If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Thursday, 26 August 2010

iPhone Bodge - update


My sellotape bodge worked for a couple of days, but yesterday I got the 'no SIM installed' message, and I think it's here to stay. I tried doubling the thickness of sellotape, but that didn't work. Taking the SIM card out and replacing it occasionally worked for about 10 seconds, but then the message reappeared.

Cartoon Whorehouse suggested that I did an update to the latest software version. This produced an 'Error (37)' and the instruction that the phone would need to be 'restored'. Clicking the appropriate button put me in a loop with the same messages coming up over and over again. Finally, the phone went dead and wouldn't turn on at all. Just a blank, black screen.

So I phone Orange, using Anna's phone. The signal strength of an iPhone in this house is very poor, and noticeably worse than with other phones, and of course the call dropped off after 20 minutes in a queue and a lengthy explanation to the agent at the other end. I called back, and the next agent took my landline number and called me on that so we could have an uninterrupted call. (And when I got my SIM in another phone later, the first agent had tried to call me back, so full marks to Orange for making the effort.) He went through a lot of diagnostics and then gave up and transferred me to an Apple helpline.

I spoke to a delightful lady called Maria in Portugal, who got me to create a new user account on my PC and use that to restore the phone. This took a long time (it's a slow laptop) and then the phone began to update. The progress bar warned me that this would take about 40 minutes. We chatted aimlessly for a while, but the silences were getting longer, and it was at this point I made my BIG mistake. I asked her if it would be more convenient for her to take my landline number and call me back in half an hour or so. I have worked in a call centre and I know how this waiting was a waste of her and my time, and a bit awkward for both of us, but I SHOULDN'T HAVE LET HER GO. I waited for the half hour to be up, and then another hour, and then I went to bed. She still hasn't called. If she's on lates, then she'll be in work this evening, so I will give her 24 hours before calling them again.

No rush. The SIM card is now in my old Nokia 6310i and working fine. I get a strong signal anywhere in the house and I can go two weeks without a recharge. I kinda like it.

And I'm kinda going off the iPhone.


  1. It's always funny how manufacturers can make a virtue out of locking customers into a proprietary, often overrated and not always better than the alternatives system. I've always hated Apple for exactly that reason. Well, and because their kit always looks like a bathroom fixture. And because the sort of people who fill their house with Apple products are generally smug, annoying fashionistas who think having a Mac notebook is a significant lifestyle choice.

    And yet, if I had to be honest - I'm just as bad: my technology is rather solidly Sony-based. And they're just as guilty as Apple of all the above crimes except the bathroom fixtures look.

    I had an early "mp3" Walkman. Great sound, but would only accept music files in Sony's ATRAC format. At least Sony provided fairly convenient software for converting and transferring music. Then I upgraded to a next-gen E series. It'd take native mp3s, but playlists - aaargh! And no proprietary software, just a half-arsed implementation of drag-and-drop. Eventually, I had enough of wrestling with WinAmp and the nightmare of making any changes to the content, and bought a luxury A series instead. Full drag-and-drop, as advertised. Small print: except for playlists, which can be created in Windows Media Player and transferred (which just happens to cover my music library). As it turns out, obviously not the version I used (v10) and was happy with. Had to go to the bloaty v11 and recatalogue, only to discover the unholy alliance of Microsoft and Sony and file resizing ended up with everything in wma format and no cover art.

    I got there in the end, by duplicating my entire music collection into a Walkman-specific folder, converting the whole lot from 320 to 96kbps mp3 and running a duplicate catalogue. Nearly a week's CPU time for a couple of thousand CDs-worth, and I still haven't decided how to keep the low-res and hi-res libraries in synch. Yes, the Walkman still looks good and gives a great sound, but I can't help wishing I'd maybe just bought a generic Sanyo or something...

    Spot on to The Onion, with their spoof
    "Sony Releases Stupid Piece Of Shit That Doesn't Fucking Work" article. Sweary, but hilarious...and so very true...

    Anyway, at least I've got a battered old Nokia phone that works all the time, every time.

