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What's A 'Scroll Lock' And Why Is It On My Keyboard?

timothy posted about 11 years ago | from the mysteries-of-the-ancients dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 866

Jeff Bauer writes "Today's article in The Straight Dope explains all the weird keys that come with standard PC keyboards. Now if someone could just explain what the 'Alt Graph' key does on my Sun keyboard, enlightement would be at hand ..."

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cuz your uncle is gay (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159121)

Yuo suxor.

real application! (5, Funny)

Wakkow (52585) | about 11 years ago | (#7159122)

How you know it's TRUE Straight Dope:

"In command-line environments such as DOS, the pipe symbol can add functionality to a DOS command. The way I most frequently use it is when doing a directory listing (DIR) on a large directory with hundreds of files. Say I type "DIR" at the command prompt like so:

C:\Una\Lesbian Porn>DIR

. . . then the 22,000 files in that directory scroll past so fast I can't see their names. However, if I apply the pipe function at the command prompt like this:

C:\Una\Lesbian Porn>DIR | more

. . . then the display will show me one screen of files at a time, with a "More" at the bottom. To display the next screen of files, I hit any key to continue, until all of the files in the directory have been listed (or I break, by pressing Ctrl-C). This is similar to using the "/p" modifier, such as "DIR /p," to display directory information a page at a time."

Not only do they explain it, but give a real life situation where it'd be useful! It's always hard to sort through 22,000 lesbian porn pics.

Re:real application! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159202)

I think he meant videos!

Re:real application! (5, Funny)

r_glen (679664) | about 11 years ago | (#7159225)

Sorting through them is easy... it's VIEWING them in DOS that gets tricky.

Re:real application! (1)

tokaok (623635) | about 11 years ago | (#7159279)

my ASCII porn > your mp3 porn !!!!!1!1!LOL!!!!!!111

Re:real application! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159283)

Actually dos had some nice picture viewing software...

Re:real application! (2, Informative)

dark-br (473115) | about 11 years ago | (#7159244)

It's always hard to sort through 22,000 lesbian porn pics.

Try "| sort | more" instead :)

Re:real application! (5, Interesting)

mattACK (90482) | about 11 years ago | (#7159276)

Also, in WinXP or higher, you can pipe text into the copy buffer. I use this all the time.
type reallybigfile.txt | clip
More stupid cmd tricks -
for /r c:\ %i in (*.jpg) do @echo %i %~ni %~di


mountvol c: /d
Don't try the last one unless you save your open files. And yes, the system will let you unmount the system drive.

Scroll Lock 2k (1)

Humba (112745) | about 11 years ago | (#7159124)

Scroll lock is alive and well. If you're on windows (insert joke), just click your mouse wheel.


Windows Key (5, Funny)

Empty_One (90408) | about 11 years ago | (#7159125)

I've been wondering the same thing about my windows key.

Re:Windows Key (1)

grolschie (610666) | about 11 years ago | (#7159162)

Yeah my Linux box does nothing when I press it. What's with that? Yet the obscure SysRq key works a treat. ;-)

Re:Windows Key (1)

archen (447353) | about 11 years ago | (#7159240)

in kde you can bind the windows key to make interesting shortcut keys (especially since Linux apps don't use it). An essential for me is setting up Win+R to open the run dialog in the same fashion it does in windows.

Re:Windows Key (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159163)

it was added so that when you miss the alt or ctrl key you dont hurt your finger!

If you are using Windows... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159186)

Lots of commands are mapped to WindowsKey+Other combinations.

Re:Windows Key (1)

kgbspy (696931) | about 11 years ago | (#7159204)

At least you've got one! I'm constantly perplexed as to why most IBM ThinkPads that are supposedly "designed for [insert Windows version here]" don't have a Windows key. Either remapping the left alt key or installing Linux for complete redundancy (heh) have been pretty good solutions in the past, but still doesn't justify that they're building machines that, to this day, don't have one.

Re:Windows Key (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159266)

Ditto. Fuck IBM. Whenever you finally learned:
Win+F - Search files
Win+E - File manager
Win+M - Minimize pr0n, the boss is around

the corp. buys me that Thinkpad that doesn't have it.

Scroll Lock huh? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159127)

I belive it has something to do with locking the scroll....

scroll lock (1, Interesting)

foxhound01 (661872) | about 11 years ago | (#7159128)

well, i couldn't find any other use for scroll lock or its two neighbors, so i remapped them to be volume controls for my soundcard.

Re:scroll lock (1)

automatix (664568) | about 11 years ago | (#7159159)

three? volume up, down, and sideways?

Re:scroll lock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159229)

Volume Up
Volume Down
Volume The Same

Re:scroll lock (1)

EvanED (569694) | about 11 years ago | (#7159261)

Up, down, mute perhaps?

