Obsolete Microspeak: TDBN and the six-pack


Windows 8 introduced its own code names. Last time we learned about charms, a term which started out as an internal code name but wound up as the public name for the feature.

When you called up the charms bar, a little information box also appeared in the lower left corner of the screen. This showed the time, date, battery status, and network status. The internal name for this information box was TDBN, named after the four things which appear in it: Time, Date, Battery, and Network. It was pronounced tidbin

7∶00
Wednesday
August 29

If you selected Settings from the charms bar, a settings panel slid in, and at the bottom of the settings panel was a block of six icons arranged as follows:

Network Volume Brightness
Notifications Power Keyboard

To wit:

This cluster of six icons was known as the six-pack.

So there's some useless trivia for you.

¹ Not to be confused with fizzbin.

Comments (45)
  1. Someone says:

    Why is there something called “Keyboard”? I cannot not even understand the need to quick-change the current UI language, but the (physical) keyboard is nothing that can be change by the OS and so this icon has no use.

    This icon in the Task Bar of Server 2016 continues to cause problems. because a wrong setting (by some shortcut key combination) makes the keyboard to misfunction. It can take long to discover the cause for this error.

    1. Kenn says:

      @Someone, Win-Space is the shortcut that changes the current input language.

    2. VinDuv says:

      Many people need to be able to quickly switch between keyboard layouts, for instance to be able to input Roman and non-Roman characters.

    3. Thomas says:

      It’s very much appreciated if you’re multilingual. I spent a semester in Germany, and Germany uses a different keyboard layout. Since I can touch-type on a US layout keyboard just fine, I simply switched the layout using that option and was able to use the computer efficiently again, even though the actual keyboard hardware didn’t change and the keys on the screen no longer matched the keys printed on the keyboard. Conversely, if I needed to send an e-mail in German, I could hit that button and get access to the umlaut letters on the German layout without having to copy-paste or memorize alt codes.

      I think the icon only shows up if you have the Input Indicator enabled, at least on Windows 10.

      1. Same as me, but in reverse. In our university laboratory we had US international keyboards but I’m a touch typists with the Italian layout, I added the Italian layout and I was back to speed.

        (although TBH after so much time having to interact with servers and embedded boards configured with the US layout I mostly know where most symbols are anyway)

    4. Brian B says:

      @Someone – Huge portions of the world are multilingual and need to switch between languages (and thus keyboards) – whether that’s Chinese/English, Spanish/English, German/French, or whatever, huge chunks of the world’s population rely on more than one keyboard layout (and being able to quickly move between them).

      1. Someone says:

        The letters om the key (and where you expect them) is not changed, of course. So, what do you do? Typing blindly?

        1. Yes, they do change, i.e. the keys indeed type a different letter. (And people with plastic physical keyboards need print alternative letters on their keys too.) Also, please pay attention that Windows 8 was designed with tablets in mind. (and PCs out of mind!) That means people would just swipe from the right and change keyboard on the charms, while typing with on-screen keyboard.

          And yes, I do type “blindly”, in that I don’t look at the physical keyboard while I type. My two hand sense the keys and find the notches.

          1. Someone says:

            The letters on the physical keys do not change, as also not my memory where to expect them since 25 years.
            So you can blindly type one not only on one but two different layouts? Did you move to a different country, or how do you learn it?

          2. cheong00 says:

            @Someone: People who need it practise it. However the situaton varies with which language you’re trying to input.

            Say, for Chinese input, you memorize one of the 9 input method built-in with Windows, or learn one of the 3 addon input methods commercially available. Depending on the input method you use the key defination may or may not be changed.

            For Japanese input, you just select whether you want to type Katakana/Hiragana, then type in the roman pronouciation of character. If the combination is known Kanji sequence, you’ll also be offered word selection.

            For other European layout, the key defination usually changes. And sometimes there are characters you can type with aid of “dead key”.

          3. BZ says:

            There are physical keyboards with more than one letter on each key, so you can type in different languages. Russian/English is the one I’m familiar with

          4. Gee Law says:

            @Someone: I personally work in two modes. Chinese (Hanyu Pinyin)/English (US) layout and French layout. When I’m typing French, I naturally switch A/Q W/Z, and transforms the number keys into those symbols (punctuations and accented letters), I also translate the right portion of my keyboard. It’s basically how one shadows his/her words onto the keyboard.

            By the way, as a Simplified Chinese user, none of IMEs I am aware of for zh-Hans uses a different layout than the US one. We use the US layout, but letters are intercepted and reinterpreted by IMEs as we type.

