Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 14th Jan 2010 11:37 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems It's funny how while software changes so fast, and many hardware components evolve at ridiculously fast paces (processors, memory, hard drives), the keyboard has remained largely unchanged over the years - until recently, that is. Even Lenovo has now buckled under the pressure, switching to a chiclet-style keyboard for ThinkPads - while also removing the SysReq key.
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Be careful, Lenovo.
by strcpy on Thu 14th Jan 2010 11:43 UTC
strcpy
Member since:
2009-05-20

There is no doubt in my mind that the keyboards in ThinkPads are simply superior, often beating even normal non-laptop keyboards. No other laptop/netbook comes even close. Actually for me, the keyboard is probably the single most important feature when it comes to ThinkPads as laptops.

Be careful, Lenovo. Not all things get better when changed.

EDIT: As a disclaimer, I haven't used (very) new Lenovo models so I don't know if the keyboards are still as good as in the IBM times or shortly after. As for keys to remove, Windows-keys should go straight away together with all unnecessary "multimedia keys" and related crap (volume up, down, and mute are all that is needed).

Edited 2010-01-14 11:52 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Be careful, Lenovo.
by unavowed on Thu 14th Jan 2010 12:42 UTC in reply to "Be careful, Lenovo."
unavowed Member since:
2006-03-23

I have been buying thinkpads only for myself and have been recommending them to those who asked me for a long time. The major arguments have been hardware with free drivers (mostly) and the keyboard. The keyboards on the thinkpads I've been using have two things going for them: the tactile feel (as opposed to rubbery keys that produce presses in random order when typing fast, as on some other laptops) and, most importantly, the layout. The F1-F12 keys are grouped correctly by 4, the escape key is in the corner isolated from other keys, and the insert/home/del/end/pgup/pgdown keys are in the same three-by-two arrangement as on classic keyboards, also separated from other keys. (prtsc/scrlk/pause are separated too, but I don't use them much). I use page up/page down/home/end a lot, so this layout is important to me. I simply can't stand laptops with these keys spread randomly on the edges of the keyboard, or what's worse, to the right of return, where they're easily hit accidentally. It would indeed be sad if thinkpads changed in this way. Are there any other laptops out there with good keyboards?

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Be careful, Lenovo.
by vermaden on Thu 14th Jan 2010 17:29 UTC in reply to "RE: Be careful, Lenovo."
vermaden Member since:
2006-11-18

Are there any other laptops out there with good keyboards?



Check Dell Latitude laptops/keyboards, even better in layout, especially if you take FN/CTRL in proper place (compared to moved FN/CTRL in ThinkPads).

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Be careful, Lenovo.
by cerbie on Thu 14th Jan 2010 18:44 UTC in reply to "RE: Be careful, Lenovo."
cerbie Member since:
2006-01-02

I wish I could give more than 1 mod point.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Be careful, Lenovo.
by sorpigal on Fri 15th Jan 2010 22:21 UTC in reply to "RE: Be careful, Lenovo."
sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

My Toshiba Satelite laptop has all of the things you describe and a full numpad as well. It is, however, a massive "desktop replacement" device weighing >10 lbs. I imagine that at smaller sizes everyone compromizes.

Reply Score: 2

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

IBM has always always had great keyboards.. or for as long as I can remember. Even my old manilla (now dirty grey) IBM keyboard is a rock solid beast and joy to type on.

My only hope is that Lenovo did a good job rather than screw up something that it's brand predecessor did right.

(edit): the special keys

I agree that many of the special keys could go away such as the Win key (as if it's the only OS out there). I'd be happy if the keys simply functioned through the BIOS though. Screen brightness, monitor output, volume and mute.. there is no reason these functions should be written through a hardware driver and especially when that driver will only be released for Windows.

Edited 2010-01-14 15:05 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Be careful, Lenovo.
by phoenix on Thu 14th Jan 2010 17:07 UTC in reply to "Be careful, Lenovo."
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

As for keys to remove, Windows-keys should go straight away together with all unnecessary "multimedia keys" and related crap (volume up, down, and mute are all that is needed).


No way, no how!! While the icon on the "right-click" key is bizarre and the key is rarely used, the "Win" key itself is extremely useful. Especially if you mentally map "Win" to "Window Manager", which makes it a very useful key to use for mapping window manager-level shortcuts.

How anyone can think ALT+F2 is better than Win+R to bring up the KRunner is beyond me. ;)

I have all the KDE/KWin shortcuts mapped to Win+letter, and it just makes things so much simpler. The mouse rarely needs to be used.

Multimedia keys like play, skip, next are pretty much useless, since there are already keyboard shortcuts for those in all media players.

And application-specific keys like Launch Browser, Launch E-mail, can go. We already have icons for those, and keyboard commands to bring them up.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Be careful, Lenovo.
by strcpy on Thu 14th Jan 2010 17:47 UTC in reply to "RE: Be careful, Lenovo."
strcpy Member since:
2009-05-20


How anyone can think ALT+F2 is better than Win+R to bring up the KRunner is beyond me. ;)

I have all the KDE/KWin shortcuts mapped to Win+letter, and it just makes things so much simpler. The mouse rarely needs to be used.


Well, I'm a Emacs guy, so go figure ;) .

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Be careful, Lenovo.
by sorpigal on Fri 15th Jan 2010 22:18 UTC in reply to "RE: Be careful, Lenovo."
sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

I tend do agree. I am exclusively a non-Windows user but I find that the "GUI" key, despite its Microsoft-friendly logo, has its place.