At least that's what I'd map them to.

Scroll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159130)

It locks the scoll, duh...

An old one (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159131)

<> !*''#
%*<> ~#4

Waka waka bang splat tick tick hash,
Caret quote back-tick dollar dollar dash,
Bang splat equal at dollar under-score,
Percent splat waka waka tilde number four,
Ampersand bracket bracket dot dot slash,
Vertical-bar curly-bracket comma comma CRASH.

Re:An old one (5, Funny)

Vengie (533896) | about 11 years ago | (#7159188)

}"_# |
!( @|=>

hat less at less point at star
backbrace double base pound space bar
dash at cash and slash base rate
wow open tab at bar is great
semi backquote plus cash huh DEL
comma pound double tilde bar close BEL

Re:An old one (5, Funny)

SeanTobin (138474) | about 11 years ago | (#7159267)

For about 10 seconds, I thought that was the greatest thing I had ever seen. Then I noticed it didn't begin with #!/usr/bin/perl and was bummed :(

Re:An old one (0, Redundant)

zerocool^ (112121) | about 11 years ago | (#7159295)

now, *that's* funny.

I commend you sir. Mod up?

Re:An old one (1)

grolschie (610666) | about 11 years ago | (#7159206)

When singing this, it sounds like a cheesy 60's song.

what about the key? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159133)

The real question is (1)

MikeXpop (614167) | about 11 years ago | (#7159134)

Why is there a num lock key? I know what it does, but really, it's pretty stupid to have. I don't know anyone who uses the keypad when they're not typing numbers.

The fact that it's off by default with xp pro makes me wonder even more.

Re:The real question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159158)

Oh! Well we should just get rid of it then.

Re:The real question is (1)

digital bath (650895) | about 11 years ago | (#7159192)

I'll bite - the numpad is used as a second arrow pad. It's useful in old-school games where you and your friend play on the same computer and you both want arrow keys. 7/9/1/3 are sometimes diagonal arrow keys, as well.

Re: The real question is (1)

jedicat (710018) | about 11 years ago | (#7159262) can use it for old-school one-player games like Nethack. The main reason you'd use the arrows on the numpad versus the arrows on the keypad is for the diagonals. Also, hitting the . on the numpad to wait a turn is easier than hitting the . next to /

Re:The real question is (1)

chriscooper1470 (674321) | about 11 years ago | (#7159205)

I use the keypad on a regular basis for inputing numbers, or doing some basic accounting. I got use to the keypad and I'm faster with that, then the top row keys. The keypad is pretty much obsolete, but hey - it makes the keyboard look "impressive"!

Re:The real question is (1)

MikeXpop (614167) | about 11 years ago | (#7159242)

The problem is not the keypad (which I also use), but the numlock, which makes the keypad turn into basically more arrow keys.

You idiot, that's what he's saying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159250)

you have FAILED IT. We need the you suck for posting ME TOO post.


And now I will cheat the lameness filter, so die.

Re:The real question is (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159208)

The original IBM PC keyboards didn't have the inverted T section or the Insert/Home/.../PgDown section, so NumLock was an important mode. It is rather useless nowadays.

Re:The real question is (1)

Angry Black Man (533969) | about 11 years ago | (#7159209)

I use it quite a bit in games and whatnot. Its especially helpful when you don't have a mouse and just use mousekeys (accessibility/mouse). You can sue the arrows to move the pointer, click, drag, etc.

Re:The real question is (2, Funny)

ottothecow (600101) | about 11 years ago | (#7159286)

You can sue the arrows to move the pointer

What has this world come you have to call your lawyer and start sueing things just to move your

Re:The real question is (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159247)

I guess you never played Civilization.

Re:The real question is (1)

dragonman97 (185927) | about 11 years ago | (#7159259)

There's a surprisingly good reason for that one - try enabling Num Lock on a laptop*. There's a key you can set in the registry to enable Num Lock, but it only comes on after you log on, so that you won't be messing up your password with numbers by mistake.

*Given the default hardware profile that laptops present these days, it's awfully hard (particularly for Windows' 'high quality' hardware detection) to tell if a keyboard is a real one, or a laptop.

Losing the Insert key (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | about 11 years ago | (#7159136)

I find myself a little chagrined at the loss of the Insert key on modern keyboards. While perhaps not very important to the everyday computer user, I find myself missing a key feature (bad pun) without the key.

I would much rather lose the backtick and tilde keys as they serve less purpose than the SysRq key and MUCH less purpose than the Insert key.

Bring back the Insert key!

Re:Losing the Insert key (1)

O (90420) | about 11 years ago | (#7159189)

Yep, we sure don't use the tilde at all...

