OS X keyboard locking issue

I’ve been dealing with this problem with my Powerbook 12″ lately which has been the source of neverending frustration: while using my laptop occassionally the keyboard will stop working. For a while I thought that the only way to cure my ill computer was to reboot it, and with Google providing no help, I was just about to stick my silver friend in the microwave to teach it a lesson.

Over the past month or so, I’ve discovered quite a few features of this peculiar bug. The first thing I recognized was that not all of the keys were frozen: most of the option and F-keys still provided their full functionality, such as App switching (Commant-Tab), brightness control (F1-F2), etc. Still nothing would repair this ailment, and I’d eventually end up rebooting.

But last night I made a major breakthrough: while locked, I tried to Force-quit (Command-Option-ESC), and suddenly my keyboard was returned to normal. I quickly tried seeing if it was related to any of my running applications: not iTerm, not BBEdit, none of them seemed to affect it. But, while switching applications once I tried to not use Command-Tab, and low and behold, the problem went away entirely.

Whenever I use Command-tab to switch applications now, there’s a good chance that my keyboard will lock. Has anyone ever encountered this problem before? Either I’m a really peculiar user or it’s something specific about the applications I use (I just reinstalled last week).

Very strange.

Update: I realized that when the machine gets into this state, any Cmd-Tab operation will render the keyboard unusable (until you run force-quit), but a reboot returns things to the normal operation. Relaunching the Finder has no effect, so it’s as if the kernel gets into a state where application switching causes the keyboard to hang.

Props to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International AirportI’m supposed to be eating Tex-mex in Austin right now, reliving old SXSW’s with that group of people I only see this time of year. Instead I’m in a Courtyard Mariott somewhere in Northern Kentucky. Apparently not the part where the bourbon flows freely from spigots one every street corner.

But I’m not mad, I’m glad. The room is comped, my flight isn’t too early in the morning, and they have free high speed internet access. I guess they do this sort of thing often in Cincinnati because after landing they asked people to raise their hands if they had a connection to make. Even the staff raised their hands. It was a straight up connection party on that plane.

The hour and a half spent on the tarmac in Boston cost Deltinental severely, because I’d say a good third of the plane missed the last flight of the night. When we all staggered to the ticket counter, there was a giant sign that said “hotel accomodations,” and they had already prepared vouchers for room, board, and pre-printed our tickes for the morning. Now that’s what I call service.

So if you’re going to fly through a hub during the snowy season, make sure to fly through Cinci, because they won’t give you this “we’re not liable for flights delayed due to weather” bullshit. They give you the red carpet. Or something. In fact, in 2004 it was rated Best Gateway Airport in the US of A.

Stopping comment spam with keystrokes

In response to the recent post by Simon Goodway, I threw together a simple implementation of the keystroke-approach to comment spam blocking:

MT-Keystrokes

It’s quick to install (one small file and one quick change to templates with a comment form). So far I’ve seen a 100% decline in spam, so much so that I’m thinking about turning off Moderate and going old-skoole with my comments.

If the spammers figure out the field I’m using, it’s trivial to change, and could even be automated. There are a number of ways to make it more difficult for spam purveyors, but my thought is that this 5% added difficulty will never be worth their while.