Monthly Archives: June 2011

Redemption of sorts, and another beta faff..

More phone-based monkeying around...

Well, since I had a bit of a moan about it before, it’s only fair to conclude the tale of iPhone breakage.  Whilst my initial experiences with Protect Your Bubble were frustrating, after a member of their team happened upon my rant and got in touch I must admit that I was impressed with the speed of resolution.

Once the envelope arrived I sent it Special Delivery on a Saturday morning, receipt was confirmed on Monday and in the afternoo I was informed that a replacement would be issued – which was delivered by Tuesday morning.  Excellent. I remain unconvinced of forking out a combined about £100 in excess fees, topping up the premium amount and sending the original phone back represents that could value – although of course buying a new iPhone would cost considerably more than that.

Still, a happy ending, and assurances that my feedback around the earlier wibbles in service levels would be taken on board for future processes – so perhaps my tribulations might spare future customers some of my irritations.

I’m now – having had to restore a chunk of my laptop which seems to be playing silly buggers – in the process of getting the iPhone up to the second beta release of iOS5.  There are also intriguing setup files for iCloud which I’m about to play with whilst my phone is doing its’ thang on the whole backup/restore/update/restore process.. ah, such fun. I should really be more patient and wait for the update to be made official…

Should you have the urge to update, it can be done – have a google about the place, ideally you should get your phone added to the account of a friendly iOS developer – although there are apparently sneaky ways to escape the need to do this.  You should remember that iPhones make it difficult to downgrade your OS, so it’s a rather one-way street and if you don’t like it, you’re stuck with it.  And it’s a beta, it will have a few bugs and glitches..

.. I still have 37 mins or so of restore to occur with phone non-operative, so can’t report on what those bugs may be.  iOS5 beta 1 was useable though, the only bugs I really found were mild niggles rather than fully fledged annoyances.. if I encounter any of the latter I’m sure I’ll indulge in a bit of rant about it.  Failing that I have remembered another school-based musical memory to try to keep this mini blog revival on track with later in the week.  Exciting!

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Categories: blog, iPhone / iPad / Mac | 1 Comment

Here she comes, the great leveller..

Aside from the Levellers of course, each of whom are great levellers – but I digress before I started.  The song that opens with the lyrics in the title is about heroin addiction, but can speak ‘the c word’ I’ve written about before.  This time it’s struck a little closer to home, indeed, it did some time ago – my Grandad now finds himself on a hospice ward in Nottingham’s City Hospital with probably less than a week left to live.

I’ve been to see him a few times – principally just to give comfort by my presence rather than being any practical help, as well as a bit of moral support to my Dad who’s been performing heroics in both visiting and practical duties.  It was difficult to listen to Grandad fretting about – of course – Granny and her wellbeing, but also the worries and niggles of every day life that, even now, he is only just managing to let go of and let us take away from him.

Seeing a man who hasn’t always been easy to get along with, but has always been there, stripped of his dignity and self-sufficiency is really rather tough – despite the fantastic care he receives from the wonderful staff at the hospital.  But you know, you can kind of accept it as what life throws at us, and at the end of the day you just kinda have to deal with – as Shakespeare would have it – the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

I thought that at least until today when I visited along with my Granny.  My Granny suffers with a case of dementia which means her short term memory is not great.  This means that my parents and aunty get the heartbreaking scenario where Granny discovers Grandad is terminally ill, again, like some sort of sick version of Groundhog day.  Fate is a cruel mistress indeed.

All being well his suffering won’t be for much longer, then we face the prospect of at which point – if ever – Granny will be able to commit his passing to her permanent memory.  Ouch.  What a sad way for three score plus years of marriage to be drawing to an end.  I always relish getting involved with my work’s events to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support regardless, but this year’s events it will be with a bit more gusto.

In cheerier news my replacement phone got sent out today.  God that sounds shallow.

