back to article User spent 20 minutes trying to move mouse cursor, without success

Welcome again to On-Call, in which The Register brings you readers’ tales of tech support traumas. This week, meet “Wanda”, who found herself called upon to some citizen sysadminnery when shopping. Wanda’s story started with a broken mobile phone and a desire to replace it. Said desire took her into a retail outlet where a …

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At Mycho, re: mouse wheels...

First you engage the parking brake so it doesn't roll away. Next you use an itty bitty jack to lift up one corner so you can get to the lug nuts with an itty bitty tire iron...

*Cough*

I'll get my coat, it's the one with the pockets full of stolen mouse wheels in it. =-)p

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Re: Speaking of which,

I used to clean my mousewheel with a Q-Tip dipped in Windex.

The challenge was like peeling a tangerine... see if I could remove the crud from the mouse-wheel in one long strip.

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Re: Speaking of which,

Buy a decent mouse that isn't designed to be as unserviceable as possible.

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Re: Speaking of which,

@ alan brown, absolutely, and I stand by the polish vodka recommend, and my other IPA used to be Deuchars before the taste was ruin`d by contract brewin`. funny how often that happens.

An assisted by crap attitude outmoved ex person I worked nearby, not a colleague, nothing in common apart from breathing, applied "rubbing alcohol" to a pinch roller that IPA didn`t scrub up rather than go through replacement and an hours worth of alignment and checks. all tapes run on that machine were contaminated and had to be dubbed across.

And of course pinch replacement after, DOH

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Facepalm

Re: Speaking of which,

Funnily enough that actually came up this week with a users mouse, along with the original & leaking batteries on the inside - Leading to the whole set of wireless KB& Mouse being replaced.

Five minutes later another user in accounting stuck her head in the door complaining that the web based application was slow & laggy in response, my reply was is it the app or in general & then she replied that she couldn't even log in to her machine now.

Arriving at her desk to establish that her wireless keyboard was unresponsive & my query of have you tried changing the batteries I got "Oh I didn't know they had those, I knew the (Part of the same set) mouse did!".

She's not a millennial, but someone of a slightly more advanced age than myself.

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Re: At Mycho, re: mouse wheels...

@Shadow Systems

I replaced my stock mouse wheels with alloy rims made by Fast.

The traking speed really improved!

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Re: Speaking of which,

The software I rely on thrashes the mousewheel/middle button.. bought a replacement after the middle button started bouncing/echoing, after a month or two the replacements wheel decided to intermittedly reverse direction (effectively, guessing its loose contacts)

Solution.. plug the original into a spare USB socket, and have one mouse for clicking and the other for scrolling..

I will eventually get to a place where I can get a third mouse, whereupon the two cripples will be put back into reserve.

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Thumb Up

Re: Speaking of which,

Good advice there, familiar but worth repeating, except the one assumption that you still somehow have the bit that went 'ping' and sounded like it bounced off at least two walls and some unknown thing that might be a lampshade but surely couldn't have been because the only one of those in here is metal and that would have gone 'ting' or 'ding' at the very least...

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Re: Speaking of which,

My mouse had the intermittent scroll wheel reversals too, until I got a can of electronic contact cleaner and (with the corded mouse unplugged) liberally sprayed it in to the area where the wheel position sensor would be (in this model, under the left mouse button). Roll the wheel around in both directions before the cleaner evaporates, and once it does, see if that didn't fix it. You could try the same on the mouse with clicking problems too (on the other side of the wheel, obviously).

If my mouse could be opened without destroying it, I would have done so for its cleaning/repair, but it has an aluminium base plate that is riveted to... well, something, and I don't want to drill the rivets out, 'cause I may not be able to get it reattached. I had to just spray it all around through the tiny hole where the axle for the scroll wheel enters the mouse body and hope for the best.

The mouse wheel worked better for a short bit, but then the reversing returned. Another dousing with the cleaner and it again worked flawlessly, and has been great ever since, for probably five months now. Since I could not see what I was squirting at, I was not even sure if I was going to get it in the right place, but I guess it did.

