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  #1  
Old 05-06-2006, 09:31 PM
KGS KGS is offline
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What's the most useless key on the keyboard?

I nominate the tilde (~) key. Nobody uses ~ in URL's anymore, so what's the point?

And that backwards apostrophe (`) is equally pointless.
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  #2  
Old 05-06-2006, 09:34 PM
Seren Seren is offline
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~'s are still useful for approximations. ~$65, etc.
The ` is definitely my most useless key.

I'd like to nominate the windows key (that one that pulls up the start menu) as the most annoying button. I've actually removed it (along with the insert key) from my keyboard.
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  #3  
Old 05-06-2006, 09:53 PM
Shayna Shayna is offline
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I'm pretty sure I've never once used the 'Scroll Lock' or 'Pause/Break' keys for anything.
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  #4  
Old 05-06-2006, 09:55 PM
Queen Bruin Queen Bruin is offline
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Another vote for the windows key, which was upon purchase of this blasted keyboard removed.
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  #5  
Old 05-06-2006, 09:59 PM
Athena Athena is offline
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I use the Windows key and the ~ on a daily basis.

I'm with Shayna - the Scroll Lock and Pause/Break key are the ones that I've never seen used.
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  #6  
Old 05-06-2006, 10:02 PM
Frank Frank is offline
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I've used the break key quite a bit, when working on an HP3000. So I'll narrow it down to the scroll lock.
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  #7  
Old 05-06-2006, 10:09 PM
Mbossa Mbossa is offline
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I'll second the `\~ key.

Another key I don't seem to use that much is the carat (^). Well of course I do use the key itself quite often, but rarely with a Shift. I've probably use the carat in various programming languages (I can't really remember), but they tend to use every character available on the keyboard so don't really count.

Another near-useless key is Scroll Lock. It does have applications (e.g. try using the cursor keys in Excel with Scroll Lock on), but I can't remember a time I've ever needed it.

There's also the Pause/Break key. I used it a fair bit back when I was a little kid playing around with DOS, but graphical operating systems tend to have made the 'Pause' component redundant, and the Ctrl-Alt-Del combo, which used to kill your entire system, now lets you kill a single task, more-or-less replacing 'Break'.

Finally, there's the 'other' window key (not the one that brings up your start menu, but the other one that's usually only on the right-hand side of the keyboard). In Windows, this key brings up a context menu. This would only be useful if I suddenly lost my right mouse button.

If you asked this question back before the days of the internet (probably by carving the question in stone tablets or something), I probably would have nominated '@'. But of course, after email became widespread, this key has experienced something of a renaissance. It seems to have become a trendy character to use in general -- not just in email addresses.

On preview, I see that most of my nominations have already been mentioned. Too bad.
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  #8  
Old 05-06-2006, 10:18 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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I work in IT and I am pretty sure it is Scroll Lock as referenced above. I have used the Pause Break flip side of that key even recently when I halted the whirling text in a DOS window so I could read it. As an IT professional who has used a computer at least 12 hours a day for the past 8 years or so, that is the most useless one. You can still count the whole key if you want. Pause Break has been used a handful of times but very other key and shift of the key gets somewhat regular use and I use the Windows key many times a day (the rest of you should look into it).
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  #9  
Old 05-06-2006, 10:18 PM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shayna
I'm pretty sure I've never once used the 'Scroll Lock' or 'Pause/Break' keys for anything.
Exactly. Not only have I never used them, I haven't succeeded in finding out whether they have any use. I mean any use that someone not a computer geek would be reasonably likely to ever find in the real world.