The standard keyboard keyset comes from pre-GUI days. In the GUI world it makes good sense to have a GUI meta key and it's much easier not to take over alt or ctrl, since many apps assume those are going to get passed on through.

The context menu key some keyboards sport is another matter. I remain unconvinced of its virtues. If one were to build a GUI in which it actually did something useful--you know, one that didn't involve the current position of the mouse, or the focused element--then I might change my tune.

In general more keys are not bad if they're useful for something, but too many and they become a burden. Sun has made some good and bad choices in this area.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Be careful, Lenovo.
by TemporalBeing on Thu 14th Jan 2010 18:40 UTC in reply to "Be careful, Lenovo."
TemporalBeing Member since:
2007-08-22

There is no doubt in my mind that the keyboards in ThinkPads are simply superior, often beating even normal non-laptop keyboards. No other laptop/netbook comes even close. Actually for me, the keyboard is probably the single most important feature when it comes to ThinkPads as laptops.

EDIT: As a disclaimer, I haven't used (very) new Lenovo models so I don't know if the keyboards are still as good as in the IBM times or shortly after.


I have to quite well disagree with you - perhaps better than most laptops, but not normal keyboards. I actually can't stand laptop keyboards; perhaps b/c I'm so use the breadth of my MS Natural Keyboards (about the only MS product I buy; and one that has probably saved me from having massive carpel tunnel issues).

My T61p's keyboard is a bit more spacious than my Dell D600's - but it's not that much different from the Dell D800's either.

...As for keys to remove, Windows-keys should go straight away together with all unnecessary "multimedia keys" and related crap (volume up, down, and mute are all that is needed).


The Windows key is one of the most versatile and useful keys on the keyboard, and provides a great place for Windows Manager/non-application short-cuts like: open run dialog (Win+R), explorer (Win+E), System Information (Win+PauseBreak), Minimize All (Win+M), and many more.

Sadly, most Linux distros or Windows Managers don't map these by default.

EDIT: Fixed quote marker.

Edited 2010-01-14 18:40 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Be careful, Lenovo.
by OSGuy on Thu 14th Jan 2010 20:35 UTC in reply to "Be careful, Lenovo."
OSGuy Member since:
2006-01-01

As for keys to remove, Windows-keys should go straight away together with all unnecessary "multimedia keys" and related crap (volume up, down, and mute are all that is needed).

I disagree with you. In all honesty, have you used Windows 7? I am only referring to the Windows key.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Windows key
by seanpk on Fri 15th Jan 2010 05:07 UTC in reply to "Be careful, Lenovo."
seanpk Member since:
2009-11-17

actually, I've come to like the windows key quite a bit.

in xfce I have bound all my programs to some combination of windows key and a letter, e.g.: web browser = windows+w; terminal = windows+z
even my desktop navigation is bound to the windows key + an arrow key, or the desktop number

this is a fantastic way to start programs, and do workspace switches.
I much prefer it over the default ctrl+alt combinations because it is one less button, and a button you're never going to try to use in the context of working with a program

Reply Score: 1

Oh no!
by boudewijn on Thu 14th Jan 2010 11:59 UTC
boudewijn
Member since:
2006-03-05

I bought thinkpads (I currently use an X61t and a W500) not because the keyboard had a "clean and inviting" look, but because I could use them for up to twelve hours a day without any trouble.

I don't care about the SysReq key, but I do care about having the function key as function keys instead of weird hardward keys. Even on my MacBook pro (fortunately an older model, one without those ghastly new keyboards Apple makes now) I remapped the top row to function first, hardware second.

What really makes me cry, though, is that my old IBM keyboard is still somewhere with a previous employer. It wasn't worth retrieving it because it never worked well with the ps2-usb bridge. Now that was a keyboard that made me productive!

Reply Score: 2

RE: Oh no!
by Lennie on Thu 14th Jan 2010 12:12 UTC in reply to "Oh no!"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

The Model M ?

I love my Model M as well.

The Model M only has one problem, noise.

Not for the user, but the environment.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Oh no!
by boudewijn on Thu 14th Jan 2010 12:19 UTC in reply to "RE: Oh no!"
boudewijn Member since:
2006-03-05

Yes, and as a user, I loved the sound. And I guess it must have been music in the ears of a discerning manager to listen to the developers at Tryllian -- many of them were using a model M, and vi, and had the habit of pressing Esc twice. Ratatata-beep! Ratatata! The sweet sound of extreme productivity.

Reply Score: 6

RE[3]: Oh no!
by Tuishimi on Thu 14th Jan 2010 15:43 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Oh no!"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

Same here. My Tactile Pro is awesome, but at night the noise bugs my wife. Ah well. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Oh no!
by darknexus on Thu 14th Jan 2010 12:39 UTC in reply to "Oh no!"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

I can't agree more. Whoever thought that putting the F keys as second tier (not sure who actually started the practice) was an idiot. At least it makes a bit of sense in OS X, where the F keys aren't used so much (though i always remap this immediately), but in various PC oses? The F1-F12 keys are essential for keyboard power users, much more so than media controls. When in GNOME especially, I use the F1-F12 keys all the time, and even in Windows a lot of applications use them as shortcuts. Disgraceful.

Reply Score: 8

RE: Oh no!
by license_2_blather on Thu 14th Jan 2010 23:17 UTC in reply to "Oh no!"
license_2_blather Member since:
2006-02-05

Check out Unicomp (http://pckeyboards.stores.yahoo.net). They bought the design from IBM and continue to make those wonderful clackety keyboards in various newer form factors, as well as native USB. I found them and bought one when I too noticed that my Model M didn't work too well with any PS2->USB converter I had. Love it.

