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ADB Oddities

I’m not a terrific typist, although my typing speed has probably increased by at least 15 words per minutes since I’ve been writing TidBITS. Still, every now and then a mistake appears that I’m sure I’m not responsible for. It’s not all that common so I always chalked up the errors to daemons in the machine. However, a while ago the subject arose on Usenet and it became clear that some daemons actually exist.

Apparently the most common problems occur when typing "pro" or "out" rapidly. If you type "pro" too quickly (at least this worked for several people on Usenet – I could only reproduce it with the word "stop" and having it freeze on the "p") the keyboard freezes until you type something other than an "o", at which point subsequent keystrokes appear. Typing "out" rapidly will sometimes result in "ou;" and this one I was able to reproduce on my keyboard. Interestingly enough, while people thought that the problem lies with Apple’s extended keyboard and someone was unable to reproduce these problems on Datadesk’s Switchboard, I use Ehman Engineering’s extended keyboard. So it’s not restricted to Apple’s keyboards, and I’ve heard reports of the problems on both the old and new extended keyboards. A developer reported the problem to Apple DTS, where they said it was a bug in the keyboard ROM that should be fixed in the next keyboard. Oh well.

Speaking of strange keyboards, many people have been unhappy with the key placements on the keyboard that ships with the Mac LC. There are now two solutions to Apple’s uncomfortable choice of placement for the Escape key, which normally lives in the uppermost left of the keyboard – I won’t use that cliche about "where God meant it to be." At least some dealers, if not all, can now provide a version of the LC, presumably at a slightly lower price, that does not include a keyboard. Then it’s up to you to find your own keyboard, a simple task these days. The second solution, from Beagle Bros, is a small utility called Escape! that either swaps the Tilde key with the Escape key, putting the Escape key back in the upper left of the keyboard, or moves Escape to Tilde, Tilde to Backslash, and Backslash to Escape. It’s a bit like the three-man weave play I learned in high school basketball, but since Beagle Bros. includes key stickers with Escape! it is bound to be less confusing than the three-man weave.

The final piece of ADB weirdness is that a number of the new ADB mice have failed. A friend with a IIsi had his entire ADB bus go dead, and when he took it in for repair (he hadn’t violated any warranty commandments – wait ’till next week), the repair people said that he had a bad mouse, a common problem, and they had run out of replacement mice, so he had to get one from another Apple dealer. The second dealer’s repair people said that they had recently noticed a surprising number of dead mice. New Mac owners should use caution if ADB devices stop working. Try each one individually, rebooting between each swap, and then try different combinations of plugs, where possible. Since the new Macs only have one ADB port, there are fewer combinations to try, but I have found systems that wouldn’t work connected in one way, but would when connected another way.

Beagle Bros. — 619/452-5500

Information from:
Jeff Wasilko — [email protected]
Lee M. Thompso — [email protected]
Anthony C. Ar — [email protected]
John T. Nelso — [email protected]
Gavin Eadie — [email protected]
Michael Hoffhines — [email protected]
Brian Patten — [email protected]

Related articles:
MacWEEK — 20-Nov-90, Vol. 4, #40, pg. 10

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