Goodbye Caps-lock

Those of you that know Matt know that he’s a big fan of the Dvorak keyboard layout; I tried it once and felt like I was throwing a baseball left handed, drunk, while juggling chainsaws and puppies for an hour. The whole experience was uncomfortable and awkward and made me feel like a stranger in my own house, so I haven’t gone back to trying it since.

As a developer I usually find myself doing a lot of typing. I use a lot of symbols that most people don’t use through-out their day so much, like $,#_%-;\*&”()!=//’ and just about anything in between. I use these constantly, on almost every single sentence of code-poetry that I write. I’m constantly copying and pasting and saving and committing and upping and all sorts of random things that most people would never really shake a stick at if they saw me lying unconscious on the floor babbling about camel-case and the importance of properly indenting your mark-up.

This got me thinking about the keyboard on my Sony VAIO FW340J (which I love dearly) and about the keys that I use most through-out the day. The thing that I love most about Sony and their keyboard layout (up until this years’ models) is they’ve kept the additional column of keys to the right of the keyboard dedicated towards text navigation. The delete, home, page-up, page-down, and end keys are all nicely piled on top of each other for super quick use. Combined with the power of my left shift key, they allow me to effortlessly highlight lines of code with only the lift of a finger or two.

Back in the days of type-writers (when people were apparently ALWAYS SHOUTING) it was decided that the caps-lock key would be positioned to the left of your left pinky, directly above the shift key, and directly below the tab key.

In the middle of my bustling downtown fancy modern day chicklet style keyboard, lives an old curmudgeon of a caps-lock key that refuses to give up his real-estate.

This is actually the main reason I haven’t purchased a Mac yet.

Anyhow, today Kunal Bhalla mentioned that he recently tried out the Dvorak layout and decided to revisit it again later when he was feeling a little more dedicated to cause, but he brought up the idea of remapping and switching his caps-lock and esc keys in Ubuntu, and I thought that was a pretty clever idea.

I found a few articles online about remapping keys in Windows, but nothing that was dead simple. So, a quick back-up and dive-in to the registry and I’ve kicked my old man out and replaced him with a shiny new key. I opted for having it open My Computer -6B E0 for now, because hitting Windows + E was just too many key presses. :)

When I stop and think about the caps-lock key, it really is amazing that’s stayed put for as long as it has, considering how rarely we actually use it anymore. Given the number of computers in the world, the words per minute that most of us can type, and the number of times the caps-lock key is hit by mistake, I’d wager that $2 billion dollars are lost in productivity every month by mistakes that old-school key placement causes. (Keep in mind that figure is based on absolutely nothing but my general feeling of negativity towards the inefficiency and complete randomness of that key in our modern, fancy-pants, high-rise building world we live in today.)

If you could replace your caps-lock key, what would you put there? Besides diamonds, or a freshwater fish…