Lee Hachadoorian on Apr 19th 2012
Normally I don’t write about hardware on this blog (or pretty much anywhere), but I’m making an exception in this case to shout out a thank you to Theje for a YouTube video showing how to fix a weird keyboard problem on my IdeaPad Y560p. Certain keys quite suddenly started doing strange things: The H key would act like an up arrow, so while you were typing, your words would suddenly start appearing in the middle of the last line. The N key would pop-up the—I don’t know what to call it…the menu menu? The menu that pops up if you click the application icon in the upper left (on Windows—not on Ubuntu since 10.04, although I have my install set up to mimic the Windows-style button layout, as opposed to the Mac-style layout). Once this had the effect of closing the window I was working in, and since I was using a web-based application (without the autosave feature that, e.g., Google products have), I actually lost a document I was working on—something that has literally not happened to me for years.
I was pretty sure that this was a hardware issue, because the exact same behavior was happening in virtual machines running WinXP and Win7. That is, since the Ubuntu and Windows desktop environments use a lot of the same hot keys, the same keyboard keys were producing the exact same behaviors. I was dreading calling Lenovo because I had purchased the machine with Win7, and I didn’t know whether or how I was going to convince them that it wasn’t an Ubuntu problem. (Not that I have any particular reason to think that Lenovo has bad customer service, but one does develop an understanding of what kinds of things computer manufacturers will support and what kinds of things they won’t, and “You’re not running the OS we shipped” is kind of a problem.)
So before even calling, I Googled “lenovo keyboard problem”, and lo and behold the first hit was a YouTube video describing my exact problem and how to fix it. I’m not going to go into detail here—if you’re interested, the video is linked below—but the short of it is that you have to open the laptop and shield the keyboard cable from a piece of metal it is in contact with. But in keeping with this blog’s “open” theme, I just want to call attention to how much the internet has enabled these kind of DIY fixes, and how much value we create when we share knowledge openly. This fix, which took me approximately half an hour, probably saved me half an hour on the phone, plus being without my computer for a few days as it was shipped to Lenovo for repair. And, if Theje is correct, Lenovo might have replaced the keyboard or the laptop, but the problem would have manifested itself again after the keyboard had been used for a few months. So, thanks, Theje, for a relatively painless fix.