Updating your phone can ruin your life

Every so often you get a nudge to update your phone. "You need 17.01.03! Now!"

Why? What's so special about this? "Some hackers found a way to exploit a little part of 17.01.02, and they might be able to access your passwords and financial accounts under very limited situations."

What situations? "When you're using the phone. Trust us, they can't do diddly if you just put your phone in a drawer and never use it, so it's not life and death, but yeah, you should update."

Didn't you fix this when we updated from 17.01.01 to 17.01.02? "No. That fixed a bug where people who were looking at Facebook while an app in the background was calculating pi would experience a crash when the Domino's pizza tracker attempted to move to the penultimate state of 'out of the oven.'"

When did this ever happen? "Oh, you'd be surprised."

So you update. And now the phone no longer talks to the car.

The first thing my car screen says when I fire up the motor: "Connect your phone." Not "Drive safe." Not "Treat a yellow light as if there's a cop car at the intersection and it's 1983 and they care about such things." Not "The oil in your engine is down to a teaspoon, and half a mile down the interstate the engine's going to throw pistons through the hood." No, it says to connect your distraction device.

Of course there's the hands-free function. A text comes through, the car reads it to me, and I like to think of the reader as a serious, no-nonsense secretary, almost middle-aged but not quite, giving me amused looks over the top of the black glasses perched on the bridge of her nose as she reads the correspondence.

"Message from Natalie. It says, 'Here's a trivia question, no looking it up. What country has the greatest number of pyramids?' Would you like to respond?"

"Yes. 'I'll bet it's the USA.'"

"Would you like to send it?" the voice says, and when I say yes, I imagine her nodding with brisk, professional agreement, then rapidly clacking it out on the Underwood, after which she will put it in an envelope, run it through the Pitney Bowes stamping machine, and hand it to Willy, the guy who collects the morning mail. He always stops by to flirt. She pretends she doesn't like it, but from time to time you catch her daubing a little Coty on her pulse points before he shows up.

But no more. The phone doesn't see the car and the car doesn't see the phone. Sigh. Well, let's google the problem and get a useless solution from five years ago.

I know what the problem is: I updated my phone. Even worse, I updated to a beta version. So it's got more bugs than the sheets of a one-star Vegas motel. I can either wait for the next update or start over. There's an option on my phone: FORGET THIS CAR.

Hard to imagine a phrase that inspires such trepidation.

Forget it? After all we've been through? What if this makes me actually forget my car? I will wander the streets of downtown after work, pressing the key fob alarm, waiting for the chirp that says "I'm here! Over here! Oh, you came back! You didn't forget!"

Of course, no matter what problem you've had, someone on the internet had it, too. You post: "I upgraded my printer drivers and now my eyelashes have fallen out and the shingles on my house are red. Anyone else have this problem?" Someone will say yes, and recommend that you unplug your printer and plug it back in and drink a glass of saltwater and sell your house. It's like WebMD: You search for something innocuous, and after five minutes you're googling "cremation" just to save everyone the bother.

I know what you're saying: "Why don't you just use the magic thing named after a Danish king?" You mean Bluetooth? Or do you mean his son, who was known as Forkbeard? I lost forkbeard functionality in the last update. But yes, if you use Bluetooth, you can indeed stream from your phone, but you won't get the album art for the song or podcast, and somehow this is utterly unacceptable. You give someone a ride, they look at your car screen, notice there's no album art, and goggle with astonishment: How do you even live like this?

"iOS beta 17.3.2 broke USB interface," you snap, just to put him in his place. In fact, you let him off at the next corner. You don't need more aggravation in your life.

I suppose I could just listen to the radio, but it's been so long I'm not sure how that even works. Returning to FM is like revisiting a bar you patronized in college. In both cases they're still playing Journey.

Until it's resolved, I'll drive in silence. Alone with my thoughts. Interesting, profound contemplations, like, "Should I end the column with the pyramid-question answer, or leave everyone hanging?"

james.lileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858 • Twitter: @Lileks • facebook.com/james.lileks