The stuff I used is CRC branded "Electronic contact cleaner," and it specifically says it is plastic safe on the can (which was important as I was about to shoot it into a partially plastic mouse). Of course, there are lots of kinds of plastic, but it has lived up to its billing so far for me. I've used it quite successfully on other things, including a laptop whose touchpad buttons (discrete buttons, like the all used to have back in the day) sometimes required excessive pressure to work. It sometimes works on the first try, but just as many times, it seems to require two (but so far, no more than that). It's good stuff to have around, but be sure to use it in a well ventilated area.

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Re: Speaking of which,

yes, pulling off the crud in one long strip was most satisfying until you thought about what it was made of and you gag slightly.

My cleaning implement of choice was a pair of tweezers (even though I only used one).

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Re: Speaking of which,

Top of a Bic Pen was the perfect tool to clean the crud from the mouse wheels.

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Re: Speaking of which,

@The Oncoming Scorn:

I (used to) work on the road a lot...for years. Couple years ago, my (non-technical) wife called me reporting that her computer wasn't working....couldn't enter typed input. And then testily stated "and yes, she'd rebooted it (before I could ask for the 10,000th time). After a few seconds thought I asked, did you check/replace batteries in the keyboard?

Short silence on the other end of the phone, then she said "You never told me it had batteries." True....so this immediately became all my fault. (We'd been married 40+ years at that point. I'll say no more.)

Walked her through flipping it over and opening the compartment bit, replacing the batteries and she was back in the game.

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First

make sure that your mouse isn't using its wheel. . .

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Keyboard ecosystems

I worked for an organisation where I had to provide unofficial IT support. One of the secretaries (it was some time ago) complained that her much loved keyboard wasn't working properly anymore...

Me: "How long have you been using it?"

She: "About 5 years."

Me: "Have you ever cleaned it?"

She: "No, I didn't know you could."

It wasn't just a matter of turning it upside down and banging it on the desk (although that was mildly horrifying). All the keys had to be taken off to get at the thick padding of dead hair, skin and food debris that was stopping them depressing far enough to work. It was alive I tell you, alive!

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

"It was alive I tell you, alive!"

That may be a good thing actually. Consider storing the keyboard during one week-end close to an ants' nest, they'l do a good job at cleaning anything that they can eat. Come Monday, a good shake to remove the remaining dust...

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Facepalm

Re: Keyboard ecosystems

When still teaching medical students, one of the standard microbiology work shops was to teach them to do (agar) bacterial cultures, a thing that becomes handy when they ever have to do patient cultures (e.g. bronchitis, urinary infections). For the work shop that always translated to a "wipe test", basically the students going round, wiping surfaces, and putting those wipes on culture. And every year the winner was... keyboards. Always holding more bacteria (especially E. coli, for the non-medical people among us, the one that lives north of uranus) than toilet seats, or surprisingly, the inside door handle of the loo. So, I'm afraid a good shake is not going to cover it... Alcohol any one?

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

Alcohol any one?

For cleaning the keyboard or for making you not care?

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Pint

Re: Keyboard ecosystems

When I was getting my zymurgy degree at Davis, the instructor had us all take a couple agar plates home to swab anything that caught our eye. The idea was to impress on the youngsters in the class that cleanliness is vital when making drinkable fermentables, and that almost nothing that you deal with day-to-day is actually clean from a clinical point of view.

I won the sweepstakes with a kitchen sponge. I also took second ... with the tea towel. Makes sense, when you think about it. They stay nice and damp, in a nice warm place, with lots of goodies on them.

Beer, because thankfully brewing works in spite of us filthy humans.

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

Having suffered the occasional coffee-on-keyboard incident I found that a good cure was sometimes to just put it on the radiator until it dried out. That doesn't work if there was sugar in the coffee. I have heard tell that in this case (and for any generally gunked up keyboard) then a quick trip through the dishwasher can work wonders! I suspect best without detergent, and on a low temperature, but why not? Let it dry thoroughly before plugging back in. And given that basic keyboards cost about a tenner, what have you to lose?

