I have already mentioned many times how important my mobile is to me. But don’t get the idea that I spend hours each day yacking on the phone to all and sundry. That’s not it at all. In fact, I make very few phone calls.
My very first mobile, the cheapest I could find, could make and receive voice calls, send and receive texts and store a few numbers. That was it. Since then, the mobile has come a long way. From being the size and weight of a small brick, it has become a tiny slip of a thing, its smallness limited only by the bigness of clumsy human fingers. The important thing, however, is that we hardly even talk about “mobiles” these days: in the modern age, we all have “smart phones”.
I could criticize the use of the Americanism (I always think of a “smart phone” as a handset that is neatly, cleanly and pleasantly dressed…) but there’s no point. The terminology is here to stay. More important is what we mean by it.
I don’t know what is the more remarkable about my Blackberry, the fact that the fully functional keyboard is so tiny or that I can manage to type reasonably well on something that minuscule. The keyboard gives a clue as to the nature of the modern mobile, er, sorry, “smart phone”: it is in fact a small, specialized computer.
Mine has document editing and spreadsheets, address book and appointments calendar, complete with reminders and alarms. It has an instant messenger as well as text messaging, and I can receive and send emails. Oh yes, I nearly forgot: I can even make phone calls with it. To say that I rely on it gives only a pale reflection of its importance in my life.
Yesterday, as I was working at my desk, I noticed out of the corner on my eye that my phone had decided to reset itself. This is an annoying habit of Blackberries, apparently: they sometimes spontaneously reset, which is the equivalent of a computer rebooting itself. Though a nuisance, it happens only occasionally so I ignored it and got on with what I was doing.
Later, I looked at the phone, assuming that it had gone back to its normal ready state. But no: instead of that, it was displaying a white screen with tiny black lettering in the middle, too small for me to read. I didn’t bother trying but simply took out the battery, put it back in and left the phone to restart. I did this several times.
It was all to no avail. Each time we ended up with the white screen and the black message. Using a magnifying glass, I was able to read the legend “App error 253”. I have no idea what that means but it was clear that something had gone wrong, something that I couldn’t put right myself.
So I used the landline to call Orange. I find Orange call centre people usually quite helpful and polite, as long as the matter is something they can deal with. If it isn’t, then you may be in for the long haul. I explained to the young lady as succinctly as possible what was wrong, i.e. that my phone refused to function.
“Are you calling from that phone now?” she asked.
“Er, no, since it doesn’t work.”
Finally, she realized that the problem was beyond her competence and that she would have to put me through to technical support. I didn’t mind this because they have in the past been very good. So they were again, but the fact that my hearing is poor and the woman I spoke to had a pronounced Asian accent meant that communication was sometimes a little difficult.
I eventually got her to understand what the problem was and she asked me to remove the battery, the SIM card and the data card, wait a moment, then put it all back in. I did all this and got the white screen again.
She now asked me to go online to Blackberry and I think she wanted me to download some software, though how she thought I would be able to install it on a phone that refused to communicate, I do not know. In any case, the Web site as she described it was different from the one I was looking at on my computer so we were not getting very far.
Finally, the good lady decided that what I needed was a new phone. They would deliver this to me on the morrow between 9 am and 1 pm. That’s today, and I am typing this while waiting for the ring on the doorbell.
I am told that if I put my SIM card in the new phone, I will be able to register it and all my email settings etc will be restored. She even dictated the buttons to press and the order in which to press them in order to secure this happy consummation. Will it work? Time will tell.
Data will have been lost, of course. I am good at backing up files from the computer but not quite so good at doing the same for my phone. I do have a backup of essential data (phone and address book, calendar with birthdays and anniversaries) stored on Yahoo but it is a little out of date. Still, that’s better than nothing at all and should restore the most essential information.
To do that I have to get to grips with the Blackberry desktop software. The previous version was clunky but usable and I could do with it all that I needed to do. Just recently I installed the latest version and I have to say that parts of it are a mystery to me. I can’t get them to work.
I took a look at the backup section with my other phone and that seems to work, so there is hope that I will be able to restore my data and bounce back.
That’s the theory, though, and between theory and fact there is often a swamp filled with man-eating crocodiles to negotiate. At this stage, I can only hope for the best and wait for the ring on the doorbell.
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