What Did I Do?

I seldom use the trackpad on my laptop. Nonetheless I have a keyboard shortcut to control the trackpad as needed.

Recently I tested the keyboard shortcut, only to discover nothing happened. Curious, I booted with a Live ISO. The trackpad worked fine.

When something works and then doesn’t there is one question I ask myself, “What did I do?”

This is not a snarky or tongue-in-cheek question. This is a question derived from years of troubleshooting and debugging experience. Outside of hardware failures, computer breakage occurs because of human interaction. The root cause is not always intentional. Often the consequences of a change are not noticeable immediately.

There are no simple answers. When breakage like this occurs, what I did likely happened days, weeks, or months previously. As I seldom use the trackpad, what I did was a mystery because I had no recollection of doing anything recently that might be related.

I noticed in my trackpad-toggle script that the xinput command had no effect. This was helpful but I did not yet know why. After about 10 minutes of browsing the web, the proverbial light bulb clicked in my head.

The MATE desktop has a specific control for trackpads. The MATE Control Center Mouse option has a tab called Touchpad. The Enable touchpad option was disabled.

This option had precedence over my script.

Enabling the option allowed my trackpad-toggle script, and my keyboard shortcut, to again function as expected.

I do not remember having toggled this option. I know I did just that, but I do not remember.

Computers are complex machines. A single bit change is all that is needed to send a user on a wild chase.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: MATE

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