I just bought a Deck keyboard, to get backlit keys in a quality keyboard, and while it's well made, I still prefer the Unicomp.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Oh no!
by MamiyaOtaru on Fri 15th Jan 2010 08:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Oh no!"
MamiyaOtaru Member since:
2005-11-11

I use sysrq occasionally in Linux to sync the filesystem and shutdown safely when everything on screen is frozen. It's a nice failsafe. alt-sysrq r e i s u b ;) Of course, I'd rather not ever have to use it.

I just bought a Deck keyboard, to get backlit keys in a quality keyboard, and while it's well made, I still prefer the Unicomp.

I love my Deck. Did you get one with tactile or linear switches?

Reply Score: 2

Lenovo vs. Dell
by mattatron on Thu 14th Jan 2010 12:08 UTC
mattatron
Member since:
2009-11-07

I've always been a fan of the Thinkpad keyboards because of their feel and quality. They also are one of the few that have a full-size Enter key which provides much more satisfaction when hitting it than a wimpy little half-size one.

I recently was given a Dell Latitude E6400 at work and I am pleasantly surprised at the quality and feel. The joystick has nothing on the Thinkpad's, but the keyboard is actually _really_ good.

Reply Score: 1

Insert key?
by elmimmo on Thu 14th Jan 2010 12:51 UTC
elmimmo
Member since:
2005-09-17

Talking about obscure keys… does anyone actually ever use the Insert key? Does it have any use other than switching to overtype input mode (which I wonder under what situation one would want to use)

Reply Score: 1

RE: Insert key?
by Zbigniew on Thu 14th Jan 2010 13:22 UTC in reply to "Insert key?"
Zbigniew Member since:
2008-08-28

Insert/Delete are quite commonly used - in applications - as "Insert/Delete" record (file, whatever...).

Edited 2010-01-14 13:22 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Insert key?
by werpu on Mon 18th Jan 2010 18:36 UTC in reply to "RE: Insert key?"
werpu Member since:
2006-01-18

Insert/Delete are quite commonly used - in applications - as "Insert/Delete" record (file, whatever...).

Which reminds me why do they still have the caps lock, this is insane, I curse that key at least three times per day, the only reason why it existed in the first place was Cobol, and yet no one really has moved that key into an obskure keyboard combination making place for something more useful!

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Insert key?
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Tue 19th Jan 2010 05:43 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Insert key?"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

I'm not sure about Cobol being the reason for CAPS LOCK. Typewriters had it too, called the shift lock.


http://designblog.nzeldes.com/2008/10/the-infamous-caps-lock-key/

Reply Score: 2

RE: Insert key?
by boudewijn on Thu 14th Jan 2010 13:40 UTC in reply to "Insert key?"
boudewijn Member since:
2006-03-05

I use Insert a lot, actually -- but that's because I still use the CUA (or is it even pre-CUA) shortcuts for cut, copy and paste (ctrl-del, ctrl-ins, shift-ins).

Reply Score: 2

RE: Insert key?
by Flatland_Spider on Thu 14th Jan 2010 13:49 UTC in reply to "Insert key?"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

I use the Insert key all the time interacting with virtual machines. Ctrl+Alt+Insert is the VM equivalent to Ctrl+Alt+Del. I also use the Insert to control Winamp, Ctrl+Shift+Insert to pause.

Insert can also be setup to be a shortcut for the paste command in Office, if I remember correctly.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Insert key?
by theTSF on Thu 14th Jan 2010 14:01 UTC in reply to "Insert key?"
theTSF Member since:
2005-09-27

I use the insert key rather frequently well more frequently then print screen (alt-printscreen to get a screen shot) Why is it useful. If you do coding you can see that it is useful. For example you have an array of values and you are changing them ever so slightly is is much easier to do a 1 down 2 down 3 down then a del 1 down del 2 down del 3 down. Overtype is quite useful...

The key that is no longer useful... However keyboard makers still put on and to add to the silliness they even have LED to tell you when it is being used is the scroll lock key.

Back in the old day we could use the scroll lock to stop the screen from scrolling data in our terminal (Kinda like ctrl S and ctrl Q for XON-XOFF) but because data moved so slowly you had a chance of stopping the screen from scrolling at the right spot. Today the text scrolls way to fast for it to be useful. and the GUI interface has the scroll bars and mice with scroll wheels to take the slack.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Insert key?
by spaceLem on Thu 14th Jan 2010 14:16 UTC in reply to "Insert key?"
spaceLem Member since:
2007-07-26

As a vim user, Insert allows me to start typing. Actually so do a bunch of other keys, but that's the one I can spam and always know that sooner or later I'll be in the state I want.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Insert key?
by r_a_trip on Thu 14th Jan 2010 16:52 UTC in reply to "Insert key?"
r_a_trip Member since:
2005-07-06

Insert is pretty handy for use in SAP ERP as well. Sometimes you don't want to retype every single Work Breakdown Structure string if they are similar. With insert, I can just change the bits that actually change.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Insert key?
by phoenix on Thu 14th Jan 2010 17:09 UTC in reply to "Insert key?"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Talking about obscure keys… does anyone actually ever use the Insert key? Does it have any use other than switching to overtype input mode (which I wonder under what situation one would want to use)


Yes. Shift+Insert (paste) works at the command-line, whereas CTRL+V doesn't. ;)

Reply Score: 3

Comment by palraabjerg
by palraabjerg on Thu 14th Jan 2010 13:14 UTC
palraabjerg
Member since:
2010-01-14

It's funny how while software changes so fast, and many hardware components evolve at ridiculously fast paces (processors, memory, hard drives), the keyboard has remained largely unchanged over the years - until recently, that is.