Re:Losing the Insert key (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159190)

Tilde? Are you crazy? What would I use in halflife?

Re:Losing the Insert key (1)

Empty_One (90408) | about 11 years ago | (#7159200)

I find myself a little chagrined at the loss of the Insert key on modern keyboards. While perhaps not very important to the everyday computer user, I find myself missing a key feature (bad pun) without the key.

OK, I may be dumb for asking this, but what are you talking about? I haven't seen a keyboard yet that didn't have this key on it. What's next to your home key?

Re:Losing the Insert key (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159211)

What's next to your home key?

Answer 1: A double-sized Delete key.

Answer 2: 'GH'

Re:Losing the Insert key (1)

Compenguin (175952) | about 11 years ago | (#7159289)

On the ms multimedia keyboard insert has been demoted to co-occupying printscreen/sysrq as its functionshift mode. This wouldn't be so annoying buy I use SysRq, PrintScreen, and Insert

Near home it looks like
[Home][End ]
[Del ][PgUp]
[ete ][PgDn]

Re:Losing the Insert key (1)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | about 11 years ago | (#7159231)

The problem with removing the tilde key(or any key that represents a typable character) is that there will be a time when it needs to be typed. I know many people who use the tilde key somewhere in their passwords. It would suck to sit down at a machine and not be able to log in because of missing keys.

Re:Losing the Insert key (1)

Talez (468021) | about 11 years ago | (#7159268)

Damn straight. Once I spilt Pepsi on my keyboard and I lost access to the left control key, left start key and my tilde key.

Let's just say it was an amusing week and a half till I got my new Logitech Elite Keyboard.

Use for the tilde key (3, Informative)

uvsc_wolverine (692513) | about 11 years ago | (#7159232)

The tilde still has some limited use in C++ (don't know about other C-based programming languages since I don't know any of the others...yet). It's how you indicate to the compiler that this is the destructor function for programmer-defined class. That way the instructions in the destructor are automatically executed when an object of the class goes out of scope (usually used for returning dynamically allocated memory). Example: MyClass(); //CONstructor ~MyClass(); //DEstructor

Re:Use for the tilde key (2, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | about 11 years ago | (#7159281)

~ is also used in C for binary negation.

0xbeefbabe & (~0x04) == 0xbeefbabe & 0xfffffff8

Re:Losing the Insert key (1)

leoboiko (462141) | about 11 years ago | (#7159271)

I'd rather lose the Insert key. The tilde and grave not only are useful in Unix shell, python, LISP and URLs, but they're also used in many natural languages. Like mine. I find it amusing that the article and the posters seems to ignore the use of diacritic marks as... diacritic marks.

Re:Losing the Insert key (2, Informative)

EvanED (569694) | about 11 years ago | (#7159277)

And ~ is essential in many URLs.

Re:Losing the Insert key (3, Funny)

the_other_one (178565) | about 11 years ago | (#7159275)

You are not using a modern keyboard.

You are using a Modern Art keyboard.

We used to use backtick an tilde as delimiters in proprietary text storage and parsing routines. Nobody will these when entering text into a program. Well at least that was the theory at design time.

Re:Losing the Insert key (3, Insightful)

thecampbeln (457432) | about 11 years ago | (#7159293)

This is the one key that I ALWAYS remove from my keyboards (which always thrills the crap out of my superiors - "What happened to your keyboard?!"). Anyway, the Insert is always gone from my keyboards, generally along with the capslock (though I do occasionally jab the sensor to turn it on and off, but I hate hitting it accidentally - stupid advanced hunt-n-peck method! ;). I've always wondered about the Scroll Lock key... never had a reason to remove it (as it doesn't piss me off), but always wondered =)

What keys do you "liberate" from your keyboards?

Re:Losing the Insert key (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159294)

every keyboard i have has one. . .the first thing i do is remove it. Nothing worse than to look up after backspacing (and missing) a while back and discover you've type over a paragraph. curses.

scroll lock (0, Redundant)

hookedup (630460) | about 11 years ago | (#7159137)

Every keyboard has it, somewhere on the upper right-hand side, and frankly, it's pretty useless. It was included on the original IBM PC (where it also had little point). Nowadays, Excel is about the only app that takes advantage of it. When you engage Scroll Lock and press an arrow key, the active cell remains where it was and the entire spreadsheet moves (without Scroll Lock, the active-cell indicator moves to the next cell). article here

Re:scroll lock (0)

hookedup (630460) | about 11 years ago | (#7159180)

here, duh []

Re:scroll lock (1)

forevermore (582201) | about 11 years ago | (#7159253)

it's pretty useless

You've obviously never had to copy down a long bios version string, or pause the linux kernel boot messages to actually read them (looking for errors, etc). It's still very useful in console-land.

