Monday, February 4, 2008

And Suddenly, Silence

Last night I received a call from my 19 year old daughter. She's in Michigan. I am in Colorado. It was difficult to understand much of anything she said, but it was clear she was seriously upset, and evidently she was on her way via ambulance to the hospital after what was evidently a severe allergic reaction to some prescription medications. (She was discharged last night, and fortunately seems fine.)

But during the course of the evening, her mom called my cell phone from the hospital's emergency room telephone. Right in the middle of the call my iPhone died. Completely. I tried to restart it. No go. I plugged it into the computer and it went into "this iPhone needs to be restored" mode. Several downloads of software and lengthy attempts at restoring the pone (and its data) each failed. And here was the problem: the phone call from the emergency room came from a land line. I had no record of it (except on the iPhone, which was quite dead).

Eventually, I managed to find a support document on Apple's site that suggested creating a new user on your computer and restoring the phone using the new user. That worked. (My iPhone is now "test's" iPhone.)

And while all this was going on I called the hospital's main number via a land line, and after what seemed like an interminable wait, was finally connected to the emergency room and even, miracles of modern technology, to my daughter's room.

But what are the odds that my iPhone would die so completely at just such a moment? It was one of those horribly frustrating moments in life and a reminder that the technology on which we depend daily for much of our personal and business communications is not guaranteed to work in time of crisis or emergency. Sometimes things break. And they sometimes break at the worst possible time.

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