My iPhone Odyssey–As it Stands Today

Last December as a company perk and to improve communication within the TheJapanShop.com team, I decided to buy all employees (that is, myself and Pam, my sister) an iPhone. Having succumbed to all the hype, we came up with good rationalizations why such a purchase would be necessary. All the way to the AT&T store, we used our imagination with utmost diligence.

I don’t regret getting the phones; the phones have been extremely useful (frankly, beyond my expectations), but I thought you, dear reader, would be amused by my troubles.

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen… Nobody but a half-dozen Apple technical support employees.

光陰矢の如し
(こういんやのごとし)
Time flies like an arrow

Ok, if I were to be in that slightly annoying Apple commercial, my first line would be, “Hello, I’m a PC.” I see no rational reason for paying twice as much for a computer that won’t run any of the software I own. But the iPhone is nice and it talks with my PC—albeit ONLY through the bulky and oft buggy iTunes software (not a big fan).

On the other hand, I should also say, Apple support is exceptional. A+++ (except the ogre, see below)

Here is my story. Sit back with a cup of Joe and be thankful you are not me right now.

About Three weeks ago: When syncing my iPhone, the phone would show the Apple logo when booting up, but make no more progress. I tried reseting it and restoring it, but nothing would help. Finally, I took it to the AT&T store. Using his iTunes, the clerk was able to get it working, but I had to sync it at home to get the phone part to work.

Arriving at home, I attempted a sync. Again the same problem occurred. I called Apple. Two hours or so was spent trying just about everything imaginable. The guy was very nice and patient and so was I. Finally he said I should send the phone to Apple for repair. He asked if I wanted a loaner. I said sure! He said it would cost $39. I said I could wait a week or so without a phone. The box came, I sent it off, and waited.

About Two Weeks Ago: I waited almost a week without the phone. Not being able to check the news and email from anywhere was the most painful part. I really don’t use the actual phone as much as everything else.

Finally, a box from Apple arrived. Opening it, I read the technicians couldn’t fix the problem so they replaced the phone with a brand new phone. “Great!” I thought. That is, until I tried syncing. Same thing.

I got on the horn with Apple again for another hour. Turns out, the problem was not with the phone (my original phone was just fine), but with a corrupted iTunes (not a big fan) backup file. I simply reset the iPhone and set it up as a new phone. I lost a lot of data, but nothing too important. You see, iTunes only makes a SINGLE backup of the phone. According to the tech (and from what I can see) I couldn’t just go back to a backup from a few days before the problem started. iTunes just adds new data to a single backup file. When that file gets corrupted, that’s all she wrote. I was not miffed about the support I got—they sent me a new phone for goodness sakes!—but of the iTunes software that caused the problem.

Anyway, after I installed it as a new phone, (again with Apple support on the line), I thought all was peachy.

About a Week and a Half Ago: I was happily using my new iPhone to check email and make quick calls for days before someone called me. It was a customer and after about two minutes I heard them say, “Hello. Hello?” Then a click. I heard them just fine. I called them right back and again after a few minutes, “Hello. Hello?” Click. I had to use a different phone to finish that conversation.

I called my sister and asked her to test it. Same thing. After a few minutes I could hear just fine, but the other party couldn’t hear me. The symptoms: The person talking to me couldn’t hear me after about two minutes, but I could hear him or her just fine. It didn’t matter if I called or someone called me.

Again, I went to the AT&T store first not wanting to be on the phone for an hour with Apple. There the clerk gave me a new Sim chip and sent me on my way. I got home, reset the phone (Again) and made a test call. Same problem…

I was on the phone with Apple for at least another hour that night. The end result: It was decided I should receive a free loaner phone and a box to send the bad phone away.

Last Monday: The new phone came, I synced it, added passwords and all was well.

Last Tuesday: FedEx came and I sent the bad phone back. I thought this was the end of the matter. After all, I now had a perfectly working phone. Why would Apple spend the money to send the bad phone back to me even if they got it to work?

Last Friday circa 4PM: I was flabbergasted to hear a new box from Apple had arrived. I thought, “Why?!” This phone works just fine; I’ve set it up with all my contacts, email addresses, passwords… In short, this was my baby—and they want to take it from me?

Last Friday circa 4:15PM: I’m at home and I open the box to read, “The problem was unable to be duplicated. Sending phone back as is.” They didn’t fix it AND this is the same phone. I decided to simply call Apple and say, “I’ll keep the phone I have thank you. It works just fine.”

Last Friday circa 4:16PM: I’m on the phone with Apple and got a semi-rude person. After telling this entire story from start to present, he basically told me, “If you keep the loaner phone, your card will be charged $499 AND you will be out of warranty.” I imagine an evil ogre from a Tolkien fantasy was talking from the other side of the phone. I told the ogre, I would hang up now and test the returned phone and, “if the problem persists, I shall be miffed and call back none too happy.”

Last Friday circa 4:22PM: Calling Apple back none too happy, I once again had to explain the story all the way through. This tech was much nicer (must be of the elven race) and almost immediately sent me to a ‘manager.’ The manager was super nice and even gave me her extension in case I needed help again. She said she believed me, but I made her call me so she could hear the phone did have a problem still. Once hearing the problem, she assured me she would tell the repair people to simply replace the phone and NOT repair this one. Basically, the ogre was correct. If I keep the working phone, I will have a $499 charge and be out of warranty. So I packed up that phone and waited for FedEx to take it away.

