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Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:06 am UTC
by King Author
Even when I'm running DOSBox or something, I never use the Scroll Lock button. I can't think of a single program, either commercial (like games and stuff) or professional that uses the Scroll Lock button.

And how about Pause/Break? Again, can't think of any program that uses them.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 6:37 am UTC
by J the Ninja
My keyboard (Logitech Wave) is either missing scroll lock, or turned it into Fn+Pause/break or something. I guess some boards still have it because it's a standard that got ingrained in the way things are done.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:47 pm UTC
by enk
King Author wrote:And how about Pause/Break? Again, can't think of any program that uses them.


Some games do, for, you know, pausing, don't they? (I <3 commas)

And it pauses the BIOS POST output :P

I also use it to pause/play music.


I think I tried a DJ app that used scroll lock, but I'm not sure. Otherwise, I don't know anything that uses it.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 5:18 pm UTC
by Dropzone
King Author wrote:Even when I'm running DOSBox or something, I never use the Scroll Lock button. I can't think of a single program, either commercial (like games and stuff) or professional that uses the Scroll Lock button.
The Wikipedia article lists quite a few programs that use it.

enk wrote:
King Author wrote:And how about Pause/Break? Again, can't think of any program that uses them.


Some games do, for, you know, pausing, don't they? (I <3 commas)
I'm pretty sure I've seen at least one really old game that uses Pause that way, but I don't know of any recent games that do.

Also, another use for Pause/Break is the Ctrl-Break combination to kill a console application.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:17 am UTC
by Jorpho
Well, no need to recapitulate Wikipedia.

I remember Commander Keen 4-6 would actually bring up a little "PAUSE" window (much like you would get after reloading a save) upon pressing Pause.

The last time I used it in Windows (given that CTRL-C is much more convenient to press in most contexts) is in fact the debug-enabled version of DOSBox, which does require you to press ALT-Break to enter the debugger.

At least SysRq might just be on its way out.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/System_request

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:31 am UTC
by unlofl
Well, I guess its just something else to bind commands to. The real question, why not just relabel those F13-F15?

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 6:19 am UTC
by enk
I remembered one more thing for Pause. I Windows, Win+Pause brings up system info. It's actually important, I use that all the time at work.. (edit: Lots of different computers, naturally)

Related, have you tried working on Windows with a keyboard without a Windows key? It ain't easy.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 11:17 am UTC
by Jorpho
enk wrote:I remembered one more thing for Pause. I Windows, Win+Pause brings up system info. It's actually important, I use that all the time at work.. (edit: Lots of different computers, naturally)
Oh, right. How could I forget that? I had to double-check just now that it wasn't Win+PrintScreen.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:13 pm UTC
by Kizyr
Duke Nukem 3D had Scroll Lock holster the weapon. I never did figure out what the purpose of that was.

I use the Pause|Break key in several applications, though. Ctrl+Break will always interrupt and allow me to end a program, and pressing Break while I'm on the z/OS mainframe at my work does something... I can't figure out what, though. KF

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 6:33 am UTC
by King Author
unlofl wrote:Well, I guess its just something else to bind commands to. The real question, why not just relabel those F13-F15?

An old 1980s computer I had back in the day, don't even remember what brand, had F1-16 vertically in two rows along the lefthand side.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:33 pm UTC
by the.coding.eye
So far, the only reason I've ever had to use the Scroll Lock/Pause button was in a Cisco networking class. In order to get into the ROMON mode of a router, you have to press the Scroll Lock/Pause button as the router is powering on.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 11:53 pm UTC
by hintss
enk wrote:I also use it to pause/play music.


genius! I mapped that as soon as I read it.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Tue Sep 21, 2010 4:21 am UTC
by Jorpho
King Author wrote:
unlofl wrote:Well, I guess its just something else to bind commands to. The real question, why not just relabel those F13-F15?

