Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ergonomic Disasters

I have been using an HP EliteBook 8570p at work for several months now.  It is very fast (especially with an SSD hard disk), and I have had no annoyance with it at all -- until I took it on my current business trip to talk to Montana's Department of Correction.  Until now, I have always used it with an external keyboard.  The last few days, I have found that  it is almost impossible for me to type at my usual speed because every few keys, the mouse goes wild, either moving to another part of the text that I have already typed, or suddenly selecting some other block of text, which then disappears.

It took a little while to figure out that the touchpad and the mouse buttons below the keyboard were the problem.  I do not have especially fat hands, but normal typing was occasionally hitting the touchpad, causing all sorts of unpleasantness.

There were instructions online, such as here, that told how to disable the touchpad -- but I could not follow those instructions.  It turned out that the driver that comes with this install of Windows 7 Pro dates back to 2006.  Updating the driver let me disable the touchpad, relying only on the little rubber pointer between letters G and H.   This is clumsy, because I am still hitting the mouse buttons unintentionally, causing occasional problems, but I do not have a mouse with me, so I still need them.

How could anyone have designed something this hopelessly useless?  Does HP not realize that some of their customers know how to touch type?

14 comments:

Mauser said...

I've run into a similar problem. There's a setting on some of the touchpads that interprets tapping the pad itself as tapping a mouse button. This is really bad if it takes several swipes to move the pointer to where you want, and the driver interprets that as tapping. fortunately that was easy to disable once I found it.

Jon said...

I have the same problem with my HP laptop. Drives me crazy with its random behavior when I'm trying to type.

David aka True Blue Sam said...

I lay a ruler over the touchpad on my work computer, and that takes care of the problem. It was a frustrating problem before I understood what was happening. My personal laptop is a few years older and it behaves like a computer should.

Marc C. said...

That is a really annoying problem that I have ran across with Dell machines too. On some touchpad drivers there is an option to disable the touchpad when an external mouse is plugged in. Sometimes you just need to go into the BIOS settings during boot up and disable it in there. I've also read where on some HP machines, you can double-tap in the upper left hand corner of the touchpad to temorarily disable it.

rfb said...

Clayton,

I am writing from the perspective of being just a user, to a tech guy, but my first pc was a 286 Epson with a 20mb HD circa 1984. I used pc's until 2006, then bought a Mac Book Pro (and now also an iMac and iPads for both of us).

In all of my experience with pc's, both at work and at home, there were ALWAYS problems. Most of them small, but eventually and always growing larger and with increasing frequency. I have never, not even once had any problems with any of the Macs. I even started taking them to work and helping others to finish their work (from their inevitably locked up pc) while they looked on jealously as the Mac just chugged along.

Is there a substantive reason that you do not explore Mac?

Pete said...

I have that problem with my ASUS netbook, and solved it by taping a piece of cardboard over the touchpad. Find the right thickness for your machine, and it will stifle the light touches, but still permit use of the touch pad if you use some extra pressure.

LCB said...

It's not just an HP issue. My Dell is the same way. I hate touch pads in general, and always, always take a mouse with me. Soon as my laptop detects a physical mouse the stupid touch pad gets disabled.

Moose said...

it probably has a synaptics touchpad - go to their site and see if they have a driver compatible with you laptop.

TMLutas said...

You're supposed to lift your wrists in order to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome. Few do, but that's generally the excuse for the placement.

David said...

I have the same problems with my Dell Inspiron notebook computers. I disable the trackpad and use a wireless mouse. Never had the problem for the first 5 years I used these notebooks. Just started happening the last year or so. I still haven't figured out what changed about my typing habits that I started grazing the pad.

StormCchaser said...

I've encountered this problem on non-Dell laptops and on my Macbook Air.

I guess a lot of people type without getting close to the touch-pad, somehow.

On at least one, I was able to disable the "click on light tap" function which helped.

Clayton said...

rfb: The primary reason that I have generally not considered Macs is cost and durability. My son and his girlfriend are both Macfiends. The Mac that we bought him as a high school graduation gift in 2006 needs a new logic board -- and the cost is so breathtaking that you can buy a new PC notebook for the cost.

I have never had a PC notebook stop working. Ever.

Moose said...

I have, but from little things like spilling a complete cup of coffee on them.

rfb said...

Clayton,

Okay, that's fair. I work from a different paradigm. For me I consider something circa 2006 as ancient history techwise and would have been out of it after about 4 years. I figure if I get 4 to 5 years out of any genre of computer that I have obtained my expected ROI for the tech that was extant at the time of purchase.