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Caps Lock Intermittently Reverses Function

Posted on 2014-01-11
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One user has a workstation on which the CAPS LOCK key intermittently reverses function. When reversed, with caps lock off all typing is in caps and with caps lock on typing is normal. This has happened without notice while typing an email message in Outlook and I'm pretty sure while working in Word and Excel.

This started happening a few weeks ago and it happens anywhere from daily to weekly. It may have started around the time of a large Windows update (about 60 updates) although I can't be certain. None of those updates clearly have anything to do with the keyboard or USB interface but who can be sure...

Rebooting the PC restores normal operation. So does disconnecting and reconnecting the USB keyboard.

The user needs the caps lock function so I can't just disable caps lock.

Details follow including what I've already tried.

Workstation:
Dell Precision Workstation T3600
Windows 7 Ultimate SP1
Office 2010 SP2
Dell USB keyboard
All remote access to the PC is disabled.
Kaspersky Internet Security reports no problems.

Already tried:

Ensured that all accessibility features including sticky keys are disabled.

Uninstalled keyboard driver and let Windows reinstall it.

Updated workstation BIOS and USB 3.0 drivers. (And the Intel chipset and Intel memory manager drivers although these seem unrelated to the problem.)

Presently trying:

Another Dell keyboard to see if it the keyboard itself. As I write this, the new keyboard has only been in use a few hours.

Any further suggestions welcomed!

Thanks,
Pete
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Question by:Pete2009
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by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 95 total points
ID: 39774220
Please let us know about the new keyboard. There are no Windows Updates that will do this in a normal machine. You have done the other tests, so it would seem to be a keyboard issue.

... Thinkpads_User
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 39774226
Will do, yes. Of course if a failure occurs then the update can come at any time. If no failure occurs I'll have to give it a week or so before even tentatively concluding that did it.

In the interim, if anyone has suggestions of other things to try I'd like to hear. I realize it's best to try one thing at a time, but it's also good to get a frustrated user happy again...

Thanks,
Pete
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by:dbrunton
dbrunton earned 95 total points
ID: 39774233
With the old keyboard in place, when the problem occurs try repeatedly tapping the SHIFT keys on both sides.  It is possible that there the keyboard has misinterpreted a SHIFT key.  Doing this may fix the problem.  Has happened to me a couple of times.
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 39774239
Thanks, I did try this with one SHIFT key at a time and with both at the same time. Also tried holding down the shift key for more than 8 seconds, partly to be sure the accessibility features were not being invoked. I also tried holding down the caps lock key for a while - saw that suggestion somewhere (not on EE). None have any effect.
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by:dbrunton
ID: 39774262
OK, then let's see if the new keyboard cures the problem then.
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by:nobus
nobus earned 95 total points
ID: 39774380
you can also check if it works ok after a system restore to a date it was ok
if so - watch the updates - best install them manuallly
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by:
web_tracker earned 120 total points
ID: 39774856
Try the questionable keyboard on another workstation to see if that user also has the problem. My bet it is a faulty keyboard. Or maybe the user is accidentally hitting the cap lock key instead of the shift key....
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by:BillDL
BillDL earned 95 total points
ID: 39774884
If there are any VBScripts running perodically (eg. on a timer event) which use the "SendKeys" method of simulating keystrokes to automate functions, then this has been known to toggle CapsLock, NumLock, etc keys.  Maybe check Scheduled Tasks to start with.
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 39774998
Good suggestions. I'll install the suspicious keyboard on my own workstation to test it.

BillDL - how do I tell if a particular scheduled task uses SendKeys?

Thanks,
Pete
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by:BillDL
ID: 39776154
Pete.
The command would usually have as its target a *.vbs file, which is editable in a standard text editor.  VBS files are run by CScript.exe or WScript.exe using a command like this called directly:
cscript //nologo C:\Path_To\Filename.vbs
or else may be called with the same sort of command from within a batch file (*.cmd or *.bat).
Reference: http://www.pctools.com/guides/scripting/detail/149/?act=reference

If you are the systems administrator, I am sure that you would already have been aware of some type of automated script having been set up on that computer.
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 39781124
Update:

While it would be a bit of an over-reach to call myself a system administrator I do take care of the machines here.

