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Is Caps Lock Dead? 1206

Posted by timothy
from the remapping-is-the-answer dept.
An anonymous reader asks "Recently I have noticed that I haven't used caps lock other for any purpose other than hitting it by accident. Once upon a time, COBOL was written in all caps, and other languages like BASIC and Fortran were not case sensitive. Capitals were the way to go for writing code. Does the caps lock key serve any purpose any more, and if not, should it be removed, moved, or replaced?"
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Is Caps Lock Dead?

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  • by ClarkEvans (102211) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:27PM (#9346847) Homepage
    especially useful in VIM.
  • by ForestGrump (644805) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:27PM (#9346849) Homepage Journal
    escape and caps lock key switch.
    http://www.cs.ucr.edu/~beyert/articles/es cclock.ht m

    -Grump
    bet you tim!
    • by ultrabot (200914) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:37PM (#9346980)
      More useful than switching with escape is switching caps lock with Control.

      You should have:

      Option "XkbOptions" "ctrl:swapcaps"

      In the InputDevice section for your keyboard (in XF86Config, of course).

      Voila'! Ctrl assumes its rightful place on the keyboard. Ergonomic implications are massive.

      Equivalent hack is available for NT too. It's done via registry, but I can't be bothered to google for it right now.

      • by ForestGrump (644805) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:40PM (#9347013) Homepage Journal
        But the reason we have both swapped esc and caps lock is because caps lock is so rarely used, while esc is used alot in VI(changing modes) and chat boxes (close window)

        i feel ctrl is fine the way it is (ctrl+x,c,v)
        But i'll give caps/ctrl a try.

        thanks
        -Grump
        • by jesup (8690) * <randellslashdot@ ... rg minus painter> on Saturday June 05, 2004 @07:41PM (#9347465) Homepage
          Ah. A vi user. If you're an Emacs user, having the capslock key mapped to control is the ONLY way to fly. As others have said, that's the One True Position for the control key. (Check Sun keyboards, for example.)

          My "CapsLock" keys have the legend worn off of them, and one even has a groove from where my pinkie's fingernail hits it.
          • by doom (14564) <doom@kzsu.stanford.edu> on Saturday June 05, 2004 @10:24PM (#9348165) Homepage Journal
            jesup wrote:
            Ah. A vi user. If you're an Emacs user, having the capslock key mapped to control is the ONLY way to fly. As others have said, that's the One True Position for the control key.
            That's the traditional position, I agree -- and I've never understood what the moron's were thinking who moved the standard control key location under the shift. But I'm an emacs user who's also using one of the kinesis contoured-model, programmable keyboards, and the Control and Alt keys are already very accessible under the thumbs (my numb-pinky-syndrome went away when I switched to the kinesis, I highly recommend them for heavy emacs abusers).

            There are a few really big flaws in the kinesis layout though, one is the damn Caps Lock next to the A, the other is a tiny chicklet Escape key way up in left field. But the Kinesis layout is easy to re-program, so I tried a few different re-arrangements and evenutally settled on making the key next to A another Escape, just like mister Vim-User recommends.

            • by 1u3hr (530656) on Sunday June 06, 2004 @01:52AM (#9348808)
              I've never understood what the moron's were thinking who moved the standard control key location under the shift.

              The (conspiracy) theory I've heard is that both Gates and Jobs were trying to kill off all the old DOS wordprocessors that used control keys extensively in the late 80s, particularly WordStar. So hardly any control keys were used in early Windows apps (mostly ALTs if anything), and Gates "encouraged" keyboard manufacturers to follow his layout that made Control less convenient. After the DOS apps were well and truly dead he allowed control keys to be used more. Perosonally I have CAPSLOCK and CONTROL swapped.

