It does, you know. You just have to get it hot enough.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Tracking Transience

Hasan Elahi, an art professor who was put under some intense scrutiny after the 9/11 attacks, has decided to let everyone know where he is at all times, what he is doing, and so on. He fashioned an electronic bracelet of sorts from a mobile phone and wears it continually while photographing and documenting details from his daily life. All of this information ends up on his website in realtime, so not only the FBI, but anyone else can track his every move.

There’s a brief article on Elahi over at worldchanging, I found this on Schneier’s blog.

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posted by jet at 13:23  

Saturday, October 7, 2006

A Year With a Hag Capisco

I’ve had my Hag Capisco for almost a year now and have a few thoughts to share about how much it’s changed my life. No, I’m not selling them, I didn’t get paid for this review, and I bought my Hag with my own, hard-earned money. The Hag Capisco is one of those discoveries I feel the need to share with anyone not smart enough to run away when I get that look in my eyes.

A little background if you haven’t heard of a Capisco. It is designed to be a perching chair — instead of putting all your weight on your butt and thighs while sitting you put some of your weight on the saddle seat and some of your weight on your feet. (I reviewed Galen Cranz’s “The Chair” last year, she discusses perching and the history of sitting on chairs in a fair amount of detail.)

Some differences between the Capisco and other “ergonomic” chairs:

  • The chair back is not intended for support. Working while sitting on a Capisco is more like sitting on a backless stool or on the edge of a bed.
  • The chair arms are far enough back that they are out of the way during normal use. You can lean back in a Capisco and rest your elbows on the arms to take a break, but when sitting upright the chair arms will not interfere with your arms.
  • The chair has more (and different) adjustment options than many chairs I’ve owned. One of my favorite is the ability to slide the seat pan forwards and backwards to better accomodate different leg/butt ratios.
  • The chair seat and back are both solid and firm. If there’s an opposite to the hammock-like bucket seats of an Aeron, this might just be it.

My seated (and standing) posture started improving within a few days of switching to the Capisco. It did take a couple of days for my back muscles to get used to holding me upright, but my body adjusted relatively quickly. It’s surprising just how much muscle tone I had to develop just to sit up straight for a few hours a day, but my back developed the muscle tone needed the same way my legs adjusted to living in a three-story house. I’m also fond of the feet rests that are on top of the casters. Normally with an office chair on casters, repositioning myself would require grabbing the chair with one hand to keep it from moving while I got up and sat back down. On the Capisco, I can make minor adjustments to my sitting position by simply lifting myself with my feet on the textured footrests, shifting a bit, then sitting back down.

Another change I’ve noticed is that it’s now easier (if not required) to move around quite a bit while sitting. In my old Aeron chair I could slump back and sit motionless for hours. On the Capisco, however, the only thing supporting me is my feet and butt. I’m able to sway, lean over, turn around, do all sorts of things that weren’t possible in the Aeron because I’m sitting on the chair instead of in the chair. (If you’ve ever been stuck in the rear bucket seats of a 70s muscle car, you know exactly what I’m talking about.) Sitting on a Capisco, I’m able to put things out of arm’s reach or on a shelf beside me and still get to them easily while working. In the Aeron, an item or task either had to be within arm’s reach or I had to get out of the chair.

There are a few downsides to the Capisco, but they’re mostly related to distribution and adjustment to a different sort of chair. Here in the states Hag chairs are damned difficult to test-drive unless you live near a major city. There was only one dealer in the greater San Francisco bay area that had a Capisco I could look at in person, something I like to do before dropping US $600 on a chair. Here in Pittsburgh I could only find one company even able to order a Capisco for me — they had none in their showroom to demonstrate. It took me a couple of months from initial contact before my chair arrived for me to pick up, I suspect due to the fact I was the first person in the area to ever order one of these. There’s also the cost of a Hag, and unlike the Aeron, there isn’t a surplus of used Hag chairs on the market that were freed up in the dot-com crash.

The Capisco does take a few days (if not a week) to get used to and for the first few days of use you’ll probably think it is uncomfortable or tiring. This is mostly your body complaining about having to build up some muscle tone needed to start doing the work of holding your head and spine in place.

Once you’re in a bit better shape, you’ll find the Capisco plenty comfortable.

If you have specific questions, let me know and I’ll update this review with text and photos as needed.


Answers for some of the questions in the comments section:

  • “Can you read heavy books in this chair?”: I would never consider doing any sort of reading in this chair unless the material was supported in front of me at a height that let me look straight ahead while reading. I’ve seen people using reading stands in beds and in other chairs, so you could probably find one that fit the Capisco. However, holding a book in your lap and looking down at it would probably defeat many of the benefits of using a Capisco. Yes, your weight would be distributed between your butt and your feet, but you’d also be bending your neck over at a very uncomfortable angle.
  • “Can you take it apart?”:  Mine came disassembled, but I don’t remember the exact details.  I think it was in three pieces: the base with casters, the seat, and the back.

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posted by jet at 21:35  

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