MUTTER AT YOUR COMPUTER, as we all do from time to time, and it will probably ignore you. But install one of the new voice-control programs, and the PC will heed your spoken commands Image: JOHN MCFAUL
Last month I installed an odometer on my mouse. Actually, it's not a mouse; I switched to a trackball a year ago when the pinky on my mousing hand started hurting so much that I couldn't bend it. And it's not a real odometer that I installed but a free program (available for Windows at www.modometer.com) that keeps track of cursor movements, button clicks and keystrokes. I was astounded when I checked the results. In five days my fingertips had skittered that cursed little arrow 2,440 feet around the screen, and my thumb had made 21,719 clicks. No wonder the pain had spread into the rest of my hand.
I knew where this was going. My wife had already developed a repetitive stress injury from massaging work out of her computer. The injury degenerated for six months until just picking up a magazine made her wince. It took a season of nightly icing, physical therapy, sleeping with a wrist brace and using a funky joystick-shaped pointing device called a 3M Renaissance mouse before she regained full use of her forearm. I wasn't anxious to follow her lead. It was time to try a new way of controlling my PC: by voice.