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back to article A bitter spill to swallow, or 'how to smeg up your keyboard'

Trouble at mill. Someone’s password isn’t working. It’s day two for one of the casuals and he’s forgotten what the temporary password is. It’s been an entire 24 hours and his natural creativity doesn’t extend to remembering how to type ‘Passw0rd’. Brilliant. Confused computer keyboard I remind him of his password and he gets …

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Simple solution

Don't buy crApple.

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Re: Simple solution

Better than that, buy an actual keyboard designed for industrial use. You can get washable keyboards that actually feel like a proper keyboard. Mine for instance is an HP and I stick it under the tap once a month or so just to keep it clean. It costs a bit (but not much) more but the investment is worth it.

If we all stopped tolerating crap keyboards the manufacturers would have to actually start producing quality again.

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Re: Simple solution

Another simple solution: cheap Logitech keyboards.

They're actually rather good. They'll put up with quite a bit of abuse. They're cheap enough so that when a luser tips a can of cola into his, you just put it in the nearest bin and give him another used one.

(Not a new one. That would boost sales of cola! )

But they aren't shiny and they don't have keys that well-known patented shape.

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Re: Simple solution

I really dislike typing on Apple keyboards. They're too flat, the keys don't have much travel, and they always seem to have a bit of side wobble too. I don't think they feel much different to a Sinclair Spectrum with a hard plastic cap stuck on the top... Oh, hang on, that's a QL keyboard. Yes, that's what they feel like to me.

I can understand the need for a flat, short travel keyboard on a laptop. It keeps the thickness down, and you want a laptop to be <25mm thick (<15mm in Apple-land). But a desktop? Come on! Let's have a nice solid keyboard with a positive Cherry click please!

Plus my cat won't walk on my big clunky keyboard, but happily wanders all over the Mac one, and even sits on it. Makes a mighty fine mess of any document you might be writing if you happen to forget to lock the desktop before going to make a cuppa!

"What on Earth are companies such as Apple thinking? Anyone would think they had deliberately designed their peripherals to be irreparable, forcing you to buy replacements more frequently than was previously necessary. Ho ho, as if."

Yes, as if... Have you ever tried cleaning the bits of lunch and dead skin out of an Apple mighty mouse? The bloody thing is glued shut.

I regularly clean my 5+ year old Logitech mice, and have no problem, the use two screws (shock horror, witchcraft!) but when the Apple rodent died on my other half's Mac I gave up, cursed and bought her a Logitech too. Luckily she hasn't completely succumbed to the church of Apple so I could get away with it. It also means she got a 27" 2560x1400 Dell monitor with a far more useful non-reflective panel for half the price of the Apple equivalent.

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Re: Simple solution

"Plus my cat won't walk on my big clunky keyboard, but happily wanders all over the Mac one, and even sits on it. Makes a mighty fine mess of any document you might be writing if you happen to forget to lock the desktop before going to make a cuppa!"

Now some empiric study starts: Cats completly ignore pc keyboards but love to jump up and down apple boards and crap on it.

I´m not in the fruit´s business but friends are and they all have problems with cats shitting on their board.

I never go without at least two cats and PCs and the pussys never touch it.

Really worth a study

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Simple solution

How about be more careful. Guess what if you bash your car into a wall it is not immune to damage either.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Simple solution

I nearly bought the Dell monitor when I bought my Macbook but since it meant I would have to buy another power supply, it did not have a camera, audio, firewire, gigabit ethernet or Thunderbolt port - plus believe the Apple monitor inherits the warranty on the Macbook there was less reason.

Also the Dell was not actually half the price at that time - was around £600 when I saw it (have since seen it a bit less) and the Apple monitor was discounted on Amazon at just over £800 (although normally just under £900).

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Devil

Re: Simple solution

My Mighty Mouse broke after two months. I discovered that it couldn't be opened and decided I didn't really want to anyway as it was (literally) painful to use.

So I got a cheap and cheerful Logitech mouse instead that has served me well for five years. It recently started not registering left clicks so I opened it up, found a bit of worn plastic under the button and fixed it with a bit of sellotape.