I've never setup any automated scripts on our PCs. Wouldn't know how to... I checked Task Manager and there is nothing that invokes a .vbs file so this probably is not a cause here.

For just under three days now the workstation that had the problem has been running fine with a different Dell keyboard. For about the same time my own workstation has been working fine with the Dell KB that caused the problem on the other machine.

It seemed to take up to a week for the problem to appear so I guess I need to continue running this way for several more days to see if the caps lock problem shows up somewhere.

I'm starting to wonder if even though the USB connector from the suspicious KB was snugly inserted if simply removing and reinserting it helped eliminate a problem.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 39781131
I'm starting to wonder if even though the USB connector from the suspicious KB was snugly inserted if simply removing and reinserting it helped eliminate a problem.

That could cause the problem. Normally USB connections are good. But that would also fit our earlier diagnosis of faulty keyboard.

... Thinkpads_User
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by:web_tracker
ID: 39781288
hmm, this has got me thinking, when you insert a new keyboard or the same keyboard in another port, windows automatically installs a new driver for the keyboard tied to that usb port. That is why sometimes when you plug in a keyboard into a different port and boot up the keyboard, windows may be at the log in screen but it seems like the keyboard is not responding for the user to log in. But if you wait another 30 seconds are so eventually the drivers install for that usb port and the person can log in.... what it is doing is installing drivers for that particular usb port. When you unplug and replug in a usb keyboard windows has to reinstall drivers for the keyboard especially if it is different keyboard. Now is the big test plug back the original keyboard into the users computer to see if the user is still having problems. Or as mentioned it could be the keyboard was not snuggly inserted into the port, but then I think the keyboard would have had problems with more than one key.
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 39781331
web_tracker - interesting thoughts, and I share your view that a problem with the plug connection ought to affect more than just caps lock intermittently. One of the beginning steps I tried was uninstalling the keyboard driver through Device Manager (although I did not uninstall the USB port drivers - just the keyboard device).

Is what I did the equivalent of unplugging the keyboard and reinserting it, in terms of drivers, or would I also have had to uninstall the USB driver?

At any rate I'm going to give the current configuration another few days since the original problem sometimes took a week to show up. Then if no problems surface either with new keyboard in user's PC or suspicious keyboard in my own PC I may try plugging the original suspicious keyboard back into the user's PC.
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by:web_tracker
ID: 39781347
yeah I am not positive if all drivers are removed by just deleting the drivers for the keyboard in the device manager, you probably would have to delete the usb port driver as well. It is hard to know which usb device to delete in the device manager as you don't know which one controls the keyboard. It is easier just to plug the keyboard into another usb port and let windows reinstall the drivers tied to that port.
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by:nobus
ID: 39781526
after some years, you may have had a loose connection, or a bad contact (people touching it, or moving the cable)
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by:Pete2009
ID: 39783829
Aha!

For about four days now the suspicious keyboard has been on my own workstation. Suddenly just now the CAPS LOCK key reversed. I was switching back and forth between Google Chrome and Microsoft Word, typing in Word. Suddenly the typing was in caps and I noticed that the CAPS LOCK is now reversed.

With the CAPS LOCK indicator ON, typing is normal. It is on as I type this. With the CAPS LOCK indicator OFF, typing is in all caps.

So I started experimenting to see if pressing various keys would change things.

SHIFT keys do nothing - tried pressing and holding one or both for about 10 seconds.

BUT: If I press and hold the CAPS LOCK key for about 2 seconds (the CAPS LOCK indicator light starts flashes quickly) and then let go the function of CAPS LOCK reverses! This is repeatable on this keyboard. The keyboard is a Dell model 212B.

I'm not a touch typist. It's quite possible that I triggered the reversal by accidentally pressing CAPS LOCK instead of SHIFT when typing a few letters in all caps, which I was doing when the function reversed.

I have an open trouble ticket with Dell tech support so I'm going to ask if this is normal behavior.

Anyone here ever heard of this type of behavior?

Thanks,
Pete
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 39783878
follow-up: I reinstalled the Logitech G15 keyboard I usually use on my workstation. It behaves the same way. Hold down CAPS LOCK for a few seconds, the indicator light blinks quickly, let go, and the CAPS LOCK behavior is reversed. But this keyboard seems less susceptible to the accidental reversal. Perhaps it takes a longer press to activate the reversal or perhaps the key placement and design make it less likely to press CAPS LOCK instead of SHIFT.

