Story about keyboard?

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Not sure if this is hardware or software, Posted to alt.comp.hardware
and microsoft.public.windowsxp.general

Right now the problem is not bothering me, but I wanted to tell you
all about it.   Both because I'm curious and I expect the problem will
be back.

I have a Micorsoft multimedia keyboard.  Dob't know the model.
Details about the keyboard at the bottom**  I'm runing WinXP-Pro-SP3
on a Dell something.

I've been using it four years or more, and it might have been used, or
new old stock when I got it, and in the last 6 months Cntl-V stopped
working often.    Yet I never had any trouble with plain V or with any
other Cntl combination.  Isn't that weird in itself?      
          Cntl-C for example, would copy in text, but it was the text
I saved the previous time I used Cntl- V
Does Cntl-V use the V key switch in a different way from plain V?  I
wouoldn't think so but this electronics stuff often ends up being
amazingly complicated.                          

Second weirdness: II only noticed this when copying a url from the
location bar at the top of a firefox page, and maybe from the body of
the page.  When I copied text from within Agent (the newsreader) or
Eudora or a text editor, I don't remember ever having trouble.   Isn't
that weird?

When I would have trouble, I would go back to the webpage and do
Cntl-V three or four times in a row, and almost always when I did
cntl-C after that, it had the right text and copied it in.   I figured
the V key was wearing out, but wondered why V itself always worked.

Then I thought I was overwhelmed with open tabs in Firefox, so I
started keeping my own list of the ones that mattered, and closing
them.   Over 4 days I got down from maybe 200 to about 40.   On about
the 4th day of my doing this, Firefox came out with Version 12.   All
of a sudden response time from the browswer was much faster, and
Cntl-V stopped giving me problems.  Isn't that weird?

 I tried Internet Explorer a little bit and it was much faster too, so
it probably wasn't the FF version.

So once in a great while now, Cntl-V doesn't work, like once in the
last two weeks, but for months it gave me trouble every day.

The computer has been in the basement since last August, and it's
still there. . If I can trust a 10 dolllar thermometer/hygrometer, the
humidity has been 60 to 75 percent.   Other than that, the basement is
quite dry. Water spilled on the floor evaporates or soaks into the
cement quickly.  No mold.     I think the humidity has been in this
range all year. but I'll admit when the humidity was low outside, the
hygrometer was in the kitchen, not the basement.

Thought you'd like this story, and thanks for any help.

**I don't know if it matters but for the record, the model number is
no longer visible but I'm been using it for 3 or 4 years and I bought
it at a hamfest.  It looked new, but maybe the user washed his hands
more than I do.   It's computer cream colored and has 16 buttons
across the top and 3 more above the numeric pad.

Re: Story about keyboard?

micky wrote:
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Yes.  Ctrl-V (or Ctrl-anything, for that matter), sends out a different code
sequence from a microcontroller than simply pressing a letter key (assuming
both it, and the Ctrl key itself, are working).

Re: Story about keyboard?

On Sat, 14 Jul 2012 21:22:08 -0600, "Bill in Co"

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 I was unclear.  Yes,  I was sure about what you say, but it still
uses the V key switch in the same way, doesn't it?    There isn't a
second set of contracts in the V key that works when Cntl is pressed,
and a first set of contacts  that works when only V is pressed.  

That would account for much of the weirdness, but I wouldn't think
they would make it that way.

Re: Story about keyboard?

micky wrote:
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Each key has one set of contacts.  But the resultant keyboard codes (numeric
values) coming out when key(s) are pressed will end up being different,
depending on whether or not the Ctrl, or Shift, or Alt, key were pressed at
the same time - or not (so that the software can look for that sequence or
unique value and act appropriately.

I'm assuming you can't get Ctrl-V to work right in any application. (If
that's not the case then the issue lies with the respective application (but
I bet it is the case).   For example, you could try Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V in
different apps, like Notepad, Wordpad, and Word, and if you get the same
problem, it sounds like the problem is with the keyboard controller or a
related microcontroller.

Re: Story about keyboard?

On Sun, 15 Jul 2012 00:18:30 -0600, "Bill in Co"

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Of course.

I know my first post was longer than maybe it should have been, but
no.  I don't remember every having the problem using Cntl-V in Agent,
or Eudora, (or a text editor, though I don't use them much), and I
only noticed it happening in Firefox.    But even there only some of
the time, and even when it happened in FF it was cureable by going
Cntl-V several times in a row.

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Well, it's barely given me any trouble at all since what?  Maybe since
a month ago when I got rid of 160 open tabs, or a month ago when I
stopped using so much RAM (although surely I always had enough for a
100 or 200 character url.) I don't know what, but now it works too
well to do tests like you suggest.  

