It’s always the little things….

February 1, 2011

Yesterday started normally.

I had had my coffee, so I was content. Sunbeams filtered through my window and onto on my busily typing fingers. 

Then it happened.

My dancing fingers made a “faux pas” in every sense. Some ill-fated combination of mistakenly pressed keys resulted in a pained BEEP from my computer.

And that’s when things stopped making sense.

I tried to carry on typing, but suddenly, the letters appearing on my screen failed to match the keys I pressed. I pressed “W” and got “/2w.” As in, “I am an Intergalactic /2writer.” The letter H inexplicably swapped position with the letter beside it: “htis, hte, aHrry ahtes ahmburgers.” Some letters transformed into numbers, peppering my words with bits of “txt-spk.”

For someone who depends on the ability to craft (mostly) coherent sentences, this was most distressing.

Even more upsetting was the fact that hitting the “Enter” button resulted in the following characters: =]

My mind raced. Virus? Malfunction? Aliens? I called up a friend, a guy who could well be termed the “Computer Whisperer.” While he prodded the keyboard, I paced behind him, wringing my hands.

“Well,” he said at last, “This is odd.”

Luckily, after a few more minutes, he deduced that it was likely not a virus. Nor was it likely to be aliens. Or demonic possession. Rather, I had somehow managed to engage the Scroll Lock. To fix it, all we had to do was turn Scroll Lock off.

One problem: my computer doesn’t have a Scroll Lock button on its keyboard.

Dredging the online community for help, he tested a few combinations of “Function” buttons, “Windows” buttons, and strange buttons with names that began with “F.” Nothing worked.

Apparently, the manufacturers had made the Scroll Lock function so difficult to access that only a totally random combination of keys could unlock it. This was a particularly irksome version of Twelve Monkeys with Twelve Typewriters. After they’ve finished writing Hamlet, I’m sure that, given enough time, they could figure out how to turn Scroll Lock off.

Unfortunately, having neither twelve monkeys, twelve computers, or an eternity, my friend simply eliminated Scroll Lock altogether (at least, I think that’s what he did).

And so, the magic of thinking words, moving fingers, and then seeing those same words is restored. No viruses or conspiracies, just a really unlucky mis-type and an incredibly poorly designed program.

We spend so much time preparing for major disasters, when it’s usually the little things that trip us up.

Now… more coffee!!! 😀




  1. Thank goodness for computer whisperers!!!! I have a couple of ‘tech guys’ that I count amongst my best friends and they have come over in many a panicked phone call of “I don’t know what I did…but you have to fix it!!!!!” And they do as I watch in awe. My knowledge of computers is that I push the buttons to make the pretty letters show up on the screen and the rest of it is magic. But just in case the aliens come to my house, I will keep your post in mind!

    • This particular Computer Whisperer has saved my life (or at least that of my laptop) many, many times. I can press control-alt-delete. I can restart a computer. I can sometimes run a virus scan (though if it found something, I’d be helpless). The rest, as you say, is magic, far removed from my puny comprehension. 😛

      • I buy my tech guys dinner whenever I can…they can control the aliens when control-alt-delete just makes those beasties laugh at me

  2. Good post; I feel your pain! My husband and son got me a new laptop and it keeps ‘shrinking’ my stories. Well, they could use that, but in editing not in visual size. Turns out the palms of my hands rest on the pad as I type and slide together. I said I missed my old lap top because there was nothing wrong with it and my son said, ‘besides the keys that stick, no battery and a scratched screen?’. Well yes. But those were my quirks. And it didn’t take my novel and turn it into a matchbook cover by seemingly magic.

  3. Computers can be downright scary at time. Glad that you got yours sorted out, Arvik.

  4. Wow. XD I’m glad you were able to figure it out. 🙂 Thank goodness aliens weren’t involved. 😉

    • Oh, they may well have been. No Earthly mind would have made the stupid Scroll Lock that hard to (dis)engage.

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