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Why it Helps to Date a Nerd at Christmas December 7, 2015

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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Last year I spent Christmas Eve over at my girlfriend’s house.  We watched Christmas movies, drank coffee, and opened presents with her family.  That night, all of her family members received brand-new SmartPhones as gifts, split evenly between Android devices and the (then) brand-new iPhone 6.  With the exception of my girlfriend’s father, who was an advanced Android enthusiast, neither my girlfriend nor her sister or mother had any idea how to get their new phones to work, and many of them had very important data on their old phones that they wanted to bring to their new ones.  On Christmas Eve, I was their only hope.

I had used iPhones since 2007 and I had a lot of experience upgrading my phones without losing any data.  For those of you who don’t know how to do this procedure I’ll try to explain it quickly. For all I know, you may have to do this yourselves this Christmas.  Any time an iPod, iPad, or iPhone is connected to a iTunes equipped PC or Mac, it will automatically perform a backup of all the essential files on the iDevice.  If a new iDevice is connected to a computer with a proper backup already on file, iTunes will immediately prompt you and offer to install the backup it has on file to the new device. In my experience, most users stupidly ignore this prompt to their detriment, and set up their new devices as new. Doing this can cost them their photos, game progress, settings, and possibly even their entire contacts list.

The other option is to move all your data onto the iCloud service, and then retrieve an iCloud backup on the new iDevice. This may seem like an easier option, and most people take it, but Apple offers very little storage capacity for free and for obvious security reasons I outright refuse to use it. Plus, since none of the iPhone users in my girlfriend’s family had iCloud set up on their devices, it was a pretty moot point.  I was provided two iTunes equipped laptops to handle the iPhone upgrades, while my girlfriend’s father simply took apart his old Android phone, removed its Micro SD card, and put it into his new one.

First priority was to have as recent a backup as possible of the old phones before activating the new ones. I powered on the laptops and began the process of linking them to each user’s iTunes account. Once that was settled, I plugged the old iPhones into the USB ports and began the sync process.

My girlfriend had never owned an iPhone before, but she did have an old iPod Touch. Figuring she would eventually upgrade to the iPhone, I insisted on copying her old phone’s contacts list to her iPod Touch to help make her eventual upgrade easier.  There wasn’t much data on her iPod Touch, and it took barely any time to sync, but my girlfriend now had essential data ready to transfer to her new iPhone.

My girlfriend’s mother had over 32GB of data on her iPhone 4s and while some of it had been backed up earlier, a lot of new data hadn’t been copied. so as her old iPhone continued to back up, I plugged my girlfriend’s new iPhone 6 into her MacBook and started the process of restoring her old data into it.

I quickly realized my girlfriend’s iPod Touch was still using iOS 4, but her mother’s iPhone 4s was using the most recent version of iOS 8, a slightly newer version than what the new phones had installed. I would need to upgrade the iPhone 6 software manually to its most recent version before I could restore any data onto it.  I decided to use the time it would take to upgrade and install over 32GB of data to activate her sister’s new Android phone.

My girlfriend’s sister was previously using an iPhone 4s but unlike her mother and sister, she opted to get a new Android phone instead of a new iPhone. Since iPhone and Android data is not compatible, I was concerned this would cause her to lose everything she had on her phone and force her to reconfigure it from scratch.  She was fine with that.

As I configured the Android, my girlfriend’s father called up their cellular provider and used their automated service to activate his new phone.  It worked, and his new phone was now able to make phone calls and use the cellular data network.  He told me how the process was done, and I performed the procedure on the two iPhone 6 phones once the last of their backup data was restored.  I had to restart both phones, but once that was done, both phones were able to make calls and access the cellular data network.

So with three phones active, all that remained was to activate the Android phone that belonged to my girlfriend’s sister.  I called up the cellular provider and gave them the same information I had done previously, but instead of simply activating the phone, the automated system informed me that in order to activate the new phone I had to remove the SIM card from the iPhone 4s and install it into the new Android to complete the procedure.  This didn’t bother me, I knew how to access an iPhone 4s SIM and I didn’t think this would be a very big deal.  I took apart both phones and moved the SIM to the new one, but the new Android phone would not make calls or connect to the cellular network once I powered it up.

At this point my girlfriend’s sister became visibly upset. Not only would she not be able to bring all of her old apps to her new phone, her new phone wasn’t working at all.  I tried using the automated activation system a few more times to no avail, the new phone just would not connect. I thought a simple call to their provider would resolve the issue, but given the fact it was 10PM on Christmas Eve, I had no idea if this issue could be resolved until the Holiday concluded.

Well, if I see a problem my brain just has to figure it out, and there was no way I was going to leave this issue unresolved. As my girlfriend’s parents did everything they could to keep their younger daughter from crying, I somehow stumbled into a troubleshooting service line during my fifth activation attempt.  Hoping to keep me engaged, her folks made me some really good coffee as I talked to a very nice technician on the other end of the line.

It turned out that the SIM card in her old iPhone 4s was not compatible with 4G equipped phones, and even though the provider’s automated service insisted my girlfriend’s sister use her old SIM card in her new phone, it was a mistake. Thankfully the new phone came with a new 4G-compliant SIM card and after I provided some private serial numbers to the technician, he was able to activate the new SIM card, and the Android was finally able to make phone calls. After I returned the phone to its new owner, I told my girlfriend’s sister she should be able to transfer her contact information using one of her cellular provider’s custom apps.  I’ve been told she loves her new phone.

With the issue resolved I checked on the other phones. My girlfriend’s mother lost absolutely no data in the process and loved the speed boost her new phone provided. My girlfriend had a few redundant contacts in her phone that she needed to clear up, but that could have been caused by either the fact that her backup was restored to a system running a version of iOS four generations newer than what she previously had, or the fact the version of iTunes I had to use to do the transfer was not the most recent one, because my girlfriend would not update her version of Mac OS X just yet.

Within the course of two hours on Christmas Eve I was able to set up and activate three brand new SmartPhones with little to no lost data.  I was also able to resolve an issue that would have otherwise required a trip to a cell provider’s retail store, something that would have not been possible for at least two days.  Essentially, a nerd saved Christmas.  Move over, Ernest.

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