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Thread: Very strange keyboard problem

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Very strange keyboard problem

    Hi, my name's Kent, and a friend recommended that I post my problem here. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

    So: Every day, after waking my iBook up, about 10-15 minutes in, I will lose responsiveness in the return key, the minus key, and the backslash key. They just stop working. (What's weirder: about once out of every ten times it happens, the return key et. al. are fine, but it's the entire second row of the keyboard that won't respond, from the "a" to the " ' ") It only seems to correct itself when I put the computer to sleep for about another 15 minutes or so, and then it seems fine for the rest of the day.

    Now, I think I've isolated the problem: It looks like if I've put the computer to sleep with iTunes running and a song paused, then wake the computer and resume the song, the return key and the rest are "turned off". That's what I did when it happened today. Or that could just be a big coincidence. My friend says that hardware problems usually have hardware solutions, and thinks it's strange that it should be software based.

    Anyway, I plan to test out my hypothesis later, as well as use the utilities on the disks, but I'd be happy to hear if anyone has had a similar problem and what they did to fix it.

    Thank you!

    Kent

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Hi and welcome to MacGurus.

    I would lean towards software first, both bebcause it sounds likely, and because it is easier/cheaper to rule out first.

    What will help us: what version of the OS, what version of itunes (or any other software that might be related to the problem)....the more info the better.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
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    Default

    Sure, no prob!

    Lessee...

    OS 10.4.2
    iTunes 4.7.1 (After trying some stuff, I'm not sure this is the problem anymore, but who knows?)
    Safari 2.0
    Mail 2.0.2
    MS Word for Mac 2004 11.0
    MS Excel for Mac 2004 11.0
    CopyWrite 2.2.5
    Final Draft 7.1.1 Build 19

    I'm fairly certain that I've had this problem without the last 3 ever being open, but I could be wrong.

    Happy to provide more info if necessary.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Default

    Just now I had a keyboard problem with my old 300MHz Clamshell iBook. All of a sudden most keys didn't work, and the few that worked produced the wrong character. The iBook runs Panther 10.3.9 and has only a 3GB drive, which is nearly full. I periodically clean the internet cache because it does eat up what little space I have left pretty quickly. I couldn't do that because I couldn't enter an admin password. So I tried a restart, no luck. Tried a PRAM reset, no luck because the k/b was still not working right, so I got another normal restart with no PRAM reset. Booted into Open Firmware no trouble, reset nvram, problem solved. I assume this may have something to do with the overfull drive, I don't know, but the the OF reset fixed things.

    HTH.
    "illegitimis non carborundum"

  5. #5
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    Well, we could start with the easiest and least destructive things: repair permissions with Disk Utilty, OF reset as Bigs mentioned, download and run an app that can help with housecleaning. I like Applejack the best. Been really solid, and effective (and free).

    Check your Console logs to see if it may point you at any problems - files that can't load, errors, etc. Keep track of the time the problem

    If none of that works, then you could download and run the 10.4.2 Combination Updater. Will reinstall any broken/missing OS chunks....been known to solve problems at almost zero risk.

    Next would be Disk Warrrior. Still a very good tool.

    After that I would start looking at applications. Office 2004 has had three updates at this point, and more good than bad with those updates. Hopefully logs will give some hint of an app haiving problems.

    One thing that might rule out the keyboard hardware is simply trying a different one...if you can locate a USB keyboard somewhere.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
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    Default

    Thank you very much for all the replies so far. I have so many leads to follow, it may take me several days to try them all!

    A small update: It's still happening, and there just doesn't seem to be any correlation between what program is running, what I'm doing at the time, or anything like that (except for a couple things, below).

    1. I ran Disk Utility off of my startup disk. It found the following errors when I did Disk Verify:

    Reserved fields in the catalog record have incorrect data

    (This was listed 3 times in a row)

    and

    Invalid leaf record count
    ("It should be 3 instead of 30", it said underneath.)

    I tried to repair this, but it said it couldn't.

    2. Usually when I get the return key back, it's after putting the computer to sleep for 10-15 minutes. The problem struck again about two hours ago, and after sleeping/waking several times, it still wouldn't rectify itself. Then, out of frustration, I started hitting return and the shift key alternately (with my forefinger and middle finger) very rapidly, and the return key came back (?!). I checked the Console log, and there was nothing there to indicate the change.

    This seems to indicate to my inexpert mind that it's an issue with the keyboard. Another thing I forgot about and should probably mention: A few days ago, I tried to remove the keyboard (as if I was going to install an Airport card) and found the keyboard to be tightly lodged in place, much more so than my previous iBook. It was in there so tight that I ended up breaking off the Esc key. It should be noted that the return key problem had been happening for a good week before this (and, obviously, still continues).

    3. So while I'm thinking it's a keyboard/hardware issue, there's one last thing: It appears (but I really need to check this and pay more attention) that this return key issue happens when the battery level is at 98%, either going up from charging or going down because the power adaptor isn't plugged in. That seems ridiculous, and I want to think that this has happened at other percentages, but I'm pretty sure the last two have happened at 98%.

    Anyway -- thank you once again for all your help! And I'll keep this thread updated as I learn more.

  7. #7
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    How full is your drive?

    Did you try the Open Firmware reset of nvram?
    "illegitimis non carborundum"

  8. #8
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    Lightbulb

    iTunes is said to be one of the best applications to test memory/RAM for problems. So is Memtest. My preference for repairing a drive is to boot into Single User Mode and run Applejack and/or fsck. the version used in 10.4.2 is better than earlier. see the Troubleshooting Guide.

    Not all SODIMMs are equal when it comes to how well they support deep sleep and retain contents, the most serious being a kernel panic on wake from sleep.

  9. #9
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    Need to fix the HD issue you found, even if unrelated to the keyboard thing. Applejack is probably the best, and the easiest, so I would start there.

    If you do think you have a keyboard hardware issue, gonna have to get a second one to test and see if it fixes the problem, either USB or a replacement internal (which I expect is pricey).
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  10. #10
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    Okay, looks like the mystery is solved, for the most part.

    I took the computer over to my friend's place, and he did the following (hopefully I can remember it all):

    ran Applejack
    ran Disk Warrior (twice)
    ran fsck
    Open firmware reset of nvram
    Pram reset

    and I think that's it. So, other than my primary problem, my computer is in tip-top shape. I'm pretty sure any other problems that were there (like the HD issue) should be fixed now.

    And it happened again -- unresponsive return key.

    My friend plugged in a firewire keyboard, and it worked perfectly.

    I'm thinking hardware problem. Luckily, this thing still has a year warranty on it.

    Thank you, again, Unclemac, TZ, and Biggles for all your help. At the very least, I've certainly been educated on Mac health!

    Kent

  11. #11
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    Cool Happy to help.

    Sounds like your buddy is squared away - and now you are too.

    Let us know how the warranty thing goes...
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

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