In sci.physics, New Cultural Paradigm wrote on Tue, 09 Aug 2005 14:22:18 +0100
Left side of the keyboard, usually below the Tab key. If you're lucky there's an indicator light on the key itself (some old keyboards have this feature). However, most of the new keyboards have three indicator lights, usually upper right. On my keyboard one is labeled "1", one is labeled "A", and one is labeled with a down arrow pointing at a wall. I'm not sure if all keyboards have them in this order but it should be fairly obvious which one's which.
1: "NumLock". If this indicator is on the right side of the keyboard performs much like an accountant's 10-key *; pressing a digit key will enter a digit. If this indicator is off the keys will behave much the same as the arrow keys, scroll keys, and Ins and Del. The keycaps should be fairly clear. Note that some programs may ignore NumLock. There is a BIOS setting on some systems that will allow this to default on or off at boot time. Why, I don't know, though it may be a holdover from very old ALT-digit MS-DOS support.
A: "CapsLock". If on, every keypress of the letter keys will produce UPPER CASE letters, unless the shift key is used. If off, the letter keys will produce lower case; the shift key will produce the upper case. This is the light that is most important to you.
Downarrow-wall: "ScrollLock". I'm not sure precisely where this might be used in Linux (I don't use WinXP at home); some programs and other operating systems might pay some attention to it and freeze scrolling or some such. It's not that important to your specific question.
Note that the shift keys are typically wider keys near the bottom of your keyboard, to the left and right. In fact, the left shift key should be just below the CapsLock key; the right shift key is just below the Return or Enter key. (Note that there are two Return-Enter keys; the one to the far right is called the Keypad Enter key; the one most often used is to the right of the middle of the keyboard.)
Either shift key will change the case of the letter keys.
(If you're lucky you'll be able to (or have already learned) touch-typing; the home keys are ASDF and JKL;. The shift keys are operated by one's pinkys.)
Number keys -- there are two sets; I'm now talking about the ones below the function keys, which are the topmost row of your keyboard -- have a digit (1, 2, 3, Caps Lock will *not* affect the number keys; however, the shift keys will. So, for example, pressing and holding shift-1 will produce an exclamation point, pressing and holding shift-2 will produce an at sign, etc., on most keyboards.
The Backspace key, located somewhere above the Enter key, should erase the last character entered while editing a file.
The function keys are labeled F1-F12 and are used for various functions; programs need special programming to or some such, when F10 is pressed. F1 should bring up a help screen; that's a more or less established convention. There may be "shortcut sequences" available; these should be readily visible on your pulldown menus, and will depend on which program gets the keypress(es).
* it's flipped from a US touchtone phone dialpad; the "1" is the bottom left on a computer keyboard. I suspect many accountants today use the computer keyboard, and a 10-key adding machine is getting increasingly rare.
-- It's still legal to go .sigless.
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