And then there's the whole KVM-port-switch thing, too.

Scroll Lock Key (5, Funny)

ArkiMage (578981) | about 11 years ago | (#7159138)

Very handy key.. I press it twice and my Linksys KVM switches to the other system. Does it do something else?

Re:Scroll Lock Key (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159282)

they make the kvm watch other keys as well. One at the place I work switches at two cntrl key presses, so it's nothing special with scroll lock. Scroll lock is probably a better choice though because scroll lock is nearly useless and out of the way.

Scroll lock is useful in Linux terminals (5, Informative)

gotr00t (563828) | about 11 years ago | (#7159139)

When using a TTY terminal in Linux, the scroll lock is an extremely useful key so that you can pause the output in order to read it. In most BIOS's, you can also press it to pause the info that it is giving you as well.

Many people think that scroll lock is now useless, except in Microsoft Excel, but it does have a much more useful purpose, at least in Linux and perhaps BSD.

Something everyone knows... (1)

Chayce (199487) | about 11 years ago | (#7159140)

What the any key is for... duh!

Props! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159143)

Whenever my lab partner does something good, I hit the props key. Sun machines are cool like that.

Linux keyboards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159144)

Are there any keyboards with either Tux on the "Windows" key, or labeled as its true name?

The Light (5, Funny)

metadatay (632373) | about 11 years ago | (#7159146)

Something has to turn the Scroll Lock light on and off.

Humor!!! (-1, Redundant)

Vengie (533896) | about 11 years ago | (#7159148)

The humor in the article is uh....actually rather funny....for example:
C:\Una\Lesbian Porn>DIR

. . . then the 22,000 files in that directory scroll past so fast I can't see their names. However, if I apply the pipe function at the command prompt like this:

C:\Una\Lesbian Porn>DIR | more

Umm... now THAT is a sense of humor...and rather candid....but at least it gets the point across =)

Easy. It makes CowboyNeal hungry! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159150)

Holy shit. [] Stop hitting that key! :-P

Re:Easy. It makes CowboyNeal hungry! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159291)

Dude, there should be a goatse/tubgirl like warning on that link. Now I am not hungry anymore. :-(

Hmm... (-1, Redundant)

r_glen (679664) | about 11 years ago | (#7159152)

They still haven't told me what the 'any key' does

Perhaps someone can tell me ... (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | about 11 years ago | (#7159156)

... how long Enlightment has existed for Sun machines? :)

phew! (0, Offtopic)

infonick (679715) | about 11 years ago | (#7159160)

i can now sleep calmly at night :D

MS Office scroll lock peeve (3, Interesting)

Humba (112745) | about 11 years ago | (#7159164)

It's always bugged me that Scroll Lock doesn't work in MS Word or in Visual Studio. (I know, I know.)

I'll be reading a document using the scroll wheel on my mouse, get tired of that particular method then switch to using the arrow key, which then jumps the view to the current cursor position, which is by now miles away from where I was reading.

Not exactly sure I'd remember to turn on Scroll Lock in the first place, but for read-only documents it might be a good default.


More interesting question migth be... (3, Insightful)

eb4x (528402) | about 11 years ago | (#7159165)

Who's the smartass that switched "Caps Lock" and "Ctrl" keys?

Re:More interesting question migth be... (1)

reiggin (646111) | about 11 years ago | (#7159196)

someone's always bitching about the ctrl key thing. get over it. my pinky finds it just fine and screw the carpal tunnel.

Re:More interesting question migth be... (1)

taniwha (70410) | about 11 years ago | (#7159245)

you mean you didn't do what I did and keep a couple of (apple) keyboards around when it changed?

Some more keys. (1)

mindstrm (20013) | about 11 years ago | (#7159166)

I always thought alt-graph was basically another meta key, used for other character sets....

What I want to know, is what was the unnamed unlabeled key on my sun keyboard for? I forget where it was.. in the top left, I think, or bottom left, near there.. and it had no label.

What I really want to know.. is... was it the ANY key?

Mad Props (3, Interesting)

Marc2k (221814) | about 11 years ago | (#7159167)

Sweet Jesus tell me what the 'Props' key does on Sun keyboards, for me it just beeps.

Re:Mad Props (1)

pheared (446683) | about 11 years ago | (#7159215)


It sits among "Copy" "Paste" and some other keys that are suspiciously Wordprocessoresque.

Long live Stop-A.

window key (1, Funny)

deputydink (173771) | about 11 years ago | (#7159170)

I'm still trying to figure out what this fucking window keys does.

oh... nevermind.

Johnathan Feruken Conspiracy !!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159171)

To Whom It May Concern (other than myself):

Hi. I have been a huge fan of cereals of all kinds for my whole life. Sometimes I eat it for all three meals of the day, or live on it exclusively for weeks, or put it in my underpants to keep me feeling fresh (and also as an emergency back-up snack). I cereasly love it.

