Keyboards and hot coffee


in Daily updates, Geek stuff

Unfortunately, the blog will be sans photos for a while. The other night, I managed to spill coffee all over my desk, iBook, and walls. Now, the iBook’s keyboard has a number of severe faults.

Indeed, just being able to login to make a backup was quite a feat. Three keys did not work at all, and one key fired continuously on bootup but never after. Several other keys randomly insert other letters along with the right one, and the space and enter keys are non-functional. Thankfully, I had one account that could still be logged into, through a multi-step process akin to the logical games in those dreadful MENSA books.

In short, the computer is kaput for the time being. I need to decide whether to (a) shell out the dough for a replacement iBook keyboard (b) buy a cheaper external keyboard, stripping the machine of laptopness or (c) just wait a few more weeks and buy the replacement system I have been pondering. I would be much more likely to do the last if Apple hadn’t significantly worsened the screens on the 20″ iMacs.

[Update: 22 April 2008] Things are now even worse, since I forgot my cell phone charger in Toronto. I am now essentially unreachable when not at work, since my broken keyboard will not allow me to access my email.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Padraic April 18, 2008 at 9:59 am

Another casualty in the war between beverages and laptops…let’s hope the waterproof keyboard from OLPC hits the mainstream sometime soon.

tristan April 18, 2008 at 10:02 am

You will be here soon. I can probably scare you up an external keyboard.

Litty April 18, 2008 at 10:04 am

Ouch. What was the multi-step process akin to the logical games in those dreadful MENSA books?”

Milan April 18, 2008 at 10:09 am

1) Reboot the computer, so it starts outputting Ns into the login screen.
2) Delete all but one N.
3) Type ‘admi’ before it.
4) Using the username box, sort out which characters that arise when you type your password are unwanted. For example, you hit ‘b’ and it outputs ‘yb’ or ‘by.’
5) Type your password.
6) Remove the unwanted characters based on their position in the obscured string.
7) Click ‘login.’ Remember, the enter key doesn’t work.

Note, this requires having at least one username / password combination that includes ‘N’ only in the username (if at all) and not in the password. The username and password must also contain none of the other broken letters. Thankfully, exactly one of my accounts possessed this combination of qualities.

Actually running the backup was blessedly easy, thanks to the little Time Machine icon in the upper left corner of a Leopard desktop.

Milan April 18, 2008 at 10:10 am


That could be very helpful.

Did you want me to bring a Leopard install disc or not?

Litty April 18, 2008 at 10:20 am

On the matter of the iMac screens, couldn’t you find one in a shop that still has the old kind of screen? Some of them must still be around.

Tristan April 18, 2008 at 11:55 am

Yes, I think so. I will backup all my important Data and run the risk of loosing all my installed programs. I got them all for free anyway, I could presumably re-acquire them.

Milan April 18, 2008 at 11:57 am

One thing to be aware of is that Time Machine only works with hfs+ formatted drives.

If your external HD is FAT32 formatted, you will need to erase and reformat at least a partition before you will be able to use it with Time Machine.

Anon April 18, 2008 at 12:08 pm

“A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history–with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.”
(Mitch Radcliffe)

“All parts should go together without forcing. You must remember that the parts you are reassembling were disassembled by you. Therefore, if you can’t get them together again, there must be a reason. By all means, do not use a hammer.”
– IBM Manual, 1925

Tristan April 18, 2008 at 1:42 pm

My external hd has 4 partitions, turning one into HFS is not a hardship.

However, i will resiliantly hold on to FAT32 for fear of cannibalizing old windows boxes.

. April 22, 2008 at 10:22 am

Widespread Keyboard Failures on OLPC’s XO-1

By timothy on gift-horse-dental-work

otakuj462 writes “Many participants in OLPC’s ‘Give 1 Get 1’ program of last November are now encountering what has come to be known as the ‘stuck key’ problem, in which one or more of the keys on their XO-1 laptop’s built-in keyboard become stuck in an activated position, or are activated when adjacent keys are pressed. As of January 30th, the official word from OLPC is that the root cause of this problem is unknown because ‘[t]here are several manufacturers of the keyboards.’ (‘So far we don’t know of any _reliable_ method of fixing the keyboard or the exact root cause.’) It is unknown just how widespread this problem currently is, as the 30-day manufacturer’s warranty has already expired for most G1G1 participants. However, the OLPC forums are full of reports. OLPC is currently deploying the XO-1 to children in Mongolia and Peru, as well as other developing nations. If OLPC is actively deploying units with known, critical hardware bugs, without a dedicated support infrastructure in place, to children who have never seen a computer before, should they still be considered to be a responsible organization? Did OLPC deploy their hardware too soon?”

Milan April 29, 2008 at 6:03 pm

I called Apple about the updated iMacs. After speaking with two different people, nobody knew which of the new iMacs have 6-bit twisted nematic film screens and which have 8-bit, in-plane switching (IPS) screens.

They have forwarded the question to their engineers, and I should hear back in two or three days.

MacTip July 23, 2008 at 10:58 pm

Mac Repair store

On Bank, south of Gloucester

East side of the road

-Mostly a camera store

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