Fandango’s Friday Flashback — March 13

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 13th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally posted on March 13, 2013 in my old blog.

Beyond Any Reasonable Explanation

The question is “why does weird shit sometimes happen?” The answer is “sometimes weird shit just happens.”

Earlier this week I had this strange experience with my iPhone. I had received a letter from the gas company advising me that local law requires that residential gas meters must be changed every seven years and that ours was way overdue for an exchange. It’s still pretty cold in my neck of the woods and I didn’t want to risk having the gas company shut off our gas, so I called to schedule a meter swapping appointment.

I was given a window of 8 a.m. to noon the next day for the gas meter swapper (his official title, I think) to show up to swap the meter. Because I work from home and I wanted to be ready to let him in, I gave the person on the phone with whom I set up the appointment my cell phone number and asked that the gas meter swapper call me when he was on his way to my house.

Shortly after noon there was a knock at my door and standing before me was the gas meter swapper. “Hey, I thought you were going to call before you came over,” I said with some bit of annoyance in my voice.

“I did,” he responded, “but it went right to your voicemail.”

I would have sworn he was lying, but when I looked at my iPhone I noticed that, instead of showing 2-3 bars and the word “Verizon” in the upper left corner of the display, as it usually does, it read “Searching….”B48CBC12-155D-4A4F-A248-26AFEFE10C1AI tried to make an outgoing call, but when I pressed “Call” on the virtual keypad, nothing happened. Clearly, my cell phone was not working.

I called Verizon Wireless to see if maybe there had been an outage reported in our area, but they said there were no outages. After the gas meter swapper left, I called Verizon Wireless tech support and spoke to one of their techies. She had me run a bunch of diagnostics on the iPhone, reset everything back to factory settings, and try a couple of other tricks, all to no avail. Still no connection to the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network. Just this constant “Searching…” message.

Finally, the techie threw her hands up in frustration (or at least that’s the gesture I imagined she made) and said she’d FedEx a new iPhone and SIM card that I would receive the next day. She also said to plug my current iPhone into iTunes and back it up before activating the new one.

What a hassle, I thought. Now I’m going to have to reconfigure everything on a new iPhone to what my pre-“Searching…” settings were. But at least I’ll have a phone again, instead of a second iPod Touch, which is essentially what an iPhone is without the phone part.

Resigned to being without a cell phone for the next 24 hours, I was shocked when later that same afternoon, I started hearing pings and tones coming from the iPhone. I looked at the display and saw that I suddenly had four voice mail messages, one of which, it turned out, was from the unjustly maligned meter swapper.E1F7522E-EB73-4BF5-977E-6CDA304B2E1ALo and behold, the “Searching…” in the upper left corner of the screen was replaced by 3 bars and the word “Verizon.” My iPhone as a cell phone was back!

So there I was, caught on the horns of a dilemma. My “old” iPhone was once again able to access the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network as it was supposed to. But a brand new iPhone had already been overnighted to me and would arrive the next day. What to do? Should I keep my current iPhone, which was, once again, working fine? Or should I go ahead and activate the new one and return my barely six-month-old iPhone back to Verizon Wireless?

Of course I switched to the new phone because, well, it’s a new phone! Duh! It wasn’t quite as easy to activate the new iPhone as I had hoped; I once again needed to have a brief conversation with another Verizon Wireless techie as well as with someone in my company’s tech support area (due to certain company-mandated apps that enable the iPhone to work with my corporate email).

Sunspots and Chinese Hackers

I don’t know why my “old” iPhone was suddenly unable to connect to the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network that morning. I have no clue as to why it all of a sudden regained that network connection later the same day. Verizon Wireless still insists that there were no service outages.

The actual device…the iPhone that I ended up boxing up and sending back to Verizon Wireless…seemed to be functioning normally after the strange, brief outage. And so far, anyway, my new iPhone, after jumping through some activation hoops, seems to be working exactly as it is supposed to.

Maybe it was sunspots. Maybe the Chinese hacked my phone. Or maybe, just maybe, sometimes weird shit just happens.

Fandango’s Friday Flashback — January 17

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember?

Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 17th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally posted on January 17, 2008 (12 years ago!) on my old, old blog.

iMac Attack

7F25435A-B857-4ABD-B975-CE2905034797When my wife’s PC, an “older” (4 years old) HP desktop computer began to have serious performance issues (e.g., it would take around 10 minutes just to shut down), we decided it was time to get her a new computer. She uses her computer primarily for e-mail and internet access, so she really just needed something basic…nothing fancy. In other words, inexpensive.

My wife is a very good web researcher and she really focused on gathering intelligence about what to replace her aging HP with. She looked into PCs with Windows and looked at Apple computers, since our daughter and her husband both have Macs and love them. She read a lot of negative things about Windows Vista, Microsoft’s new operating system, and also read universally positive comments about Mac’s OS-X operating system. She read that Macs are less prone to internet and computer viruses and hacker attacks than are Windows-based PCs.

With all of this information in mind, we bought her a brand new iMac computer, the one that doesn’t appear to be a computer as much as just a large, flat monitor on a stand. We bought it at our local Best Buy store and also purchased he extended service contract (more about that later).

