The disgusting inconvenience of using an iPhone

Remember the days when Apple was used to be a good company? You know, when these things were in all the schools. Yeah I’m talking about the 1998 iMac. Arguably the coolest looking and best performing computer of its time.

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This thing was amazing. It was fast. It had games and graphics programs and a single click mouse was all you needed.

Those were the days. For real.

Present day mentionings of “Apple” now make me grimace. The feeling I get is somewhere between sticking your tongue on a 9V battery and stepping on a slightly-above-average-sharpened rock whilst barefoot.

I recently came to find myself in the business of repairing a pair of iPhones belonging to a friend that had both run out of warranty. An iPhone 5C and 5S. The 5C hadn’t worked in about a year, so it also hadn’t been charged in about that time. The 5S had recently started having issues with the display which only worked occasionally.

I wanted to fix the iPhone 5S first because it was the one my friend was still trying to use. It seemed there was some kind of a problem with the logic board, as I tried everything I could to get the fucking screen to turn on. Trying all the buttons, resetting it with the button combination, plugging it into the wall/Macbook he had etc. There’s not a whole lot more else you can do because you can’t pull the battery without having the microscopic screwdriver required to remove the 2 tiny bottom screws.

Eventually it was toggling the ‘lock’ button on the side that made the screen wake-up. After that I set the screen off setting to “Never” ensuring the screen was always on. After about 5 hours of having the screen on, and even putting the iPhone in the fridge for just 2 minutes to cool down because it had started to get REALLY hot. The screen was still working. So I concluded that it wasn’t actually a connector or hardware issue and perhaps something faulty with the screen off setting. Further evidence came from the fact that before when the screen was black, I could still hear sounds from touching the screen. So it was still recording touch input, just not displaying anything. After I got the screen on, I tried installing the latest iOS  (11.2.2 (15C202)) to see if that would make any difference. Nope. The phone rebooted (presumably as it could be detected by iTunes) but the screen was not working again and nothing seemed to get it to come on… great.

I looked online to find that fixing it would cost about $470 off the warranty which was totally out of the question. No store in Australia even sells iPhone 5S models any more. You either buy an iPhone 6 or nothing, and these started at $600. So I went about trying to convince my mate to swap to Android once-and-for-all. We still needed to get the iPhone working properly though because he had 400+ phone contacts to transfer from it and he hadn’t managed to save them to iCloud.

Fast forward a few days and it really seems nothing is working. I tried for about an hour massaging the buttons in different patterns. Holding the power and trying to swipe to turn it off, where I knew the slider would be (I just couldn’t see it). I also tried connecting to 2 different computers and tried different cables. I couldn’t even get the phone connected because it wanted me to accept the connection, even on his authorised Macbook (you fucking serious Apple?), and I couldn’t confirm the action on the phone because I couldn’t SEE anything!

The more things I tried, the more I realised that you’re honestly shit out of luck owning one of these things. Google searches resulted in thousands of distressed forum posts and complaints from Apple users who had been at a huge loss of what to do in the same situation. It was hard to withhold empathy and roll with the same feeling I always have “What do you expect buying Apple?” when I was now in the same situation myself in place of my mate who was himself, at a massive loss on how to get his phone working again.

Eventually it may have been a combination of using the Torch on my Sony Xperia XZP and shining that on the ambient light sensor and mashing a few of the buttons, that got the iPhone 5S to finally wake up. After which I set the screen timeout to “Never fucking ever” and got about trying to pair the iPhone to my Sony XZP via bluetooth to hopefully transfer off the contacts. Yeah no. I could pair the phones but not connect from either of them and conveniently there isn’t ANY kind of option to transfer ANY contacts or photos via Bluetooth which makes me honestly wonder what the flying fuck the phone even has Bluetooth compatibility for? Perhaps it’s just for those shitty iPods or the Apple Watch huh?

I downloaded iTunes to learn that of course, iTunes is no longer really used to view photos/videos and do software updates for iPhones any more. So I hunted around and found the iCloud app.

Transferring contacts seemed to be a dead end. So I tried photos and videos. After authorizing the laptop I was on (now that the screen on the iPhone worked) I was greeted with a whopping 8 out of 641 images that I could transfer over. The rest wouldn’t display, apparently because Windows can only see photos in the “Camera Roll”. Bloody brilliant Apple! So I set them all to upload to iCloud from the phone, which anyone will tell you on Australia internet, takes about 7 days hours per photo. After this, I used the downloaded iCloud software to log-in and download them all to the computer I was using. Whoopie! Another 1½ hours down the drain for something that would have taken me TWO GODDAMN MINUTES on an Android phone… The icing on the cake was the fact that the iCloud software and Photo folder doesn’t have any kind of download or upload progress bar, so I had to keep refreshing the folder to see how many photos had been downloaded. At one point I thought it had stopped as nothing had been downloaded in a while so I clicked to “Download photos” again, to find that it had now made DUPLICATE folders numbered eg. “2018 (2)” and began downloading them all over again instead! It only stopped when I used the Task Manager to kill the program executable… So innovative Apple!

