Steps to take to solve a keyboard problem

Ask Jim

Plugged In

March 22, 2007|By Jim Coates | Jim Coates,Chicgo Tribune

I have a problem with my keyboard on an HP Pavilion system running Windows XP when the computer goes to sleep (standby mode). It does not recognize the keyboard during the next session. This requires that I reboot. I'm not running a screen saver, and I've tried uninstalling the keyboard through Device Manager and forcing XP to go out and reinstall the drivers -- still no resolution.

-- Jim Sturm, Chicago

The problem is that the Energy Department persuaded computer-makers to build in screen savers, blank ones included, as a conservation matter.

Here's the setup: Your computer knows it is time to blank the screen because at each split-second cycle of the main chip, it requests time information. Ordinarily, each of those cycles run far faster than you can press a key. The keyboard is said to poll the central processor at each cycle to either report a key was pressed, or in the case of screen savers, blank or otherwise, it is supposed to announce its presence and trigger the revival of the screen. Likewise, the screen saver polls the central processor so it knows when to kick in or when to restart.

In far too many cases, these two poll requests simultaneously hit the same spot on the central processor and create hopeless confusion.

This interrupt conflict can sometimes be changed by getting a new keyboard, but that helps only sometimes. It is said to be possible to fix the thing by changing the order in which steps are taken in the computer's BIOS settings, which come up at boot-up to configure the Basic Input Output System.

With most computers, you are told how to open the BIOS settings during bootup. But this is both dangerous and complicated, so I reluctantly have told readers over the years if their system suffers from this glitch, the best solution is to disable the screen blanking altogether.

For the benefit of other readers: If you need to do this, right-click on the desktop and select Properties from the pop-up box that appears. There, open the tab for Screen Saver. Look for the federal logo with the word Energy in front of a star. Click on the Power icon, and you will get the command boxes that display settings for handling the mouse and the keyboard. Set them all to Never.

I went to a studio to have some pictures of my wife, my baby boy and me taken, and I just bought five pictures, which they sent to my e-mail. I want to print the pictures, but I can't because they are locked. Can you tell me how to take this out?

-- Arturo Perez,

Open one of the photos and display it as large as possible on the screen. Now, hold down the Alt key and tap the key marked prt scr (or Print Screen) in the upper-right-hand corner of the keyboard. This copies an image of the window being displayed and stores it in the computer's memory.

Next, you need to call up the Windows Paint program and then paste that copy into it. So click on Start, then Programs and then Accessories. In the list of icons this summons will be one for Paint. With Paint open, click on the Edit command and then select Paste. A copy of the photo will appear. Now, click on File and then Save As. In Save As select the file type of JPG or JPEG and give the file a name. Save it to your hard drive. This file will print just fine, although it will lack the resolution of the original studio shot.

Recently, you told someone how to open e-mail if they got an empty box with a red X instead of an actual picture. I followed your directions and I don't see that it says yes/no to enable showing pictures embedded in an e-mail messages. I have a late version of XP and a new computer. You said: Outlook Express, Tools, Internet Options, Security then find the yes/no button. I tried all the various ones in the security section to no avail and still can't open the e-mail with the red X.

-- C.J. Stoll, Santa Cruz, Calif.

First, in the versions 6 and 7 of the Microsoft Outlook Express software, there is a command that will stop displaying images in HTML mail, which is the most common cause.

Everybody should check to see they have a version 6 or 7 by opening Outlook Express and the Help command at the end of the tool bar. The drop-down menu that appears has an option "About Outlook Express." Almost everybody has IE 6 or IE 7, so continue by clicking on Tools and then Options. This brings up a complex tabbed menu. Start with the Security tab and there will be a check box and the line "Block images and other external content in HTML e-mail."

This works for me and a great many others, though there may be other issues that result in red X's instead of images.

For example, the person sending the message may have settings that create problems. So ask the folks who send your messages to click the Send tab on that same Options Menu. The tab will include a button called HTML Settings. Click it and make sure there is a check in the box to "Send pictures with messages."

Finally, you should go to the tab marked Read in the Options menu set. There make sure you uncheck the line to "Read all messages in plain text."

Jim Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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