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War Declared on Caps Lock Key 1230

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the makes-perfect-sense-to-me dept.
pieterh writes "I've launched a campaign to rid the world of the caps lock key. Sure, there are more serious problems to solve but please, think of the children! How am I going to explain to my kids why some of the most valuable keyboard real estate is squatted by a large, useless key that above all you must not press! Our campaign mission is simple: to send a message to the computer industry to force it (by any means necessary) to retire the CAPS key. It's going to be a hard, long, and possibly very embarassing war on uppercase, but some things just need to be done. "
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War Declared on Caps Lock Key

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  • Data entry issues (Score:5, Informative)

    by sirstar (789206) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:15AM (#15918355)
    What about the Data entry people that have to type things in all caps? Holding down the shift button to type in a whole line will be more of a pain then someone learning how to turn their caps lock off.....
  • Useful for Vi users (Score:5, Informative)

    by suso (153703) * on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:16AM (#15918379) Homepage Journal
    Put this in your .Xmodmap

    remove Lock = Caps_Lock
    keycode 66 = Escape

    I find that the Capslock key makes a nice Escape key so I don't have to reach up high for it.
  • by mschaef (31494) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:18AM (#15918409) Homepage
    On Windows, Caps Lock and Control can be swepped. A similar technique can be used to make caps lock a redundant control key:

    http://www.manicai.net/comp/swap-caps-ctrl.html [manicai.net]

    There are also ways to do this on Unix, but I don't remember what they are.
  • by Valdrax (32670) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:19AM (#15918417)
    So, what use is this CAPS key?

    I actually use CAPS LOCK regularly when writing macros in C. It's much easier on the finger to not have to chord full words with the shift key pressed. Try it sometime. Once you get in the habit of using it on long stretches of capitalized letters (like CAPS LOCK), you'll never go back.

    My biggest gripe is that I have to press shift to use the underscore key.
  • by jjeffries (17675) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:20AM (#15918435)
    The old-timers in the crowd probably already know about this one:

    Replacing CapsLock with Left-Control on X
    Create the file ~/.Xmodmap with these contents:

                remove mod4 = Meta_L
                remove mod1 = Alt_L
                remove lock = Caps_Lock
                keysym Meta_L = Alt_L
                keysym Alt_L = Meta_L
                add mod4 = Meta_L
                add mod1 = Alt_L
                add control = Caps_Lock

    If you are running something like XFree86, add

                xmodmap ~/.Xmodmap

    to your ~/.xinitrc file or ~/.xsession file. If neither of those exist, you can always do it from the command line.

    text stolen from http://bmrc.berkeley.edu/people/chaffee/swapx.html [berkeley.edu]
  • by rockytriton (896444) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:25AM (#15918494)
    Some of us still use programming languages that require us to use all caps, it would be a pain to hold down the shift key constantly.
  • by technos (73414) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:35AM (#15918597) Homepage Journal
    It's for consistancy. Say you're entering a string into billing.

    You could get

    'Cisco model X12R1234-J router with cabling.'
    'CISCO MODEL X12R1234-J ROUTER WITH CABLING'
    'cisco model X12R1234-J router with cabling'
    'Cisco Model X12R1234-J Router With Cabling.'

    or any variation therof. Mixed capitilizations and (and inconsistant punctuation) make you look like an idiot, and training people to not look like idiots is harder than it sounds.

  • by AmishMoshr (774633) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:46AM (#15918691)
    It's also useful for switching keyboard layouts - though to be honest I use the "weenie method" and set all of this up using the available Gnome tools. It is nice to have at least a subset of extended characters just an extra keystroke away.
  • CapsUnlock (Score:5, Informative)

    by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2NO@SPAMgdargaud.net> on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:47AM (#15918695) Homepage
    Download and install CapsUnlock [brainsystems.com]. Problem solved. And you can still use it if you really want.
  • by Durandal64 (658649) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:49AM (#15918714)
    Seriously, down with the backslash. It started out nobly enough as an escape character for Unix operating systems, but the poor little guy has been beaten and abused by clueless Windows users. How many times have we all seen fliers on a school bulletin board with URLs that looked like http:\\www.site.com\bla.html? How many times have we heard narrators on radio and TV commercials spell out a URL like "www.site.com backslash bla dot html"? How many times have we all told our relatives "Okay go to this link, 'www.site.com slash bla dot html'" only to spend five minutes figuring out that they think slashes are backslashes, causing them to type in a syntactically incorrect URL?

