Frozen Keyboard – Win 8.1

viki2000 used Ask the Experts™
I have a laptop Sony Vaio Model SVF152C29M (Product Name: SVF1521B4E) as described here:
There is Windows 8.1 64bit installed on it.
I start it up, it works normal and after a while, random time, but within minutes, max. 30 min, the keyboard is frozen. I cannot type anything. All the keys are out of functionality.
The mouse pad and the buttons of the mouse pad work without problems.
If I reboot the laptop, then everything is fine again.
If I sign out (log out) from Windows and log in again, then also the keyboard works fine.
For the moment I use the sign out method of reset the keyboard, because is faster than reboot method.
The logout/login takes less than 30s.
Now I have to do that regularly, each 30-60min.
I suppose there is not a hardware problem, but I need your confirmation too.
I expect is a software/driver problem, a clash within Windows registry related with keyboard driver.
I have tried all kind of tricks to make it run, but seems hopeless, including: delete keyboard from Device Manager or tried to update the driver (that takes infinite long and nothing happens) or Windows Repair install. I also used some software to see the keyboard virtual on the screen and check if no key is stuck somehow, pressed down, but all the keys seem to work fine.  Nothing helped.
I did not reinstall the Windows from scratch. Maybe that would help, in case is not a hardware problem, but I want to avoid that method.
What do you suggest to do?
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Distinguished Expert 2018


Press your start button, press and hold the shift key and select "restart". This will allow you to select "safe mode" as boot option. So boot safe mode and see whether the issue happens in safe mode or not.
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Also consider trying an external keyboard, see if that works normally and if it also freezes when the laptop KB does.  If so does unplugging the external and reconnecting it have any effect?

Do you have any Accessibility Options enabled?
Control Panel  > Easy of Access Centre > Make the keyboard easier to use  - uncheck all options.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

In terms of software repairs, try the following two repairs and restart after.

Open cmd.exe with Run as Administrator. In the command window that opens, run:

SFC /SCANNOW and allow it to complete.
dism.exe   /online  /cleanup-image  /restorehealth

Restart and see if this corrects the issue.
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Ooh. I like seemingly odd issues! I'll jump in on this if you don't mind :-)

First look for patterns and see if you can narrow down how quickly it occurs. Is it different if you are using it/typing or not? Does it last longer on the first use of the laptop of the day (could be an overheating issue for example?)

Additionally, take note of the time it occurs at and go back to this time in the event viewer once you've got it working again. See if any warnings/errors are logged just before/at this time to see if any services/drivers are having an issue.

Also, try plugging a USB keyboard in and disabling the build in keyboard. does it still happen? Try it again without disabling the laptop keyboard. does it make any difference?
Hi guys, tonight I will try your recommendations.

@ McKnife
-      I forgot about Safe mode. I will definitely try that.
-      I already tried all your suggestions before.
-      The Accessibility Options is disabled and still gets stuck after a while.
-      I have used an external USB keyboard and that one works fine if the laptop keyboard is frozen. Actually that was one of the solution to continue the work at laptop, besides the logout/login in Windows.
- The SFC /SCANNOW has been performed 2-3 times, no problems found, but keyboard is still frozen.
- Actually, additionally I have tried also Windows Repair software from and did not find problems.
-      It is not overheating. This laptop runs cool, lots better than many Lenovo Thinkpads.
-      It happens quite random, also when is cool.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018
I have used an external USB keyboard and that one works fine if the laptop keyboard is frozen.

If the external keyboard is fine, it could be now an intermittent hardware issue with the keyboard.
Most Valuable Expert 2013

So in summary once it happens the only fix is a restart - while an external keyboard continues to behave normally?
Let's see what happens in Safe Mode.
Is there a clear cut point at which this started?
Robert RComputer Service Technician

