(Sung to the tune of Three Lions. When I first heard that song on the radio, in 1996, knowing nothing about football or the England team, I thought that the lyrics were “three lines on the shirt, jewels remain still gleaming”.)

In unsurprising news, I caught covid. I couldn’t really do anything to prevent it, and by the time L— actually tested positive it was probably too late to avoid it anyway. We don’t even have a spare bed, so apart from uncomfortable or ridiculous options (tent in the garden, full biohazard suit) there was little I could do other than accept my likely fate with equanimity.

So far I’ve had a much easier time of it than her. I took a test on Wednesday, and was still clear. By Friday afternoon, I had a very runny nose, and tested positive. But so far, my symptoms have been limited to a runny nose, a slightly sore throat, and a bit of mucus to cough up. By today, Sunday, I already feel a lot better than I did. In any other era, and without the benefit of a test, I’d say I had a cold. I’m probably lucky.

L— is having a worse time. She has more and worse symptoms, and it seems to be taking longer. I don’t know why. We had different vaccines (3 × Pfizer for her, 2 × AstraZeneca plus 1 × Pfizer for me), she was vaccinated earlier so it’s been longer, and even apart from that we’re quite different in a few obvious ways.

My sleep has been a bit disturbed, but I found that taking a pseudoephedrine tablet (Sudafed, but the good stuff, don’t let anyone fob you off with the other types that contain useless phenylephrine) before bed lets me breathe easily through the night.

Before that, I had my phone battery replaced. I don’t love mobile phones, and I really resent the idea of spending £500 on a new one when it’s otherwise still usable. It cost me £55 at iSmash; the only annoyance was that they weren’t able to do it then and there because the person who knows how to work on the Pixel 2 wasn’t in that day, and I had to leave it overnight.

I started booking the repair online, but was interrupted to eat lunch. While I ate, I received an email encouraging me to finish the booking, with the enticement of a £5 off voucher. I’m going to try that trick on other online purchases in future.

£55 is a reasonable price for a new battery and the specialist labour, but I would prefer it if the battery was a user-replaceable part, and if and when I have to replace this phone I’m very tempted by Fairphone for that reason.

The battery now lasts all day, when it couldn’t survive the duration of a morning walk before. To celebrate the battery I also bought a new case in a different colour – the old one had yellowed from its original transparency – and it feels like I have a new phone.

While my phone was being fixed, I spent 24 hours with an iPhone. I’d bought a second-hand iPhone SE (first generation, quite old, but it runs the latest iOS 15) a couple of years ago for testing a project with a previous client, so I swapped in my SIM and used it as my only device. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t enjoy it:

  • It feels like you’re constantly having to authenticate on iOS, even to do things like install a free app. This is especially annoying to me because my hands are very dry and my fingerprints are not reliably recognised.
  • When you install a free app, it says “Processing Payment” even though there is no payment! That’s a bit worrying, even though I have no payment method attached to the account.
  • The text editing is a bit shonkier than on Android. This surprised me. I found myself stuck a few times when I’d selected some text and couldn’t move the start point.
  • There’s a lot of reliance on opaque sigils. What’s that padlock with a circular arrow? (Screen rotation lock, thanks DuckDuckGo). We have a system of universal symbols for communication, it’s called writing! The analogue on Android uses icons in the condensed view, but they’re accompanied by written text when expanded.
  • It’s really hard to discover how to do anything without an external reference. So many things need swipes or long presses or combination presses. I tried to take a screenshot (press the top and home buttons together) but accidentally did a hard power off (press the same buttons, just a little longer).
  • I can’t stand using a naked web browser. It’s not just ad blocking, but also the everyday annoyances like cookie consent banners. I use extensions to dismiss those, and to throw away cookies when a tab is closed. It’s not exactly easy on Android – I have to use Firefox Nightly and curate my own list of blessed extensions on the Mozilla website – but at least it’s possible. On iOS you get Apple’s browser, or a thin skin over Apple’s browser, and you put up with it, I suppose.
  • I realised that I use the Android back button a lot.

On the positive side, iOS does a good job of running smoothly on even old hardware. You can tell when a processing operation takes time, but the interface doesn’t miss a beat. And having a physical, tactile switch for silent mode is a great idea. It’s much more reassuring. However, my next phone definitely won’t be an iPhone.

I haven’t taken part for a while, but on Monday evening, just in time for the deadline, I finished a piece for last week’s Disquiet Junto 0535:

The Assignment: Break a familiar melody into pieces and play it in a different sequence.

I chose Ode to Joy. I started by transcribing the melody in Lilypond, and rearranged the bars. Then I reharmonised it: as it’s in G major, I started with the relative (E) minor, and went from there, throwing in a bit of Japanese-inspired key fluctuation because I watched a video about that the other day.

I did most of the arrangement in Lilypond, generating MIDI and listening using a generic MIDI player. When I was happy with the parts, I pulled the MIDI file into my MPC One, assigned instruments, finger-drummed some drum and bass beats over the top, and arranged it a bit.

I called it Four Nine because it’s the fourth movement of the ninth symphony. It’s a bit silly, and it was great fun to make.