Acer netbook keyboard and mouse about to die
July 22, 2012 4:33 PM   Subscribe

Acer netbook keyboard and mouse threatening to quit working any minute now. Hoping someone can point me to the right place for assistance before it's too late.

The system: Acer Aspire One netbook with an attached monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

The problem: keyboard and mouse stop responding as the should. Rebooting fixes things - temporarily. When this first happened about 24 hours ago I figured it was a fluke. The second time, I thought "better check into this...". I've had to reboot 3 times in the past hour, which is interfering with my effort to google a solution.

When things start to go bad, it seems that the keyboard and mouse respond randomly to whatever I do, but here are some specific examples:

mouse: clicking on a link doesn't take me to that address, but just switches to another window or opens a new window; using the wheel to simply scroll down the page selects everything on the page - and it's impossible to "deselect" the material-sometimes; other times, when I try to scroll vertically, I end up scrolling horizontally.

keyboard: will switch to all caps mode even though cap lock is not selected - selecting all caps will return lower case letters, but the top row of numbers will still return the upper case option; keyboard will stop functioning altogether - typing simply results in switching tabs and windows.

Unplugging the mouse and keyboard and using the built-in options does not fix the problem. In fact, after the last reboot I did not attach either and I'm starting to see problems.

I haven't had much luck with google - partly due to problem itself, but I imagine that I'm not using the best search terms either. Looking for a good site for technical assistance. (But if you can just tell me how to fix it, that would be fine, too!)
posted by she's not there to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)

Unplugging the mouse and keyboard and using the built-in options does not fix the problem. In fact, after the last reboot I did not attach either and I'm starting to see problems.
Are you seeing the same kinds of problems with both internal and attached keyboards?

Have you tried unplugging all your peripherals? Are your keyboard and mouse wireless? Have you removed anything nearby that might cause signal interference?

If that doesn't work, can you boot using a recovery CD, a linux boot CD, or something similar to rule out a malware/virus issue?
posted by FreelanceBureaucrat at 5:20 PM on July 22, 2012

As a first thing, to check for viruses and malware, try the Microsoft Security Scanner. Justgoogle that, download it, and run it for a Full Scan. You could use a different machine and download it to a USB and run it from the USB. If this has no effect, I think it is a major hardware problem. But certain malwares could cause those symptoms.
posted by caclwmr4 at 5:20 PM on July 22, 2012

Re Weird - no kidding! I swear, the machine almost seems to be consciously fucking with me. (Perhaps a sign of the impending singularity?)

When I posted this the track pad seemed to be getting shaky, but that passed and I've since plugged in the monitor, keyboard, and mouse. So far, so good, but I didn't change anything, so I can't imagine that the problem is fixed.

Microsoft Security Scanner is already installed and it ran a routine quick scan early this morning - I'll try a full scan shortly.

When the USB mouse and keyboard stop functioning (I think the keyboard tends to go first, followed shortly by the mouse), the built-in options no longer work either, nor does changing USB ports (there are 3). Fortunately, I'm still able to use the mouse or track pad to shut down/restart the system.

(Only the internet connection is wireless.)
posted by she's not there at 8:16 PM on July 22, 2012

Sounds to me like Windows is behaving as if a Shift key (for the uppercase and selection weirdness) and sometimes an Alt key (for the window-switching instead of typing) are held down.

First the obvious checks: is there anything sitting on either keyboard (attached or inbuilt) that could be pressing on one of those keys? Or has either keyboard ever suffered an insult from coffee or Coke?

There's one not-at-all obvious way I've seen Windows XP get confused into believing a Shift key is down: if you lean on the right-hand Shift key for five seconds, Windows will pop up a box asking whether you want to enable the Sticky Keys assistive feature. If you decline, Windows will not turn on Sticky Keys but it will behave as if a Shift key is still pressed until you press and release the left-hand Shift key.

I first encountered this problem on a library computer where the keyboard was used much less frequently than the bar code scanner; occasionally somebody would place books to be returned on the front desk in such a way as to lean on the right-hand Shift key and then none of the bar codes would scan right for the rest of the day. And I found the quick fix just by fiddling about.

Next time you see keyboard or mouse weirdness, try pressing and releasing each of the modifier keys individually (left Shift, left Ctrl, left Alt, right Alt, right Ctrl, right Shift) and see if the weirdness goes away.

The long-term fix for the Sticky Keys issue is to go into the Keyboard section of the Control Panel, work through all the assistive technologies settings and disable all their activation hotkeys. You might want to do that on spec, just in case there's also some similar bug involving Alt.
posted by flabdablet at 3:07 AM on July 23, 2012

Thank you, Flabdablet! I no longer have to reboot when things get weird - pressing Ctrl and/or Alt will bring things back to normal.

I still don't know what triggers the issue, e.g., the mouse stopped responding appropriately when my hands weren't anywhere near the keyboard, but pressing Ctrl brought things back to normal.

I will follow your instructions re long-term fix asap.
posted by she's not there at 8:40 PM on July 24, 2012

Does pressing Ctrl one more time turn the weirdness back on? If so, it might just be that Sticky Keys has got itself turned on somehow.
posted by flabdablet at 10:26 PM on July 24, 2012

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