October 13th, 2003


Bother. (part 2*)

Pouring drink near laptop while holding baby is not a good plan, apparently.

No, I didn't drop anything or knock something over. However, when the bottle suddenly deformed the extra pressure caused a small jet of Dr Pepper to overshoot the glass and land on the laptop keyboard.

Only a couple of drops made it through the keyboard into the laptop, and they landed harmlessly on metal surfaces. I have cleaned the keys which were sticking, and all the keys still work, as does the TrackPoint pointing device.

So why is it that my right-hand mouse button no longer works, when the spillage didn't actually go near the mouse buttons? (If I had wanted a computer with only one mouse button I would have bought a Mac.) I can take the mouse buttons off to expose the little membrane circles underneath; they are clean and look identical, but only one of them works.

The keyboard itself (including the mouse buttons) seems to be a sandwich of two pieces of plastic with a membrane in between (and I should think anyone who has ever had a ZX Spectrum knows what a keyboard membrane looks like). The bottom piece is just a base and the top piece is what holds all the keys on. Unfortunately, separating these pieces would involve breaking the plastic rivets holding them together, which means that putting them together again afterwards might be tricky. The membrane itself (or what I can see of it underneath the keys) looks to be of the type that should be resistant to small amounts of liquid spillage, so the loss of my mouse button is a bit perplexing. (I suppose it could be a coincidence.)

The IBM parts shop website does not acknowledge the existence of my keyboard (well, the laptop is over six years old now) but it does recognise the adjacent part number, which is the equivalent keyboard in US layout. Unfortunately it quotes the part at 96 pounds plus VAT, which is probably at least half the current value of the laptop!

Oh well. A laptop with a PS/2 mouse plugged in is still a lot more portable than a desktop, although it could be rather harder to use in a confined space (such as the tiny table it normally rests on at home).

*Part 1
  • Current Music
    tinny sound of `Brain of Britain' in cow-orker's earphones

Poll* explanation

Heads and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes
Heads and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes
And eyes and ears and mouth and nose
Heads and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.

From 1979 to 1983 I was in the Scouts, of which one of the delights was a compulsory two-week camp each Summer in a random field somewhere in the UK - and as if that weren't exciting enough, the middle weekend featured a big sing-song round the camp fire. This song happens to have been one of various Scouting Classics [there must surely be a CD out with that description - if not then there's a marketing opportunity for someone] which we were made to sing. Coincidentally, it's also an educational song for small children.

Believe it or not, until last month I had never heard of the version without the first `and' (although since then I've seen it in a book whose whole content is this song). For several people, this seems to be the only version they have heard. Whether it should be `head' or `heads' I really couldn't say - I seem to remember it being the latter, though this is illogical since the song only has one mouth and one nose (which only goes to show that one shouldn't think about it too much).

Line 4 was popular at scout camp, where I suspect the majority of participants didn't really have their heart in it.

Line 5, if I am not much mistaken, is the theme song (same tune) from the BBC children's classic with Derek Griffiths. Either no one remembers it or I've got it wrong in some nontrivial way.

Line 6 is another of those things we were made to do at scout camp. Singing the whole thing once through is obviously not enough; what you then have to do is sing it again but without voicing the word `heads'. And again but without voicing the word `heads' or `shoulders'. And so on and so on, ad nauseam until you have a song in which the only word is `and'. For this to work (for some value of `work') I think you do need to include the first `and' - which is were we came in.

* Poll
  • Current Music
    `heads and shoulders' earworm