How being laid low with fever is no walk in the park.

So.

I had an unexpected emergency a couple of weeks ago and had to fly back home. Caught up with a few friends when everything was settled, but I guess a random combination of factors (climate, insomnia, food, health, blah) caught up and I developed fever, a runny nose and sore throat right on the day when I was due to return to Melbourne.

How wonderful! As always, “good” things come in threes.

So I visited the good old doc that I have not been to in years. Got a jab, fever receded and all’s well that ends well – or so I thought. Extreme low humidity of the plane caused my sore throat to come back, along with aching sinuses. I never realised how painful they could feel when it’s too dry for them to even produce mucus. Inflight entertainment consisted of tossing and turning, visiting the john and asking the flight attendants for warm water. Agony.

The sinuses were so exhilarated at the plane touching down, they started producing mucus nonstop. Hello again runny nose, how I have missed thee. An afternoon nap later, and my fever came back too. It felt like a family reunion, only of the virulent kind. Fever went up to 39.5 degrees Celsius by night time. Stan and V drove me down to a 24 hour clinic in St Kilda which thankfully did bulk billing, much thanks to my Medicare card too. It was weird but my fever actually receded to 37.8 degrees when the doc took a reading. So all right, we all went home after getting a prescription and everyone was tired of course.

I tried to sleep, and failed miserably; was a wreck by morning. Felt weak, slightly delirious and brain would work incessantly on random and depressing thoughts. This went on for the next couple of days, until I managed to sweat the fever out.

Point to note: NOTHING beats fever curing like the good old “wrap yourself in a thick quilt and sweat the shit out of yourself” remedy, fever’s usually gone by the time the sweat’s outta your pores.

But it sure felt shitty being unable to sleep, thinking depressing thoughts while shivering and having a pounding headache at the same time. Have you ever listened to your blood pulsing along your head, like a f-ing heavy drumbeat pounding away? Trust me, it feels like crap especially when you are trying to get to sleep.

And I haven’t been the depressed suicidal kind since forever, but this fever took me to new depths. Yes, I really felt that bad. And it felt doubly awful because of work issues lying over my head like a mountain; how the hell do you rest when no one else is fully doing the job?

I haven’t fully recovered at the point of this post, but I’m lucid, slightly mobile (albeit homebound) and hoping to make a full recovery by next week. Meanwhile, it’s plenty of fluids, plenty of sleep (still having problems accomplishing this) and plenty of boring food because the body says a firm no to anything that’s beyond bland or mildly flavoured.

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Tech: How upgrading the iPhone 4 to iOS 5 was a major PITA

So. One fine day I connected my iPhone 4 to the desktop, saw an update available for iOS 5 and promptly hit Update. Like what the hell, if it’s out of beta it should be safe isn’t it?

Right.

Man, was that a mistake or what. The download took ages, the phone backup failed and my phone went into recovery mode. And to top it off, my desktop could no longer recognise the iPhone and kept prompting for a driver location. WTF mate?

So I headed home from work, utterly convinced that the phone was more or less doomed to lose its recent pictures and documents in this doomsday scenario.

The next day: rolled me sleeves up and dived right back in, determined to lick it once and for all.

Problem #1: desktop unable to detect iPhone, driver issue.
Googled a bit, decided that I should follow instructions. Drivers are linked to iTunes so if the fastest way is to do the uninstall/reinstall routine, since restarting the Apple Mobile Device Support service did not work. So I uninstalled all Apple programs which includes:

  • iTunes
  • Apple Mobile Device Support
  • Apple Application Support
  • Apple Software Update
  • Bonjour

And of course, reinstalled the latest version of iTunes. And got a warning about not passing XP compatibility that says I’m unable to burn CDs or DVDs with iTunes – not that I really care.

So after all these, reconnected the iPhone and voila, it’s detected once again! For those of you people who still could not get the iPhone driver detected correctly, run devmgmt.msc (otherwise known as Device Manager), right click on the iPhone that still has a yellow exclamation mark, go to Properties, and use C:Common FilesAppleMobile Device Supportdrivers as the folder that contains the driver.


Problem #2: damn phone is still in recovery mode, still couldn’t recover files.
Installed TinyUmbrella, which got promising reviews on Google. Started TinyUmbrella up, connected the iPhone, and hit Exit Recovery. Woohoo, we are ON!

*Make sure you go to Advanced in TinyUmbrella and uncheck Set hosts to Cydia on exit – this is to prevent error 3194 later when performing the update, this happens when your computer has problems resolving to Apple servers.

Promptly backed up all the damn files and videos before I had a second go at iOS5.

I also did a manual backup via iTunes before trying the update – paranoia setting in heh heh, free plug for you Aloy ;p


Problem #3: Not updated to iOS 5
Most obvious solution? Upgrade to iOS 5 of course. Started up iTunes, hit yes and full steam ahead!

