Map some other function to the insert key

Matthew Thomas mpt at
Mon Apr 18 22:51:07 CDT 2005

Johan Walles wrote:
> How about asking the user a question the first time a "dangerous" key is 
> pressed?

Good intention, but as Martijn said, that would be pretty annoying. Mac 
OS 9.1 did something like that -- every time you pressed a function key, 
it would put up an enormous alert explaining that function keys could be 
set up to open programs or documents (excellent idea), but that the 
particular function key you'd pressed wasn't set up to do anything right 
at the moment, but you could fix that in the Keyboard control panel, and 
you've probably stopped reading by this point, because this is an alert 
and it's in your way, but would you like to open the Keyboard control 
panel now? Argggh.

Better would be a help bubble in the corner of the screen (like in Grand 
Theft Auto) that fades away after a few seconds. (The same technique 
could be used for some other help as well.) "In Ubuntu, Caps Lock {is 
turned off to prevent accidents | works as an Undo key | works as a 
Shift key | whatever}. You can change this behavior in the Keyboard 
control panel."

It's a vicious cycle: keyboard makers include Caps Lock and Insert keys 
because OSes use them, and OSes use them because keyboard makers include 
them. Meanwhile, the sort of people who will never use vi keep suffering 
from the resulting near-invisible modes. Someone needs to break the 
cycle, someone with a broader reach than PFU Limited (vendors of the 
Insert-less and Caps-Lock-less "Happy Hacking Keyboard").

Matthew Thomas

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