Sure, I wanted to spend no more than about $500 for a computer, but my wife insisted that the iMac was the better, albeit considerably more expensive, option. So I shelled out $1500 for the iMac, plus another several hundred dollars for software, since none of our Windows software would run on the iMac.
I even paid $100 for the Best Buy Geek Squad to come to our house, set up the computer, provide a brief Mac orientation, and transfer data files from my wife’s ancient HP to her brand new iMac. And it was good. My wife quickly got used to working with Apple’s operating system and with using the Mac software. The computer was fast, responsive, and, according to her, gorgeous.

Unfortunately, just three months and five days after we bought this allegedly reliable, state-of-the-art iMac computer, it simply stopped working. We took it to our local Best Buy, since we bought the iMac and its three-year, $250 extended service warranty. The folks at Best Buy said they’d have to send it back to the factory and projected that we’d have it back in a month. A MONTH! Fuhgeddaboudit, we said.

So we drove the 25 miles to the closest Apple store, where the guy behind the Genius Bar examined the iMac and took it into the “back room,” saying the computer either had a failed power supply or a failed multi-function board. He said they’d run diagnostics on the computer and would do what they had to do to fix it — in just 7-10 workdays. If they couldn’t fix it, they’d replace it, he said.

“Wait,” I said. “We bought a Mac because everyone said how reliable and dependable they are. Why would it fail after just three months? I have had dozens of PCs over the years and none of them failed that quickly.”

The Genius Bar guy shrugged and said, “Yeah, well it’s just a computer. Computers sometimes crash.” End of story.

We drove home and I hooked up my wife’s 4-year old, sluggish HP computer, which works fine, albeit a lot slower than, and not nearly as pretty as, her iMac. But, unlike her iMac, which failed after just three months, her four-year old HP just keeps plugging away, like the proverbial tortoise versus the hare.

While I Was Sleeping

I picked up my iPhone and opened up the WordPress app when I first woke up this morning, as I am wont to do. I went to my stats page and this is what I saw:Blank Stats pageWTF? Where are my stats? I clicked on “Weeks,” “Months,” and “Years.” No stats! Shit, did WordPress somehow misplace my stats? My posts?

I opened up my Safari browser, logged into WordPress.com, and went to my stats page.AA58C03B-F5DD-4C59-87E7-A1B83F6024D7Ah, that’s more like it. But what’s the deal with the WordPress app for iOS?

So I went to the App Store on my iPhone and checked to see if there was a recent update to the WordPress app. Sure enough, the app automatically updated sometime overnight while I was sleeping.BA980EAB-98E0-46AF-A8A3-D3600A579A47Sheesh, WordPress, I appreciate that you guys want to keep your app for the iPhone up-to-date, but don’t you ever test it before releasing the updates?

Okay, I guess it’s time to reach out to the Happiness Engineers…again!

Browser Bug

2be639c5-27fa-4de9-af9e-ec041c09607b-e1573942737695.jpegDan was surfing the web the other day and came across an almost imperceptible bug in the browser he was using. It really freaked him out, so he call the tech support hot line. When the rep answered, he said, “How are you doing, Mr. Jenkins?”

That shocked Dan out. “How do you know my name?” he asked.

“We at Shell Technologies pride ourselves on knowing our customers,” he said. “I see you live in our fair city and that you’re calling us from one of our smartphones.”

“Wait, what?” Dan said. “How could you know that?”

“It’s based upon your IP address,” the guy said. “Plus, we have an algorithm at Shell Technologies that has a very sophisticated prediction functionality, and based upon your past behaviors and purchases, we predicted that you are not only using our browser on one of our laptop, but you’re also using one of our smartphones. Plus, we have all of your product registrations in our database. I want to laud you for your excellent purchasing choices.”

“Listen, I’m calling you because I discovered a bug in your browser software,” Dan said. “I think it’s a serious vulnerability that might permit the capability for bad actors to install spyware.”

“Congratulations, Dan,” the guy said. “May I call you Dan?” Before Dan could answer, the guy continued. “You clearly have demonstrated some serious technology chops to have uncovered that. Since you live here in the city, I want to invite you to come to our campus so we can discuss what you’ve uncovered. We’ll send a car to pick you up. We have your address and will be there in five minutes. Bring your laptop.”

Dan didn’t know whether to be worried or excited. The limo arrived precisely five minutes later and Dan was driven to the Shell Technologies campus. When they arrived, the driver said, “Follow the path to the main building. Our representative will meet you in the lobby.”

Dan got out of the limo and headed down the path toward the main building. He met the tech rep he had spoken with on the phone. “Thank you, Dan,” the guy said, shaking Dan’s hand, “for discovering the bug in our browser. But let me assure you, Mr. Jenkins, that it’s not a bug, it’s a feature.”

Dan was never seen again.


Written for these daily prompts: Daily Addictions (surfing), Ragtag Daily Prompts (imperceptible), Word of the Day Challenge (prediction), Your Daily Word Prompt (laud), The Daily Spur (path), and Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (lobby). Image credit: OMKDrawing at DeviantArt.com.