Oh yes. It still amazes me how ingrained keyboards are in habit and tradition. And this goes for nearly every single keyboard in production today. And forget an essentially minor tweak like the SysReq key...
Do any of you guys know exactly why the rows of a keyboard are non-aligned? In fact, not a single of the four main rows have the exact same alignment.
As far as I can make out, typewriters did this purely to make space for the little rods that go from each key to the main typewriter mechanics.

If you want a sensible keyboard design that actually take comfort and ergonomics into account (instead of tweaking mindlessly on a design that makes no sense in the age of electronic keyboards), the only two manufacturers I know of are Kinesis and Maltron. Maltron even has examples of how to create a more sensible flat keyboard. And I so wish someone would at least make the attempt to adapt such a design to a laptop.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by palraabjerg
by bhtooefr on Thu 14th Jan 2010 13:20 UTC in reply to "Comment by palraabjerg"
bhtooefr Member since:
2009-02-19

However, the staggered rows allow for better distinction of the rows without looking at the keyboard.

Anyway, SysRq isn't the most important key, although PrtSc is more important, and SysRq is underneath PrtSc normally. (I see Lenovo's put PrtSc under Insert, which is acceptable on such a compressed layout.)

What bothers me more is the function keys. On Windows, they're very necessary. Alt-F4? F5? Those two shortcuts alone warrant keeping them as primary function.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Typewriters and keyboards
by palraabjerg on Thu 14th Jan 2010 14:01 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by palraabjerg"
palraabjerg Member since:
2010-01-14

However, the staggered rows allow for better distinction of the rows without looking at the keyboard.

I would think that the little taps usually found on F and J would serve the purpose of finding the initial row just fine. The displacement of the rows mostly seems to serve the purpose of making you hit the wrong keys.
Another thing to hate about the ordinary keyboard design is the fact that both thumbs are dedicated to a single key: The Space Bar.
Kinesis gives you 6 keys for each thumb. Maltron gives you 8 (with a ctrl and an alt key for each thumb, With backspace, home and tab on the left, delete, end, enter and space on the right). There was even space enough left to separate '.', ':', ';' and ',' onto four different keys.
But don't mind my rambling too much. Changing the typewriter-keyboard habit of the entire world probably wouldn't be possible anyway ;)

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Typewriters and keyboards
by Tuishimi on Thu 14th Jan 2010 15:47 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Typewriters and keyboards"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

tjid id wjst wou;f jsppem ig you ,obef tje leyd!

this is what would happen if you moved the keys!

;)

Reply Score: 2

Insert & Caps Lock
by deadmeat on Thu 14th Jan 2010 13:43 UTC
deadmeat
Member since:
2006-08-04

I don't have insert on my macbook, and most laptops seem to drop it these days, or at least hide it in some obscure place, but it was the bane of my existence. Overwrite mode is a horrible, horrible feature.

The other is the caps lock. OSX has a pref pane for disabling, or remapping the caps lock. I have it disabled and I don't miss it at all.

I can never mentally process the state of the caps lock or overwrite mode. I admit I'm feeble minded and fumble-fingered. I understand some people must use them. They are either keyboard gods, or madmen.

I suspect it's one of those cases where the number of people using these awkward hangover keys in no way justify their existence. There are so many more useful functions that could be on the keyboard. Instead these new functions seem to steal the Fn keys.

I do find the whole Ctrl, Alt, Meta, Fn keys a bit troublesome too. While they all have nice concrete historical names, I have to wonder if those names are now effectively meaningless. OSX uses strange symbols for them, which I have to think about every time. I get the Apple Key, but I still get the rest muddled up.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Insert & Caps Lock
by Dave_K on Thu 14th Jan 2010 14:17 UTC in reply to "Insert & Caps Lock"
Dave_K Member since:
2005-11-16

Yes, Caps Lock should go. I do use it occasionally, but it doesn't need to be a great big button in such a prominent place on the keyboard.

On some keyboards it is hidden away. For example, Caps Lock was activated with Function+Tab on my old Psion 5/7 portables, and Command+Shift on NeXT keyboards.

That seems like a sensible compromise to me, especially on laptop keyboards.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Insert & Caps Lock
by Tuishimi on Thu 14th Jan 2010 15:48 UTC in reply to "RE: Insert & Caps Lock"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

WHAT WOULD THE VAST MAJORITY OF NEWBIES DO ON THE INTERNETS IF THERE WAS NO CAPS LOCK?!11!

Reply Score: 7

RE[3]: Insert & Caps Lock
by unoengborg on Thu 14th Jan 2010 16:48 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Insert & Caps Lock"
unoengborg Member since:
2005-07-06

DEAR SIRS AND MADAMS, IF YOU CURRENTLY ARE DESIGNING KEYBOARDS FOR YOUR COUNTRY, I SINCERELY BEG YOU NOT TO EVER REMOVE THE CAPS LOCK FROM THE KEYBOARD. THIS WOULD CAUSE BIG PROBLEMS FOR NIGERIAN FINANCIAL EMAIL COMMUNICATION...

Reply Score: 7

RE: Insert & Caps Lock
by darknexus on Thu 14th Jan 2010 14:48 UTC in reply to "Insert & Caps Lock"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

I don't think any Apple keyboards have had insert for a good long time, unless you count the numpad on the desktop wired keyboards. Numpad 0 doubles as an insert with numlock off. As for caps lock, I always liked the way the Apple II keyboards were laid out. Ctrl was to the left of the A (on qwerty keyboards anyway) and caps lock was at the very bottom left out of the way. I often remap my keyboard this way especially in *NIX and Windows, where ctrl is used frequently. On that note, anyone know if PC keyboards still exists that have those keys positioned this way from the factory?

