Caps Lock Zombie Technology

From ZombieTechnologies:

* The CapsLock key

Why? What's wrong with the Caps Lock key? Apart from people who seem to leave it on all of the time when sending email...

Thanks for asking. The CapsLock key is a zombie because we don't need it any more. When were were writing with typewriters, we didn't have font size changes, we would put a heading in all upper case. I remember even learning to oh-so-carefully go back over a typed word to bold it. Now we have so much support in our word processors -- even in Wiki for emphasizing text. You can increase the font size, bold it, italicize, you can even define all-caps styles so you get the caps whether you type with shift on or off. So now, the caps lock key just gets in the way, to get accidently pushed when we are typing, usually at the worst time. How many of you have had to remind someone (or yourself) to make sure capslock is off when typing your password? (I'm not going to get into the case-sensitive vs. case-insensitive debate at the moment). So, rip it out. Or at least move it someplace on the keyboard away from the common keys. About that little LED above the numeric keypad the comes on when capslock is down. That's horrible design. If I recall correctly, some keyboards had an LED in the capslock key itself, which is better, if you insist of having the key. I can see having the whole key be translucent and lit up when it's on.

Perhaps this is just my own biases. Ask yourself, though: when is the last time you turned on caps lock intentionally? Even when you type one of the many TLIs that are the bane of our industry, you probably just hold down the shift key -- even the "wrong" key: if you are QWERTY touch-typist, holding down the left shift with your left pinky while typing "T" is the wrong key.

So yes, it's time to say goodbye to the capslock key. Make the tab key bigger, perhaps.

-- StevenNewton

How about a BackTab? key to replace shift-tab? I think that would be useful for all us keyboard-only form data entering people. (Tabs to codebox, types 567 on neumeric keyboard, presses enter.)

[You know, I can't recall a single time in the last 15 years where I turned caps-lock on intentionally. I always hold down the left-shift key with my pinkie. I've turned it on from time to time by accident which was invariably annoying.]

Even more importantly ;), the capslock has usurped the rightful place of the ctrl key in many PeeCee keyboards --- forcing me to remap keyboards all over the place!

How do you remap that key? Please edit RemapCapsLock for those of us on your side of the argument. Thanks.

Many programming environments have lots of all caps identifiers, particular macros and constants, e.g, WM_CAP_DLG_VIDEOCOMPRESSION. Using the little finger on the shift key isn't so good, either you are changing little fingers or doing uncomfortable and possible damaging stretches. So that's a use for the caps lock key. I agree, it is probably misplaced on the IndustryStandardKeyboard?. -- RobertField

Agree. I don't think we should get rid of capslock, I just think it is in a stupid place. I also believe that too many all-caps identifiers is a CodeSmell...

Why would you prefer to use Caps Lock to type something with underscores in it? Just holding down shift is the easiest way to type something like WM_CAP_DLG_VIDEOCOMPRESSION. I can't remember ever intentionally turning Caps Lock on while programming. It always happens by accident and interrupts flow. Caps Lock is evil and I always remap it to a different scancode now (something like Application Key).

I use CAPSLOCK all the time in my writing. I'm sorry, but anyone who types WM_CAP_GDL_VIDEOCOMPRESSION (did you see the typo?) with the shift key must have wrist muscles the size of the IncredibleHulk?. I can't type anything that long with just a shift key without incurring errors. Leave the damn CAPSLOCK key right where it is, so that I can enjoy normal touch-typing. Stop futzing around with my keyboard!! --SamuelFalvo?

But you can't take away my Caps Lock key yet. Not until I replace our current RF data-entry system with one that uppercases part numbers, usernames, and the like before jacking in to our ERP system...

Maybe your RF data-entry system and your ERP system are ZombieTechnologies?

In the meantime, I need Caps Lock to keep the MinimumWagers from getting confused when the system doesn't recognize what they're entering.
Also, while we are all techno-savvy, how does a person who has never seen a markup language mark text for emphasis? Perhaps a smart WYSIWYG HTML editor that takes consecutive caps and puts the <b></b> markers for them? --PeteHardie How about 'Select, Style->Bold'?? Oh and the <b> tag is deprecated anyway, use <strong> or <em>, or even better, a stylesheet.