Today (Monday): Yumi just called me to tell me FedEx came and dropped off my next new phone. This phone is the loaner and will be returned once my ‘real’ new phone arrives (Phone #5)

To be continued…

Today's Useless Tidbit that You Can Use

While thumbing through the New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors, I found out Kilobyte should be abbreviated as KB. I had always preferred Kb (with a lowercase ‘b’) just because ‘KB’ seemed like an abbreviated ‘KGB’ abbreviation.

However, according to Oxford, ‘Kb’ stands for Kilobit (1,024 bits) and ‘KB’ is Kilobyte (1,024 bytes).

Now you may safely go about your day.

Hanafubuki–Yes, but which Hana?

“Yumi,” I said the other day, “look at the Hanafubuki.” Our dogwood tree was dropping its pinky white flowers resembling the Japanese ‘hanafubuki‘ of the sakura cherry tree blossoms.

She said in disgust, “I can no longer enjoy flowers showering down after how you say hanafubuki before blowing your nose.”

It has become something of a habit really. When I need to blow my nose, I say, “hanafubuki shitai, tisshu wa doko?” (I want to ‘hanafubuki.’ Where is the tissue?)

I guess when I think about it, it really does take something away from the beauty and transience of flowers falling, but it was a sight to see. (the flower hana, not the nose hana)

Makoto Catchup

Two quick 親ばか notes:

1) 待って!
Just now Yumi was chasing Makoto trying to put his diaper on. Makoto doesn’t like this part too much so he runs from mommy. As Yumi approached, I heard him take off saying, 「待って!」 matte Wait! Obviously he doesn’t quite get the meaning of that one yet.

Makoto just came to me with his diaper on. Yumi didn’t get to his clothes, but at least she won the first round.

2) It’s the Moon!
The other morning the moon was visible and Makoto made sure we all knew of this unusual event. He made his way outside and upon seeing the moon, he yelled—top lunged—to us inside. We watched him point to the sky while saying, “Moonあった, Moonあった, Moonあった, Moonあった…”

[あった atta means “There is…”]

He created his first bilingual sentence.

He learned あった early on. One of his first あったs was when he found me after an apparently long search. He said excitedly, 「パパあった。」 papa atta. Here’s papa. The only problem is, as far as I can tell, I’m what’s called a non-inanimate object. That is, he should have said, 「パパいた」 papa ita – Here is (the living) papa.

あった There/Here is for the moon and other non-living thing-a-majigs
いた There/Here is for Clay and other living things

Instant Gratification Download Projects

Years ago, Yumi and I produced a 48 page booklet for learning hiragana. It was a big flop. Well, we sold a couple dozen I suppose, but it took us nearly a year to produce—most of that time was spent worrying if people would like it (we didn’t have very thick skin back then).  People did like it and it was the spark that started TheJapanShop.com, but…

…it took way too much time to create.

We printed color covers plus 46 inside black & white pages, combined them, folded them, and stapled it for every order. On top of that, we had two posters—one for hiragana and one for katakana, a writing practice pad, and flashcards that were in no way fun to cut.

I decided it wasn’t worth my time to go through all that for $20.

Years later, a friend was telling me about a downloadable product he had and how he was selling it.  After the initial time required to create the product, selling the product cost him nothing—no money, no time.  His shopping cart even automatically sent the product download link upon receiving payment.

I asked him about fraud—wouldn’t people just post the product on their website?  He told me—and I totally agree today—that most people are honest.  Most people realize the huge amount of effort that goes into creating things they value.

Long story short: After that conversation, I immediately packaged the Hiragana Pack as the Hiragana Download Pack.  Since that day we have sold hundreds for $5-10.  But for some reason I didn’t get excited enough to create many other products.  Last year, we put together lessons with lots of audio for practicing phone Japanese.  I created it with the $10 price point in mind (same as the Hiragana Download Pack).

Recently however, I thought about $5 as being a better price point and began working on a new product—an e-book with audio on the traditional Japanese folk tale, 舌切り雀 shitakiri suzume—the Cut-Tongue Sparrow.

It debuted a few days ago through TheJapanShop.com’s March newsletter and has done pretty well.

It is the start of a few targeted lessons or readers that will be sold as an instant gratification download for $5 each. We really hope this will be beneficial for the Japanese language learning community.

Makoto and Hydrogen Peroxide

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This morning Makoto was playing with his beloved dog, Tevye. I’m sorry to say, but the love is unrequited. Tevye is usually very good with him, but the dog does his best to keep clear of the boy’s path. (And the boy does his best to keep near the dog’s path)

This morning I heard Makoto cry and found out Tevye had lightly scratched his arm. No doubt Makoto was making unwanted advances and Tevye was just saying ‘no.’ But the ‘no’ left a few light scratches on Makoto’s arm.

I decided we should put some hydrogen peroxide on it and I gave it with a tissue to Yumi to do the dirty deed. Normally, children don’t particularly care for hydrogen peroxide, but after the application (during which, Makoto was laughing), Makoto said, 「もっと!」 motto! I want more!

When Makoto finds something he likes, he tells us 「もっと 」 or “Again.” The other night I told him the Three Little Pigs story. The “Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin.” really cracked him up.

“Again”

“Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin.”

“Again”

“Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin.”

“Again”

Well, this lasted for a while.