The Mystery of the Reversing Capslock

Gather round children and I shall tell you a tale. One of valiant struggles and unexpected twists and turns. And one underscoring the importance of observation. Get ready for the mystery of…

The Reversing Capslock

caps lock reversing

Sherlock Holmes eat your heart out. Or turn in your fictional grave…up to you. Image adapted from: davescomputertips.com/

It all started innocently enough with a malfunctioning computer. This is not an uncommon occurrence with dad’s computer, and I had put it down to a virus or piece of malware hijacking his keyboard input. There was a similar issue with the computer a few months back which turned out to be a dodgy extension in Chrome, and reinstalling it did the Trick.

The main issue…CapsLock was reversed. On was off and off was on. And numbers were registering as symbols. This is less than ideal when you’re trying to get actual work done. Last time this was only happening in Chrome, but this time all programs were affected. I quickly Googled the problem and came up with a few promising forum solutions. Promise quickly turned to disappointment. Nothing worked.

So I uninstalled Firefox (Chrome wasn’t installed at this point) and reinstalled it, but now I couldn’t open Firefox at all. It was refusing to open, and instead showing a prompt about starting Firefox in safe mode. Very odd behaviour.

Next step was to scan for viruses, but again, this was unsuccessful. I tried replacing Bitdefender with Avast, and throwing every malware program I could think of into the mix. Finding actionable items always feels as though you’re doing something positive (probably false-positives!), but rarely makes a huge difference. Even C-Cleaner got an airing with its registry repair function. No result.

Or so the theory goes.

I was scratching my head at this point, perplexed. What could be causing this weird behaviour that wouldn’t be recognised by any antivirus, antimalware, or registry repair program? Could it be a hardware issue? Dad had told me both keyboards were exhibiting strange behaviour. Then I looked down. Something wasn’t quite right.

Literally. The right shift. It’s an Apple chiclet keyboard with flat keys, and the right shift key was fully depressed before I even got near it. My palm summarily met with my face. The shift had jammed, which explained why the browsers were misbehaving, and all the other programs were doing weird and wonderful things. Every mouse click was a shift-click. The answer was incredibly simple, and staring me in the face. On a conventional keyboard the problem would’ve been instantly noticeable, but with the flat keys it was easy to glaze over the slightly flatter one.

I inverted the keyboard, cleaned out the crumbs et voila, the computer was cured. All of the problems disappeared. Let this stand as a lesson to all of us – observation is key. Observation of keys, that is. And don’t eat over your keyboard, kids.

keyboard crumb removal

Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Source: quicklol.com

I’m working on some old tech articles/videos at present. I was trying to get the Windows 3.1 Toshiba T2110 working again, but it’s giving me a headache and complaining about the dead CMOS battery (the replacement is on it’s way from Taiwan). It took some faffing to figure out how to take it apart and reassemble it – that knowledge will not be abandoned without giving this a good try. I’ve got another cool Toshiba Portege laptop which will also have to be resurrected. I was always interested in getting the absolute most out of older technologies as we didn’t have lots of money to waste on the newest gadgets. It led to be sinking an unnecessary amount of money into obsolete technologies instead. Life is strange.

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