An old 1980s computer I had back in the day, don't even remember what brand, had F1-16 vertically in two rows along the lefthand side.
The PC/5250 had a 122-key layout with F1-F24. Apparently you can even still buy them!
http://www.twindata.com/affirmative/5250keyboard.htm

I am also reminded of a few Jargon File entries:
http://www.jargon.net/jargonfile/s/spac ... board.html
http://www.jargon.net/jargonfile/d/doublebucky.html
http://www.jargon.net/jargonfile/q/quadruplebucky.html

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 6:57 am UTC
by Eebster the Great
Realistically, scroll lock, pause, break, sysrq, and the menu key have all outlived their usefulness (was the menu key ever useful?). The fact that they do have functions does not justify their inclusion on the keyboard. Given their extremely marginal utility, it would make far more sense to bind them to another key combination. To some extent, this has already been done (Shift + F10 = Menu, Ctrl + C = Break, most applications have entirely replaced Pause with Ctrl + P, F10, Esc, or similar, and scroll lock and SysRq are never used).

Consider that if we bound SysRq to Alt + Print Screen, it would have no effect whatsoever on the Magic SysRq key, the only modern-day implementation of it. That would give more space to write "Print Screen" on an already way-too crammed keycap.

If we removed the Menu key entirely, Shift + F10 would suffice. People nearly always right click anyway.

If we removed Pause and Break entirely, a very few applications might have to use Ctrl + C or something else instead, and there may be compatibility issues with some programs, but with a simple registry option this could be fixed (e.g. set Ctrl + Alt + F9 or something that is never used to be interpreted as Pause).

Scroll Lock has the difficulty of being a "lock" key with its own LED which simultaneously makes removal more attractive and more difficult. But since the only application I have ever used with Scroll Lock functionality is Excel, I'm sure there would be a way around this without much fuss.


OT but still on the topic of annoying keyboard configurations, my keyboard has an additional pipe/backslash key to the left of the spacebar. Just in case I need to type backslashes twice as often. Who thought that made sense?

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 7:39 am UTC
by enk
Eebster the Great wrote:If we removed the Menu key entirely, Shift + F10 would suffice. People nearly always right click anyway.

I dunno, I use the menu key a lot when I'm using Windows because I like using the keyboard and Windows doesn't have a good CLI. Wasn't the menu key "invented" after Shift+F10 anyway?

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 11:50 am UTC
by Jorpho
See, until now, I didn't even know about Shift-F10.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:04 pm UTC
by Levelheaded
I find myself using Scroll Lock from time to time in Excel. When you turn it on, it moves the spreadsheet instead of the selected cell - basically the same as the mousewheel, but it also goes left and right.

I use Pause / Break quite a bit if I'm in DOS and need to break out of a command - ping or dir/p in a big directory or something.

The keys I really hate are all of the Windows keys. I use CTRL + ESC to open the Start Menu, I don't need two specialized keys (that will drop me out of full screen applications if accidentally pressed) that do the same thing. With the menu key, I don't know if I've ever used it aside from at work with IE when I use my bank's website. It's got an annoying Javascript right-click blocker so I can't copy / paste otherwise.

I don't think I've ever used the 'Print Scrn / SysRq' screen for anything but screenshots though. Ever. SysRq makes me think of a time when computers had Turbo buttons.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 6:37 pm UTC
by Eebster the Great
Levelheaded wrote:I find myself using Scroll Lock from time to time in Excel. When you turn it on, it moves the spreadsheet instead of the selected cell - basically the same as the mousewheel, but it also goes left and right.

I use Pause / Break quite a bit if I'm in DOS and need to break out of a command - ping or dir/p in a big directory or something.

The keys I really hate are all of the Windows keys. I use CTRL + ESC to open the Start Menu, I don't need two specialized keys (that will drop me out of full screen applications if accidentally pressed) that do the same thing. With the menu key, I don't know if I've ever used it aside from at work with IE when I use my bank's website. It's got an annoying Javascript right-click blocker so I can't copy / paste otherwise.

I don't think I've ever used the 'Print Scrn / SysRq' screen for anything but screenshots though. Ever. SysRq makes me think of a time when computers had Turbo buttons.


The windows key is a meta key used a little more in Windows 7. I can understand leaving that on the keyboard if Microsoft plans on continuing to expand on its functionality. There are two because, like most meta keys, it is easier to type chords with one on either side of the keyboard. However, I don't disagree that it isn't used much. Then again, neither is Insert.