              Here's an interesting article [google.com] excerpt:

              Ctrl-Z/X/C/V for Undo/Cut/Copy/Paste did not exist in the x86 world until IBM moved Ctrl out of the home row and Microsoft started moving its Mac applications to Windows. Through version 2.03, the applications bundled with Windows used Del for Cut, Ins for Paste, and F2 for Copy. Alt worked as it does today, and Ctrl sat there dead as a doornail. Check out
              Windows: the official guide to Microsoft's operating environment copyright 1986 by Nancy Andrews (Microsoft Press, ISBN 0-914845-70-5). It wasn't enough to have a (minimally) consistent interface; just like Jobs's (minimally) consistent interface, it had to be as inconsistent as possible with any other system folks might come across.
      • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @08:25PM (#9347732) Journal
        There are all sorts of programming situations where having a caps lock key helps keep things readable. For example...

        SELECT *
        FROM tblWhatever a
        INNER JOIN tblYaddaYadda b
        ON a.ID = b.ID
        WHERE b.foo = 1

        Not to mention data entry work... lots of places that do data entry use all caps.

        Oh, and did I mention that THIS IS A STUPID ARTICLE? SURELY THERE MUST BE SOMETHING EXCITING ENOUGH GOING ON IN THE WORLD THAT WE DON'T NEED TO PUT THIS CRAP ON THE FRONT PAGE OF THE SITE?

        • by Atzanteol (99067) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @09:10PM (#9347989) Homepage
          I've never understood the 'need' people have to capitalize SQL. It's not case sensitive. If one has a decent syntax highlighting editor, then the capital's don't help at all! I think having so many cap's in my code is fugly too. I've been doing SQL for 5 years or so, and I've gotten into many arguments with DBA's over this...
          • by Frobnicator (565869) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @10:35PM (#9348222) Journal
            I've never understood the 'need' people have to capitalize SQL. It's not case sensitive. If one has a decent syntax highlighting editor, then the capital's don't help at all!
            It's a style thing. It's also the common style used almost everywhere.

            You say it doesn't help if you have a syntax highlighting editor; you can't count on having a syntax highlighted editor all the time.

            While I think there are benefits to it, many interns that I've worked with seem paralyzed if they don't have syntax highlighting. A few are paralized if they don't have auto-complete. If the code REQUIRES syntax highlighting to be understandable, clearly you need to adopt a different style.

            If you don't have SQL syntax highlighting, the more complex the SQL statement is the more it benefits from the all-cap keywords. That in itself is enough to justify (for me) it's use. Since I compose my SQL statements in my C++ interface code, I don't have SQL syntax highlighting; the C++ editor highlights them all as strings. Using caps really helps readability, especially when the SQL statements are complex and require several lines to compose.

    • by EvanED (569694) <evaned@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Saturday June 05, 2004 @08:04PM (#9347613)
      Sounds dangerous... with the number of times I've hit caps by accident, I don't think I'd want to hit esc by accident...
  • by angst7 (62954) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:27PM (#9346850) Homepage
    Mostly for entering product keys.
  • Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by linuxpoweredtrekkie (659492) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:28PM (#9346857)
    Caps Lock is EVIL!

    I remapped my capslock into an extra control key months ago. I never type more than a couple of words in capitals, and can easily hold down the shift key.

    Capslock is just a problem when you accidentally hit it when reading something you are keying in.
    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

      by falzer (224563) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:36PM (#9346972)
      Here's how I made capslock an extra control in Windows 2000/XP.

      Go to this path in the registry editor:
      HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Control \ Keyboard Layout

      In that registry path, add a new binary value, like so:
      Name: Scancode Map
      Type: REG_BINARY
      Data:
      00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
      02 00 00 00 1D 00 3A 00
      00 00 00 00


