Fixing phones

It has been a busy few weeks, the past ones. On the phone front, that is. There was the iOS 8 update, that came around on the 18th Sept. A few days later, there were a few bugs, much battery drain, and shrinking and expanding of memory usage – Free space varying from 4 GB to 125 MB (Yes). I had to run off all the ‘services’ that wanted to use Location. And deny most apps that wanted to use Location. (Helped that I am a control freak who likes to deny apps things whenever I can.) But then these turning offs were part of my earlier usage, so was a bit surprised why they were turned on all of a sudden!

Just as things returned to normal and I could get through the whole day using only 60% of the battery, the rear camera stopped working. This close to an OS update I wanted to blame the OS for it. I even took to the internet where there was a discussion thread on how after iOS 8 update cameras stopped working for a few people. (But then, the thing about the internet is that there really isn’t anything or any possibility for which there is NO discussion thread. You think you saw a UFO above your house, chances are many did, above their houses that is!)

So there was that trip to iRepair in Koramangala to get it fixed. He said 3 hours. Being a weekend I returned home and gave it on a weekday morning to pick it up on the evening. The camera was working nice and proper now and it set me back by a cool Rs. 2500! Now a few days on, after much dropping of calls, I had a sneaking suspicion that things weren’t so proper anymore. Turned out that the speaker at the top of the phone through which you hear people speak when you hold it close to the ear like a phone, had stopped working. I was surprised that I figured this out in a week considering the number of calls that I get! And that I usually use Bluetooth or the headset to talk most of the time! So another visit to the same store and they fixed it in 5 mins. Something wrong with the way they had sealed it up after fixing the camera. All good now. Except that right after I reached home, the phone was back to the same problem. A week later, I dropped it off in the morning and picked it up in the evening and the phone is working fine and proper on all fronts at the time of writing this. (I checked, ok?)

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One FIR for a ‘lost’ phone please…

So it was that after my iPhone was flicked, I was advised to file an FIR in the police station. It could be that the phone could be used by someone else to do something I wouldn’t do and might have to end up answering for that. Better to have it registered that the phone wasn’t mine anymore. Also, there was a chance that I could use the IMEI number to get it blocked by the carrier. Well there are a lot of carriers these days, so I wasn’t particularly sure this could be done. But still. Also, it had to be registered as ‘lost’, not ‘stolen’ as stolen would put a liability on them to find it and such cases would add up on their record and make them ‘look bad’. There’s enough literature in the blogosphere to discourage me from going in with a ‘stolen’ complaint. And yes, there is enough literature in the blogosphere to also convince you that theft in BMTC buses is more common than punctual buses.

So I got down at Chandra Layout and started finding out where the Police station is the old way. I asked a bus conductor at the depot and was shooed along a road. I walked along, saw a police officer starting an Activa and asked him next. He gave me an annoyed grunt, waved me back to the crossroads and projected me further up, all without a word and a disgusted look on his face. I found it soon enough and entered the place. A constable was lounging outside, but I decided to head in. A distinct feeling with law and order policemen that if you even talk to them they’ll ask you for money, so speak to as few as possible.

My previous experiences with police stations have generally been negative. They either question your motive for having a phone or asking a police certificate, or being where you were, usually to punt you off to some other station, and if that fails ask you how much you earn to squeeze out their proportional entitlement. Once, as a student needing a certificate for my project at CAIR, I had opened up my wallet, shown the Rs. 15 I had, seen him take all and asked him to return Rs. 5 so that I could get home. They are generally a shameless, uncultured, uncouth lot defined by and indistinguishable from the kind of people they have to routinely deal with.

So this time, I entered and saw one guy behind a desk. Late 40s to early 50s. Given to making funny statements and getting laughs out of his minions. One of his minions, a constable, older than him, on the verge of retirement, sat at the other perpendicular side of the table. There were a few more people writing into a book and they disappeared while I was there and didn’t bother me much.

“What do you want?” he asked. “Lost my phone” I said. A North Indian father with his teenage daughter had come along by then. He looked at them with raised eyebrows and was told “My daughter lost her phone”. “Everyone is losing phones these days” he smirked, with appropriate reactions from the constable. “Maybe you should track down the thieves” I didn’t say. “Where?” he asked them. “While on scooter. Roads are so bumpy here. It fell out” the father offered. He looked at me.
Me: “I got down from the bus and it wasn’t there. So in the bus”.
Him: “Where?”
Me:”Nagarabhavi bus stop.”
Him: “That would be Vijayanagar police station”.
Me: “But you’ve put up boards all over there proclaiming Chandra Layout police station?” (“Ella kade Chandra Layout police station antha board haakondideera alli?”)
I surprised myself. He went inside. I went to the constable. He offered me a sheet to write a complaint. The father was already writing it down. I started writing it down, found writing with no soft backup difficult and pulled along one of their books with a paper cover to place the paper on. A few sentences on, I realized that there was a carbon sheet inside the book and I was well weaving my sentences into one of their books. I moved the book away just in time for the senior guy to come back and pick it up. Thankfully, he decided not to peek inside and kept it aside. I wrote something down asking them to “kindly intimate me if recovered” along with IMEI and Sim number details and handed it to him.