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Trees, these useless trees…

A day of small but varied occurences today…

  • Thanks to my research and Cat’s slender fingers the MX-5 can now happily play music from a wired-in iPod and stream via bluetooth (and do hands free).  Very trouble free aside from the fiddly small space in which to fit the plugs in.  I do miss the awesome functionality of the stereo from ‘the nail’, but I didn’t want to rip out the factory stereo.
  • New entertainment options in place, a trip to the O2 shop in Beeston saw me acquire an adaptor to convert my iPhone’s microsim to a normal sized sim card.  Cat had posted my iPhone to the insurance company in the morning, so I bought the cheapest pay as you go phone they stock – a £12 Samsung GT-E108oi.  Wow, it’s basic!
  • Some observations about this dramatically backward step in mobile telephony:
    • It doesn’t have predictive text – making writing text messages a real chore, and quite frustrating for anyone in my proximity due to the clicky horrible buttons
    • It doesn’t have any internet or email functionality. None. It certainly doesn’t have apps like Tapatalk or Forumrunner (or Facebook or Twitter)
    • I couldn’t import any contacts into it from my backups – so I had to type them in, with the horrible clunky buttons.  I hadn’t missed that process.
    • It’s tiny!
    • It doesn’t play any music or multimedia, has no camera.  It only has one game on it.
    • The battery lasts for ages.
    • I can’t wait to not have to use it any more!!
    • People were right when they suggested that I perhaps had a warped opinion of how important an iPhone is to life and living life – clearly I had under-estimated the pivotal nature of this magical device!!!
  • I’ve been harrassed by a Welsh gardener who seemed to really want to cut down our Leyandii for £90.  So much so he sent a minion to ask Cat after I’d said no, and I bumped into him again in the local Sainsbury’s where me mentioned it again!

Look, I admire your entrepreneurial spirit, but begone – confounded Welshman!  Never darken my lawns again!

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Random songs from primary school..

I had one of those ‘random things from school popping into my head’ moments again today. Being firmly of the Google generation I duly searched for it, partly to see if it is something I imagined – to validate my strange mind, and of course to see if anybody else out in Internet Land had remembered more of it than me.

We’re back at Primary school time, so mid-to-late 80’s, and it was one of those strange music-book-story type things.  I seem to recall it being about a catalogue in which you could order pretty much anything you could possibly want.  Pretty much the only thing I could recall in any detail were the words (and tune) to part of a song: “It’s easy as falling off a log, when you order from the giant ginormous catalogue.

All Google really unearthed were a couple random Facebook groups such as this one and this one.  Given the myriad of randomly and wonderfully obscure information on the Internet I can’t believe there’s nothing more than that.  Can anyone remember any more? I’m wondering if any Google hits that find this page might reunite me with somebody who can remember what the hell I’m talking about in more detail.

While I’ve been pondering this I can remember another musical type thing that we endured at school.  It involved some kind of song-writing competition in which there was a hero and a villain – the villain realised he wasn’t very talented so arranged to copy the hero’s song to cheat and win.  The hero gets wind of this, and creates a dirgey tuneless song to trick him – whilst of course secretly having a real song in reserve.

The only real detail I can remember are the lyrics to the ‘fake’ song, although I may have some details wrong… it goes something like this: “The blackbird sings a tuneful song, with turns and trills so fine, such skill has he, such majesty, but it’s not as good as mine. La la la la la, La la la la la, no it’s not as good as mine.

The only potential reference Google could find for this was this Tweet. One solitary Tweet.  On the whole Internet – and hardly conclusively about the song I’m thinking about.  After all, the blackbird does sing a tuneful song.

Does anybody else retain these meaningless trinkets of memory to the extent I do?  I often think when I’m at work struggling to remember what I was working on a few weeks ago when somebody has a follow-up query that if I could somehow empty my cache of these silly recollections it might give me a more efficient mind.

It would be a shame to lose silly recollections though, wouldn’t it?  I think on reflection even if that was an option I would keep them.  I would love to hear from anybody who stumbles upon this post through searching for either of the song lyric fragments above, though!

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Protect your Bubble, toil and trouble!

So it’s been almost a week since I broke my phone.  Anyone who knows me will undoubtedly have observed how frequently I use it, so it’s frustrating.  Of course, it is still usable despite the broken screen, but it’s not ideal.

Having immediately got in touch with Protect your Bubble – my insurance provider of choice (because they’re considerably cheaper than insuring with O2, which I’ve done in the past), they quite reasonably asked me to send them a claim form and proof of purchase of my device to them.  I did this – I printed them out, filled in and signed and emailed it to them as per their instructions.

