Keyboards gone wild, or maybe just French (aka CSI: Text Input)

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/10/27 12:26 -04:00, original URI:

Mike's question, despite being disarmingly simple, went several days without anyone responding to it:

Periodically (2 or 3 times a day) if I click on the start icon/pearl and start to type something, my keyboard just goes wild....a regular one is transposing the Q and A keys:-


I just typed qqqqq111112222233333dddddaaaaq and the string above is what comes out.  I get another one where the “m” key moves to the “;” key.

I’m running Vista Ultimate (6000) UK English on a ThinkPad T60 and this has just started happening fairly recently – no new s/w installs.  Not a major problem but wondered if anyone had seen it? 

They always say that when you hear hoof beats, expect horses (not zebras)....

Sounds a little like The keyboard does not do what I tell it to!, doesn't it?

So let's momentarily assume (given the consistency for the resultant characters from the keystrokes, that the keyboard has not gone wild. :-)

Well, maybe it has gone wild.

Are French people wild? :-)

Because the results that Mike is seeing look a lot like the French keyboard layout in Windows:

and we'll just put the US English layout up too for kicks:

Wow, every single altered keystroke he mentions is an exact match to the French layout!

So in this situation, going wild (or going French if you prefer) is likely due to a[n inadvertent] hitting of the keystrokes to switch the keyboard, and the fix is due to either [again inadvertently] hitting the keystrokes to switch the keyboard back or more likely switching focus to some other application which will see the layout switch back....

Another case solved by the keyboard spinoff of CSI: Unicode, CSI: Text Input!


This post brought to you by é (U+00e9, a.k.a. LATIN SMALL LETTER E WITH ACUTE)

# Björn on 27 Oct 2007 1:31 PM:

This makes me thinking (again, and this time getting off the lazyness and commenting!): Why is this thing enabled by default? So far I never had the need to use any other keyboard layout than the one that matches my keyboards; assuming that number of users who might install a language version which default keyboard layout (isn't that selectable during install anyway?) does not match the physical (or memorized/used/whatever) seems to be rather low - e.g. I never heard someone commenting in such a thread that she would have a hard time without the feature enabled by default.

Hm, somehow I have the feeling that the reason was mentioned on this very blog before, but with the amount of posts and the diversity of topics found on this very blog it might very well have been some between the lines hint...

# Michael S. Kaplan on 27 Oct 2007 1:40 PM:

Well, they are not there by default -- you have to "install" the keyboard layout for it to be available to be switched to....

# Björn on 27 Oct 2007 4:29 PM:

Hm, I am pretty sure I never actively selected the US keyboard layout in either XP or Vista (not sure about 2000) but the Language bar was always enabled on first run providing the option to switch between the "native" and the US layouts. I guess I should use a VM to refresh my memories of the install process :]

# Michael S. Kaplan on 27 Oct 2007 4:52 PM:

Ah, something I have mentioned before in the context of Dutch -- the times that more than one language is included.

And one can remove any keyboard from that list that one is not using, if course....

# jmdesp on 27 Oct 2007 5:16 PM:

You know I just constantly meet this problem and I'm not convinced any of the explanation I see here is the right one.

I use a lot Alt-Tab to switch from one application to another, and very often the time find out I've just switch from the french to the english keyboard for no reason.  

But I almost never use alt-shift-tab, I prefer to keep my open windows list short and cycle through it,  so I don't believe that's the explanation. I'm convinced there must be something more than makes me switch.

One interesting thing is that when this happens I also often find myself in caps lock, despite the caps lock led being off.

By the way, configuring a machine so that pressing shift resets caps-lock (the french standard), and then using remote desktop to connect to another machine, sometimes gives very random behavior where pressing shift changes between caps-lock on or off in a non-predictable way. The only way to get back to a sensible behavior was to go back to the default of having to press cap-lock again to release it.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 27 Oct 2007 11:10 PM:

I assume you are referring to the switching and not the fact that was the French layout? :-)

I have yet to find a time that the keyboard switching shortcut was not invoked, so I am going to have to remain skeptical on this one without a repro....

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