Monday, August 29, 2005

Copy-Paste and x-Handedness

The de facto key-combination for copy-pasting, the programmer's butter-knife, for most people is Ctrl-C (for Copy), Ctrl-V (for Paste). In fact, it is possible that you are conditioned to hear Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V as "Copy, Paste". This is the combination advertised on most Edit menus nowadays (along with Ctrl-X for Cut).

However, coming from a DOS/Unix shell background, I used to find it difficult to press Ctrl-C for Copy because it had negative connotations for me. It used to be (and still is) the keys to press to cancel a running command in a console.

FYI, the same things can be done using
Ctrl-Insert = Copy
Shift-Insert = Paste
Shift-Delete = Cut

I thought this made good sense.
Copy? okay, it's a control insert with no display-change.
Cut? shift into the buffer after deleting it from the display
Paste? Shift out the thing in the buffer and insert it here

Ergonomically, this is in fact better if you do a lot of selecting with the shift-cursor key combinations. You could do everything with your right hand.

So why should it have changed? In this age of GUIs, most people do their selecting with the mouse (with their right hand) and could do the copying/cutting and pasting with their left hand! Personally, I am against selecting stuff with the mouse coz it's more strenuous.

Why Ctrl-C,X,V then? Physical proximity is the only rationale, no logic as in the former case. C for Copy, so get the others nearby.

Or was it because "X" looks like a scissors and you use it to cut! So get the others nearby?

You wish!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Dream Word

This one is from my archives. Written in July 1997, this article is about what I felt (then) would have been cool features to have in a word-processor. Many have since been implemented and are standard features now. Many of the points are still valid though.


Auto-Scroller tab

User keeps his mouse on the tab and the document keeps scrolling automatically. User can suspend by moving the mouse away or by pressing, say, Ctrl-V. It is very important to have an alternate key. Pressing another key, say PgUp or PgDn while in auto-scroller could bring another function.

Advanced OLE : Drag and select

User should be able to choose objects and text with a special drag. Maybe the concept of a right-button drag should be introduced.


Selected text or advanced OLE could be made to fit in a specified number of pages or a region created by special dragging.


Super-scripting and sub-scripting should be available easily. Say by pressing a special key combination, say, Ctrl-Alt-F


Rather than themewise arrangement, a global toolbar with most universally and commonly used options should also be there. Themewise arrangement should also be there. Switching of toolbars must be simpler. Also, the program should keep a log of menu-items most used by the user and automatically place them on the toolbar.


Interchanging of letters to form words which do not exist can be easily identified. So why not correct it as well? But before correcting, program should go through the proper authorization channels. Flash it on the status bar whereupon the user can press a key to confirm. If the user does not press the key, he must be allowed to continue typing. No alarm-bells ringing! If the program is so particular that its message be heard, keep it in the error-bin, the user at the end of his session may or may not click the error-bin, a dialog box should open with various errors highlighted. User can then edit out unwanted corrections, press a confirmation key and lo, everything set right.

Equation format

All the word-processors can have a common format for scripting the equation. Type the numbers with codes, like, say, `^= for `raised to= etc. Drag it, block it and presto, encryption disappears and you have a well written equation on your hands. Neat! Wonder why it has not been implemented as of yet.


Arrangement of menu items should be more coherent and uniform. As far as possible, items common to all the word-processors must be grouped under menus with same or equivalent names.AUniformity by itself is no good.@ Jot it down! It=s a quote and what=s more, it is quotable! The logical arrangement of menu-items is a must-must.

WOFIWOG experience: Eh, what's that?

All in all, a WOFIWOG (What yOu Feel Is What yOu Get) experience is what all of us are searching for. Currently, what we are getting seems to be more of WIFIWYG.You guessed it right! Yes, a What I Feel Is What You Get experience, the I in the acronym standing for the PC and the You for you of course! (Who else? Did I really need to tell you that?) Got that Bill? Thank you!

Heron - Born Flightless?

The Heron Language is being developed by Christopher Diggins. Heavily influenced by C++. In search of a killer-app...

Some interesting concepts, but syntax seems to be somewhat cryptic with lots of `?' s in the code. The designer's site is at

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Behaviour of typeid

code snippet to illustrate behaviour of typeid

int side;

int side;

int main(int argc, char *argv[])