Can any of our resident computer experts help me?; or, Microsoft and HP support suck

A few weeks ago I bought an HP Pavilion computer, containing Windows Millenium Edition.

I am an American. I purchased this computer in America. That fact will be important later.

I am learning to speak Portuguese. I am very early along in this process. I have some friends in Brazil with whom I converse on the computer. I would like to be able to make the appropriate accent marks for Portuguese automatically as I type. (I am really messing myself up now, as I learn to write and am not seeing/using the appropriate accents.)

So I check control panels - keyboards, and hey! Whaddaya know! I can set up my computer to do this!

I make the appropriate clicks, and voila! I now have something on my tool bar that allows me to toggle between English and Brazilian Portuguese. This is exactly what I want.

One small problem, though. Nothing happens when I do this. Nothing changes.

I contact HP support. First they say, “We only support American computers.” Um, I am American. This is a feature on my American computer.

Then it’s, “We don’t support that. Go to Microsoft.”

Several attempts at MS customer support and using their way-too-vast, useless search engine later, nothing has changed.

I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay $35 to talk to a Microsoft representative to fix this problem. You want to control the world with your operating system, Bill? Then make sure the fucker works, and help people when they need it.

So the bottom line is, from what I can see, this feature should be working. It isn’t. Why?

From what I can see, the downloadable language packs available from Microsoft for your computer are a supplement to what is already supposed to be there. (They offer some Slovakian language additions or somesuch.) I can’t find anything specific to Portuguese, or to troubleshoot what I am allegedly supposed to have.

And does anyone know of any such free downloadable software that works with Windows ME? I don’t care if it is a Microsoft product. And all I can find on google searches are translation programs. That’s not what I’m looking for.


(Thank you)

I thought you actually had to have a Portugese keyboard for this to work… but who knows.

Prosim (Slovak for “please” or your welcome)


You really can’t blame HP customer support for not knowing the answer to a question that might arise at best once for every 10,000 users. Also, there’s no need to vent your frustration on Microsoft. The multilanguage feature works exactly as it should. Your difficulty lies in not understanding how to use your 101 key English keyboard in place of a 103 key Portuguese keyboard. The keys do not map 1:1.

I do not speak Portugeuse, so I may have left something out. For example, I do not know if Portuguese uses the accute mark. Experiment with the keyboard a little bit and you’ll figure out anything I may have missed.

  1. To use the cedilla, hit the semi-colon key “;”. In Portuguese, I believe only the letter “c” requires it, so this is what will be displayed: “ç”.

  2. To use the grave mark, hit the “[” key followed by the character which will receive the mark. Typeing “[e” will display: “é”.

  3. To type double-quotes, hit [Shift],"~".

If it’s an item your company offers, standard, on its computer (or as part of its operating system), shouldn’t somebody somewhere be able to troubleshoot it, or help a customer who has questions?

Also, how do you think those folks answer questions? They look it up on a database. Shouldn’t their database cover every feature they offer? The frequency of the question should be irrelevant.

But I’m sure HP and Microsoft appreciate your support. They said they appreciated me contacting them, too.

It is my understanding that there are language programs that, for example, will add a ~ automatically over the “ao” when I type “nao.” So you don’t have to make funky and multiple steps as you type. My friends in Brazil tell me this is done automatically as they type.

If I’m reading what you are saying correctly, what is the purpose of the toggle switch between English and Portuguese that I now have on my toolbar? You are telling me it’s just a matter of typing it with the appropriate shifts, control-alts and other gobbledygook on an English keyboard.

To make funny foreign characters using the standard 101 American keyboard: Go to ctrl panel, keyboard, language, properties, and select US International. Now
’ + a = á
’ + e = é
’ + space = ’
~ + n = ñ
~ + N = Ñ
~ + space = ~
" + a = ä
" + o = ö
+ a = à + e = è
^ + a = â
ctrl + alt + ? = ¿
ctrl + alt + ! = ¡

well, you get the idea.

I had the same problem with my computer manufacturer. A stupid woman told me it could NOT be done. This after I had been using the computer for a time doing it. I knew it could be done, I just couldn’t remember how to do it. She got all defensive telling me it most definitely could not be done and if was claiming to know more than she did. What an idiot. Yeah, Quantex went out of business shortly thereafter. She’s probably flipping burgers now. What an idiot.

I think the toggle-shift is for situations where you, in fact, have a Portuguese keyboard and want to have it appropriately mapped.

On a side note it is amazing how incredibly useless MS’s web help search engine is in many situations with respect to giving you any relevant information for what you are trying to find re their software. Search engine technology is not exactly a new science and Google et al seem to understand the basics pretty well I really do wonder why MS’s implementation of this so poor.

Thanks sailor.

I’m still looking to find if there’s a program that adds the appropriate accents automatically, depending upon the word that you type.

