White Apple Logo of death ?

My iPhone 3G is dead again so I can’t call anybody. Like thousands of other victims, I have the “Apple Logo of death” decease. I’m stuck at home doing a restore on my main iMac which holds my main iTunes Library, and my iPhone backup, for at least 3 hours. A great opportunity to revenge myself by writing this little blog post about my experience with iPhone.

Tired : blue screen of death
Wired : white apple logo of death

By reading my recent blog posts, one shouldn’t ignore that I am a long time Apple fan. Since about nine months, I had a first generation iPhone. A great toy first, a great tool since, but a great source of pains as well.

I remember being invited by Microsoft at Mix’07 in Las Vegas, receiving as an european guest a Samsung Blackjack running Windows Mobile 5.0 … but everybody at the show kept buzzing about the forthcoming iPhone. I remember getting my first iPhone, a 1.0 firmware one, from a friend travelling back from the US. I remember unlocking “the hard SSH way” my first iPhone on the 20th september 2007, not sleeping for a whole night before leaving for Paris for an important meeting, with a GroupeReflect customer, a daily newspaper. I remember very well selling them an iPhone web app this day.

I remember the joy of demonstrating my new toy to all my friends, like the child I’m doomed to stay forever. I remember the jealousy in the eyes of strangers in public gathering. I remember the silent complicity between iPhone users in business meeting. I remember the countless weekends wasted to upgrade my precious from firmware to baseband to booloader versions, all this to just make it work. I remember walking every day from the Venitian hotel to the Las Vegas Apple Store, to find a 16Gb iphone. I remember coming back to Belgium with empty hands. I remember buying a 16Gb iPhone a month later in an Apple store in Boston suburbs after an hour of taxi drive, after checking Boston central area Apple Store. I remember the taxi bill too.

I remember the easy Ziphone unlock, then the dev team version… I remember the dozen friends to which I did the huge mistake to sell an iPhone that I brought back from the US. I remember the countless nights fixing all of them, upgrading them, explaining to those normal human (= non geek) that they couldn’t click the update button in iTunes. I remember the chat sessions with my belgian twenty hacker network, detailing upgrade procedures for each unlocking method, swapping cool apps repository URL for installer app, … I also remember my 1500 euros bills in data roaming for a 3 day business meeting in the US. Since then I also remember to switch off data roaming ;-)

So you can imagine how happy I was on the 11th of July, when I could finally spend 625 euros for the privilege of owning an iPhone, legally, in Belgium, and even being allowed to use it with my mobile operator of choice, Proximus*.

Activation was a breeze, I did a quick Sync over USB as the next day I left for the North Sea Jazz Festival with my shiny precious. I used it in Rotterdam with the Facebook and Twitellator applications to upload pictures and status updates using a 3G connection. It worked great, I was happy. Life was beautiful, especially with a Jazz soundtrack.

After 3 days I came back home and started setting up MobileMe. To be honest, I had to endure a real debacle. I was one of those who couldn’t wait a few hours before having my address book synced over-the-air. I restarted, restored, switched off MobileMe syncing, restored, … I spent days trying to make it work before understanding that I just had to wait more time for my 5000 records address book to sync. It finally worked but I was for days without an working address book, answering unknown people over the phone.

After this first victory on technology, I became bolder and decided to setup Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. First try, after a setup process without any errors, everything seemed to be OK. But once back to the address book I discovered that I had lost all my contacts, and all my agendas. Because of MobileMe it was impossible to sync over USB with my iMac to get it back (the fonctionality is disabled in iTunes). Switching MobileMe off didn’t solve the problem, my iPhone started syncing an empty address book with my Mac and I lost all my contact on my desktop ! Luckily I had a backup as I sync my office laptop with the same MobileMe account, and it was safely switched off, so all my data were still intact on this computer. After a MobileMe reset (upload) from my office laptop, a MobileMe reset (download) with my home desktop, a USB Sync with my iPhone 3G I could finally get my address book back in sync… and reactivate MobileMe successfully. I gave up on Exchange ActiveSync, enjoying a complete address book and the luxury of actually making phone calls.

I started spending (more) money in the App Store, trying most games and utilities. Then one day, luckily during a weekend, I was updating the Facebook app to version 1.1 on the iPhone itself, when in the middle of the update my iPhone 3G rebooted and got stuck on the Apple Logo. I tried switching it on and off, no luck. It kept displaying the Apple logo and vibrating twice a few minutes after each restart. I searched the web and found that it was a firmware bug with early software in the first shipping iPhone 3G. However since the iPhone was on sale a new firmware 1.0 was available through iTunes and the solution was to perform a full restore with the new firmware. I fumbled a few hours trying to get the iPhone in DFU mode but I finally managed to get it back to life.

