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Input Devices GUI Hardware

One Week: No Mouse, Just Keyboard 364

Posted by timothy
from the trackball-also-off-the-table dept.
jfruhlinger writes "Anyone in tech has heard from grousing old-timers who believe the GUI was the beginning of the end of civilization and that EMacs keyboard shortcuts are all the interface anyone should need. But can someone use a modern consumer OS without laying hands on a mouse? Kevin Purdy gave it a week-long try."
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One Week: No Mouse, Just Keyboard

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  • by Killer Orca (1373645) on Monday June 27, 2011 @07:08PM (#36590710)
    I had an adviser who was blind, the only was he could access his computer was a combination screen reader + keyboard. I cannot imagine the number of things he is cut-off from due to a lack of support for keyboards.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday June 27, 2011 @07:09PM (#36590728)

    One of our students is blind and he doesn't use a mouse on his computer as it really wouldn't be so useful. He's got a keyboard, a braille output device, and screen reading software. He moves about the system (Windows XP) using only the keyboard. It works, it is just slower than using a mouse.

    I've operated Windows systems without mice occasionally because there was some problem, and again, works just fine. Even though I do it rarely, I can still do it just fine.

    • Its one of the few areas I found WinXP more usable than Linux -- I can operate a WinXP box from startup to shutdown without a mouse, where I find Gnome's UI requires a mouse to navigate some options.

      • by chammy (1096007)
        Really? I can't think of any operation you can't do with just a keyboard in Linux, regardless of WM.

        It's likely you just weren't aware of a shortcut/command to do what you wanted.
  • by tamyrlin (51) on Monday June 27, 2011 @07:11PM (#36590740) Homepage

    If you aren't on friendly terms with your mouse I would recommend the conkeror web browser. This has saved me quite some hazzle in situations where I either don't have a mouse (my TV computer) or when the mouse is awkward to use (my laptop with a substandard trackpad).

    For those who don't know, conkeror is a web browser based on xulrunner which is designed to be used in an effective manner without a mouse. If you happen to like emacs, you'll probably feel right at home since the keybindings (by default) are inspired by emacs. If you are not familiar with emacs you will probably need some more time to get used to conkeror. However, since conkeror allows you to use a mouse as well if you want to you can adapt to the browser without feeling too handicapped.

    If this seems interesting you can find more information about conkeror at [].

  • by sconeu (64226) on Monday June 27, 2011 @07:11PM (#36590754) Homepage Journal

    On Win7, how the F*** do you log off, shutdown, or restart without a mouse?

    On XP, it was {CTRL+ESC|WinKey}, U, {L|R|S}

    • by bhcompy (1877290)
      Ctrl-esc, right arrow, enter
    • by cpicon92 (1157705)

      There are several ways. The easiest would be command+D to get to the desktop, and then alt+f4.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Winkey-R, logoff
      Winkey-R, shutdown /s /t 0
      Winkey-R, shutdown /r /t 0

    • by Ascylon (1849890)
      win+r (run prompt), shutdown /s /f /t 1 or shutdown /r /f /t 1 or logoff (shutdown/restart/logoff). Incidentally, the same works for WinXP (instead of slashes use hyphens, -s instead of /s etc).
    • why the hell did they change it? Here you have keyboard commands that millions of people have memorized, and they throw them out just for the hell of it. It's almost as if Microsoft doesn't give a damn about their customers. Crazy, I know.
      • by vux984 (928602) on Monday June 27, 2011 @07:27PM (#36590938)

        Here you have keyboard commands that millions of people have memorized

        certainly not millions.
        thousands for sure.
        maybe 10s of thousands.

        why the hell did they change it?

        Because opening the start menu puts you in the search bar. Pressing "U" in the search bar puts a U in the search bar. It can't really be used for a hotkey unless nobody is allowed to search for things that start with 'u'.

        And for what its worth, putting search in the start bar was a GOOD thing. I rarely ever have to go digging through the start menu hierarchy any more.

        Search is better than the run dialog as well because it works for documents, as well.

        So why they hell did they change it? Because they made it better, and millions of users (this time actual millions) benefitted.

        It's almost as if Microsoft doesn't give a damn about their customers

        Or maybe its you that doesn't? Because having everyone else have to push an extra key to get the search box just so people like you could still press U instead of right-arrow would be asinine.

        • by pz (113803)

          And for what its worth, putting search in the start bar was a GOOD thing. I rarely ever have to go digging through the start menu hierarchy any more.

