Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Two iPhones And A Rice Bowl

This is a tale of two Apple iPhones and one big bowl of uncooked rice:
In mid-January my sister called because she had lost her Apple iPhone 3GS. The iPhone was off so she couldn't call it or send a "Find My iPhone" signal. She suspected it fell from her pocket while shoveling out from one of the winter's biggest storms. As a precaution she had the iPhone deactivated and considered it a loss. She reckoned if it was lost under a couple of feet of snow there was no way it would be found weeks later in working order when the snow eventually melted away. The next day she purchased an iPhone 4 as a replacement.  The Apple store staffer suggested if the iPhone 3GS was found as the snow melted to immediately place it in a big bowl of uncooked rice to draw out the moisture. 
A little over a month later and following snow accumulations of an additional four feet, sub-freezing temperatures and a few sub-zero overnights, there was one sunny 60 degree February day. The rapidly melting snow left a shimmering black iPhone in its wake. To her astonishment the phone started up with all of her apps and data available. Because the phone had been deactivated, the only thing she couldn't do was make a call. 
Two months hence and on the other side of a continent, my daughter accidentally dropped her Apple iPhone 3G into a small, manmade bowl of water commonly found in restrooms stalls. That's as descriptive as I want to get in this story. This was an obvious cause of upset. When I saw the phone after she brought it home it was undeniable that water had penetrated the device. One could see the water move when the touch screen was pressed. Recalling the conversation I had with my sister back in January, I immediately filled a kitchen mixing bowl with uncooked white rice from the pantry and gently pushed the iPhone into the middle of the bowl with the touchscreen facing down. 
Eager to see if the rice advice would work, the following day I pulled the phone from the mixing bowl. The iPhone was dry to the touch, but unresponsive to attempts to startup the device. Only slightly discouraged I put the iPhone back in the bowl and waited for a second day. The next day I pulled the phone from the mixing bowl and while the phone wasn't immediately responsive, there was no hint of moisture in or around the device. I plugged the iPhone in to charge it and sure enough the Apple logo appeared. A few minutes later the phone began to beep and a stream of previously unreceived text messages appeared on the screen. Although the iPhone was now encased in a thin film of dry rice residue and the battery was taking a much needed charge, it was apparently no worse for wear. Yesterday, day three, my daughter took her iPhone to school and work as if the mishap had never happened.
Two iPhones and one big bowl of uncooked rice have proven the iPhone is made to be a resilient device. 

Robert Paul Leitao

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Wonders Never Cease: My Mother Is Getting An iPad

Wonders never cease. My mother is getting an iPad. The dear woman blissfully bypassed the PC era and has never used a personal computer. This isn't to say she doesn't have one. There has been a designated Mac in the house for use by grandchildren and my mother's wayward adult children who are challenged to spend more than a day in an Internet free zone on trips home. 
To provide Internet access in the post dial-up era I labored one summer day to extend an Airport network from my sister's house on an adjacent property to and through my mother's house via of relay stations. Still, my mother until now has never used the Internet and the closest she has come to using a Mac is dusting the dust cover on the keyboard. 
That's all about to change. It's not that the woman is information starved in any way. She has an amazing capacity for news and information consumption from traditional sources such as books, magazines and TV. Thanks to satellite TV if my hectic workday keeps me from reading the headlines a quick call to my mother during my evening commute will usually provide an earful of the day's top stories filtered through her unique editorial outlook. For years she has supported and endorsed the use of Apple devices in the educational lives of her grandchildren, but she has never once touched a keyboard.
When the Apple iPad was released last April my sister and I thought this was a natural device for my mother's interest in news and information. Perhaps it was my nephew's enthusiasm for the profusion of apps available, but showcasing Angry Birds and similar digital wares wasn't an enticement. For all my mother has experienced and endured in life, spending time engaged in aerial assaults of digital pigs isn't among her desired hobbies. But recently she has come to realize as a news and book reader the Apple iPad is beyond compare. The home screen and icons that will deliver the tailored content she desires makes sense for a no-nonsense consumer. The abundance of easy-to-use news apps and the iBookstore are a winner.
The Apple iPad is an engaging device. Piercing a demographic of older consumers who view the physical keyboard as a step back and not a step forward is an example of how Apple's tablet product transcends the PC and is ushering in a new era of more intuitive and useful digital devices. 

Robert Paul Leitao