First you need to restore your iPhone using the latest firmware, a hefty 250 Mb download. BTW did you know that we still have quota here in belgium, mine is 10 Gb / month. Second step : perform a iPhone backup restore, another hour passes. Unfortunately the backup does not restore your medias and applications, so you’ll have to do a full sync before getting your iPhone back in the state before it crashed… with an almost full 16 Gb iPhone, according to my unfortunates experiences, it will take about three hours for a complete cycle. At the end of the process you’ll probably notice that your photos have not synced and will probably redo a quick sync, enduring a another long backup of your iPhone… Then you’ll spend more time shuffling icons and checking settings. After this painful exercise, I decided I wouldn’t update application on the iPhone again but only in iTunes before syncing.

Thanks to my first Apple Logo of death, I had to waste time reading forums again, just like in the prohibition days. But the good news is I discovered users using Exchange ActiveSync in the Real World. I had a whole sunday to waste on geek stuff, I gave it another chance. I tried every combination of setup parameters, and there are many possible … without success. We have around 40 iPhone users at Emakina Brussels (a mix of the first generation with various firmwares, and a dozen 3G). None of them succeeded in their desperate attempts to setup ActiveSync. Only plain old non-push imap access worked, email only. For days, my IT department searched why it did not work with our Exchange 2003 server. We all gave up, some rumbling, some planning to leave for another company with better IT services. (I can’t leave as I’m the founder ;-)

… Unfortunately, it seems it’s even worse at the other agencies ;-)

I am rumored to blame Microsoft for all my technical problems, even if this blog post demonstrate I can blame Apple too. However in this case the problem was really on Microsoft side. By chance we were just in the process of upgrading to Exchange 2007 and after a few more test, finally finding that ActiveSync must be activated manually per account (or some similar mumbo jumbo from my Exchange self-claimed expert), it finally seemed to work. For those stuck with Exchange 2003, we finally discovered that there is an add-on to install to enable ActiveSync. After a few days I even dared to activate both MobileMe and Exchange Sync at the same time. It now work flawlessly. The only missing piece of the puzzle is on Leopard side which until Snow Leopard can’t sync address book and iCal to Exchange.

Then my life was great again. I had achieved complete victory against technological adversity fighting Mobistar iPhone scarcity, MobileMe launch debacle, my own IT department, iPhone firmware bugs, a major Microsoft Exchange upgrade and mastered the complexity of a setup, full of mysteries, learned the maze of iPhone forums, bookmarked relevant apple support technotes, and in general more Jedi iPhone black arts (like the art of DFU according to iTunes sub-versions).

Still when updating apps in iTunes, for some strange reasons, the updates appeared several times. It wasn’t a big deal and I just applied all updates and synced. Also battery duration was low, with my setup : 3g, wifi and bluetooth activated, push/sync with Exchange, MobileMe and 4 more IMAP account, batteries get low in the middle of the day. So I plug my iPhone at home in my iMac, at the office in my MacBook pro, and in my car in a USB to cigarette adapter.

Suddenly, the iPhone firmware update 2.01 was released. I downloaded another 250 Mb update and applied to my iPhone 3G with no hesitations, confident that, as announced, this firmware would fix the obvious bug with application updates and sync.

It obviously did not!

Today, while syncing normally with iTunes, I got the Apple Logo of death again. Impossible to pass the Apple Logo on reboot, the two vibrations, the heat, … all the symptoms I already had the last time. My first day of holidays…

Now I’m angry. Apple know about the problem since at least the 12th July (see the first post on Apple Forum). There are thousand on view on this thread that can’t be ignored. Apple did not succeeded in fixing the Apple Logo of death in the 2.01 firmware update. Apple does not acknowledge the Apple Logo of death problem. Apple does not answer our questions on the forum about the Apple Logo of death. Apple does not give advices on how to avoid the Apple Logo of death. Apple does not give an date on the next firmware update that will fix this f***cking time waster that is the Apple Logo of death..

Now I’m angry and this is why I have written a whole blog post full of Apple brand, iPhone product name and Apple Logo of death mentions, to spam blog indexes with my anger while restoring my iPhone. I started the process at 5pm and it finally completed at 8pm. I can now submit this blog post.

(*) Disclose : I run Emakina the web agency of Proximus

27 thoughts on “White Apple Logo of death ?”

  1. Woah… And i want to buy one…

    Do you always like apple products ? I think you’ll pass to the dark side and buy an HTC (a diamond) and a fun OS (joke)…

  2. Hilarious, hehe. It’s striking that fruit is in fact the symbol of life, energy and health. In the end, the apple-silhouette sure did pump poetic vibes into your finger-tips.

  3. The same thing happened to me this morning! After a complete backup and restore, the iPhone was extremely unstable and it suffered the stuck Apple logo again. So on the third restore, I took it back to the default state with just a couple of the third-party applications. It’s running reliably again now. I think something gets corrupted, which then gets into the backup making the restore process problemmatic. I wish Apple would make the backups more like Time Machine, so that there is a choice of how far back to go when restoring.

  4. I like Apple but what bothers me about macs are the mac fans that beat on microsoft spreading the word that microsoft sucks (and this without having really tested windows for years). Yes, Apple can have problems too and yes they can make buggy devices and syncing soft that don’t work well. Is Apple at the end of its empire just by thinking to be the best in the world. What will happen when Steve Jobs leaves or dies? Mac & PC are good but none of them can be perfect, right ;-)

  5. I have been a staunch activist on this issue from day 1 I figured it out. I am APPALLED at what is going on and what Apple is doing.

