In an unfortunate series of events that revealed my lack of mobile phone tech savvy-ness, I accidentally blocked my SIM card on Saturday. To make things worse, my attempts to unblock it resulted in the SIM card being permanently disabled. And, in a triple whammy, I also forgot the security code on my phone, so now I have to reformat the phone and lose everything in it. Basically, all the numbers in both the SIM card and phone are gone forever.
Here's how it happened:
1. I was going for the BERSIH rally in KL, to show support for the movement and the agenda for free and fair elections.
2. I figured I shouldn't bring my new phone, just in case we got drenched by special water from certain sources. Just in case.
3. So I switched the SIM card to from my new phone to my old phone. It asked for the PIN. Whaddaya know, I keyed in the wrong PIN code 3 times! This was mistake #1. I forgot that the SIM card will get blocked after 3 wrong tries. (Actually, mistake number #0 was that I activated the PIN and security codes on my new phone... and then forgot the codes! More about this later...)
4. The SIM card got blocked, and then the phone asked for the PUK code. So I ran to grab the PUK (personal unblocking key). Would you believe it?!! I committed another silly mistake. I keyed the PUK for the wrong SIM card. I thought I had the PUK, but only realized today that it belonged to the very first SIM card that I got in 2000. The current SIM card is an upgraded one, and I somehow don't have the PUK for the new SIM card recorded anywhere.
5. And here is where it gets complicated. I unknowingly keyed in the wrong PUK, and it asked me to key in a new PIN and then reconfirm the PIN, which is what I did. But the result was "Code Error". I couldn't understand why, coz all the while I thought the PUK was correct. I couldn't have keyed in the new PIN (I chose 1234) wrongly, could I?!?! So I repeated the process, but got the same "Code Error". But, after about 8 attempts, when the phone gave me the terse message, "Final attempt", I decided to get the pros to fix it. Besides, I had a train to catch to go downtown KL.
6. So, off I went to the (illegal?) gathering in KL without a phone, but I was with friends, so I wasn't totally incommunicado. I wore my yellow T-shirt under another shirt, ala undercover Superman style. But no, I did not rip off my outer shirt to reveal the yellow shirt underneath when I reached the Istana. I merely unbuttoned it gently.
7. The gathering was very peaceful and orderly, at least at the places where I was, i.e. train station and Istana (I later heard that there was some commotion in the Masjid Jamek area). Some police officers were even helping to direct traffic -- I guess they had no choice. In case you were stuck in the jam on the Federal Highway, I can assure you that it was caused entirely by the police roadblocks, which was designed to deliberately slow down traffic. I also heard that they were stopping buses carrying yellow people. Anyway, my group took the train, so we got there in the usual time.
8. After the peaceful gathering in front of the Istana we went back to the train station and hopped on the return train. No problems. I got a bit wet, but it was due to the rain, not the police water cannons.
9. Then I went to the an authorized network service centre, hoping to unblock my SIM card. But the attempt to unblock it only made the card become permanently blocked, because the wrong PUK was keyed in again, for the final time. The SIM card was rejected. Only then did I find out that I could have called the network provider's helpline to get the PUK. But the problem was that I had been thinking all the while I had the correct PUK. And the "Code Error" message was because of the wrong PUK, not because I re-entered the wrong PIN. Big sigh. It's like climbing up to the top of the ladder only to find that it's leaning on the wrong wall.
10. So, the guy at the service centre issued a new SIM card (for the same phone number). The SIM card would take at least a day to be activated. That was OK, I thought. But I lost ALL the numbers stored in the SIM card. That was OK too, I thought, because I had copied the numbers to the new phone's memory. But then, I switched on the phone, and lo and behold, it asked me for the security code!
11. And, I couldn't remember it!!! Big mistake! I changed the code after getting the new phone last month, and didn't record it anywhere!!! There is no limit to the number of attempts to key in the security code, but it's 5 digits, and so technically there are 100,000 permutations. That's more than the number of people gathered for the BERSIH rally.
12. So I went to bed with both the old and new phones non-functional (I couldn't even set the alarm) because the new SIM card was not yet activated.
13. On Sunday afternoon, after trying about 139 times to key in some plausible passcodes (based on my birthday, or initials, or just keypad number patterns) I finally relented and I went to the mobile phone shop where I bought the new phone. I thought they would be able to do something, but unfortunately, the only way was to send it back to the distributor for reformatting. That means I lose ALL the numbers in the phone also. The whole process will take a few days.
14. So here I am now with my old phone, a new not-yet-activated SIM card, and a totally blank contact list. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
This has turned out to be a long convoluted story, but I hope you get the drift.
This is stupid:
1. Forgetting passcodes.
2. Keying in the wrong passcode while assuming it is the correct one.
3. Changing the security code on the mobile phone and not remembering it. I later found out from the guy at the shop that it's almost pointless to switch on the security code on the phone to prevent people from using it if it is stolen. Because, the folks can easily send it undercover to the service centres and break the code. It's an inside job -- the technicians conspiring with the resellers. Obviously it's illegal, but it's happening.
This is smart:
1. Supporting free and fair elections.
2. Always remembering passcodes (duh?!) or writing them down somewhere.
3. Not trying to be too smart. Call the helpline instead.
Well, at the end of the day, this whole SIM card and phone hassle pales in comparison to the more important thing, that I was a part of Malaysian history. I was standing very near the Istana gate, with the crowd, and I saw the BERSIH leaders walk through the FRU line to deliver the memorandum to the King's aide. Two police helicopters were buzzing overhead, a clever tactic to drown out the voices of the people. After the memorandum was handed over, the police chief instructed the crowd to disperse, and we dutifully complied. I feel that the police are improving slightly in their handling of such mass gatherings.
I took part in the "riot". Would you consider that an act of civil disobedience?
Gandhi did it. Martin Luther King Jr did it. I did it. And so did a few thousand other Malaysians.
In case you are wondering what BERSIH stands for, visit the website.