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Re: Bracket Trouble with IT Keyb.

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg21973] Re: [mg21956] Bracket Trouble with IT Keyb.
  • From: Hartmut Wolf <hwolf at>
  • Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2000 13:02:27 -0500 (EST)
  • Organization: debis Systemhaus
  • References: <>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

Nicola schrieb:
> Hello,
> I have this problem with Math 4.0 . ( under  Win 98 )
> If I type
> Plot[ ...... etc.....
> the software beeps and looking at "Why the beep" I get :
> "You used a Command or Control key that is not defined
>  to do anything " .
> But if I copy the Brackets from the characters map all is good
> and nothing beeps .
> So the trouble is ( I think ) in the control sequence I use
> to get the brackets that is  : " Alt + Shift + e' " or " Ctrl + Alt + e' " .
> Now I do not know what to do .
> Does anyone has an  Idea on solving this ?
> ( If I it can help : This never occurred using Mathematica 3.0 ,
>   that is installed on the same PC yet )
> ( I hope you will forgive my probably mistake-full english : )  )
> Thank you .
> Bye.

Dear Nicola,

although I can't give any good advice, I can tell that I share your
problems, ... do I? 

Mine occur with the german keybord setting. To get "[" there is to type
(alt-gr)+8 and for "]" (alt-gr)+9  which works, but has the drawback
that both, the shifting key and the typing key, are to the right side of
the keyboard. ((alt-gr) is the *right* alt-key.)

A standard way -- that works fine with all software I have, or had, e.g.
Mathematica 3 -- in order to avoid the bad ergonomy of crossing hands
and far movement, is to simultaneously press the (alt)+(cntl)+8 or
(alt)+(cntl)+9 key. The (alt) and (cntl) keys are side by side to the
left, so it should work fine.

Not so with Mathematica 4.0! In principle it works, but not always. If
your are typing quickly most certainly things will go wrong. When you
release the (alt)+(cntl)+anykey combination you do have to release the
keys in a certain order, based on a *millisecond* timing basis!
Otherwise, when Mathematica transiently sees the Alt key pressed alone
-- perhaps because the spring below is a little more worn out, or
because the trigger level is a little bit different, or just because one
or two neurons of your motoric control of your left ring finger didn't
fire in the right time slot -- the input will jump into menu bar, and if
you are lucky, the next key your are going to press won't activate a
menu, you get the beep and interrupt. Pressing the (esc) key or just the
(alt) key once will bring you back to right trails, and after having
restored mental order you may continue typing. If the next key pressed
after that inadvertent transient (alt) was a menu key, *no beep* will
occur, the menu will open, and then if the next kep pressed is no
submenu key ...

...I was happy to never hit the close combination.

Opening and closing square brackets are probably the most used
characters in Mathematica, and by the way, the same problem occurs with
"{" and "}" which also come not too infrequent.

How do I live with that?

 (1) If I have very much time typing (perhaps because I'm hesitant with
my input, still thinking) I make that unergonomic "far movement".

 (2) I trained my right hand to simultaniously press the key combination
to the right, but with time this wears out my right hand, and I'm not a
piano player.

 (3) I trained my left hand to a certain order (don't ask me which one,
I don't know, this is below my perceptibility) to release the
(alt)+(ctrl) keys. This works as long I'm not typing too fast.

 (4) When I'm typing faster I release the keys at the left with a jerk,
but this certainly will wear out my left hand. If some day I'll get a
ligament disrupture, I'll feud Wolfram Inc.  If some day I'll meet the
programmer, ... (God help me!)

A simple alternative to that would be to switch to the English(US)
setting of the keybord at OS level (and moreover use all Us settings --
but then I come across with the millimeter versus inch problems for
printing). I indeed could memoize the location of the keys, 20 or so
shifted to different locations, and even I could get accustomed to the
switched "y" and "z" keys, but there is a life beyond Mathematica (it's
only a side occupation to me), and I have to write a lot of text in
german. But for that my sofware is nationalized, and it's *really* a
mess to input the umlauts and german-sharp-s diacritics through the
US-keybord setting. (The French are more lucky in that respect, and I
know I'm still luckier than the Hungarian.)

I once browsed through the option inspector. There are lots of
interesting options like "DelimiterFlashTime",
"CursorTrackerParameters", "TwoByteSyntaxCharacterAAutomatic", ... some
are documented, some are optional, others aren't.

Why did I write this? I believe in miracles.

yours, Hartmut

P.S. my OS is Windows NT4.0 SP 5 (nationalized)

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