Keyboard Problem
December 31, 2003 1:47 PM   Subscribe

I'm sure many of you, like me, find yourselves in the position of family tech support guy. well, this latest ticket has me completely stumped. on my mother's computer, every time she presses the "1", a "`1" appears on screen. any ideas?

oh yeah, she's running Windows 98.
posted by mcsweetie to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Those two keys are next to each other. I'd guess they are stuck together so that they depress at the same time. Have you tried removing those keys and blowing out any gunk you find under them? If you hold down the sift key, does she get ~! ?
posted by willnot at 1:51 PM on December 31, 2003

Sounds like the chip inside the keyboard which translates the scan codes (the electrical pulses which say things like, 'you hit the third key in the fifth row') into ASCII has eaten itself, either due to age or some weird power surge or somebody spilling something on the board. It could be mechanical, like willnot mentioned, but if it's not the easiest fix is buying a new one.
posted by mmcg at 2:05 PM on December 31, 2003

Something similar happened for a while after a minor coffee incident (non-metafilter related, incidentally). When I would press the 9 on the number pad, it would produce +9 on the screen, with similar adjacent keys being paired up like that as well.

when I held down the 9, it would look like +99999999999

The problem cleared up after a couple of days. If it doesn't go away your best bet is to check for something in there.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:09 PM on December 31, 2003

The first thing I'd do is try a different keyboard - or try the same keyboard in a different machine. If the problem goes away with the different keyboard or stays with the keyboard when it changes machines you've identified your problem. The good news is that even if you have to replace the keyboard, it'll likely be pretty cheap.

You might have some luck trying to clean out the keyboard, you might not.

If you swap keyboards and the problem keeps happening on the same computer, that's a different problem... post it again.
posted by woil at 4:14 PM on December 31, 2003

If it's a Dell laptop, remove and then reinstall the screws on the bottom of the case. Dell laptop keyboards get really weird and unreliable over time, and they seem to require exactly the right tension on the screws at the bottom of the thing.

If it's not a laptop, then go hit eBay and spring for a Model M or ten. They run about twenty or thirty bucks and you will never, ever need another keyboard, no matter how much abuse it gets. A better and more indestructable keyboard has never been made (though fans of the Northgate might disagree, but they're wrong).
posted by majick at 5:33 PM on December 31, 2003

The old IBM keyboards are similar in feel to the northgates, and much cheaper. part no. 52g9700. Very heavy and solid. It's comforting to know that I could kill someone with it if I had too, or stop small caliber gunfire.
posted by mecran01 at 6:16 PM on December 31, 2003

They run about twenty or thirty bucks and you will never, ever need another keyboard, no matter how much abuse it gets.

I agree that they are marvelous, but I did manage to wear one out eventually.
posted by rushmc at 6:44 PM on December 31, 2003

Model M's increase your typing speed too.

I can't tell you how many times someone has gone to use my computer and types two words and then says "this keyboard is awesome!"

I actually bought a spare since they aren't made anymore.
posted by Fupped Duck at 7:27 PM on December 31, 2003

Yes they are.
posted by majick at 7:50 PM on December 31, 2003

As much as I hated the Windows key in the past, the discovery of Win+D (Minimize All/Restore All) has greatly affected the way I work on Windows boxen, and I fear I would now be lost without the infernal device.
posted by Danelope at 8:15 PM on December 31, 2003

Response by poster: thanks for the suggestions, I'll try them out next time she calls me over. it will no doubt happen when I am in the middle of a game of Medal of Honor.
posted by mcsweetie at 10:08 PM on December 31, 2003

It's not a 'programmable' keyboard, is it? Gateway made some for a while that were easy to accidentally program. I had all kinds of weird support calls from a gateway-only business until I learned the magic keystroke that restored the default mappings.
posted by mmoncur at 2:04 AM on January 2, 2004

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