I am especially fond of a lot of your cereals like Boo Berry and Trix and Chex and Lucky Charms and Cookie Crisp. My absolute favorite is Fruity Pebbles though, which I believe is a Post cereal. Maybe you guys should make something that tastes like Fruity Pebbles except manages not to have Fred Flintstone's ugly mug all over the box. Yabba Dabba Eww. Anyway, my point is that I like a lot of your cereals and so I am personally concerned with their condition. And, quite frankly, lately I've been a bit worried.

Let's start with my favorite cereal of yours - Boo Berry. I love Boo Berry... at least I think I do... actually, I know it used to be my favorite cereal but I haven't had any in years so I've kind of forgotten what it tastes like - because it's not in any stores! No stores in my area carry it. I checked on your website and apparently you still make it; you even offer it for sale. Unfortunately I can't justify buying it for the $6.74 for a twelve ounce box price. You do offer buying it in a case instead of a four pack, which would drop the price to $4.71 a box, but that is still unreasonable and would also require me to spend an entire week's pay on a large shipment of haunted cereal. My girlfriend would kill me (if I didn't overdose on blue food coloring first).

I think I have a solution to this dilemma. I know you can't force any businesses to carry your cereals and I know that you can't afford to sell them direct for less than $4.71 and still have money left over to pay for upkeep on Count Chocula's castle, hiring someone to build 400 mind-numbing advertisements disguised as crappy kids games for, and keep your CEOs rolling in golden Kix. So here's what you should do - open up your own stores all across the country. You've already got one in Mall-of-America, now put one in every mall in America. Even if you don't sell much cereal (and you'd sell a lot, trust me) it would be great advertising. You can sell t-shirts with nifty slogans like "Frosted Wheaties: When You're Too Damn Lazy To Put Sugar On Your Own Wheaties!" or "Honey Nut Chex: It Rhymes With 'Funny Butt Sex' For A Reason!" and other stuff which is even more great advertising plus it makes money up front. I can see it now, picture a young child in the mall with its mother...

YOUNG CHILD: Mommy! Mommy! Look at all the pretty colored cereal!

MOTHER: Oh Honey, you know cereals like that are just a result of the global dentist/cereal/porn conspiracy, we've been through this a million times...


MAN IN TRIX RABBIT SUIT comes out of the store.

MAN IN TRIX RABBIT SUIT: You know Ms. Averagemother, all of our cereals are fortified with titanium plating and deflector shi... er, essential vitamins and minerals; and they are a part of this complete breakfast.

MAN IN TRIX RABBIT SUIT whips out a complete breakfast on a tray.

MOTHER: Well... I guess a few minutes couldn't hurt...

YOUNG CHILD: Gee, thanks mom!

YOUNG CHILD runs in followed slowly by MOTHER. Group of scantily clad dentists appears and drags MOTHER into back room. YOUNG CHILD transforms into a cartoon and spends eternity trying to steal Lucky's Charms and torturing the Trix Rabbit by hogging the cereal.

Now, on to my next suggestion. You need to do something about Cheerios. Really, they're awful. Yes they are good for my heart, but this is overshadowed by the fact that they taste like my butt.

On the other hand, a cereal that already tastes great is Lucky Charms. I would like you to address some concerns I have about the marshmallows, though. I remember that when I was a lad, there were only five different marshmallows in Lucky Charms: pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, green clovers, and blue diamonds. I could find at least a tenuous reason for all those symbols to be 'lucky charms' other than the pink hearts. What is so lucky about a pink heart? And by messing with the marshmallows you've only made the cereal even more unlucky overall. Purple horseshoes were a really great addition, good color choice and they are lucky, but red balloons? Anyway, rather than discuss each marshmallow change in the cereal's history individually, let's look at the marshmallow situation currently:

1. Shooting star. You've modified the orange stars and changed them into shooting stars. I can get into this. Shooting stars are way lucky. Good move.

2 and 3. Pot o' gold and rainbow. It seems redundant to me to have a raindow and the pot o' gold which one finds at the end of it. One of these should be dismissed with prejudice.

4. Red balloon. Ugh. Sad movie, sadder marshmallow. Please explain to me why a red balloon is lucky. You can't - because they aren't. Remove this shit from my cereal and fire the jackass who thought it was a good idea.

5. Lucky's hat. You changed the four-leaf clover into some midget's out of fashion hat. I realize how cool it is that you guys have the technology now to make two-tone marshmallows, but just because you can doesn't mean you should. Change this back to the clover.

