Help! My Livelihood (phone) is Useless

The past four evenings were a little tough for me. On Halloween night, right as I left work my iPhone 5S inexplicitly stopped working. In the top left hand corner of my phone the usually trusty AT&T logo was swapped out with the word “searching.” It was impossible to make a call. Sending any type of text was out of the question. If I wasn’t in a wifi supported area, I couldn’t do a darn thing on my phone. What was going on?

On my way home from work I did all the little tricks I could think of to get my phone functioning. When I arrived to my apartment and I still had a malfunctioning phone I busted out my laptop and started looking at Apple pages and internet forums for possible answers to resurrecting my device. Nothing worked. Of all nights for my phone to take a nosedive, did it really have to be Halloween? So much for receiving photos of my niece dressed in her costume, tough luck on getting trick-or-treater updates from my mom (I now know they had 259 total children come to their door), and forget about sending out any photos of Sidney and I in our costumes. But the bitterest pill to swallow was not sending out my holiday message. A streak was broken and that hurt.

The next few days sent me on a wild goose chase to fix my phone. No need to list all the places I stopped at and the numerous people I spoke with because the list is long. While everyone tried their absolute best, no one had an answer except that I had a faulty phone. In perhaps the lowest moment, an attempt last night to completely wipe out and restore my device completely backfired when we went to activate my phone it just wouldn’t do it. I couldn’t get past the activation screen, thus making my phone 100% useless in every way, shape, and form.

This morning I was given a loaner phone until Apple sends me a brand new device. After 84 hours of not being able to connect on a social, voice, and text level, it was so nice to be up and running.

The story ends happily! i now have a phone.

The story ends happily! i now have a phone.

I know many of you might consider me a materialistic phone-dependent jerk, but take into consideration what I do. As a guy who works in social media, my iPhone is my livelihood. Think about a chef for a second. If you took away his oven, he could still manage to get the job done and serve food using alternative means but it would severely cripple him. The same goes for me with my iPhone. It depleted a lot of the tools I have at my disposal but because of some creativity and my great intern we made it through.

Of course there is the personal aspect of it as well. Not having the option to communicate with others sucks. The thought of getting in an accident or experiencing an emergency while phoneless also plays with your brain a bit. It was because of this reason combined with not having phone navigation that I made the easy decision not to venture anywhere unnecessary over the last several days.

However, I can now put my professional concerns and personal fears behind me. I presently have a functioning phone and soon I will have a brand new device. I want to thank Samantha Cherry from HTC for providing me with some great help and customer service over the past couple days. My dear friends, please never take your phones for granted, you never know when the power it gives you could be suddenly shut off. Don’t Blink.

Spot On Navigation

The proliferation of smart phones has delivered to us so many conveniences in relation to everyday life. Easy photo editing, quick weather checks, sports scores, social media, music carrier, and so much more. However, I think there is something else on my iPhone that I value more than all of these things.

I consider the navigation feature on my phone a lifesaver. For me, there is never such a thing as being lost anymore. You just type in an address, and your phone gives you crystal clear directions to your destination.

Everyone my age and older can remember a time when electronic navigation did not exist. You had to rely on directions from someone else or look at something called a map. But getting directions from someone else always posed the possibility of problems. The person could accidentally tell you a single wrong direction (such as a left instead of a right) and you would be screwed. Or when you were jotting down your friend’s directions, you could make a simple error yourself. For many people, following a map proved troublesome too…especially when one couldn’t even get passed holding it the right way and folding it back up. Yep, who knew how pizza delivery people survived fifteen years ago.

Me out on the open road. I love having dependable navigation.

Me out on the open road. I love having dependable navigation.

Then came Mapquest. You could go online, type in the destination’s address, and just like that you would have clearly spelled out directions along with a map. In my high school and early college days I used Mapquest a lot. Sure my car looked a little cluttered with all the white pieces of computer paper I printed out with directions on them but it was efficient and most of all, accurate. But referencing the printed out instructions while driving, especially during the dark, was not always the easiest. Plus, if Mapquest didn’t take into account a closed road or a construction site and you ran into it, you had no way to troubleshoot the problem.