My Function keys are looking kind of dusty.
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  #10  
Old 05-06-2006, 10:47 PM
Captain Carrot Captain Carrot is offline
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I've used everything except the scroll lock, Print Screen/Sys Rq (whatever that is), and the key on the bottom that looks like a cursor highlighting a line of text on a page. I don't even know what that one is, let alone what it does. (I'm also not sure whether there's a real distinction between the two.)
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  #11  
Old 05-06-2006, 10:57 PM
yBeayf yBeayf is offline
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I use Pause/Break all the time at work. In Lotus Notes, ctrl-break will cause it to stop whatever it is that it's doing. Considering that if it gets hung up failing to open a database or something it can stay stuck for minutes at a time, ctrl-break is *really* useful. We let all the end users know about it, too, because one of the most common complaints is that "Notes is locked up!".

Print screen puts a screenshot of the current screen on the clipboard in Windows -- very useful.

Our KVM switches for the servers use Scroll Lock to bring up the list of servers one can connect to.

The tilde and carat I use all the time when typing French or Spanish. In fact, I can't really think of a key on my keyboard that's truly useless; I even use scroll lock a lot when I'm looking at large Excel spreadsheets. Probably numlock is most useless for me -- I touch-type and prefer not to use the 10-key for entering numbers.
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  #12  
Old 05-06-2006, 11:12 PM
Shoeless Shoeless is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwalin
I've used everything except the scroll lock, Print Screen/Sys Rq (whatever that is), and the key on the bottom that looks like a cursor highlighting a line of text on a page. I don't even know what that one is, let alone what it does. (I'm also not sure whether there's a real distinction between the two.)
PrintScreen is good for capturing screen shots (or Alt-PrintScreen if you just want the active window) but I have no clue what the heck SysRq is for. I'd say the least used key on my keyboard is the one between the Ctrl key and the Windows key that looks like a pop-up menu.
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  #13  
Old 05-06-2006, 11:28 PM
jnglmassiv jnglmassiv is offline
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Pause/Break gets some use on my keyboard. Windows+Break opens the system properties screen which is a quick way to the device manager.
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  #14  
Old 05-06-2006, 11:40 PM
ParentalAdvisory ParentalAdvisory is offline
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ThatDamnSpaceBar,WhatIsThatAllAbout?
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  #15  
Old 05-06-2006, 11:44 PM
MissMossie MissMossie is offline
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I use the tilde frequently for urls from my school. If you go to/work at Radford University and have a website, your url is www.radford.edu/~yourusername. I'm also a big fan of the Windows key and scroll lock. I have a laptop though, so I'm totally into keyboard shortcuts. I didn't realize I even had a Pause/Break key until now, so that's probaby my least used key.

I must mention that couple of days ago I was thinking about how much I hate the Caps Lock key. I have never felt the need to put more that a character or two in caps at any given time. Why do I have this damn key that just serves to fuck up my capitilization? It gets pressed more than the Pause/Break key, but never on purpose. I can't remember a time when I used it because I wanted to.

After a quick glance at my keyboard, I think I use almost all of the rest of the keys. I've even gotten to the super nerdy point where I use the function keys at the top of my keyboard. I <3 F5!
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  #16  
Old 05-06-2006, 11:48 PM
Askia Askia is offline
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The keys on the number pad, especially "/ " and " * " and the redundant "Enter". I never use those.
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  #17  
Old 05-06-2006, 11:54 PM
levdrakon levdrakon is offline
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On my laptop, I never use F8-F12, nor the tilde key. Actually one more. On the Mac, there is an "eject" key on the upper right. It has never worked for anything, and I don't know why they put it there.

Oh, and on Macs, the Shift key seems to only work if you whack it with a hammer. I've got the strongest pinkies, just because of Mac keyboards. It's like *press* the shift key and type a capital. Go back, *press* the shift key and type a capital. Go back, *press* the shift key and type a capital.
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  #18  
Old 05-06-2006, 11:57 PM
What Exit? What Exit? is offline
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The Scroll lock is my most useless key.
The Windows key is very useful.
Windows E: Opens Windows Explorer
Windows Break: Pulls up the System properties, I'm work in IT an use this all the time.
Windows D: Reveal Desktop: Minimizes all windows to gain access to the desk top.
Windows R: Bring up the Run command
etc.
I use the Tilde a lot for Find and replace work in Word Documents for the very reason the it is unused. I'll Replace to Paragraph breaks ^p^p with ~~~~~ temporarily while I am cleaning up HTML Docs in word.