Nothing was spilled on the keyboard, It actually sounds like a hardware problem but the fact that it works fine for a while after rebooting the laptop. Seems to point elsewhere.  How about running hardware diagnostics on the laptop. I am sure Sony vaio laptops should have some type of hardware diagnostics you can run before booting to windows. If not you can create a boot disc for running diagnostics, such as the Ultimate Boot disc or Hiren's boot disc. Running diagnostics with a boot disc will confirm that the keyboard works fine outside of windows and it will confirm that it is not a hardware problem.
Top Expert 2013

test if it happens when you run from a live DVD, or usb stick, if you don't have one, use Knoppix :      
that will show if the problem is hardware or not
I was thinking at what you said. Actually I had a good reason to believe it. Not long time ago, few weeks, the laptop was shutting down in 1-2 min max. after power on moment. I opened it up and I found a piece of plastic from the case inside the propeller of the fan, blocking the fan. I cleaned it up with air pressure and worked fine afterwards. It cross to my mind that the air pressure may have affected the keyboard flat ribbon cable. I opened it up one more time this morning to check it, but everything is fine cables and the sticker over it is untouched/intact. I do not think is a hardware problem.

“So in summary once it happens the only fix is a restart - while an external keyboard continues to behave normally?”
Yes and no, more exactly I do not absolutely must to restart. The laptop can stay with power on and is enough logout/login = switch user and works fine again.
In Safe Mode does not seem to happen.

@Robert R
The last time when I mentioned Hiren’s boot disc, the EE supervisors were ready to kick me out of EE and they started with private message warnings.
What kind of hardware diagnostics do you actually recommend? On Ultimate Boot CD are many programs. Do you have on particular in mind?

I will keep that in mind.
In mean time I had another idea: to make another Administrator account on Win 8.1 and login with that account and see if the keyboard is still frozen. Why logout/login in Windows with the default account solved the problem temporary?
If the keyboard is not frozen with the new account, then is a problem with account settings or drivers in the default account, somehow explained by the safe mode no problems situation.

I will test it like that or a while and I will let you know what happens.
What if the problem is manifested only with the default account (as well Administrator) and not with the new account?
What can I do then?
Distinguished Expert 2018

Drivers are not loaded per-user. It could of course be that some software that is running in the background is the culprit and that it does not start in safe mode. So you should eliminate all background software by simply disabling it until you find the culprit.
Download and use autoruns by Microsoft and start it elevated (right click ->"run as administrator"). Disable autostarts that you don't require by unchecking their entries. Start with software that you know. You can always use autoruns to undo these changes.
Then restart the machine and test.
I took the Autoruns from here and I will try to use it.
It seems it does a similar job as CCleaner – Tools – Startup. I used that one to enable/disable startup programs.

Today, logged in as a new account (Administrator), I had no problems with keyboard.
Then I logged in as normal, default account and tested it again for few hours. The keyboard did not freeze again. That is strange.
This is a strange situation today. I try to recap what is changed: I opened up the laptop and checked inside the flat ribbon cable, I made a new account in Win8, nothing else important, opened up Word and tried typing once in a while.
I refuse to believe is one of those miracles without explanation.

Now I think with loud voice.
I brought the laptop to work and it sits on the desk near me.
I also noticed the mousepad does not jump around so much as usual – that would be another problem to discuss about another time – even if in the past I have tried all the possible settings allowed by Windows.
Home, my wife does not use always the laptop on the desk/table. Many times is on the couch or on the bed, sometimes having a hard plate under to avoid the heating - she does not like the laptop cooler under the laptop, because is inconvenient.
Then I see only 2 major physical differences: possible higher temperature in home usage mode and the electrostatic electricity from sofa, bed, a blanket having influence over the mousepad, but I do not think over keyboard. They keyboard think must be either related with intermittent hardware failure as John pointed out, possible influenced by temperature due to improper home mode usage, but is nothing that I can do about it, or is just a background software/driver/service that freezes the keyboard as McKnife pointed out above.

My request to you is to wait and bear with me for a while, days, max. 1 week and I will come back with news in case the problem was miraculous solved or happens again. I will try both Windows accounts for a while.
Distinguished Expert 2018