The above are good reasons to keep the capslock. In fact, I certainly don't object to keeping a capslock in a world where we often have 'windows-key' and, increasingly 'email-key', etc. My only real objection is to the location on the "standard" PC keyboards. Keep it, but put somewhere relative to its usefulness; by the scroll-lock, say. And put ctrl back on the home row!

Isn't windows-key just a poor spelling of 'super' ? If you have a 'menu' key you can have 'hyper' bound too :)

No no. The windows icon is a misspelling of "Meta", and you use that key with Emacs. Alt becomes Alt again. The really fun part is when you configure your window manager to use Alt as a window-operation chording key.

Nah, I dislike that because the windows key is too far away from my thumb. Meta is far more useful than window operations (or alt), which I bind to super on the `windows menu key`. The 'windows' key becomes 'Alt', and the right-windows becomes 'hyper'. It's all good!

The 'menu' key is compose, silly :P
If ctrl is "put back" on the home row (some of us predate that decision), then we have to take our left hand out of the home position to type ctrl-<whatever>, instead of just using the left of our left hand. Seems awkward...

In practice, for me at least, it is far less awkward than ctrl in the bottom left corner (seems pretty standard on PC keyboards). In that position the stretch is far enough to pull you out of decent home row alignment anyways, and the pinky positioning is very awkward. In comparison, I almost never have to move off home position to type it when it is on the home row, with the exception of things like ctrl-a. Even that is only a shift of one position left. I use ctrl probably as much as any other key on the keyboard; the PC keyboard positioning is pretty hopless for me.

Interesting; when I type ctrl-a, I'm only using my left hand, with my pinky on the 'a'. A slight "lean" is all it takes. I wonder if ctrl placement preference is correlated with hand size? I'm a GNU Emacs user, so I type ctrl-<whatever> an awful lot...

So do I (type ctrl- a lot). Amusingly, I made a typo in the above. Ctrl-a is no problem, but I find ctrl-z awkward. In unix shells this comes up enough that I have a natural motion for it, but it does pull me off home position a bit...

ctrl-z results in a curled hand so I can lean on ctrl and hit the z. It does pull me off home a bit too.


Perhaps we can get rid of the practice of making GLOBALS all caps too.


I thought that was CONSTANTS, not globals. And in C, also MACROS.

I use the caps lock key all of the time. I also type 100+ WPM (I've been clocked at ~120 WPM on a good day). For me, it is MUCH easier to instinctively hit the CAPS LOCK key than to do anything else.

I'm sure most people will think this is weird, but I put CapsLock on any time I know I'm going to type two or more capital letters at a time. Even if this requires more actual finger movements , it helps to eliminate (1) the strain of having to keep your pinky holding down the shift key and (2) even worse, having to switch pinkies halfway through a sequence of capitals (which is pretty bad for my flow of thought).

I remap all the keys down both sides of the ``main'' keyboard to modifiers -- with control where CapsLock and CarriageReturn? were, meta in place of the shifts, hyper and super above them, etc. The number row is remapped to sticky/lock-modifiers (useful for crippled keyboard wiring) and alt changes my right-hand keys into a numeric-keypad. This leaves the alt-left-hand keys for various other uses (perhaps mouse-keys). Finally i have sufficient modifier keys. And I swapped the backspace key onto the main key area. This has alleviated most of my typing pains.

Caps Lock is great for games. It is especially useful because it is placed near the other keys usually bound to gaming functions (control, shift). Very good to bind to the dropping of a large and expensive bomb in a scrolling shooter. Usually home-brew games have a low time investment and adding a key configuration window is not fun. So you hard-code keys that have the same function independing of the context of the application (keeping track of modal "windows" and stuff is not fun), using an overall good layout that doesn't e.g. eat up letters/numbers (used for chatting, writing...). Since the resulting key allocation is often inefficient, having keys to burn in good locations is always great. And it comes with a LED! How great is that?
Google has removed the capslock from ChromeOS.

Idea for a smart-phone/pad app: de-case-ification of heavy cap text. If it detects a certain percentage and length of caps in a message, it converts it all to lower case, or "proper" case, which may be easier to read. A smarter one would try to be grammatically correct, but that may make it too bulky for small devices. -t

See also: CapsLock, CapsLockOff

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