I have had a few problems with mobile phones over the last few weeks here in Costa Del Moscow, (see Best Posts). I have been excommunicated and will rant about it below. I will share this tale of woe with you dear reader, so buckle up and take a deep breath.
I believe I am the victim of a gypsy curse, on anything technical and I have yet to bottle the tears of a thousand virgins to lift this curse. I had my Samsung Ace stolen from my bag, while riding the magic, Moscow fair ground, aka the Moscow metro. This was partly my fault for leaving the zip on my teaching bag not fully zipped up and my fault for being squeezed like a Sardine, in a tin already full of sardines, on a metro train, one summers evening, during mad rush hour.
ILGM - I love Google Maps
The phone was good and had Google maps on it. Google maps was designed for idiots like me. This was the best feature of the phone, because if you are linguistically challenged as I am, then having Google maps speak to you, to tell you when to turn left or right, when it sends you in the wrong direction, getting you totally lost, is really useful, when living in a difficult place like Moscow. Like a trained monkey, I can read the signs and manage the alphabet but ask me to say anything beyond "hello", "no", "thanks", "one beer" "big" or "small" and I am lost and you may as well throw me a fresh banana. In Russia, you cannot buy a phone for a pound, as you can back in the UK. They have phone contracts but they do not subsidize phone prices, so you have to pay the full price for a phone. "Pay as you go" (payment by by cash, for set units of talk time) is very popular here and I joined that ship, as it is a no strings deal, you can walk away when ever you like. Without repeating too much of the post before last, I went back to the same shop and was sold another phone, that turned out to be as much use as waterproof tea bags, it was a lemon. I tried to get the shop to change it and offered them sex and more money for a better phone but they refused, even though I had the phone box and the shop receipt. I offered the shop my child but they still refused, saying his warranty was not valid in Russia.
My wife, who can make a grown man cry, just with a stare, decided to take on my hopeless case "pro bono". She likes a lost cause and a challenge, which may be why she married me. She speaks fluent Russian, although she is not Russian but from a galaxy far from here. She went back to the shop, when I had given up all hope of ever having a normal phone and demanded to change the phone. They refused, so she lied and said it was not working properly and they said, they would keep it for two weeks and send it off to be "tested" (in other words, dumped on a shelf in the shop stock room). They lent me a phone, that was worse than the one they had sold me. I spent two weeks, stuck with a phone that could not make calls but only send text messages. They gave us a receipt for this "loan" phone and valued their phone at over 6,000 Rubles (150 Euro) although, I think this must have been its value as new and they told my wife, that if I lost this phone, I would have to pay them this money back. The screen was so scratched, I could hardly read it to send a text message. Then the other day, we had a message from the shop, that we could exchange the phone. Tears of joy ran down my face and the chance to adopt a new phone, that once seemed an unattainable dream, where now a Russian reality. Communication would be mine again.
I stayed at home and defended myself from a toddler, who beat me around the head with giant, green, toy crocodile, as I fed a screaming baby Vodka, while my brave, loving wife, went back to the shop to choose me a new phone. We decided to buy a iPhone 3G. It was on offer at 16,000 Rubles (390 Euro) and is like me, an old model. I had always dreamed of owning an Apple phone and thus far, had only ever eaten an Apple, so the priced seemed reasonable for Moscow. I could finally join the iPhone club, after years of being an Apple outcast, forced to inhabit the edge of the giant, communication fruit bowel. They gave us the iPhone, although we had to pay 500 Rubles to get it fucking thing registered. I thought that was the end of my technical misfortune. Not so.
The boring technical part
My next hurdle, was to register the phone to get iPhone Apps. I put the kids to bed and sat down to get what they call an "Apple ID" easy you would think. Not so. You have to go through different screens on their website and enter in your name, address, shoe size, sexual orientation, country, zip zap code (although Moscow does not have "zip" codes) and finally enter in your credit card details. That sounds easy dear reader but my credit card is a British one and the credit card "billing address" is not in the UK or in Russia. Their system hated me from that point on and spat venom at me at every input screen. After an hour, of trying, The great Apple, told me that the credit card address, must be in the country of the Apple store where you buy any Apps. In the end, I used my wife's credit card and the technical dispute was resolved, as if it never happened. I then had to try and log onto the Apple store to get a few free Apps, as you cannot download "free apps" without first fucking registering. With Samsung, it was all so easy, as long as you have a Google account, you are not asked to register or to give any credit card details. As I said, you have get a fucking "Apple ID" and a password but the jerks that designed the log on screen, call it a "user" and "password" rather than a fucking "Apple ID" and a password, when you log on via the phone. This is probably the result of Apple outsourcing the log on system, getting it designed at another company, by over paid, spotty geeks, who never see the sunlight. I often think, Americans have no idea of life beyond their own shores but that's the subject of a later rant, possibly on a future blog.
I spent another hour, trying to log on to the Apple store, only to be told that "This is the wrong "user name" I hope you are following me dear reader? The registration asks for an "Apple ID" this is an email address, while Apps store log on, asks you for a "User" and "password". Two different terminologies and designed to annoy the shit, out a simple, nappy, part time stay at home man like me. After many hours and after many password and Apple ID "forget" email requests applied for by me, I could at last log onto the Apps store, once I realized that "user" and "Apple ID" are the same fucking thing!, I then found out that the Apps on an iPhone, are not as good as the Apps on a Samsung Smart phone and I can't get Google maps on my 3G but only have an Apple maps equivalent, that does not speak to you. I was told by a friend, to to buy the latest iPhone and I agree but I don't want to pay six hundred or more pounds, just for a mobile phone. As I have said before, dear reader, Moscow likes to make life as hard as it can for the foreigner and Russian logic, is a science that I have yet to understand. Moral, don't buy anything in Russia and this includes phones and clothes.
Russian's like to use a 24 hour clock, so any iPhone phone you buy here, may have the "regional format" set to this clock style. This would seem OK but the calender and phone alarm clock may have this format. Mine did, as well as days the of week set to the Russian language. I had to turn off the "regional format" and select the United Kingdom, as the "regional format", as I like a traditional 12 hour clock, since I'm not in the army. The phone still works. I had to select the phone language to "English UK" and the "regional format" to the United Kingdom. This was before, I even made my first phone call or installed any Apps. Who said it was easy? Not me.
Praise to the giant apple
So now I have a phone. I can translate Russian to English, using Google translate and this does speak to you and you can speak to it, I have two calenders that I'll never use, I can see the weather in as many cities as I want, I have an App called "location" that tells me where I am, when I don't know where I am. In summary, I am as happy as a fly on a shit but I don't have a map that speaks to me but I do have a decent phone. I am now a member of the iPhone club, I am an applet.