Display Technologies, Part 4: Gorilla Arm and how some companies are ignoring it

In general use computing, this position is just uncomfortable.

In late October, Viewsonic, the manufacturer of many desktop displays that are highly rated, announced that they would start shipping a multitouch-enabled display. The announcement came close on the heels of the announcement by Apple that they would not be creating a Mac with a touch display due to a possible side effect of use, called Gorilla Arm. Wired.com wrote an article and quoted Steve Jobs as saying, We’ve done tons of user testing on this and it turns out it doesn’t work. Touch surfaces don’t want to be vertical. It gives great demo, but after a short period of time you start to fatigue, and after an extended period of time, your arm wants to fall off.” In short, that is exactly what gorilla arm entails. So although touch screens can work in a number of different configurations and positions, Apple and others are aware of the problems and avoiding them to the consumer’s health and others seem to simply be ignoring them.

Sadly, Viewsonic is not the only manufacturer in the technology business that is ignoring the side effects of prolonged vertical use of touch screens. HP has been making desktop touch computers for years, making it obvious just who Apple was gunning for at their mid-October press conference. HPs TouchSmart line of PCs runs a layer of software on top of the Windows operating system to make it simpler to use with a finger (or fingers) as the input device. They have also created the ability to change the orientation slightly in use, simply sliding the computer forward in order to make it more ergonomically enjoyable. Within the HP introductory video to touch input, there is a woman creating a collage of pictures on a computer. She is standing at a desk and never has to extend her arm farther than a few inches in front of her. Is this how people use their computers on a day to day basis? Or does HP have the idea in their heads that the TouchSmart PCs are merely companion computers to a person’s main machine?

From Wired:

Gorilla Arm Syndrome is a term engineers coined about 30 years ago to describe what happens when people try to use these interfaces for an extended period of time. It’s the touchscreen equivalent of carpal-tunnel syndrome. According to the New Hacker’s Dictionary, the arm begins to feel sore, cramped and oversized — the operator looks like a gorilla while using the touchscreen and feels like one afterwards.’

HP might have the idea that their computer will not be used as a normal use” machine, but Viewsonic is not under any assumptions as to how their desktop monitor will be used. As such, the possibility of Gorilla Arm becoming more of a problem is growing, as others ignore the signs of trouble. Apple on the other hand will, for the time being, stick with touch-enabled slate devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) and its touch-enabled trackpads on its notebook and desktop computers. With the release of Lion and subsequent Mac operating systems thereafter, the world may be given a deeper look into how Apple plans to handle this without compromising the user’s health.


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The Challenges of 2020

TL;DR: Follow this link.

One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.

My wife and I meet with my home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.

I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.

In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.

These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.

I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:

Thanks to a $10,000 matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our 2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.

KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.

Thank you for your consideration.