Thursday, September 15, 2011

On Guard!

Plugging in...

The Tutor encountered the strangest keyboard problem this week. A client had a laptop and an external wireless keyboard that were working flawlessly... until something happened to cause the numbers keys not to work properly on both keyboards. By not working properly, the Tutor means this: the client began typing their email address into a signin box for a web-based email program. After pressing the @ symbol (shift & 2), instead of the @ symbol appearing, the character "n" appeared. Not only did the "n" appear when pressing the @ symbol, but it appeared when pressing ANY of the numbers keys on the keyboard.

Scratching head, a very puzzled Tutor opened Word and tried the numbers. THEY ALL WORKED fine. More puzzling, and more head scratching. What in heavens name was going on? The keyboard wasn't broken, though the client had been advised by two other technical support people to replace it. Knowing that the keys worked in Word, we could have typed the email address in Word, copied and pasted it into the email signin box and that's when I lost my client's attention. The client just wanted the keyboard to work again, no work arounds.

After much fiddling (technical term) about, the Tutor realized that the numbers keys would take on the last character typed on the keyboard before a number was pressed. That didn't help solve the problem, but now the Tutor knew where the "n" came from - it was the last letter of the client's email address before the @ symbol was pressed.

Search engines to the rescue. The Tutor found an answer, but first had to figure out a way to describe this problem so a search engine could locate a solution. After a few attempts, BINGO - an answer appeared and as the solution was applied, thankfully, it worked. Aren't you dying to know what the problem was??

It was... Comcast's new Constant Guard software program. It has a known problem of affecting some keyboards (not that Comcast fessed up, or posted this online). Once the offending program was uninstalled, the keyboard problem vanished into the night and the Tutor's client was able once again to get email and have full use of all the numbers on the keyboard.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: before calling for help - is it plugged in, is there a NEW GUARD in town, and is it turned on?