Jim
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  #19  
Old 05-06-2006, 11:58 PM
Bambi Hassenpfeffer Bambi Hassenpfeffer is offline
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The only keys I don't regularly use are the ` and Scroll Lock. Hell, this keyboard doesn't even have a dedicated key for the latter; I'd need to use a combination of keys to get to it. I use Break with the Windows key all the time. I use the Windows key on its own all the time. I use the ~ when I'm teclando en espaol.

At work, we use Pause/Break as the clear screen key on the 3270 emulator we use to access our ancient CICS server on a several-times-daily basis and Scroll Lock as the hotkey to access the KVM switch between workstation and server.

So, I wouldn't say that there are any useless keys.
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  #20  
Old 05-07-2006, 12:00 AM
KGS KGS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johanna
My Function keys are looking kind of dusty.
Heh. All my functions keys are caked over, except F2 [rename file], F5 and F9 [Quicksave & Quicklod for many games]; F6-68 are only lightly dusty, as they're Hotkeys used in Vampire: The Masquerade.

Pause still works for many games, but these days I normally use ESC instead.

Print Screen I use frequently. Like others, I have no clue what SysRq even means.
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  #21  
Old 05-07-2006, 12:00 AM
tim314 tim314 is offline
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Programmers generally get a good bit of use out of Pause/Break. (Used to halt program execution in many programming environments.) Likewise most of the more esoteric characters are used in some programming languages. (E.g., I do use ~, although I can't recall ever needing `.)

To see the use of PrintScreen in Windows, press it and then open Paint and select Edit...Paste.

Scroll Lock is one that I never use.
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  #22  
Old 05-07-2006, 01:12 AM
Miss Purl McKnittington Miss Purl McKnittington is offline
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I can't believe all you people use the Insert key for something besides accidentally hitting it while reaching for delete, and then losing an entire paragraph of your term paper because you're so into typing. Thank heavens for undo.

Or maybe that's just me.
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  #23  
Old 05-07-2006, 01:17 AM
Metacom Metacom is offline
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But... If there was no "`/~" key, you couldn't refer to your home directory in Unix pathnames, use the backquote facility in Lisp macros, and you'd have to use $( cmd ) ala Bash instead of `cmd` in shell scripts!

`/~ is a good key!

I nominate "Num Lock".
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  #24  
Old 05-07-2006, 01:56 AM
Rigamarole Rigamarole is offline
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I've never used the vertical bar: |||||||

Now that you've brought it to my attention though, I'm going to find a way to use it, by God, if it's the last thing I do. Wish me luck.
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  #25  
Old 05-07-2006, 02:11 AM
yBeayf yBeayf is offline
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Now that you've brought it to my attention though, I'm going to find a way to use it, by God, if it's the last thing I do. Wish me luck.
It's necessary in many programming languages, and also for piping the output of one command into the input of another in UNIX or DOS-derived command line interfaces.
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  #26  
Old 05-07-2006, 02:16 AM
Rigamarole Rigamarole is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yBeayf
It's necessary in many programming languages, and also for piping the output of one command into the input of another in UNIX or DOS-derived command line interfaces.
Hmm, unfortunately I am lacking in both programming knowledge as well as UNIX or DOS-derived command line interfaces.

I'll just make pretty pictures with it. {|||(-(<|>)-)|||}
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  #27  
Old 05-07-2006, 02:58 AM
Bambi Hassenpfeffer Bambi Hassenpfeffer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Purl McKnittington
I can't believe all you people use the Insert key for something besides accidentally hitting it while reaching for delete, and then losing an entire paragraph of your term paper because you're so into typing. Thank heavens for undo.