Interestingly, the alternate Dell keyboard I connected to the user's workstation, which is an older model, does not do this. Hold CAPS LOCK down as long as you wish, no blinking indicator and no reversal occurs.

Pete
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by:web_tracker
ID: 39783905
Yeah I tried holding my cap lock key and it is just a steady led that is lit and cap lock will stay on, until I press the cap lock key again. Probably a faulty keyboard. If it is under warranty Dell should be able to replace it. If not keyboards don't cost all that much.
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by:dbrunton
ID: 39783933
Can you try the keyboard on another OS such as XP and see if it repeats the phenomenon there?
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by:John Hurst
ID: 39783965
There may be something wrong with the Dell motherboard. It is not normal behaviour, so press Dell Support on this issue.

.... Thinkpads_User
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 39784109
OK. Now this is getting a bit bizarre. I went to the user's PC that still has the replacement keyboard. It runs Win 7 ultimate 64-bit.

Press CAPS LOCK for a few seconds or more, light stays on or off, function unchanged.

Went into Control Panel, Ease of Access center, Make Keyboard Easier to Use, Setup Sticky Keys. DID NOT enable any choices. Just exited out back to control panel. NO accessibility options enabled; just went to the screen where I could have done so.

Press CAPS LOCK for a few seconds or more, light flickers quickly, function reverses. Works this way until reboot or restart.

As I mentioned, I'm also seeing this on my own PC with the Logitech keyboard.

None of this occurs when I connect one of the keyboards to a laptop running Win XP.

So I think I've got two distinct issues here.

1. The suspicious keyboard sometimes starts reversing the CAPS LOCK function. I think when CAPS LOCK is held down for a few seconds (e.g. by accident instead of pressing SHIFT). (Yes - it is under warranty and Dell has offered to replace it.)

2. Some really oddball bug in Win 7 that affects CAPS LOCK functionality just by entering the sticky key setup screen in Control Panel. I've seen this on two PCs, three different keyboards.

Does this make sense?

Pete
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by:John Hurst
ID: 39784122
No. I am beginning to wonder if the bad keyboard has an internal short that is damaging motherboards.

Not in 30 years across hundreds and hundreds of machine from DOS through to Windows 8.1 have I ever seen a CAPS lock reverse function.

Label the bad machines, and do not let any of the keyboards from them touch another PC.

.... Thinkpads_User
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by:dbrunton
ID: 39784236
I'd try the two keyboards that exhibit this problem on more unaffected machines and see if you can make the problem still happen.

However test the current keyboard on those machines first and see if you can make the problem occur.  Just to see if more keyboards can be made to do the same thing.
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by:Pete2009
ID: 39784387
Well, I think I have to stand by my finding above that there are two factors at work here:

1. Defective keyboard that somehow can get into a reversal.

2. An oddball aspect of Win 7.

Details of 1. and 2. three posts up. Here's why:

I took out a Dell E4200 laptop running Windows 7 ultimate 32-bit. Same OS as the two workstations but 32-bit. Just using the laptop's built-in keyboard I see the same behavior as described for problem 2. above.

If you have a Win 7 PC I'd say give it a try. Perhaps it is only Ultimate version? But once I've been into the screen to set sticky key options even though I do not set any, holding down CAPS LOCK will now cause the indicator light to blink rapidly. Keeping the key held down for more than a couple seconds will cause the CAPS LOCK function to reverse (CAPS LOCK operation while LED indicator OFF rather than while it is ON).

That seems a feature or bug of Win 7.

My remaining issue is how the user got into the reversal problem in the first place since they never went into Control Panel. That seems to be a defective keyboard since that keyboard did it on two different computers.

Other thoughts including contrary ones?

Thanks, Pete
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by:John Hurst
ID: 39784391
I agree with your first point.

I do not agree with the Windows 7 point. I have not ever seen this happen myself or across multiple clients.

I am not sure what differences you have in your Windows 7 versus my own (and clients) but I have not seen it happen.