Of course, here’s a short checklist:

  • You need a ton of patience. Backing up and restoring the iPhone takes ages, especially if you have thousands of photos.
  • You need sufficient disk space on your computer to back those files up. Start clearing if you’re short.

The update went more or less smoothly this time, but it took a hell of a long time for the upgrade to be done. So I had to twiddle my fingers and wait, wait and wait while the phone restore crawled. Yes, you need a restore because everything was wiped during the upgrade. Cue huge sigh of relief when it was finally completed.


A short review on new features in iOS 5 that I noticed:

Apple ID:
You’re basically strongarmed to set an Apple ID up right after upgrading to iOS 5, and that isn’t too tough. Most of the new stuff is linked to your Apple ID, including Apps Store, iCloud, Facetime, Game Center and others I might have missed.

Camera:

  • Auto touchup, red eye removal, cropping. Very useful when doing a quick touchup before posting it for Facebook for example.
  • Gridlines when shooting. Some people prefer this, some don’t. Good to have either way, can be enabled when in camera mode under Options.
  • Ability to use the volume up (+) button as the camera shutter. Very intuitive control, good improvement I’d say.

iCloud:
The legendary cloud backup offers 5GB of space for abuse, which is not much considering the amount of pictures in the average iPhone user’s local storage. Nevertheless, still good. Photos now offers Photo Stream, which is linked to iCloud. Display your pictures that’s stored up there basically.

iMessage:
OMG YOU CAN SEND MESSAGES TO FRIENDS USING DATA NOW! AMAZING!

Not really, seeing as most of us were already using WhatsApp. And iMessages limits the sending only to Apple devices so all those Android/Blackberry/Nokia friends of yours can go stuff themselves into a dark corner. Either way, doesn’t affect my life too much – I’ll carry on with WhatsApp thank you very much.

All that being said, it’s still useful considering the integration iMessage has been given into the default Messages. You have the ability to choose whether to use SMS to send the same message if data is unavailable, giving prepaid mobile users granular control which is very good IMO, rather than busting their credit.

Notes:
More themes! Two more to be exact. Or were they already present previously?

Settings:
More options! More control is always preferred. Stuff like International Assist, Twitter integration, Notification Center (reminds me of Android), have fun looking and tweaking stuff yourself.

All in all, two days spent on this bloody upgrade. I can’t say iOS 5 sucks, but as usual I hate fiddling with iTunes and life is bad when things do not work properly during an upgrade, more especially when they consume hours of my life in troubleshooting.

In comparison, rooting my HTC Desire and upgrading it to Gingerbread were smoothly completed without any major headaches.

So, how did YOUR upgrade to iOS 5 go?

Memories with Jacky – 張學友 1/2 世紀演唱會

In 2007, V and I went to our first Jacky Cheung concert, when he came over to Melbourne on his 张学友2007世界巡回演唱会. It was an excellent experience seeing him up live, and I was really impressed at the way he performed; vigorous, little rest and giving his all and entertaining everyone with his music. My grasp of Cantonese back then was really basic, and it was a pity I could not fully understand his words at that time. A lot of other Chinese fans were more incensed, and kept yelling “讲国语!” (Speak Mandarin!)

Four years later, he’s returned to Melbourne once again and we caught his concert last night. Four years of exposure to Cantonese, better prepared and this time with Stan and Ting in tow; my daughter’s getting prenatal Jacky music! He’s aged in these years, and no longer as vigorous in his dance moves as he was before. But his vocals are still as inspiring as ever, and his face more expressive as ever when he’s immersed in the theme of the music. More Mandarin spoken this time, we suspect it’s due to demands from Chinese sponsors. It’s a good thing the songs were more or less split evenly, half Cantonese and half Mandarin; I began with his Mandarin songs, but grew to love his Cantonese ballads.

Unlike the 2007 concert which had a mini-musical (a mix of 雪狼湖 and 如果。爱 songs), this one encompasses several themes and had a distinctly Broadway feel to it. The first, a love story starring 舒淇 and himself, with various songs introducing passion, romance, love, heartbreak and finally reunion. I was really impressed, as this set had at least five consecutive songs with costume changes and he never took a single break.

One of my favourite songs from the concert, 你是我今生唯一傳奇 from an old album. The vocals, the music and the lyrics are just filled with so much love and romance, and 学友’s expressions make it easy for you to believe in his love and joy.

不信日落亦可這樣美
不信日落亦可飄溢香氣
原來是你 靠向我手臂 無意地

不錯夢內儘管都是你
不錯夢內儘管這樣希冀
仍然難信 你眼裡的愛情意味

*愛原來是我 未想過你會這麼
 你天生這樣美 竟愛著我難以負荷
 愛人原來是我 贈給我暖暖愛火
 暖得心也在醉 情似落霞在飛*

#我真幸運 愛你愛你愛你夕陽也夢寐
 我今生有你 唯一這個傳奇
 我真幸運 有你愛我每對眼睛也妒忌
 要這一世裡 唯一一個心愛的你#

這一刻伴你 這一刻望你
斜陽迷醉 和我這片心醉成一起

REPEAT*##

He then progressed to jazz renditions of a few songs which was not as well-received by the audience. For example, a jazz version of 离开以后 hmmmmm. We agreed that his voice just isn’t all that suited to jazz, it does not feel smooth enough for some reason. Not the technique, just the voice.