Or maybe that's just me.
I come from the way-old school of copy, cut, and paste shortcuts. I got used to them on OS/2, so for me, Cut is Shift-Del and Paste is Shift-Insert. And at work in the aforementioned 3270 emulator, overwrite is the default mode, so if you want to insert, you have to hit Insert first.

Metacom, I use NumLock all the time right now, and occasionally at other times -- my mouse took a dive, so while I'm waiting for my replacement to ship, I'm using MouseKeys (an accessibility feature built into Windows). The toggle to turn them off or on is NumLock. Other times, even when the mouse is working, they can be handy to nudge something around a single pixel at a time.
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  #28  
Old 05-07-2006, 03:52 AM
GorillaMan GorillaMan is offline
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` and ^ are both useful for inputting characters with diacritical marks. E.g. in Word:

Ctrl +` followed by A gives

Ctrl + ^ followed by A gives

Similar things can be done with other charaters:

Ctrl + & folowed by O gives
Ctrl + : followed by O gives
Ctrl + ~ followed by N gives
Ctrl + / followed by C gives
Ctrl + @ followed by A gives
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  #29  
Old 05-07-2006, 04:55 AM
don't ask don't ask is offline
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Over the years, what with mainframe and Unix terminal emulations I have used every key except Pause Break (Scroll Lock was something useful with the mainframe - maybe screen print to printer).

Looking at my home keyboard ther are 26 keys that I have never struck and probably never will.
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  #30  
Old 05-07-2006, 06:39 AM
cactus waltz cactus waltz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GorillaMan
` and ^ are both useful for inputting characters with diacritical marks. E.g. in Word:

Ctrl +` followed by A gives

Ctrl + ^ followed by A gives
Exactly. When you want to write in french, this becomes a must.

I've used the PrtScr button for desktop threads (pasting into MSPaint, as mentioned). I've also used some of the function buttons (my favorite is ctrl+F4, closes down whatever application you're currently using).

I don't think I've ever used Pause/Break.
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  #31  
Old 05-07-2006, 06:47 AM
Phantom Dennis Phantom Dennis is offline
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My laptop has a numlock key but there's no 10-key pad. I guess that would make it nearly 100% useless.
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  #32  
Old 05-07-2006, 08:15 AM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rigamarole
I've never used the vertical bar: |||||||

Now that you've brought it to my attention though, I'm going to find a way to use it, by God, if it's the last thing I do. Wish me luck.
I use it in writing Sanskrit poetry. One vertical bar for the end of a couplet. Two for the end of a stanza. Traditionally it's the only punctuation mark used in Sanskrit.
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  #33  
Old 05-07-2006, 08:30 AM
dwc1970 dwc1970 is offline
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Since the ~ and ` symbols are rarely used elsewhere, I find them handy when I need a single character to serve as a shorthand for something I can find and replace later with a longer piece of text, or if I need a simple placeholder.

I could do without the Scroll Lock. Excel is the only application I know of or use that supports it, and I find it annoying as hell. When I am moving through a spreadsheet and the screen doesn't move the way I want it to move, it's because I've pressed that damn Scroll Lock key by mistake.

One of the applications we use at work uses the Pause key. I don't think I use it much at home. Back in the days of DOS games, it was often used for this purpose.

For those who may not know, originally the "Print Screen" would send whatever text was on the screen directly to the printer (usually dot matrix), back in the pre-Windows DOS days. I think the "SysRq" is some holdover from a purpose that has long since become obsolete. I don't have time to research it at the moment, though.

