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Brad Fitzpatrick

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Fucking keyboards [Jul. 19th, 2005|09:46 am]
Brad Fitzpatrick
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Last week I noticed that my keyboard input would "jam" every so often. In the middle of a word, no new letters would appear. This was followed by some horrendous high-pitched sound from the computer. (then again, I can hear this computer's memory access....)

Worse, after the 3-4 second pause, whatever key or keys IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIOUIIDL was hitting last would spew to the screen. See all the gibberish in that last sentence? It did that.

Can you imagine how annoying that is programming or doing sysadmin work?

So naturally I assumed it was my fancy kinesis chair-mounted keyboard at fault. Which meant a lot of time, labor, and money before it'd be fixed.

It got so bad that I switched to another keyboard.

No change.

So now I'm assuming it's the PS/2 port.

The next day I bring in a PS/2 to USB converter.

First thing I notice: the damn adapter seems to have its own key repeater built-in, in addition to the one already in X, so when I hold down a key, holy shit does it fly. Fucking useless. But it's unpredictable.

Second thing I notice: the lockup and gibberish problems still persist.

So it's not the keyboard, and it's not the PS/2 or USB ports.

Kernel? Haven't touched my kernel since March 1st, and nothing's in dmesg.

So I'm at a loss.


[User Picture]From: boggyb
2005-07-19 04:57 pm (UTC)
Are you on the far side of a KVM-type widget? They can ocassionally get screwed up, not to mention the fun you have if you hit the hotkey at the wrong moment (e.g. if I hold left and hit ctrl twice (magic hotkey here), then let go of left and hit ctrl a third time, windows won't get a left-up message. Other trick I managed once was to turn the caps-lock led into not-caps-lock, which needed a manual reset of the KVM while on the right channel to fix that). If you've got one, try a hard reset by unplugging everything and waiting a few seconds. You could always try a full reboot (shutdown, poweroff, unplug, plug back in and powerup) of your pc, and see if that magically fixes it. Or if you're really unlucky, then part of your computer's motherboard/memory/etc has gone bad on you (which could explain the high-pitched sound).
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[User Picture]From: brad
2005-07-19 05:02 pm (UTC)

Sad to think a reboot might fix it, but might as well try. Can't hurt.
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[User Picture]From: scsi
2005-07-19 05:02 pm (UTC)
Eh, dunno if this will help or not, but as soon as it makes the high-pitch squeel try hitting ctrl-break, alt-break or ctrl-alt-break and see if that prematurely stops it..
That key combo is supposed to clear out the keyboard buffer (or something like that)..
Probably wont fix your problem, but it might narrow it down a bit more.
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[User Picture]From: wcu
2005-07-19 05:12 pm (UTC)
satan.. definitely satan
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[User Picture]From: meowpurrr
2005-07-19 05:15 pm (UTC)
then again, I can hear this computer's memory access....

mine does that. so annoying, and yet slightly cool in a "i'm hearing electronics happen" kind of way. dunno if it's a heat or frequency thing or what..
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[User Picture]From: hughe
2005-07-19 05:30 pm (UTC)
usualy it's just interference with the speakers :P
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[User Picture]From: meowpurrr
2005-07-19 09:50 pm (UTC)
in mine it's actually coming from the memory, or failing that the mobo near the memory.
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From: kw34hd1
2005-07-20 09:15 pm (UTC)
no, usually it's bus noise that gets picked up by the amplifiers in the analog sound output path.

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[User Picture]From: hughe
2005-07-21 09:40 am (UTC)
no, it's usually electrical interference generated by a changing field on the signal lines interfering with the opamp inputs on the sound chip.

the same? my point exactly.
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[User Picture]From: boggyb
2005-07-19 05:57 pm (UTC)
I used to have an Amstrad CPC6128, and I could actually hear the CPU through the system speaker (presumably from the cross-talk between the CPU bus and the DSP). Now all I hear are fans, the high-pitched whine of a slowly dying CRT, the chuntering of hard disks, and the occassional unbalanced CD attempting to take off.
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[User Picture]From: jwz
2005-07-19 06:00 pm (UTC)
If the problem isn't in the keyboard, it must be in the fingers. I recommend you amputate.
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[User Picture]From: elfy
2005-07-19 06:47 pm (UTC)
Can't help you, sorry, but I saw this and I thought you maybe find it funny, too: Keyboard with stand-alone displays on each key. The really fun/interesting thing is, that on the 'extra' keys for program shortcuts they show, there is a key for LJ (well, semagic, but anyway) :)
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[User Picture]From: dakus
2005-07-19 07:02 pm (UTC)
my wireless KB does that when the batteries are low...
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[User Picture]From: scosol
2005-07-19 10:58 pm (UTC)
i think every computer i've ever owned has done that at some point-
i blame my aura
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[User Picture]From: taral
2005-07-19 11:45 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a motherboard (chipset) problem. Time for a new one.
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[User Picture]From: perpetualmotion
2005-07-20 12:07 am (UTC)
Unrelated yet keyboard related, for some reason I thought of you when I saw this the other day
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[User Picture]From: boggyb
2005-07-20 09:22 am (UTC)
Want! Want! As long as they a) use a decent mechanism and b) make one with a UK physical layout (UK is different to US physically)
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[User Picture]From: grumpy_sysadmin
2005-07-20 03:38 am (UTC)
Just a workstation, right?

Confirm it's software by booting into Knoppix or some-such.

Next step would be, does it happen on the console, or only in X?

If only in X, different window manager (esp. KDE-environs vs. Gnome/GTK)?
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[User Picture]From: brad
2005-07-21 12:08 am (UTC)
Not really. One keyboard totally died. I hate my PS/2 to USB adapter, but one keyboard seems to do okay (only going through the PS/2 to USB adapater, though).

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From: evan
2005-07-21 03:18 pm (UTC)
By the way, your computer randomly beeps. I notice it when I wake up. It's beeped maybe three times in the fifteen or so minutes I've been up.

It's a standard PC speaker beep, like the ones you get when you hit tab in a terminal before you configure visual bells.

If it's related to this post, uh... maybe there's a loose connection somewhere in the PS/2 and even when you're not using it, it's still sending keyboardish signals?
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[User Picture]From: brad
2005-07-21 03:48 pm (UTC)
It's my work computer that's fucked.

That noise you hear from my home computer is most likely my incoming mail from pine's 0x07 bell.
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[User Picture]From: avatraxiom
2005-07-22 06:47 am (UTC)
If the keyboard is getting worse, perhaps it's a power supply problem?

That is, perhaps there's too much power being sent to the keyboard. Although a new keyboard shouldn't be immediately affected in that case, so that wouldn't make as much sense.

Does it happen both in a raw terminal and in X? It could be the X input layer, or something strange like that.

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[User Picture]From: brad
2005-07-22 03:54 pm (UTC)
Best idea I've heard yet.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2005-07-22 03:54 pm (UTC)
(no clue about raw terminal.... but doubt it's X, no upgrades.)

The power supply idea I'll investigaet.
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