6. Pink heart. This one is hard to call. I guess it should stay given that it's the only one of the original four marshmallows left, and I guess it's lucky to have a heart because otherwise you'd need to pump your blood manually which would be awfully dull and very time consuming.

7. Purple horseshoe. The best one in the box.

8. Blue moon. Not bad in and of itself, but there was no need to combine the blue diamond and yellow moon into this single marshmallow. Why did you bother? To make room in the marshmallow factory for the 'red balloon' machine? Come on.

So, for maximum luckiness, this is how Lucky Charms should be. Shooting stars, rainbows (or pots o' gold, but I like rainbows better because they remind me of homos), green clovers, pink hearts, purple horseshoes, yellow moons, and blue diamonds. This would also reduce the total number of different marshmallow types from eight to seven - which is a far luckier number.

Hey, Trix is too sweet and pointy now. I remember it being tasty and pleasantly round at one point. Fix my Trix you dix.

And lastly, I feel I have to bring up a subject that may be hard for you to discuss. We need to talk about what happened to some of your spokespeople.

For instance, the current spokesman for Cinnamon Toast Crunch is Wendell the baker (why making cinnamon toast requires a baker is a question I won't even bring up right now). I clearly remember two other bakers, Bob and a chap with the unfortunate name of Quello, helping Wendell out (why making cinnamon toast required three bakers is another question I won't even bring up right now). Now they are gone. What happened to them? My theory is that Wendell collaborated with someone in your company to have them rubbed out so he could get a large raise and be given the chance to market his inferior French Toast Crunch. But maybe it's something more innocent than that, like they were run over by an out of control cookie cop truck, ground up, and made into delicious cinnamon-sugary sprinkles.

Speaking of cookie cop trucks, Cookie Crisp was once sold by a crafty crook, his canine companion, and a cookie cop who never failed to capture the chocolate chip crazed criminals. Now only Chip the cookie dog remains, and he has apparently given up his life of crime and become a big silly wussbag. I am disturbed by the lack of information about what happened to the other two. Was the crook arrested? If so, why is the dog still free? If he was let off on the basis of being a dog, why did the cop throw him in jail with his master in the commercials? What happened to the cop? Is he still on the force? Why isn't he after snickerdoodle thieves or something?

Those are the ones I've personally noticed go missing, but I've talked to some people inside your organization and they had disturbing news. A lot of names were mentioned: Cheeri O'Leary, Ice Cream Jones, Mr. Wonderfull, Waldo the wizard, Major Jet... the list goes on and on.

Please explain these disappearances or I may be forced to contact the authorities.

Your biggest fan,

Johnathan Feruken

P.S. Hey, whatthefuck is up with Kaboom, anyway? That's some scary crap!

LED Light (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159176)

Scroll lock is used to turn the little light on and off on your keyboard

What I use the scroll lock key for (1)

zoloto (586738) | about 11 years ago | (#7159185)

key combinations.

a+scroll lock = mutt
s+scroll lock = (insert x app here)

ifyou know how to remap your keyboard, using something like bbkeys, or whatever there is for gnome/kde is obsolete.

Fark (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159191)

Yet another link that Fark [] ran first, and Slashdot copied...

Or can anyone explain (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159194)


Re:Or can anyone explain (4, Funny)

grolschie (610666) | about 11 years ago | (#7159233)


It's for annoying the crap out of email recipients and newsgroup readers - of course.

Alt Graph on Sun-boxen ... (5, Informative)

Hektor_Troy (262592) | about 11 years ago | (#7159195)

The Danish keymap is the same on all PC's (and Sun Boxen as well), and we need Alt Graph to access the following characters:

Not sure about the US keymap, but I sure as hell wouldn't want to go without Alt Graph.

Re:Alt Graph on Sun-boxen ... --BOXEN!! Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159216)

Thank you for refering to your computer as 'boxen'....Glad to see it becoming mainstream!

Thanks Again,

Outstanding, but... (1, Funny)

Infernon (460398) | about 11 years ago | (#7159198)

This is all very interesting, but it still doesn't tell me anything about where the 'Any' key is...

It's just another key... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159201)

To clean out after you keyboard gets too sticky from all that protein.

Trent Reznor dead at 38 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159213)

I have some sad news to bring you all this evening. I just heard this on MTV news that Trent Reznor (of the band Nine Inch Nails) was found dead in his New Orleans nineteenth-century home this evening. The death of the 38 year old is still to be determined. His final work can be heard on the Doom 3 soundtrack (Doom 3 is still scheduled for release around the first quarter of next year); he will still be remembered for revolutionizing music as we know it and his legacy will live on. Some sad news indeed; Trent was truly an American icon.