Good luck.
Top Expert 2013

you rebooted i suppose ?
I rebooted only 1 time.
Top Expert 2013

that may have reset it...
The evil struck again.
Everything worked fine hours and hours until Saturday night.
I updated all the drivers, cleaned up the Windows a bit and everything worked perfect.
Then suddenly the keyboard did not respond at all.
The laptop was under plywood from a puzzle for kids having embossed forms, so the air could circulate under the laptop nice.
I checked the temperature: the fan was working fine and the temperature was ab it warm, but not in case hot. I would say was a norm temperature similar as it was during the last months.
For sure it is not a cause of the heat.
I was in the middle to write some long unsaved messages and only the mouse worked, but the blue start screen of Win8.1 popped up somehow and did not let me have accesses to open a text editor to cope/paste the text there.
I have tried 5-10min all kind of trick and I noticed one strange message from Windows side: the CTRL was pressed down and asked me I want to open the Word in a safe mode or something similar.
I checked both CTRL, took the key out, but nothing was there.
I few minutes, I do not know why, the mouse/touchpad was frozen too.
I had only one option: to force shut down the Windows from power button.
After that moment the nightmare started.
The laptop/Windows does not want to boot anymore.
The Win8.1 is installed don a SSD 500GB Samsung, UEFI boot mode; it is not a hard drive.
The laptop has a special button near the power button, for recovery mode, special screen from Sony.
I tried that too several times.
Now the keyboard does not react at all, the same with the mouse/touchpad.
An external USB keyboard works fine, but Windows only says that needs to go in Repairing Mode, but is like looked in a loop, never reaches that repairing.
At this point seems like a cancer and goes deeper and deeper.
The mouse/touchpad came back to life only one time: overnight the Windows Repairing mode reached the blue screen with Advanced Options where the mouse worked, but they keyboard not. After reboot the Windows was booked again in an infinite loop saying that must be repaired, but stays there indefinite time. It seems now is a Windows boot problem, but I am afraid is related with the possible hardware cancer problem coming from keyboard.

Next steps that I have in mode: to try as nobus said and external USB stick with a live OS or eventually UBCD on stick. In case does not work, and then I will open the laptop and disconnect the keyboard, maybe is defective, and try only with external keyboard.
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Replacement KB $35 but won't help if the problem is with the systemboard.
Yes, thanks, but I am in Germany and I found new white, as I need, cheaper, with 20€:
I do not buy it yet.
I wait until I have some time to make some tests with some live cd/dvd on USB stick.
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Sorry, now you mention it I remember from previous questions.  Better deal anyway (and no USt ;))
Top Expert 2013

if you get it working, look in event viewer for time related events

It is not overheating. This laptop runs cool, lots better than many Lenovo Thinkpads.
Worth noting a reference several replies ago to an issue you had where the fan was blocked by a bit of plastic which resulted in overheats/shutdowns....
This means the laptop has history of overheating, even if it isnt now. The damage may have already been done.

Keyboards & trackpads are very thin, weak and rely on very thin ribbon cables to work. They are usually the first casualty of overheating as they sit right on top of all the bits that get hot. Once they are damaged by heat they can be quite unpredictable and can suffer future issues at a much lower temperature.

Assuming you solve your boot issue, try using it in a colder area of the house to see if it lasts longer before the issue occurs. Assuming it does, its hardware damage from previous overheats. could try replacing the keyboard/trackpad but could also be other bits so depends if you can get them cheaply enough to make it worthwhile.
I do not know why, but I could boot up from Knoppix USB stick, at least not the latest version of Kn oppix.
USB stick is FAT32 formatted.
I have used the “Universal-USB-Installer-”.
Instead I could run Universal Boot CD on USB stick and later also Ubuntu. These 2 I could start from USB stick.
The keyboard and the touchpad of the laptop do not work anymore, but with external USB keyboard + mouse there is no problem.
The “Universal-USB-Installer-” offers a lot of packages for USB booting.
I have test also All-in-one System Rescue Toolkit (also based on Ubuntu)
Then I have tested also the Boot Repair Disk as well installed with “Universal-USB-Installer-”:
The CPU has 50°C and RAM is OK – tested with one Memtest under Ubuntu.
It is strange that I cannot have access to the Bios boot menu, usually offered by Assist button near Power button. Maybes it has something to do with UEFI vs Legacy settings.
So now, I cannot enter in the BIOS settings as usual.
But when I will open the laptop to disconnect the keyboard and perhaps the touchpad, maybe is good idea to take out the CMOS battery and check its voltage and make a reset for the motherboard.
What do you think about that?
I opened up the laptop.
I removed the BIOS battery. Has 3.09V, it seems OK. I inserted back after 10-20s.
I removed the keyboard flat cable and then I started the laptop. It has the same behavior.
I can boot from USB stick, but I cannot enter BIOS. The touchpad is dead as well.
I can use external USB keyboard and mouse without problems.
I am ready to buy a new keyboard.
Now my question is: do you know if the keyboard has any controller, integrated circuit on it or is only a matrix of contacts?
My point is: what if I buy a new keyboard and still does not work, because the controller is on motherboard? Any ideas?
From hardware point of view, how can I find out if I deal with a fried motherboard or only dead keyboard/touchpad?
Top Expert 2013
you said the keyboard did not work when booted from UBCD, but external does
this means the keyboard is bad, or the controller
did Knoppix not show any errors?  it should , somewhere
Most Valuable Expert 2013
KB Controller is on the motherboard
In the absence of a fluid spillage it's very unlikely that that's the cause, certainly in comparison to the risk of the keyboard.
In an ideal world we'd have an identical laptop we could swap with to see if that developed the same problem.
But I guess we don't have that luxury.
It's difficult to completely exclude a motherboard issue with intermittent faults like this but a risk/cost ratio favours a new keyboard.
(And you need to be aware that you've no history with the eBay purchase)

