Defeating the iPhone Daemons

Recently 28,747 ghost emails showed up in my iPhone’s Mail Inbox. Ghosts because they are not really IN my Inbox, despite the notification hovering over the Mail icon saying they are. I managed to turn off the annoying apparition, but the grey number 28K still displays in my Mailbox menu.

These ghosts also haunt my Sent folder. Supposedly it contains 966 sent emails, none of which I can see.

According to my preliminary research, it’s a bug in the software – and it’s been bugging people without any resolution for at least a couple of years.Ghost email

Truthfully, I’ve been unable to read the long, online threads of threatening rants and obtuse explanations for more than a few minutes at a time. My eyes and brain fog over. (I can’t believe I spent 25 years as a technical writer without slipping into a coma.) My heart sinks when I see the same suggestion again and again: delete account and add back in. Sure, simple. Just let me locate my list of server settings and passwords. Of course, if I must do that, I will. But unlike with childbirth, when you forget the pain and do it again, I do remember how long I labored to set up the email account, how many people I had to call to obtain settings, how many buttons I toggled on and off before it magically worked. (Again, I marvel at my perverse ability to write about these maddening mind boggles – as a career!)

And now – another fun, twisting challenge. The ghosts must be pissed off at me for trying to yank them out of purgatory. All my Contacts disappeared! Names, addresses, phone numbers, emails. All my incoming calls appeared as Unknown Number.

This was my fault, as much as I’d like to blame cyber-demons. My fingers became possessed and in a fit of impatience, they pressed the secret code to open the gates to iCloud heaven. Once inside, they mindlessly decided, no we don’t need you anymore. Close down iCloud and take everything away (secretly hoping this might include ghosts).

Once I realized that the ghosts remained, but real people disappeared, I was able to re-open iCloud, bow down and ask for forgiveness. Prayers answered. All my contacts floated down from the clouds and reappeared on my phone.

Plus a few extra. Ones I deleted years ago! For reasons that could be the subject of future essays. I’ll have to be careful scrolling through them to re-delete. One slip of the finger or the stylus and I’m calling that born-again woman who refused to listen when I told her I could edit her book, but not run her personal errands. Or that handyman who became overly hand-y until I invented a boyfriend, a former NYC cop with a pet pit bull.  Ghost emails

As for the mysterious emails, are they real? Are they really emails I’ve sent and received for the last 10 years? Has a server somewhere decided, “Here, I don’t want these anymore, I’m sending them back. You’ll have to hire an exorcist or an engineer to get rid of them.”

I have a few ideas, I don’t give up easily. Did I mention I was a technical writer? And I have a software engineer son.

If the emails are real, and not ghosts, I hope I don’t have to see them again. As with old Contacts, I deleted them for a reason. They are free to die peacefully.


So Many Messages

So many messages, so little time to listen and answer. So many ways to communicate, so few real connections.

It’s been a frustrating week trying to schedule interviews, receive feedback, even reach friends for fun plans. I’ve had time to work, which for me is usually writing, but without receiving the information I need, there’s nothing to write about. I can fiddle-fart around to some extent, researching and preparing, but sooner or later I face the void. Time hanging, like a cage dangling.

I don’t dare make plans. For example, my neighbor just asked me to go for coffee, but as soon as I do, someone will call or email needing a reply and the cage will clank shut.

Even going to a meeting at one of the most hi-techie companies around is not without its glitches. Here we are talking about a breakthrough product in communications, how it’s going to be exhibited at all the conventions, the project manager wound up like robot on speed. The poor people setting up the demo are struggling to catch up. They drove all the way down from L.A. the night before and arrived at the building early so they could be ready before the meeting. Someone was supposed to let them into the conference room. But no one came down, no one called, and we stood in the lobby waiting. I used the time to talk face-to-face, learning something about the product I needed to know.

iPhone MessagesFinally the manager arrived, all flustered, and we followed her into the meeting room. Apologies. “Someone was supposed to tell me you were here.” Who, I wondered. Who didn’t call whom? We all have cell phones and some have more than one.

I love my iPhone and need to upgrade soon. I have a dinosaur model and most of the time it works well, except when I leave it in another room, but that is not the phone’s fault. All my friends and family who have upgraded have had problems: phone calls going to the computer instead of the phone, contacts disappearing, ring tones fading away. It took me several days to reach one friend. She wasn’t getting my messages on her phone, nor was I getting hers. She blamed it on her upgrade. It’s true we are older, but we are not that technologically challenged.

The corker this week was a call from my sister. I was so happy to see her name light up on my phone, missing her after a visit 3,000 miles away. I can tell her about my week! Get some sympathy.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said. “I butt dialed you by accident. I’m trying to clean up a mess. I reached up in my pantry for a bag of flour and spilled it on everything. There are poufs of white everywhere!” I tried to imagine how the poufs involved her butt and iPhone.iPhone Cover

This was not the first time she’s pocket or purse dialed me. More than once, I’ve answered a call from her, said hello, and then listened to her and one of her daughters out somewhere, like in a store Christmas shopping, discussing what to get people.

I know what I want for Christmas, and the new year. To go back to the days when my sister and I used tin cans and a string in our grandmother’s garden.