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Issue #208: July 17, 2011

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Q: YOu are abOut the Last hOpe I have tO get my prObLem sOLved. As yOu can see the Letters O, L, the dOt next tO the QuestiOn mark and the Number Nine dO nOt wOrk On this keybOard unLess I use the shift Key.  In Order tO get a LOwer case letter I have tO push caps LOck and shift simOultaneOusLy.  I am using the dOt On the Numbers Pad because it dOes nOt wOrk with the shift key (same with the Number Nine)

Any suggestiOn Or heLp wOuLd be greatly appreciated 

– Brigitte G.
Fort Walton Beach, Fla

A: Your e-mail really made me smile, Brigitte.  I’m sure you are terribly frustrated with this problem, but you have to admit, it does look rather silly.  However, I can offer you an explanation, and a solution.

Your computer’s keyboard does far more than you probably realize.  Inside every keyboard is a tiny little computer that has the job of generating keystroke information and communicating it to the PC.  In the early days of computing (and even today on some high-end keyboards) there would be a tiny switch under each keycap to send a signal to the keyboard’s processor when that particular key was pressed.  In the ongoing quest to reduce computer prices, manufacturers figured out a way to replace all those independent switches with a single printed circuit board, replacing the switches with metallic traces and rubber cups with a conductive pad.  Most of these are laid out in a grid pattern, and share and share common circuitry, which makes the actual job of a modern keyboard that of translating the X/Y coordinate of a pressed key into keystroke data that the PC can use.  You told me that the letters O and L, the dot next to the question mark, and the number 9 key all do not work.  Look at your keyboard.  Notice anything about those keys?  They are all in the same column (albeit at an angle, because of the way keyboards are made).  That means that in your keyboard’s grid pattern, one entire column has failed.  The signals from this column don’t get sent to the keyboard’s processor, so the keyboard doesn’t send anything to the computer when you hit those keys.  Hitting Shift alters the grid pattern, so the work when shifted.  This all tells me that it is not a problem with your computer, but rather something in the keyboard that is physically defective.  Unfortunately, that means the likelihood of a quick fix from me is zilch.  Someone with time on their hands who is handy with a soldering iron might possibly be able to locate a broken wire or a bad solder joint inside the keyboard and fix it, but honestly, it’s probably not worth pursuing.  Cheap keyboards can be purchased at online stores for as little as $3, and in local stores for around $10.  Replace the keyboard, and your problem will disappear.

Q: Yesterday when I booted up my computer I received an error message that I had a corrupt local profile. The next message that came up said I was being logged in on a temporary profile. Now, if I shut down the computer I lose all of my personal settings, etc.  Please help me to solve this problem. I am running Microsoft Windows XP version 2002.

-Terri M.
Bluewater Bay, Fla

A: This is one of those problems that sounds a lot worse than it actually is.  Losing a few preference settings is annoying, but tolerable as long as your data are intact.  The answer to your problem is that you need to create a new profile.  Rather than try and step you though that process, please allow me to refer you to tinyurl.com/qzst which will link to a support article from Microsoft that should have all the information you need to affect a repair.

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