      This required a reboot to take effect (for me, anyway).
    • Re:Yes (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Gabrill (556503) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @09:40PM (#9348074)
      You guys are forgetting that the caps lock key is older than your silly programming languages. There was and still are uses for all caps sequences in many facets of typing. Caps are more easily readable on envelopes, some database and spreadsheet entries, titles of chapters, and many more writing applications. Sheesh. Newbies.
      • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

        by Frobnicator (565869) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @11:33PM (#9348448) Journal
        Caps are more easily readable on envelopes, some database and spreadsheet entries, titles of chapters, and many more writing applications.
        I work with several different databases. All of our database data is stored in caps. Why? In decreasing order of significance:
        • Postal Service Discount Requirements [usps.gov] - Unless you like spending lots of money on mailings, use one of the discount mail formats, such as automatable mail. Automatable mail means CASS cerification, which means using all caps. Otherwise, the best bet is using an all-caps, 8-18 point sans serif, uniform stroke width font, 3/4 to 3 point space between characters. We found that 10 or 12 point ariel fits the requirements. If you use bulk mailing and you don't fit the requirements, the mail can be thrown out, not returned, so you wouldn't know that your mixed-case address had problems.
        • Compression size - Your compressor should notice that almost all the data are of about 30 values {0-9, the common A-Z values, space}, and a few other symbols for the database system. That tiny alphabet, and considering the rarity of certain alphabet letters, will make dynamic huffman VERY happy. Mixed case would at least double the size of the compressed alphabet, meaning larger backups. If you do backups (you do, don't you?) it helps. If you have to distribute the database to different sites, it really helps. In one example I encountered recently, the client had about 6 GB of compressed data and wanted to send it to all of their stores nightly. Each store is equipped with a dedicated high-speed line, but 6GB daily (over 9 hours on dedicated T1) is too much for a nightly transfer. After looking at their data, simply converting everything to caps let it compress to just over 1 GB of data (under 2 hours over a T1 network).
        • Uniform - It's easier to search for names that some people like to have different capitalization rules on (Shrudili/ShruDili/ShruDiLi, MacKay/Mackay, etc) Yes, you can do a case insensitive match (you insensitive clod) but it takes more CPU work; That's bad when a batch run already takes a long time for simple case sensitive matches.
        • Readability - It's much easier to read names and addresses on the screen when they aren't mixed case.

        The first one will save you lots of money in mailing. If your company is in to saving money, then your mailing lists already do that. Compressability of data is *very* important for large-scale systems, and can have significant improvements with an ALL CAPS DATABASE. The last two just help reduce system load and operator error; both are good things to reduce.

        frob

  • by blue_adept (40915) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:28PM (#9346862)
    how else are you supposed to shout?
  • Yes. (Score:4, Informative)

    by HenryKoren (735064) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:29PM (#9346868) Homepage
    Naming convention in C++: Constants in ALL CAPS
    • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Funny)

      by geoffspear (692508) * on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:33PM (#9346932) Homepage
      And do you give your constants names so long that you really need to use your caps lock key instead of just using shift?
      • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Pooua (265915) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:52PM (#9347130) Homepage
        Some people actually know how to type, which means they use all the fingers on both hands to reach the necessary keys. More to the point, it means that holding down the shift key with one finger while trying to touch-type puts an odd strain on the hand and is poor typing posture. The shift key should only be used for at most 3 letters in sequence, and probably should be avoided for more than a single capital letter in a word.

        • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Talking Goat (645295) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @07:07PM (#9347263)
          And I suppose I'm not supposed to even slightly glance down at the keyboard at any time either? I got enough of this fascism in grade-school, further propagation via /. won't be necessary. Somehow, believe it or not, some of us have managed swimmingly. I think typing-nazi's belong in the same group with instructors at finishing schools and clerks at the DMV, which would also be the first group, coincidentally, against the wall...
  • by Dark Bard (627623) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:29PM (#9346872)
    Writers and layout people use cap lock all the time. Most will use it from time to time in standard word processing. Computers aren't just for programers. Some of us use the software they write.
  • by TheOtherAgentM (700696) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:29PM (#9346874)
    I use Caps Lock to check if Windows has completely frozen up. If the light on my keyboard doesn't come on, it's time to do a hard reset.
  • by inode_buddha (576844) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:29PM (#9346876) Journal
    else it would be *very* discriminating against all those AOL'ers.
  • OMG! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ikari Gendou (93109) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:29PM (#9346878)
    oF COURSE cAPSlOCK IS STILL USEFUL! iMAGINE ALL THE USERS OF THE WORLD NOT ABLE TO SEND LONG SHOUTING EMAILS IF cAPSlOCK WAS REMOVED! wHAT WOULD THEY DO THEN?! sTaRt UsInG aLt-ShIfT? tHE HORROR!
    • by $$$$$exyGal (638164) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:57PM (#9347186) Homepage Journal
      The caps lock key *is* useful, but it is more trouble than it is worth. Do you know what the #1 tech support answer for everything is?:

      "Ok sir, your password is not working? Ok then, have you tried turning off your caps lock? Yes sir, the caps lock key. That's a key on the left side of the middle of your keyboard. Try pressing it once and then typing in your password again. Working now? Very good sir, have a good day."

      Productivity in the US may increase by 10% if we got rid of the stupid thing. If you *need* to type in all caps, pick a menu-option in your word processor or other application.

      • I'm pretty sure the #1 Tech Support answer for Everything is "Reboot", which is now called all sorts of high-tech things like "Power Cycle".

        I hate being told to "Power Cycle". It must be someplace in the Comcast tech-support handbook. But it gives me a good chuckle.
  • by ivansanchez (565775) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:29PM (#9346883)
    Well, as I am using a mixture of Debian/Sid/Experimental and lots of unstable (and non-official) packages, my system freezes once in a while. However, pressing Caps Lock helps me check if the keyboard driver is still live (so that I can use the MagicSysRq Keys) or I must reboot by hand. Could use NumLock for that matter, but CapsLock is usually nearest to one of my hands. The truly useless key is ScrollLock, BTW...
  • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:30PM (#9346888)
    Of course caps lock is necessary. It's necessary for whenever you want to type in all-caps without holding shift the whole time. I can think of dozens of examples of this. Hell, where I work, the blank fields on our contracts must be typed in all caps. I wrote a screenplay once, and you need caps all over the place. When I'm coding, I write some macro names in all-caps.

    No, the caps lock shouldn't be removed or replaced. It's handy to have a key that allows you to toggle lower to upper caps so you don't have to hold shift.

    Pointless Ask Slashdot question!
    • Agreed. If you're going to get rid of a key, maybe scroll lock would be a better one. I don't think I've ever actually seen anyone use it for anything besides playing with the pretty lights.

      Now, I'm not saying that it's NEVER used by ANYONE, because I'm sure someone will reply and tell me that it does some obscure function in some obscure program.

      While you're at it, get rid of SysRq.
      • by EvanED (569694) <evaned@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Saturday June 05, 2004 @08:15PM (#9347668)
        "Now, I'm not saying that it's NEVER used by ANYONE, because I'm sure someone will reply and tell me that it does some obscure function in some obscure program."

        Only if you consider *nix an obscure program. Scroll lock in those (at least those that I've tried it in, which means a couple different flavors of Linux and FreeBSD) stops the screen from scrolling so you can read it. FreeBSD will even let you scroll up with the arrow keys so you can see text that has scrolled off the screen. It's actually quite useful. (For instance, you're maknig something with dependencies and a message comes up that you should actually read but it starts to compile the next thing, you can still read it. Also removes a lot of the benefit of piping stuff to more or less.) I would imagine there's a way to set this up under Linux too, but I haven't yet seen a distribution that has it working out of the box and I don't know how to configure it.
      • by Soul-Burn666 (574119) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @08:24PM (#9347726) Journal
        Microsoft excel. With no scroll lock, it moves the current selection cursor. With scroll lock, it moves the whole sheet (as if u used the scrollbar) and doesn't move the selection.
      • by tlianza (454820) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @08:55PM (#9347894) Homepage
        If you're going to get rid of a key, maybe scroll lock would be a better one. I don't think I've ever actually seen anyone use it for anything besides playing with the pretty lights.

        I use it every day - it's a common shortcut key for KVM switches (Belkin, at least). Scroll Lock - Scroll Lock - Machine #.