When I saw all the different languages listed under control panels - keyboards, I assumed that was what was being offered. Appropriate German accent marks as you type words in German, Portuguese marks for Portuguese, etc., depending upon which one you had selected.

If there isn’t, maybe I should make such a program and become a millionaire. It seems rather elementary.

And all of this still makes me wonder what the switch between the two languages on my tool bar is supposed to do, if I still must make all the accent marks manually.

Milossarian, I do not believe MS or HP offer anything that comes even remotely close to what you want. What you want would be right up there with speech recognition. They way I understand it is that the diacritical marks are there to distinguish different words, in many cases all of them valid. The closest you could come is a spell checker but that cannot distinguish between valid words. It’s just like in English, both “there” and “they’re” are valid. I am sure you have seen the famous Ode to the Spellchecker.

Since you have an HP Pavilion with Windows ME on it, and you’re not complaining that it reboots itself a couple times an hour under heavy use (i.e.: gaming), it must not be doing that for you.

Must be nice. Wish mine ran that well.

Hope the advice here helps, but bear in mind that there are much worse things than not doing what it says it should do.

>> And all of this still makes me wonder what the switch between the two languages on my tool bar is supposed to do, if I still must make all the accent marks manually

I do not have that so I do not know but my guess is that it changes the keyboard properties (say between US-International and US-101, or between US and Portuguese) without having to go to the Control Panel. But I would expect you still have to type your own stuff. I am not sure if I am understanding you correctly but why would you expect the computer to put any diacritical marks for you in Portuguese any more than you would expect it to put in apostrophes or question marks in English? I don’t think I would like that either. Every time the computer tries to guess something I am doing it guesses wrong and annoys me.

Milossarian wrote:

It depends. If it was part of the license agreement that you got with the software, then yes. Most of the time with software like this, though, there’s no obligation to support it at all. They help people who have basic questions, only because it will help sell more of their products.

If they were to guarantee endless support for every possible little function in the software, they’d have to charge at least $1000 per copy.

I think part of the problem is a poorly worded question since Milossarian really does not know what he is looking for. When you ask nebulous questions you get meaningless answers.

When you change the keyboard “properties” language, the keyboard behavior does change but only slightly, so you may not notice it unless you know what you are looking for.

OTOH, the “putting in the marks for me” part is not anything Windows does. The closest thing would be a spellchecker in that language. Heck, the keyboard layout has nothing to do with the language you are typing. You can type English words in a brazilian keyboard or brazilian words with an English keyboard. A keyboard sends letters and signs, it has no clue of even the word or context. If you ask a question that assumes the keyboard knows something about this context, the problem is you are asking the wrong question which may not be understood by the guy at the other end or may require lengthy lessons in computer basics. I have come across people who think if they buy a computer they are entitled to free computer lessons with it. That’s not the way it works.



I’ve got a spell-checker that, if I want, will automatically correct common errors. If I type ‘teh,’ it just switches it to ‘the’ as I type along.

It seems to me that what I’m hoping to find would not be that much different. If I type ‘nao,’ it would recognize that it should correct that with a ~ over the ‘ao.’ If I type ‘ebrio,’ it would know to put a reverse ` over the ‘e;’ etc.

(nao = no; ebrio = intoxicated, for those who might be wondering.)

I don’t know what I’m looking for? I know exactly what I’m looking for, pally. I think I’ve made it pretty clear.

But thanks for your commentary.

Wait till I learn Portuguese swear words …

Which, on its face, makes no sense whatsoever.

Are people typically changing their keyboard from a US-International to a US-101 to a Brazilian keyboard so frequently, they need a language switching icon on their tool bar?

And the computer that the keyboard is connected to might be able to interpret the keys that are being struck in different ways, depending upon if it is set for a particular language.

The list of about 50 languages under my keyboard setting would tend to mean this is what the computer should be capable of, as I don’t believe there are 50 different kinds of keyboards, one for each language.

This makes far more sense than your explanation of what I am seeing under control panels - keyboards - languages.

If you don’t see what I see, and don’t have the capability to see it, please don’t try to answer the question, pretend to know when you don’t, or at least don’t insult me while answering.

Troubleshoot, yes. But since nothing is actually wrong with your computer … what do you expect? Free training?

Not necessarily. Your computer probably came with a browser of some kind. Do you expect HP to provide support if you’re having trouble putting together a homepage? Why not? Their database of questions covers troubleshooting scenarios like “My computer won’t boot” or “I can’t connect to the internet”. The people who answer those questions are trained to follow those procedures. When it’s a PEBKAC error, or the question delves into training issues, you’ve gone beyond the scope of a typical customer support contract. Beyond that, there’s always the internet. Start with The only difficulty is phrasing your search criteria properly. That’s the problem most people have when searching Microsoft’s site - not knowing what question to ask.

Are you always this snide towards people trying to help?

