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February 2017 Retro Gaming Article

February 5, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Samsung goes from phone fires to false moisture errors, but there's a retro gaming solution

Black Sabbath's final show
When a false moisture error prevented my extremely dry phone from charging, an old video game resolution came to mind... and it worked!
After using my phone for about an hour this morning, it's battery was getting low and needed a charge. I plugged in it's charger and left it as I usually do. Several minutes later, I heard an odd sound coming from my phone. The "charging" icon was not lit and then I saw a small message saying the phone had detected moisture in the charging port. WTF!!?!!

I'm a careful person. I have enough electrical knowledge to know that water is not good for any electrical device. Thus, I don't bring it into any situations that may get it wet. I don't text in the rain, let it sit in the bathroom during a shower, or bring it to the pool. My two-month-old phone has never become wet! so, how do I randomly get a moisture error?

I called tech support and prepared to be inferred a liar. Both my carrier and samsung support asked me all the likely questions assuming I'd fallen in a lake and had simply forgotten. They had no ideas ans suggested I send it in for evaluation. By "evaluation" I assume they would keep my phone for three weeks before telling me it had been on the ocean floor for a decade - or similar nonsense. I hung up on them.

Smart Phones Are Not Smart

When we think about modern technology we often refer to devices as being intelligent. They are not. They are fast which we wrongly associate with intelligence. Any computer can quickly beat me at Chess until you put it in a bathtub full of water. At that point the computer can't do anything. Watch how fast a cat can escape a tub of water. So, who's smarter the cat or the CPU?

Smart phones are the same. They do a lot of nifty things, but they have limits... like detecting water. How the Hell does my phone know there is moisture in the charging port? It doesn't. All it knows is the connection between the phone and the charger is not as expected. This is a far cry from trying to make me believe water somehow came in contact with my phone.

Although harsh, friction will remove oxidation from most surfaces.

Retro Gaming To The Rescue

The notion of a "bad connection" made me wonder if something was clogging the port. Nothing was visible, but in my search online, oxidation was mentioned. As a retro gamer, I'm all too familiar with the effects of oxidation when the pins on a game's PCB don't make a good connection in the cartridge port.

The tiny charging port was too small for a Q-tip, so I went the lazy-route and inserted and removed the USB connector several times - much like re-inserting an oxidized game cart.

The friction (although not the best method as it's harsh on the metal components) will scrape away enough oxidation to make the game play. This was true of my phone as well. A few insertions enabled a connection so I could charge it and devise a way to clean the delicate board that somehow managed to get cruddy in two month's time.

As far as I can tell, Samsung has gone from their Note 7 phones randomly catching fire to their S7 phones believing they are wet. How ironic. The lesson I've learned is NOT to buy Samsung products.

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