Friday, July 30, 2010

Keyboard issue on EeePC 901

Well, this is my first post for a very long time as I was for three months in a rather isolated location in Brazil. The internet I had was unreliable, at best, and even when it was available, the maximum download speed was a very miserable 250 kbps (yes, this is not an error, 250 KILO BITS PER SECOND) or about twenty five times slower than I have at home (and even that is slow by today's standards).
At this speed even casual browsing is a pain, so, most serious computer work was out of the question.
To compound my problems, the only computer I had with me was my two-year-old EeePC901 (also had iPod Touch) which has been a model of reliability until now.
Then after about a month into my isolation, the "1" key on the keyboard started giving problems.
First, any any "editable" page I opened, such as a Gmail compose, Gedit or even Skype, filled with a rapidly progressing series of 1's.
Skype became unusable as the continuous printing of 1's produced a very annoying series of beeps when I was trying to converse.
Another major problem was typing in passwords as the spaces filled up with 1's that I couldn't see.
I discovered that, by maintaining the TAB key pressed, I could (mostly) stop the printing of 1's which allowed me to get over some of the above problems but not that of Skype.
I posted to the EeePC Users Forum and got some useful tips.
However, I tried for quite some time to remove the keyboard, hoping that by reseating it I would remove the problem as was suggested in the forum.
But, hard as I tried, I just could not find the "four tabs" that supposedly hold the keyboard in place.
I did however remove the key plate (the one ith "1/!" printed on it but found no dirt or anythings tange underneath.
So, I left it and started relying on my iPod Touch of Skype calls and email.
I did, however, notice that after a week or two the 1's stopped being printed out although the 1 key stopped typing altogether.
To get over this I used to generate a "1" (by typing 3-2 in a Google search) and copy/pasting the "1" whenever I needed it.
To my great surprise, after a further two weeks or so, the 1-key started working again and now everything is normal.
Well, this sounds very like water got into the keyboard and very, very slowly dried out.
Now, I'm pretty sure that I didn NOT spill water on the keyboard. However, my bedroom was exceeding small and I had nowhere to store my computer when I was out other than on the floor "almost" underneath a small sink.
Usually, when I went out, which was a lot, I left the computer open and recharging.
The evidence certainly points to the girl who did my room accidentally spilled water on the keyboard from the sink. She probably wiped it away from the upper surface but, of course, was unable to access what got inside.
If I had known this is what happened, I would have left the computer out by day in the sun, which was very hot even though we were in winter.
Anyway, my little computer is now usable again although there are still some serious issues affecting its usability.
These are:
1. Very slow boot. This machine used to boot in 40 seconds with Ubuntu Karmic. Now with Ubuntu Lucid, it takes 140 seconds to completely boot up.
I'll have to investigate what's holding up the boot.
2. Frequent very high CPU usage. This is such as to make the machine almsot unusable at times.
More investigation required.

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