    Our poor friend the backslash has been warped into a disgusting visage of its former self. It's begging to be taken off end users' keyboards. It can't take being typed into browser address fields anymore. It wants us to take it out back and, with a lone tear, put it down for good. And I think we all know the source of our friend's misery: Windows.
  • I need my CAPSLOCK (Score:2, Informative)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdotNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:49AM (#15918715) Homepage Journal
    I use CAPSLOCK everyday at work, where nearly all of my AutoCAD text input has to be in capital letters. I don't want to have to press the shift key down everytime I type. Seriously, don't people have better things to do with their energy?

    Jaysyn
  • by CritterNYC (190163) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:03AM (#15918834) Homepage
    I have some simple registry files up that allow you to easily disable caps lock, turn it into a control key or swap it with the left control key (for some old school keyboarding goodness). Just head to Disable Caps Lock [johnhaller.com].
  • by pilkul (667659) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:05AM (#15918857)
    Copy the following into a .reg file (not including the --- lines) and run it to replace Caps Lock with Left-Ctrl:

    ------------

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\K eyboard Layout]
    "Scancode Map"=hex:00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,02,00,00,00,1d,00 ,3a,00,00,00,00,00

    ------------

    If you want to replace it with Escape instead, use this:

    ------------

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\K eyboard Layout]
    "Scancode Map"=hex:00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,02,00,00,00,01,00 ,3a,00,00,00,00,00

    ------------

    You'll need to remove some spurious spaces added by Slashcode (in "Keyboard" and before "3a"). Note that this works on the scancode level and will affect all users and applications, including DirectX ones. It's as close as you can get to physically rewiring the key. You need to reboot for it to take effect. (Stolen from here [vim.org] and here [manicai.net].)
  • cat ~/.xmodmap (Score:3, Informative)

    by Laxitive (10360) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:06AM (#15918877) Journal
    remove Lock = Caps_Lock
    keysym Caps_Lock = Escape

    Happy vimming :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:07AM (#15918887)
    Speaking of not looking like an idiot, you do realize that you misspelled "inconsistent" and "consistency"? Consider this me training you.
  • by JesusQuintana (732069) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:12AM (#15918932)
    I use it on business systems that only accept capital letters. It will not convert lower case to capital and if you type in lowercase letters into the system, you get nothing but errors. I would have to tape down my Shift key or suffer a stiff pinky finger. In some applications it has unique properties. For example, in After Effects, it toggles between preview on or off. I use it when I am entering serial numbers that contain numbers and letters. I tap it a couple of times when a system is unresponsive to see if it is still alive. Sometimes I pound on it when I am frustrated. Why? Because it is there and it won't hurt anything.

    It is shortsighted to declare a key useless. And arrogant. My suggestion for people who want to eliminate the key:

    LEARN TO TYPE.

    Then you won't go around accidentally hitting keys whose value you are too ignorant to appreciate.
  • Re:First post? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Spliffster (755587) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:14AM (#15918960) Homepage Journal
    you really need to have a look at a swiss german (sg-latin1) keyboard which has both; german umlauts and french accents on it. as long as you want to use the uppercase accents or umlauts you can access them only with caps-lock enabled (and in some casese caps-lock + shift + key).

    so long ...
  • Re:gOOD lUCK (Score:3, Informative)

    by 1u3hr (530656) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:23AM (#15919064)
    I don't mind it existing, it just pisses me off where it actually is.

    There is any number of utilities to remap it [google.com]. I swap its function with the left control key, so I can still use ALL CAPS if I actually need to.

  • by ALecs (118703) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:24AM (#15919081) Homepage
    No! Don't get rid of that key. It's a nice, large, pinky-accessible key that should be used....for CONTROL! Bring back control to its rightful place on the keyboard. Don't get rid of the key just make it do something more useful. .Xmodmaprc:

    remove Lock = Caps_Lock
    keysym Caps_Lock = Control_L
    add Control = Control_L

    Or, /etc/X11/xorg.conf:

    Section "InputDevice"
               
                Option "XkbOptions" "ctrl:nocaps"
    EndSection

    -Josh
  • by CHK6 (583097) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:37AM (#15919241)
    I've run into this problem as a developer before. This doesn't break down to just lazy programing. Other issues arise that can attribute the need for all capital letters. Prior to the days of GUIs and fonts, sometimes it was easier to read all capitial letters on monitors as the letters were spaced easier to read against the green illumenesant letters and black background. Also this provided the largest letter to see. Monitors also were not as crisp as the ones today. Also we found out that the eye is trained faster on capital letters. So the cumbersome ASCII interface would be in lower letters and customer input in capital letters. This allowed faster input believe it or not. Also we had issues with making super tight code. To only deal with one set of letters made for tighter code. Also printers handled upper case better, if not only all capital letters.

