Monday, January 04, 2016

How I fixed my iPad 2 brick

How I fixed my iPad 2 brick

See summary at the end if you want to see quickly see what to do.
See the latest news about my problems in the update at the end of this post.

I have had my iPad 2 for nearly five years now and find certain aspects of it great. For instance I can turn it on and check email within a few seconds. I can use FaceTime to chat to my family that are over 10,000 miles away. I can carry it about reasonably easily (certainly within the home) and the battery lasts a long time.

It does have snags though. Very limited internal memory that cannot be expanded. My iPad is 32gb and I am always having to delete things to make space for something new. The Ipad Operating System (IOS) makes it very hard to do some things like move files around or save them. In fact the list of things that it will not let you do is so long that I have a powerful Windows laptop that I use most of the time. I only use the iPad for certain tasks where I want portability and some dedicated IOS apps.

Last week in an idle moment, I made a schoolboy error. I got suckered into an IOS update on my iPad. I was running IOS 7.something and the iPad was doing everything that I wanted, so there was no need to update it. I have been caught out before where Apple and Microsoft and Google talk about bug fixes and enhancements when in fact often the update removes functionality in order to encourage you to have a 'paid for' feature.

I did not need to do it but I stupidly went for the update IOS option on my iPad. It was upgrading to version 9. I should have remembered that a lot of version 9 functionality is intended for the very latest Apple iPad hardware and would do nothing for my old hardware other that make it run slower, use more battery and stop some apps altogether.
I was using the over the air method where it gets the update from the Apple website via my wifi connection. It took ages, but apparently downloaded the update file successfully before starting the actual device update process. I watched the snail slow progress bar creep across the screen and much later when it seemed to be about 98% of the way across it just stopped. No error messages or anything. Just stalled. Hours later I realised that it definitely was failed. So I restarted the iPad and of course it then came up with an error and showed an image indicating that I needed to connect the now dead iPad to a computer running iTunes.
So at this point my fully working hardware was about as useful as a brick without software.
I sought help online and then connected the dead iPad to iTunes running on a PC. I tried the iPad recovery feature many times but every time it failed and Apple did not provide any useful error messages to give me a clue as to what the problem was. At each attempt it was downloading a file (taking ten minutes) only to fail applying the file.
I googled for help.
Did I have the latest version of iTunes ?, no, so get the latest version. There was not enough free disk (SSD) space to update to the latest iTunes version. Eventually I made space and got iTunes fully up to date. It made no difference, the update still failed to make the brick into something useful.
More googling for help.
Apparently you can download all the various iPad software versions in the form of IPSW files. If you hold down the Shift key while clicking on Update in the iTunes - Ipad recovery screen, then it lets you select a previously downloaded IPSW file. You can get the IPSW files from the website. I tried to go back to IOS v7.2 but it kept failing. The error message was another total red herring. I discovered this by trying all the different suggestions, eg changing the 'hosts' file, but everything failed.
Subsequently I found out that Apple do something called signing. They only sign the latest version of IOS. The signing checks that you have a valid Apple iPad. They will not sign old versions of IOS so you either have to use that latest signed version or have an expensive brick as a paperweight.

So Apple will not let you go back to a previous working IOS version on your iPad.

I tried again, and downloaded the latest IOS version. You have to be careful to get the correct download for your particular iPad hardware. There are many different models out there.
Then with the iPad connected to iTunes running on my PC, I went into the iPad recovery screen and used shift/Restore to let me choose the latest download. It actually worked. It took ages, but having spent 12 hours of time and hundreds of megs of downloads, it got my iPad back to a working device with IOS 9.2.
I was able to recover some of it's previous setup from an iCloud backup. However, although this re installed placeholders for my apps, the actual apps were not there and these had to be downloaded all over again. Another handful of hours and hundreds of megs of downloads later, and my iPad 2 was working again. I did have to go through the initial setup procedure all over again and of course 'Activate' the device via the Apple website.

It was now just a case of working out which apps needed updated again to work with IOS 9.2 and which apps had been lost altogether. In some cases I could find another app or later version to replace my lost functionality.

Phew, that was hard work. Best of luck if you have to do it.

