The so-called "stuck-key issue" being reported by OLPC XO owners is gaining a fair amount of media attention as the first large-scale deployments in Mongolia and Peru are taking off. First reported about four months ago by buyers from the OLPC Give One Get One program, the problem, according to the OLPC Wiki,
This is not a problem in increased "stickiness", it is a problem of ineffective insulation between the two conductive membranes. There are several problems with the keyboard manufacture that can cause this problem. One is a mis-registration of the different membranes making up the keyboard. While there are several mechanical pins to maximize registration, a slight warping of the bottom layer (which is stuck to a metal plate) can still occur. Even if not mis-registered, the slight buckling of the bottom membrane which results can cause a sticky key.
The wiki lists workarounds, including disabling the Alt key (the key most commonly affected). It also notes that a replacement part has been created. However, at least for buyers in the G1G1 program, the 30-day warranties have long since expired, this won't be helpful to users in the States. One irritated user posted the following on OLPC's forum:
This is most definitely a hardware issue where the only solution is to replace the keyboard. If I was still within my credit card's dispute time limit, I would have disputed this charge in a second. OLPC clearly knows there is an issue and doesn't feel the need to address it. :evil:
Thanks a lot, olpc.
Fortunately, it sounds as though the problem is being addressed abroad, but, as was pointed out on Slashdot,
If OLPC is actively deploying units with known, critical hardware bugs, without a dedicated support infrastructure in place, to children who have never seen a computer before, should they still be considered to be a responsible organization? Did OLPC deploy their hardware too soon?"
Or did it simply take some real world experience to uncover these bugs? What do you think? Talk back below.