Dealing with a phantom stuck key bug on MacBook Air
June 15, 2013 11:22 AM Subscribe
I'm troubled by a mysterious bug on my MacBook Air. It manifests itself when I use Microsoft PowerPoint, but I believe it is a Mac-wide issue. It is extremely rare, impossible to reproduce on demand, and yet - when it strikes, it does so with a vengeance
, and embarrasses me in front of a theater full of people.
posted by Silky Slim to computers & internet (17 answers total)
My job entails screening PowerPoint presentations. I sit in the back of a theater and advance the slides as needed, using the down- or right arrow. Usually, everything works beautifully, but last September, the phantom bug struck for the first time. In the middle of the presentation, the slides suddenly began rushing past, faster than the eye can see, as if I were pressing down the arrow key. The computer seemed to be in a trance, unresponsive to any keystroke. 5-10 seconds and several dozen slides later, the computer snapped out of it, and I was able to scroll back and resume the presentation at the point it was interrupted. The bug occurred twice that day, during two separate presentations. Retracing my steps, I realized that several other applications were open at the time, so on subsequent days, I tried the default home remedy of restarting the computer right before the presentation and making sure no other apps were open. This seemed to do the trick, and I hoped it was behind me, but today it struck again - not once, not twice but four times. The slides rushed by again and again, in front of a ticket-being audience. Needless to say, I was mortified.
I want to stress that the key wasn't physically stuck, the computer just behaved as if it were. Also, I seem to remember this problem occurring once or twice during regular use, where the computer froze for a few seconds as if a key were being pressed, only to snap out of it after about ten seconds - that's why I don't think it's a PowerPoint issue. It only happened a handful of times in the 18 months I've had it, so it's an extremely rare bug, and I've done dozens of presentations with no issues at all. But after today, obviously I'm not at ease about it.
The one idea I had today, during the disastrous presentation, was to turn off Key Repeat in System Preferences. Logically, that should help, but who knows? I also thought about using a different computer and/or using an external USB keyboard. Any other ideas would be most welcome.