Friday, June 06, 2008

iPhone, Post Swimming Pool

Yesterday morning, I was following my normal routine, checking my email and syncing my iPhone before going out and monkeying with the swimming pool's chemistry. As you can see from previous posts, I had let the pool get very green and I had to drain it and shovel out the muck and leaves that covered the bottom before I had a hope of using it again. Refilling the water means lots of chemical treatments. There is the obvious chlorine, but I had to get the water's alkalinity under control. That means that I have to add gallons of hydrochloric acid to the pool, in small quantities over time. Yesterday, I poured in a half-gallon, and then noticed that some must have splashed on my leg, because it began to burn. I was wearing my cut-off jeans that I frequently use when working on the pool, so I waded into the shallow end and took a couple of minutes to empty the skimmer basket of collected leaves. I changed clothes and went back to the computer.

The iPhone wasn't in the cradle where I'd thought it was. Like a flash, I got up and raced to the bathroom where my wet cut-offs were dripping onto the tile. In the pocket was my iPhone, a very dead and unresponsive iPhone. I dried it off, and removed the little memory card. It had water on it, not a good sign. Until that instant, I'd hoped the tight fitting design of the iPhone had protected it. But even with the outside dry, and shaking it in hopes there was any water that could be removed that way, there appeared no hope. I set the iPhone between two routers where the heat would gently bake it and went to confess what I'd done to Mary Ann.

The day before had been a lovely day, a road trip to celebrate our anniversary, but Thursday was a bit depressing. I worked on getting my third book ready for submission to the printer, but I would intermittently check on the iPhone. All day long, there was no sign of life. I began planning how to survive the days until the next generation iPhone would arrive. Even if I couldn't afford it, it's arrival would lower the price of replacement originals.

But after sunset, I tried again, and there was a flash of life. The boot up apple appeared, several times in a row, and there was a few minutes where, when I put it in the dock, the charging battery sign would show up, showing a drained battery. There were also diagonal lines, across the screen, almost like scan lines. Overnight I put it back between the ISDN router and the ethernet hub to bake some more.

Morning came, and there was only a few seconds of white apple, and then no sign of life. I lost hope. Surely it would have gotten better overnight. Maybe water had finally corroded something critical. I put it aside and thought about ordering a cheap throwaway phone to use for a few weeks.

But this evening, as the kids came over to use the pool, I pushed the buttons, and it booted up! I couldn't believe it. I tried to flip the unlock slide, but no response. The phone showed it was December 31st, and it turned on or off using the hardware buttons, but that was it. Still, signs of life. Then the screen changed. "Sync in Progress". Yes, it was sitting in the dock and iTunes began backing up the phone. I was tempted to abort it, rather than risk a corrupted back up, but I had already taken the precaution of backing up the iPhone's backups, so I let it run. As far as the laptop was concerned, the phone was fine. I brought up iPhoto and extracted the ten photos of the snakes in the pool that I hadn't gotten around to saving before and everything went smoothly.

Step by step, functionality returned. I saw the wi-fi status show bars. Then the cell signal showed phone activity and a couple of SMS messages from earlier in the day appeared. The date changed to June 6th and superficially, all seemed well.

But the touchscreen was unresponsive and the diagonal lines (upper left to lower right) still showed. After playing with it for several more minutes, the unlock slide jumped as I touched it. A minute later I actually got it to unlock. With maybe 5% touch screen responsiveness, I tested out feature by feature. I made a couple of telephone calls, and was afraid I'd never be able to hang up without pushing the power button. I took a photo.

I started a video, and was afraid something was wrong when the video frame showed tearing at the top, but I checked it on the laptop and saw the same defect. I'd captured the movie with EyeTV and must have recorded it wrong.

So, that's where I sit. It's barely usable, if I have lots of patience. I'm sure the keyboard would be useless. But as I run it, the visible diagonal lines are slowly disappearing (it will take hours at this rate). I just hope that the touchscreen will return to usability as well. At least I won't have to buy a throw-away phone.

Fingers crossed.


Karen said...