        That's still somewhat a testament to it's uselessness though. I'm fairly sure the KVM makers thought to themselves "we need a shortcut key on the keyboard... one that is almost never used for anything else..."

  • by kunudo (773239) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:30PM (#9346893)
    Keep it as a tribute to the coders of old. It's like having a museum in your keyboard. You can even play with the exibit.
  • Yes, it is (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ice_Balrog (612682) <ice_balrog@@@netzero...net> on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:31PM (#9346907)
    Yes, Caps Lock is useless and annoying. Infact, I find it so annoying when I accidentally hit my Caps Lock that I added this to my xorg.conf (XF86Config for those still using XFree86):
    Option "XkbOptions" "ctrl:nocaps"
    There are quite a few other things you can do with your Caps Lock key in Xorg/XF86, just Google for them.
  • by sycomonkey (666153) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:31PM (#9346909) Homepage
    They still haven't even bothered to get rid of the Scroll Lock button yet... What makes you think Caps Lock is going away any time soon?
  • by mikael (484) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:34PM (#9346941)
    I am still amazed that after 20 years of the desktop PC, we still have to press the key labelled [F1] to get any type of GUI help, rather than having a key labelled [HELP], although Microsoft did find a way of squeezing in a key with the Windows logo.
    • by moosesocks (264553) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:56PM (#9347177) Homepage
      Apple has done this already.

      It's right above the delete key in place of the infrequently used insert key.

      Unlike the PC makers' latest trend of adding a bajillion buttons to the keyboards that will never be used, apple added four buttons above the numlock pad in place of the "lock" lights (which in place are located directly on their respective keys). The four (incredibly useful!) buttons are:
      Volume Down
      Volume Up
      Mute
      Eject Disc (less useful than other 3, especially if you have more than one optical drive. Still, since Mac OS requires a software dismount, it's necessary.

      Oh yeah... did I mention that it has a USB hub in it? Why the hell are we still shipping PCs with 12-year-old PS/2 technology?

      I just miss the power button. Even so, apple's relocated it to the monitor (another thing PC makers should have done years ago), which in my mind is the 'proper' place for the system's power button.
      • by Gary Destruction (683101) * on Saturday June 05, 2004 @08:11PM (#9347643) Journal
        Mice and keyboards are simple devices that would have nothing to gain by going to USB. The only possible advantage would on systems without IOAPIC's. You would gain extra IRQ's by using USB mice and keyboards.
      • by runderwo (609077) <`gro.niw.liam' `ta' `owrednur'> on Saturday June 05, 2004 @09:47PM (#9348090)
        Oh yeah... did I mention that it has a USB hub in it? Why the hell are we still shipping PCs with 12-year-old PS/2 technology?
        Easy. Because USB is not a perfect replacement for PS/2 input devices.
        • There is a large amount of latency on the USB bus as well as software latency incurred due to processing the USB packets. There is practically no wire latency with PS/2 and the protocol is dead simple to parse. You can create a little microcontroller project to interface almost any simple device to a PS/2 port. With USB, you need a separate ASIC to even begin to get anything done.
        • USB controllers typically share interrupt levels with other PCI devices. On systems without an IO-APIC, this translates into increased software overhead on every interrupt, because the interrupt handler for every device sitting on that interrupt is invoked. Whereas with PS/2 devices, you have an IRQ reserved for the keyboard and an IRQ reserved for the mouse. Since they are edge triggered ISA interrupt lines, there is no possible way for them to be shared even if you wanted to. Therefore the correct interrupt handler (and ONLY the correct one) is invoked in response to a PS/2 event.

        In short, there is no possible way on any but the fastest of current machines for a USB mouse to approximate the responsivity of a PS/2 port mouse being sampled at 200Hz (the maximum rate the port will tolerate).

