Jan. 24th, 2010

zwol: ((mad) science)

In this two-part episode, [livejournal.com profile] zwol attempts to assemble a Staples brand flat-pack keyboard tray and attach it to his desk. The score so far:

+5for clear, concise instructions.
+10for all-metal shelf runners with ball bearings.
+2for including one extra of every fastener, thus reducing the risk of being unable to finish the job because something got lost.
-1for including one extra of every fastener, thus ensuring that you will have several left over when you’re done.
+20for the actual-size paper template to be taped to the underside of the desk, indicating where to drill the screw holes.
-1for not considering the possibility that the desk might include a steel bar right where they want you to drill one set of holes.
-10for self-tapping screws.
+5for restricting self-tapping screws to assemblies that probably won’t ever have to come apart again.
-5for itsy bitsy tiny teeny nut-and-bolt pairs.
-5for the stamped-sheet-metal alleged wrench to be used with said nut-and-bolt pairs.
-10for angle brackets that can be attached upside down.
-10for angle brackets that require simultaneous use of a wrench, a screwdriver, and two clamps to attach. And detach and reattach again when you realize you attached them upside down.

Part one ends on a cliffhanger: the electric drill’s battery is dead! Tune in tomorrow to find out whether my keyboard fits in the tray, and under that steel bar, when it’s installed.

zwol: ((mad) science)

Last time on No User Serviceable Parts, [livejournal.com profile] zwol got halfway through installing a new keyboard tray on his desk before discovering that the electric drill's battery was dead. This morning, we tune back in to find the drill revitalized and the tray installed with only a few points of wishing for three hands, and no further demerits to award the manufacturer for penny-wise, installer-hostile design choices.

But the real question here is, how well does it improve the ergonomic situatiion? After a few hours of use, my preliminary verdict is: well enough that it's not going back to the store, but not so well that I abandon thoughts of an entirely new desk. On the up side, I can now sit up straight in my chair, with the screen at eye level, my arms at a natural angle while typing, and my feet on the floor. Which is what i was going for. On the down side, there's not quite enough space between the bottom of the keyboard tray and my thighs, and there's only just barely enough space between the top of the keyboard and the bottom of the desk for it to clear the steel bar that's under the front edge. More seriously, I have to reach a little further for the mouse than I'd like, and in order to get at all the keys on the keyboard I have to sit farther back from the monitor than I'm accustomed to. The monitor is on a swing arm, though, so that maybe can be fixed.

This episode's Extra Special Bonus Hate is not about the keyboard tray at all; it goes rather to whoever arranged to have the floor model of the shredder I bought yesterday (also at Staples) not match the one that came home! The floor model didn't have the major design flaw I was specifically trying to avoid, but the one that came home DID. Thus, unwanted trip back to the store today to exchange it. For the next beefier model up, which I took out of the box in the store and checked, and does not have the aforesaid design flaw.

I'd like to describe the design flaw, so that other people can identify and avoid it, but I don't think I can do it without pictures.

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