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With the photos saved it was time again to try with the contacts. I wasn’t about to photograph all 400+ contacts using my own Android phone, so I begrudgingly went back to Google to look for solutions.

It’s important to note that around this time I accidentally pulled the iPhone off my desk after getting out of my seat to go and get another beer (you can’t do this shit sober, trust me). This made the screen go off again despite me setting the timeout to “Never” which resulted in some massive panicking as I frantically tried to get the screen to come on again. It took about 3 minutes for it to work, but by then I decided I needed not one, but now TWO more beers to deal with the rest of this shit.

2 beers later. It seemed you could just go to the iCloud website. Log in, click contacts, Ctrl + A, click the settings gear at the bottom, click export vCard and voilá. You could download them all into a .vcf file to use for importing into Gmail or wherever. I chose to go for Gmail so they’d end up on my mate’s new Android phone without me even having to plug anything in. To do this I went to Google Contacts, and tried to import them but stupidly there doesn’t seem to be the option using the new Google Contacts layout. Can’t these multi-billion dollar companies get fucking anything right? So I clicked “Use old version” and bam, after reloading the page there’s the option “Import contacts -> From .csv file” holy shit. Was that hard or what?

I was now basically done with the backup portion of the work. From here on, I’m going to try and entirely reset the iPhone 5S to see if that helps, and I’ve also purchased a new iPhone 5C battery, seeing as that old one hasn’t responded to anything.

Thanks Apple for making something that should have taken me 2 fucking minutes, 10 hours.

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“Lab Girl” Book Review

Lab GirlLab Girl by Hope Jahren

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

DNF. First of all let me state that I have lived in Scandinavia for over 10 years, although I am originally from Australia. I grew up myself in the middle of a protected rainforest; actually the first rainforest ever to be saved from logging by protest. It would not be an overstatement to say that I absolutely love the environment and that plants have a very special place in my heart. I am also very interested in studying a degree in environmental science and plant biology. It is for these reasons plus some others that I picked up this book.

So you can imagine my frustration when I got 34% into this book and I am given only a few breadcrumbs (albeit: beautifully described and almost poetic breadcrumbs) of facts and information about plants and such. 80% of the book can be classified as dismissive whining and at times even even paranoid ramblings (the scene where Hope takes a 3-inch wrench with her as “protection” from a supposed ‘angry male’ when she wanted to use the x-ray machine for her PhD studies).

Chapters in the book about her personal life drone on-and-on and I felt increasingly starved for the beautifully written descriptions of plant facts and anatomy. I constantly ran into lengthy descriptions of how self-critical Hope is of not only her success but even her thoughts. At times I tried skipping chapters to find more about the plants but there is just so much personal pensive reflection or contemplation (melancholia) that it feels inescapable whilst reading.

In short, the book is so little about Hope’s achievements or even the plants that she supposedly loves so much and is basically just a long-drawn-out tale about her friendship with Bill; the guy who likes to dig holes, chain-smoke and follow Hope around everywhere.

I did at times feel quite bad for Hope and her anxiety issues but at the end of the day, I read this book out of an interest for plants and biology. I was expecting to hear about the grueling task one would have to undergo if they wanted to own your own labs and study things of their own interest and not apply to work under governmental and political bodies. However, I did not expect the book to be almost completely centered around this subject.

Ultimately, from living in Scandinavia for over a decade I can relate to her sheltered upbringing and related themes but this does not mean that reading through so much of this material is ‘engrossing’ or ‘entertaining’. This and the constant whining and how Hope felt her gender made her a victim in the ‘science realm’ was just too much for me.

Honestly I feel like 2 stars might even be a bit too much on this review. As, if I don’t finish something it’s generally because I don’t think that it was remotely worth my time. I did however, learn some nice facts and the parts which detailed plants were beautifully written and captured the feelings of awe I already have for plants, completely. Unfortunately they are far and few in between and cannot save the overall ‘slog’ of a read this book was for me.

Read the book if you are interested in long bouts of whining, a constant and persistent feminist undertone and a tale of two oddities and their conversations in the labs. Do not read this if you are expecting to hear remotely any detail about what made Dr. Jahren ‘famous’, or if you want to learn a lot of rich information about plant biology or if you are interested on how to break into the environmental and plant-based sciences scene.

I’m off to find something that is more science and less anxious moaning.

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Oh Bethesda… why so greedy?

I’ve been telling people for YEARS what a bad company Bethesda is. I’ve been telling people for years, that their main niche is creating sequels based from the same inherently flawed system. I’ve been saying for years, that in order to cover up their lazy coding they have used the gigantic modding community and left it up to actual players to fix game related problems and ultimately do the developer’s jobs for them.

Of course no one listened to me. In fact, basically every game Bethesda released consistently ended up with a GOTY (Game of the Year Edition). Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout 3 and Fallout 4. All of these games were re-released multiple times with prior DLC included and small patches added that most of the time modders had fixed years ago.

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Bethesda’s long list of “happy customers”

Bethesda has made 2 quite large releases at the time of this writing. The first being Skyrim – Ultimate Edition, which has a whole array of completely freaking pointless “upgrades” but thankfully was released for free for anyone who owned Skyrim previously. The second is a massive update to Fallout 4 that wait for it- “is a 2GB patch that adds PAID MODS to a full priced singleplayer game.” Yes, you heard that right.