            The most widely used encoding is the standard latinization (or Hanyu Pinyin) where one types the pronunciation of characters.

            A variant of it is (basically) to encode compound consonants with vowel letters and compound vowels with consonant letters, so that each syllable is encoded as 2 letters (this scheme is called Shuangpin, lit., double spell, or UDPN in Shuangpin).

            The third method to input Chinese is ideograph-based, which was very, very popular ~15 years ago. Letters represent parts of characters. The rate is quickly boosted when longer phrases are typed together. It’s less popular but Microsoft, nevertheless, reintroduced an official implementation in Windows 8.1. This encoding is called Wubi (lit., five strokes) and is GGHGTTFN in its own encoding.

          5. cheong00 says:

            @Gee Law: I’m aware that Bopomofo zhuyin method used by Taiwan uses a different keyboard layout. (Search “bopomofo keyboard” to see the images. As you can see, the zhuyin symbol for “bo”(ㄅ) is not on key “B”)

            So for Chinese it’s layout may/may not be changed scenario depending on the IME you use.

        2. roeland says:

          Go to Google Images and do a search for “keyboard arabic” or “keyboard russian” or “keyboard chinese”, etc. You’ll get the idea.

          You can print more than one letter on a keycap.

        3. Entegy says:

          Many keyboards for multilingual markets have multiple commands printed on them. For example, a combined English US/French Canadian keyboard, which is what you’ll find on laptops in Canada, will have the normal white print for commands that work when the layout is set to English US, and the blue print when the layout is set to French Canadian.

          All the computers deployed at my job have this set up for the user since we’re a heavily mixed multilingual environment.

        4. Entegy says:

          Also want to point out that shortcut was not for changing the UI language, but the autocorrect language and keyboard layout.

    5. M says:

      Changing the keyboard language is very useful if you type in multiple languages. Or in the case of a Server OS if you log in from different devices with different keyboard layouts. The annoying shortcuts are ctrl+shift or left alt+shift and they can be disabled

    6. This option is here for users who need to live with multiple keyboard layouts — and that includes (but is not limited to) basically everyone whose language uses a different alphabet than Latin. Those users need multiple keyboards, since they want to type in both their native script and Latin (eg. URLs).

      And the real fix for your problem? Make sure you have only one keyboard layout installed and available from that menu, and disable the keyboard shortcuts to change layouts.

      1. Someone says:

        “need to live with multiple keyboard layouts” But why? I type German and English with the same layout, and there is absolutely no point to switch to something where I would have to guess every letter and symbol which is not A – Z.

      2. Someone says:

        I know that. But because this feature is only useful for a special kind of nerds, it should not be enabled by default:
        What percentage of normal users have ever learned more than the standard layout for their region, and that to a degree they can type blindly?
        And why on earth is this enabled on a server OS, where you would never do translation work or something?

        1. cheong00 says:

          I’d say over 70% of population on Earth needs it. At least all Asian/African countries and a large portion of Europe would require this to work.

          You must have never seen people set their password as Chinese pharses.

          1. cheong00 says:

            Oh. And I’ll add if it’s not clear, that no matter what native lanuage you’re using, you need to learn English typing to do admin tasks. (Although lots of these tasks have GUI available now, some are still “command line only”)

    7. Brian_EE says:

      I’ve never used Win8, but I can easily imagine the use case: A tablet with no physical keyboard.

      As an example, on my Samsug Android phone, I can select the “keyboard” from the standard Samsung keyboard to 3rd party “keyboards” (such as Swype) and sometimes I do depending on what work I’m trying to accomplish with the device.

    8. Actually, I frequently change between the ENG US and ENG INTL keyboards when I am typing. If you want to enter ácç:ëñtèd characters, that use the ” ‘ ` dead keys, you would use the ENG INTL keyboard. If you don’t want to have to double type the dead keys all the time, you would use the ENG US keyboard. You can also toggle between keyboards using the Windows key + space.

    9. littlealex says:

      I am switching between the keyboard layouts for US and German all the time, and sometimes I also switch to Japanese IME. For people who know the keyboard layout the actual letters on the keys are quite uninteresting. I could probably use a keyboard with all blank keys as well, as long as it has a typical european 105 keys layout. In all the languages I use, I know which keys I need to press to get a certain result. And on an american 104 keys layout, I’d probably hit the key left of the Z all the time, wondering why nothing happens.

      1. Someone says:

        “I am switching between the keyboard layouts for US and German all the time” Why? I’m German, and there is no need to switch to type English. Not even on the smartphone.