He had already wiggled out from the father that the phone was lost in Rajarajeshwarinagar and was telling him that he should go there and file the complaint, not at this station. He even helped him change the appropriate lines, now extra-helpful that it wasn’t a case for his station. The father-daughter soon left. He took over mine.

Him: “Where did you lose it?”
Me:”In the bus. I got down at Nagarabhavi Circle”.
Him:”Where did you get in?”
Me:”The petrol pump bus stand”(showing hand behind my back, not keen on letting him punt me to some other station. There are enough petrol pumps in Chandra layout to douse his doubts.)

“OK.” he said after reading it, “you can go now”. The smirk was back. I waited. “You haven’t asked for acknowledgement here.” I didn’t counter him this time. He was even helpful about asking me to add one sentence at the end. I did that and he passed it on to the elderly minion, who pulled out an acknowledgement book and wrote out the numbers – Sim and IMEI. I had to dictate them slowly, making sure I mixed up the Kannada and English getting him to translate some and not translate others. He took his time, struggled and finally finished the job, handing it over to the senior.

He took a look, while talking on the phone, and signed and stamped the little receipt. I started stretching my hand, but the ack made it back to the old man. I knew there was going to be more and this was the interesting part, for them. “Do you want a xerox of this letter?” he asked me. I declined, eyes firmly on the acknowledgement, knowing that a xerox of a letter with just my signature would be of no use. Over to the old minion.

Old Constable:”Where do you work?”
Me:”Software Engineer”
I could guess the next question, “How much do you earn?” and then the entitlement that I’d need to fulfill. I slowly stretched my hand out, while looking at the ack all the time. Being a minion, he responded to outstretched hands asking for something by just handing it over. I took the ack, looked at it, said “Thank you”, gave them a smile and turned back.

“Wait…come here” the old man called out. I walked along, my job done and already mentally far off from the station.

I walked along to Airtel and asked them about blocking the IMEI. “You have to talk to the handset maker” they said. I called up Apple support and got this from the fake-accent putting Indian: “Sir, Apple is a hardware manufacturer. We also provide software and some services. It is up to the carrier to enable ordisable the services. We also allow third parties to develop services that you could run on our OS and perform specific functions. For what you are asking, our liability for this service ends with the hardware. For voice and data related queries and services you would need to talk to your carrier and if they provide such a service, we would not hinder/block them. Of course, there are also third party services which you could have used for this. Apple also provides a platform for them. Blah blah.” No kidding.

How to msg my Bro?

When I first landed in the US I realized that you can’t dial out of the country with just 00 or +. Like Australia they need ‘special’ codes. Here it’s 011 (Aus is 0011 in case you happen to go there). So this means that the numbers of most people I usually send messages to from the US are stored with a 011 prefixed. Of course I do not usually msg (or ‘text’ as these Americans say) most people, preferring to pick up the phone and just talk. So well, my brother is one of those who happens to have received a message from me and also has sent me a few. And some of these have also been received and sent from my iPhone.

All well and good. I landed in India in Dec 2009 brandishing a hep iPhone and promptly put in my usual sim card which has validity till 2037 (yep, no typos there). It worked amazingly well, and with a prepaid GPRS for 90MB I was all set. All was well until I one day got a msg from my brother and had to respond.

And what happened next is the gist of this post.
1. I typed in my message in the box for it in the nice IM style interface and pressed ‘Send’. Wait, the number now had 011 attached as it was received from my brother even though the number that sent the message to which I was responding was a normal Indian cell number. So I got a failure to send.
2. I removed my brother from the to list and just typed in his number directly, without the 011 of course. But oh wait, my really smart phone saw that I had once messaged a similar number which existed in my contact list and promptly pulled it up and replaced the raw number I had input with my brother’s name and the 011 with it. Again, failure to send.
3. So I did the next logical thing. I went in and changed my brother’s number in the phone itself. And then I replied to this message. But oh wait, my super smart phone knew that I had once upon a time messaged a similar number and that number had a 011 before it. I am sure to need it now and plonk it came back in!
(By this time I was clearly at my wit’s end and was almost in the mood to fling it into the ground and see what happens. But remembering the fortune I had spent on it, I decided to just growl, shake my fist with the phone and swear. Of course, shaking the phone meant that it started playing a song. Did not help.)
4. So now I deleted my brother and added the number again. Well, you guessed it right. It still knew that there was a number I had messaged before and added it to it. All I could do was stare at it now.
5. Pretty close to hopping mad now, I re-created my brother in my cell phone and added his number with a 011 and then his number without the 011 as mobile. This time it decided to ask, seemingly confused by two very similar numbers. I chose the proper one and the message went out. Thank God for little mercies!

And funnily, all this while I could return his calls and talk to him without having to modify the 011 part. It just picked up the number from where a previous call came in and dialed it back. Wonder where that simple logic went when it came to messages!