Avoid IOS updates at all cost. They will probably fail, be unsuitable for your old hardware, slow things down, use more battery and lose functionality.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

If your iPad has failed an IOS update and shows an icon indicating that you need to connect to iTunes, try the following :-

It is just possible by doing multiple iPad restarts by holding the Home button and Power on button until the Apple icon shows, it may fix the problem. In my case it did not work.

1) Run iTunes (preferably a recent version) on a computer.

2) Connect the iPad to a USB port on the computer. iTunes should detect the iPad, and realise that it is dead and take you to the iPad recovery screen.

3) Try clicking on the Update button and then follow the instructions that will download (slowly) the software from Apple and attempt to install it.

4) If that fails you could try the Restore button but be aware that this destroys any data on your iPad and you will need a backup from somewhere or else be willing to start from scratch with an empty iPad.

5) If both 3) and 4) fail you could try acting upon the advice given in the error messages. (in my case they were total red herrings).

6) If still struggling download the latest version of IOS for your particular iPad hardware from the website. Then when using the iTunes iPad recovery screen click shift/Update and then select the ipsw file that you have downloaded. Hopefully this will work. If you have to use shift/Restore you will lose all previously stored data on the iPad (as I did) and need to recover it from a backup if you have one. Sometimes iCloud is backing up your iPad even though you may not have actively asked it to do so.

Best of luck.

Peewit.    By the way, I hate iTunes.


Just when I thought everything was working.

No, Apple are really making me suffer over my simple mistake.

Now that I have IOS 9.2 (because Apple will not let me roll back my iPad 2 to IOS 7.2), I have found that my Apple TV will no longer do mirroring from my iPad.

I had just downloaded the first episode of the new BBC drama "War and Peace" to my iPad. I use a proxy server and the BBC iPlayer to download it. Although I am in Australia, the proxy server makes the iPlayer think that I am in the UK. I used a couple of tricks that I have learnt so I could download the tv program in five minutes instead of the usual hour plus.

Anyway, back to the plot. I was settling down to watch "War and Peace" via my Apple TV but I could not get the mirroring (where the tv shows what is on your iPad) to work. Back to Google search on my PC and it seems that if you have IOS 9 on your iPad then mirroring with Apple TV will only work if you have the latest software on your Apple TV unit.
Some poor s*d discovered this when he was at a conference and about to do a presentation using his Apple TV.
So here I was, back into another session of getting the Apple TV to do a software update with slow downloading, followed by multiple progress bars while it extracts the downloaded file, then updates the box in multiple stages, each with it's own slow progress bar. Finally I was able to watch the program.

I am sure that it would be more fun and quicker to actually read "War and Peace" that have to do all this fiddling just to get back the functionality that I had previously.

I wonder what other surprises are in store for me now that I am lumbered with IOS 9.


Sunday, January 03, 2016

Into 2016

The run through Christmas and into the New Year has been busy.
I could use words but my pictures tell the story. Here are a few of the photos that I took.

 Melbourne tram
 Enviromental demo blocks main road
 The shot tower
 World sailing championship
 Beach or boat, you choose.
 St Kilda venue.
 Marina and the CBD.
 Close at the final buoy.
 Ocean Road Trip
 Proposal in the Park (hope she said yes)
 Track cycling at the Hisense Arena
 At MCG, Starman, Starlet and Steven Seagull
 Sydney Thunder beat Melbourne Stars by 1 run.
 On the Yarra.
 Modern sculpture.
 Rent one here.
 Albert Park pits complex. (I will be there in March)
 St Kilda botanical gardens.
 Sheltering under a wooden pier.
 Bourke St tram
 New Year's Eve on the roof
 A hot air balloon coasts by
 Landing in Albert Park
 Back at the MCG for a WBBL and BBL local derby.
 Danni Wyatt recovering from direct hit on back of head by the ball.
 The Renegades beat Stars in tight match
 Stadium view
 Mascots challenging umpire
 Star dancers
 Chris Gayle warming up
 Was soon out with this skyer
 Pietersen takes the catch
 Literally throwing the bat
 Record BBL crowd
 Luke Wright wins it for the Melbourne Stars
 Luke Wright put in a great performance
 Back next day for quieter WBBL match
A smaller and more relaxed crowd
 Chatting to the press before the match
Meg Lanning back on form
 I prefer a choice of seating
 The Stars get their revenge over the Renegades
I will be watching another six WBBL T20 matches at the nearby Junction oval next Friday, Saturday and Sunday.