Friday, August 18, 2006

Day 3 in the CAPSoff Campaign

Today we launched our web site - It's a wiki site, which means we'll build it as we go along. The beautiful logo was made yesterday by paulgb. If you also want to join, register at and join the CAPSoff site. As we say in Scots (mae mums's Sco'ish, 'lo mum!), "mony a mickle maks a muckle", which roughly translates to "wikis are fun because everyone lends a hand."

CAPSoff got a lot of press, most of it curious. Heise, a German daily, explained that "Caps Lock werde ohnehin nur von Scammern und Fortran-Programmierern benutzt", which gives me an idea for the propaganda war that will have to be part of this campaign. "Caps Lock is for scammers and Fortran programmers! Are you a scammer? Are you a Fortran programmer? No? Well, prove it and join CAPSoff now!" At least one Nigerian complained that other countries also had decent sized 419 industries. It so happens I spent a lot of time in Nigeria, and it's one of my favourite countries. I didn't get out much past Lagos, the capital, a great place where I had many friends - chaotic, noisy, full of strange and interesting people. Much like the CAPSoff group, I guess.

CAPSoff got discussed on many, many blog comments. There seem to be several opinions.

First, some people think this campaign is petty (the word comes from the French 'petit', meaning small) and a waste of time (the word comes from the herb 'thyme' and means something good to put on pizza). For example, brwyatt asks (on the CAPSoff group):

Speaking about "polution" why couldn't you fight that instead? Global warming, suffocation? I think that is a much more important issue that the existance of a key that some people use and some people don't....

To be honest, I fight suffocation regularly, by holding to a steady breathing pattern. Done this all my life, and it works wonders. Pollution? Well, I walk to work, and ride a bike, and only drive when it's raining or I have to go far. But this is not about me; this is not some one-man crusade against sanity (as Monty Python might say). This is about taking control over the keyboard, our main doorway to the online world. This is about fixing a problem - however small - that has been there since IBM decided we needed a super-shift key so that people could easily enter uppercase into their mainframe apps.

Besides... life is full of battles, big ones and small ones. I'm involved in many noble causes. I've got karma to burn. If CAPSoff really smells like a small ten-topping pizza with extra cheese, well, I don't see that as a bad thing.

Next, there is a definite "don't touch our farkin' caps lock" tendency from the gaming community. Eggeneon says,

Counterstrike - One of, if not THE most played online-game ever. People who play this game have to (like 100's of millions) communicate. Everybody, and I mean everybody, use Ventrilo, a team-speak-program. ( To speak in your mic you must push the caps lock button! It's VITAL FOR MILLIONS! If caps lock was gone, then gamers would find a a hard way to play, because caps lock is the button of choice. It goes extremely well to the rest of the controllers in the settings. DONT YOU DIE

Well, this comment raises two questions. What do you mean by "DONT YOU DIE"?, and more importantly, would you not prefer a special button marked 'Mic'? I mean, seriously, if the best use you can claim for the Caps Lock button is "push to speak", then you are making my argument for me.

Last, there is the hardcore programmer community. It seems that some zombie programming languages still insist on everything being typed in 6-bit compatible uppercase. I can't argue with the facts. I am also (I confess) a hardcore programmer, and spent many wasted years typing hundreds of thousands of lines of COBOL, all in uppercase. I once wrote a complete editor (in COBOL) just so that I could type my programs in lower case and have the software do the work for me. Now, listen, hardcore programmers. If you really, really need to use dinosaur languages that think lowercase characters are a dangerous innovation, and you really, really can't get your hardcore programmer skills together long enough to write some macros or editors that will convert (wait for it...) an 'a' to an 'A'... well, at this point my sarcasm fails me. Look, there are hundreds of millions of dinosaur keyboards out there, a lifetime supply in every conceivable colour and format. Stop complaining. No-one is going to ban your use of Caps Lock. What you do behind closed doors is entirely your business. You can keep your COBOL and SQL and uppercase comments.

What we want is that new keyboards are designed to take into account that the world has changed since 1984, and we're starting by attacking that most villanous of relics, that confuser of innocents, that comforter of scammers and Fortran programmers, the Caps Lock key.


Blogger pmoyanos said...

kniffes must disappear, Somebody kills with them.

3:03 AM  
Blogger Fredrik Sætre said...

