Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Baddams Family

Another entry in the Guardian's Gallery competition but essentially my finding more excuses to practise drawing these panel strips. Click the pic to make it bigger.

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Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Friday, 10 June 2011

Dear Apple… From The Shmuck

No cartoon. Just a story...

About a week ago, my second generation iTouch stopped working. I woke up one morning to find it stuck on the Apple logo. I tried to restart it but it wouldn’t switch off. I tried a reboot and, again, it just sat on the Apple logo for about half an hour until the screen flashed and it rebooted again. At the time, I was really busy with work so I didn’t dedicate much time to getting it working. I read the many reports of similar failures on the web and realised that I would have to take it to my nearest Apple Centre, which happens to be in Manchester.

Yesterday was a big day. Despite missing my music as I work this week, I'd managed to finish the first draft of the book I’ve been writing/drawing since January. It was a big thing for me, so I got up today determined to treat myself to a trip into Manchester to fix the problem with my iTouch...

I arrived at the Apple centre to find it as congested as usual, with an equal number of staff to customers. I was quickly intercepted. They probably smelt money, though I know it wasn’t coming from me.

‘Hi, can I help,’ said a guy.

‘Yes, my iTouch won’t start.’

‘And what’s your name?’

‘David,’ I replied, buying into the slightly 1960s vibe they encourage at the Apple Centre.

‘Great. I’m Ken,’ was roughly the reply (I forget the actual name). ‘Can I take a look at your iTouch?’

I handed it over. He played with it. He scratched his chin. ‘I’ve not seen this problem before,’ he said, though I didn’t believe him (and neither should you -- just Google ‘iTouch stuck in restore). ‘You need to make an appointment to see the staff at the Genius Bar’.

The Genius Bar, in case you don’t know these things, is the bit at the back of the shop staffed by wiser Macheads who sort out your hardware problems. I made my appointment for an hour later, left the shop, walked around aimlessly, and trudged back in time for my 12.30.

‘Hi, my name’s Barry,’ said the guy at the Genius Bar. ‘What’s your name?’

‘David,’ I said, feeling the slight shame I feel when in these friendly relationships with Apple staff. I’m not a happy clappy sort of guy. I feel awkward, too big, too unfashionable, too trivial and too serious all at the same time. I don’t wear beads or rubber bands around my wrist. I don’t have long flowing hair or a beard. I’m grumpy, scruffy, and my fingers are covered in ink…

‘And what can I do for you?’ asked Baz (I think he’d allow me to call him that, if that was his name).

‘My iTouch won’t start.’

‘Okay,’ he said, ‘if you can just wait a moment, I’ll get a colleague to come and see you.’

Minutes pass before Baz’s colleague arrives.

‘Hi, I’m Simon,’ said somebody probably not called Simon. ‘Can I ask your name?’

‘I’m David,’ I said.

‘And what’s your problem?’

‘My iTouch won’t start.’

‘Okay, let’s have a look at it.’

He proceeded to restart it. It wouldn’t – the power had drained due to my inability to turn the damn thing off – so quick as a flash (it is a Genius Bar, after all) he plugged it into a Mac to get some charge.

‘I’ll be back in a minute, David,’ said Simon. ‘Let’s just give it some power.’

So I waited. And I waited. And Simon (or was it Barry or Baz) went off to serve another customer.

And he completely forgot about me!

Thankfully, another of his colleagues eventually spotted the miserable guy not buying into the Apple vibe as he watched his iTouch recharge.

‘Can I help?’

‘My name is David and my iTouch won’t start,’ I explained.

‘Okay, my name is Stewart. Let’s have a look shall we?’

Now the iTouch had some power, Stewart could try to restore it by putting it into DFU mode: hold down the Home Key and Power, count to ten. And miraculously, something happened! It came up with a bar to show that it was uploading my new firmware.

‘Okay, that will take some time,’ said Stewart. ‘I’ll be back in a bit.’

Well, I’ll give Stewart his due, he didn’t forget me. Although he began to serve another customer, he paused at one point to inform me that the firmware wasn’t reinstalling.

‘It’s stuck,’ he said.

‘I know,’ I replied.

‘Okay,’ he said, ‘this looks like it’s a hardware fault. I’ll get another colleague to come and talk to you about your options.’

I was then introduced to yet another member of staff.

‘And you are?’ he asked.

‘David,’ I said. ‘And my iTouch won’t start…’ I waved at the thing. I was too tired. My feet were aching after standing there for half an hour. (Incidentally, the floor in Apple centres is solid granite or something equally hard and uncompromising. I’m sure it’s to stop people loitering for too long. I was luckily standing slightly behind the desks where the staff stand on two inches of foam rubber. All very telling…)

However, I digress.

