Read these updates, then read the post, then read all the comments. Then
do it and/or comment. :-)
Update 2006-10-15: For reasons discussed below and in the comments, I am no longer allowing comments which say “I installed such-and-such-a-driver and it fixed it”. Thanks.
Update 2006-05-19: OK, will people please stop posting comments that say “on Windows you can just use the Synaptics drivers” or similar? Yes, I’m sure it’s true, but no, it’s not very interesting, since this post is about how to fix the problem if you’re not running Windows. Thanks. :-)
Update 2006-03-03/2007-02-27: someone has just added a comment pointing to these instructions which claim to fix the problem without cutting the cable. Instead, they involve inserting a small piece of plastic shielding (but see comment #92 for a warning why not to use an anti-static bag for this purpose). I haven’t tried this out (and can’t any more!) but if anyone comes here looking for a solution, and tries this out, I’d love to know if it worked or not. Also, I’ll keep a local copy of that page in case it ever goes away – again, if it does, please let me know and I’ll publish the instructions here instead. Thanks!
As reported previously
, I now use a Dell C600 laptop for most of my computing. I’m running FreeBSD and it’s been a very agreeable experience. There has, however, been one fly in the ointment.
It started small – one day I was typing and the mouse pointer started slowly drifting to the corner of the screen. Odd. I pulled it out, and carried on with my day. Then it started happening more frequently… In my first lecture of the year, it went completely doolally, rushing up into the top-right corner and refusing to come out. Since then, every now and then it’s been doing this intermittently, sometimes just a little, sometimes so much that the pointer is unusable.
I’ve managed quite well for two months, because I use the mouse as little as possible. I do most of my work at the command line or in emacs, and only really need the pointer for web browsing
Yesterday, however, I snapped. It was too much – the pointer dancing all over the screen like a drunken hillbilly, my blood pressure rising, clearly something had to be done…
I’d done my research. Googling for “dell mouse drift” and “dell pointer drift” and the like had led me to a number of pages with the
- It’s a software problem, update your drivers.
- It’s a firmware problem, update your bios.
- It’s a hardware problem, replace your keyboard.
- It’s a hardware problem, cut the cable from the trackpoint if you don’t use it.
Theory 1 was clearly out, as it was written by Windows users. I use FreeBSD and I’m seeing the same problem – definitely not an O/S issue unless you have a foolhardy confidence in the significance of co-incidences (on subject of which, I saw I Heart Huckabees
last night and really enjoyed it – Isabelle Huppert, mmmmmm).
Theory 2 is also a non-starter, in as much as I’m at the latest version for this box.
Theory 3: this is doable, but unappealing. I have the Dell Latitude C600 repair manual
(and BTW I have a local copy in case that link every goes away and anyone needs it) and I’ve already replaced my screen backing so I know this would be a doddle. But I don’t really want to pay for a new keyboard – especially if the problem is going to come back later.
Theory 4… Theory 4… This theory states that all of the mouse drift is caused by the trackpoint (the little thumby nubbin in the middle of the keyboard), which I never use. Disconnect the trackpoint from its world and the drifting stops, so they say. The catch: you can’t disconnect it, you have to cut the cord. No going back.
Sounds like the permanent solution I was looking for, right? Well, yes, except I was worried that I would somehow manage to screw the trackpad too (which I do
use). So I held off doing this until my rage became uncontrollable. Also, I couldn’t find the right screwdriver.
Yesterday I took the plunge. It was an absolute piece of cake and has (so far at least) completely cured the problem without any undesirable side effects. I’ve clearly been worrying over this subconsciously, because last night I dreamt the drift was back, but I woke up this morning to find my dreams untrue.
Here, then, is a summary of how to fix the mouse drift on your Dell C600, by cutting the trackpoint cable:
- Turn off the laptop. :)
- Remove the hard drive. It’s in a slot on the left when you’re using the laptop. You have to unscrew one screw and then slide the whole thing out. Easy.
- Unscrew the 5 screws marked “K” on the bottom of the laptop.
- Turn it over again and open the lid.
- Prise up the “centre control cover” (surrounds the power button and has the word “LATITUDE” on the left, on mine at least), at its right-hand end. It should just snap out fairly easily (and back in when needed).
- Prise up the keyboard assembley at the blank space to the right of the up arrow (bottom right). With some gentle wiggling the
whole thing will come up. It is connected to the main body of the laptop by a ribbon cable umbilical cord.
- Turn the keyboard over, and you’ll see two ribbon cables: a wide one connecting the keyboard to the main board, and a narrow one connecting to the trackpoint (in the middle of the keyboard).
- Cut the trackpoint cable.
- Reassemble (the reverse of the above).