Sunday, September 18, 2016

Electronic Gremlins

We had some gremlins set up shop in some of the electronics around our home over the past week.  I think we've mostly recovered to about the 95% level, but it has been a long and very annoying road.

It started early this week.  I was looking at my 4-year-old iPhone and thought it needed cleaning, so I took it out of its case.  Almost as soon as I did that, the front popped half off.  The battery, it seems, was well past its useful life and had expanded.  When the case was removed, it was able to push the front of the phone out.  Great: my phone is now an ex-phone.  Deceased.

After a quick talk with Janis, we decided to replace both of our phones.  Hers was a little newer than mine, but both were way beyond Verizon's "new every two" sales pitch.  So off I went to the Verizon store and came home with two brand-new iPhone 6 SE's with the cell numbers already activated.  These phones have all the iPhone 6 internals, just in the smaller iPhone 5 case, and they still have the earphone jack that Apple is trying to do away with.  All is well so far.

You know how Apple advertises how everything in Apple-land is seamless, and people can do stuff like transfer all their data from one phone or tablet to another with just a click?  Right.  Not here.  Not in this house.  I plugged our phones into our computers and got an error message saying that our new phones would not talk to our 8-year-old MacBook and iMac.  The older iPhones worked with the two computers just fine, but something about the new hardware says "nope, no way."  I spent a lot of time with Mr. Google, trying to find solutions, to no avail.  The new iPhones won't talk with the old computers.

So I had to find some workarounds.   One was really ironic.  I have a Dell laptop with Windows 10 that's used for my day job, so I paired my new phone with the Dell.  It wasn't as easy as connecting to a Mac, but it worked.  So then I was able to transfer some data from my MacBook to the Dell and then onto the phone.  And yes, you read that right: my iPhone will talk to a frickin' Windows machine, but not a Mac.  Is that hosed, or what?

I was able to transfer some data through Apple's iCloud, too, after quite a bit of struggling to make the "easy" system do what I wanted it to do.  And I was able to transfer photographs off my iPad (which, unlike my new phone, is still on speaking terms with my old MacBook).  Transferring apps proved impossible, so I had to download them all over again.  One side benefit, though, was that many unused apps, photos, and music just went away.  So now I have the contacts, music, apps, and photos I need on my new phone.  I think.

Getting Janis' phone up to speed was a similar exercise.  She doesn't keep music on her phone, so there wasn't any need to transfer stuff from iTunes, but she does have a bunch of photos, messages, emails, and contacts.  We got the contacts and the "keeper" photos transferred, but not the messages and emails.  Oh, well.

As we were getting the phones caught up to where we needed them, the electronic gremlins struck again.  On Friday morning, our internet went dead.  Turned out that our modem was kaput.  Our internet provider, Frontier, said they might be able to get a tech with a new modem out here by Wednesday.  That was unsatisfactory, since I work from home and was just completing a good-sized project due that afternoon.  Frontier said they'd "see what could be done".  By early afternoon, though, that answer appeared to be "nothing".  So off I went to Best Buy and came home with a bare-bones modem.  After a bit of finagling, it worked.  So now we have an internet connection and I have another piece of dead electronics sitting here in my home office.

So at the end of all this, we have two new phones, a modem that's getting the job done, two old computers on their way to retirement, one workable phone, and some dead electronics.  I've known for a while that we're going to need a new computer.  Since I'm not deploying anymore, we'll eventually replace this MacBook and the iMac with a new iMac.  But that's a big expense and I'm a cheap bastard, so that purchase is still a little ways off.