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HomeHumorThe Papa Files: Too Many Bars

The Papa Files: Too Many Bars

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A few months ago, I was teeveeishly harassed by a commercial that promoted the show American Dad. The dad was looking at his phone in the living room and started commenting on how many bars his phone was displaying; he kept getting more and more until it was beyond the actual number of available bars. I think it had reached twenty-six when he exclaimed “It’s like I’m linked directly to the satellite!” and then the satellite crashed through the roof and crushed him. I thought it was pretty funny, but it didn’t persuade me to watch the show, or even that episode.

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The reason I thought it was funnily interesting is because my phone works best when it has one bar. Two makes it spin for what seems like forever (ten to twenty seconds), and three bars won’t connect me at all. I’m afraid to ever find out what four might do. Ignite the Lithium battery?

I asked my phone why this was so, typing on Google the question: Why does my iPhone work best with one bar? The only answer I found was: “Usually, fewer bars mean a slower connection.” Not helpful, and completely wrong.

I suspected that the nearer you are to a tower, the fewer bars you need, so I went outside to check if my house was right under a tower, but it’s not, and there are none across the horizon that I can see. I have no idea where the nearest tower is. But apparently some of the parking lots I frequent are indeed closer and thus I get more than one bar. In fact, one of the closer ones is where I get three bars for a long while, and then my phone tells me it’s unable to connect.
The phone I have is the second iPhone my wife has made me use. I was perfectly happy with my Windows phone, and before that my Tracfone, and before that my living room and kitchen phones. Sure, the modern phone comes with all kinds of amazing things, and I even compute on it. But the more that’s packed into any device, the more easily things can go wrong – and mysteriously.

Like my computer, my phone will sometimes suffer from digital gremlins that check or uncheck a box that’s buried deep within three or more dropdown lists. Maybe my phone has flipped its bars, so that the three taller, empty ones on the right are actually my phone’s way of displaying three full bars. I can’t find an option box for that. It certainly has turned on the airplane mode with I wasn’t looking, and turned off things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and notifications for Mail and Messages without my permission.

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Fortunately these are minor glitches, though they’re not minor to me when they happen. According to my phonepedia, much more serious problems are common to iPhones, things like White Screen of Death, Camera Roll Crash, Error 3149, and eighteen others I found under the title of 21 iPhone Problems and their Fixes. Most of the fixes require you to reset your phone to factory specs, and then hopefully you can reinstall your data, including pictures, from the cloud.

Luckily, I haven’t had such problems, knock on wood laminate. Ah, but maybe those are what would happen if my phone ever reached four bars!

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