I use the windows key a lot. In addition to bringing up the Start menu, it can be used in conjunction with other keys (like CTRL and ALT). Here are the things I use it for:
  • Windows+M: minimize all (useful for those of you who surf a work who shouldn't and the boss suddenly pops into your cubicle).
  • Windows+F: Brings up the "Find" window when looking for files.
  • Windows+R: Brings up the "Run..." bos, which I use on occasion.
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  #34  
Old 05-07-2006, 08:59 AM
Jayn_Newell Jayn_Newell is offline
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I did find one good use for the tilde--it makes a good push-to-talk key for voice-chat applications, since I'm unlikely to push it for any other reason. It's also handily next to the wasd keys. The \-| key gets my vote for most useless (unless you're |_337 )
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  #35  
Old 05-07-2006, 09:21 AM
scr4 scr4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Dennis
My laptop has a numlock key but there's no 10-key pad. I guess that would make it nearly 100% useless.
Doesn't it turn part of the keyboard into a numeric keypad? That's how it works on most laptops. Usually the JKL/UIO/789 keys. I can't say I've ever used it on my laptop though.
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  #36  
Old 05-07-2006, 09:41 AM
Dervorin Dervorin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ParentalAdvisory
ThatDamnSpaceBar,WhatIsThatAllAbout?
don'tyoumean;'thosedamnspacebarandshiftkeys,whataretheyallabout/'
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  #37  
Old 05-07-2006, 10:24 AM
Shayna Shayna is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwc1970

I think the "SysRq" is some holdover from a purpose that has long since become obsolete. I don't have time to research it at the moment, though.
According to Wikipedia, "Introduced by IBM with the PC/AT, it was intended to be available as a special key to directly invoke low-level operating system functions with no possibility of conflicting with any existing software." Also, "Under DOS, malfunctioning foreground software could make the entire computer unresponsive. Third-party TSRs existed that used SysRq to provide a form of "panic button" to terminate the program and return you to the DOS command prompt." However, as you point out, it's currently obsolete.

Seeing as how it actually doesn't do anything, were it not for the fact that it shares the sometimes useful 'Print Scrn' button (which it didn't always), 'SysRq' would certainly qualify as the most useless key on the keyboard. As it stands, I still vote for 'Scroll Lock'.
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  #38  
Old 05-07-2006, 10:49 AM
TokyoBayer TokyoBayer is offline
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Life would be difficul without the ~ in Japanese. Rather than abandon a perfectly good key, just move to a different country.
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  #39  
Old 05-07-2006, 10:49 AM
Phantom Dennis Phantom Dennis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scr4
Doesn't it turn part of the keyboard into a numeric keypad? That's how it works on most laptops. Usually the JKL/UIO/789 keys. I can't say I've ever used it on my laptop though.
Nah, you have to us the "fn" key to get those. As far as I can tell, the numlock does absolutely nothing on this laptop, aside from existing.
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  #40  
Old 05-07-2006, 12:02 PM
Savannah Savannah is offline
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The | can be used in simple web pages as a design thing:

Home | Archive | Current | Contact | Pictures | Blog |

Print screen--you can paste the screenshot into Word as well as any graphics program; I find it quicker just to paste into a new Word doc and print if I need a capture, since I almost always have a Word doc open somewhere.

I vaguely recall Pause/Break from DOS, when something would scroll rapidly to the end and reading it without the Pause was impossible. But maybe my memory's kind of dusty.

Control+ variations, I use a lot. Word and Windows has taught me to control-S to save anything open after about every paragraph. And in working on long documents that need reformatting, the ^ key comes in very handy with advanced Find & Replace in Word.
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  #41  
Old 05-07-2006, 12:19 PM
Dunderman Dunderman is offline
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The Windows keys, if you have them, are definitely the most annoying keys. I've loaded up on Windows-key-free keyboards; hopefully I'm set for life.

I also find the entire numpad completely useless. I never use it. I guess it comes from learning to type on an actual typewriter.
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  #42  
Old 05-07-2006, 12:29 PM
Antigen Antigen is offline
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My least-used key is probably the Scroll Lock key. Don't think I've ever touched it. There are also three keys at the top of my keyboard - one has a light bulb, one is a clock, one is "zzz". I don't even know what they do, so I just pretend they're not there.
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  #43  
Old 05-07-2006, 12:40 PM
Rysto Rysto is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johanna
Quote:
I'm pretty sure I've never once used the 'Scroll Lock' or 'Pause/Break' keys for anything.
Exactly. Not only have I never used them, I haven't succeeded in finding out whether they have any use.

