Friday, 11 September 2015

Characters on the keyboard

A slight diversion for this post, we run a couple of internal training courses for our users, one of these is introduction to remote command line Linux and I delivered this course this week to a group of postgrad students and staff. This was to a group of non-traditional HPC users, but still this is something that surprised me.

We found that people don't seem to know what the names of those "funny characters" on the keyboard are. With a technical audience, I'm sure many readers are familiar with using & to background processes.

Now maybe its because I work in the tech field and these are characters we use all the time, but I'm surprised that people don't know what they are called! And it was more than one person in the group, we had a couple of occasions of saying to people "use ampersand", "what's that", "well, shift+7", "oh you mean the and".

All a bit bizarre, so for the next time I run the course, I think I'm going to add a slide:


  • & - ampersand - "and"
  • ~ - tilde - "squiggly line"
  • ^ - caret - "like a little hat"
  • | - pipe - moves around on your keyboard

But it was good feedback to get "thanks, it was really useful, and I liked learning the names of those characters"...