  2. Great clip from The Onion. Thanks for the link.

    I take your point about Apple, and I have to say I'm not their biggest fan at the moment (still no callback ...), but I rather like the idea of something that just works out of the box. I'm still steaming from when I 'upgraded' to Windows Vista and had to junk half my peripherals because the new OS wouldn't talk to them. A one-year-old printer and scanner, FFS. But, of course, when it doesn't work out of the box, then that's another matter. So far, the iPhone is:

    A phone with below-average sound quality, poor signal pickup, and a stupidly short battery life
    A poor-quality camera
    A slow and clumsy web browser


    A brilliant calendar and diary
    Very good calculator and clock functions
    And it runs MCN Ride Logger!

    And it's very pretty.

    Wish I'd held my nerve and gone for a BlackBerry.

    My SIM card is currently in my Nokia, and all is working fine. I'm tempted to leave it that way.

  3. Out-of-box-experience: a mixed blessing, in my opinion.

    I started in IT back when x286 processors were still common and peripheral cards not only cost as much as a small car, but came with their own onboard dipswitches so you could have hours of fun trying to get them to work in their new home. You could still beat a grizzly bear to death with your "mobile" phone, and a snazzy portable device was a Casio scientific calculator. It's hard to believe how far new technologies have pushed the computing horsepower envelope in such a short time.
    And how far down the black-box, digitally-signed, internet-connection-required, disposable-on-error path it has gone. I have, for example, a printer/scanner/copier smart enough to manage itself and process photos all on it's own and yet still be cheaper to throw away than to refill, let alone economically repair.

    Looking at PCs, and the almost infinite variety of combinations of hardware and software that have to be allowed for, I have some sympathy for the issues facing Microsoft. They're damned whichever way they go - either by the inevitable bugs arising from unforeseen interactions, or by forcing users into a stricter control system. I can also see why Apple and Sony and others are so keen on proprietary gear, to avoid those very issues. And why, in their pursuit of the mass-market, all of them get it wrong for any but the most generic, average consumer. It's because out-of-box equates to dumbed-down: the expectation that a computer system (these days, that includes phones, satnav, mp3 players, pdas...) can be presented in the same way as a fridge, or any other white goods. Something that requires no more after sales support than a reset button, and if that doesn't work, shrug and throw it away - after all, the newer one will be better, anyhow.

    Microsoft is a great example of being sold a fridge/freezer that will give you full control of the fridge but only let you open the freezer door if you ask very nicely, in exactly the right way, and confirm it 84 times in writing. Apple would sell you one that looks fabulous, tells you the ambient temperature on four continents simultaneously, but doesn't actually keep things, well, cold. And Sony would sell you one that worked perfectly, as long as you only put Sony branded goods in it through the special Sony-shaped flap on the side and didn't want to be able to retrieve some of them, ever.

    They could all do with taking a leaf from the OpenSource community's book. Put a big button on whatever it is that says: "I am an advanced user, I want full control of this device and I accept the risk that I'll arse it up and need a full factory reset that loses all my modifications". Sure, it'd be back wrestling with the 1990 "Instruction out of memory" rather than the 2010 "The server is unwilling to process the request" flavour of computer non-cooperation, but hey, that's progress. And it may result, just for example, in a phone that any slightly-above-average user could persuade to make phone calls, rather than one that offers all the capabilities of the Nuclear Clock to make up for the fact it doesn't!

  4. I have been a dabbler for the same time that you have been working in IT - my first PC was a 386, when they were cutting-edge. Compared to my Amstrad PCW it was blisteringly fast. Happy days.

    The out-of-the-box experience does have drawbacks, I will admit, but when it comes to computers I am a bit like the person who buys a car and just wants it to go, with no interest in how it works. I am the opposite with bikes (hence the move to something more basic and user-serviceable), but with cars I am increasingly uninterested in the technology. And if I could buy a computer that did all its stuff without involving me in its workings, I'd be quite happy. People I know with Macs say they do this. I only know that little I do about the workings of Windows because I have had to learn.

    Damn things. I love 'em.


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