Pat Drummond :: life & technology

November 26, 2010

Keyboard suddenly displays the Wrong Keys!

Problems are filling up the forums with pleas for help "my keyboard displays the wrong key", or "typing J, K, and L displays the wrong keys". On a laptop it's very easy to hit the Num Lock key by mistake and you can waste a lot of time checking keyboard settings, buying a new keyboards or even repair shops. Small keyboards have a Function key that is held down while pressing the Num Lock key to toggle some letters on your keyboard into a keypad for 0-9 (you'll see the numbers in another colour by these keys. On some keyboards you have to hold down the ALT key while pressing the Num Lock. Larger keyboards have a Num Lock key you just press to toggle it on - very easy to do by accident. Since most people use only the numbers across the top, it's a shame the system doesn't just allow you to disable this function.

Any easy way to prevent setting any Lock key by mistake is to use Microsoft Windows Accessibility settings to "beep" whenever you hit one. Go to the Control Panel (Start > Run > type "Control Panel") and find Ease of Access, then Ease of Access Center, then Make the keyboard easier to use (last item). Check the box for Toggle Keys. Click OK. Now when you hit the keys for Caps Lock, Num Lock, or Scroll Lock, you will hear a high tone (on), when you hit it again, you will hear a low tone (off). No more surprises when you are typing.

Another solution may be to turn off all Hot Keys that change your keyboard. Most computers have multiple language keyboards available. Go to Control Panel , then Regional and Language. then Keyboards and Languages tab, click Change Keyboards then hit the Advanced Key Settings tab. If any hot keys are set, change it to something you will never hit by accident, or even change it to "not assigned".

Hope these hints help someone. Sadly, I still have an intermittent problem on my laptop keyboard/external keyboard. Only some of my keys lose their mapping on some programs - I type " and get ` or / will displays é. Restarting (Firefox, Thunderbird, Notetab Pro) solves it. If anyone knows what causes this one, I'd be happy to hear from you!

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August 17, 2010

"Stupid" smart phone update

For months I've been struggling with my android smart phone - and still do not have phone service. Still using it as a pocket computer. WiFi allows me to read Twitter sitting on the dock or in a hot spot.

My woes with Android "Market" continue (I do not have it in my android system so cannot access the market at all). I have downloaded many apps from, Handango, Softonic, Andappstore, etc. Thank gosh android is a relatively 'open' system or I would have nothing on my phone.

My recent experience buying NDrive (GPS app) was a case in point. They ignored my message not to process the purchase if I needed the Market. I downloaded a huge file - several GB -- to my PC that installs the maps I bought to my phone microSD card via USB connection - that worked great. Then the setup tells me to download the NDrive app from Market. After 2 message to their website (unanswered) and 1 to the address in my purchase email, I finally got someone who understood english and emailed me the APK file. I immediately installed it to my phone to find it wouldn't run until I "upgraded". In the Market of course. Grrrr. I'm just about to ask for a refund but I persevere. (No normal person would spend this much time trying to spend money.)

My next email went into the void and I appealed to the nice folks on the Mobilism android forum and someone gave me the file I needed. I really should not have to expose myself to files from strangers to get an APK that is essentially free. I installed it and it started just fine - took a bit of work to register the maps - nothing is easy or obvious. Such as first time you run the app, it should be smart enough to see your maps are not registered and ask if you.. ah well. Once again I tried to contact NDrive and finally got another reply. They are willing to send me the apk's and updates. Probably so they don't have to deal with $$ in the market. Oddly enough all the map, voice and alert files are available on their site. Just the most important file is only available via Market.

Until I travel a bit, I won't be able to test it properly. Hopefully it is as good as the reviews.

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May 16, 2010

Spring plants

Just read that we should have already planted onions, peas, snow peas, carrots and radishes. Oh, come one guys, We`ve never planted anything before May 24. Mind you, I live in Canada, where weather is the topic of conversation in every region where vegies or fish is a source of income. Still, I feel like such a failure even though hubby plants the veggies and will be surprised to find out he should have planted early.

March 21, 2010

New "Smart" Phone is Dumb

In a moment of weakness I bought an unlocked HTC Tattoo "smart" phone from eBay to replace my aging Palm pilot. (Maybe even use it as a phone if rates ever get in my range). It has Wi-fi, GPS, browser, and apps for email, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, calendar, clock, etc.

But, who knew?! If you buy an Android device without a "Market" app already installed, you can't download apps from the Android Marketplace - that contains most apps you might actually want to get. There does not appear to be any way to acquire the Market app if it's not already there. You literally have to become an extreme techie and use a Linux system to flash the rom (or something like that).

There are other sites such as that have apps but a very poor selection. Apps for GPS, sky maps, etc. are just not there.

Then I tried to install the HTC Sync app - something fails and the device driver doesn't install. No idea where to get help after a few hours of searching. I even uninstalled it and tried to link it as a "drive" using the USB connection - nope. Then I removed the microSD card, put it in the adapter and inserted into my laptop's card-reader. Nothing at all. Am I jinxed or is it the weather?

I'm about ready to turn this brick over to someone who wants a nice phone with the basics installed apps (which are actually pretty useful).

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February 09, 2010

HTC Tattoo tech woes

I decided to buy a smart phone to replace my aging Palm PDA. Little did I know what I was getting into. First I bought an HTC Tattoo on ebay that had wifi and was unlocked, so I could use it without phone service to start. Took six weeks to arrive as it was first sent without enough postage then got hung up at the border. First it announced "sim card is missing" and turned off. What. Wish I had kept better notes setting it up, as it was painful. (And I still get the sim card error) I get past the error by hitting the Menu key.Fortunately I had searched online for info and already knew that setting up Wifi to my home network probably wouldn't work (it doesn't) Apparently Tattoo/Android v1.6 can't use WPA encryption. Changing my router & laptop to use WEP was another frustrating exercise. Wasted too much time changing router settings, and finally reset it back to factory default, upgraded the firmware (from, then set up WEP 64-bit encryption (Wifi security option under 802.1x). At some point I did something (probably a network name change) and the network finally appeared properly on my laptop network list. I connected to it using the passphrase. Now back to the Tattoo, and more messing with wifi settings. Again, I don't remember what I did to get it to connect finally. But I do remember having only a few seconds to "type" in the passphrase - the Tattoo kicked my out several times before I could press the digits on the touch screen keyboard fast enough. Shabby.

I've been using computers since we used to toggle in machine code - what on earth do mere mortals do when they run into tech woes. I suppose someday it will be as easy as internet connections are now. Does anyone remember when a dial-up connection took just the right software and a long list of settings to get a connection to work?! Here we go again.

Next step, downloaded "HTC Sync" to my laptop and installation spit out a big error window - so of course it doesn't connect or sync anything. I suspect a device driver needs updating - still looking.

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