This was five days ago.  I’ve had a busy time and wanted to give them a chance to send the envelope for me to return my phone.  Having returned home from an overnight business trip to no envelope I chased them up by telephone.  It transpired that they were awaiting confirmation of payment details for the excess (which I had included on the claim form!!), so they will now authorise the claim and despatch the means for me to send my phone to them.

Which means I’ll probably get the chance to get the phone despatched on Friday.  They’ll get it on Monday or Tuesday, they will assess it for repairability (I suspect it needs replacing, but who knows?), and either repair it (3-5 days claimed for this) before sending it on (1-3 days delivery time) or potentially might immediately decide on a replacement in which case it could shave the repair time off.

Either way, I’m looking at having a defective phone for the best part of 2-3 weeks (and had I dropped it a little harder it could’ve been a completely dead phone!) which is pretty disappointing.  When I had a similar experience with O2 insurance with my old iPhone 3G I called them, they sent a courier with a new one the next day – he took away my old phone, and it was sorted.

Seems you do get what you pay for – although of course, whether or not that brilliant level of service is worth almost a tenner a month extra when it’s (hopefully) unlikely you’ll need it is ultimately the crux of the debate!  Ho hum.  I shall continue to monitor my experiences.

So far I have been rather disappointed, but perhaps shouldn’t be surprised given the price.  But it ain’t quite what is implied in their TV advertising, that’s for sure.

Categories: blog, iPhone / iPad / Mac | 90 Comments

Manna from heaven..

It’s been a really mixed few days for me – Thursday started badly. My car, which for reasons I can’t quite fathom I’d parked on the drive the day before, wouldn’t start – it’s kaput, I suspect either the starter motor and/or the alternator is broken.  Whilst repairable, I’ve reached the stage with it where I’m not prepared to sink more cash in to it, and I don’t have the time, inclination or expertise to properly take care of it.

In attempting to hook up a booster pack to it to try to force it to start I also dropped my phone from my pocket, smashing the screen. Deep joy!  It is insured, although the process to replace it is much more long-winded than with the more-expensive O2 insurance – so there’s a learning there.  I currently still have a broken phone, I’ve sent the relevant forms/proof of purchase and await an envelope to send the phone away in.

More positively the death of ‘the nail’ has accelerated half-formed plans I already had to continue my journey through a mid-life crisis – and on Saturday with some investigative help from Ma I found my next car, a rather pretty Mazda MX-5 which I shall hopefully be taking delivery of (or rather collecting!) on Wednesday all things being well.  So that’s pretty exciting stuff, I reckon!

Today of course is Father’s day – so it was good to pop and see how Dad was doing – indeed, a very wholesome family day all round really, I stayed for lunch – at one point I was even playing on the piano with my Granny (not that I can remotely play the piano!!), and we also popped to see Grandad who is currently in the hospice section of the hospital as he is suffering from terminal bowel cancer.

There’s nothing quite like seeing an 84 year old man who has always been a fairly formidible character look so defeated by such an ugly illness.  Of course, I imagine ups and downs are inevitable with such a battle – but listening to his concerns, his fears (and almost acceptance) of not coming home again it does rather bring in to stark relief the importance of realising how relatively short our time is around the place, and to make the most of it.

Sufficed to say Grandad has been a challenging man to get get along with at times – but none of us are without our foibles, after all.  He’s also the man who took endless time out to indulge me and Rich in our interests – whether it be planes, creating fires in the garden, making kites, the intricacies of Skateboard maintenance and ramp-building or just collecting random words.  There’s a lot of fond memories there.  I could probably have lived without the tram museum in Crich, though.

It is a strange feeling to think that the next visit to see him might be the last – as unfortunately nobody seems to be able to give a timescale for him.  Whilst the staff looking after him are fantastic, it seems a very undignified way to be spending what is ultimately likely to be his last weeks.  Finding that balance between not wanting to lose someone and hoping their suffering stops is a difficult one.

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I got (iOS) 5 on it..

Another geeky post. Thanks to the generosity of a friend who has an Apple Developer Account adding my iPhone to the list of eligible devices to take beta versions of the operating system, which has enabled me to install iOS 5 on my iPhone 4.  I am impatient, after all.

First job was to install the beta for iTunes 10.5 – this was actually a slight nuisance, with me using Windows Vista on my laptop (more through habit than desire!) it didn’t seem to like installing over the old iTunes, however a remove and log-in as Administrator a clean install worked much better.

