My work laptop is a Dell, about 3 years old. Up for replacement at 4. Lately I started noticing it would just insert a few characters of text while I was typing. Or not typing, for that matter. I’d get this (not with the quotes): “;E?” and then two <returns>.


The worst part (other than having random characters inserted into text) was the <return> because it would submit dialogue boxes, hit ‘cancel’ on progress of things like copying of files, etc.

So what do I do? Call tech support, of course! Oh wait, that’s me. I ran all the same processes I would for someone if they contacted us with this issue, ran a variety of scans (all came up empty), looked at processes running (didn’t see anything unusual), disabled recently-installed plugins for Firefox even though the problem is far more recent than anything I’ve installed. I updated any drivers that seemed remotely relevant from Dell and updated BIOS as well. No change.


I might go a few days without seeing it, or a few hours, but then I’d see it 3 times in 5 seconds, and again 5 minutes later. It happened in a variety of programs, in or out of a dock, on battery or plugged in, with no apparent pattern whatsoever.

I don’t keep anything essential on the local hard drive anyway, but I quickly backed up a few things and made a list of what software I have installed. Then I just handed it to a student tech to have it re-imaged. I was out of ideas and was slightly concerned by random characters being typed without my input. So it’ll be a fresh new computer by 3:00, and I get to re-install everything I use regularly ... oh boy! If this doesn’t solve it, then it’s hardware and the thing is out of warranty... so I’ll be trying to convince the department(s) I work for to get me something new before I’m really due.


Wish me luck!

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