SysRq is used in some Linux distros to send commands directly to BIOS. I have only ever spoken to one person who used it frequently, and there is no reason a key combination couldn't suffice.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:58 am UTC
by '; DROP DATABASE;--
What I wonder is why Num/Caps/Scroll Lock are global, rather than per-application settings?
I'd like to change that useless menu key into an AltGr, but haven't found how. I can change right Alt into one, but I like having an actual Alt there.
The Windows key is (amusingly) quite useful for me in Linux, as I've bound it to all manner of useful window management shortcuts.
Levelheaded wrote:With the menu key, I don't know if I've ever used it aside from at work with IE when I use my bank's website. It's got an annoying Javascript right-click blocker so I can't copy / paste otherwise.
Have you considered finding a bank that doesn't demonstrate gross technical incompetence? o.O

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 7:23 pm UTC
by Carnildo
'; DROP DATABASE;-- wrote:What I wonder is why Num/Caps/Scroll Lock are global, rather than per-application settings?

Capslock is global because originally it was a physical locking switch on the keyboard. Numlock and scrolllock are global to give a consistent user interface with capslock.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 7:24 am UTC
by enk
Carnildo wrote:Capslock is global because originally it was a physical locking switch on the keyboard.


I think I've seen some modern laptops where it still is.

Which will only make it harder to use the key as a control key, I guess :|

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 5:33 am UTC
by hintss
I use it as a control key too!

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 10:18 am UTC
by Eebster the Great
hintss wrote:I use it as a control key too!

BUT THEN HOW DO YOU CRUISE CONTROL?

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:14 pm UTC
by hintss
with shift :P

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Tue Oct 05, 2010 4:17 am UTC
by Amnesiasoft
hintss wrote:I use it as a control key too!

Wouldn't making it shift make more sense? The only times I ever accidentally hit Caps Lock is when trying to get at shift, not control.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:14 am UTC
by hintss
Amnesiasoft wrote:
hintss wrote:I use it as a control key too!

Wouldn't making it shift make more sense? The only times I ever accidentally hit Caps Lock is when trying to get at shift, not control.

IIRC, the caps lock was orriginally another control key. oh, and the only time I hit backslash is when getting at enter

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Tue Oct 05, 2010 6:15 am UTC
by Eebster the Great
hintss wrote:
Amnesiasoft wrote:
hintss wrote:I use it as a control key too!

Wouldn't making it shift make more sense? The only times I ever accidentally hit Caps Lock is when trying to get at shift, not control.

IIRC, the caps lock was orriginally another control key. oh, and the only time I hit backslash is when getting at enter

Caps lock was originally caps lock.

On my new (super cheapo) keyboard, there is a fucking extra backslash key between my left alt and my spacebar. WTF? How many times do I need to type backslash? It's already enough in the way being 50% wider than most keys and directly between Enter and Backspace, but this addition is just ridiculous.

E: I just realized that I already mentioned this in this thread. Whatever, it deserves to be mentioned twice. I also have an insert key where right Ctrl should be and right Ctrl where the Win key should be. Ugh.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Tue Oct 05, 2010 9:59 am UTC
by enk
Amnesiasoft wrote:
hintss wrote:I use it as a control key too!

Wouldn't making it shift make more sense? The only times I ever accidentally hit Caps Lock is when trying to get at shift, not control.


It's not about accidentally hitting it, it's about using it all the time without bending your pinky.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Thu Oct 07, 2010 1:33 am UTC
by Meteorswarm
Eebster the Great wrote:On my new (super cheapo) keyboard, there is a fucking extra backslash key between my left alt and my spacebar. WTF? How many times do I need to type backslash? It's already enough in the way being 50% wider than most keys and directly between Enter and Backspace, but this addition is just ridiculous.


It's a sign from the Heavens that you should write all your documents in TeX

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Thu Oct 07, 2010 6:45 am UTC
by Eebster the Great
Meteorswarm wrote:
Eebster the Great wrote:On my new (super cheapo) keyboard, there is a fucking extra backslash key between my left alt and my spacebar. WTF? How many times do I need to type backslash? It's already enough in the way being 50% wider than most keys and directly between Enter and Backspace, but this addition is just ridiculous.