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

Basic keyboards "for a tenner" die in dishwashers. I have a model M that's been thru' the wash a few times, still works fine.

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

And given that basic keyboards cost about a tenner, what have you to lose?

Back in the day when keyboards cost considerably more than a tenner (in excess of £100 in some cases) washing them to try and save them was a frequent occurrence. The worst we had was caused by spillage of Tango (other sugary orange fizzy drinks are available!) That one was dismantled and scrubbed under the tap for a while - it did survive.

Now they're a consumable item.

Glen

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

"And every year the winner was... keyboards."

In my student days it was hand towels but I don't think we tried the keyboards of the Marchant calculators.

"Alcohol any one?"

Don't mind if I do, even if it is a tad early.

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

"Now they're a consumable item."

What flavours do they come in? A choice of coffee or Tango?

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

Buying a basic keyboard for a tenner is your mistake - you spend literally hours using it. Money should be prioritised for keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Everything else is likely to be changed, but those will last.

I've spent my own money on my (buckling spring) keyboard and a reasonably inexpensive claw grip 'gaming' mouse (comfy, has multiple buttons) at work. I'm not about to suffer shite for 35 hours a week.

Once I've finished my study at home the priority will not be yet more computers(*), but a really nice chair.

(*) who am I kidding, I'll probably get more anyway, although it's a small room and already has a lot of shelves..

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Joke

Re: Keyboard ecosystems

I suspect the dishwasher would end up coming off worst, if you tried that with one of the classic IBM keyboards .....

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Happy

Re: Keyboard ecosystems

Regarding spills - my keyboard (DIN5 plug, none of this newfangled PS2 nonsense) was proudly proclaiming on its box at the time that it was spill-proof (post-Y2K translation: "spill-resistant") thanks to the small "wells" in the plastic top surrounding the key stems. I do believe it would indeed handle a modest, peripheral splash but probably not a point-blank full cup knock-over. Luckily, it seems to endure occasional full tear-downs for cleaning purposes just fine though, otherwise it would not only be alive by now but probably properly artificially intelligent as well, which is a hella scary thought for a device that not only literally controls my computer but would also know all my passwords...

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

I had a keyboard that claimed to have been doped with Silver Nitrate to keep the livestock under control. I have no idea if it has any genuine effect in this use case though.

and for the students, buttons on lift, hand rail in carpark stairs (you know - the smelly one), and your car's steering wheel. Nature always finds a way :)

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

"Basic keyboards [...] die in dishwashers"

Usually you can undo a bunch of screws and detach the electronics from the keys, then just wash the keys (and dry thoroughly).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Keyboard ecosystems

I may have dropped 3 course meals on mine, and it's not that bad. What had they done?

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

"Now they're a consumable item."

It's perhaps an economic thing. Keyboards these days are pretty cheap, and you're paid how much per hour?

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

"proudly proclaiming on its box at the time that it was spill-proof"

A local shop has a keyboard that claims waterproof to a depth of a metre, and up to 30 minutes.

Looking at the keyboard (in a clear plastic case with translucent plastic moulding), it's pretty clear to see that the controller logic and radio transmitter are in a little sealed compartment. The membrane and the batteries are not. I can't imagine that'll work particularly well in or around water...

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Pint

Re: Keyboard ecosystems

@ Monty

Alcohol any one?

For cleaning the keyboard or for making you not care?

Yes! Both.

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

When still teaching medical students, one of the standard microbiology work shops was to teach them to do (agar) bacterial cultures, a thing that becomes handy when they ever have to do patient cultures (e.g. bronchitis, urinary infections). For the work shop that always translated to a "wipe test", basically the students going round, wiping surfaces, and putting those wipes on culture. And every year the winner was... keyboards. Always holding more bacteria (especially E. coli, for the non-medical people among us, the one that lives north of uranus) than toilet seats, or surprisingly, the inside door handle of the loo. So, I'm afraid a good shake is not going to cover it... Alcohol any one?