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Expert game design right here

Now I just quoted someone else there, but what have I been saying this entire time? Bethesda games are inherently the same systems, re-skinned and re-released at full price (€59.99 not including obvious season passes for the Fallout series). Skyrim Ultimate edition was basically that, they re-released Skyrim with all of the DLC included in the main game (as they had done already once before) but with only the main change that now you HAVE TO use THEIR modding system. That is, you need to re-release mods on their own platform despite the fact that we all like and love ‘Nexusmods’ and don’t need or want another platform to do this on.

So despite this, what did Bethesda do. They realised that some people were charging actual money for mods for games Bethesda had created, and they had the great idea of thinking “Hey we can cash in on some of that too!” Now it’s one thing to give yours players the ability to write their own mods and patches for a game that you released and charged a whopping €59.99 or more, for. This would be fair. However, it’s another thing entirely to drop an update on one of your full priced titles that adds paid mods into the game because you want to further nickle and dime your customers.

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EA did it with the ridiculous scrap system in DeadSpace 3. Hell, Gearbox Software were one of the first companies to add micro-transactions into a game when they released Borderlands 2 and they went batshit crazy by putting a real money price on basically every single item in the game. It’s no secret that gamers are sick of this kind of shit, they are sick of being nickle and dimed for further progress and rewards in a full priced game. DLCs are one thing and sometimes they can add a good amount of content into a game and thus justify their price. Take the Witcher 3’s – Blood and Wine DLC expansion for example. However, there is a moral crime that shouldn’t be crossed when you charge full price for a game and then start slapping paywalls on things that used to be free.

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A mediocre improvement between Oblivion and Skyrim at best

I’ve been saying it forever. Bethesda is a greedy corporation run by greedy shareholders, if anything they are just as bad as EA. They have consistently re-skinned and re-released flawed environments and people keep buying their releases for some reason. Admittedly I bought Skyrim myself when it was on sale for only €5 and despite starting a new game something like 12 different times I still haven’t even so much as finished Skyrim. I have finished Oblivion though, at a whopping level 12. Despite the fact that the game is quite long and there are a huge amount of quests, I beat the last boss wearing leather armor because I hadn’t even levelled high enough to find anyone with Glass Armor yet, let alone Elven. This is just another example of how badly thought out the systems are in this game. I was able to exploit the ‘acrobatics’ skill in Oblivion just by consistantly mashing the spacebar whilst there was just enough space between my head and the roof that- oh just watch this video.

Anyway there you have it. A company that has absolutely no quality control not to mention decency, has royally fucked over fans once again and I get to say “I told you so!” Sadly it doesn’t come with any satisfaction though.

Turku

For those that don’t know Turku and could no more pronounce its name correctly, let alone pick it on a map. Turku is a little town on the southwest coast of Finland, with a population of about 180 thousand. Wikipedia states that only about 5.5% of the city’s inhabitants speak Swedish, but I personally think that it is much, much higher. In fact, I think if you want to hear Swedish in the south, it’s actually one of the biggest cities where you will consistently find people speaking Swedish.

The first time I went to Turku was probably back in 2013. At the time I was living in Oulu still and whilst I thought Turku was a lovely little city, I didn’t see much of a difference between it and Oulu. Actually, after living in Oulu for something like almost 4 years and travelling to most of the other major cities in Finland (Tampere, Kuopio, Joensuu, Rovaniemi) I felt like Turku wasn’t much different from all of them. In the coming years though I did end up changing my mind about this completely.

The following photos are all from 2013

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I think one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made when going to new places is not taking enough photos. I usually go through at least a portion of my old photos once a month or so. It used to be an issue that I’d take far too many pointless photos, and not enough of new places I went to. This sort of helped me towards not being able to appreciate the places that I had been. In recent years however I’ve fixed this mistake.

Funny thing is, I recently went to Turku again after many years. Actually I went twice and I only have TWO photos to show for it…

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These days people seem to be living more and more through their phones. At concerts or new locations I’ve found myself watching people spend like an hour just ‘experiencing’ everything through their phone or camera lens. So in some ways, spending more time in ‘the moment’ is nice. However, memory ultimately fades and that’s where it’s nice to have photos to look back upon.

Turku actually hasn’t actually changed much in the past few years. I wish I had some more photos to compare, and well actually I could take some. So I might do that sometime. My memories from 4 years ago are actually a bit hazy because that was the year that I saw most of the other cities in Finland and did a ton of travelling.

Having said all of this, I think I may have found a new appreciation for Turku. I really somewhat fell for the theme and pace the city currently has going for it. Life there feels a lot more relaxed and far less disconnected than somewhere like Helsinki. People also actually thank you when you move out of their way (I thought they only did that in Tampere haha). Being able to hear quite a bit of casual Swedish is also really nice too for a change. Sure, it’s a small bummer to not be able to clearly understand those speaking Swedish but I like Swedish so it’s nice for a change.