Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
This is Leo Notenboom for askleo.info.
Computer professionals take a lot of things for granted that we simply shouldn't. I know I'm often guilty of it, but reading through the stream of incoming questions is typically quite the wakeup call.
For example: did you know that many people seem to assume that hardware doesn't break.
To anyone who's used computers for any length of time, it seems like an incredibly odd assumption to make. We've all experienced various types of failures.
I get it most commonly in two forms: keyboard issues, and boot time issues.
Quite often when someone's keyboard begins to mysteriously misbehave, their first reaction is to blame the software, and often they know just enough terms to sound dangerous. For example "My 'Q' key stopped working, where in the registry do I fix this?" Yikes! As you might expect, as one of the most heavily used and abused pieces of hardware on your computer, the keyboard is much more likely to have developed a bad key. And that's easy to test for if you have a old or spare keyboard lying around.
Another example: "My machine wont boot; it gets so far and then reboots again, over and over - how do I fix Windows so it'll boot?" In this case it's not so easy to tell, but once again, many different types of failed hardware can result in that symptom: a motherboard that's gone bad, RAM that's developed a problem, a failing hard disk, or much more.
And yet, the end-user's finger points, more often than not, at software first. Or more specifically, at Windows. Let's face it, that constant reboot could also be the sign of a virus or other software related problem.
And that's why it's really no surprise. We spend so much time talking about obscure configuration settings and vulnerabilities and spyware and viruses and bugs and crashes and crash reports and more ... They're all software related so of course that's where people look first.
It's where we've trained them to look.
And to be even more fair: I've seen the opposite too. People who rid themselves of viruses and spyware by ... purchasing a new machine. (And in at least one case, more than once.) But fortunately that's much less common.
Unfortunately, it's often difficult to make the distinction without experience. And the lines between hardware and software are definitely blurry, and it seems getting more so each day.
So, ask the questions, of course. But consider all the options as well.
It might just be that the "Q" key is simply broken, and that a new keyboard, not an obscure registry setting, is all you need.
I'd love to hear what you think. Visit askleo.info and enter 11359 in the go to article number box to access the show notes and to leave me a comment. While you're there, browse over 1,100 technical questions and answers on the site.
Till next time, I'm Leo Notenboom, for askleo.info.