Thursday, August 17, 2006

Day 2 in the CAPSoff Campaign

This was the Slashdot story that launched CAPSoff:

"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."

1149 people decided to comment on the story, 280 people joined the Google group. Ro3 opened an IRC channel (#CAPSoff on irc.freenode.org), and I started a wiki site for the campaign. If you want to join (to contribute), register with wikidot, and then email me.

Three separate Wired news journalists asked me for information, which I gave them. The message is clear. Caps Lock must go.

Now, here are some things people have said about CAPSoff:

Andrew Purvis says:
How can something that has been around since befreo the advent of the CTRL key be "right there where the Ctrl used to be"? If this is the level of thinking behind this movement, we can expect a relative fizzle in the end.

Relative fizzles can be fun too. You need to understand, Andrew, there is no "level of thinking" behind this campaign. It's not a subtle, political, strategic campaign. This is something I started yesterday morning when I woke up, thought, "Slashdot it! All these years and we're still forced to buy special keyboards, use special remapping software, or prise that lousy snakes-on-a-plane key off with Grandma's spare teeth. Someone has to stand up and say, "Enough is e-farking-nough!" It's not exactly an intellectual exercise! It's a war on uppercase.

Patricia says:
I do desktop publishing, and I sometimes need my CapsLock key. It's awkward at best to type whole sentences using only the shift key, and that's why there IS a CapsLock." She continues, "I would be open to changing key placement. Replace the current CapsLock with a volume or mute button, or something else that is actually useful. Then, use the CapsLock to replace the Pause/Break key that I haven't touched, except by accident, in 15 years.

Indeed. This is a compromise solution proposed by many people. Leftshoe even started an online petition for the relocation (not complete removal) of the Caps Lock key.

My question is: if we can use key combinations for such common functions as cut and paste, why does Caps Lock need to be key at all? Many people proposed suitable combinations like Shift+Tab, Shift+Shift, and Shift+NumLock.

gui.v00, who is a product designer, says:
If you find the C/L key so disturbing, which i don't quite agree with, wouldn't the same reasons be applied to the Scroll Lock/Pause/NumLock/The 'Right-Click' Key ? None of them, except for maybe NumLock, are used and can all be done without.

I would sooner get rid of all above mentioned keys and put the caps lock in their place, as i do agree with its horrible placement.

I think removing the C/L key is more like solving a small piece of the poblem (that is input device layout), and actually would not be logical to implement, as any change in key layout would scream for a total re-design which would be more like 're-framing' the qwerty keys instead of removing one single key. The C/L key is no more threatening than the Num Lock key as both effect the keyboard's input, so why not leave it alone! ;)

Brian also asks:
Can we also get rid of the Num Lock, Print Screen, Sys Request, Scroll Lock, Pause and Break keys?

And I have to agree. Caps Lock is just a symptom of a wider problem. Why does the computer industry still produce billions of unused keys?

gui.v00 finished with:
Let's put our energy into suggesting new and innovative ways of laying out input devices to better suit human needs.

And this sounds like an excellent idea. Let's see if it leads anywhere.

Craig, in the meantime, sent us some pictures of tortured keyboards, saying, "I am against all "LOCK" keys - see my keyboard picture." The photos are too horrible to print here (plus I'm too lazy to cut and paste the URLs) but you can find them on the Google group.

JJJJust says:
Consider yourself notified that I use the Caps Lock key... and that I'm not a 419 scammer or a Fortan programmer.
Ta.

Well, JJJJust, all I can say is, I consider myself notified, and my answer is, "tough titties". If you want a Caps Lock key, after we wipe it off the face of the planet (or at least move it up to the top row where with luck it'll just fall off one day), you'll have to start a campaign to get it back.

Bertil points out that the other nations have even worse keyboard issues than Caps Lock:
In my case (French laptop) I cannot access figures (1, 2, . . . 9, 0) without either the Shift or CapsLock keys. This is due to the fact we use accented characters, and they are located there, as lower case. The less used characters are accessible with « Alt Gr » an alternative Alt key. I have done quite some database typing (an extreme case, I reckon), and the ability to lock the capitals was necessary.

French and German keyboards are indeed instruments of horror. You have my sympathies, Bertil. But just because you have to suffer, does not mean we do also. Caps Lock is an abomination for Qwerty users, and we're going to fix that. Then we may come and liberate you from Alt Gr. Or, instead, ask the French to switch to English as a national language, which is probably the easier option.

Spiralbound says
I've often wished that I had a short space bar underneath my number pad... That would be an awesome addition to keyboard layout!

Ah, you see! Once we start to wonder... "what would it be like to have a keyboard I really liked to use".

I have to thank everyone who has joined the CAPSoff group, and joined in with comments, helpful tips on how to rip off the Caps Lock key using everything from a pair of pliers to a disused whalebone, with LOL I'M VERY FUNN HAHA HAHA jokes, and with some very clever trolls.

Let's see how the campaign evolves. So far I'm counting about 60% straight-out support for the mission, 20% compromise positions, and 20% Fortran programmers, 419 scammers, and industrial data entry victims.

All I can say to the vocal minority that loves uppercase is: hey, guys, you go buy the special keyboards, for once.

STOP SHOUTING!!