Edited 2010-01-14 14:49 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Insert & Caps Lock
by Ludicrous on Thu 14th Jan 2010 17:52 UTC in reply to "RE: Insert & Caps Lock"
Ludicrous Member since:
2009-08-19

As for caps lock, I always liked the way the Apple II keyboards were laid out. Ctrl was to the left of the A (on qwerty keyboards anyway) and caps lock was at the very bottom left out of the way. I often remap my keyboard this way especially in *NIX and Windows, where ctrl is used frequently. On that note, anyone know if PC keyboards still exists that have those keys positioned this way from the factory?

My keyboard of choice is the HHK series.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Hacking_Keyboard

I currently use this variant. Caps Lock is tucked as Fn+Tab (I never find myself using the Caps Lock key).
http://www.pfu.co.jp/hhkeyboard/lite2mac/images/kb200ma1_l.jpg

Just an FYI

Reply Score: 1

RE: Insert & Caps Lock
by unavowed on Fri 15th Jan 2010 11:49 UTC in reply to "Insert & Caps Lock"
unavowed Member since:
2006-03-23

Insert/overwrite mode is actually sometimes useful when you get these forms with dotted fields to fill out.

Reply Score: 1

Caps lock!
by Timmmm on Thu 14th Jan 2010 13:47 UTC
Timmmm
Member since:
2006-07-25

Well the obvious answers are caps lock, scroll lock, break, the windows key, the 'right click' key, and the plethora of Mac modifier keys (control *and* command?).

I think caps lock should become the compose key. It would be nice to have a standard set of alt-gr glyphs printed on the keys too.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Caps lock!
by ChrisIrwin on Thu 14th Jan 2010 14:43 UTC in reply to "Caps lock!"
ChrisIrwin Member since:
2008-12-09

You're suggesting removing some beneficial keys. Apple's Command key and the Win-key for example. They are roughly the same as they provides one of the features I enjoy about OS X: Modifiers have a rough context for the scope of their actions. This key is used for a number of system level shortcuts on Windows, most mac shortcuts, and many Linux users (like myself) have it bound to a number of system or window-manager level things. It is the primary means of launching applications for all the users I know on Win, OS X, and Linux.

If we are allowed to suggest a key because you just don't use it that much, I nominate the 'q' key as neither your post nor mine used it (until I called it out specifically just now).

Reply Score: 1

RE: Caps lock!
by phoenix on Thu 14th Jan 2010 17:49 UTC in reply to "Caps lock!"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Well the obvious answers are caps lock, scroll lock, break, the windows key, the 'right click' key, and the plethora of Mac modifier keys (control *and* command?).


Scroll lock is still used by a lot of Unix-like systems. For example, the system console on at least FreeBSD uses it ... for controlling the scrolling of the console. ;)

The Win key is also very useful, if you mentally remap "Windows" to "Window Manager". ;)

Right-click key is very useful if your mouse is dead, although some OSes use Shift+F10 for that, so it may be redundant.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Caps lock!
by Delgarde on Thu 14th Jan 2010 20:45 UTC in reply to "Caps lock!"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

the windows key, the 'right click' key.


Not at all - those two are immensely useful, the windows key being a perfect modifier to use for global desktop shortcuts, since it's never going to interfere with application shortcuts.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by talaf
by talaf on Thu 14th Jan 2010 13:56 UTC
talaf
Member since:
2008-11-19

Thinkpad keyboards are supergood, but I'm really not hot on the Fxx keys needing modifiers. F1 help, F3 search, F5 refresh, F11 fullscreen, F12 save as... I use them on a very regular basis. As long as you can switch the behavior and revert it to the original one, I'm okay with the default behavior being different.

Something that is very comfortable on Thinkpads (at least 4x and 6x) is the fact that :
- Volume keys are hardware (no need for the OS to be up for them to alter the sound volume or mute)
- Pressing the mute button ALWAYS mutes the sound, you have to press vol up or down to unmute it. That way, you launch your laptop in meetings, and by pressing mute you know your sound will be muted.

I do hope this behavior is kept unchanged. Details like that are what makes Thinkpads Thinkpads for me ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by talaf
by Carewolf on Thu 14th Jan 2010 14:24 UTC in reply to "Comment by talaf"
Carewolf Member since:
2005-09-08

On my thinkpad R61 all the buttons are software. So volume and mute only works if an application have been started that responds to them.

Reply Score: 1

Windows key
by tyrnight on Thu 14th Jan 2010 14:15 UTC
tyrnight
Member since:
2006-10-05

I know this will start flame war..

But the Windows key is very useless to every one I asked the question to. Im sure there are those that use it 20 times a minute.. but to the every day user, it only opens the start button. Redundant...

