issue for me with a trackpad is that you often can't drag far enough. The mouse solves this by being able to pick it up and put it down again.
The Apple trackpad solves this with 3-finger drag, if you drag with 3 fingers, if you pick your fingers up and put them down again within about a second or two then it doesn't interpret it as the end of the drag, you can put them down again at the other corner and continue dragging, this is an essential feature in my opinion. (This definitely works on windows when remoted into from a mac, I think it would probably work if the trackpad was connected directly to windows as well. You could always try it and send it back if it didn't.)

It is what it is. It's not what it's not, so it must be what it is.

Zipperhead

  • The cyclist formerly known as Big Helga
Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2020, 09:51:15 pm »
I switcher to using a "vertical" mouse, which has alleviated the discomfort I was suffering.

https://www.logitech.com/en-gb/products/mice/mx-vertical-ergonomic-mouse.910-005448.html

For me as well, although I use one of these

well, two. I've got a left handed and a right handed one, one each side of the keyboard.
Our son does know who Boz Scaggs is, we've done ok as parents.

Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2020, 10:19:37 pm »
Sorry if this sounds obvious but do you need to "grip" a mouse?

If you're moving the pointer, rest the heel of you palm on the work surface/desk/table/mouse pad, relax your fingers with no tension over the mouse, nudge it around with slight movements of your thumb and 3rd and 4th fingers. To click, lightly tap the button. To drag, hold down the button with just enough pressure to keep it clicked, then move the mouse with your thumb and 3rd and 4th fingers just touching the mouse.

The aim is to get the hand to be relaxed and under no tension most of the time. Only dragging would produce some tension.

Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2020, 06:42:00 am »
Also try a more expensive and larger mouse. If its your job and your using it all the time it's worth it.

I use a Logitech MX Master 2S, its big which lets your hand rest on it without curling up too much.



The above picture (not me, its from a quick google search) give you the idea. Smaller mice are much less ergonomic. It being accurate and having good buttons and wheels also helps as you have to readjust less as it your cursor and scrolling tend to need less readjustment as you get it right first time.
And as Hubner says you don't need to grip it.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2020, 09:21:14 am »
Sorry if this sounds obvious but do you need to "grip" a mouse?

If you're moving the pointer, rest the heel of you palm on the work surface/desk/table/mouse pad, relax your fingers with no tension over the mouse, nudge it around with slight movements of your thumb and 3rd and 4th fingers. To click, lightly tap the button. To drag, hold down the button with just enough pressure to keep it clicked, then move the mouse with your thumb and 3rd and 4th fingers just touching the mouse.

The aim is to get the hand to be relaxed and under no tension most of the time. Only dragging would produce some tension.

You possibly don't have to but for me it encourages being gripped.

If you move it without gripping it, there is "play" in the system as a whole, i.e. there is travel in the hand before the mouse starts to move. That's why it's just easier to move it if you do grip it.

Moving it while holding the button down also requires tension in the forefinger and palm. If you try and hold the mouse button down with your hand completely relaxed, i.e. without the heel of your hand supporting the back of it, then it will fall off the desk into your lap. In fact I think it might be mostly this that's responsible for the tension rather than actually moving it.


It is what it is. It's not what it's not, so it must be what it is.

marcusjb

  • Full of bon courage.
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Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2020, 09:57:54 am »
Another vertical mouse user here (MX Vertical)

Have gone through trackball phase - just got different hand/wrist issues.

Graphics tablets - no experience, but Mrs. JB uses them.  I think the thing that would frustrate me is picking up the pen as you swap between typing and clicking.

Vertical mouse has been the real game-changer for me - such a stupidly simple idea but it does seem to work.
Right! What's next?