I guess I'd go with the keyboard and if it doesn't help resell it.
I have tested 4 live environments on USB stick as described above, but I could not get Knoppix running/booting, I do not know why. Maybe I have to test some older versions, but I do not have the laptop with me today, so only during the next 2-3 days I can do it.

Well, then it seems that I have to take the risk to spend 20€ more and buy a new keyboard.
If that will not help, then bye bye Sony Vaio. I see no other options at this moment.

The only problem that let me without an answer at this point, after this keyboard/touchpad experience is why I cannot enter anymore on BIOS settings...unless the keyboard blocks the BIOS very early on, but then why with USB keyboard and the local disconnected is the same thing?
In mean time I have ordered a new keyboard.
Let'S wait few days to arrive, then I will replace the old one and I will post here the result.
Robert RComputer Service Technician
The problem as mentioned could be the controller, as suggested. the problem I see is both the touch pad and the keyboard are not working.  The keyboard and the touchpad are both connected to different connectors on the mobo. It could be possible be possible when trying to reseat the cable to the keyboard that the touchpad connector was pulled loose.  I can see liquids spilled on the laptop could short out both the keyboard and the touchpad or the controlers that connect them to the motherboard.  If the keyboard is not detected even when an external usb  keyboard is plugged in, it will not boot up to the bios. And it would be hard to change the boot order or to select a boot device if the keyboard can not be detected. You could remove the hard drive and then see if it will boot off the usb boot stick by default. Currently your hard drive is probably the first boot device.   If the keyboard is not detected try plugging the usb keyboard into another usb port. Do not plug the keyboard into a usb 3 port (blue usb port) when trying to detect the keyboard in the POST or trying to boot in the bios.  You should plug it into a usb 2 (or black usb port)
Top Expert 2013

it still can be the keyboard, or cable -  by pressing keys, you may cause an open contact, or short - even on the plug
did you yet remove/ reseat it to test?
@Robert R
I have changed the order in BIOS before, the USB device ist he 1st one, then DVD-ROM and then SSD.
Anyway, during my last tests was no DVD-ROM in the DVD drive and the SSD was completely removed.
I have booted only from USB drive.
The laptop detected the external USB keyboard and external USB mouse.

Yes, I have tried to reseat the keyboard flat cable; actually I have tested the laptop without the keyboard cable inserted, but only booting from USB stick. I never tried to remove the touchpad cable, because is difficult, under the motherboard.

In 2-3 days I will receive the new keyboard and hopefully I have time to take apart the entire laptop and install the new one. It is not as simple as it is at Lenovo, Toshiba and other types. My laptop is exactly like this one inside:

When I am looking at the work, the PCB, components arrangement, wires, I can say is a lot better design and work than Lenovo, so no wonder if it is more expensive than an Lenovo. Also is not so hot as an Lenovo.
I have ordered also a new touchpad, but being cheap somewhere on eBay UK, I have to wait 2-3 weeks until I get it.