Edited 2010-01-14 14:16 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Windows key
by palraabjerg on Thu 14th Jan 2010 14:27 UTC in reply to "Windows key"
palraabjerg Member since:
2010-01-14

My solution is to consider the "Windows"-key a meta-key that no application uses, and which you can therefore assign solely to actions in the window-manager. I use it like that with StumpWM. This suddenly makes the key immensely useful as a switch allowing for direct control of most of the windowing environment through the keyboard.
But ironically, yes. The "Windows" key persists on being absolutely useless in Windows.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Windows key
by darknexus on Thu 14th Jan 2010 14:44 UTC in reply to "Windows key"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Actually, I find the Windows key (though I don't think it should have that logo on it) to be quite useful even in Windows. There are quite a few shortcuts on it that, while officially documented, remain obscure. My favorite one is windows+r to pop up the run dialog from anywhere. There's also windows+m to minimize everything and go to the desktop, windows+d to go to the desktop without minimizing windows, windows+tab to go to the taskbar, and a boatload of others that I'm sure a lot of Windows keyboard power-users end up using. Even using it to open the start menu is more convenient than the official shortcut for that (ctrl+esc). For example, in XP I could do "windows s c" (classic start menu obviously) and up comes the control panel. Quick and simple, though it's not quite so nice anymore given the way Windows 7 now treats keyboard-based navigation in the start menu and other places. It's far from useless even in Windows, though I'd argue that it is considerably more useful in environments such as GNOME (and probably most other X window managers), where you can assign shortcuts to just about any command you want. The windows key comes in very handy there, since it's a modifier that no application uses. The only exception is SUN's modified version of GNOME, used in Opensolaris, which maps the windows key to GNOME shortcuts in a manner similar to Windows itself though, of course, these shortcuts can be changed.
Ironically, the windows key becomes the command key in OS X if you use a non-Apple keyboard with it. It's not very ergonomic IMHO and it can be easily remapped, but I've always found that a tad ironic. Of course, the command key on a Mac keyboard does become the Windows key when used on a PC. Obviously they used the same keycodes, just a different placement and logo.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Windows key
by Declination on Thu 14th Jan 2010 17:18 UTC in reply to "RE: Windows key"
Declination Member since:
2009-11-26

I have a logitech keyboard that uses Win key as option by default. Perhaps this is non-standard behavior though. But it does actually have option written beneath the windows logo.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Windows key
by Drumhellar on Thu 14th Jan 2010 18:53 UTC in reply to "Windows key"
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

They just dont' know what the windows key does.

win-d: minimize all windows (very useful)

win-left, win-right: maximize a window to the left or right half of a screen

win-up: maximize a window

win-p: when multiple monitors are connected, choose between using one, the other, duplicate, or span (very useful for laptops plugged into projectors or TVs)

win-#: launch/minimize/switch-to pinned programs from the taskbar . Each number corresponds to their position.

win-R: run dialog.

There are many more useful windows-key combinations. I think the only reason people think the windows key should go is because it has the windows logo on it.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Windows key
by jgagnon on Thu 14th Jan 2010 20:56 UTC in reply to "RE: Windows key"
jgagnon Member since:
2008-06-24

Win-E to open an explorer window

Win-F to open a find window (searching)

Win-L to instantly lock your computer (not sure what happens if you don't have a password set up)

Win-M to minimize all windows (similar to Win-D)

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Windows key
by boldingd on Thu 14th Jan 2010 21:15 UTC in reply to "RE: Windows key"
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

Or when you're playing TF2, you try to hit Ctrl to crouch... and your game disappears, your screen blanks, and three seconds later, your Desktop pops up, with your Start menu active.

I think that's the general complaint: "I was in the middle of X, I tried to hit a modifier key, hit the (expletive-of-choice) Windows key, and the Start menu popped up and stole input focus!". If there was a way to make it not open the start menu every time it's pressed, or a way for applications to notify Windows to disable the damned thing when they have focus, people would probably hate it a lot less.

Reply Score: 2

ctrl alt backspace
by jackflap on Thu 14th Jan 2010 14:39 UTC
jackflap
Member since:
2008-11-04

cool, can we have ctrl alt backspace restart the xserver by default on ubuntu again now?

Reply Score: 1

There are many keys i could spare
by Troels on Thu 14th Jan 2010 15:24 UTC
Troels
Member since:
2005-07-11

The following is a list of buttons i find useless on a desktop keyboard, they may not all apply to a laptop keyboard.

Caps-lock for starters, i think many people see this key as a liability, not as a benefit, especially when entering passwords.

Num-lock, if i ever use the keypad it is for number entry, all the other functions are placed more conveniently just left of the keypad. Actually i think i would just lose the keypad altogether, i am not an accountant and dont do a lot of number input.

Scroll-lock, I don't recall ever using this for anything. Bonus, this was the last of the toggle keys, no more need for status LEDs.

The right click key thingy, next to the windows key. The windows key itself i actually find useful, although i wish it wasn't named the windows key :-) But it is handy for custom shortcuts.

Pause/break I remember using that back in the DOS days!

Print screen, yes i know a lot of people use it for taking screen shots, but do i really need a key just for screen shots? I would rather just start a screen shot app, or alternatly some other key combo.

On danish layout keyboards we have a button with 1/2 and § on it, i hate it as i often hit that instead of 1.

The insert key seems to have been degraded to toggling overwrite mode on and off, other than that i dont recall using it since the DOS days where it was part of the paste shortcut.

Edited 2010-01-14 15:26 UTC

Reply Score: 1

boudewijn Member since:
2006-03-05

The insert key is still part of the paste shortcut, at least on Windows and in KDE.

Reply Score: 2

jarkkot Member since:
2010-01-14

Totally agree.

And why this totally useless keypad is on the right side, between keyboard and mouse? You have to move your hand more.

Right Control key, never use

"§½"-key could be "@"-key or "/"-key. These days "@" and "/" are so often used, they should have own keys, not behind altgr and shift (at least in Finnish keyboard) as currently.

