Sparky has been suffering from the dreaded XO keyboard glitch that has seemed to have struck quite a few of the first production batch of the XO-1.
The details from OLPC can be found here.
Sparky is about to head off on another trip to Bowral, so it was decided to see if the keyboard could be fixed before the trip.
The OLPC website now has instructions on how to disassemble just the bottom part of the XO, which contain the battery, keyboard and touchpad, all with really nice hightlighted pictures. This made it very easier, compared to the last time this was attempted.
After gingerly pealing back the rubber keyboard, and separating the two membranes of the keyboard circuit, I was met with the adjacent image.
The thing to notice here is that the keys that the specific keys that I was having problems with.. the Left-ALT, CTRL had a minimal amount of the darker green separator 'goo' than the other keys.
This was kind of encouraging, as this has been the problem proposed by the OLPC people, so it was nice to have that positive evidence that I was on the right track and that it wasn't some other issue.
The solution proposed was to put put some fine slivers of plastic electrical tape where the separators should be.
These slivers are about 1mm wide. I used scissors, but a sharp blade I found a small flat screwdriver to be very useful to accurately placing them on the keyboard membrane. I added additional slivers to a couple of other keys that looked like they also might need it (the 'Z' and 'X' keys).
Sparky was reassembled, and so far so good.. all the keys were shown to still work (using the 'test keyboard' command from the boot prompt) and none of them are sticking.. if the problem reoccurs, you'll hear about it here.