Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Touch Pad Mystery - Part 2

Yesterday afternoon, I discovered an option in the Control Panel Mouse settings that I hadn't seen before.  I wondered if it might solve my touch pad problems. 

Below is a section of my Control Panel screen which I can access by first accessing the "charms," then clicking on the SETTINGS "charm," then clicking on "Control Panel."  The settings of immediate interest in the Control Panel are for the Mouse and the touch pad (ClickPad), circled in red below. 

When I clock on the Mouse option, I get the window shown below (clicking on the image should give you a larger version):

It was a puzzle to me why a settings window showing "mouse properties" would show buttons that relate to the Synoptics ClickPad.  However, I wasn't concerned with the mouse.  I was concerned with the ClickPad.  When I clicked on the "ClickPad Settings" tab at the top of the window, I got the window shown below:

The option of interest is in the above graphic where I can put a check mark before "Disable internal pointing device when external pointing device is attached."

Clearly, that option solves one problem I'm having with my touch pad (ClickPad).  It allows me to turn off the touch pad when I'm using the mouse. That's a minor problem because I might accidentally touch the touch pad while typing.  When I do that, it can change the place where the cursor is located.  Instead of continuing to type at the bottom of the page, I might accidentally suddenly start typing in the middle of a word in the middle of the page.

But my main problem is still that I am unable to use the touch pad when I do not also use the mouse.  And that makes the touch pad virtually useless, since the only time I would generally want to use the touch pad is when I'm traveling or in some situation where using a mouse is inconvenient.

It appears that if I do not turn on the mouse before turning on my computer, the touch pad will not work.  Go to part one of this topic (click HERE) for a history of the problem.

When I clicked on the box before the "Disable internal pointing device" option, it immediately disabled the touch pad.  So, I know I can solve the minor problem I have with my touch pad.

But, when I detached the mouse, the touch pad did NOT turn on.  Nor did the touch pad turn on when I closed my computer and restarted it again without the mouse attached.  The only way to effectively use the computer was to connect the mouse again.  Then I can use both the mouse and the touch pad.

The purpose of this blog entry is to describe the current situation.

I've demonstrated about ten times in a row that the touch pad will turn on if I turn on the mouse before turning on the computer.  For the record, when I click on Device Manager in the Control Panel, then open the folder of "Mice and other pointing devices"and click "Synoptics PS/2 Port Touchpad" it always says the touch pad is "working properly":

Next, I'm going to see if the touch pad will turn on if I turn on the computer first and then test to see if the touch pad works while the mouse is still turned off.  In the past, it did NOT work.  But I didn't make sure to go through the same steps every time I tried it.  I'll also try it with the mouse completely disconnected.

Instead of updating this text to reflect test results, I'll add the test results as comments below.

After several sessions, it was clear that the touch pad will NOT work if I do not turn on the mouse first.  So, it's time to try some other switch change.  My touch pad settings have been set as shown in the image below:

They were set that way because it appeared that the "two finger scroll" option was causing the problem.  (On the Internet, there seem to be hundreds of people discussing problems with the "two finger scroll" feature.)  So, that option and related options were turned off.  I just turned them back on again.  The settings as of Friday evening will be as shown in the image below:

I'll continue leaving the mouse off until I've turned on the computer and tested to see if the touch pad works.  The only change will be the change in the switches as shown above.

Everything seems to be working okay now (Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015).  The problem is: I'm not sure exactly what caused things to work.  I learned that disconnecting devices while the laptop computer is "asleep" (i.e., the lid is closed) will have different results than disconnecting the same device while the laptop lid is open.

Examples: Switching monitors (i.e., switching from the 23-inch monitor in my office to my TV in my living room while my laptop is "asleep" will cause the colors on the TV to be totally wrong.  I have to disconnect the TV and reconnect while the laptop is open to get the right colors.

Also, simply pulling out the mouse transmitter from the USB port will not always automatically turn on the touch pad.  I may have to close the lid and reopen the lid to get the touch pad to work.

It seems that there are just too many options and too many ways of doing things to be certain that everything will work no matter when you turn something on or off.