  • USN (Score:5, Informative)

    by mysterious_mark (577643) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:35PM (#9346962)
    Actually, in the US Navy and other branches of the service radio messages all always in all caps. These were a pretty routine part of life on ship (for Officers / admin personnel etc) We would compose the messages on a PC w/ word processor, print hard copy, then have approved by CoC. Radio men would send them out encrpyed, hard copies were always kept for paper trail. A ship my send dozens or even hundreds of these a week, so the're quite common. There are a few who may need cap locks who aren't programmers. M
    • Character Codes (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Detritus (11846)
      Many of the old character codes, such as Baudot (5-bit) and the various 6-bit character codes, were upper-case only. The military used Baudot for many decades. Do they still use it for RTTY links?
  • Still Useful (Score:3, Informative)

    by Detritus (11846) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:36PM (#9346974) Homepage
    It's still useful for situations when you need to type something in all-caps with one hand. Take your mind out of the gutter.

    I'm not a touch typist, and I often just use my right hand to type, leaving the other hand free for holding books, documentation, operating equipment, etc. Caps lock is useful when I have to type in hexadecimal constants, or source code that is all in upper-case (FORTRAN, Assembler).

  • no, no!! (Score:3, Informative)

    by big tex (15917) <torsionality@gmai l . com> on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:38PM (#9346992)
    I use caps lock all the time at work.

    I make lots of calculation sheets in excel - text in caps is consistent, easy to read at small print when you shrink big sheets down to size.

    Also, in CAD caps is used pretty much exclusively. Once again, consistently and readability at small sizes.

  • by Limited Vision (234684) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:38PM (#9346993)
    uControl [gnufoo.org] is a nice little Mac OS X hack that disables/remaps Caps Lock and other modifier keys on PowerBooks.

    I also used it to remap the "Enter" key to the right of the spacebar on my 15" TiBook to "Command" -- I have no clue why Apple thought that was a good idea, but uControl saved the day.

    It's very well designed -- if it thinks there's going to be a conflict when booting into an upgraded OS it will disable itself (vs. barfing and causing a system panic...)
  • Happy Hacking (Score:5, Informative)

    by yet another coward (510) <yacoward@@@yahoo...com> on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:39PM (#9347006)
    Use the Happy Hacking [yahoo.com] keyboard. It has no Caps Lock. Its Control key is in the right place.
  • by rusty0101 (565565) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:41PM (#9347022) Homepage Journal
    Having a predelection towards holding onto and repairing old hardware, I have a couple of old typewriters. (Including ones where to type the number 1, you use the lowercase L key, because there is no '1' key.)

    In most cases the 'Caps Lock' key takes two fingers to engage, and one to disengage. Mostly the two fingers are required because the mechinism is so disused that the key doesn't want to respond, but in any case it is a heavy key to use. To disengage the Caps Lock feature you hit the Shift key.

    I would suggest that the Caps Lock key on it's own be treated as a Meta key, or Escape key, however if you do a 'Shift'-'Caps Lock' combination it engages the caps-lock, and if you hit and release 'Shift' again without another key (or perhaps with only a letter key) it drops the Caps Lock status.

    Granted I suspect that most typists who learned on mechanical and early electric typewriters have adjusted to the computer keyboard, so you probably are not going to 'impress' anyone with the feature, but it would make sense as a result.

    Just a thought....

    -Rusty
  • by bratgrrl (197603) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:42PM (#9347033)
    This is one sad excuse of a story. Aren't there any leftover SCO blurbs to fill in?
  • Engineering Drawings (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pipingguy (566974) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:54PM (#9347152) Homepage

    95.84% of all engineering drawings (for bridges, airplanes, refineries, etc.) use all caps. Even though we textually shout at the fabricators/contruction guys, every now and then someone installs a checkvalve backwards or forgets to grout some 10,000# machinery.

    I figure the original forced use of caps on these drawings is (was) to force the draftsmen to raise the writing instrument for each letter, so as to avoid the sloppy penmanship that usually accompanies cursive.
  • COBOL isnt dead (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tr0mBoNe- (708581) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:56PM (#9347170) Homepage Journal
    Someone said that COBOL was the only real language to use the lock, and that's almost true. But hey we can all forget FORTRAN, ADA, and even ASM or asembler was first written all in caps.