Everything improved with the debut of GPS vehicle aides. Buy one and stick it on your dash and you were good to go. Finally, step by step visual and audio directions that took you exactly where you needed to go. But the one Achilles heel with GPS is that it was just another added accessory, something else that we had to spend money on. It also took up space in the car and looked nerdy if you wanted to take a girl out and she saw that you had to rely on a machine to get you where you needed to go.

But as the iPhone has done to stop watches, voice recorders, iPods, alarm clocks, newspapers, cameras, notepads, and board games it also did to GPS. No longer do we need to buy a GPS or rent one out along with our rental car. Instead, we have the best navigation possible on our smart phones.

The navigation I have on my iPhone 5 is superb. I have never had one problem at all using it. If I am going to a new location for the first time ever, I don’t sweat it at all. Way in advance before I leave, I just type the address in and see how long the estimated travel time is and I leave according to that. No stressing on getting lost, no worrying about a potential wrong turn.

The beauty about the iPhone navigation is I could go out in my car and purposely take 47 wrong turns but my phone would still recalculate to put me on a route that would get me to my destination. That is why I never have to worry about a closed road or some freak accident impending my progress. You see, if I can’t confuse the navigation by deliberately doing all I can to sabotage the route, a simple road block or two won’t either. The visual and audio components are great. I like to follow along with both but if I was sketched out about getting pulled over for using my mobile device I would have no problem putting my phone in my cup holder and just listening to the audio directions.

This past autumn when I was doing football travel, my phone navigation was a godsend. It used to be if I traveled to a city that I had never set foot in, getting around would be a little confusing and stressful. Not with my iPhone. I never felt intimated driving on roads I had never seen in my life because the navigation I had at my disposal was just so spot on and trustworthy. When I travel for leisure and am doing a lot of walking, I utilize the mode on the navigation that gives you directions by foot. Even though I am a pro when it comes to Las Vegas, I still use the walking navigation mode to get me to certain places.

I guess the only negative about the navigation feature on new mobile devices is the robotic voice that you are forced to listen to. After a while, it definitely gets old. But hey, small price to pay for the security and accuracy afforded by these devices, huh? Don’t Blink.

Losing My Text Messages

I save everything. While not to the degree as someone on “Hoarders”, I am a little bit of a pack rat. Notes, cards, matchbooks, key chains, napkins, church bulletins, invitations, funeral programs, boutonnières, pens, and many more trinkets and documents are all things I have kept around much longer than I probably should. Both at my parents’ house in Spokane and in storage here in Missoula I have boxes and boxes of items that I don’t need but that I just can’t seem to get rid of. Besides physical items, I also hold on to something else that I have a hard time getting rid of….text messages.

Last week a message popped up on my iPhone 5 after I sent out a text. It read: Your SMS mailbox is full. New messages cannot be received until you delete some messages. A little bit irked, I went through my phone and erased some text messages I could live without. This was actually pretty easy. You see, since I had gotten my first iPhone a little under two years ago, I had never erased one single text message. All you who have iPhones know how it is, with the way text messaging is handled on our devices you never really have the need to delete messages. Everything is so organized and messages never seem to build up because all conversations are neatly grouped under the name of the person you are texting with. However, the time had come to start doing some housekeeping.

As I said, I went through and deleted probably around 20 message threads, mostly from numbers that I did not even have a name assigned to. I thought that would more than do the trick…but it didn’t. I quickly realized that I was not getting SMS messages. While I was still able to get iMessages, I was completely shut out from getting texts from people who did not have iPhones. This meant that I couldn’t communicate via text with several of my friends, a person who I was doing some work for, and my parents. Maybe the biggest gut shot of all, I could no longer receive my Twitter SMS updates that I depended on to keep me up to date with the world. Thinking that it was maybe something that would fix itself overnight, I told myself not to worry. Unfortunately, the next day I was not receiving SMS updates either. I turned off my phone and turned it back on about a dozen times. Each time I powered up my phone again and went to the messaging feature the same “Your SMS mailbox is full…” message popped up. Panicked, I decided to delete more messages.