Once installed I attached my iPhone, once it appears hold down shift and hit restore and point to the IPSW file I downloaded – et voila, after a chunk of time the new operating system is installed.  Upon installation the phone offered the chance to set up without a computer- nervousness meant I instead directed iTunes to grab my old phone info and sync.

The first big benefit from the new iOS is the ability to continue using your phone whilst it syncs (which was possible through jailbroken phones).  Also I noticed that it was installing three apps at the same time rather than one at a time (obviously it might have done that anyway, you can’t normally see though – however later a multiple-app update later did the same thing – woo!).

Notification center is cool, I like it a lot.  iMessage is an awesome idea – obviously rather limited at the moment since I don’t know many people who’ve taken the plunge!  Love the idea of Reminders – although the address based ones seem rather hamstrung that you have to pick an address from your contents rather than just entering a postcode. Meh. Disappointing.

Everything else has been fine though, the only buglet I’ve noticed is that my playlists in the iPod app (which is now called Music) are in an arbitrary order rather than alphabetic.  A relatively small matter – although if you’re a bigger playlist user than me it could prove a frustration for you!

I’m not really bothered by NewsStand, and as it’s technically a folder it can’t be hidden away like I do with the Stocks and Contacts apps in a folder – so I’ve just dumped it on the last page.  iCloud is limited at the moment – it’s only a first Beta after all!

I took the opportunity to have a real cull of apps I don’t really use too, so all in all it’s been quite a productive evening of farting around on my own technology rather than Rich’s!  That said, Rich did provide me with a case of Magners Pear Cider in exchange for my laptop recovery services, so all is certainly not lost!

As for iOS 5 – if you’re an unfeasibly impatient sod like me then go for it, it has definite benefits – highlights for me are the notification centre and the ability to use your phone whilst syncing.  Also it appears to have enabled personal hotspot without the need for the pay-for service that my network provider would usually try to levy.

If you want to go for it – then you will need to find somebody with an Apple Developer Account to add your iPhone’s UDID to their account.  Some unscrupulous people are charging cash for this, others seem more magnanimous.  Should you wish to proceed, then you can find the relevant files here:

Files you need to upgrade your iPhone

But remember that you need to register your phone’s UDID, and definitely remember that this isn’t something you’ll get much sympathy for should you fuck it up!  iPhones aren’t designed to be able downgrade the operating system.  So do it at your own risk!!

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Routin’ tootin’ trouble shootin’..

For a fair while now we’ve been using a Cisco Linksys WRT160N router – a fairly bog standard wireless router that connects to our Cable connection and spreads out the interweb via both ethernet ports and of course wirelessly.  You can probably get them dirt cheap now, although when I bought it it was reasonably new and shiny!

I’m not right sure whether or not it has always done it, or whether it’s a recent phenomena now we have more-things-than-ever hooked up to it by hook or crook (at last count two phones, three laptops, one desktop, one Wii, one XBox 360, one PS3, one Blu-ray player, one Television and one NAT.  I think that’s it.  Rarely all at the same time too, I might add!

Anyway, for whatever reason the router required rebooting to restore connectivity.  It seemed to have topped out at twice a day this occurred – annoying when you may be downloading a big torrent or hoping to use AudioGalaxy to access your music library when at work or out and about, I’m sure you’ll agree!

I investigated new official firmware releases – I was already up to date, and eventually happened upon this alternative firmware (having done something similar with the NAT which was playing up before).  Not only has this added all manner of geekish functionality that I don’t fully understand, more importantly it has delivered a much more stable router that has been up for nearly three days and counting…

So, if you’re having difficulty with  your router I can recommend DD-WRT if you’re feeling suitably confident in fiddling around with things at a fairly fundamental level.  It’s a shame the router doesn’t have more space to install a few more things on it – but never mind!  At least the internet connection in the house stays up now!

Not the most illuminating or fascinating of stories – the main reason for writing it was because I only pieced together the solution from numerous different sources, so should someone else out there with the same router as me be suffering the same fate, they may well – thanks to Google – stumble across this solution!

The only teeny issue is that since the change an amber warning light is now illuminated on the router, but this is down to the rogue firmware not quite properly talking to the hardware on this small instance.  It’s a small price to pay!

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