I still have a question: why with external USB keyboard detected I was unable to enter in the BIOS?
And I have another help request from you guys, in case someone can give a hand:
-      From where can I get the service manual for this laptop, especially the part with electrical diagrams, the schematic, to identify the type of touchpad and/or keyboard controller (integrated circuits) installed on the motherboard?
-      In case the new keyboard does not work, I plan may last try before I throw that laptop in the garbage or sell it on EBay as spare parts: to try to replace that controller(s) – let’s say I have the skills and the tools for SMD soldering/desoldering.
Top Expert 2013

aargh - but sony does not make laptops any more....
Robert RComputer Service Technician

wow thats insane the amount of work to remove the keyboard, you have to remove the mobo...... Definitely not a CRU...... yeah if you go through all that you may as well replace the faulty touchpad. You are much braver than I would be. esp since it is plastic rivets holding the keyboard to the base and you tape the keyboard back into place...  Good luck, hopefully that is all that is wrong with it. If you had blade issues with the fan you probably should have placed that as well.
Top Expert 2013

>>  From where can I get the service manual for this laptop, especially the part with electrical diagrams, the schematic, to identify the type of touchpad and/or keyboard controller  <<   you can't, i know no manufacturer that puts this kuind of doc on the net
the only thing you can do is google the chip numbers
luckily, nowadays there are not many chips left
In mean time I have received the new keyboard. I will try my best to replace it today or tomorrow. It seems not so easy, but I can do it.
Here is a better disassembly guide, at least from screws and cables close view and order point of view:
I replaced the keyboard.
It took me 1.5h.
The difficult part was to remove and clean the head of the plastic rivets which hold the keyboard in place.
Bad luck.
The keyboard does not respond.
The same problem with touchpad.
And I still cannot enter in BIOS.
External USB keyboard + mouse work without problems.
The OS Win8.1 from SSD is not recognized any more. At booting is says the Operational System is not found.
I can boot Ubuntu from USB stick. Only this way I can clear see that external USB keyboard + mouse work, but the local one + touchpad are dead.
I do not knot know why, but I cannot make the Knoppix start/boot from USB stick.
I tried different versions of Knoppix and different versions of Universal USB Installer.
I use a USB stick 8GB. IS formatted FAT32.
All the other Linux live DC/DVD on USB stick can boot without problems.
How can I debug Knoppix to start from USB stick? Maybe I see more info about failures.
About Knoppix.
I was able to make USB bootable stick with Knoppix 7.4.2:
using Linux Live USB creator:
I have tested the USB stick with Knoppix on a desktop PC and it works.
Unfortunately does not start on my Sony laptop.
I do not know why, may you have some ideas.
Anyway, supposing I get it running on the Sony laptop, how does it help in my case? What test software am I supposed to use?
Top Expert 2013

i have Always run it from cd, or dvd; so maybe the usb stick creator is the problem
try making it with rufus, or Yumi or try booting from DVD
>>  , how does it help in my case?   <<  i don't know -  but if it boots it may display errors
can you access the bios from the external keyboard?
Using the Linux Live USB creator I have made a USB live USB stick with Knoppix 8.2.
It boots up on another desktop PC, but not on Sony laptop.
On Sony Vaio I get next boot up message and is stuck there:
Knoppix no bootOther Linux environments can be booted on Sony Vaio from USB stick, but not Knoppix.
Strange isn’t it? Any ideas why?
Anyway, no matter what other LIVE OS on USB stick I try, the keyboard and touchpad are dead. Only the external USB keyboard + mouse work.
What can we conclude after all these steps?
The motherboard is dead? Or at least the controller of keyboard and touchpad? Or is a BIOS problem?
Any further suggestions?
Top Expert 2013
does the external work for the BIOS ?
if so, truybupdating all you can Bios, drivers …