    Then the issue of mixing letters and numbers has also been a argument against upper and lower case back in the day. The difference between a zero and the letter O was a hot debate. As was eight and the letter B. But as technology marches on the old guard of code was never updated. The cost of new development or integration is to high of a risk especially when you know what already works is doing the job. So let's not blame developers on this. Because back when all caps was needed most developers knew about upper and lower case. It wasn't a trival over sight on laziness.
  • by Comboman (895500) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:37AM (#15919244)
    That's certainly a better option than getting rid of it altogether. The reason for the current location of the caps lock key actually has nothing to do with usability but rather was for compatibility with old typewriters. The caps lock key on typewriteers (actually a 'shift lock' key which affected the numbers and punctuation as well) had to be directly above the shift key since it was a mechanical latch that physically kept the shift key held down.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @11:18AM (#15919662)
    ...we found out that the eye is trained faster on capital letters

    Case studies in the '80s found that this was true only on monochrome monitors without lowercase descenders. Otherwise, all uppercase text slows reading by as much as half. The reader is sometimes reduced to reading some uppercase
    words letter-by-letter until enough letters are read for the reader to guess the word within the context. This can also lead to reader guess the wrong word (if trying to read to fast) and decreasing reading comprehension. Lowercase ascenders and descenders significantly increase whole word recognition.
  • by Red_Winestain (243346) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @11:33AM (#15919834)
    I can fix this in less than a minute:

    In MacOS X 10.4:

    System Preferences --> Keyboard & Mouse --> Keyboard --> Modifier Keys...

    Set Caps Lock to Control.
  • Re:Is this a joke? (Score:2, Informative)

    by utnapistim (931738) <dan...barbus@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @11:41AM (#15919922) Homepage

    I'll agree, unless someone can give me an example of what C++ is best suited for. I've tried every language that I can find at least twice, and I can't find anything that C++ is the best at, or even a reasonable middle-ground.

    Let me try my hand at an answer for you, altwough we're "a bit" offtopic here :).

    C is much easier to read, and if I want objects, Objective-C allows me to reuse my C code. At least then, I get an object oriented language. C++ is some weird class and template based language, that requires I either taxonimize everything, or degenerate into a slower and hard to read C.

    When properly written C++ can be very easy to read (but then again, one can write unreadable code in any language).

    Also, you can write C++ code completly without either classes or templates.

    C++ also fixes (or offers alternatives to) a lot of problems unresolved in C like namespaces, extensible IO library, a typesafe alternative to C macros, extensible type system etc. All of these can be easily abused (so one could argue that it only adds complications) but that's more of a matter of writing good code than a C++ problem.

    I'm still unclear why we need four different casts, and I'm still unclear why it's a good idea to have two functions with the same name and data types (save the const or signed keywords, which aren't really supposed to modify the data type)- lest the evil C++ genies make my code call the wrong one.

    The four casts state intent much better than the C cast; It's also easier to grep/search through the code to locate casts.

    I'm completely lost as to why it's a good idea making: if (a << 1) mean anything but to check if anything but the highest bit is set, or a[0] mean anything different than *a.

    iostreams are a decent answer for the first example (B. Stroustrup explained in his book why the shift operator was chosen and it seemed like a good enough reason for me).

    The iostreams design is among the most powerfull and flexible input/output interfaces I've ever seen.

    Regarding your second example, how about accessing custom container elements by key, like for example:

    std::map<int,string> m;
    m[-1] = "invalid";

    I think the only reason not to see these is coming to C++ with a C/other language mind-frame and saying "I can progam C just fine in C; why would I do it in C++"?

    I can't figure out exactly how to control deallocation order when calling destructors during stack unwinds, and I can't figure out how to control allocation order before main().

    Static functions allowing access to global resources? Used like this, the pointers are allocated upon first access and deallocated in reverse order.

    I don't know why C++ insisted on being completely forwards and backwards incompatible with C, and adopt its name. It isn't a better C, it isn't even a logical extension of C.

    Actually I think C++ bent over backwards to remain (mostly) compatible with C (this is why the macros-as-functions were not completely eliminated for example).

    I think it is a better C in the sense that it can do what C does (and much more), using safer code and avoiding C's pitfalls (although unfortunately C++ comes with pitfalls of it's own).

    I might be able to wrap my head around C++ better if I didn't know C, and expect C semantics, but damnit, that's awful hard to do when it's called C++.

    Then you're not really evaluating C++, but (again), writing C code in C++ (which is a different matter alltogether); It's not really the best frame of mind for evaluating the strengths of a language, as it ignores all advantages C++ would provide that are not there in C.

    For some examples of C++ advantages over C (out of the top of my head):

  • by shudde (915065) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @11:43AM (#15919948)

    While I admire your perspicacity and crazed ranting, I'm forced to take exception to one of your claims.

    Now, INSFBCL (I'm Not Some Fancy Big City Lawyer), but you don't have to be teh inventor of the intarweb to know that that much heat escaping into the atmosphere is at least quintupling the effects of Global Warning every year.