The Scroll Lock key turns the little light on and off.




My vote goes to the Numlock key. Is there ever any situation where you want the numlock off, as long as you have a full-sized keyboard? At least the other keys don't impair the function of your keyboard.
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  #44  
Old 05-07-2006, 01:19 PM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Scroll Lock and Print Scrn are often used as latches for KVMs (my current one uses Scroll Lock). The key I use least is the Windows Menu key - the one between Alt Gr and Ctrl, not the one which brings up the Start Menu.
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  #45  
Old 05-07-2006, 01:46 PM
GorillaMan GorillaMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Dennis
Nah, you have to us the "fn" key to get those. As far as I can tell, the numlock does absolutely nothing on this laptop, aside from existing.
Does numlock not then toggle the pseudo-number pad into the cursor key role?
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  #46  
Old 05-07-2006, 01:58 PM
NinjaChick NinjaChick is offline
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The freaking pound (as in, British money, not #) key that is apparently standard on keyboards over on this side of the Atlantic. Because they for some reason switched it all around so that it's over the 2, so that the @ is someplace else, and enter is tall and skinny instead of long and wide, and there's just no reason for that.
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  #47  
Old 05-07-2006, 02:05 PM
if6was9 if6was9 is offline
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Not this one.
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  #48  
Old 05-07-2006, 03:02 PM
Just Ed Just Ed is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwalin
I've used everything except the scroll lock, Print Screen/Sys Rq (whatever that is), and the key on the bottom that looks like a cursor highlighting a line of text on a page. I don't even know what that one is, let alone what it does. (I'm also not sure whether there's a real distinction between the two.)
I believe the second button to which you're referring is the same one Mbossa mentioned - it brings up the context menu (the same one you get when you right-click your mouse in Windows). As Mbossa said, "This would only be useful if I suddenly lost my right mouse button."

Given the uses others have mentioned for the keys I don't use myself, I'm hesitant to offer any new ones - except that I don't use the function keys much at all at home. At the office, we still use applications that use almost all the function keys, as well as Pause/Break. I still don't use that Context Menu key at all, though.
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  #49  
Old 05-07-2006, 03:12 PM
Rysto Rysto is offline
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Oh, I've thought of another. My dad got this newangled(at the time) keyboard for his system in the early 90s. It had this horrible misfeature called the "Program Macro" key. You could use it to program macros into your keyboard and have them recalled later(so with the touch of one button, the keyboard could issue Ctrl-S Ctrl-Q, for example). It sounds great in theory, but in practise the keyboard acts as if it's possessed at random intervals. My mom has the keyboard now and she must have accidently entered a macro while she was typing a letter. Whenever she accidently activated the macro all of this wonderful text will suddenly fill the screen.

The keyboard had an even worse misfeature called the Remap key. You could use it to switch the meanings of any two keys on the keyboard. Can you imagine how confusing that could be? Even worse, to reset the keyboard you had to hold the Ctrl, Alt and "Program Macro" keys at the same time. You were out of luck, though, if someone had remapped the Ctrl or Alt keys...
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  #50  
Old 05-07-2006, 03:27 PM
asterion asterion is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rysto

The Scroll Lock key turns the little light on and off.




My vote goes to the Numlock key. Is there ever any situation where you want the numlock off, as long as you have a full-sized keyboard? At least the other keys don't impair the function of your keyboard.
There are a few times, mostly in older games, where the full pad is useful. Instead of having to hit two keys, up and left, to go to the upper left, you can hit just one key, the 7/Home key on the number pad. Try it sometime in NetHack and see how many moves you save over time learning to go diagonally.
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