My keyboard hasn't broken yet, but wired keyboards seem to be as rare as hen's teeth and maybe Apple's fixed that in the latest models so they break after just two years.

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Linux

Re: Simple solution

Cats are stern hardware critics - the 'crap on it' behaviour shows their opinion of apple keyboards

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Pint

Re: Simple solution

You should get one of those Microsoft Intellimouse mice, I've had mine for years, it's gone yellow now even though it was white, I've spilled beer in it, knocked it off the desk, slammed it in frustration, dropped it in a cup of tea, and I'm pretty sure that one of my rats tried to have sex with it once. Still works.

The only downside is that the resolution is fairly low so it makes only a mediocre gaming mouse.

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Anyone else..?

Now want to wash their keyboard in the dishwasher?

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Anyone else..?

What? You haven't done it? Flush 'em in the toilet first, gets most of the (ahem) crap out.

(although... doing a cylinder head in a dishwasher is likely to cause spousal annoyance!)

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Thumb Up

Re: Anyone else..?

I once spilt rather a lot of coke on my logitech keyboard - its a cheap one - randomly I have exactly the same model at work.

Anyway I took it as it was, and placed it into the bath. I then filled the bath with warmish water. I shook it slightly and bits of dirt started to float out, and the coke appeared to dissolve (I think I actually split it while drinking late one night and left it to the next morning, at which time it'd solidified) freeing up some of the keys.

I removed some of the large keys - spacebar, return key, enter on the numpad and shook it some more - more bits of dirt floated out.

I repeated this on and off for about 3 hours. Then turned it over so the keys were facing down, changed the water and left it another hour or so...... some more rubbish floated out.

Then I took it out, wrapped it in a towel and left it on a warmish radiator for 2 days - it was and still is perfect...... however its about time it was cleaned again. I just need a keyboard to use in the mean time.

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Thumb Up

Re: Anyone else..?

First thing to as lusers when they report spillage is to ask what it was. If it was water, it'll be fine. If it was Cola, it's probably best to bin it now because that stuff seems to love eating electronics.

If they say tea/coffee, ask if they take sugar.

Liquid doesn't bugger up keyboards, but sugar sure seems to do a great job.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Anyone else..?

"I once spilt rather a lot of coke on my logitech keyboard - its a cheap one - randomly I have exactly the same model at work."

I once spilt some concentrated glucose solution on my calculator during a biology lesson at school. Took a long time before some of the keys would not stay down when pressed (though, back in those days geometry sets had compasses with properr spikes on which I seem to recall needed to be put into action to force the keys back up at times!)

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Gold badge

Re: Anyone else..?

This is why I keep a spare for Apple. The flimsy excuse is cheap enough to buy a spare, and it prevents the massive loss of time trying to fight an almost impossible battle (that is, without wasting a LOT of time on it, which costs more than the keyboard). My internal debate is more about buying a *good* keyboard for Apple (i.e. Cherry or something), which will make a coffee incident costly but which is more pleasant to use, or stick with the cheapo stuff - and I just discovered I still have one of those Bluetooth things as well (too small, and they follow the same laws as torches when it comes to batteries).

I don't need spares for PC because I have bought many a keyboard over the years :).

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Coat

Re: Anyone else..?

(although... doing a cylinder head in a dishwasher is likely to cause spousal annoyance!)

You're using the wrong kind of spouse.

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Re: Anyone else..?

You can even kill a Thinkpad that way.

Aquaintance manages to submerge X22 in an inch-deep puddle of Club-Mate. Fearing I might get angry at her she doesn't tell, but lets her new squeeze "clean it". What he did is unknown, but the only sensible action: take the batteries out and keep it submerged in tapwater until you can flush it with demineralised water and then alcohol, clearly it was not.

Two months later, the brave X22 dies slowly and horribly. A post-mortem reveals caramel-like deposits around and possibly under a number of chips, most notably the hotter ones, and those near the power entrance.

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Holmes

Re: Anyone else..?

An elder colleague at a computer-making electronics firm (think TRS) in Texas had a miniature railway in his yard, When his wife was out of the house he'd clean parts in the dishwasher. One day he unknowingly used some ex-US Navy waterproof grease. Did you know that solvent works in a dishwasher? Did you know that the fumes can explode if a solenoid sparks? JUST when the wife is walking back in the door?