Edited 2010-01-14 16:03 UTC

Reply Score: 1

unoengborg Member since:
2005-07-06

Sometimes it is good to have keys that are not generally used in applications. E.g. Scroll lock is often used in KVM switches to switch between computers.

Reply Score: 2

Why not have a "function lock" key instead?
by jgagnon on Thu 14th Jan 2010 16:16 UTC
jgagnon
Member since:
2008-06-24

That can have a default set for the user (or simply remember the last state it was in). Everyone wins this way.

/boggle

Reply Score: 1

DigitalAxis Member since:
2005-08-28

There we go, and we can replace Caps-lock with it.

Reply Score: 2

(Un)Neccessary keys
by Drumhellar on Thu 14th Jan 2010 19:08 UTC
Drumhellar
Member since:
2005-07-12

For laptops, numlock is retarded (unless you have a huge laptop with a full number pad). Maybe it's because I haven't tried much, but using the false number pad on staggered keys just seems exceptionally painful.

Scroll lock: unneeded unless you go console only, then it makes sense to have something to control scroll. Otherwise, it could go, since it's rarely used.

I link Lenovo's idea to map the F-xx keys to be used with Fn is stupid. F-keys are common in applications, only the average user doesn't care enough to learn about their use. Besides, my laptop has good multimedia keys. Taking a whole row of keys and converting them to be used in only a single class of applications is stupid.

weird-right-click-key-thingie: Mostly useless, but on occasion, there are times where it is a godsend. Mice do break, and occasionally you'll find a broken app that won't let you right click with the mouse when it's still possible to give an object focus with the keyboard and right-click that way. It does make sense in the Windows world, however, since previously there was no way (at least that I'm aware of) to achieve that without the key. I'm glad Windows is still exceptionally useful with only a keyboard.

wtf is the break key used for?

Also, shame on any laptop maker that puts the fn key in the bottom left, where the ctrl key should be.

The windows key is incredibly useful. I think people's main objection to it is the fact that it's got the windows logo on it.

Reply Score: 2

RE: (Un)Neccessary keys
by jgagnon on Thu 14th Jan 2010 19:25 UTC in reply to "(Un)Neccessary keys"
jgagnon Member since:
2008-06-24

I haven't used the Break key since my DOS days (usually in conjunction with the Ctrl key). It was used to preemptively terminate running applications. It was implemented as a system call (or interrupt) if I remember correctly, but it could be blocked/ignored by an application.

Reply Score: 1

Not On All Thinkpads
by bh445 on Thu 14th Jan 2010 19:14 UTC
bh445
Member since:
2005-07-07

Only the ThinkPad EDGE and X100s have this new keyboard. All the other ThinkPads, including the new T410, T410s, T510, and W510 have the standard keyboards with first-level function keys and SysRq. Although the EDGE and X100s are not netbooks, they are ultraportables. How many netbooks and ultraportables have full size keyboards? Maybe they shouldn't have been called ThinkPads and then this story would never have made the news. The point is that the EDGE and X100s are not meant to replace the classic ThinkPad line, they instead extend (and dilute?) it. The T410, T410s and T510 are the true successors to the T40's and T60's.

It's time for OSNews to get back to real reporting and stop summarizing Wikipedia and worrying about CamelCase.

Reply Score: 2

SysRq on Sun Type 5 keyboard
by Doc Pain on Thu 14th Jan 2010 19:15 UTC
Doc Pain
Member since:
2006-10-08

Thom's article states: "Mac keyboards had no use for the key, and neither did Sun's; my venerable Sun Type 5 doesn't have it." I've checked both my type 5 (de) and 5c (en) keyboards - both do have a SysRq key; it's the alternate function labeled to the Pause key (on the key's front). The same is true for my Sun Type 6 USB keyboard, and I'm sure the type 7 one keep it the same way.

Furthermore: "Wikipedia is sparse on the key's history, but states that it traces its origins back to the operator interrupt key found on IBM 3270-type console keyboards for IBM System/370 mainframes. I'm sure someone in the audience today can provide a more detailed historical note on this one (I'm too young for this)." I've also checked my (pre)historic 3270 keyboard as well as the 5250 I have (and use): The key as initially been labeled "Attn" (de: Abruf) with a second line "SysRq" (de: S-Abf) on it. It was one of the "attention keys" that caused data traffic between the terminal logic and the mainframe host. Its meaning has been depending on the particular program and software installation.

Edited 2010-01-14 19:23 UTC

Reply Score: 2

abraxas
Member since:
2005-07-07

This is just a continuation of the deterioration of the Thinkpad keyboards. I have a T40p and a T60. The T40p keyboard is definitely better than the T60 keyboard. The T60 keyboard just feels cheaper but it's still better than a lot of other laptop keyboards. This is just taking it another step making TP keyboards just as awful as what most other manufacturers offer. It's a sad day. I was hoping that Lenovo wouldn't screw up the TP that much when they bought the IBM PC division but they did.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Beachchairs
by Beachchairs on Fri 15th Jan 2010 01:04 UTC
Beachchairs
Member since:
2009-04-10

Pause
Break
Scroll Lock
Insert

I don't know what any of these keys do, neither does anyone I know. They could probably all go away.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by Beachchairs
by nasserd on Sun 17th Jan 2010 18:51 UTC in reply to "Comment by Beachchairs"
nasserd Member since:
2006-08-12

Pause/Break are redundant to ESC. Newer programs and developers seldom tie any feature or behavior to the Pause/Break key anymore (with exception to software developers/compilers, but they use derivatives of F5/DEBUG commands anyway). I second the removal of THAT key.