but it looks like a dead mobo
Robert RComputer Service Technician
If the keyboard and touchpad cables were properly seated to the appropriate connectors on the motherboard then the new keyboard should work. But since it is not detecting the either the hard drive, the keyboard and touchpad, I would say this system has a serious motherboard problem. It is not totally dead as it does power on. But the peripherals are not been detected, who knows what else is not detected. Such as the wireless nic, the camera, Near Field controller, etc. and it is not booting via usb stick either. Everything that is connected to the Southbridge Chipset. Looks like you need to replace the mobo, or sell the components from the laptop.
My last idea, as nobus suggested already above, is to try to update the BIOS.
Remember that I can boot from external USB stick, but not Knoppix, I can boot Ubuntu and other Linux environments.
I will try some Win8 or Win10 live DVDs on USB stick.
I cannot access BIOS when the external USB keyboard and mouse are detected and work.
Also Assist button does not bring the known diagnosis Menu which points also to BIOS in normal situations.
A re-flash of the BIOS would refresh also the functionality of the Assist button, but all the BIOS updates that I found on Sony website requires Win8 or Win10.
On short: I can boot Ubuntu on USB stick, but how can I update now the BIOS?
Maybe updating the BIOS from USB stick will solve the keyboard problem.
Top Expert 2013
but if the external kbd does not work in the bios - updating bios is not possible then
but if you CAN boot  to other Linux OS, try updating bios then, and check then in their "device manager" for problems -  it can show you where the problem is
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Sorry this isn't going well :(

I think you are in "Catch 22"  with the external keyboard and BIOS settings.
For the external KB to support working in the BIOS Setup you need Legacy USB support enabled in the BIOS (this is different to Legacy USB Boot & it isn't enabled by default)
Otherwise the external keyboard is only recognised when the  OS USB support is enabled.

When you started the thread the original keyboard worked for perhaps as much as 30 min before freezing - assume this got worse even before you switched the internal KB over?  

So in summary, you need the internal KB to work long enough to get into the BIOS setup to change the settings to allow the external KB to be used to navigate the BIOS settings!

The Vaio BIOS update packages should work in all Windows OS from 7 onward but there are no packages for Linux OS.

I does sound like the system is gradually dying though :(
Top Expert 2013

i would theninstall adrive with Linux on it  - and try installing windows in another partition
You tell me bad news.
My intention was to make a Live OS on USB stick and to try to flash/update the BIOS from there.
Up to now I have tried Win10 (Gandalf and Sergei packages Win PE). The USB stick is created and on another PC can be booted and Windows started without problems.
On Sony Vaio laptop it boots, starts to load Windows and get stuck for indefinite time at Starting Windows screen.
Then I have made a Windows 7 Live CD on the USB stick and the laptop has the same behavior as with Win10.
With Windows Live CD, the external keyboard and mouse are not detected, no matter what version.
With Ubuntu Live CD I have no problem detecting the external USB keyboard and mouse.
Why Ubuntu works and Windows not as Live OS on USB stick?
And how do I jump then from Linux in Windows? Virtual machine?
Top Expert 2013

dual boot or VM  - they exist in both right?
When I boot Ubuntu from USB stick I see a lot of „acpi error method parse/execution failed“ before actually Ubuntu is started.
According with next: 
It might be a BIOS corruption.
Maybe is the time to close this question and ask a new one related with BIOS.
Most Valuable Expert 2013

You've probably found the CMOS battery already - on Vaio's it's on the systemboard on the right-hand side near the front of the laptop.
Remove battery, press and hold power button for as many seconds as you like (the mythology is 30). Replace battery, startup.

There are no CMOS jumpers on Sony boards
I already removed the battery for more than 10s and I measured it. It has 3.09V, so seems OK.
I did not press the power button.
I can open it again and try one more time. I have no problem to press it for 60s.

I just opened up the laptop one more time I have tried the battery remove from BIOS.
Then Power button pressed 60s, the Assist button pressed 60s, then Power button pressed 60s, then BIOS battery back on.
Laptop started and the same thing: keyboard and touchpad frozen, cannot enter in BIOS and I can boot Ubuntu from USB stick.
The external keyboard and the mouse are active only when the Ubuntu is started, but not before, so I cannot make any selection in the Ubuntu start menu. Last week was different, I was able to play with the USB keyboard in UBCD menu and other live CD/DVDs installed on USB stick, now I can do it only inside the Linux environment. It seems the disease is aggravated.
For now I will close the question here and I move towards BIOS update.
If that is possible and will be successful, then I come back here for end conclusions.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Thanks for the update and I was pleased to help.
Top Expert 2013

tx - ditto here, and good luck

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