They haven't made computers since 1993, either.

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Getting sugar out

Sugar isn't a problem if you're willing to take the slow route. Remove batteries (if any) and imerse in water. Leave several hours. Rinse. Repeat. Towel dry. Leave in airing cupboard for several days.

Cola, though ... kiss of death. Doesn't that make you wonder what it does to *your* innards?

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Re: Anyone else..?

Now want to stuff their users in a dishwasher?

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Thumb Up

Re: Anyone else..?

I remember back at school, they used to regularly round up all of the KBs in each lab and load them into the industrial dishwasher in the cafeteria. Since then, I've run probably dozens of different ones, expensive and cheap through a cycle and it's always worked. Don't bother taking them all apart first though - just a waste of time. To dry, stand them on end for a day or two or prop them face-down over a forced air heating vent.

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Re: Anyone else..?

Washing an Apple keyboard can't be that difficult?

Looks to me like it uses a similar system as HP laptops, and they can be dismantled, if you're patient enough...

Now, if you want difficult, you should try rescuing the keyboard on a Psion netBook after a whole lot of very sugary tea ended up in it.

THAT was a pain in the seating arraignment...

I ended up having to separate the layers and wash them by themselves. And no, it's not built to be taken apart again...

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Happy

Re: Anyone else..?

I remember accidentally spilling my cornflakes (with milk) over my BBC Micro when I was a wee nipper.

Off came all the keycaps and into the sink they want. The keyboard PCB was then disconnected and cleaned with soapy water under the tap. Finally rinsed from the water butt in the garden (rainwater is soft to avoid lime-scale problems!).

Keycaps got bagged up in a towel and then a "spin dry" over my head.

Unfortunately after a few days there was a funny smell, so the entire motherboard came out. All socketed chips were removed, and then that got the soapy water toothbrush clean and the rinse in the garden.

Result, it stopped smelling funny, and worked.

In fact it still works.

They don't make 'em like that any more.

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Re: Anyone else..?

Isn't that the /only/ kind?

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Nev
Happy

Re: Anyone else..?

"I once spilt rather a lot of coke on my logitech keyboard "

You should have got this guy to sort you out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmC62Eg82E8

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Boffin

Re: Getting sugar out

A little, but then again I also have hydrochloric acid in my innards, and I wouldn't want that on my keyboard either.

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Re: Anyone else..?

I came home from the pub one night many moons ago, considerably worse for wear and <ahem> spilled <ahem> approx 4 pints of stella and 3/4 of a semi digested kebab on my beloved logitech kbd.

soaked it in the bath overnight, dried it with a hairdrier... lasted about another 6 months before one end of the spacebar took to sticking down sometimes. all in all lasted about 3 years as I recall, not bad for £15

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Re: Getting sugar out

"I also have hydrochloric acid in my innards"

And it's quite strong too. It can even drop below pH 1

( Incidently one of the reasons that you don't suffer damage is that your stomach is coated with a layer of goo that has sodium bicarbonate secreted into it to provide a neutralizing barrier)

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Pint

Re: Getting sugar out

"Doesn't that make you wonder what it does to *your* innards?"

And that's why I don't drink it.

Ok: That's a lie: That's why I only drink it with Jack.

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Re: Anyone else..?

Take all the keys out, wash them in the kitchen sink, give the keyboard body a good scrub too (remove the electronics first) and you can dry it with a towel and a hair dryer, no need to let it sizzle for 2 days.

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Anonymous Coward

Simpler soloution

Stop drinking tea at your computer, stick to ethanol and if you spill it it will clean the keys, rather than clogging them up.

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Boffin

Re: Simpler soloution

Ethanol isn't a solution, it's a single compound. Even combined with water it would just be a mixture.

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Boffin

Re: Simpler soloution

Just a mixture?

Not exactly. You can't completely separate Ethanol from Water by distillation or other physical means. Distillation gets you to "cask strength" (from memory, about 58% Ethanol). To get beyond that to 100% Ethanol you have to resort to chemical means. Be warned, 100% Ethanol is very highly toxic. Very much more so than twice the amount of cask strength spirit. It also tends to contain benzene (carcinogen) as an impurity.

