New for 2010: Cursor Keys

Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore described the new Windows Phone 7 Series  interface for smartphones as “typographically intense.” With its noticeable lack of graphics, the WP7S has elicited warm memories for some observers of a simpler, mouse-less time. I’d have relegated these feelings to a misplaced nostalgia, but then I detected another signal that I think may point to a t r e n d.

I recently visited the Google Labs page, which is where Google engineers showcase their pre-beta software and other experiments. While there I accidentally came across an interesting cursor-intensive project buried in one of the back-rooms. The idea is that instead of scrolling and selecting Google search results with a mouse, you can use, ahem, the keypad.

I was reminded of a long-ago time when ASCII console editors ruled the computer screen.

Google chose the “k” and “j” keys to let users scroll up and down. It’s exactly the same shortcuts used by that antique UNIX editor vi. (Of course, it’s still a valid and marginally useful editor when working with emulated consoles.) I immediately signed up as a test user, and I was delighted that that my finger memory quickly relearned the up-down sequence.

The Googlers also re-purposed vi’s “o” key to  allow you to land on a  search entry’s URL entry.

I don’t miss my mouse at all.  My hunch is that someone’s already making good ROI arguments for cursor-ing through search results.

I just hope no one decides to sue Google.

Tags: googlejoe belfioreunixviWP7S 

2 Responses to New for 2010: Cursor Keys

  1. rb says:

    Oh, you are bringing back old memories. vi, my old flame, I loved thee!

  2. stan says:

    As I tell people, the more you use the mouse, the less you get done, so keep your hands on the keyboard. Learn the “quick keys” and if you can LOL and cUlL8r – U can do this too! Besides, if CTRL C, V and X aren’t the most powerful commands in the world, then what are?

  • Suivez-moi

    New Jersey
    Technology blogger,social media consultant, and aspiring sous chef. Andy currently works as a Senior Digital Content Producer at Varonis. (
    since January 2008
    430 followers, 357 friends, 1643 tweets
    RT @TheRedZoneCIO: This may be a good contest to pass onto your security teams as it is a clever way to get them involved in the soluti…htt…
    Nov 26 2014 - 0:27
    and yes I'll be one of the judges.
    Nov 25 2014 - 2:16
    Twitter REST API 1.1 - status OK