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"C" key not working - hardware or software problem?


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#1 sunfish02

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 08:33 PM

On my laptop, running XP Professional SP2, my "c" key stopped working. I found that if I first press the neighbour key "x" quickly followed by the "c", the "c" appears. Same with "spacebar&c", the "c" works as well. This makes me think that it is not a hardware- but may be a software problem. At the time the fault started, I was busy with a number of new programs. One of these programs produced a trojan horse, which AVG promptly discovered and removed. Spybot did not find any malware.
I initially removed the "C" cap from the key and cleaned the visible area below, with no effect. I then removed the keyboard driver and reinstalled it, no effect. Thereafter I copied the keyboard driver from a good machine (same name and filesize) and installed it, no effect. I also installed an external keyboard, and it worked. Same with the onscreen keyboard - the "c" works normally.
After googeling I found a hint that HijackThis may find the problem. I installed HijackThis and ran a "scan", but my computer knowledge is only average, I honestly don't know what to do with the results, so I left all as it was.
Anyone had a similar problem? Is this a hardware or software problem? Any help is greatly appreciated.

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#2 James Litten

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 02:33 PM

You've done an excellent job of troubleshooting so far and it really sounds like a hardware problem but I understand the thought of going through the trouble (not to mention the expense) of a keyboard replacement only to find that it does not fix the problem :)

Physically testing the keyboard with common electrical test equipment would be more difficult than replacing it. Here in my shop, I'd try it in a similar if not the same model laptop to see if it still has problems with the 'c' key but I'm guessing that you don't have two of these. We're getting into the realm of removing the keyboard anyway so why not just replace it if you're going that far.

Here is what I think may be the last thing left to test whether or not it is the keyboard without removing it physically.

Get a copy of xPUD. Boot to it from a CD or USB key and you will be running a completely new operating system. See if you still have problems with the 'c' key and if you do, it is probably a physical problem that requires a replacement.

You can get xPUD at
http://www.xpud.org/download.en.html

Basically, it has you burn an image to a cd and then boot the computer from that CD
or
It tells you how to get UNebootin and use that to put the image on a USB key and then you boot the computer from that USB key.

(you do not want to run it from Windows or in a virtual machine for your keyboard test)

If you need more help with this let us know.

Once you boot up your computer using xPUD, I would test the 'c' key like this...
click MENU
click Terminal Emulator
type
vi test.txt
Hit enter and start typing words with the letter 'c' in them to test it.
when done press
ctrl-z

Then you can play with xPUD or power down the laptop, remove the CD or USB key and boot it back into Windows. Hopefully, you've learned more about whether your letter 'c' issue is hardware or software.

Other things...

I notice that you list your OS as XP SP2. Why not SP3?

If you suspect an infection, it would be best for you to ignore my all of suggestions and head straight to the Am I Infected forum at
http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/forum103.html
and ask there for help confirming whether or not your system is clean.

Hope some of this helps :)
James

#3 sunfish02

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 08:58 AM

James - Thank you very much for your detailed suggestions!

I downloaded the file xpud-0.9.2.iso (64MB) and burnt it onto a CD. Then set the booting sequence to make the CD drive the first. Restarted again, but the computer did not boot from the disk. After some attempts to read the drive the message "unbootable disk" appears for half a second, then the system starts up as normal from the C-drive. The D drive does read the disk, I can see the file and when I double click it, the starting page of Magic ISO Maker appears. However, my CD drive often takes a little while to read any disk, up to 20 seconds, maybe that is why it does not boot up?

So next I tried the USB version, but this did not work either. I downloaded "Live USB-creator" for "Windows". This brought me to the Sourceforge webpage where it downloaded the file "unetbootin-xpud-windows-387.exe" (4.2Mb). I saved the download on the USB stick and found 3 files, namely
- vesmenu.c32
- unetbootin-xpud-windows-387.exe
- Idlinux.sys
The instructions say I should now rename isolinux.cfg to override syslinux.cfg - but this file is nowhere to be found. When I start up with the stick inserted and the BIOS set to external drive as a first option, the system starts up normally as usual.

So this little program did not do the trick for me, or I'm doing something badly wrong.

I would not mind to buy a new keyboard, but I doubt that I find one in Manila (Philippines). My laptop is an ASUS PRO31Sseries, when I Googled for a keyboard supplier anywhere in the world, this model was not even listed anymore (probably too old). A computer repair shop could probably obtain it for me, but I would really like to be sure that it is the keyboard and not some software (or malware?) problem.

You're right about the SP2. I never bothered to upgrade to SP3, thought that my computer works fine, just leave it. I will look into installing SP3 once the keyboard problem is solved (one thing at a time ;-)

I'm not always on the internet (I'm traveling), but if you have any other suggestions to test the keyboard, I will do it next time I'm online (usually once a day).

Toby

#4 James Litten

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 09:31 AM

Hi Toby

Sorry to hear you had some trouble with xPUD. My instructions were too brief and left out too many details :(

It sounds like you literally put the .iso file on the CD when what you needed to do was use software that burns image files to a CD. That kind of software will ask you for an image file which ends in .ISO and then automatically extract the files from the iso file and burn them onto the CD in a very specific way.

I apologize for the confusion. I thought it would be a quick way to test your keyboard with another OS in order to see if it still had problems and therefore would most likely be a hardware issue.

James

#5 sunfish02

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 10:54 PM

James,
I did my homework - burnt another CD but this time using NERO: BACKUP - BURN IMAGE TO DISK. Started up and used your guidelines to test the keyboard. All letters work but not the "C" - so I conclude that the problem is most likely the hardware and that I must replace the keyboard. I suppose there is no way to physially repair a faulty key (removing the keyboard, cleaning / using contact spray or similar)? Has anyone done this before?
Thank you for your help :thumbsup: , I will now concentrate on getting a new keyboard.
Toby

#6 James Litten

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 11:37 PM

Good work :thumbup2:

You've already done what you could to save it physically. Unfortunately, it's replacement time.

What is the manufacturer and model of the laptop?

Maybe someone here has some tips on easily replacing it.

James

#7 sunfish02

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 09:43 AM

I bought the laptop new in September 2007 (prehistoric? :unsure: ). The manufacturer is "ASUS", the model is "PRO31Sseries" - anyone knows where I can order a keyboard (for international delivery)?




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