At my school one biology lesson was on bacteria and mould. To demonstrate the fact that we are surrounded by both a practical was held. Pairs of students were given an agar coated petri dish and some scissors. One of the pair cut a small section of hair from the other which was then placed on the agar and the dish sealed. After a week of incubation (including a control dish) they were returned to us so we could see what had grown. It was obvious who had not washed their hair for quite some time as their entire agar was covered in horrible looking growths. Someone asked if we could open them and the teacher said "No absolutely not that's very dangerous given we don't know what has grown inside."

Didn't stop one guy trying though......

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

Alcohol any one?

Don't mind if I do. A bottle of Springbank 15-year old single malt should do it.

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

Beer, because thankfully brewing works in spite of us filthy humans.

It even works if you don't add yeast - lots of wild yeasts in the air y'know..

(An old recipe for Elderflower Champagne^W sparkling wine doesn't use added yeast - there's enough on the flowers and in the air to do the job - results can be somewhat... inconsistent though.)

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

then a quick trip through the dishwasher can work wonders

Or even a couple of minutes in the shower - anything that can dissolve the sticky gunk.

Followed by drying off in the airing cupboard (or other warm place)

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

Come Monday, a good shake to remove the remaining dust...

And the ants!

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

doped with Silver Nitrate to keep the livestock under control. I have no idea if it has any genuine effect in this use case though

Well - silver compounds do have an anti-bacterial action so it might. But I suspect that the bacterial load would soon overcome the action sooner or later.

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

Keyboards these days are pretty cheap, and you're paid how much per hour?

Which was precisely my arguement with a well-paid site manager who insisted on making their own network cables.

Plus, the shop-bought ones tend to work reliably.

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

Washing disassembled keyboards - be carefully soaking them in hot water. Most keys will be fine, but the space bar is long enough that if it softens too much it can easily warp.

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Windows

Re: Keyboard ecosystems

@CoCM:

Ask your vet what the most effective treatment for feline herpes is. (In cats it crops up as an eye infection) -- Silver Nitrate 0.5%USP drops.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Keyboard ecosystems

Yesterday I spilt a glass of water on my IBM SK-8815 keyboard. I haven't rebooted yet and it didn't miss a beat, I think my heart did though.

Quality beats cheap.

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

That doesn't apply to all keyboards. I like my Unicomp keyboards, and they're a decent evolution of the IBM Model M, but unfortunately not quite as maintainable. The casing can be unscrewed, and the keys individually cleaned, but the circuit board is almost impossible to disassemble.

After a drink accident it didn't survive, and I had to resort to the spare which I'd bought just in case. Hopefully I won't make the same mistake again; the keyboards are reasonably priced, but shipping from the US is a bit spendy.

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

"An old recipe for Elderflower Champagne^W sparkling wine doesn't use added yeast - there's enough on the flowers and in the air to do the job - results can be somewhat... inconsistent though."

Explosive, even. And that was cordial which isn't even supposed to ferment.

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

Basic keyboards "for a tenner" die in dishwashers. I have a model M that's been thru' the wash a few times, still works fine.

Stripped one down a couple weeks and gave it a thorough cleaning (no RetroBrite though), but unfortunately even though they'll work with a PS/2-USB adapter, the adapted connection won't work on a KVM switch (at least mine; perhaps a powered one from BlackBox might).

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

Re: yeast in the air ... Most of my bread is made with wild-caught yeast. So is some of my wine ... and some of my beer is made from re-purposed proven wild-caught wine yeast. Lovely thingies, yeasties.

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

"coffee or Tango"

Mine tend to be merlot flavoured.

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Re: Keyboard ecosystems

It was alive I tell you, alive!

In that past, I found more than a few of those around the office that were growing entirely new civilizations inside. There were some that really shouldn't have been opened unless one was wearing a full hazmat suit. It took some doing (like getting the boss to help clean some) to get to the point where we didn't clean them but binned them and gave the user a new keyboard. Heaven knows what's growing underground at the dump site where these things went to.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Keyboard ecosystems

"It was alive I tell you, alive!"

How many new antibiotics and cures for cancers did you just throw away?

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At Jake, re: yeast...

Did you hear the one about the young lady whom liked to brew everything?

Beauty & the yeast.

*Runs away*

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