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Strange Keyboard Quirk

Last year I gave my Macbook Pro a nighttime glass of milk and cost myself $153.91 for replacing the keyboard.

Apple repairs carry a 90 day warranty. Long after that time had passed, the new keyboard developed a strange quirk: sometimes the 8 key doesn't work. That's an unfortunate key for a Unix user not to have because the shift version is, of course, *. It's hard to go more than a few minutes without my needing an * when I'm working at the command line.

So apparently it's worn out. Can't blame the poor thing; it gets a heck of a lot of use. But..

Here's the twilight zone stuff. When this first started happening, the only way I could fix it was to restart the computer. That's just a little annoying and it's also a bit suspicious: if this is worn out, why should a restart fix it? But wait - it gets weirder.

Because I don't want to restart just for this, I put a text clipping on my desktop - *8. When this acts up, I just drag that down into Terminal, eliminate whichever key I don't need, and I'm good. Sometimes I don't even have to do that: I may have an 8 or an * just above me on the screen and I can cut and paste from that. Either way is a little annoying, but it's a lot better than restarting.

The keyboard usually starts working after I do that.

Yeah, I know: that makes no sense whatsoever. It has to be coincidental. I agree with you 100%, but it's eerily coincidental. That is, I have held off pasting and tried tabbing elsewhere, hitting other keys, going off to brew a cup of tea.. when I try again the keys still aren't working. But paste in what I need once or twice, and normal function returns.

Stop rolling your eyes - I KNOW this can't be. I told you, I agree with you. It's not logical. Mr. Spock's eyebrows would be arched all the way to his hairline: pasting can't be fixing this. That's just crazy talk. It doesn't happen.

But, like Galileo, I bow my head and whisper "And yet it does".

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© Anthony Lawrence

Tue Jun 9 17:13:46 2009: 6480   TonyLawrence

Another way to do this is to turn on "Keyboard Viewer" (Preferences->International). I can then hold shift and click on the * when I need it..

Tue Jun 9 17:42:54 2009: 6482   MikeHostetler

I believe that it happened and that it's not a coincidence. When debugging a problem, I never think anything is a coincidence anymore. . I also have been thinking that the keyboard on the MacBook Pro is mostly software and I think this proves my case.

So maybe there is a software fix for it. Did you recently install an update from Apple? If so, do you know how to back it off? If you haven't, is there another one available?

Another test would be to plug a USB keyboard in and then see if the original keyboard starts working. Of even if the USB keyboard works too.

Tue Jun 9 18:07:46 2009: 6483   TonyLawrence

Interesting thoughts.. I'll try plugging in a USB next time it happens. Good idea!

Sat Jun 27 18:48:17 2009: 6549   David

About a year ago, I had a very similar problem. The "s" key on my laptop did nothing, no matter how hard I pressed it or how long I held it down; all the other keys seemed to work fine. Perhaps one of these 3 solutions will work for you:

For me, "burping" seems to work -- flip it over, keys-against-desktop, and flex the plastic a bit. Then it seems to work fine for another month or so. If that ever stops working, I'll do one of the following:

Tweak a few parts with a drill to give the keyboard more room: www.geocities.com/shooter100k/index.htm (link dead, sorry)

Replace with USB keyboard: (link)

Sun Aug 2 18:08:46 2009: 6716   TonyLawrence


We should be proud: our keyboards have grown up enough to get their first malware.


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