Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Software Review: MacBreakZ

Like many computer users, I tend to sit hours at a time working on projects without taking healthy breaks.  If an interruption occurs that’s about the only time I remember to stop typing, look away or simply take a break.  MacBreakZ is a welcome product to make sure I don’t suffer injury.

First, MacBreakZ watches your computer usage via keyboard and mouse/trackpad usage and suggests microbreaks after a certain amount of activity (this can be adjusted).  It also gives you a timer and a color code in the menu bar to know when your next break is needed and how excessive your usage is.  Typing really fast for a long period of time?  Take a microbreak.  If you are staring and watching a video, it’s more likely to leave you alone (it will bother you though so best to turn it off during a presentation or a video)

Let me say this:  the product is terribly annoying but that’s a good thing.  I’ll be working right along at a project and “in the zone” and that stupid window pops up asking me to take a deep breath and look away.  I’m way to busy for that- but in reality that’s the point.  I don’t want to feel exhausted, I need to take breaks so that way my hands don’t cramp up or my eyes start bothering me.  Once I accept the importance of taking breaks I really do feel more productive.  The Microbreak shows up as a transparent windows so it can be ignored if you want to, but I warn you it will start annoying you more the more you ignore it.  It’s bothersome without being intrusive.  It nags but doesn’t pester.

Besides the Microbreaks, MacBreakZ also offers tips for stretches throughout the day for various body parts that tend to get fatigued after extended computer usage.

Initially I balked at the price of $25 for a program that simply told me to take a break, but this is really so much more as it adapts to your usage and offers direct suggestions of how to take a break to prevent repetitive stress injury.

If you use your computer for an extended period of time and don’t have the discipline to take a break and stretch, this program is a lifesaver

Pros:  tells you how and when to take a break
Confs: pricing may seem a bit high

Article was republished by the Lawrence Apple User's Group 2.0 here as well as other groups listed on the right