The Nemo Memo




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By John Nemerovski

Are you comfortable? If not, why not? Are you efficient? Could you perhaps be a bit more organized? Put these “stocking stuffers” at the top of your holiday gift list, and tell everyone exactly what you want! In order of essential must-haves, here is my personal itemization. All approximate retail costs are in $ U.S.

A surprising majority of computer users place their keyboards on the surface of a table or desk, and subsequently develop wrist and finger pains. No, no, no! Your local office supplier or warehouse sells under-desk sliding keyboard drawers for $30 or less. Do-it-yourself installation takes about an hour, and will reward you with instant comfort and convenience. You may decide to purchase (for $10 or less) a padded wrist cushion, for extra relief. (Mike Wallinga is our My Mac resident wrist support expert, by the way)

If you are sitting on an old dining chair, or perhaps a folding chair, stop immediately. Go back to the office supply store or warehouse. For $100 you can purchase a basic adjustable “task” chair. Try before you buy, and make sure you can exchange it for a more comfy chair after you have an extended test-drive. Superior chairs can cost from $400 – $1400, depending upon your budget. It’s important, regardless of the chair, to learn to sit back and relax, and not lean forward or to one side while typing or mousing. (For my most recent birthday, my wife bought me a $200 Work Smart chair, by Office Star Products, at our local Office Max. I love it.)


“What is that?” everyone asks, upon seeing the strange contraption at the edge of my desk. The “telephone” looks like a small transistor radio, with a 6-foot cord leading to a lightweight headset with microphone (sort of like Garth Brooks, Madonna, or an airport traffic controller). For under $100 you will be fixed for life, and will never again need to cradle your traditional heavy telephone headset on your stiff neck.

I waited two years before buying externally-powered speakers for my Mac. I was an idiot. Even inexpensive computer speakers will improve the sound of music, games, and conversations. The cost will be anywhere from $30 to $300. Again, purchase from a store where you can exchange the speakers for a different model, once you have listened to your favorite music or game on your own computer.

Radio Shack, Home Depot, and other stores sell intercoms, packaged in pairs, for under $50. Intercoms are extremely versatile. I have one here in my office, and the companion is in the kitchen. No wiring is needed. My unit has three channels, a volume control, a CALL button, a TALK button, and an AUTO button (which you would use, for example, in a baby’s room). My parents in Illinois have one in their bedroom, one in the family room, and two units in my dad’s basement office. (When they plug an intercom in their kitchen outlet, they have surreptitious admission into the kitchen of their neighbor, at the end of the block, who uses an identical unit!)

Don’t talk to me about the alarm built into my Mac. It’s a nuisance. For a few dollars I purchased a battery-operated large-dial digital timer. I set it to alert me to appointments, meals, and when to GET UP AND MOVE AROUND, so I don’t “seize up” at the computer!

Get a tilt-head desk lamp to illuminate your work, and have a pad of lined paper (and a couple of pens or pencils) handy to keep dated notes of Web sites, email addresses, toll-free numbers, shareware titles, and a thousand other things. Use a pair of LARGE receptacles for rubbish and recycling, as close to your new chair as possible; fill them up and empty them every week.

Go to a yard sale and pay $5 for a decent mini-trampoline. Set your new kitchen timer to 25 minutes, then bounce, hop, and stretch for five minutes every half hour. You’ll feel better, live longer, and compute just like your energetic My Mac columnist does!

Happy shopping, computing, listening, bouncing, and happy holidays from me.

John Nemerovski (

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