The ` key (2, Informative)

vanza (125693) | about 11 years ago | (#7159221)

You know, it's not just a LISP or Python operator... some of us use it to write in our languages. Tres frequemment, sometimes. (I'm not French, but, similarly to French, my native language uses the grave accent - just not as often.)

Re:The ` key (5, Funny)

vanza (125693) | about 11 years ago | (#7159243)

Damn Slashdot, it filtered the accents on "tres" and "frequemment".

I use it for usefull things... (3, Interesting)

nomel (244635) | about 11 years ago | (#7159224)

Such as Message Notification [] for Trillian and nice blinky light plugin [] for music in winamp.

Like I'll believe it has a use other than those...pfft.

I once believed (1)

OneOver137 (674481) | about 11 years ago | (#7159227)

that the 'SysRq' key stood for "System Requirements", and would tell you what kind of hardware you needed for a program you were trying to load. Jeez, I was way off!

turbo? (1)

glass_window (207262) | about 11 years ago | (#7159236)

I remember seeing a "turbo" key on an IBM keyboard once, it really had everybody confused.

Why the hell... (1)

Justin205 (662116) | about 11 years ago | (#7159257)

... do we have two Ctrl and Alt keys? Isn't one set enough? And while I'm at it, all these "exrta" keys are just damn annoying. Access to an application from a single button is meant for PDAs, not computers where everyting is a command or a click away.

Uses for AltGr (3, Interesting)

red_dragon (1761) | about 11 years ago | (#7159260)

AltGr ("alternate graphic," although it should really be "alternate glyph") is used for entering extended characters beyond what the standard keyboard layout supports. It's equivalent to the X keysym Mode_switch. When you use the "US International" keyboard layout in Windows, the right Alt key becomes AltGr, which when pressed along with other keys produces various extended characters, including accented letters, special punctuation marks, and other fancy stuff without having to type in the ASCII value on the numeric keypad while holding the Alt key. On non-US keyboards, like the ISO Spanish keyboard on my Mac, some keys have extra characters printed on the key caps, indicating which character they generate while pressing AltGr.

It's already getting slow... (1)

herrvinny (698679) | about 11 years ago | (#7159280)