Good news, Henry. I had touchscreen issues at first also, and the largest problem was that the battery would not hold a charge past 1 hr. It took about a week to fully recover.

shelley said...

Glad to hear there are some signs of life.I hope it returns to normal.

Henry Melton said...

STATUS UPDATE: It keeps getting better, but very slowly. I can do almost anything, as long as I have enough time and patience. However, anyone who calls me should expect to leave a voicemail, because it's impossible to answer the phone fast enough.

Henry Melton said...

Status Update: This is being typed on my iPhone with relative ease. The most persistent problem is unlocking the phone from sleep. It's better every day. The best thing I tried was turning off autolock and leaving it connected to the charging cord for hours on end.

Henry Melton said...

Status Update: Day by day, it gets a little better. At this rate it may be a month before all the glitches go away.

Henry Melton said...

Status Update: After about two weeks, I'm afraid it's stabilized at a glitchy state. I can do everything, but there are regular periods where it ignores the screen touch. All the software works fine, but I can't trust it to work when I want it to. A 3G is definitely in my future.

Henry Melton said...

Status Update: It's 18 days after my iPhone went for a dip. Today, it occurred to me that I haven't had a single touchscreen stall in today's activities; and I do use it a lot. Perhaps it's the gradual removal of moisture due to the dry climate here at 9000 ft. Breckenridge Colorado, or maybe I'm just lucky today. In any case, I'm taking it for a good omen.

Jeff S. said...

My iPhone went through the washer Sunday morning and was dead. I shook the water out of it and broke the news to my wife. She in turn yelled, calling me different colorful names. I freaked out and bought the small bucket of damp-rid. I put it in the bucket for a day and the apple logo came on, then off...dead again. I then read on wiki that you need to hook a vacuum to it. I pulled the sims card out and stuck the vacuum, with the rectangle accessories attachment, to the earphone and sims card side. I let it run for 25 minutes, then removed the phone. It booted up and worked. It made calls, received calls, tried internet, and everything worked. It had water spots all over the inside of the screen, and those lines that you have. I turned it off and left it in the damp-rid bucket overnight. In the morning I turned it on and the water spots were gone. I have stored it in the damp-rid since then(3 days now) and vacuumed it once more. Now it is 4 days and the screen has completely cleared up, and it is like nothing happened to it. I never had any problem with the slider, even since the first boot up after I used the vacuum.

Henry Melton said...

Jeff, I am pleased that yours came back alive so fast. I wish I'd known about Damp-Rid. I found their URL here, although it is too late for me. My iPhone has come back to nearly 100% utility (cross fingers) lately here in the dryer climate of the Colorado mountains. I was fighting the high humidity of Central Texas when it first happened.

Henry Melton said...

The stuff is even on Amazon (Damp Rid). Why have I never heard of it before? I had even considered going to a place that sold shipping materials and buying a lot of silica gel packets. I wonder if this is the same thing.

Jeffrey Stalker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jeff s. said...

They are both desicants. Good to hear yours is back to 100%. I think I will keep every silica gel packet I get from now on in a couple of zip loc bags. I researched waterproof cases, but they are bulky. On another note, I am again looking forward to the updated software.

Anonymous said...

Another thing you can try with your iPhone after it has taken a drink is 99% Isopropyl Alcohol.

The screen on my phone was not responding to any touch, so I kept searching and found a video that talked about dunking it in Isopropyl Alcohol. It now works like their is nothing wrong, except for the corners have no functionality currently since it seems there is still a layer of alcohol on the screen. (I can't seem to find the site it was on)

Cristina said...

What ever happened in the end, Henry? Did it work long enough for your upgrade option to kick in? Did the quirks come back ever? My phone took a swim just6 hours ago. It is now resting in Damprid. Fingers crossed for me.

Henry Melton said...

Christina, my personal tale has moved on. Glitches returned just at the time that I critically needed reliable phone service, so I upgraded to a 3G. The original phone still works for other features so I still pull it out to run remove camera apps and other things, but I did get several months use as a phone after the dunk.

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