An animated sequence of his life events followed, with his song Life Is Like A Dream as the background, showing a baby Jacky growing up into his teens, manhood and finally climaxed with an aged whitehaired Jacky, plenty of wrinkles and looking like an old granddaddy. Ah, the wonders of digital art. This was in line with what he said he wanted to show, the various facets of himself, not just the ballad singer, but also the jazz lover, his life, and his ability to dance. To prove this of course, he followed up with fast-paced dance songs like 饿狼传说 and 头发乱了, and never once did he sound like he was out of breath.

It’s Stan’s first time seeing him up live, and he was also pretty impressed by Jacky’s expressive and throbbing vocals. He basically grew up on music I listened to, so you can count Jacky into one of the many musical influences he had in younger days.

I was quite touched by something he said at the concert – “我不单是个喜欢唱歌的人,我也是个喜欢唱歌给喜欢听我唱歌的歌手.” I know it might not sound like much, but I think showing appreciation to the fans after all these years just strikes a chord.

Listening to the many familiar and classic hits somehow just evokes past memories. Of those times when I would laboriously copy lyrics of his song in the neatest hand I could manage, all in a school exercise book. Of going to sleep with his music, earphones plugged in and Walkman playing. Of learning to sing in Cantonese; because when sung, the dialect is so achingly emotional and beautiful. Of learning how to sing, and loving singing. Of grey days, and how his music was the sole company I had. It’s been eighteen years since I started listening to him, and I’m glad to realise that I’m still a fan and to be reminded of the comfort in his songs back in those gawky and awkward days of my life.

V gets tired easily these days, and she isn’t a big 学友 fan, not the same way I am anyway. She was constantly yawning throughout the concert, coming to something like this after a long day at work isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world. But I’m thankful she did not gripe in any way about this night, which allowed me to immerse myself in his music and the entire performance.

The concert ended at 2330hrs, the standard stop time for events at Hisense Arena. No encore, that was it. The last song was 祝福, and I was temporarily reminded of a time long ago, when I was still a nerdy twelve year old in Secondary One attending the first ever Swim Camp at Pasir Ris NTUC chalet. A bunch of us kids, singing along to photocopied lyrics of 学友’s 祝福 from the last page of 星期五日报. Innocent, carefree days long past.

有缘,就能期待明天。很高兴有这个机会再次倾听你的音乐,也很感谢能再次沉醉在你的歌声。 学友哥,下次再见!

Tech: How I upgraded the Desire to Gingerbread, and WhatsApp history hiccups.

So.

I finally gathered sufficient motivation to upgrade my HTC Desire from Froyo to Gingerbread, and had a stab at doing LeeDrOiD Gingerbread T-Mod A2SD on my phone. I had a look at the basic guide and nearly went bonkers, it sortof looked exactly like what I did the last time round! And no sir, I’m not going to go through that entire round of shit again.

So I had a look at the LeeDrOiD wiki, which sort of assured me that I could go ahead with flashing the .zip directly. And I had an ask on the LeeDrOiD IRC channel, my query kindly answered by a kind soul with the same sentiments. It would’ve been more troublesome had I aimed to do a DATA++ rather than A2SD (I’d done A2SD on my first root+upgrade = time saved). And armed with these reassurances, off I went booting my phone into Recovery mode, and began the task of upgrading to Gingerbread.

What I did:

  • Download the .zip files for the radio and Gingerbread ROM
  • Copy them into SD card
  • Reboot phone into Recovery mode
  • Back up all files
  • Install from SD card, Gingerbread ROM and then the radio.
  • Reboot phone

Surprisingly, it mostly went off without a hitch. I was left with a spanking new install of Gingerbread, had to figure out how to restore my apps and data from Titanium Backup, and some teething issues which required multiple reboots of the phone to clear out, stuff like weird apps and shortcuts from old backup appearing all over the place when I’d adjusted everything to my liking before the reboot. Sadly enough, I had to manually retweak my wallpaper and desktop app/shortcut locations. The phone’s responsiveness improved by a great deal, which is really pleasing.

And the most interesting part was that my WhatsApp history had a month and a half’s worth of messages missing, despite the fact that the messages (stored in my SD card as db.crypt files) were still intact. The fix turned out to be:

  • Uninstalling the WhatsApp app
  • Reinstalling it from Market, and
  • A prompt would appear asking if I wanted to restore my messages from backup.

So there you go, about four hours of my life gone just like that. And a souped up phone that I will be happy to use for some time to come!