Dear Straight Dope: Why does my computer keyboard have this "Scroll Lock" key that seems to serve no purpose whatsoever? In 15 years I don't remember ever pushing that button. I'm almost scared to touch it --Insanegrey, Lawrence, KS Guest contributor Una Persson replies: Although your mother told you that there are many things to avoid touching (like downed electric lines, scorpions, and the "naughty place"), don't be afraid to touch the Scroll Lock key. Nothing bad will happen - in fact, probably nothing at all will happen. Once upon a time, however, something did. The Scroll Lock key has appeared on the keyboards of IBM personal computers since the original 83-key PC/XT and the 84-key AT layouts, and remains on the 101-key and greater "enhanced" keyboards currently in use. The Scroll Lock key wasn't on the original Macintosh keyboards but appears on the Mac's "enhanced" keyboard. The main intent of the Scroll Lock key was to allow scrolling of screen text up, down and presumably sideways using the arrow keys in the days before large displays and graphical scroll bars. You can see where this might have been handy in the DOS era, when screen output typically was limited to 80 characters wide by 25 rows deep. For some types of programs, spreadsheets being the obvious example, it's still handy now. In Microsoft Excel, Scroll Lock allows you to scroll a spreadsheet with the arrow keys without moving the active cell pointer from the currently highlighted cell. In Quattro Pro, another spreadsheet program, Scroll Lock works in a similar manner, although in contrast to Excel it's not possible to scroll the active cell pointer completely off the screen. Other programs use Scroll Lock for special functions. It's said (although I haven't personally verified this) that the Linux operating system as well as some early mainframe and minicomputer terminals employed Scroll Lock to stop text from scrolling on your screen in command-line sessions - pausing the scrolling, in effect. The ancient DOS adventure game "Rogue" (one of my all-time favorites) used Scroll Lock to scroll your character's movement through the ASCII dungeons on the display. I'm told some computers in the late 1980s used the Scroll Lock key to halt the scrolling of the boot-up messages that appeared when you started the computer. This last use may be apocryphal, as I could find no examples of computers that displayed this behavior. The point is, Scroll Lock sometimes does something besides make that little light light up. Other odd keys worthy of note on your keyboard include the SysRq key (sometimes appearing as SysReq), which shares the same key as the "Print Screen" key. (Historical sidelight - SysRq was the "84th key" added when the 83-key PC/XT keyboard became the 84-key AT keyboard.) Unless programmed by a particular application, the SysRq key does nothing in most operating systems, including DOS, Windows, and OS/2. The SysRq key has different "hooks" into the system BIOS (basic input/output system, the interface between the software and the low-level functions of the computer) from the other keys on the keyboard. IBM evidently included this key to facilitate task switching in future operating systems - that is, to allow either switching from one task to another (as on a mainframe computer), or interrupting all tasks and returning control to the keyboard. Advanced MS-DOS Programming, second edition, Microsoft Press, states: A multitasking program manager would be expected to capture INT 15H so that it can be notified when the user strikes the SysReq key. In layman's terms that means, "You can make a multitasking program manager monitor a specific location in your computer's hardware so it can do something cool, such as letting the user switch tasks, when the SysReq key is pressed." As it turned out, the developers of Windows didn't use SysReq when implementing task switching. Some new keyboards no longer feature this key, and its days seem numbered. The Pause/Break key was used in the DOS command line environment for two different purposes. Pause could be used to pause the scrolling of text on the screen, but it also had a much more powerful function--to pause program execution in the operating system. This function still works in 32-bit DOS applications under Windows, where pressing this key while the DOS window is active can (depending on the program) pause program execution. I have several old DOS power plant analysis programs that run under OS/2, Windows NT, and Windows XP, and I can attest that the Pause key pauses execution of all of these programs. The Break key, when combined with the Ctrl key, is used to terminate DOS applications - and still does today, even in the DOS window of Windows XP. Some DOS communication programs used the Break key as a shortcut to terminate a modem connection, but that was really a function of the program, not the operating system. The key is called many names. According to the "Hacker's Jargon FAQ," these include: backquote, left quote, left single quote, open quote, (grave accent), grave. Rare: backprime, [backspark], unapostrophe, birk, blugle, back tick, back glitch, push, (opening single quotation mark), quasiquote. That's nice, but what is the symbol used for? It has no operating system function in DOS or Windows (although it does find use in the UNIX operating system), and in most type fonts doesn't match the appearance of an ordinary single quote (apostrophe), so it can't really be used as an open quote mark. However, programmers, being loath to let extraneous keys sit unused on a keyboard, have found use for it as an operator in the LISP and Python programming languages. The pipe key , also known as the bar key or vertical bar, is found above the backslash key . It sees frequent use in C, C++, C# and other programming languages where it serves as the "OR" symbol. A single pipe indicates "bitwise OR," and two pipes together (||) signify "logical OR." For example: C = (A | B) means "apply bit operations to A and B and put the result in C." That is, if A is 0000 0110, and B is 1111 0000, then the result is: A 0000 0110 B 1111 0000 -------------- C 1111 0110 which is bit-level arithmetic. If you're not a programmer, don't worry about it. The use of double pipes, such as: if(A > 0 || B >0) is a logical statement that means, "If variable A is greater than 0, or variable B is greater than 0, then do something." In command-line environments such as DOS, the pipe symbol can add functionality to a DOS command. The way I most frequently use it is when doing a directory listing (DIR) on a large directory with hundreds of files. Say I type "DIR" at the command prompt like so: C:\Una\Lesbian Porn>DIR . . . then the 22,000 files in that directory scroll past so fast I can't see their names. However, if I apply the pipe function at the command prompt like this: C:\Una\Lesbian Porn>DIR | more . . . then the display will show me one screen of files at a time, with a "More" at the bottom. To display the next screen of files, I hit any key to continue, until all of the files in the directory have been listed (or I break, by pressing Ctrl-C). This is similar to using the "/p" modifier, such as "DIR /p," to display directory information a page at a time. One suspects that some oddball keys were put on the PC keyboard (or to be more precise, included in the ASCII character set, most of which found its way onto the PC keyboard) because the developers figured they'd come in handy for something. On the whole that has turned out to be the case--programmers and developers have found a use for nearly every key on the keyboard, even if that use isn't obvious to the general computing public. Witness the tilde , which, whatever use it may have as a diacritical mark, now can mean "home directory" or "text omitted," among other things. Given the pace of change in information technology, there's a lot to be said for designing your user interface for maximum flexibility. --Guest contributor Una Persson (nee Anthracite) Straight Dope Science Advisory Board

Wrong! (4, Interesting)

sakusha (441986) | about 11 years ago | (#7159287)

Scroll lock is not what "una" says it is. The function she describes wasn't used in that manner. The IBM PC used the standard Control-S and Control-Q to stop and start screen scrolling.
The Scroll Lock key was a vestige of the old IBM word processor systems. It was used to lock the cursor in place, and the up and down arrow keys scrolled the entire screen, leaving the cursor locked. It should have been called "cursor lock."
The article is riddled with errors. For example, una says the Macintosh extended keyboards have a scroll lock key. It does not.

Here's an idea (4, Funny)

OldTome (89259) | about 11 years ago | (#7159288)

for a cutting edge super user friendly OS: Make the Print Screen key actually work and PRINT THE FREAKIN' SCREEN!
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