Category Archives: Computers

What The Heck Do The Function Keys on Computers Do?

From some website called Wikipedia:

In the Mac OS up to Mac OS 9, the function keys could be configured by the user, with the Function Keys control panel, to start a program or run an AppleScript. Mac OS X assigns default functionality to F9, F10, and F11 (Exposé); F12 (Dashboard); and F14/F15 (decrease/increase contrast). On newer Apple laptops, all the function keys are assigned basic actions such as volume control, brightness control, NumLock (since the laptops lack a keypad), and ejection of disks. Software functions can be used by holding down the Fn key while pressing the appropriate function key, and this scheme can be reversed by changing the Mac OS X system preferences.

Under MS-DOS, individual programs could decide what each function key meant to them, and the command line had its own actions (e.g., F3 copied to the current command prompt words from the previous command). Following the IBM Common User Access guidelines, the F1 key gradually became universally associated with Help in most early Windows programs. To this day, Microsoft Office programs running in Windows list F1 as the key for Help in the Help menu. Internet Explorer in Windows does not list this keystroke in the help menu, but still responds with a help window. F3 is commonly used to activate a search function in applications, often cycling through results on successive presses of the key. ⇧ Shift+F3 is often used to search backwards. Some applications such as Visual Studio support Control+F3 as a means of searching for the currently highlighted text elsewhere in a document. F5 is also commonly used as a refresh key in many web browsers and other applications, while F11 activates the full screen/kiosk mode on most browsers. Under the Windows environment, Alt+F4 is commonly used to quit an application; Ctrl+F4 will often close a portion of the application, such as a document or tab. F10 generally activates the menu bar, while ⇧ Shift+F10 activates a context menu. F2 is used in Windows Explorer, Visual Studio and other programs to rename files or other items. Continue reading What The Heck Do The Function Keys on Computers Do?

Bing and Google : Smoke a Fatty and Chill

David Coursey | Friday, October 02, 2009 7:35 AM PDT

Tech Inciter– PC WORLD

bing_google

OK, so after the hoopla, Microsoft‘s Bing search engine may have fallen back to earth. Is Microsoft supposed to just give up? Not hardly.

New statistics show Microsoft’s share of searches is down below 4 percent, having risen during the previous three months. Google, meanwhile, captures 90 percent of search traffic.

I am not sure I totally believe these newest statistics, from NetApplications and StatCounter. Nielsen’s numbers are quite different, as are Comscore’s — both giving Bing a much larger share of the search pie. Let’s give it a month or two before declaring Bing’s honeymoon to be over.

Bing was introduced in May as the successor to Microsoft’s previous search engines.

Microsoft continues to spend heavily on search technology research and development. Bing is only the tip of the iceberg, though progress is slow because search is such a huge problem. Anything you develop that improves search must be almost infinitely scalable and able to be offered for free.

That’s a pretty tall order. You need innovation in all areas, including the business plan, to take search to the next level.

Bing is an example of what I call a “demographic” search engine, tailored not to be all things to all searchers, as is Google, but to attract a defined audience. In Bing’s case, that means shoppers.

I believe but cannot prove that Bing may generate more revenue per search (in terms of customer spending as a result of searching) than Google. Even if that were true, however, it would only dilute Google’s leadership by just a smidge.

The Yahoo/Microsoft deal, should it pass regulatory muster–and it deserves to–will help Bing’s share, but won’t do much to reduce Google’s numbers.

While Google is today, for most people, the first word in search, I don’t think it’s the last word. Even with ongoing changes to improve accuracy and make results easier to manipulate and digest, Google searches still return way too much of what I don’t want.

If it takes looking through three pages of results to find what I wanted, Google has failed me. I know I am expecting Google to be psychic–essentially to understand what I want even when I have a hard time explaining it–but with all Google knows about me, it doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request.

Maybe Google will meet this challenge. Maybe it will be Microsoft. The betting favors Google, but you never know what will happen. The Netflix prizewinners are examples of what can be done to match users with improved search results.

Bing is wise to follow its current course. It will probably never challenge Google in overall numbers, but it could easily find a place in the market as the search engine that does specific things better than Google and generates traffic as a result.

It is too early to judge Bing’s success or failure. Its share drop was to be expected. Its progress will be slow. But, it is still a player and should Microsoft’s R&D create a breakthrough, Bing will be there to launch it.

David Coursey tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web page.

Yahoo to Shorten Logs of User Activity to Three Months

what-a-dayWASHINGTON (AP) – Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) (YHOO) said Wednesday that it will shorten the amount of time that it retains data about its users’ online behavior – including Internet search records – to three months from 13 months and expand the range of data that it “anonymizes” after that period.

The company’s new privacy policy comes amid mounting concerns among regulators and lawmakers from Washington to Europe about how much data big Internet companies are collecting on their users and how that information is being used. Yahoo’s announcement also ratchets up the pressure on rivals Google Inc. (GOOG) (GOOG) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) (MSFT) to follow its lead.

In September, Google said it would “anonymize,” or mask, the numeric Internet Protocol (IP) addresses on its server logs after nine months, down from a previous retention period of 18 months. And Microsoft, which currently keeps user data for 18 months, said last week it would support an industry standard of six months.

Under Yahoo’s new policy, the company will strip out portions of users’ IP addresses, alter small tracking files known as “cookies” and delete other potential personally identifiable information after 90 days in most cases. In cases involving fraud and data security, the company will anonymize the data after six months.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo also said it will expand the scope of data that it anonymizes to encompass not only search engine logs, but also page views, page clicks, ad views and ad clicks. That information is used to personalize online content and advertising.

Yahoo will begin implementing the new policy next month and says it will be effective across all the company’s services by mid-2010.

Anne Toth, vice president of policy and head of privacy for Yahoo, said the company is adopting the new policy to build trust with users and differentiate it from its competitors. Yahoo also hopes to take the issue of data retention “off the table” by showing that Internet companies can regulate themselves, Toth said.

European Union regulators have pressured Yahoo, Google and Microsoft over the past year to shorten the amount of time that they hold onto user data. And Congress has begun asking questions about the extent to which Internet and telecommunications companies track where their users go online and use that information to target personalized advertising.

Edward Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, praised Yahoo for setting a new standard on privacy protection and said Google, Microsoft and other companies will now be compared against that standard.

Ari Schwartz, vice president of the Center for Democracy & Technology, a civil liberties group, agreed that Yahoo’s new policy is “step in the right direction.” He added, however, that he would like to see more clarity – and more standardization – from the industry about what it does with Internet users’ data. He noted, for instance, that while some companies delete full IP addresses, other delete only parts of IP addresses or simply encrypt them.