The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 103 04/10/08
I recently had to do a
full re-install of Vista on my daughter's laptop (just out of guarantee!), but
now some of the keys (q, w, e, r, u, i, o, p) won't type. It has been suggested
that the membrane under the keyboard is
faulty, but I suspect
I've done something to cause the situation as it only affects the top line of
the keyboard. Is it me? If so can I fix it?
Duncan Massey, by
A row of dead keys sounds
like a hardware problem to me; I think it’s just a coincidence that it happened
after reinstalling Windows. You should be able to verify if it is the keyboard,
or more likely, a lose ribbon cable by plugging in an external keyboard. If that
works, and you are confident of your abilities you may be able to fix it
yourself. You need to remove the keyboard, but first disconnect the charger
lead and remove the battery. On most models the keyboard is held in place by
two or three small spring clips along the top edge, though you may need to
remove a trim plate to get at them. There may be some guidance in the manual; a
lot of manufacturers hide the RAM modules underneath the keyboard so removal is
often a routine procedure
Gently lift the keyboard
clear of the case – being careful not to stress the flexible ribbon cable --
and prop it up out of the way so you can get at the cable connector. To reseat
the cable you need to release the clamp holding it in place. This usually takes
the form of a pair of clips or lugs either side of the connector block, which
have to be prised forward, towards the cable. Check that the cable contacts are
clean and if necessary wipe them with a clean, dry, lint-free cloth or a cotton
bud. If, after reassembly, it still doesn’t work then you probably need a new
keyboard. Manufacturers’ replacements can be expensive but you may be able to
find one quite cheaply on ebay.
In my work I
regularly use the € (euro) and ° (degrees) symbols. I am running Windows Vista
and have quite an old Dell keyboard without a € key. Is there a way that
I can put a these symbols directly onto my keyboard using the function keys
rather than going to Insert > Symbols tab each time?
Ian Condliffe, by email
In almost all Windows
applications you can use simple shortcuts. Press Ctrl + Alt + 4 for the Euro
symbol (or Alt Gr + 4 – the Alt key to the right of the spacebar), and for the
degree sign press Numlock, hold down the Alt key and tap in 0176.
I recently bought a new laptop and wireless modem for my Broadband setup
and it was installed by the ‘Tech’ people from a well-known computer store. The
telephone socket and wireless modem are approximately 30 metres away from where
I use the laptop, separated by a landing and thick cottage walls and
consequently the wireless connection frequently fails.
The shop has suggested upgrading the modem, but I don't wish to buy more
expensive equipment, only to discover that it does not work.
Heather Mealing, by email
There are plenty of things to try. Moving the modem or re-positioning
the aerial may be all that’s needed. Fitting a more efficient antenna often
helps. Get one with a long lead and mount it high up on the wall or, if
possible in the loft or roof space, or nearer to where you work. Alternatively,
move the modem nearer to your laptop with a telephone extension lead; a few
meters could make all the difference.
I am having some
trouble with the screen on my new Vista laptop. When it is plugged in to the
charger it is bright enough but when running on battery power its is very dim.
I have tried changing the brightness setting but it has no effect. What else
can I do?
Hannah Kay, by email
As you may have guessed
this is perfectly normal and the laptop is simply trying to conserve battery
power. You can override the default brightness setting by going to Start >
Control Panel > Power Options (or type ‘power’ in Search on the Start menu).
Click the selected 'Change plan setting' link and adjust the brightness slider
under ‘On Battery’. Needless to say the brighter the screen the faster the
battery runs out, dramatically so on some models.
When I open Outlook I
invariably get a message saying ‘Personal folders were not closed properly’.
How can I stop it happening?
Your Outlook storage
folder may contain corrupted files or filing errors. Try using Outlook’s
built-in repair tool, which you will find on the Help menu. Click Detect and
Repair and follow the prompts. I would also run the Windows Scandisk file
repair tool. Right click your C; drive icon in Windows Explorer, select the
Tools tab and click Error Checking. You may have to repeat both operations
several times, before the error message goes away.
© R. Maybury 2008 1508