Mossberg’s Mailbox

Adjusting a Keyboard

Published on December 14, 2006
by Walt Mossberg

Since having a stroke, I find that my keyboard touch is a little heavy. Is there a way to adjust the keyboard so it takes slightly more pressure to register a keystroke? I have a laptop PC with Windows XP.

I don’t know that you can alter the pressure directly, but Windows does have a setting that might be useful in your case. It’s called SlowKeys, and it allows you to specify how long the computer will wait before it accepts the input from a key you have depressed. It also allows you to tell the computer to ignore quick keystrokes and to slow down the process of repeating a character when a key is held down for a longer time than is considered normal.

Unfortunately, this setting is buried several layers down in the Accessibility control panel. To find it, open Control Panel, then Accessibility Options, then find the FilterKeys option in the Keyboard tab. Click on Settings, and when the next screen appears, click on “Ignore quick keystrokes and slow down the repeat rate.” Then, click on the Settings button next to that option. SlowKeys is at the bottom of the next window that appears.

By the way, for Macintosh users reading this who have a similar need, the Macintosh has a similar function that’s spelled slightly differently. It’s called “Slow Keys,” and is available from the Universal Access system preference panel, in the Keyboard tab.

I have a house beyond the range of DSL or cable-modem service. Dial-up Internet is all that is available, and that is S-L-O-W. There is, however, a cellular tower in plain sight on the horizon which provides excellent BlackBerry and cellphone service, through which Internet access is much faster than dial-up. Is there any way for me to take advantage of this cellular service for obtaining fast Internet capability for my PC?

Almost certainly. Figure out which cellphone carrier operates the tower and purchase a data card from the company, with an accompanying monthly plan. These cards, which are essentially cellular modems for PCs, plug into laptops via their external card slots and connect them to the high-speed cellphone networks for the purpose of accessing the Internet.

If you don’t have a laptop, you can buy an adapter for a desktop computer that will allow you to plug in such a card, and there are even a few base stations for homes with a slot for such a card. Some cellphone carriers offer a data modem that plugs in via USB, instead of via the card slot.

Another option: some high-end cellphones can be used as data modems, connecting via either a cable, or a wireless Bluetooth connection.

Last week, you recommended a program called GreenPrint, which allows you to avoid printing wasted pages from Web sites, the ones with only a line or two of useless text. How could you overlook the much more powerful program called FinePrint, which does all that and more?

The two programs are very different and address different audiences. FinePrint, which costs $50 at, is really for power users who want to tweak every aspect of their printouts. It gives you a detailed preview and lets you manually cull items you don’t want, and do much more, including turning printouts into booklets. It’s very nice, but it’s a niche product for a class of user willing to invest time and effort.

GreenPrint, available at, does have a preview mode that allows some manual tweaking of a printout, but that’s purely optional. Its main virtue is that it will automatically analyze print requests and eliminate wasted pages without any preview or user intervention. It also costs half as much as FinePrint and includes the built-in ability to save Web sites as PDF files, a function that requires the installation of a second program with FinePrint. So, GreenPrint is for mainstream users who want to save both paper and time.

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