    I even dugg the chief thread at the Apple Discussions Board:

    http://digg.com/apple/The_iPhone_s_Number_One_Problem

    I encourage everyone else to digg that thread as well.

    As I wrote in a post on this thread:

    “And the sad fact for me (and many others), is that I will never net the difference back in efficiencies with the time I have spent serving as a professional, unpaid beta tester for Apple.

    And I STILL don’t have a phone that I can count on. I’m walking on eggshells with it, and what’s worse is I left Verizon, paid an Early Termination Fee, bought this phone and a bunch of accessories to support it, bought a bunch of apps (THAT NOW I CAN’T USE!), etc.

    And to pour salt on everything, Apple doesn’t even acknowledge it, even though there are wide-spread NEWS articles on the issue.

    Just an absolutely mind-blowing.”

  6. You must have a very fast internet connection if you can download a firmware update of 250 Gigabytes for a brick that can hold only 16GB. You probably meant 250 MB.

    (thanks for the remark. I have edited my original post – Brice)

  7. By the way, it should be noted:

    1) This is a widespread problem that continues to spread as more people download apps and reach a threshold of apps.

    2) It is in NO WAY a hardware problem, but a software problem between the OS, Apps and iTunes (Apps that MUST go through Apple and must obey the Apple SDK)

    3) The result is WORSE than the “Blue Screen of Death”, as it completely destroys the operating system! It doesn’t merely force a reboot (as most people assume) — it DESTROYS the OS!

  8. Great extensive post Master Brice – you may want to edit the 250gb to 250mb though.
    I’ve been a pc+palm devotee for as long as we’ve known each other and I gotta admit I’m delighted by the switvh to iphone 3g, despite 2 infuriating days spent in sync hell as well (full disclosure: my company is the web partner of Mobistar, sole purveyor of the preciousss for Belgium). No major complaints on my end since the latest iTunes update solved my Outlook nightmare. Even writing this comment on my iPhone, while holidaying… ain’t life perfect now?

    (post edited, thanks for the remark. – Brice)

  9. Just for information: i’m using Microsoft, i’m developing on .net (3.5), and also team leader on it, i have a mac (@home), and an appleTV. And i know the HTC diamond… :)

    The major problem with apple is communication (when are the updates, new products, …

    The major problem with microsoft are the support of old hardware, and also support of old technologies (com, gdi, asp which is now supported in visual studio 2008 sp1 -> why?, com, com+, …). But sometimes it can be an advantage also.

  10. @ Michael :

    I do understand that software is imperfect as all human productions. Remember I run a company which produce software bugs as well. Apple softwares usually contains less of those pesky bugs. My article is not to complain about the bug, but about Apple complete lack of communication with its customers.

    Thanks for the generous offer but I couldn’t downgrade to Windows Mobile anymore because when the iPhone does actually works (between weekly restore) it’s a joy to use while Windows Mobile is a constant pain.

    BTW I still have a (Windows Mobile 5.0) Samsung Blackjack to give away ;-)

  11. @ Ken : this bug does not “destroy the Operating System” but for some reason a bug it blocks the progression of the boot sequence.

    It’s probably a minor bug, as some users seems able, by simply switching the iPhone off, waiting a few minutes, then randomly pressing the home and top buttons, to allow the iPhone to complete it’s boot sequence.

    According to my very limited research on the topic, it may be related to running New York Times application in combination with iTunes syncing, but I’m still not 100% sure. Unfortunately I have no more time to waste to do Apple’s job.

    The real problem is that the iPhone is stuck in its boot sequence before launching the service that allow it to communicate with iTunes. As it can’t communicate with iTunes anymore the only solution, apart the random monkey keypress, is a full restore by putting the iPhone in DFU mode. A real time waste.

  12. By “destroying the operating system”, I don’t mean a worm is eating up ones and zeros. I mean the OS becomes completely unusable from that point on, which is most definitely the case. If it is stuck in a boot cycle and no one can get it out, and the ONLY way to recover is to go through a 4 hours restore, then it *IS* an issue.

    The aforementioned thread discusses this.

  13. My dear friend. I write you these words on my new Apple MacBook Pro (yes, after 15 years of resistance towards the assault of Mac-Addicts like you, I sold my PC).

    Nevertheless, I’m still using a very solid Nokia E61 (first generation – you helped me for the set-up). Very few bugs. No real problem at all. Very easy Sync with this Mac. Happiness & serenity…

    You should consider buying their new E71…
    http://boutique.nokia.fr/nokia-fr/product.aspx?sku=3867145&culture=fr-FR

    Talk to you soon… if technically possible ;-)

  14. For the sake of your anger….

    …. august 2009 and, as you already know, the issue is not yet solved!!

    And on the Apple forum we are now at page 36 (!!!) of posts w/o answers by Apple…

    crap, crap crap!

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