I took out a Dell E4200 laptop running Windows 7 ultimate 32-bit. Same OS as the two workstations but 32-bit. Just using the laptop's built-in keyboard I see the same behavior as described for problem 2.

I wonder if it is a Dell issue. I only use Lenovo machines - myself and clients. Dell is the only common denominator that I can see.

I tried your way of pressing CAPS lock to no avail.

.... Thinkpads_User
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by:John Hurst
ID: 39784397
I tested quite a bit. If this is a bug, it appears to be a Dell bug. It does not happen at all on my Lenovo machines here. I will check some more clients tomorrow.

.... Thinkpads_User
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 39784428
Thinkpads_User - thank you!

Your initial testing does suggest it is Dell rather than Microsoft. I have no insight into how (or whether) Dell modifies Windows or has a custom build produced for them. Certainly seems possible. So I'll pose this to the Dell tech support person with whom I have the open ticket.

Pete
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by:nobus
ID: 39784599
i also think it is caused by  Dell - i have never seen this.
probably  one of their own softwares ?
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by:Pete2009
ID: 39787418
So I found what is causing the odd behavior where:

Press CAPS LOCK for a few seconds or more, light flickers quickly, function reverses. Works this way until reboot or restart.

I found that in fact after the computer has been on for perhaps a minute this behavior occurs.

It is Kaspersky Internet Security 2014, which runs on all four machines involved in this thread. On the 3 machines running Windows 7, exit KIS2014 and the behavior stops. Start KIS2014 again and the behavior resumes. I don't yet know why but that is another issue. The delay of a minute or so seems to be while KIS2014 is starting up.

The problem for which I initially opened this question was resolved by identifying that they keyboard is defective. Dell is replacing it.

So shortly I'll close this and award points based on all your input to resolving that initial issue.

Many thanks,
Pete
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by:John Hurst
ID: 39787429
I don't know why Kaspersky would cause this, and I suspect (do not know) that Kaspersky does not cause this on non-Dell computers. We surely would have heard about it if it were a Kaspersky issue.   So it still may be some sort of Dell issue.

.... Thinkpads_User
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by:nobus
ID: 39787856
thats my idea also
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Author Closing Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 39789060
This is the toughest part of any question - awarding points. Five of you contributed outstanding ideas, tips, and leads so I want to recognize each of you in words and points. Web_tracker's suggestion to try the suspect keyboard on another computer is what most directly led to diagnosing the defective keyboard. So I think that warrants some extra recognition? That's why I did a 120 and 4 x 95 split. I hope that seems logical and reasonable.

For anyone else reading this thread I urge you to read ALL the posts since there is a rich set of inputs to consider for the problem that brought you here.

I have an open ticket with Kaspersky about the interference from their Internet Security 2014 product. By the way: If you are familiar with the SnagIt screen capture tool it also has a problem with KIS2014. SnagIt has a scrolling capture mode in which SnagIt will automatically scroll down a tall window to capture the entire window rather than just the visible part. It does NOT work when KIS2014 is running. Acknowledged by both TechSmith and Kaspersky. I'm thinking there may be a relationship to this keyboard-related problem. Anyway, that is a digression. If I learn anything useful from Kaspersky Tech Support I'll post it here as an update.

Again, my thanks to you all.
Pete
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by:nobus
ID: 39789144
i'm happy to help you
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by:BillDL
ID: 39789411
Thank you Pete
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by:grigorovsky
ID: 40621205
Have there been any updates to this? I installed Kaspersky 2014 on a Toshiba laptop about 7 days ago and ever since then the Caps Lock problem has been present. This should be the latest available version of KIS 14 so one would presume that all the patches had been done. There is an item on the Kaspersky forum where they do actually admit to there being issues in KIS 14 with certain special keys such as caps lock. The article states that the issues are being worked on and that patches would be released. KIS 15 1s now out so I'm thinking that maybe uninstalling 14 and moving to 15 may be the solution.

I should point out that I run KIS 14 on my Windows 7 desktop and another laptop and do not have the Caps Lock problem. The Toshiba laptop I mentioned, that does have the problem, is running Windows 8.1

I will let you know how if changing the version helps.
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by:Pete2009
ID: 40622258
I've never received any updates from Kaspersky about this. The problem does not seem to occur with KIS 2015.

Pete
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