52 Comments:

Blogger kevin said...

If you really want to improve the keyboard we should make DVORAK the new standard layout.

3:57 AM  
Blogger pinocchio said...

So for this at least, hurray for Microsoft, with the auto-caps-off function!

4:23 AM  
Blogger JJJJust said...

Each one of the capital letters in this comment was made with the caps lock key. As you can see, they are properly used. There is no shouting. I really, really, really hate, no, I love to tell you, but, people use the thing!

See, I had to teach myself how to type and I managed to do it... but, I use caps lock to make capital letters. And there are plenty of other people out there who do the same. And it's not harming any of us. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it's more comfortable and healthy moving the finger straight to the left instead of moving it down and left. No, there's no speed challenges here, I can type ~80 WPM, which is more than enough for me.

So, that key is not going anywhere anytime soon.

And yes, if by some freak of life you do succeed in making the caps lock key disappear, I'll personally lead any project, fight, and/or campaign to bring it back. And you know what, I'll even add an "Any" key while I'm at it!

Ta.

5:58 AM  
Blogger Peter V. Saveliev said...

I'm a GNU/Linux user and I use CapsLock to change keyboard layouts (en,ru,de, so on); I use SysRq 'cause the kernel understand it; I use ScrollLock and Break keys in a terminal.

If you don't use it, it doesn't mean, that it can not be used at all. It is not a question of keyboard manufacturers, it is a question of your skills and habits. So, if it will be that one day I see keyboard without such keys, I'll think next keyboard with only one key... What else will you need? It is quite enough: one can enter any symbol with one key...

7:06 AM  
Blogger hyto said...

hey! you got your 15 mins. of fame.
congratulations!

now, let the key just where it is, programmers use it all the time.

8:10 AM  
Blogger TheThunder said...

Have you ever thought about the engineers and CAD operators who use caps lock to simulate block lettering, making drawings and plans easier to read? What would we do? My caps lock button is about wore out, or at least always on, because I use it so much.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Abigail Voight said...

I don't see why this guy is getting so much attention. He just wanted to be funny, but doesn't really know how, 'cause he's got a lousy sense of humour.

By the way, your "idea" of moving the Ctrl key "back" up to the Caps spot would ruin produtivy in pretty much every graphics design program there is, as everyone needs, and is irrevocably used, to use compound keyboard shortcuts to do countless routine tasks every few seconds.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Joe Clark said...

Who can forget the Victor 9000, which had both Caps Lock *and* Shift Lock keys? Now, *that* was useful, since with Shift Lock you could type in capital letters without interfering with punctuation or numerals.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Cory said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Cory said...

I'm dealing with this problem by selling off my CapsLock key on eBay.

eBay link

I'm sure some spammer can make more use of it than me. :)

12:50 PM  
Blogger schrauberpack said...

would you mind linking my ebay auction? ... ;-)

it started 4 days earlier than your CAPSoff capaign - against this CAPS-Pain. (so my own activity is older than the whole capaign -is it coincidence? .. or did my ebay-auction inspire someone .. whi inspired someone .. who inspired someone... who inspired someone to take action..)

my CAPS-LOCK on ebay (now added an english description, too.)



(Cory just copies me i think)

12:55 PM  
Blogger schrauberpack said...

maybe for users of ebay.com instead of ebay.de this link is more comfortable

(exact the same auction, but ebay.com interface instead of german one..)

same auction, but just ebay.com

(somehow i cannot change shipping conditions anymore.. but i will ship to any state in EU or US, too..)

4:34 PM  
Blogger The Reading Nerd said...

HELLO THERE. AT WORK WE ARE TODAY CELEBRATING WORLD CAPS LOCK DAY AND IT'S BEEN GREAT SO FAR. SINCE WE ALL USE CAPS LOCK IT'S NOT SO ANNOYING, RIGHT? WELL, BYE BYE FOR NOW. HOPE YOU DON'T GET ANYTHING THROUGH! :)

1:21 AM  
Blogger DashN said...

Caps Lock is also used in Renoise (a musical software) for the noteoff function.. I sure wouldn't want to be without it, Love the caps.. Also it's great when one is typing many words with capital sizes.

3:59 AM  
Blogger jklrcjmcmjkl said...

I need Print Screen for printing my screen into a file. I won't use a hard to remember key combo like Ctrl-Alt-whatever for that! NEVER! (<- Caps done with normal Shift)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I may be showing my age here. But I would prefer that the CAPS lock key was a Shift lock key, like we had on the old typewriters in typing class, from high school.
Sometimes you want to be typing those special characters for an extended time.
But then agin isn't this a few years into the new millenium? and haven't we gon past the mechanical days of why they screwed the keys up on the keyboard if the first place.
I think the DVORAK keyboard has the old proper most used characters as the home keys.
But alas that would proabley require a couple billion people to learn anew. Ha, like we can't.
No its easier just to leave it the old stupid way.

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Anonymous Bite It Anonymous Spammers said...

These spammers need to shove their posts waaaay up there.

Re: Caps-lock - I always take the ol' letter-opener and pop! into a nearby drawer goes that miserable button. What I DO wish for is the ability to have caps-lock switch OFF when you exit an application that uses all caps.

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