But, as of this moment, my touch pad works and so does the "two finger scroll" option.  The switch is set so it will ONLY work when the mouse is turned off.  And that is fine with me.

End of story ------- for now.

CORRECTION: "End of story" for a few hours.  When I tried use the touch pad in the afternoon, there didn't appear to be any way to make it work.  Pulling out the transmitter tab for the mouse before closing the lid didn't do it.  Pulling out the transmitter tab for the mouse after closing the lid didn't do it.  Closing and opening the lid on the computer while the tab was removed didn't do it.

I went to the control panel switches for the touch pad, and none of them work -- probably because the touch pad is supposed to be off while the mouse is working.

So, I went to the control panel switches for the mouse and turned off the switch that says the touch pad should be off when the mouse is off.  It changed nothing.

I turned that switch on again, pulled out the mouse transmitter tab, and nothing changed.  The touch pad still doesn't work.

I tried turning off the computer using the power switch after disconnecting the mouse.  It affected nothing.  I couldn't get the touch pad to work.  

At the moment (4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 22), I cannot think of any way to get the touch pad to work again.

I'm back where I started.

Or so I thought.  But, on Monday morning, I pulled the mouse transmitter tab out of its USB socket and the touch pad was suddenly working again.

Now the question is: What did I do differently on Monday morning than on Sunday?  Why is the touch pad working (including the "two finger scroll" functions) today, but not yesterday afternoon?

The only things I can think of are that there is either some set of events that have to happen in the right sequence, or that time is a factor, i.e., leaving the computer off overnight is somehow different from just shutting off the computer for a few minutes.    


Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Touch Pad Mystery

I bought my new HP Pavilion 17 notebook (laptop) on October 1, 2014, and I've been having problems with the touch pad ever since.  In a previous thread (HERE) I wrote about the problems involved in converting to a new computer.  All problems have been resolved, except for one: the touch pad on my lap top doesn't work properly.  Initially, the problem was the touch pad would simply stop working.

I've taken the computer back to the store several times, and each time the touch pad problem appeared to be fixed, but then the touch pad stopped working again.  The last time was on November 24, 2014.  The touch pad was working fine when I tested it in the store.  However, the fix only lasted until I got home and turned on my computer again.  When I did so, the touch pad wasn't working.

At one time, the problem appeared to be that the "two finger scroll" functions were at fault, since it seemed that things would work fine when those functions were turned off.  That might still be true, but the touch pad stopped working even when I had the "two finger scroll functions" turned off. 

I bought a mouse on November 2, 2014, so as of that time I was no longer dependent on the touch pad.  And, it was clear that I much preferred using a mouse to using the touch pad, so I just used the mouse from that time on.  The only "solution" at the time seemed to be to reload the Synaptic touch pad driver every time the problem occurred.  But, that didn't seem like a viable solution, since it wouldn't help me when I was in an hypothetical situation where I couldn't use the mouse.  I could probably learn how to to reload the touch pad driver to get it working again, but why do so when I still won't be able to load the driver unless I have the mouse connected?

Then a discovery.

On the morning of January 29, 2015, I brushed away a speck of dust from the touch pad and the cursor moved.  Checking further, I found that the touch pad was working "normally," but without the two finger scroll function.  The touch pad had apparently fixed itself!

I was so excited that I posted a message to Microsoft's user forum with the subject "My touchpad suddenly started working."  (I thought Microsoft may have applied a fix.  When I noticed the touch pad was working, I'd also noticed that someone was updating something in the "background," because there was a significant delay between me typing and the letters appearing on the screen.)

But, it only lasted until I turned the laptop off to go to lunch. When I returned from lunch and opened the lid on my computer, the touch pad was "dead" - totally nonfunctional - as usual.

Meanwhile, someone on the Microsoft forum has asked me if, in the Device Manager area, under "Mice and other pointing devices," it says the touch pad is not functioning.  I checked, and it said the touch pad was "working properly" even though it wasn't functioning at all.  That was the end of the discussion.

Then, on the morning of February 1, it happened again.  I brushed away a speck of dust on the touch pad, and the cursor moved.  The touch pad was functioning again (without the two finger scroll function).  It lasted until I closed the lid on the computer to go to lunch.