Don't know why, but somehow there is a shift + space combo in our factoring program... And I have to let go of the shift key for every whitespace if I don't use CAPSLOCK.
Program: Visma Rubicon.
(BTW... I don't use it in any other occations)

5:00 AM  
Blogger Ashish said...

Interesting revolution!! :)
I support you for this...Here is link to what I mentioned in my blog..

How about starting a petition?

5:09 AM  
Blogger Pieter Hintjens said...

There is an
online petition.

5:20 AM  
Blogger Aegnor said...

So...where's your argument? I fail to detect any good, sound reasoning why it should disappear. If you want people to take it seriously, at least back it up with a couple of arguments. Half-assed or not, ANY argument at all would support your crusade better than this brainless emptyness.

You seem to be reasonaly intelligent. Can you explain why the hell you decided THIS was a good battle to fight? And don't throw me the same bullshit that's in this entry, it doesn't explain anything. You call it a problem but never deign to explain why.


8:15 AM  
Blogger lol said...

You are crazy, how I can write ĚŠČŘŽÝÁÍÉ without CapsLock? We use this charts in the Czech Republic and many other contries have thist charts too

BTW I won´t use ASCI

8:54 AM  
Blogger Tim French said...

Yeah, this is REALLY important! I'm so glad some one is fighting the good fight (unfortunately there is no html tag for sarcasm).

9:07 AM  
Blogger Capt. Zappo said...

Yeah, this is REALLY important! I'm so glad some one is fighting the good fight (unfortunately there is no html tag for sarcasm).

9:39 AM  
Blogger was ich noch zu sagen hätte said...

take them alive - please!!!

9:42 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

What I don't understand is how you people can justify this tenacity when we live in a world completely full of uprights. I hope you can sleep well at night knowing what you're causing.

2:12 PM  
Blogger . said...

ThiS SITE ProveS iT.

3:53 PM  
Blogger hyperspeed said...

mutten, people are using that key, even if you dont. i dont really care why are you so much into this thing, contrary to some people. If this key bothers you so much, then just switch the layout, its not so hard, on my linux box i swapped it with the ctrl key, and that really eases up things.

i should not suggest ideas, or even care about this, since you probably only wanted a couple of days fame in the matrix. well, you got that. you can sit down now.

5:57 PM  
Blogger Jojo said...

I've used an old free PCMag utility called TradeKeys for years to disable the Caps Lock key.

1:10 AM  
Blogger jklrcjmcmjkl said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:53 AM  
Blogger Valerie Thompson said...

Peter, It's Valerie Thompson here from the alarm:clock euro newsblog.
There is a simple solution to this problem that will make everyone happy - the Optimus keyboard whose keys are each programmable LED displays - it is coming sometime this yr from the Russian design firm called Art Lebedev.
Just search for "Optimus and lebedev".

2:01 PM  
Blogger Felix Enescu said...

Come on... You must be kidding!

With very few dragons and no “damsels in distress” you modern knight face a serious challenge: finding a challenge.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Александр Вольф said...

Your idiots. CAPS Lock is a default key of switching of an allocation of the keyboard in Linux/UNIX! If at you costs Windows it does not mean at all, that all her use!

6:46 PM  
Blogger Hunter Williams said...

Those of us in the Architectural profession actually use the Caps Lock key all the time. We would be in trouble with out it.

A set of Contract Documents typically has all notations in all caps, and I'm sure not too thrilled about having to hold down the Shift key the whole time.

The reason for all caps notations is legibility. When an A1 drawing is printed at A3, as is common, lowercase fonts blur and blend. Uppercase of a clear crisp font remains legible even at A4.

Don't do this to us man. We need the Caps Lock!

8:32 PM  
Blogger Hunter Williams said...

We need the Caps Lock!
It could move to a different location on the keyboard for all I care, but it is a useful key.

8:44 PM  
Blogger iostream said...

Your ridiculous ...
A lot of people (like me) have a use for caps lock. Because you don't it's evil and it has to go?
And I DO need SysRq for debugging and more, Scroll Lock and Break in the terminal. Yes, I also use Print Screen...
Now where were your arguments? Right, you don't have any ...
You don't like that key? Simply rebind it and grant the people that have a clue the keys they need for their daily work.
This is my Keyboard and I actually have a use for pretty much every key.

1:13 AM  
Blogger Kikkertje said...

I would use a screwdriver and flip the CAPS off. It's cheaper Pieter.

2:08 AM  
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