Smashed Phone

It was with great delight that we noticed a new air hockey table had been installed in the union Old Bar last night and after fetching our drinks and the paddles for the table from the bar, set about having a few games between us.

I thought no more of my worse than average performance in the game of air hockey until I returned home and removed my phone from my pocket to call Heather. It was then that I noticed the smashed screen and the deep murky but still back-lit mass that now resided there. It immediately dawned on me what must have happened. With my phone in my pocket and my leaning across the table at great speed to get to the puck, I had no doubt given the phone quite a belting as I impacted with the edge of the table.

Having never destroyed a phone before I was initially in some shock at the damage. Then I realised that the phone did still work, and remembering who was in my recent calls list and how to get there on the menus, I could make a call. The problem was that the menu structure is complex and I couldn’t remember everything, nor could I see the details of contacts or read text messages.

Unlike many people I have taken backups of my phone contents, but unfortunately I hadn’t done this for some time because my method of doing so on Linux long since ceased to function for one reason or another and I’d never found the time to fix it. Boy did I regret that now.

In untangling the mess I decided the first issue was to get a working phone, so I dug around in my box of computer parts and cables and found one of my old Nokia phones. This comes with a number of bits and pieces, including a software CD. Not much use, but it got me thinking. What if my newer phone came with a software CD too, and possibly a cable? If it did I might be able to do some impromptu backing up on Windows and get all the data off my new phone onto my old one.

It turns out that I did in fact have a software CD and a USB cable so after 2 hours of tinkering with software, drivers and failed hardware installs I had my smashed screen phone talking to Windows. I ran the software utility and grabbed a full backup from the phone. Of course the utility saved the data in a proprietary format so if the file to old phone phases didn’t work I was still screwed.

Turns out that the cable wouldn’t allow my old phone to talk to Windows. I didn’t have a cable for the old phone, I don’t think I ever had done. but the phone did come with an IrDA port and as the utility supported IrDA all I had to do was get an IR port on my Windows box and I could make the two play.

This was easier said than done. I quickly found my IrDA dongle, and downloaded the drivers, only to find they wouldn’t install. This was now getting beyond a joke. In desperation I now began to ferret around in storage boxes, looking for the original CD. No surprise that it took me so long because the damn drivers were on a floppy disk! Still, I got them installed, got the dongle working and got the phone talking to Windows.

The restore should have been easy, after all the Nokia application supported both phones, and also supported backwards compatibility of phone model backup files. Unfortunately my old phone still had old contacts on it so it didn’t have enough space. I had to purge these one by one (the phone had an option for a mass delete but required a security code I couldn’t remember).

When I freed up the memory I got the contacts transferred over, all of them, perfectly. I don’t think I’ve felt happier solving a technical challenge for a long time. After purging the rest of the old data from my phone I got my bookmarks, calendar and text messages moved from the file to the phone with ease.

So the lessons in all of this:

  • Enjoy air hockey responsibly
  • Keep your phone out of harms way
  • Back the damn thing up in a non-proprietary format regularly even if it does take a bit of time. You can be sure doing so in a proprietary format with no preparation and without a screen will take longer and be many times more stressful.


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  1. Katy Said,

    December 7, 2007 @ 11:02 pm

    Kieran that is such a technical way to deal with a killed phone, I’m amazingly impressed. Hope everythings going well for you in Leeds

  2. Kieran Said,

    December 17, 2007 @ 10:20 am

    Yeah I guess it is rather technical 😉

    Good to hear from you anyway, its been a long time. Drop me an e-mail, we should catch up 🙂

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