The 1970s, teddy bears and scumbags…

By | February 22, 2016
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Well, it’ll be a fairly short one this time as I’m putting the finishing touches to the information about the new videos. I’ll be emailing with full information at midday today (so watch this space).

But there was something else I wanted to mention. I know quite a few people have iPhones and there’s something going round to beware of – and I suspect it’ll apply to iPads too.

In fact, I’ll go on to say why this matters even if you don’t have an iPhone or iPad.

Several websites have been saying that if you change the date on your iPhone to 1st January 1970, it’ll put it into “retro” mode, where it has a 1970s style design – 70s style colours and so on.

It sounds plausible – manufacturers do sometimes include what they call “Easter Eggs”, where there’s something like this hidden away. For example, try going to www.google.co.uk and typing in do a barrel roll.

But in this case, with setting your date to 1970, it’s not true. Worse, it’s a very nasty prank.

What actually happens is it crashes your iPhone. And not just so you need to turn it off and on again – every time you try to turn it on, it crashes again. So you can’t get in to set the date back again.

(I suppose you could say it not working is quite retro – after all, no-one had mobile phones in 1970!  But it’s still a nasty surprise for anyone who tried it.)

Apple are working on a fix, but basically what’s happening is when Apple designed the iPhone they set “date zero” – the date when it counts the date from – as some date AFTER 1st January 1970. Which means if you set it to before that, it causes a problem. What they should have done is included a bit in the part where you change the date to not let you set the date too early. (It’s called “sanitising your inputs” in the programming world.) But they obviously forgot.

Some people found this out and instead of doing the decent thing and warning everyone, they made up a story that it would change the design of the iPhone and spread that to make lots of people ruin their iPhones.

So if you see this “tip” somewhere, that you can make it look different by changing the date to 1970, don’t try it!

I said it’s worth reading even if you don’t have an iPhone. Well, first of all, if you have an iPad, it runs the same basic system. So I’d be reasonably confident it would have the same bug – and I wouldn’t be surprised if some scumbag somewhere decides to make up a story about doing it on the iPad as well, to see if they can cause people trouble on that too.

And even if you don’t have either of those, this kind of thing has happened before – if you hear advice like this for a tablet, smartphone or computer, it might be worth checking it with a reliable source first. Obviously, I’m one reliable source (I hope you think so, anyway!) but there are also the computer magazines (or their websites) and so on.

I remember years ago a story went around that if you checked a particular folder on your PC you might find a program with a teddy bear icon – if you did, you needed to delete it as it was a virus. But the story was a hoax – actually that program was part of Windows and if you deleted it, your PC wouldn’t work properly. (Microsoft just gave it a teddy bear icon as a sort of in joke, since no-one normally would ever see that icon.)

So it is worth being careful with tips like this that you see shared from other people – it might be worth checking with a reliable source!

Watch out at midday
So at midday today (or a minute or two before), I’ll email round the details about the new videos about touchscreen tablets – what they cover, who they’re for and so on.

Watch out for my email!

PS – the videos are now available to order. Here’s the full information, including who they’re suitable for, what they cover and so on.

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