          Disclaimer: I have not used Win 7. All of my Windows boxes run XP (or, in some cases, 98 ... no need to update a working data-collection setup).

          That sure sounds more and more like a command line. At the Unix prompt we (all should) know and love, you type the first few characters, hit TAB, and boom! you get a list of options that the system knows about as exe

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          What's this search on start bar? You mean I don't have to use the "Run" menu in order to type "calc" anymore? Is it like the spotlike thingy on Mac?

        • by steelfood (895457)

          Because opening the start menu puts you in the search bar.

          This is where they went wrong.

          Opening the start menu should put you into the start menu, not some component thereof whereby you then can't get out of.

      • by Thing 1 (178996)

        why the hell did they change it? Here you have keyboard commands that millions of people have memorized, and they throw them out just for the hell of it. It's almost as if Microsoft doesn't give a damn about their customers. Crazy, I know.

        "Training revenue." That, and the ability to sell "new shiny!"

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      [winkey] [right arrow] selects the shutdown button

    • This has annoyed me to no end as well. Most importantly, force the machine to shut down and not hibernate, etc. without a mouse.

      I used the Win, U, U combo very often.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Yea, this can be a problem. I've had mice go out and then end up confused on how to do some basic things. Shutting down is easy, but if you want to gracefully shut down an application first, or send an email to friends saying why you're going to be late, it's a bit cumbersome. I don't need the mouse when developing code since the tools I use are keyboard friendly (shell terminal and emacs and gcc and gdb) but you need the mouse a lot of dumb applications that don't have convenient keyboard controls (mail

    • by hitmark (640295)

      Dunno about log off and reboot, but shutdown can be done by simply hitting the power button on most computers these days.

  • by KiloByte (825081) on Monday June 27, 2011 @07:14PM (#36590798)

    A worse case: on n900, a device with a keyboard, Nokia in their infinite wisdom decided that to set an alarm you need to swipe a number of times to scroll to the hour and minute you want.

    • iOS has really excellent support for the disabled, built in screen reading and everything. You might think the blind could not use a touchscreen well but the devices are small enough it's easy to get position right.

  • I would have loved to click the link in the article, but I couldn't as I too have given up my mouse...

  • by synthesizerpatel (1210598) on Monday June 27, 2011 @07:22PM (#36590876)

    For many folks it's a more than an entertaining jaunt into the wild west of accessibility, it's a way of life.

  • by dthirteen (307585) on Monday June 27, 2011 @07:22PM (#36590878) Homepage

    In soviet linux the keyboard is the mouse: []

  • by drolli (522659) on Monday June 27, 2011 @07:35PM (#36591008) Journal

    I did this from time to time (lets just say in the lab i find it enough if every oscilloscope or auxiliary control computer has a keyboard flying around without a mandatory mouse.

    The gnome desktop was hard to navigate, Windows for sure possible and more consistent across applications.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LoudMusic (199347)

      Even though Mac OS and OS X both have extensive keyboard controls, neither is possible to use exclusively with a keyboard. I've found Windows to be the most keyboard friendly GUI OS. Which I think is kind of odd ...

      • by drolli (522659)

        No its not odd. A lot of lawyers would wait to kick the shit out of MS or its customers for being non-accessible and sue for an insane amount of money. For MS producing an OS which is non-accessible would put them of the buying list of large customers.

        Actually i believe one reason why Apple is targeting consumers is because labor laws can be more harsh when it comes to euqal chances than consumer laws.

      • by gkearney (162433)
        MacOS X has a full scale screen reader for the blind. Not only can you run the OS without a mouse you can run it without a screen if you need to. Using a bluetooth keyboard and headset I have even run a Mac that was indoors from my patio.
      • I've found Windows to be the most keyboard friendly GUI OS. Which I think is kind of odd ...

        I have heard it said that at some point the military would not buy software that required a mouse, so MS made an OS that didn't require one. I don't know how true this is, but MS has obviously put an enormous amount of effort into allowing their GUI to be run without a mouse. There are probably dozens of people who work on this aspect of Windows/Explorer exclusively.

  • by gweihir (88907) on Monday June 27, 2011 @07:39PM (#36591034)

    The mouse is useful to select windows, do edge-scroll between virtual desktops and select text regions. (fvwm2, obviously)

    Other than that, I use it for gaming and that is it.

  • by GarrettK18 (1200827) on Monday June 27, 2011 @07:54PM (#36591200) Homepage
    Yes, it is completely possible to do so. There are even built-in shortcuts to do just about everything (desktop, start menu, application navigation mechanisms, ETC)... and that's not even getting into all the stuff a screen reader gives you, like the ability to inspect the screen with a "flat review cursor." Then there are all sorts of fun things like "spell word", ETC.

