I need to come up with something cheerful for Christmas/Chanukkah, so...
Working on it.
Since I have nothing cheerful to say at the moment, I'm going to take advantage of the fact that I am sitting in front of my computer in a state of complete and total derailment.
Making now a good time to complain about Apple.
Here is my complaint.
What is going on with Apple?
My iPad 2, one year old, is broken. Not broken, glitchy. Soon to be broken. The screen goes yellow at random times, and the music app turns itself on and reads The Odyssey out loud or plays one of the Celtic women singing in Welsh (which is embarrassing when it happens in public -- the Celtic women singing in Welsh, not The Odyssey). Recently, when I tried to transfer the photos I'd taken on my iPad to my iMac, iPhoto didn't recognize iPad and didn't sync. Then after a while iPhoto did recognize iPad and did commence syncing, but a message popped up saying it would take at least 3 hours to transfer all the photos. (Three hours?) I didn't have 3 hours, so I had to press Cancel.
I'm sure more surprises are on the way.
The Genius bar guy says the first step, before they sell me a refurbished iPad 2 for $250 (since my iPad just went out of warranty), is to reinstall the operating system.
But since reinstalling the operating system will wipe out all the "data" on my iPad, I need to back it up first, but, of course, backing up my iPad is a quasi-no go because my iPad is broken or breaking.
Also, and this is another whole level of woe: when I do manage to connect my iPad to my iMac, I can't tell whether my iPad is or is not backed up because I don't know where Apple puts my data.
Where are my photos & screen grabs?
Where do they go if and when they do get backed up?
I remember a time when I didn't have to wonder about these things. If I synced my camera to iPhoto, it was obvious where the photos went. They went directly to iPhoto, one by one; I could see each one as it transferred, plain as day.
Now the transfer process is mystifying. There's "Photo Stream" (what's that?) and Cloud (do I have a special iPhoto address in the Cloud where I can go and find all my stuff?) and "Last 12 Months" (where is Last 13 Months?).
Some of these entities seem to have the same photos in them as the other entities, but then again maybe not.
Also, in addition to Photo Stream, Cloud, and Last 12 Months, my iMac seems to put downloaded, synced photos into a folder called "Camera Uploads," which has no discernible relationship to iPhoto.
And: there are at least two different "Camera Uploads" folders on my iMac, not just one.
Some photos go to one Camera Uploads folder, other photos go to the other Camera Uploads folder. I don't know why. The upshot of having at least 5 different places downloaded photos can go is that I can't figure out any simple way to check whether all the photos I'm trying to download have actually been downloaded and put some place where I can find them.
So I don't know whether it's OK to go ahead and reinstall the operating system and lose all the data on my iPad.
My iPhone 4, also one year old, also just out of warranty, is dead.
It is dead because yesterday my neighbor came over to help me finally install the meditation tape she gave me lo these many months ago (which I obviously, desperately need, unless Katharine's source is right, and I'm taking my life in my hands wading into the meditation thing) and things went awry.
I needed help installing the meditation tape because I have never been able to install any software updates on my iPhone (there've been a gazillion software updates in just one year, it seems). I have never been able to install any software updates because I have too much data on my iPhone.
My neighbor was able to ascertain that the too-much-data I have on my iPhone consists primarily of iTunes songs, which was annoying because I have never, ever, not once, listened to an iTunes song on my iPhone (I use my old Shuffle, or did before all this started). Also I didn't even know the songs were on my iPhone, but there you are.
So we started trying to move songs off the iPhone and onto the iMac to clear up space for the software updates, and when we did that we encountered the same difficulty I always encounter when I attempt the Transfer of the Meditation Tape: Apple tells me one of my devices isn't allowed to hold the tunes (all of which I purchased directly from the iTunes store myself, with my credit card, with my name on it, but never mind) and tells me I have to authorize one or the other of the devices now or Apple won't let me proceed, at which point I always lose my nerve. Which device am I supposed to authorize? Which one has the most songs? I don't know, and I don't know how long it will take me to find out, either.
So I always press Cancel at this point. My neighbor, however, was determined, and she persisted....and, sure enough, we discovered in short order that tunes were getting erased, not synced or transferred.
The first one to go was '8 Mile' by eminem. Fine. I can live without eminem in my life.
But the next recording in line for obliteration was "Beer for My Horses," and that gave me pause. I like "Beer for My Horses." I plan to listen to "Beer for My Horses" one day again, possibly after I've switched to Windows; I don't want to delete "Beer for My Horses" from whatever device it's on now; and I don't want to re-purchase "Beer for My Horses," either, seeing as how I've already paid for it once.
So then my neighbor tried something else and at some point, as we tried not to erase all of my iTunes songs, we learned that my iTunes songs and my iTunes account are connected to a Verizon email address I don't recall ever having, although I did have the foresight to write down the password. Unfortunately, Apple no longer recognizes the password, and neither does Verizon.
(That was today's undertaking: a Service Chat with Gema, I think it was, at Verizon. Two service chats, actually. A few short hours later, Gema and I learned that in fact I do not have an email account for firstname.lastname@example.org, but I did have one once.)
update 12/20/2012: Apple does not recognize my birth date, either, not even when I put in the month and the day without the year as the Genius bar guy said to try.
Anyway, my neighbor and I ascertained the presence of a Mystery Email Address in my iTunes account, and at that point, for some reason, my iPhone stopped having an operating system and refused to "Restore" the operating system when my neighbor tried to restore it.
That wasn't the end of it, either.
After the operating system Failed to Restore twice in a row, the Apple ghost in the machine said the iMac might be broken (no doubt) and advised us to go find a "Known-Good Computer" and try again.
So my neighbor took my iPhone to her house to plug it into her Known-Good Computer while I called Katharine & got the low-down on my possible future Depression from unmonitored meditation.
This afternoon I called Apple about my phone.
Getting the operating system put back on my phone will run me $150 plus postage.
Also, it took the Apple person at least 10 minutes to figure out where the Apple store in Ridge Hill is.
I finally had to look it up on the web and give her the address.
Then she told me the Ridge Hill store isn't "Authorized" (or something) and I spent another five minutes trying to find out what, exactly, was or was not "Authorized" about Ridge Hill and why it mattered.
The answer turned out to be that when an Apple store is only somewhat authorized, meaning it's an "authorized dealer" or some such but not a real Apple store run by Apple (the Apple store in Grand Central is real, in case you're wondering), then the Apple person on the phone can't make an appointment at the Genius bar for you.
You have to call them yourself.
Trying to salvage some part of my day, I asked the Apple person, while I had her on the line, if she could fix the email@example.com situation.
She sent me to Apple ID, where I was supposed to find firstname.lastname@example.org listed as an alternative email I could then delete, but it wasn't there, so I asked whether she could look into it, and at that very moment the Apple ID page crashed. An email came through to the Apple people telling them so.
The Apple person asked if I wanted to try again in a few hours.
I said sure.
My laptop locks up alllllll the time.