I’m a little delayed this morning, as my Windows 10 laptop wanted an update, which means switching off all the things I usually keep handy on my desktop (email accounts, the shop interface, payment processors) and letting the machine get on with renewing itself while I scrub last night’s dinner dishes and clear up this morning’s toast crumbs.
By the time I was done cleaning, the PC had finished its tasks too and gone into standby, its silent black screen displaying only a thick covering of dust, greasy fingerprints and splashes of sneeze.
So in a fit of domestic enthusiasm, I grabbed a bottle of alcohol and some kitchen paper and started to wipe the muck off the touch screen and the keyboard.
Of course, this woke the computer up again, the various keys I was wiping triggering a sequence of messages about logging in, entering passwords, pressing my finger to the fingerprint reader, and so on.
Obviously I should have switched the damn thing off before trying to clean it, but I was in a rush, as always.
No matter, I thought, what can go wrong if I’m not logged in? Touching the keypad with an alcohol-soaked pad can’t do any harm.
And yet, as my mother always used to say at critical moments, so as to cause maximum irritation, “More haste, less speed!”
Cleaning done, I keyed in the password and rested my mouse finger on the touchpad, ready to get back to work!
Emails, ‘to do’ list, OnlineItalianClub.com article, shower, doctor’s surgery, bus, then finally to the school and the start of the day proper.
But niente! The touchpad refused to respond to my, increasingly-frustrated, stabbing.
As with many things in life, if you have a problem, then Googling it may turn up a solution.
Or not, as the case may be.
My search terms found a series of helpful articles and videos on making sure I had an updated touchpad driver, checking the touchpad settings, even rolling back Windows 10 to a previous version…
None of which were of any use whatsoever, except to eat up a good chunk of Wednesday morning and significantly worsen my mood.
And then, and then… I remembered that unused top row on the keyboard, the one with all the mysterious symbols.
Those might as well be Egyptian Hieroglyphs for all the sense they make, so I’ve always ignored them.
No, I exaggerate: while I’m unfamiliar with the (F)unctions of the snake, the bird, or the little pharaoh guy, I know that the plane symbol is to enable flight mode (switch off Wifi) when I travel by air.
And I have even, in the past, hypothesised that the loudspeaker + and loudspeaker – buttons will adjust the volume, though I have hitherto always achieved this without the help of a dedicated key.
Actually, now as I write, looking closely at these keys for the first time, I notice there are sun – and sun + keys, which presumably control the weather in my vicinity, plus a little crossed-out microphone for muting karaoke singers who make a row when I’m trying to concentrate.
But anyway, turns out that the symbol on key F6, clearly designed to communicate ‘Pharaoh says no more TV as it’s school tomorrow’, is what I had acidentally pressed with my alcohol-soaked swap of cellulose and so disabled the laptop’s touchpad.
Pressing it once again caused a ‘touch pad switched on’ symbol to appear on the screen, and a sigh of relief!
It occurs to me, I’ve reached the age of fifty-two without knowing lots of stuff that would potentially be useful.
You’re probably the same. Life’s short and you can’t know everything, right? We’ve only got as far as we have by prioritising.
But if you’re a computer user and are as ignorant as I am, here’s something that’s worth a look.
As I read it now, I learn that F(unction) keys have pre-designated roles that are often standard, but may vary according to your computer manufacturer’s whim.
HOWEVER, note this, these industry-standard or not-so-standard ‘functions’ will only actually function if you press Fn button (bottom left on my keyboard) AS WELL!
So according to the helpful article, the “F1 key is universally linked to Help in almost every program”.
Sounds cool, right? Who couldn’t use a little Help sometimes?
But press F1 on my Lenovo Yoga (it bends), a key which besides the letter F and the number 5 bears a hieroglyph of a loudspeaker with a bar through it, and guess what?
It toggles the computer’s loudspeakers ‘off’ and back ‘on’ again.
If I actually need ‘Help’, what I have to do is press the Fn key AND the F1 ‘No loudspeaker’ key AT THE SAME TIME, at which point a browser window will open displaying a friendly message:
“How may we help you?”
“You can stop asking for bloody updates first thing in the morning!”
Don’t forget the launch offer on this week’s new Italian ‘easy reader’ ebook, Natale a sorpresa. Get it by Sunday night and spend just £5.99.
As I mentioned on Monday, the story is set over the Christmas/New Year period, in ‘real time’ so to speak. It would have started around a week ago and will, fictionally, go on until around Epiphany on Jan. 6th. It’s therefore a nice way to learn about the festive season in Italy.
Also don’t forget to listen to and read Tuesday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news. It’s free, so what’s to lose?