Monday, October 26, 2009

The cable doesn't plug all the way into my iPhone

This solution started with my first trip to the Genius Bar at my local Apple store. The wide, flat plug on the sync cable was no longer sitting evenly in its socket on the bottom of the phone, and the problem (a bit hard to express in a search phrase) hadn't got me any hits on Google, the Apple support page, or several Mac blogs.
So I was a bit apprehensive when I showed up for my appointment, and the store was chaos. It turns out if you talk to any person in a store t-shirt, they'll help you get your appointment confirmed and someone will hook you up with a genius. In my case this took just a few minutes.
My genius heard the problem, looked into the sync slot, and grabbed a narrow pointed steel instrument like a scribe or awl. With this, he dug around in the slot (quite casually — apparently my paranoid image of fragile pins in there was wrong) and pulled out a bit of good old fashioned pocket debris resembling white cotton or pre-washed paper. Voila, the plug went all the way in and seated squarely!
He mentioned that this was a common problem, and also the most common reason people couldn't get their earphone jack all the way into the phone. (Well, maybe the second most common reason, as standard earphones are famous for not fitting the phone's recessed socket.) I didn't ask how they got the debris out of the headphone jack, but it's worth knowing this happens. I'd imagine the universal Apple tool, a straightened paper clip, would work to clean out the sync cable socket, but you're on your own to clean out the earphone socket.
Finally, hoping not to have this happen again, I found a $5 black rubbery 'port protector' online that seats into the sync socket. It is sitting on my desk right now, because I found, for me, it has two limitations. First, it tends to come out when I pull the phone from my pocket. Second, I have to set it aside (and it's pretty tiny) whenever I plug in my phone. My rating: Good idea, but only for neatness freaks who love keeping track of cable tips and port protectors.

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My first Mac was an original 1984 128K, my favorite Mac was the IIci, but the best Macs are the ones I use now.