Saturday, May 5, 2012

Has being a Software Tester made me a Skeptic (or has being a Skeptic made me a Software Tester?)

So I’ve recently upgraded to an iPhone 4s.

I have to say, for as much as a techie, gadget geek as I can be; I’m not one to run out to immediately buy the latest cool thing as soon as it comes off the assembly line. We’ve both had our 3G version of the iPhone about 2 ½ years and were due for an upgrade.  The battery life was starting to shorten and apps were all starting to slow down, so I knew that my phone was soon ready to venture off to that retirement farm where all smart phones go after a few years.  This would be the same farm where our family pets have all gone off to, usually when we were away at school or summer camp.  To make matters worse, my partner’s phone was no longer able to charge; no matter which cable or device we tried (Tested? Checked?), the phone would not charge.  As he was leaving that afternoon for an overnight trip to Boston for work, the need for a phone upgrade was now forced upon us.

So we took a trip up to the closest Apple Store to see if his original 3G phone can be fixed.  Plan B was the upgrade.  It was 2 o’clock or so and we were told that the next Genius Bar appointment available was 6:30 that evening.  Time was not on our side, so Plan B took effect; bring on the upgrade.  Two iPhone 4s phones, 32GB plus Apple Care (because you know one of us is going to drop his phone at some point in the next two years and break it) plus tax rang up to about $865.

Side note: I would love to see how it would work if, instead of a support desk and QA team at work, we had a Genius Bar where our developers would have to make appointments to get their builds tested.  I’m thinking that particular software model would be tossed out sometime during Day 1.

So cut to that evening; my partner made it safely to Boston and we were able to use the very cool FaceTime feature that night.  Both phones were working great.  I had backed up my old phone and restored all of my apps to my new phone.  I did spend almost two hours re-organizing them which was annoying, but overall the phone was faster and the battery was lasting much longer than my old phone (which was about to start its retirement on that farm I mentioned.)

Monday morning, on the way to work, it began.

No SIM Card was the message that greeted me when I thought I had just gotten a text message.  WTF?  48 hours in and already there was an error.  So I did what anyone in this day and age does when their new gadget starts flaking; I went to Google.

Oh yes, I do remember this from when the new phones first came out; a SIM issue on some phones.  For every forum or You Tube video post describing this issue, most dated as old as last October and November, you would have thought Apple would have gotten a handle on this already.  The new firmware, they said, should have fixed this.  I had the new firmware and still had the bug, so nope, nice try.  Also, there use of the word ‘should’ began to raise my skepticism as a tester; I’ve heard developers use this word far too often.  As in “This build should have fixed that bug” or “This should be the final release candidate.”

On Monday when this started happening, Power cycling seemed to work.  At first, I thought it was just a one off issue and, as I do with most bugs, I keep a close eye to see if/when it happens again.
I didn’t have to wait long.

That evening, it happened again.  I didn’t even notice at first as I was on WiFi and Words With Friends was still working.  Once I realized it, another power cycle got me back up and running.  No longer a one off issue, I figured I had a real problem with the phone.  But the late hour caused me to take an “I’ll deal with it tomorrow” attitude.

The next day I had no issues at all.  I had almost forgotten about it until the train ride home; Invalid SIM now appeared on my phone.

Once I got home after a train ride spent power-cycling my phone repeatedly, my first response was to go right back to Apple Store and demand first-in-line service at their alleged Genius Bar.  A phone call to the store, however, was what I ended up doing.  I quickly by-passed their automated phone system to get a real person on line.  I explained the issue and my frustration was quite clear.

Apple Support: “Well we have no available Genius Bar appointments this evening sir, but I can look to see if any other stores nearby are available.”

Brian: “I already did that.  The closest one is at the Fifth Ave. store back in the city.”

AS: “Oh.  Well if you come in, we can replace your phone with a new one”

B: “What’s to say that this issue, which should have already been fixed by Apple, won’t happen to this new phone?”
      Notice my skepticism and pointed use of the word should?

AS: “Well, I’m sure that this won’t happen again if we replace the phone.”

B: “Then why has it happened to over 40,000 people since last November?”

AS: “It should be fixed with the latest firmware. Do you have the latest firmware?”
     There was that word again; should.

B: “If I get a new phone, will I have to take two hours to arrange all the applications again?”

AS: “Did you back it up to the cloud?  If you backed it up, your apps should be restored and organized”
  Again, should.

B: “Yes, it was backed up the first time and I still had to re-arrange the applications.”

AS: “Well, it should have worked if you backed it up”

While this phone conversation was going on, I was power cycling my iPhone and it finally came back with a valid SIM.  I carefully placed the iPhone down and ended my conversation with the Apple support person, telling her I would just go to the Apple Store on 14th Street in Manhattan when I went into work the next day.

Invalid SIM appeared to text me as I was on the train the next morning.  No matter, I thought, I’m going to the first available timeslot and getting this resolved; which I did.

Genius Bar spent all of 20 seconds with me before telling me to just replace the phone with a new one.  It was my only option as I didn’t even want to look at this phone anymore.  I felt bad for my old phone, enjoying its first days on that lovely retirement farm with all the other old phones.  I spent nearly two hours at the Apple Store, but I left with a working phone, so I think it was worth it.  I also figured out the REAL solution to Apple’s Invalid SIM / No SIM bug and it’s not just ‘Get a new phone.’

Step 1: Turn on and activate the new phone.

Step 2: Download and apply the latest Firmware upgrade (currently iOS 5.1)

If you have already downloaded the latest Firmware on the iPhone 4 or 4s and are still having the problem, start at Step 3. Make sure you have your phone backed up to Apple Cloud before doing Step 3, it will save you some headache later.

Step 3: Connect your phone to iTunes and Restore it to Factory Settings.
Step 3: Under Settings --> General --> Reset --> choose Erase All Content and Settings.

 This will set your phone back as if you just opened it up from the box except you’ll have the latest Firmware already installed.  The Firmware plus resetting to factory settings somehow fixes the carrier issues the SIM cards in the iPhone were having.

Step 4: Once the reset is done, chose “Restore iPhone from the Cloud” and login to your Apple account.  Choose your latest backup and your phone will be restored to how you left it; organized apps and all.

It should work.

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