General Question

flo's avatar

Computer question: Why can't some texts be highlighted?

Asked by flo (12974points) June 11th, 2015

For example, to find out what version of Firefox a computer is using you go to Open Menu -> ”?” (for Help) ->About Firefox. But it can’t be highlighted. Why not?

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15 Answers

jerv's avatar

The cursor shape will tell you if text is copyable or not.

When I open the “About” box in Firefox and hover over the version number, my pointer turns from it’s usual arrow to the type cursor used for text entry. That tells me that it will behave as a text tool rather than a normal pointer, and a text tool can select and copy text whereas a normal pointer cannot. However if I put it anywhere else in that box, it’s a normal pointer that cannot select text.

As for why not, the “About” box isn’t supposed to be able to be edited, and those who wrote IE figured it’s unlikely that you would want to copy it with Ctrl-C so they didn’t bother going through the added steps required to make one part of the “About” box a different format from the rest of the box to add a functionality that they didn’t think anyone would use. Why Firefox thought someone would do that is what has me boggled; until this question, I just committed it to short-term memory and typed it out when needed instead of copy/pasting it.

flo's avatar

@jerv I’ve been thinking about your answer. I don’t know if I misused a word or term somewhere in my question. I will be back.

flo's avatar

Clicking on About Firefox or IE gives me the browser version the computer is in use. I want to highlight it, so I can paste it. Why can’t I do that? I know I can take a screenshot by the way

jerv's avatar

In Firefox, only the number is selectable.

Personally, I think it’s kind of silly as I feel that all text should be selectable even in a locked text field or on a read-only document, but I’m not the one that writes the code. I attribute it to laziness on the part of the programmers.

snowberry's avatar

Locking the text certainly would make it harder for copyright infringement and plagiarism.

flo's avatar

Where is the plagiarism or copyright infringement in pasting 11.0.9600.17843 to answer the question “What version of IE are you using?”

jerv's avatar

@flo When it comes to intellectual property laws, don’t expect things to make sense.

@snowberry For things like e-books, that makes sense… but what I said to @flo applies equally here as well.

flo's avatar

By the way what do the last 10 digits correspond to?

jerv's avatar

The first number before any decimal point is the major version. In this case, your using IE11, so that part is obvious.

The second set indicates some added features but not enough to warrant calling it a whole new version. As IE11 hasn’t had any major work done to it since it came out, it’s 11.0

Anything after that would be minor revisions; usually a bugfix or security patch. Those numbers aren’t always in sequence though; the numbers after the second decimal point sometimes jump quite a bit with the other versions in between being in-house testing versions that were stepping stones between the old and the new revisions.

flo's avatar

So, Firefox and the other browsers have all those digits too?

jerv's avatar

All? No. Having three decimal points is actually pretty uncommon; most programs use just one, and most that don’t stop at two.

For instance, Firefox 38.0.5 is the 38th version of Firefox, it’s had no major revisions, there’s been only a couple of minor fixes since 38.0 (38.0.1 and 38.0.5), and they never released 38.0.2 through 38.0.4 to the general public.

flo's avatar

Good to know. I can’t get over intellectual property coming into this though.

jerv's avatar

Intellectual Property laws are what keeps many lawyers rich. Figure, Apple had a whole slew of patents, some of them for absurd things like “a rectangle with rounded corners”. That led to a lawsuit against Samsung, and while most of the charges were dismissed or ruled against, enough stuck for Samsung to have to pay Apple a fine in the nine-figure range. (I forget the exact number at the moment.) Even if Apple’s lawyers only got 10% to that, it’s no less than $10,000,000 for them, though it’s more likely that they got a bigger percentage than that. And even Samsung’s lawyers got paid pretty damn well; with so much money at stake, you know they wanted the best legal team they could get,

So now that we’ve established how much money can be made with IP lawsuits, even if most are smaller, can you see how some silly stuff may happen due to someone trying to make a buck?

flo's avatar

A gizzilion things are done in order to make a buck. It’s terrible, that’s all I can see.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Try “Ctrl A” when using the mouse won’t work. That’s how I copy stuff from places where you can’t select specific texts to highlight. Ctrl A highlights everything on the page. Then I post it into Word and THEN I select my specific text.

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