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Mysteries of the Phantom Keyboard Problem

 
 
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 12:16 am
I am having a keyboard input problem of late? I haven't yet been able to pin it down to anything with a common denominator. Periodically while in the middle of typing away on some form of a software input field my keyboard suddenly goes haywire and the keys that are pressed are not the letters that appear on the screen.

Some background:

This has been happening for about 6 months. When it first occurred I thought my keyboard was dying and bought a new one. Same problem occurs with the new one.

I use XP Pro, on a Dell E310 with the latest Windows updates.
I am automatically running and updating all the various anti-virus, anti-spyware, registry cleaners, privacy protection and firewall software.
I've checked to be sure all my various standard drivers are current. I did try deleting the keyboard driver and reinstalling it to see if it could be a corrupted driver file but the confusion problem still recurs.

So far, the problem occurs only while typing an email using Google's Gmail, or while typing in a local document using Microsoft Word 2007 or while typing a post here on A2K. (It just happened a few minutes ago while I was typing on my blog on barackobama.com so the problem is spreading to other programs now.) It does not occur every time and there is no pattern to it. It does not occur with any of the other instances that require keyboarding during my daily use of the computer and when it does occur it only effects that current program. I can open concurrent browser windows or new software program sessions while the problem occurs and not experience the problem with them.

The problem goes away once I close the browser, and then reopen the browser. The problem also goes away if I close Word, and then restart the program. In neither case is clearing cache or a reboot necessary to solve the problem.

The problem seems to occur in each of the mentioned programs only once, sometimes twice during any one session of use. Once I've closed and restarted the software it doesn't seem to recur again.

Mouse clicks work fine while the keyboard is in the state of confusion and if I'm in the middle of something I don't want to lose when I shut down the program, I can open up a Notepad session, type correctly in that to finish my document or post and then paste it into the software window having the keyboarding confusion and save/post it.

For awhile I was suspecting it had to do with interference from an ad using either a Java script or Flash program on Gmail or A2K but the problem sometimes occurs even after a fresh boot up when I'm using Word and haven't yet been on the internet. I also thought it must just be a dirty keyboard and the gunk is interfering with the key contacts, but this is a new keyboard and removal of some of the key caps confirms there isn't any gunk yet. I also thought of a static electricity bubble in the keyboard connector, but that's been reseated several times without curing the problem.

I'm at a loss as to what else to check. Anyone have some ideas? Is this happening to anyone else?
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View best answer, chosen by Butrflynet
MontereyJack
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 01:36 am
Maybe you might try getting a USB keyboard, or a PS2 keyboard, whichever your present one isn't, and see if that makes a difference--they're cheap.
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 04:28 am
@MontereyJack,
Hmm, are you thinking that mayhaps the USB port is bad? That's something to explore. If it were though, would the problem be as confined to just a few typical uses and occur so sporadically? And why would it work fine in a concurrent session of Notepad while not working correctly to compose an email in Gmail? That's the part that has me totally puzzled.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 08:34 am
@Butrflynet,
Next time it occurs, type each character and report the results here.
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 10:23 am
@DrewDad,
It's different every time. Sometimes it will be just one position off, other times it is completely random and there is no pattern to it. But, I'll go through the exercise for you when it happens again today. Thanks.
0 Replies
 
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Oct, 2008 07:03 pm
@DrewDad,
DrewDad wrote:

Next time it occurs, type each character and report the results here.


Okay DrewDad, here ya go. I was offline for awhile. Been using my computer extensively today and the problem just occurred again after working normally for about 8 hours of typing. The letters typed correspond correctly when keys are presses here in the message form of A2K. However, in the middle of typing in Word, the problem occurred. You asked me to type out each character so I'll do that now in the Word file I'm working on and will be moving from left to right starting with the numeric keys on the top row of the keyboard and moving downward, always going from left to right in each row.

Code:`1234567890[]',.pyfgcrl/=\aoeuiidhtns-;qjkxbmwvz


And this is how the same exercise appears normally as typed into Notepad:

Code:`1234567890-=qwertyuiop[]\asdfghjkl;'zxcvbnm,./



I just saved the Word file, closed the Word program and then restarted the program and reopened the file and the keys now type correctly and correspond to the ones pressed on the keyboard as evidenced below. This was just typed in the same Word file where the problem occurred a bit earlier:

Code:`1234567890-=qwertyuiop[]\asdfghjkl;'zxcvbnm,./




Any ideas?
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Oct, 2008 07:28 pm
@Butrflynet,
Looks like your keyboard layout is being switched to a Dvorak layout. I'm not sure why it's happening but you can find out how to switch it here:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word/HP030845671033.aspx
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Oct, 2008 08:28 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Thanks Robert. I'll check it out. I should have recognized that Dvorak pattern.

I wonder if it is because I have both set ups on my keyboard and switch between them occassionally when I'm trying to practice my Dvorak keying to increase my speed with it. Something is making them arbritrarily switch between modes. I'm beginning to think that it happens when I happen to occassionally strike two keys simultaneously, an affliction often called "fat fingers." It doesn't always happen when that occurs but it seems to be a clue.

I'll check out the MS link and get back to ya.
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Oct, 2008 08:32 pm
@Butrflynet,
Okay, yeah, I knew about the method for switching layouts. Next time the problem occurs, I'll try performing the method without restarting the software and see if that works.

Once I have that answer, it sounds like something that I should probably report to MS tech support so they can help figure out how to prevent it from unintentionally happening without using the method outlined at that link.
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Robert Gentel
  Selected Answer
 
  2  
Reply Sat 18 Oct, 2008 09:14 pm
@Butrflynet,
Butrflynet wrote:
I'm beginning to think that it happens when I happen to occassionally strike two keys simultaneously, an affliction often called "fat fingers." It doesn't always happen when that occurs but it seems to be a clue.


I looked into it a bit more and if it's always happening together with fat fingering I think that you might be using a keyboard shortcut to trigger the layout change (Left + Alt + Shift).

Alternately, I also found out that Word has an option to automatically detect languages and switch keyboard layout:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word/HP052585611033.aspx

You might try turning that off and see if that works.
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Sun 19 Oct, 2008 12:08 am
@Robert Gentel,
Couldn't find anything in Word 2007 to do that but did find something in Windows XP. It gives the option to change or turn off the shortcut key combination to change languages and keyboard layouts. I just switched them all to "None" so no combination of keyboard shortcuts will initiate the change. Found it at Start->Settings->Control Panel->Regional and Language Options ->Languages ->Details-> Key Setting

I'll keep an eye on things and see if that stops the problem. It makes sense that it would be more of an op sys solution than a WP program solution since the problem was occurring in multiple applications and input scenarios.

I have another heavy duty typing session tomorrow so if it is going to happen again, it will probably do so tomorrow.
0 Replies
 
 

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