    My univeristy still teaches a course in COBOL, its the first data processing course and it really was useful. Mainly because most major corperations that have mainframes still use COBOL for their data warehouses.

    COBOL ain't dead... well... it may be. but it's still warm.

    and where would we be without the all caps flame wars of the fark forums and irc??

  • I use it. (Score:5, Funny)

    by mooredav (101800) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:56PM (#9347175)

    In fact, I'm developing an application right now that requires Caps Lock.

    Press CAPS LOCK to proceed.

    Press SCROLL LOCK to cancel.

    Please don't take my CAPS away from me!

  • I definitely use it. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Icephreak1 (267199) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @06:57PM (#9347190) Journal
    I actually include the capslock key in my touch typing. It's kinda hard juggling left and right shift when typing strings of capital letters.

    - IP
  • by Akardam (186995) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @07:00PM (#9347208)
    I'm a navy reservist, and although the Navy and the other branches of the armed forces are moving towards computerization of almost every aspect of information management, oft times you'll find that because of some arcane requirement for filling out a form or other type of data entry, you're required to use all caps. However, in many cases, the program that was written to replace forms with this requirement won't enforce the capitalization, much less actually automatically capitalize everything. You say it's dumb, I say it's dumb, and all the staff we have say it's dumb. But, in the mean time, they have to live with it, and having the caps lock key makes it all the more bearable.
  • by Viewsonic (584922) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @07:35PM (#9347429)
    Especially in financial businesses (Banks etc) .. Printing out checks and certain forms will always be done in CAPS so as to not confuse the other parties. I find it a bit silly because one person hasn't used it, it must mean that no one else does. Sure, home users might not find much use out of it, but in the business world it is used everyday. And the business world makes up the majority of PC sales in the world.
  • by Pan T. Hose (707794) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @07:58PM (#9347577) Homepage Journal

    Dear Slashdot,

    Very recently, to my unimaginable surprise, I have noticed that I haven't used the tilde key for any purpose other than hitting it by accident. I know that once upon a time people were using the tilde key. They were using it like there was no tomorrow. I don't use it now, though, which makes me very sad. Does the tilde key serve any purpose any more? Does it still serve any purpose whatsoever? If not, will it ever serve a purpose? Will it ever make any sense? If not, should it be removed, moved, or replaced? If so, will we be able to see it in museum? What if later I find some use for this key, but it will have been gone long ago? What then? What will be the future of this little key? What, I ask?

    Thank you very much, Slashdot, for your answer!

    Sincerely,
    Concerned reader.

    P.S. I love reading Slashdot and especially the Ask Slashdot section, when people always ask so interesting questions! THANK YOU VERY MUCH! (Oh, God damn it! I used caps lock!)

  • by Schattenfreude (761743) <.enjolraic. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday June 05, 2004 @09:00PM (#9347920)
    My little brother used to sneak on my computer all the time before he got a decent laptop, and I'd always be annoyed to find the caps lock key on from whatever flaming/shouting/n00bing he was doing there. So one day I remapped caps lock to switch to a Cyrillic keyboard--it helps a lot with my Russian homework, and I never did find it enabled again after my brother had been using my computer.
  • No, but Reagan is. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sean Clifford (322444) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @09:07PM (#9347964) Journal
    No, but Reagan is.

    I use the hell out of caps lock; it's my "prone" key in FPS shooters. Others use it for radio, etc. Aside from games though, I don't use it overmuch.

  • by Rui del-Negro (531098) on Saturday June 05, 2004 @11:25PM (#9348416) Homepage
    I think keyboards definitely need an update. More important than removing keys, though, is adding keys for some common tasks.

