how do i get this ghost out of my computer?
October 10, 2013 1:28 PM   Subscribe

My conputer has its own ideas about what I should be typing. For the love of sanity, please help.

It's a Gateway notebook, model LT28.

It will refuse to type, repeat a single keystroke for a long time, or thrill and chill me with phantom poltergeist keystrokes. Not just letters, it will also open and close windows, minimize and maximize randomly, mess with the volume and so forth. Typing asdf or a will often (but not always) get it back in check for a short time. This happens both with windows7 and ubuntu. I've tried removing the keyboard and connecting it to a usb keyboard- this still happens, and the computer still thinks that the original keyboard is connected. According to the computer, both keyboards are working fine. I tried uninstalling the drivers for the original keyboard to reinstall, but as far as I can tell, they are still installed, so what's next?
posted by windykites to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'll start with the obvious:
Have you scanned for malware recentlly?
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:48 PM on October 10, 2013

Response by poster: Can't hurt to do it again, I'll let you know if anything comes up.
posted by windykites at 1:52 PM on October 10, 2013

Best answer: Since it happens both in Windows7 and Ubuntu I seriously doubt this is a malware issue.
I think you have a trackpad or keyboard hardware problem.

When you unattach the keyboard and use the USB one does the weird behavior still occur?
If so, the problem could be in the cable still left inside the machine or the keyboard/usb chip on the motherboard.

There's a _very_ small chance someone may have attached a USB prank device so if you see something on your usb port that you don't recognize that could it, but my guess is broken hardware.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 1:55 PM on October 10, 2013

Response by poster: Yep, happens with any keyboard.
posted by windykites at 2:01 PM on October 10, 2013

I had this problem once. I downloaded msert from Microsoft. It found a virus that my antivirus software missed.
posted by MayNicholas at 2:12 PM on October 10, 2013

Do you have a bluetooth keyboard paired with it? Might try disabling bluetooth (if it supports it) and see if that helps.

Does the laptop keyboard have any gunk in it that would cause keys to stick or not register a keypress? Did any liquids get spilled in it recently? You may try to carefully clean the keyboard. You will most likely need to remove the keycaps or the keyboard itself to do so, and I recommend looking to see whether anyone has posted a guide for doing so for your model of laptop.

Keyboards are low-level enough that they typically don't need drivers in the traditional sense and can't be disabled if they are physically attached to the machine, so if these suggestions here don't work, then most likely your laptop keyboard is busted or there is some other deeper hardware problem. At that point you can either try to find a replacement laptop keyboard and repair it yourself, or take it to a repair shop. For a netbook like this, I'd say that it's time to look for replacements, as it's probably not going to be cost-effective to repair.
posted by Aleyn at 3:29 PM on October 10, 2013

Sight unseen, first guess is schmutz under the main keys or keyboard itself.

I'd pull it out, check for crap, and clean the end of the cable and reseat it.

I have no idea how technical you are, but stuff like this isn't all that tough, here's a generic video of a similar laptop having it's KB removed. When he points to the cable coming off of the back of the keyboard, there's where you can also check for dirt/schmutz.

Yes, schmutz is a technical term.
posted by Sphinx at 3:47 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If it's happening with any keyboard and under both Windows and Ubuntu, it might be a faulty USB controller. In a notebook, this is usually a sign of a damaged motherboard.
posted by chaosys at 3:54 PM on October 10, 2013

I will echo the malware theory above. Particularly some form of remote administration tool (RAT) malware. They allow a remote user to open and close programs, turn on webcams, open and close cd drives - all sorts of crazy stuff. Scary.
posted by WinterSolstice at 2:14 PM on October 11, 2013

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