    There have been numerous studies (and at least one graph) that prove that global warming is solely due to the decline of pirates since the 1800's. You've obviously fallen victim to the scurillous propaganda spread by those devil-worshipping heathens from the SubGenius cult.

    I look forward to your retraction.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @12:12PM (#15920246)
    Surely some people remember SCROLL LOCK, which disappeared some years ago despite being carried forward for years.

    I remember it particularly well as it is on the brand new keyboard right in front of me (Dell).
  • by nessus42 (230320) <doug AT alum DOT mit DOT edu> on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @12:14PM (#15920276) Homepage Journal
    Dude, are you trying to further make miserable the lives of those with RSI? We need those caps locks keys for typing in variables and the like that are in all caps.

    Of course, without some sort of immediate feedback that one has entered caps lock mode, such a key indeed causes despair, but it is that lack of immediate feedback that is the problem, not the key itself. On old fashioned typewriters, you could easily feel when you were pressing caps lock. Computer manufacturers went about trying to drive everybody insane by removing this sensory feedback. (New technology always seems to be two steps forward, one step back -- if that.) Sun Microsystems made issues even worse by swapping the location of Control and CapsLock, so that when moving from one keyboard to another, you never know what you are going to get.

    My Kinesis Contour Keyboard solves the problem elegantly by making a distinctive double buzz sound when you enter caps lock mode and a single buzz when you exit caps lock mode. Also, the keyboard is completely remappable, so you can put whatever key wherever you want it, or remove a key from the mapping altogether.

    I suggest that this feedback and flexibility is what your movement should aim for, rather than trying to further cripple the rest of us.
  • by fbjon (692006) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @12:15PM (#15920282) Homepage Journal
    It depends entirely on the font, whether it is difficult to read or not. Also, there's a reason why sentences start with a capital letter: it makes it easier to find.
  • by pmcc (793154) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @12:32PM (#15920448) Homepage
    Maybe as a gamer they're useless to you, but having to work as a sysadmin on many Windows machines, the Windows key is very valuable. Windows-R (to bring up the Run prompt), Windows-D (to hide/show everything - allowing access to the desktop), and Windows-L (to lock the machine) are all especially useful. Windows-Break is also a nice shortcut for getting to computer properties. There are a few others that I once knew but use infrequently and have since forgotten. But those 4 get used multiple times per day.
  • Re:Next on Slashdot (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @01:31PM (#15920945)
    What's the "Scroll Lock" key on my computer for? [straightdope.com] contains much information on often unused keys. The Scroll Lock key still does something in MS Excel.
  • by bagawk (925499) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @03:19PM (#15921799)
    It is even a little easier than that
    Option "XkbOptions" "ctrl:swapcaps" in xorg.conf
  • by Ana10g (966013) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @03:23PM (#15921818)
    Don't forget Windows-E, which brings up the windows explorer (filesystem view, not internet view)
  • Really? (Score:3, Informative)

    by adamofgreyskull (640712) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @04:34PM (#15922351)
    Restricting the use of capitals to important information like drug names, patient names or DISEASED RIGHT KIDNEY [bbc.co.uk], might make more sense? :)
    A single capital starting a Proper Noun is simple to pick out if everything else is in lower case...
  • by yukonbob (410399) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:17PM (#15923418)
    I'm seeing so many of these, assuming everybody is using X... if you're not, and you're using NetBSD (or OpenBSD?), you can set the console to read Capslock as Control (or Esc) via:

    wsconsctl -w map+="keysym Caps_Lock = Control_L" (to map capslock to control), or
    wsconsctl -w map+="keysym Caps_Lock = Escape" (to map to escape, as parent did)

    This will take effect immediately, but not survive a reboot... if you like it and want to enable it all the time, you can add a line to /etc/wscons.conf like this:
    mapfile /usr/share/wscons/keymaps/pckbd.c2c

    which turns Capslock into a Control key... or you can make your own mappings...

    Full list of keysyms (on NetBSD) at /usr/include/dev/wscons/wsksymdef.h

    -yb

    btw: NetBSD 4 is now in Beta... check The NetBSD site [netbsd.org] for an announcement coming soon...
  • by dcam (615646) <david@ub[ ]oncept.com ['erc' in gap]> on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:34PM (#15923503) Homepage
    Clearly you have never worked in any environment that involves drafting or technical drawing.

    It is the standard for all architectural drawings to use caps only. I believe it is also the cost for most engineering drawings (or it certainly was when I went through University).

    Caps is used because:
    - For reasons of clarity, it is preferred to use either just lower or just upper case.
    - for shorter text (and most text on drawings is short), it is easier to read upper case only

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