Sleep function is the source of keyboard woes


April 16, 2001|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

I have been fighting a periodic keyboard problem with my Compaq Presario 7470, which is running Windows 98, since I purchased it six months ago. The keyboard loses all communication with the PC (the mouse still works) and it is only remedied by rebooting. It seems to happen after some uptime, and often after the power sleep cycle has been used. I've tried refreshing the keyboard driver with no success. Any suggestions?

Whoever invented the so-called sleep function for PCs and Macs should be dragged to the village green and fed coffee for a week of seven sleepless nights for penance. Here's the technological issue: A computer's peripherals, such as keyboards, mice, printers, modems and such, work by continually polling the central processor chip at a steady rate. This so-called handshaking is how the computer knows that stuff is plugged in.

If a signal gets sent, the main processor concludes that the device is present. If there is no handshake at the appointed split-second, the computer concludes that the device has been removed and stops looking for further signals. So the keyboard in your case gets ignored. It gets ignored because the sleep cycle on your machine, designed to save power by shutting down the monitor and parking the hard drive, kicks in just as the keyboard is trying to say howdy to the central processor.

I recommend that you shut off the sleep function and be done with the snubbing of the keyboard. Right-click the mouse on the desktop and pick Properties. Pick the Screen Saver tab and then Settings. There you will find the controls to disable the automatic sleep function. Do that and while the machine may no longer sleep, maybe you will.

Would you please tell me how to delete the history listing on my computer? I know how to delete the files under Internet Options, but the listing remains when you use the "history" button. I share a computer with others and do not necessarily want them to know where I've been.

I share a computer with Mrs. C., and so I feel your pain. One reason I have remained married for 37 years this week is that I go out of my way not to incur her wrath unless absolutely necessary. So I nip those history files in the bud just as you want to do. The problem is that you're looking for Options all the way down at the end of the list of folders in the Windows directory. Scroll up and you will find a folder called History. Open that and you can delete all those pesky remembrances of things past.

I use Outlook Express on an HP Pavilion 8660C. Frequently when I am composing an e-mail message the machine freezes. This can be really frustrating when it happens two or three times in a row. Do you have any ideas about causes or fixes?

A great many things can be happening, but whatever is causing the problem, I would start the repair process by reinstalling the browser. Log on to Microsoft's Web site and download and then install the latest version of Microsoft Internet Explorer, which contains the code for Outlook Express. You also can order MSIE on a CD-ROM for $10. Both the free download and the $10 CD are at This should fix your e-mail software.

If that doesn't work I would try replacing Outlook Express with the free-of-charge but advertising-loaded Eudora e-mail software. You can get Eudora at Since Eudora uses entirely different code to handle e-mail, it shouldn't have the same bug as Outlook Express.

If Eudora also crashes, the problem is somewhere in the exotic Internet software of the operating system itself, and you probably need to restore the entire Windows operating system using the restore discs that came with your HP. With your machine restored to its original condition your problem almost certainly will be solved.

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