A Letter of Apology to my Wrists

by Keri Morgret May 14th, 2008 

Dear Wrists,

Please don't make me take you in for therapy again. I know I abused you, but promise I'll treat you better next time. The insurance won't pay for any more visits to that nice hand therapist that you like so much. I won't stop liveblogging, but will share what I learned liveblogging my first conference with other liveblogging newbies.

Prepare before the conference

Laptop Batteries

A spare battery is great to have, as you won't always have easy access to power. I lucked out, and found a second battery for $5 at a local electronics fleamarket. It doesn't have the full capacity of a new battery, but I also didn't spend $130.

Extension Cords

Buy a compact indoor extension cord, at least six feet long, three conductor, and three outlets. Conference room electricians designed the space to provide power to A/V equipment, the water cooler, and a spare outlet for two people to sit on the floor at the back of the room.

Bring an extension cord, and you're always guaranteed an outlet. If they're all taken, you can plug your extension cord in, then the original user, you, and your future new best friend can all use the outlet. You can even sit in a chair and be close enough to see the presenters.

Laptop Cooling

Keep your laptop from burning your legs. I use the iXoft cooling pad from Thermaltake. It resembles a large potholder, and is filled with a chemical that changes from a solid to a liquid when heated " absorbing the heat from your laptop without using any battery life or making any noise.

Even if the conference has tables, they can be at the wrong height for typing comfortably for several sessions in a row. Putting the computer in your lap gives your wrists a break without having to burn your legs.

Food and Drugs

Cranky, sore, hungry, and thirsty bloggers are not happy bloggers, but you can't always count on there being any snacks left by the time you publish your post. Extra granola bars stuffed in your backpack can help keep you going until the next opportunity for food. Pack a small bottle of your favorite pain medicine. Watch how many friends you make each morning as people recover from the previous night's bash, or from the crew in the liveblogging row as they try to get their wrists moving again.

Purpose

Know the purpose of your liveblogging. Who is your audience? How soon do you want to publish? Do you care about formatting, spelling, and grammar?

During the conference

Carve out some time to start a document for each session you're liveblogging. Go to the conference website, and copy the session name, intro, and speakers' names and bios. Double-check the spelling on names. Include hyperlinks to the speakers' companies. I typed in the presentation notes, if given early. This way I didn't spend time copying down powerpoint slides during the session, but could include more of what the person was actually saying, and give some context for the bullet points. Presenters and presentations do change at times though, so your wrists may still hate you because you made them do extra work that wasn't included in the final post. Go back to where you found your purpose, and decide how much you want to focus on slide text versus what the presenter is saying.

To appease your wrists, consider using Word to take session notes. The autocorrect features are helpful when typing quickly, and can reduce the time you spend correcting typos. The downside is Word doesn't always play nicely and give clean code to web applications, so you may end up fighting your blogging software if you used Word to apply formatting. I used no formatting, and just pasted the plain text into email for someone else to post. Next time, I will try writing my posts in Word, paste that text into Dreamweaver and format it there, format in Dreamweaver, then post (or email) that html.

After the conference


Relax, have a drink, ignore housework and the computer, and watch TV once you get home. You've missed a lot of shows while you were gone, and it's time to finally follow the nice hand therapist's orders and reduce your workload.

Keri Morgret, from Morgret Designs, is a bright in-house SEO at the educational non-profit research institute ISKME where she works full time on the Open Educational Resources project.

Images courtesy of Sue Richards, Jim Youkin, Search Engine People and Roger Lynn

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12 Responses to “A Letter of Apology to my Wrists”

  1. Michael D says:

    I think it's time for an at conference chiropractor. Someone that understands the needs and concerns of livebloggers worldwide. :)

  2. Keri Morgret says:

    I agree! And we need to convince the conference organizers to have paraffin baths in the press room, too.

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  4. Catfish says:

    They really need to make better keyboards these days!

  5. Linda Bustos says:

    Thanks for the iXoft tip, Keri. I ended up buying one now (from Canada, too!) You deserve a commission!

  6. [...] 57% of women believe blogs influence their purchase decisions. Wow, I'm such a stereotype – I read a post on Search Engine People last night and immediately bought a laptop cooling pad. PS, neither of us are affiliates. [...]

  7. A cooling bag, thats a great idea, I use a cushion, but then my notebook gets really hot and I got to stop. Lets see if they have them here in South Africa.

  8. Keri Morgret says:

    @Marketing Man
    Something soft, like a cushion, can block the air intake and/or exhaust of a laptop. The iXoft is flexible, but not soft enough to block the air intakes.

    There are plastic lap desks that you can use that provide a rigid surface and they keep some of the heat off of your legs. But my legs would still get hot after an hour or so.

    I'm real happy with the iXoft, though I didn't realize this post would account for any sales so quickly after publishing! I hope you find one in South Africa.

  9. bosbecak says:

    i bought one for myself too. iXoft N02 :)
    thanks so much for the tip

  10. MOin says:

    Am impressed i really like the start and end of this post very inspirational letter infact you can write many letters to your different body areas i am a hiker maybe i should apologize my legs they really owe me a lot of rest. and you done this article very nicely with pleasantly manner. and laptop cooler and extra battery is always good when you are about to go winter sleep with your laptop with a lot of workload.

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