Stories about Software


Dell Keyboard Failure

The Symptoms

This is yet another entry of the “hope this saves someone time and aggravation” variety. I’m adding a new category called “Lessons Learned” that I’ll be tagging these with going forward.

So, I was playing Civilization V and I stepped away for a few minutes to find the screensaver on when I came back. I moved the mouse and nothing. Enter key and nothing. Ctrl-Alt-Delete, nothing. Several minutes of angrily mashing my keyboard and, not surprisingly, nothing. Given the graphics-heavy nature of Civ V, I assumed that my machine had crashed (this happens sometimes with Civ V), so I rebooted.

When I did that, I was greeted by the image above. So, I figured my wireless keyboard had run out of batteries and I went all the way down to the basement, grumbling, got new triple As and slapped them in. Rebooted, and keyboard failure. Tried a different USB port and keyboard failure. Tried my keyboard in another machine and success! Uh, oh. To the interwebs!

After googling around, I didn’t find any definitive solution. There were some scorched Earth suggestions, my favorite of which was “replace the motherboard”. There were some shotgun suggestions involving running without a CMOS battery, bending USB pins, switching the wireless receiver around from port to port, and various other procedural mumbo-jumbo that had probably coincidentally worked for someone somehow.

The Solution

I got lucky, though. The first scattershot step I took seemed the simplest, and it worked, so I know exactly what worked. I powered down and disconnected from power, and then popped a two pin jumper off of a three pin block on the motherboard for a few seconds and replaced it. Viola!

Appropriate disclaimers about unplugging and discharging capacitors and all that other stuff that I never remember to do but wouldn’t want somehow to be liable for you not doing it. But, that did the trick. Back up and running with no new keyboard, and certainly no new motherboard. Excuse to buy a new machine averted… (d’oh!)