That toggle switch doesn’t magically create the necessary additional keys the Portuguese language requires. It provides a means of using your English keyboard to create non-English characters. When you toggle to Portuguese, the computer now knows to interpret certain key combinations as accented vowels and such. If typing “[e” is too difficult for you, you might want to try buying a Portuguese keyboard. Alternatively, you could install a Portuguese font and use it with your favorite word processing program. I don’t know if it would be much use, but you can buy keyboard overlays for some languages. The language icon in your system tray identifies the language that the current application is receiving as input. I can have one document open for input in English, and another open for input in Swedish. When I tab between the two, the language icon will change. Try it yourself.

And you are basing your conclusion that there is nothing wrong with my computer on, what?

“Portuguese,” “language,”“keyboards,” and “accents” sure doesn’t seem to do much there.

Nope; only to people who are snide to me first.

This is where you folks are losing me. If certain manual combinations always create certain accent marks over letters, why are 50 or so different languages listed, and what does moving from one to the other do?

Who’s being snide, again?

I just typed [e. You can read to left of that last period what it left on my screen.

This is what I would like to do. This is what I assumed was being offered under control panels - keyboards - languages.

I may be coming off as more testy than I am intending to. But I’m sensing that a few of you see this as a stupid question. Why is it stupid?

A program of the kind I envision would work like a self-correcting, as-you-type spell-checker. If there isn’t such a program, I think I’m going to talk to some of my programmer buddies …

This seems to indicate something similar to what I want exists, but its a program you must pay for.

I’ll keep snooping and see if I can find it for free somewhere.

>> A program of the kind I envision would work like a self-correcting, as-you-type spell-checker. If there isn’t such a program, I think I’m going to talk to some of my programmer buddies …

Milossarian, your question is just all wrong and it is impossible to give an answer except that you are asking the wrong question. You have a very vague idea of what you want but that is not part of anything to do with the keyboard or with the operating system. Nothing. So they are right when they tell you to go away and look elsewhere. It is not part of anything windows does or claims to do and so they are correct in telling you they do not have an answer. The fact that you are an American citizen has no bearing on this. You just misunderstood what it means to have a Brazilian keyboard and you are demanding answers from the wrong people. Having a Brazilian keyboard does not mean it will spellcheck for you any more than a US keyboard would or a Superman cape would allow you to fly. The keyboard and the operating system merely interpret keystrokes. If you want a program that will do certain things, then you have to buy a program which will do certain things but HP is not the place to demand that.

What you are asking the keyboard to do is just impossible and would be a mess anyway. You mean if I want to name a file “teh” then the keyboard would change it to “the”? I don’t think I would want such a keyboard. As I said, the closest you can come is a word processing program and even that will only go so far.

What it comes down to is you ask a question that mixes the keyboard with word processing because it seems you do not quite grasp the limits of each. The question as you ask it only has one answer and that is you need to understand the separate functions of the keyboard and whatever program you are using.

There is no way in the world what you are proposing would be of any use. I mean a keyboard which would introduce changes regardless of context. In a word processor you have to tell it you are typing words, in a certain language and to alert you when those words are not in a dictionary. that’s all. Nothing to do with the keyboard. The context is very restricted. The keyboard just sends exactly what you typed. If you do not understand the separate functions you are not going to understand the issue. Do you want a keyboard which would only allow you to give your files Brazilian names?

If you really think a Brazilian keyboard understands you are typing Brazilian words and makes the necessary corrections you really have a lot to learn. Does an American keyboard do anything of that sort? Would you want it to do it? I don’t think so.

>> This is where you folks are losing me. If certain manual combinations always create certain accent marks over letters, why are 50 or so different languages listed, and what does moving from one to the other do?

See? That is the root of the problem. If you understood this you would understand why your question is quite meaningless.

What it does is it allows you to connect a different keyboard so keystrokes will be interpreted differently. That just tells te OS how to interpret a certain key. Your keyboard has a key and the language set to US tells it it is to be interpreted as “L” but you can tell it to interpret it as Ñ by changing the language so the combination of a keyboard which has a keycap that says Ñ (instead of L) and the keyboard driver knowing it should interpret it as Ñ is what makes a Spanish keyboard. If you connect a Spanish keyboard and do not tell the computer it is a Spanish keyboard, the computer will just interpret whatever character is mapped to that key in the US keyboard. The computer does not see what the key cap says. That is what you are telling it when you change the keyboard settings.

sailor, are you really unfamiliar with the spell-checker that automatically changes commonly misspelled words?

It came standard with my Microsoft Works word processor.

The concept I am envisioning is exactly the same. You would set it for “Brazilian Portuguese” or “German” or whatever. Whichever language you set it for would access a different dictionary of words in that language, and do the exact same automatic corrections to common misspellings.

Except the misspellings automatically changed would include the appropriate accent marks on otherwise correctly spelled words in the language.

Explain to me how that is muddled, impossible, incomprehensible or beyond the capabilities of computers.