As a software engineer sitting in front of computer continously for more than 3 hours is quite common for me. Usually it's until when I decide to stand up that I realize the problem: my legs are numb, moving around become very difficult. So when I saw workrave, I thought that's just what I need. Imedialtely I installed it. Seeing it runs in the system tray makes me feel much securer. I know every 10 minutes it reminds me to take a break. As a result I'll leave computer, walk around to relax my body. That's just how my problem will get solved, isn't it?
But things never happened as I'd wished. Each time the popup shows me that a break is needed, I choose to postpone -- I can't think of even one time when I choose "OK, I'll rest". When the times of postpone is so many that the program stop asking me and blocks my input directly, I kill it with Task Manager directly.
What's worse my boss doesn't seem like the program either.
I Googled and found many people are doing exactly as I do. Then it shoudn't be my fault, there must be some design defect of the software. Actually there're two of unreasonable design in the software.
1. The break notification is too intrusive. When people are busy working on something they hate being interrupted. No matter it's a kind rest reminder or a annoying salseman.
We humans are strange, we hope we get reminds when we're planning to do things bad. But when it really happens we hate those who reminds us cause they are AGAINT us. We hate to be againt, no matter in which way. The problem of workrave is that when it noticed the user has been working for too many hours it act against the user to FORCE him to stop and then get killed easily by Task Manager.
But should we blame the user on this? Let's be clear that it's the user who installed workrave, he liked workrave. But when he's busy and workrave is againt him he killed it. I guess 60+% of workrave users do this so if we complain them we complain the human nature and let's not do it.
Then the suggestion for workrave is to notify the user in a more gentle way. No, never force the user to stop, instead, display a non-intrusive message box showing how many hours he has worked. Put the message in a place where the user can see but never affect his work --- maybe a 50% transparent window. Don't block input... just show the increasing level of injury to his body when the user keeps working in despite of the reminder. He'll stop cause he realizes the injury brought by continous work.
2. Make the UI unobtrusive
Cause otherwise my BOSS see it. I'm not very sure he likes it.