Tuesday 13 June 2017

When your iPhone won't phone and Chrome can't Google

My life is packed with technology, so I try to simplify it by using only a few providers.

For the last few years, Apple and Google have made most of my hardware and software. Unfortunately, they are both going wrong at the moment.

The iPhone

For someone who works with multi-media, this has been perhaps the most magical piece of technology ever made.

Until it stopped working properly.

My iPhone still does everything else brilliantly, but has grave trouble with phone calls. The person at the other end can't hear me properly - I sound like I'm in a toilet 20 metres away from the phone.

It works fine if I put it on speaker mode. It works fine on hands-free. But if I try to use it like a phone, I have to shout at it.

Telstra and Apple Support both say I should give it to one of their techs, as it's a hardware problem. Except that logic tells us it's clearly not.

The microphone works when I use audio or video recording apps. And it works on speaker mode. So there's nothing wrong with the microphone itself. There's just some setting that goes wrong during phone calls.

And I know half a dozen iPhone users with exactly the same problem. But for most people, it's not worth doing anything about it.

You have to hand over your phone and they generally give you some piece of crap generic hand-set in the meantime, with non of your apps on it. So you're losing your most important piece of communications equipment for an unknown amount of time, in order to fix something that can be overcome with a combination of shouting into the phone and sighing about how bloody annoying it is.

Please Apple, check this out. It's a widespread problem and nobody has a handle on it.

I plan to bite the bullet and hand my phone over to the Telstra shop this week. Having to plug my headset into it every five minutes is driving me around the bend.

The Google

I have been using the big G's online world for a long time. My Gmail address doesn't even have a number in it.

And Chrome has always been a blessing - fast, safe, works on any PC, integrates seamlessly with all of the Google apps like Drive, Docs, Tweetdeck, etc.

As someone who uses a lot of online services at a lot of different computers, having them all tied together by a single good browser has been fantastic.

Until it stopped working properly.

For weeks now, Chrome has been slow to launch. It chugs and crashes while trying to load web pages. And the apps have been behaving terribly.

Sometimes they will not load at all. They are greyed out and unavailable, which I have never seen before.

But then I try them in Microsoft Edge and they work just fine. I'm typing this post into an Edge window right now, because Google's browser won't let me load up Google's blogging platform. Or it takes so long that I lose patience with it and go elsewhere.

This is true both at home and on two different PCs at work. I've tried reinstalling Chrome, but no dice. And logging out doesn't help either.

So the thing which used to make me a faster and more efficient worker is now slowing me down.

And I can't find anything online explaining what's going wrong. Perhaps not surprising, when I'm trying to use a search engine to find out why the products of that search engine currently suck.

(And of course an hour after I first posted this, Facebook noticed and started serving up ads for Google's cloud services. Nice one!)


I have taken my phone to the Telstra store and it's out of warranty, so I could spend $170 having a tech look at it, or just sign up for a new contract and get a brand new phone. Based on the cost and hassle ratio, that was a pretty easy choice.

So I now have an iPhone 7 (farewell headphone port!) and have reset my old phone back to basics. It's an iPod now.

I think I have also tracked down a fix for my Chrome troubles. I had previously searched for solutions to Chrome being slow, but the advice was pretty general and useless. So I got more specific and searched for troubles with Chrome loading YouTube.


It turns out that inside your Username folder is another folder called AppData, which is often invisible to you. But if you tell Windows to stop hiding shit, it will turn up.

Much of your software stores stuff in this folder. And if Chrome's data in there becomes corrupted, it makes the software stutter.

So I found the following folder and deleted everything in it.

C:\\Users\Username\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data

I had to sign back into Chrome, but it was instantly more responsive. YouTube loaded stuff incredibly quickly. Other Google services, which had turned to mush, were suddenly doing their jobs again.

I think I'll have to repeat this on a couple of work PCs as well, as the problem has spread to them too. But I am currently breathing a sigh of relief.

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