    There are several keys that I think should be standard on all keyboards, not just to avoid having to use combinations, but mainly to avoid having a different combination in each program (ex., some programs use Ctrl+Z for undo, others use Alt+Backspace, etc.). Here's my list:
    • Select - Hold down this key to select items or text. Shift+Select selects from the last selected element to the current one, Control+Select adds the current element to the selection. Alt+Select would invert the selection. It would be placed where Caps Lock currently is. Caps Lock would be moved to the space above the numeric pad, where the Caps Lock LED usually is (make the LED part of the key). The other two "lock" keys would also be moved here.

    • Cut, Copy and Paste - Self-explanatory. Above Insert / Home / End.

    • Undo and Redo - Also self-explanatory.. Above Cut, Copy and Paste

    • Back and Forward - Above the left and right arrow keys. Useful for browsers, media players and wizards, can also work as "turn" keys for games, leaving the side arrows for strafe.

    • Help - Where F1 currently is. All function keys would move right by 2 keys, leaving Help between Esc and F1, with a space on each side. Alternatively, put it next to Undo.

    • Sleep - In the "System" section, near an edge of the keyboard (ex., top right), along with Print Screen and Pause / Break. Combined with Shift, Control and Alternate, this key could also be used for Standby / Hibernate / Shutdown.

    Most of these keys could simply emulate the most common shotcuts (ex., Help = F1, Cut = Ctrl+X, etc.), so they would automatically be compatible with most existing programs.

    I doubt this will happen anytime soon, though, since Microsoft is pretty much the only company with the power to dictate a "standard", and the fact that the only new keys to appear in several years are the "winkeys" shows that their idea of a "useful" key is one that has their logo on it, even if it's only used about once a month (or, in my case, not even that).

    Also, one thing I'd like to see is a mouse where, instead of a scroll wheel (or two wheels), there was a mini-trackball, that could be used to scroll both vertically and horizontally. I'm surprised no-one has come up with this yet (at least I've never seen one).

    RMN
    ~~~
  • by Danny Rathjens (8471) <slashdot2.rathjens@org> on Saturday June 05, 2004 @11:46PM (#9348515)
    For poor typists like myself, an extra backspace is always useful:

    dkr@ur:~% cat .Xmodmap
    remove Lock = Caps_Lock
    keycode 66 = BackSpace

    dkr@ur:~% grep modm .xinitrc
    xmodmap $HOME/.Xmodmap

    dkr@ur:~% cat .consolekeys
    keycode 58 = Delete

    dkr@ur:~% grep -C1 consol .tcshrc
    if ( $TERM == "linux" ) then
    loadkeys ~/.consolekeys
    endif
    Note that the keycode for the caps lock key is different in X than console.
  • Anyone remember (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Julian Morrison (5575) on Sunday June 06, 2004 @09:54AM (#9350346)
    ...the latching shift-lock that some early-80s home computers had? If you pressed it, it literally latched down until you pressed it again, and it behaved exactly like a held shift key. Now that would be infinitely more useful, both for the ability to physically feel it latch down (and thus avoid accidental pressing) and for the fact it affects more than just cap letters, it affects anything shifted.
  • I have a cousin who comes over to my house for holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc...), and he used to run a web page. I was showing him some stuff, and he went to go update the page. I noticed he was typing pretty slowly, especially around capitals, and then I looked down at the keyboard...

    He was using Caps Lock twice for each capital letter!

    Like instead of [SHIFT]H[/SHIFT]ello, world! he would do [CAPS LOCK/]H[CAPS LOCK/]ello, world!...

    It was truly painful to watch. So, I told him, you shouldn't use the Caps Lock key like that, because that's what Shift is for! At the time, he got annoyed at me and said something like, I've already learned it this way, it's quicker for me...

    Lo and behold, the next time he runs into me, he says thanks, I can type much faster now... it's now become a sort of joke between the two of us...

    I can't figure out where he would learn that from, though... any ideas?

  • by jeff_brh (161527) on Sunday June 06, 2004 @11:48AM (#9351074) Homepage
    Um, what's a capslock? [memowe.de]

Algol-60 surely must be regarded as the most important programming language yet developed. -- T. Cheatham

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