Saturday, 14 July 2012

As a geek girl, I rule!

At this exact moment, I feel like I could conquer the world.  I feel like I have gained secret knowledge which gives me special powers.  It has taken a lot of thinking, sweat, frustration, persistence and ultimately dogged determination to arrive at this point.  Having done so, this smug feeling requires some revelling.

It all started on Thursday when I took delivery of my new iphone.  It's the 4s.  I previously had a 4.  I didn't expect that switching from one to the other would be too difficult.  I followed all the instructions, using itunes to transfer everything from the old phone to the new phone.  Simple.

I have three different email accounts which are (were) connected to my iphone so I can access everything on the go.  I remember their set up being very straightforward.  My main account is gmail and every time I tried to access the mail I would get a message telling me that my username or password was wrong.  This was a lie!  My username and password were not wrong.  They were correct.

I tried again.  The same thing happened.  Tried again. Same thing. Again. Nothing happened. 

No other process has the ability to put me into a state of helpless frustration.  I'm a smart person.  I'm not afraid of technology.  I am happy to follow instructions.  The worst thing is that all you are given in this situation is an error message.  There is no ability to ask a question or seek directions about fixing the problem.

I decided I would change my gmail password on my computer and then just input the new one on the iphone.  At the end of this process and carefully triple checking the password, the same error message came up.

I called Vodafone for help.

The woman told me to delete the account, turn the phone off and start again.  Everything would be fine.

Famous last words.  Everything was not fine.  When I turned the phone back on and tried to access my gmail it delivered the same infuriatingly uninformative message.  Talk about computer says "no"!  I put the phone away.  Perhaps if I gave it some privacy it would sort itself out and we could be friends again.

After some dinner and a TV show, I came back and lovingly punched in my brand spanking new password. No.  Again.  For luck.  NO NO NO NO NO!

I called Vodafone again.  The guy told me to do exactly what I'd already done.  We did it again. No. We restored the factory settings.  We tried again. No.  He suggested I log into gmail via the Safari web browser. Hey presto!  I could access the account.  He sighed.  See, I was telling the truth about my password.  Then he did what all good call centre people do when they don't know the answer: he fobbed me off with a rubbish suggestion and blamed me for the problem.  

"It's because you changed your password.  It takes 48 hours for the password to reach the server.  Just wait and try again later."

48 hours? Google doesn't take 48 hours to do anything.  I was suspicious and asked some questions like "how come I can log in on the browser then?".  The answer was to just wait 48 hours.  Everything will be fine.

Everything was not fine.  I turned on my Sony tablet and received the same refusal of entry to my gmail.  Hmmm. Progress. This wasn't an iphone problem.  It was something to do with gmail.

Another Vodafone guy promised to get tech support to call me again this morning.  This didn't happen.  I decided to take matters into my own hands.  I googled the problem.  Thousands (millions?) of people have had the same problem as me!  There were lots of different suggestions about what to do.  With hope in my heart I followed the instructions in the first one.  No. Then the second.  No.  Then the third one.  No.  I struggled for breath as I fought the urge to throw the phone at the wall.

Taking matters into my own hands, I delved into the gmail settings and took a punt on "application specific passwords".  This is part of the two step verification process which is set up on an opt in basis.  I had obviously opted in at some point and here lay the answer.  I could see "gmail on iphone" and "gmail on tablet".  I revoked access on both and then requested a new application specific password.  Now my heart was racing with excitement - I could feel that the end was nigh - in a good way.

I punched the provided password into the iphone and suddenly my gmail account went nuts.  Mail was flooding in! There was no waggling of the finger as I was told that my password was wrong.  My heart sang!

Google has put layers of security on to its log on procedures, and getting a new application specific password would be the first thing to do.  The security is a good thing in my opinion, but it's so easy to forget once it has been set.  Why do the technical help desks not suggest this?  I would ring them back and tell them but I don't think they care.

STOP PRESS>>> Vodafone called me back just now as I'm writing.  I've provided the solution to them.  It was news to them and they seemed pleased to know.  They were even sweet enough to congratulate me.

Now that I have established myself as a geeky tech grrrl, I'm ready to try again in my quest to conquer the wireless printer.  Wireless my eye!  I will get there.  I've hunted down DOS commands to find IP addresses and I'm having fantasies that I'm more savvy than Lisbeth Salander, you know, the girl with the dragon tattoo.  

I'd better not get ahead of myself.  At the moment, the printer has its teeth bared and is laughing its head off.


Something else I've learnt this week is that if your phone company gives you the option to contact them via social media, do it!  Despite the grievances which have arisen with Vodafone this week, I'm impressed with their social media.  Responses on Twitter were fairly instant.  I ended up having the problem resolved via facebook.  Only through facebook was I able to make contact with someone local via email and telephone.  I don't think I'll ever ring again! Thought you might like to know.


  1. I swear half of Vodafone tech support only know as much as what any other person could Google in a few seconds, and use a mixture of that and guesswork to try and solve your problem (and then try to cover it up by hoping that the customer is less tech-savvy than they are!)

    1. Sounds like we've had a similar experience Tash. (Although it's probably not limited to Vodafone!) At least there is satisfaction in solving a problem for yourself - even if I did age about a hundred years in the process.
      Thanks for reading!
      I've popped over to your blog too and it looks fabulous.

  2. Yes, sometimes it's a lot better to just sit down and work it out yourself then to go through the hair-tearing experience of tech support! Once I went into a Vodafone shop to actually see someone face-to-face when I couldn't get my phone to stop using the internet by itself and running up large bills. The tech guy's first solution was to completely turn the signal reception off and keep it that way. He only realised that this was a very silly thing when I stared at him and asked 'won't that stop me from sending and receiving calls and messages altogether?' Yes, yes it would.

    Thank you! It'd probably be my weird stories blog I write on most often, I don't seem to have gotten around to doing much for the other two. I'm impressed you managed to put something on yours every day!

  3. Well, nearly every day. I think it's all about having a clear purpose and reason to blog. Everyone is different. I just hope readers enjoy divacultura as much as I do producing it.