... before your iPhone drives you nuts one day
When I was an iddy biddy boy, I worked in the computer industry. I was actually around for the launch of the personal computer, incredible as that might seem to those admiring my Dorian Gray-like youthfulness.
The ever accelerating onrush of technology – the sheer clattering speed of change – is astonishing. Today’s PCs – one little desktop box or the ubiquitous laptop – contains more computer power than all the number crunching that the USA used to send men to the moon.
When I was selling computers, an IBM PC had 64k of RAM and 10Mb of storage. Luxury. Tell the young ones nowadays and they wouldn’t believe yer.
We knew a little bit about the computers we were selling at considerable expense to people – but in all honesty, only a very little. When people rang up with problems, apart from genuine sympathy (we usually couldn’t make our own boxes work, so how on earth a customer was meant to was a live issue) there was customarily a lot of well-meaning um-ing and ah-ing.
Sooner or later, we fell back on two staple responses. “Have you actually turned it on, Madam?” was our first reality check. (People often hadn’t.) And if the thing was actually on, then our second reliable fallback was: “Try turning it on and off again, Sir.”
In the best part of thirty years, I have never strayed far from that early wisdom. Ever since, whenever any recalictrant bundle of circuits, chips and wires steadfastly and stubbornly refuses to do as it is told, I turn the damn thing off, issue dire warnings about what I will do to it if it doesn’t come good tout de suite, (you will never convince me they don’t understand plain talking), and then I flick it back on again. Nine times out of ten, it duly hums along nicely thereafter. Well, until the next time, anyhow.
So when she who must be obeyed spoke to me on the home phone, and complained that I hadn’t responded to a text message despatched to me earlier on my iPhone, I hunted down said phone, and discovered it sitting on the bedroom dressing table, somehow frozen and unresponsive. Sweeping my fingers imperiously across its crystal surface produced no satisfying and obedient leap into life. My little app icons stayed hidden from sight. I spoke to the phone very severely, shook it a few times, pressed every button in sight, and still nothing. It just stared back at me.
Harumph, I said to myself, we’ll see about that, my lad.
Unlike other, simpler, nay – baser – objects, of course, the queenly iPhone doesn’t just have a battery one can whip off and then clumsily stick back in again, thereby neatly achieving what it apparently called a “hard reboot”. (Modern parlance for “turning it on and off again”.)
As all iPhone owners know, there is a small oblong button on the top of the casing which, when pressed and held down, allows one to bring up another little sweepy command thingy which lets one turn the phone off altogether. So I pressed it. And pressed it, and pressed it. I even went and got my glasses, made sure I was pressing it properly, and pressed it some more. I pressed it quick, I pressed it slow. I loved that little button long time, I can tell you, and with a growing sense of panic.
For some reason, I realised, I couldn’t even turn it off.
By then, it was time to drive into town and pick up the Memsahib (which is what the earlier message had apparently been about) so I popped into the trusty ironclad steed and drove off down the freeway, iPhone sitting on the passenger seat beside me, mutely and defiantly refusing to go off, or to do anything else at all. With faltering frequency, I kept dispiritedly pressing helplessly at the off switch from time to time, as if mere persistence and self belief could overcome its sudden mechanical stubborness.
Once having battled through the traffic, the better half’s own telephonic communications device was duly pressed into service to ring Apple to find out what to do when “turn it on and off again” was apparently beyond one’s fumbling abilities.
After waiting for what seemed like an age, a nice Indian lady with an American accent (or possibly an hospitable American lady with an Indian accent, who knows in this brave new world of remote call centres?) spent what seemed like an inordinate amount of time politely enquiring as to whether the phone was still under warranty. “When had we bought it?” (Who remembers such things?) “Dunno, it was a replacement for a previous one that didn’t work.” “When had we brought the original phone?” “Does this really matter? Tell me how to turn it off when the off button doesn’t work!”
And then, dear reader, we came to the revelation. And it was, in its way, every bit as portentious as Moses wandering back down the hill with a couple of industrial-size slabs of engraved marble to set the Israelites straight. Because having established I hadn’t just let the battery run down (the modern equivalent of “Have you turned it on, Madam?”) the nice lady cheerfully advised us to push the little oblong button on the top (I trust you are followjng closely now, fellow iPhone owners) and the little round button on the front of the casing at the bottom, (iPhone users know full well that these things have proper names, but no one knows what they are), but get this … at the same time. And to hold them pressed for, like, 20 seconds.
Zap. Kapow. Shazaam. Abracadabra. My beloved iPhone promptly re-booted itself, taking what seemed like next to no time to return to its normal courteous, trustworthy self.
So now you know. Tell everyone. Post messages on Facebook pages. Slip people you don’t know in bars little notes with the esoteric knowledge scribbled on them. This is the iPhone gnosis. The top button on the right, and the round button at the bottom, together. That’s how you do a hard re-boot on an Apple iPhone. That’s how you turn it off and turn it on again.
You’ll thank me one day.