That's why this started out just as a story.    As the subject line

Then I got greedy and asked for advice

If it starts up again, I'll keep real records and post back.

BTW, with FF, I think one can close a window and then reopen it from
the Frequently Saved Windows list (which is good for 5 minutes at
least)  and when one reopens it, it doesn't actually fill in the tab
data until one goes to the tab.   A good way to keep RAM usage low.

Re: Story about keyboard?

micky wrote:
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That also opens up the possibility of maybe it has to do with what you were
copying and pasting (in FF) as being yet another variable.   More complex
images or data being transferred via the clipboard - might give more

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Well, from what you're writing here, it almost sounds like it might be an
issue with FF (or your version of FF on your OS), and not the
keyboard/controller, since (seemingly) the other apps work ok.  And that's
an important distinction, if that's the case.

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And I don't know why that would have affected it, either.  If anything, it
sounds like the issue would have lessened.

I ran with 1 GB of RAM for quite awhile (with XP).  I think one can get by
pretty well with even 512K of RAM, but that's probably about as low as I'd
ever go.  (I've even heard that a few have squeaked by with 256K, but I
can't even envisage doing so!)

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Well, who knows, maybe somebody else can chip in and shed some light.

Re: Story about keyboard?

Bill in Co brought next idea :
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Yeah, he's bonkers.

Re: Story about keyboard?

On Sun, 15 Jul 2012 10:11:16 +0100, SteveH

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Hehehe.    Just got back from the grocery.     I put in my phone
number, because I refuse to carry a bogus card and I just put in some
phone number every time, and it asked "Is this the correct phone
number?  No or Yes".  I pressed the Yes part of the screen 10 times,
light and hard, and it never worked.  The cashier had to do it.

A minute later I had put in my credit card and it asked "Is this
amount correct?  No or Yes."   And the Yes worked just fine on the
first try.

Not the fist time this has happened.

Story about keyboard? (now amount of XP memory)

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I ran with 1G for some time - over a year I think - on this (XP SP3)
netbook, before I got round to installing the 2G I'd bought at the same
time as the netbook. I don't think I've noticed any difference - which
doesn't surprise me, as my PF normally shows around 700M. (That, and the
fact that I hadn't noticed a lot of disc thrashing, is why I took so
long to fit the extra. I eventually did so in the hope that it'd make
Skype work better - that _did_ go to 100% CPU use [though I don't think
memory as such] - and it didn't help, Skype just doesn't work well on
this machine, even audio-only. Which is odd, as though a lightly-powered
machine by today's standards, it ought to be able to manage it.)

I think the minimum reasonable amount went up with SP1 and SP2 and SP3:
I don't have enough experience to say, but I think I'd say 3/4 G (i. e.
1G if the mobo will take it) is a sensible minimum for SP3. 512M might
have been enough for SP2. I have actually _used_ a machine (not mine)
that had 256M (I don't know what SP it had), and it was indeed painful -
much disc thrashing.
J. P. Gilliver. UMRA: 1960/<1985 MB++G.5AL-IS-P--Ch++(p)Ar@T0H+Sh0!:`)DNAf

For people who like peace and quiet: a phoneless cord.

Re: Story about keyboard? (now amount of XP memory)

J. P. Gilliver (John) wrote:
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I also found no difference when I went from 1 GB to 2 GB of RAM, apparently
because I haven't yet tapped it out, even with some (limited) video
processing work.   I tried checking the PF on a few such occasions and never
got close to needing it, so apparently you really have to be doing something
"VERY HEAVY" to need that 2 GB.    Like perhaps multitasking a bunch of big
apps, which I never do.

I usually just single task -  I rarely run multiple applications all at
once.   (Probably for two reasons:  1) I don't tend to multitask all that
well, anyways, and 2) it's just generally safer.  :-)

Re: Story about keyboard?


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Please do not send the same message separately to more than one
newsgroup (called multiposting). Doing so just fragments the thread,
so someone who answers in one newsgroup doesn't always get to see
answers from others in another newsgroup. And for those who read all
the newsgroups the message is multiposted to, they see the message
multiple times instead of once (they would see it only once if you
correctly crossposted instead). This wastes everyone's time, and gets
you poorer help than you should get.

If you must send the same message to more than one newsgroup, please
do so by crossposting -- sending a single message simultaneously to
multiple newsgroups (but only to a *few* related newsgroups).
Ken Blake, Microsoft MVP

Re: Story about keyboard?

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Whilst I agree with everything you said ... the OP was cross-posting not
multi-posting, so he was doing it right. /

 Brian Cryer

Re: Story about keyboard?