Throughout the day I went through my phone and conducted “rounds of cuts” on my text messages. At this point I was still erasing threads from people that I had no real connection to. I realized I probably should have erased many of them long ago because they were all so insignificant and they really were just taking up space. But after round and round of cuts, by late evening I didn’t have too much “dead wood” left in my inbox anymore yet I was still getting the dreaded message.

The next morning I awoke and turned my phone off and turned it back on again…same message. At this point I started to get frustrated. I had gone over 36 hours without receiving a single SMS text. I had people I needed to communicate with. I called my carrier and explained the whole problem to a support employee. She kind of laughed and told me, “Dear, you need to continue to delete more text messages.” I didn’t really understand. When I first got the “mailbox is full message” I probably had 400 different message threads in my text messaging inbox. I had since decreased that down to under 100 different threads. I mean if my phone was working just fine when I had 399 threads going and the tipping point was 400 threads, shouldn’t I have been just fine after deleting 50 threads? I thought I had already gone extreme by deleting 75% of my inbox. Now she wanted me to delete even more?

Dejected I went through and deleted more messages through a very rigorous process. It was sad, the messages I had remaining in my inbox all meant something to me. Clever texts, meaningful texts, emotional texts, some life changing texts. I didn’t want to delete any of them, but again, I had to communicate with the outside world. With a heavy thumb, I went through and deleted about 95% of my inbox. Could you imagine what was going through my head when after I had decreased my inbox by 95% I was still getting that stupid message?

It was now Friday morning. I had lost SMS capabilities on Tuesday evening and I had also lost many of the text conversations I held dear to my heart. I once again called my carrier to get something figured out. That initial call was the first of many that day. In an agonizing process I was shuffled between reps from my carrier and reps from Apple in trying to solve my problem and get my text messaging capabilities restored. Call after call, different person after different person, possible trouble shooting solution after possible trouble shooting solution. The ultimate low of the whole ordeal came when one guy told me to turn my iMessage command off and then turn it back on to see if it would somehow revive all SMS messaging. I did just that, well the first part anyway. While I was able to turn off the command, I was unable to turn it back on. And just like that, my phone was unable to receive a text message of any form whatsoever.

I went and worked out hard, taking my frustration out on the weights. As workouts always do for me, I felt better at the conclusion of it. I was once again ready to try to restore functionality to my phone.

With my head cleared, I was ironically transferred to someone working for Apple who also seemed to have his head cleared as well. He immediately realized the problem and hit me with the truth: There was a software malfunction on my phone. Although I was deleting messages from my phone, the brains inside it kept throwing up the “mailbox is full” message not realizing that messages were in fact getting deleted. My software on my iPhone was corrupt. The only solution was to completely wipe out my phone and restore it. Bye bye two years worth of apps, data, and memories.

The guy who diagnosed my problem was a complete pro. Although I lost a lot, including my text messages, he was able to salvage my contacts and my 4,000 pictures once we restored my phone. The second I powered up my phone in the new restored version, text messages started to come through…it was a beautiful thing. Much to my chagrin, however, all the messages sent from Tuesday evening through the restoration time on Friday were cut off. I never received one of them to my phone. Who knows what important texts I never received.

It still stings a little thinking about all the text messages I lost. Encouraging ones from my parents, supportive ones from my brother, funny ones from my friends, special ones from my girlfriend, unique ones that only meant something to me from all different kinds of people. Also lost were all the drafts of my holiday messages from the past two years. But what can you do? Sometimes you do need to let go and start fresh. I will never get those texts back but I know that better ones are on the way. Don’t Blink.