It's a sign from the Heavens that you should write all your documents in TeX

The thing is, programmers generally move frequently used keys away from the corners and toward the middle of the keyboard (e.g. replacing caps lock with escape). But the new additional backslash is no more accessible than the normal one. It's right below the 'x' key. Now, if you know how hard it is to reach 'x,' imagine trying to hit '\' all the time.

I really don't think they thought this through.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 7:37 am UTC
by Bic Finepoint
I was amazed that no one mentioned KVMs, I use Scroll lock to switch between computers.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 4:25 pm UTC
by evilspoons
Eebster the Great wrote:The thing is, programmers generally move frequently used keys away from the corners and toward the middle of the keyboard (e.g. replacing caps lock with escape). But the new additional backslash is no more accessible than the normal one. It's right below the 'x' key. Now, if you know how hard it is to reach 'x,' imagine trying to hit '\' all the time.

I really don't think they thought this through.


I think your extra backslash key comes from non-roman language keyboards. Take a look at Japanese/Korean keyboards, in the place of your extra backslash they've got another modifier key. Presumably you have a keyboard designed for one of these languages then turned into a US layout. "Hey, we've got an extra key here!" "PUT BACKSLASH! No one knows what it's for anyway!"

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:58 pm UTC
by savanik
I can't say I use Scroll Lock much. I use Win-Break a lot to access system information, though.

On a related note, of what use is a big-ass 'POWER' button doing hanging up there where you just know you're going to mash it in the middle of editing a document and trying to navigate in it and your system abruptly shuts itself off without saving the document you spent several hours editing?

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 1:01 am UTC
by Eebster the Great
savanik wrote:I can't say I use Scroll Lock much. I use Win-Break a lot to access system information, though.

On a related note, of what use is a big-ass 'POWER' button doing hanging up there where you just know you're going to mash it in the middle of editing a document and trying to navigate in it and your system abruptly shuts itself off without saving the document you spent several hours editing?

I'm sure you can change what the power button on your keyboard does.

If not, that's pretty ridiculous. You can probably still deactivate it, though.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 6:53 am UTC
by Kimmo
Probably? Certainly.

Image

If you have keys on your keyboard you don't want, I can't see the problem.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 4:58 pm UTC
by Eebster the Great
Kimmo wrote:Probably? Certainly.

If you have keys on your keyboard you don't want, I can't see the problem.

In my case, those keys are taking up space that other keys could occupy, but in any case, who wants gaping holes in their keyboard?

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:22 am UTC
by Kimmo
TBH, I was mostly just being a smartarse. Although, you could probably internally disable any keys you don't like hitting accidentally, if you don't like the gaping holes.

I'd like to see a keyboard with a numpad on the left, myself... for one, when playing FPSs no other bunch of keys cuts it for me, so I'm forced to mouse left-handed, which sucks... and also, it's just unbalanced. When you're typing, you're doing it at the very left of your deskspace (if you're right-handed), which is just dumb, IMO... and if you have a setup that allows you to kick back with your keyboard on your lap, it just doesn't work with a full-sized keyboard... it either keeps sliding off your right leg, or your right hand is above your left leg when typing.

I find the degree of unnecessary conformity in keyboard design astounding... talk about lock-in. Who says the rows must be staggered, anyway? I bet a grid would be pretty easy to adapt to...

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:34 am UTC
by enk
Kimmo wrote:When you're typing, you're doing it at the very left of your deskspace (if you're right-handed), which is just dumb


Much agreeage.

With this keyboard, you can put the numpad on the left side:
Image

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:28 am UTC
by Amnesiasoft
My personal solution was to just get a keyboard without a numpad. I don't miss it at all.

Re: Why do keyboards still have a Scroll Lock button?

Posted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:27 am UTC
by Carnildo
Kimmo wrote:Who says the rows must be staggered, anyway? I bet a grid would be pretty easy to adapt to...

There have been grid keyboards in the past. They've been universally panned by touch-typists because when your hands are held in a natural posture, your fingers do not move in vertical lines.