Category Archives: Fix

Quick fix: Lenovo Thinkpad X240 won’t POST, one long/continuous beep then reboots and repeats forever

tl;dr: disconnect the keyboard, you have stuck keys

Hello! The year is 2020 and this blog still exists. With the explosion of stackexchange, reddit and thousands of scam sites that force you to add "stackexchange" or "reddit" to your search terms to get any useful results, it's become increasingly easy to find the solution to almost anything. I've barely found anything tough enough to solve that it's been worth putting up here to save the next person the bother.

Here's one, though. I've still got my 2012 Thinkpad T430, bought used in 2015, dragged around on my back for tens of thousands of miles, and modded and upgraded almost to the point of insanity (if you haven't come across this incredible guide you're about to have the time of your life). Just popped in a new old CPU (i7-3840QM, happily overclocks to 4.2GHz on a cool day) which should give it another 5 or so years, 1080p conversion kit on the way (it's cheaper on Taobao! Leave a comment or email if you've never ordered and need a hand) and eagerly awaiting my ExpressCard to NVMe adapter so I can give it its fourth drive for literally no other reason than that's a hilarious stupid number so why would I not.

Anyway, with a 67% successful resuscitation rate after full-on filthy river drownings I'm convinced the things are bulletproof, force them on my friends and colleagues wherever I can (interest you in a used buyer's guide guv?) and happily fix problems in exchange for beer. Living in Cambodia during COVID I've been blessed to stumble upon SPVT Supply, who can source seemingly anything from brand new original parts to obscure Chinese copies at your preferred quality, whilst completely ignoring the reality that it's meant to take 6 weeks or so to get anything posted here. Magical. Tell em Michael sent you.

So I ended up with a well-loved X240 in my hands, featuring a completely non-functional keyboard and exhibiting screen tearing and complete lockups when slightly flexed. Easy fix for the latter: Jägermeister goes in your mouth, not in the RAM slot.

For future reference, it's also not suggested for the CPU cooler, battery, case or VGA port.

After a solid cleanup with soap & water, unlabelled mystery pharmacy alcohol and a sack of ancient silica gel packets that I occasionally dry out in an oven/frying pan/open fire/weak ray of sunshine, it happily booted a couple of times. Keyboard was still dead, there was visible corrosion inside and being plastic-welded together there was little point in disassembly. I grabbed the schematic and boardview and since the keyboard doesn't have a controller built in, traced the signal lines back through the motherboard and gave the relevant areas a more thorough clean. No dice but no worries, they're cheap enough to replace.

After a couple more boots, the laptop started refusing to POST at all. Power light on, fan spinning, but nothing on the display and it would emit a continuous beep for 5 seconds or so before power-cycling and repeating forever. This isn't in Lenovo's list of beep codes (I'd link it but it 404s right now) and all I could find from the docs for similar BIOSes was "replace system board". Dropping $100 on a new motherboard for a 2-beer repair wasn't in my plan, so I poked around some more and, to cut to the chase:

Disconnect the keyboard ribbon cable from the motherboard.

My vigorous gentle scrubbing had switched the keyboard from "no keys work" to "keys work too much", effectively holding down a bunch of keys all the time. Do that during startup and it won't POST or even turn on the display. Disconnect the internal keyboard, tip your local computer shop a few cents to borrow a USB keyboard for 30 seconds to bypass the date/time error since the CMOS battery's been disconnected (it'll get it from the OS anyway once it boots the first time) and you're golden.

If it's 3am and this situation sounds eerily familiar to you, I hope this helped!

Laptop mysteriously turns on overnight: Logitech to blame

Something's been puzzling me for the past few weeks. At the end of each day I hibernate my laptop, stick it in my bag, and take it home. When I turn it on the next day, it tells me it powered off because the battery reached a critical level, and the battery has dropped to 3% (the shutdown threshold) from its original 100%. What gives?

I couldn't figure out whether the battery was draining itself overnight, or whether the computer was turning itself back on somehow. Luckily I have the terrible habit of falling asleep on the sofa (well, piece-of-sponge-with-some-slats) so at 3 o'clock one morning I caught it turning itself on.


Auto power-on wasn't configured in the BIOS and there was nothing plugged into the LAN port to wake it up. What had changed in the past few weeks?

Logitech Unifying Receiver

I should really clean that screen hinge.

I have a Logitech Unifying Receiver for my wireless mouse, and I had recently made the apparently highly important decision that it was probably safer to leave it plugged in all the time rather than pull it out every day so it didn't get bashed up in my bag (turns out they pull apart quite easily, and I'm 6,000 miles from a replacement). Was this the culprit?

Windows includes a handy utility to find out what devices are configured to wake a computer, powercfg. You can run powercfg /devicequery wake_armed in a command prompt:

C:\Users\Michael>powercfg /devicequery wake_armed
HID Keyboard Device (001)
Intel(R) 82579LM Gigabit Network Connection
HID-compliant mouse (002)
Logitech HID-compliant Unifying Mouse

You can also run powercfg /lastwake to find out what device last woke the computer, but since I didn't run it until the subsequent startup, this wasn't very useful. So, keyboard, mouse and the ethernet connection. The ethernet connection is out, since there's nothing plugged into it. If we go to Device Manager, the HID devices are listed under Keyboards and Mice:

Keyboards and Mice in Device Manager

Double-clicking on each one of them in turn (apart from the built-in keyboard, listed as Standard PS/2 Keyboard; and trackpad, listed as ThinkPad UltraNav Pointing Device (what a name!)) and going to the Power Management tab showed that each of them were configured to wake the computer. I don't have a keyboard connected to the receiver, but I unchecked them all just to be sure. If you're not sure which devices correspond to the Logitech receiver, go to Details and select the Hardware Ids property. My receiver shows a VID of 046D and a PID of C52B, but if yours are different you can google them to find out what manufacturer and model they correspond to.

Allow this device to wake the computer

Rerunning the powercfg command above now shows that only the ethernet adapter can wake up the computer:

C:\Users\Michael>powercfg /devicequery wake_armed
Intel(R) 82579LM Gigabit Network Connection

Problem solved!


Fix: iTunes won’t play audio after switching sound device on Windows

Just a quick one.

If you're using the generic Microsoft drivers for audio on your laptop, you might notice that you have separate audio devices for the built-in speakers and for headphones:

When you don't have any headphones plugged in, your default device will be the speakers; when you plug headphones in, your default device changes to the headphones. All well and good.

Most applications aren't bothered by this change in sound device, and will happily keep playing through the new default. iTunes, however, has some issues with this process, and will just sorta hover there with the playback bar not moving and no sound coming out. When you restart it, everything works great, but who wants to do that every time they plug their headphones in?

The solution is surprisingly simple. In iTunes, click the menu icon, choose Preferences, and go to the Playback tab. The Play Audio Using option will be set to Windows Audio Session. Change it to Direct Sound, hit OK and restart iTunes for what is hopefully the final time.

And that's it!