Ooooh. That sounds like a daft idea.  I am in!

fboab

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Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2020, 10:42:10 am »
I think you all just have hands that are too big.
I use a teeny microsoft notebook mouse that, mouselike, sits under my teeny hands.
I think this might be the only real-world situation where a standard product fits standard women better than standard men.  :o

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ian

  • feat. Undead Jess & Finestre, Queen of Hell
Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2020, 11:11:13 am »
I must have teeny hands too, I nudge my mouse with my first two fingers. I've noticed this at work, people (mostly men*) literally grab their mice like they're trying to squeeze the life out of them, then pushing them this way and that with the sort of vigour usually required for stripping off wallpaper. It's no wonder their body parts fall off given that level of self-abuse.

*women just use the mouse they're given, where men have to buy a bigger, more special mouse, the natural masculine progression towards ones that you can sit in and drive around.
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Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2020, 11:30:17 am »
In my limited experience of using a graphics tablet, the absolute positioning that makes them brilliant for graphics work leads to an awful lot of big-muscle arm movements when it comes to driving a GUI, unless you shrink the active area right down (which sacrifices precision).  I'd find myself reaching for the mouse for anything more involved than selecting a tool from a palette.

If configured for relative movement, it's perfectly usable as a funny-shaped mouse.  I can't vouch for the ergonomic benefits of holding a pen.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2020, 06:26:19 am »
Can i suggest that there is substantial evidence that RSI does not exist.  I suspect on the basis of what you say that you either have de Quervains or a trigger thumb.  Both are common degenerative conditions seen in people of middle age which respond really well to appropriate steroid injections or minor surgery.  I am more than happy to give a pro bono opinion over messenger and recommend a course of action.

T42

  • *** fool in a hurry
Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #19 on: December 02, 2020, 09:27:05 am »
Can i suggest that there is substantial evidence that RSI does not exist.

Pardon the frivol, but the RSI was a hated French social security apparatus that had a reputation for making gross mistakes then dunning companies mercilessly for money they didn't owe. The repeated stress they caused was definitely injurious.  Fortunately, it was abolished a couple of years ago.
I've dusted all those old bottles and set them up straight.

Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #20 on: December 02, 2020, 06:20:39 pm »
Can i suggest that there is substantial evidence that RSI does not exist.  I suspect on the basis of what you say that you either have de Quervains or a trigger thumb.  Both are common degenerative conditions seen in people of middle age which respond really well to appropriate steroid injections or minor surgery.  I am more than happy to give a pro bono opinion over messenger and recommend a course of action.

WRULD*?

A graphics tablet might be a good work around, but I suspect its quite time limited. After long stints of photo editing with one I could see causing problems with sustained/constant use.

I try and restrict mousing to the bare minimum. It is a bit of a bu$$er going out of the way to learn all the shortcut keys, but I have far fewer problems typing than I do mousing.

You could setup AutoHotKeys on Windows (alternatives for other operating systems?) to automate some tasks that you do.

If you have a computer with reasonable oomph, you could try the current edition of Dragon's speech recognition software and see how much that can reduce your mousing. I'm not sure how far you can get with the built-in voice assistants.

Take regular breaks away from the computer. There are applications that will disable your mouse and keyboard if, within a given time period, you haven't taken a break.
When I had serious trouble, regular exercise and a good physio were a real boon. The symptoms were in my hands/wrists but the cause was in my neck/back/shoulders, allegedly. YMMV of course.

Good luck.

*Work related upper limb disorder.
A Few Apples Short of a Strudel

Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #21 on: December 02, 2020, 10:50:30 pm »
WRULD is just a new nam for RSI which was comprehensively debunked about the turn of the century.

rr

Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #22 on: December 02, 2020, 10:58:54 pm »
Goldteck vertical mouse and split keyboard for me, along with dragon. They all help.



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Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #23 on: December 03, 2020, 02:58:17 pm »
WRULD is just a new nam for RSI which was comprehensively debunked about the turn of the century.

debunked by whom?
it seems they left it off the wikipedia page.
A Few Apples Short of a Strudel

Re: Graphics tablet as alternative to a mouse
« Reply #24 on: December 03, 2020, 03:00:24 pm »
Pretty much the whole of medical science. Now generally lumped with anti-vaxxers and flat earthers.