Those Little Things

Published Date
01 - Oct - 2007
| Last Updated
01 - Oct - 2007
Those Little Things
The Scroll Lock and Pause Break Keys
[Scroll Lock] is pressed to change cursor behaviour while using the arrow keys. It's useful in Excel: it keeps you at one cell, and scrolls the sheet… it's freaky the first time you do it!

[Pause/Break] is sometimes used in programming to stop program execution; in some OSes, it is the same as [Ctrl] [C]. Its use in Windows is limited to… almost nothing. All you can use it for is to get to System Properties: [Windows] [Pause/Break].

The Speech Feature And The Task Scheduler
No-one normally uses these items in the Control Panel: Under Speech, you'll find XP's text-to-speech engine. It can be used for listening to e-books, but most people do it for fun and giggles. Now the Task Scheduler is actually useful: you can schedule tasks on a daily or weekly basis-or on a yearly basis if it strikes your fancy. You could schedule an anti-virus scan every third evening, for example-in case you forget.

 Those Letters In Word's Status Bar
In a Word 2003 (and earlier) window, the status bar shows "REC", "TRK", "EXT", and "OVR". What do they do, anyway?

The Overtype mode kicks in when you press the [Insert] key by mistake. "OVR" becoming dark means Overtype mode is active. To disable this while working in Word go to Tools > Customize > Keyboard button > Categories section > All Commands > Commands > Overtype > Current Keys > Insert > Remove.

REC: When a macro is being recorded, the "REC" in the status bar turns dark.
TRK: Shows the "track changes" status during the document reviewing stage-whether it's on or off.
EXT: Double-click EXT, and the "extended selection" mode kicks in. Place your cursor at a point in the document, click elsewhere and everything up to that point is selected.

Browser Status Bar Messages
They're at the bottom left of the browser window. IE, with each iteration, is getting skimpy on the messages-so let's look at Firefox. When you type in into the address bar, here's the typical sequence of events:

Looking up com: The browser looks for the IP address of

Connecting to...: The site has been found, and a TCP/IP connection is attempted.

Connected to...: The site is aware that this browser wants data from it.
Waiting for...: The pause before the site responds to the request for data that your browser has sent out.

Trackbacks And Permalinks
The Trackback thing is a way of letting a girl called Sheila who posted a blog post X know that you liked (or hated) X, and that you've linked to it. So here's what happens: when you look at post X, you'll notice something like "Trackback URL for this entry: ABC." ABC is a link. You copy ABC and paste it into a blog post of yours. This action actually tells Sheila's blog that you linked to X.

The purpose here is two-fold. First, you're linking to X in your context, and second, Sheila's readers can now come to your blog and thus see where and why her post X was quoted.

Permalinks are pretty straightforward: they're links to the posts you read. Yes, when you read a post, you'll see a link called "Permalink" (short for, of course, Permanent Link). Click on it and you'll get back to the same post-usually on a page of its own.

The more important purpose is to have a sort of home for the post. If you come across a post in a blog and want to bookmark it, you'd have the tendency to bookmark the blog-and then when you return to it, you might see that the post has gone into the archives and isn't there any more. So remember to bookmark Permalinks instead.

 Query Strings
A long time ago, URLs were like this: (Don't go there; it's all Dutch to us.) These days, you see links like

query=askme&response=iwonttellyou&blah=yadayada&… you see this all the time. The simple answer to this is that the part of the URL after the question mark is the query string-data that is passed to Web applications. The ampersands are the separators; the equal-to signs indicate what data is the answer to what field (as in, say, search_term=what_i_am_ looking_for); and, simplistically, the query string is passed to a program that does the required work for you-such as fetching search results. When something that is fetched is encrypted, the query string is much longer, and cannot be bookmarked-of course you can select "Bookmark this page", but when you return to it, you'll typically be taken to the login page.

So now you feel just that little bit more in control of what you see on-screen, don't you? Do yourself a favour: question every little thing you see, get the (often simple) answers, and you'll begin to think you're a geek. Go ahead boost your ego.

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