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When diagnosting a problem with a keyboard the easiest thing is to swap the
keyboard for another one and then see whether the problem has gone away. If
you don't have another keyboard then can you borrow one from a friend or
from work, failing that ps2 and usb keybaords are quite cheap (although
wirless ones cost a lot more).

If the problem goes away with a new keyboard then bin the old one, if it
doesn't then at least you know its not a hardware problem - although I'm not
sure where you would go from there.
 Brian Cryer

Re: Story about keyboard?

On Mon, 16 Jul 2012 10:10:20 +0100, "Brian Cryer"

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Darn. I know that but didn't think of it.   Another senior moment?

If it starts up again, and I bet it will eventually, I'll do that.

Thanks and thanks for your other post.   And thanks Bill.

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Re: Story about keyboard?

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I wouldn't have thought so; obviously (and as you had some difficulty
conveying that you realised), the _controller_ produces different codes
if another key is pressed at the same time, but I doubt there's more
than one set of contacts.

I just thought I'd post that you are not alone! I usually delete (files
in Windows Explorer) with shift-delete, so that they are truly deleted
rather than moved to the recycle bin. (And yes - I do know I can make
that the default delete action. I don't want to.) But on at least one -
I think two - of my Windows 98 machines, it frequently asks "do you want
to move that file to the recycle bin" (or similar words), rather than
"do you want to delete that file! (or ...). When I say no, and
shift-delete a second time, it usually works properly. I have not yet
figured out what makes it do this; at first I thought it must be
something about the way I am pressing the keys, but it has happened
enough that I'm pretty sure it's not that. And neither the shift nor
delete keys have given any other indication that they're not happy.

Aren't computers fun (-:!
J. P. Gilliver. UMRA: 1960/<1985 MB++G.5AL-IS-P--Ch++(p)Ar@T0H+Sh0!:`)DNAf

For people who like peace and quiet: a phoneless cord.

Re: Story about keyboard?

J. P. Gilliver (John) wrote:

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Actually, the approach has changed with time.

Back when I built my own keyboard from scratch, the controller
used a matrix for most keys, but the modifier keys were
separate. And the modifier keys, actually "modified" something
at the hardware level. So the shift and control keys, used
separate wires and were monitored separately. The matrix is
scanned to detect ordinary key closures. That keyboard design
was so old and crusty, I think the chip may have been NMOS.

   + --- Ctrl ---- Old        --- rows--------- | | |
   + --- Shift --- Controller --- columns --+   | | |
                                            |   | | |

I was checking a datasheet for a USB keyboard controller,
and *all* the keys on that, were on the matrix side of the
chip, including the control key. So it looks like this
at the hardware level.

                   New        --- rows--------- | | |
                   Controller --- columns --+   | | |
                                            |   | | |

That means that *something* has to keep track of
closures of shift and control. It might be done
inside the keyboard chip, or it could be tracked
somewhere else.

The problem with such an approach (put everything on
the scanning matrix), is avoiding ghosting, and
implementing N-key rollover. On my home-made
keyboard, I used a diode per key, which made
my keyboard N-key rollover (ghost free). I've not
noticed that in retail keyboards - I've not seen
a keyboard PCB, featuring a diode at each key crossing.

Another possible difference, is my homemade keyboard
only did "key down" codes. There were no "key up" codes.
I understand keyboards now, may do both, not really sure.
The datasheet I was looking at, did not clarify that issue.
The datasheet showed hex codes for what happens when a key
is pressed, but didn't offer any more details than that.
You'd think if it was doing key up and key down, there'd
be two tables of values, rather than just one table.
Maybe there's a byte pre-pended that says whether its
keyup or keydown, but that wasn't clear.

    43,B8,00,00,   Row 16 column7 Normal Key: <Ctrl-R>
    42,81,00,00,   Row 16 column1 Normal Key: <Ctrl-L>

    00,00,00,3D,   Row 3 column7 Normal Key: <C>       <--- Something tracks
    00,00,00,0A,   Row 4 column 7 Normal Key: <V>           shift state... No
                                                            small c or small v.

    43,CD,00,00,   Row 15 column7 Normal Key: <Shift-R>
    43,94,01,00,   Row 15 column4 Normal Key: <Shift-L>
    00,00,00,1A,   Row 2 column4 Normal Key: <Caps>     <--- Caps Lock?

I've always found tracing the path from keyboard to screen
on a computer, to be pretty torturous. Even before sitting
in this chair, I've tried to research this topic for other
computer systems (eons ago), and come up empty. I could never
get all the details in one place. If I knew of a good
tutorial, I'd offer it.


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