    10. R P (MSFT) says:

      The stuff written on the keycaps has no effect on what you get when you press the keys. You can still type Arabic, Hebrew, Korean, or Cyrillic on a keyboard with QWERTY keycaps, as long as you know where the keys are. Even if you’re only using Latin characters, it’s possible that a bilingual touch typist might be used to using different keyboard layouts for different languages.

      1. Someone says:

        “as long as you know where the keys are” Thats the point that makes it so useless with non-touch devices.,

        1. You really are out of the touch with the world. Go out more often! 😉

          Or listen to the 12 people that are telling you it is not useless as you initially asserted.

          1. Someone says:

            No point for you. I program and support two global software systems for my company, with appropriate support for several languages including Chinese, number and date formats. But I’m not a translator.

          2. brliron says:

            Okay, another example non-related to multiple languages. I’m French, every keyboard you find here uses AZERTY. But there is also a big part of the French programming community saying the QWERTY keyboard is totally superior to the AZERTY keyboard for programming (because in AZERTY, you need to press the AltGr modifier (right Alt) for a lot of useful keys, for example {} or [], or even backslash). Those people will probably want to use a French layout when typing text, and an English layout when typing code. Of course they know both layout and don’t need to look at the key.

            On my side, I have a QWERTY keyboard (because I tried to write code in QWERTY – it didn’t feel superior to me). I use an AZERTY layout most of the time, and I use QWERTY when I write code because that keyboard have only 104 keys and I can’t write code without the keys. I like the “every window have its own keyboard layout” thing on Windows 7 because Visual Studio uses QWERTY and my IM program uses AZERTY in my setup, but I understand why it changed and I’ll probably get used to it quickly when I’ll upgrade that computer.
            I might want to use Bépo to write text and AZERTY to write code some day, I heard Bépo is better to type text.

        2. R P (MSFT) says:

          At one time or another, I have typed all of those scripts on a physical keyboard lettered with a QWERTY layout. It’s nowhere near as useless as you think. And even when I’m typing on an US keyboard with a US English layout, the labels on the keys are pointless, because I learned some thirty years ago how to type without looking at the keyboard.
          To address your point from another followup comment: this functionality is NOT enabled by default. You have to have installed more than one keyboard layout to have that functionality. It’s possible that someone or some process did that for you, but that is not the experience most people have.

    11. Matteo Italia says:

      Touch typists – pretty much every programmer in my office – don’t care about what’s written on the keycaps. My keyboard layout is Italian (and my physical keyboard is blank 😁), but when someone who is used to the American layout has to type on my computer he can switch and use his favorite layout. Same in the opposite direction (although it’s less convenient, as the American layout has one key less).

      1. cheong00 says:

        Yup. That’s why “keyboard without letters printed on keys” is a thing.

        As long as there is bump on F and J position, they don’t really care.

    12. Antonio Rodríguez says:

      It’s a feature that few users need (like translators to non-Latin languages, as Greek or Japanese). For those users, it’s critical that it’s easy and fast.

    13. Drak says:

      @Someone
      Actually you can switch physical keyboards.
      Think of using a VM or remote help function.
      I work at a dutch company, and use the US keyboard layout, but a lot of our clients are belgian, and use a belgian physical keyboard. It is quite useful to be able to switch to en-us input when typing from work, while the client can switch it back to belgian when typing from their side.

  2. skSdnW says:

    It looks like the host of the settings panel (and other panels on the right) is called the charms window? And the metro app switcher on the left is the “immersive switch list” triggered by “edge UI”?

  3. Dirk Gently says:

    Loving the “fork and beerglass” icon on the top screenshot.

  4. Shawn says:

    The TDBN is HTML, but I’m disappointed the six-pack is just a screenshot graphic.

    1. Neil says:

      And served over HTTP too. (Then again, the hostname is wrong and the certificate expired anyway.)

  5. AndyCadley says:

    Presumably because when you installed the server, you added the local keyboard but didn’t remove the default US layout. If you only have one keyboard layout installed the notification icon disappears and the keyboard shortcut doesn’t do anything.

  6. BobVul says:

    I still sometimes miss the TDBN on 10. It was a nice way to quickly (Win+C) bring up the clock with an auto-hiding taskbar. Oh well, the cost of having a start menu again, I guess :)

    1. Entegy says:

      Just push the Windows key? The taskbar opens with the menu too.

      1. Gee Law says:

        Windows+T gives you the taskbar.

      2. crossslide says:

        The Win8 TDBN was still a bit better for this use case because it was larger and more centrally located, making it quicker to parse.

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