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Re: Simpler soloution

I think you'll find he meant 'a solution to the problem'...

just sayin'

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Headmaster

Re: Simpler soloution

100% Ethanol is very highly toxic. ... It also tends to contain benzene (carcinogen) as an impurity.

You are hereby stripped of your 'boffin' icon.

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Re: Simpler soloution

Mandrake. Mandrake, have you never wondered why I drink only distilled water, or rainwater, and only pure-grain alcohol?

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Pint

Re: Just a mixture?

Basically true, but your number is way off. With repeated distillation, or a fractionating column, you can get to 95% (or so*). Even two passes through a traditional pot still should be able to beat 58%. I'm sure there's a good reason for casking booze at that strength, but it's not because of physical limitations on distillation.

*I've seen figured ranging from 95 to 96.5, but definitely not 58.

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Pint

Re: Just a mixture?

"Basically true, but your number is way off. With repeated distillation, or a fractionating column, you can get to 95% (or so*). Even two passes through a traditional pot still should be able to beat 58%. I'm sure there's a good reason for casking booze at that strength, but it's not because of physical limitations on distillation."

Yup: Six times through will get you over 90%.

Apparently.

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nbc

What are you supposed to do, use a ‘4’ instead? Gre4t ide4.

Alt + 97 ?

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Gimp

Re: What are you supposed to do, use a ‘4’ instead? Gre4t ide4.

But this was a Mac and that's a Windows-only trick. Linux seems to have a similar feature, but Mac OS apparently doesn't. I would suggest the best option is to keep a spare "a" in the clipboard and use Command+V. Although that doesn't allow for capitals.

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Holmes

Re: What are you supposed to do, use a ‘4’ instead? Gre4t ide4.

There's anyway the keycaps applet to let you find (and type) whatever you want with the mouse.

This article isn't about solving a real problem, it's about complaining how modern cars aren't made from single blocks of pig iron anymore.

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Happy

Re: What are you supposed to do, use a ‘4’ instead? Gre4t ide4.

You could have a spare A (or all the characters, even) in a text file somewhere and cut and paste from that...

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No need to strip the keyboard down that far

On most keyboards, when you undo the screws, the mechanical part of the keys comes away from the electronics.

Wash in the sink with washing up liquid, a good rinse under the tap to wash out the soap, crumbs and hair, leave to dry off (overnight) and its good to go.

That is enough to recover any drenched keyboard. I've found fruit juice is more sticky than warm beverages.

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Boffin

Not just Apple

I had one of the cheap (£10) Cherry keyboards here at work, which met a sticky end after I spilled about half a can of Coke on it...

I tried disassembling and cleaning, which stopped the keys sticking down, but still I had several 'dead' keys. Closer inspection revealed the sticky acidic beverge had seeped underneath the rubber membrane and corroded the tracks on the flexible circuit board.

That keyboard made its way to the Tyseley incinerator and has been replaced with another £10 keyboard, a MS model this time. If it lasts 6 years like the old one did, I'll be happy. Especially if it takes half a coke to finish it.

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Coat

Re: Not just Apple

That's not how you make Cherry Coke...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: incinerator

Do not put hardware into incinerators. In the UK that would be illegal.

You are obliged by law to responsibly dispose of your WEEE - setting fire to it is not responsible.

Gaia will be sending some boys round to knock on your door...

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Mushroom

Apple juice

Will kill a Saitek keyboard pretty effectively. Forunately I did not pay a lot for it.

Apple really don't do this 'interoperability' thing do they? I guess it is not in their commercial interests to do so. I don't blame them, I blame the users!

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FAIL

Re: Apple juice

Are you of the impression that you have to use an apple keyboard only on a mac? That is certainly not true. The only wrinkle you might have to deal with is the "windows key" stands in for the twiddle key.

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Cous Cous

My laptop keyboard is full of cous cous (long story), but still works well. You do have the odd bit of dessicated grain that pops out between the keys and flies towards you at some speed mind..

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