The Scroll Lock/Number Lock key makes complete sense on both desktop and laptop keyboard layouts. They allow for the use of scrolling (up/down/left/right and home/end/pageUp/pageDown) with the numerical keypad.

The INSERT key toggles between a standard insert command (or add new record when doing some data entry) and an overwrite command (when doing word processing for instance; it becomes an INSERT or INSERT-AND-REPLACE conditional).

Edited 2010-01-17 18:52 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Lenovo is overrated
by nt_jerkface on Fri 15th Jan 2010 02:31 UTC
nt_jerkface
Member since:
2009-08-26

There was a time when thinkpads were the only choice for rugged reliability but those days have passed. They still make good laptops but I think Toshiba and Asus offer a better product. However they are still a good choice for people who hate touchpads.

Reply Score: 2

Madness!
by sorpigal on Fri 15th Jan 2010 22:17 UTC
sorpigal
Member since:
2005-11-02

Debugging a kernel on your laptop? No more magic sysrq!

Taking a screenshot in Windows? Not without prntscrn you aren't!

Seriously, if you want to try removing keys--don't! But if you're looking for the low-hanging fruit of keyboards it makes *far* more sense to start with Pause Break than Print Screen/SysRq. There are still common uses for sysrq but the use of pausebreak is extremely uncommon. When was the last time you hit it? How about on a desktop system?

Keyboard designers are likely frustrated that they don't have room to stretch and grow and display their artistic talent. Whatever, guys. Don't f--k with my keyboard layout!

Backspace? Two rows above enter, two keys wide! Change it and die.
Enter? One row tall! Two or three keys wide! Change it and die!
Ins/Del/Home/End/PgUp/PgDn - these have a correct layout, change it in any way and die.
Tilde? To the left of 1! Nowhere else will do. Esc? Above tilde, preferably with a gap!
F-keys? I want *at least* 12 of them.
Don't move Tab.
Don't move Ctrl or Alt, for the love of all that is holy.
If you must add "extra" keys place them:
- outside the normal keyboard area so I can't hit them by mistake.
- not at the left or right of the keyboard.
- nowhere!

A key that requires configuration to use won't get used, so it's useless. Thus play/pause/next/etc are only useful if the codes for them are so standard that everything uses them.

But capslock... you can change it if you must.

Reply Score: 2

Hey, I need it !!!
by mmu_man on Sat 16th Jan 2010 01:00 UTC
mmu_man
Member since:
2006-09-30

How do I enter kernel debugger in BeOS and Haiku now ?

Actually, I've been having a mac for some months now, and it's really painfully missing those keys along with insert, pageup/down... Sure you can use Fn+up/down, but hey, come on !
We can as well use a MacBook Wheel™ :-P
http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/01/06/macbook-wheel-debuts-on-the-on...

Oh and Function keys as 2nd way... that sux as well, who cares about wifi anyway...

Btw, Sun keyboards don't have SysReq, but they have StopA which is about equivalent (drops to OpenFirmware)

Edited 2010-01-16 01:03 UTC

Reply Score: 2

I don't get it.
by deathshadow on Sat 16th Jan 2010 23:49 UTC
deathshadow
Member since:
2005-07-12

This whole 'return of the chiclet keyboard' bullcookies... What the ****?

They SUCKED on the Trash-80 Coco, MC-10 and Videotex, they SUCKED on the Spectrum, they SUCKED on the PET, they SUCKED on the Laser, they SUCKED on the PC Jr... and I guarantee if that FLIMSY pile of aluminum had a microsoft logo on it instead of "the big shiny Apple" everybody would be pissing on it from orbit. Hell, first time I tried the Apple one I broke the **** thing... Ok, second time I tried one I broke that too.

But again, I wonder just what the **** is in the Apple kool aid (and why I'm immune to it). I've tried that overpriced rubbish and I really have to wonder what the **** people are on about with it.

But what do I know - I'm the guy who would kill for a modern laptop built around a buckler spring keyboard ala the Model M instead of the rinky no-travel piles of crap they have today. **** the weight, these little girly-man pansies dragging out the scale to find out how many OUNCES their laptops are need to spend a few years shlepping around a Trash-80 Model 4P or a H-168... Hell, I bet these wussies would cry at the weight of Model 100.

The true laugh of it is these cheap no-travel no-feedback piles of crap are made ENTIRELY because they are cheap, not because they are good - somehow we've gotten away from that perception and damned if I can figure out WHY?!?

Give me Model M, or give me death.

Edited 2010-01-16 23:52 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: I don't get it.
by werpu on Mon 18th Jan 2010 18:39 UTC in reply to "I don't get it."
werpu Member since:
2006-01-18

This whole 'return of the chiclet keyboard' bullcookies... What the ****?

They SUCKED on the Trash-80 Coco, MC-10 and Videotex, they SUCKED on the Spectrum, they SUCKED on the PET, they SUCKED on the Laser, they SUCKED on the PC Jr... and I guarantee if that FLIMSY pile of aluminum had a microsoft logo on it instead of "the big shiny Apple" everybody would be pissing on it from orbit. Hell, first time I tried the Apple one I broke the **** thing... Ok, second time I tried one I broke that too.

Actually I love that keyboard on the newer Apples, first it is not a rubber keyboard anymore seconly I got rid of my RSI since I switched to the apple keyboard, due to two reasons first I have way less finger movement, secondly, the keys just have the right press force to me. And third, that keyboard unlike others is almost impossible to break. I went through a notebook keyboard regularily within a year. I am already behind my second year on the Apple keyboard. And no I dont love it just because it is from Apple, heck I even went for Android instead of an iPhone!

Reply Score: 2