‘My name’s Sidney,’ said the bloke who looked like a Sidney but probably wasn’t. ‘Let me just check the serial number.’

He typed it into his iPhone. ‘This was bought in December 2008,’ he said.

‘Yes,’ I replied. Two years and a few months sounded about right.

‘Well, that means it’s out of warranty. You have two choices. You can have a brand new unit for £112 or you can have 10% off the price of any new iPod.’

I thought about it for two seconds.

‘I’ll have neither,’ I said, picking up my iTouch. ‘I’ll go buy a HP instead.’ And with that, I walked out the shop.

Now, I felt bad being so spikey. You might say I was even rude. But before I get to the second part of this story, let me just say that I always had faith (perhaps na├»ve faith) that Apple were a better company than this. I know what my local Trading Standards officer would say about 30 months of use from a device that cost me the best part of £300. Warranties don’t mean a thing. You have to get ‘reasonable use’. I wouldn’t call 30 months reasonable use, especially when I was pretty sure that this was a software fault of theirs and not, as the staff maintained, my faulty hardware.

Yet Apple portray themselves as a company who really care about their customers. They treat you to this fake bonhomie, as though we’re all part of this big happy family. Only, it’s not a family. It’s a prostitution racket and they love you until your money runs out.

Well, to conclude this story: I get home, utterly dejected. Not just about the iTouch but lots of other things in my life, which is what happens when my luck isn’t in. It was raining, I was wet and tired, I was bemoaning my writing, cartooning, blogging, everything and more. But I was also determined to prove that my iTouch wasn’t dead because, frankly, I can be a very stubborn bastard.

The next bit won’t interest anybody except anybody with an iTouch stuck as mine was, so I’ll cut the story short: ten minutes past ten tonight, I was listening to Spark’s ‘Lil Beethoven’ album belting out of my fully functioning iTouch.

Screw you, Apple!

Here’s what I did.

The DFU mode is important. You’ll have to do this a lot. Hold down both the Home button and the power button, count 10 seconds, let go of power whilst keeping Home pressed in. Do this whilst the iTouch is connected to the PC via the USB. You should hear the PC recognise the device.

Download the 3.0 version of the firmware. It’s available on the web. Apparently, it’s the only one that doesn’t have the protection that prevents you from downgrading…

Boot your iTouch into DFU mode, load iTunes, hold down the shift key as you click on the restore button. Pick the 3.0 firmware you’ve downloaded. It should install.

The first time I did this, it reached 100% but no further. I rebooted the iTouch and did it a second time. That’s when it worked.

Along the way, I’d done many other things (working by trial and error, I was rebooting the iTouch and trying to restore it for about 5 hours before it work), some of which might have contributed to my eventually unbricking the iTouch.

I used TinyUmbrella, though it didn’t work the majority of the time and usually crashed when I tried the ‘Restore Fix’.

I’m not sure if this was the reason it finally worked but I also used the ‘greenpois0n’ jailbreak hack. I’ve never wanted to jailbreak by iTouch but I’ve done it now and I’m be grateful that these devices have been broken. And those people who think jailbreaking is bad, consider this: there are clearly techniques for unbricking an iTouch that Apple, despite their huge revenues, haven’t explored or don’t want to make available. A simple bit of software distributed around the Apple Centres could probably restore functionality to the majority of bricked iPods. Could it be that difficult?

How many people have gone into Apple and agreed to pay £112 for a new iPod when their old unit was functioning perfectly, just stuck in a loop somewhere in its firmware? Are we to assume that Apple encourage their staff to look puzzled before they declare with their very best expert advice that they’ll have to regretfully squeeze you for £112?

I have wanted to buy an iPad but this whole experience has put me off the idea. Those Android tablets are looking more impressive by the day, especially when I have days like today…

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Little Jack Warner

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The cartoon I didn't send to the Guardian's football gallery on the theme of FIFA...

Monday, 6 June 2011

Some FIFA Cartoons

Proving that you should always quit when you're ahead, I entered this week's Gallery competition at The Guardian. I won last week but haven't done at all well this week. My first cartoon they rejected because they thought it wouldn't get past their lawyers... No idea what the hell I've said in it to warrant that...

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So I did this cartoon, which made did no better than make the final selection...

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Sunday, 5 June 2011

Have I Got News For You...

Been really busy the last week. Barely spent any time away from the drawing table. One thing of note was seeing one of my old Photoshopped images on 'Have I Got News For You' on Friday. Not sure Richard Madeley was too pleased though...