When it happened again on the morning of February 4, I decided to do some research and to start being more scientific about the figuring out the cause of the problem.  I did a Google search for "touchpad on-switch" and found a discussion HERE about such a thing on a HP notebook. I found that some HP laptops have an on-off switch for the touch pad.  You either tap the upper left corner twice to turn the touch pad on and off, or you press the upper left corner and hold it for a few seconds to perform the same functions.  But, that doesn't work on my laptop.

Something is turning the touch pad on, however.  I was becoming certain that closing the lid on the laptop was what turned the touch pad off, but when I did a test on Feb. 4 while the touch pad was working, only closing the lid for about 30 seconds, the touch pad was still working when I opened the lid and signed on again.  However, when I closed the lid to go to lunch and run some errands for a couple hours, the touch pad was no longer functioning when I returned.

I also did another test while the touch pad was working.  I swiped my finger in from the left side to see if it would turn the touch pad off.  It didn't, but while my finger was still on the touch pad, the cursor wasn't moving.  I had to lift my finger and put it down again to get the cursor to start moving again.  So, it had temporarily turned off the touch pad - sort of.  (The reverse doesn't work.  I.e., when the touch pad isn't working, swiping my finger in from the left side does nothing.) 

This morning I went through the pdf file of instructions for my laptop to see if it says anything about any switch for turning the touch pad on and off.  It doesn't.

So, now I'm waiting for the touch pad to start working again.  And I'm keeping a record of what tests I did when the touch pad starts working again all by itself.  It hasn't escaped my notice that the touch pad seems to start working around every third day.  We'll see if it starts working on the 7th.  If it does, I think I have an idea where the problem comes from.

Hmm.  When I returned home on the afternoon of the 6th and turned on my laptop, the touch pad was working again.  So, it wasn't quite three days.  But there is still some kind a pattern to it.  The touch pad kept working after I closed the laptop lid a couple times for 10 minutes or so.  But, on the morning of the 7th it was no longer working.  And then on the morning of the 8th it was working again.  And when I turned on the laptop in the afternoon it was still working.  And it was still working on the morning of the 9th.  In the afternoon, it wasn't working. And, for the second time, it worked 2 days in a row when it worked all day on the 11th and was still working on the morning of the 12th.  Here's a summary of the times the touch pad worked:

Jan. 29: worked in the a.m.
Feb. 1: worked in the a.m.
Feb. 4: worked in the a.m.
Feb. 6: worked in the p.m.
Feb. 8: worked in the a.m. & p.m.
Feb. 9: worked in the a.m.
Feb. 11: worked in the a.m. & p.m.
Feb. 12: worked in the a.m. & p.m.
Feb. 13: worked in the p.m.
Feb. 14: worked in the a.m. & p.m.
Feb. 15: worked in the p.m. - sort of
Feb. 16: worked in the a.m. & p.m - sort of (see comments).
Feb. 17: worked in the a.m. & p.m.
Feb. 18: worked in the a.m. & p.m.
Feb. 19: worked in the a.m.

On Saturday, Feb. 15, I noticed that the touch pad was working but then stopped working.  It stopped when I moved the computer into another room, where I turned on the computer first, and then the mouse.  Experiments on Sunday the 15th and Monday the 16th seem to confirm that the touch pad works ONLY if I turn on the mouse before turning on the computer.

Of course, that means I need the mouse in order to make the touch pad work.  That makes the touch pad worthless, since the only time I would need it is when I'm in a situation where I can't use the mouse.

What I'm going to do for the next five days is turn my computer on and off the same way every time as follows:
1. Turn on the mouse.
2. Turn on the power to the large monitor.
3. Open the computer.
4. Use the mouse.
5. Check to see if the touch pad works.

When I shut down for lunch and in the evening, I'll do the following:

1. Close the lid on the computer.
2. Turn off the mouse.
3. Turn off the power to the large monitor.

When I've done that for five days, if the results are consistent and the touch pad always works, I'll try switching some element to see what the effect is.  I'll write the results in comments below, instead of here.

I need to confirm everything.  But, I think I'm getting close to having enough information to use when I discuss the problem with HP or with Microsoft or with the people at the computer store.