George V. Reilly


Dundrum Mental Asylum

When I was a boy, anytime we said ‘Dundrum’ (a suburb of Dublin), it was with a snigger, because it was synonymous in our minds with the mental asylum located there. Nowadays, Dundrum is much better known as the home of a large shopping centre. I’m so out of touch with Dublin that I hadn’t realized that there was a major new shopping centre there. I assumed that people were talking about the unim­pres­sive little centre that I remembered there from my childhood. Until today, when we went there to return the mobile phone that we had given my mother for Christmas.

Dundrum was, indeed, a madhouse. There’s much talk of a recession in Ireland, as in the United States, but there was little evidence of it in Dundrum today. The Centre was op­pres­sive­ly full: heat, noise, jostling crowds.

My mother wanted a new mobile phone for Christmas. Her only re­quire­ments were that it have a camera, that it be easy to use, and the buttons easy to read. The Samsung Tocco has a nice-looking touch screen and David and I thought it would be just the thing, based on our brief experiment with one the other day.

Not so. My mother was totally flummoxed by it. David and I found it confusing and irritating too. The scroll works opposite to the way I expected from the iPhone. Texting was horrible: instead of an alphabetic keypad on the touch­screen, it showed the ten digits with three letters on each digit—just like a tra­di­tion­al mobile phone. And the UI locked you into a nasty series of modal dialogs that were not easy to work with. I probably would have returned it had I bought it for myself, and it was in­sup­port­able for my mother.

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