It's just occurred to me what the problem was with my mobile phone. In USB mode, there are three options:
- PC Suite - use Nokia PC Suite on your PC
- Printing and media - use your device with a PictBridge compatible printer or with a compatible PC
- Data storage - connect to a PC that does not have Nokia software, and use your device as data storage
Until this episode, I have always connected my phone to the computer at work, where I installed Nokia PC Suite several years ago. Thus the USB setting has always been PC Suite. During the holiday, I tried connecting my phone to my home computer, where there is no PC Suite. Unsurprisingly (in retrospect), the phone complained that the setting was wrong. Unfortunately the message was in terse Hebrew and didn't seem to make much sense.
I must have played with the settings slightly, for one day I came to work (to fetch something) and tried connecting the phone to the computer. As the USB mode was not set to PC Suite, again I got the terse error message.
The penny has just dropped: I reset the USB mode to PC Suite and connected to my work computer with no problem. Should I ever need to connect the phone to other computers (such as my mobile, which I take with me on holidays, then either I will install PC Suite on the mobile or else I'll change the USB mode of the phone. I think that I'll choose the former option as it is less "panic free" - the phone will connect painlessly and I won't need to remember to change anything.
It's a shame that the girl in the service centre yesterday didn't have the same insight.