    It's also possible to use a computer soully with a refreshable braille display device, though it gets aggrivating, and there's no way in hell I'd do it for a week.

    On the Linux side of things, the accessibility is far worse than in Windows, but Gnome provides a lot of the same types of keyboard navigation mechanisms as Windows (Orca [] doesn't work on KDE, sadly).

    • by Thing 1 (178996)
      Hi, I have to ask, was "soully" spelled by you or the computer? The spelling I expected was "solely". (Apologies if you interpret this negatively, I'm merely curious, and am halfway to your condition.) I would also ask if that refreshable braille display device was like the one shown in "Covert Affairs" (Auggie the character is blind; played by the actor Christopher Gorham, who was Jake 2.0)? I say "would" because you've likely never seen the show... But perhaps others reading this have?
      • Never bug the blind about spelling, unless you want to burn in hell. If it sounds the same when spoken by their TTS engine, chances are they wont do letter by letter navigation over at to get it exactly right. Just read it phonetically and move on.

  • ... fail.

    Supposedly, the operating system that "we" made was supposed to have full keyboard support, so we won't have to leave our beloved home row [], right?

    Wrong. I had a mouse go bad one time, and found out just how wrong.

    For starters, just to log off or turn the computer off, you have to click a button in the top panel (in Ubuntu/Gnome), but, although there's a shortcut for the top menu (Alt+F1), you can't get to the panel buttons from there.

    Plenty of other annoyances as well, including being not able (or

    • by nzac (1822298)

      Set-up a short cut to open a terminal emulator of your choice and you have more than you need. Alt-F2 also works.

      Linux destops are designed so you can use your mouse. Window managers are for keyboard.

      There might be a user executable shut down command but i have yet to find it, chmod does work though.

      • by chammy (1096007)
        alt-f2 > gksu halt

        Is probably easier
        • by nzac (1822298)

          You need to have that installed but yes it would be. Its not even in my default repos.

          found a script that works without root.
          Says is calls what gnome does to shut-down without privateers.

      • by dissy (172727)

        You should check out the rat poison [] window manager.

        If you've ever used screen in a console, you'll be right at home. Where screen uses control-a, ratpoison uses control-t.

        Keyboard commands for everything, and no mouse support!

        As for the shutdown command, the proper way is shutdown -h now
        (-h to halt, -r to reboot)
        Of course you can also just run 'halt' to shut down with less typing.

        • by nzac (1822298)

          Dont know how universal it is but this line works on my desktop without privileges
          dbus-send --system --print-reply --dest=org.freedesktop.ConsoleKit /org/freedesktop/ConsoleKit/Manager org.freedesktop.ConsoleKit.Manager.Stop
          bung it inside a shell script and you don’t need root. Replace stop with restart to restart.

          Though when I think about the best short-cut is the power button outside or inside of X it will at least open the shut-down dialogue.

          P.S. No real interest in loosing my mouse.

        • by isorox (205688)

          You should check out the rat poison [] window manager.

          If you've ever used screen in a console, you'll be right at home. Where screen uses control-a

          And it's really annoying. Outside of screen, ctrl-a (by default) jumps to the front of the line (I love vim, but can't get my head arround set -o vi).

          In screen, ctrl-a enters command mode, I'm often halfway through editing the line before I realise what's happened. Sure I could remap, on hundereds of servers, but then it becomes non-standard and is more likely to catch me out when I get to a server that doesn't have the remapping.

  • F5 will refreshes everything.... except Notes. F9? WTF? It's the keyboarding equivalent of being the only airplane where yanking back on the yoke makes a nose dive.
  • The most annoying thing to me are web forms or applications with bizarre tab orders. (Even the "helpful" ones that move your focus after you fill the field are annoying since you might type your area code, hit tab for the next field, but end up at the field for last 4 digits.)

    I won't even delve into the horror that is non-standard gui/keyboard implementations in flash interfaces.
  • No keyboard, just mouse.
    • by Animats (122034)

      No keyboard, just mouse.

      The original Macintosh could be usefully run that way.

      • by pz (113803)

        Except when it came to entering text. Yes, it's possible. No, I would never, ever want to enter anything other than a few words in that manner. Certainly nothing like a 10,000 word paper, which can easily be done without touching a mouse, ever, at least on my computers.

  • Kevin is a wimp. Next week I go 1 week with just a keyboard and mouse. No monitor or computer.

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.