Farm Ireland

Sunday 27 May 2018

'The Brick' has flashed his final goodbye after years of service

Ann Fitzgerald

Ann Fitzgerald

My husband Robin recently changed his mobile phone. In an era when there are people who change their mobiles nearly as often as their socks, this might not seem remarkable. But Robin had his phone for over 11 years.

A Samsung Galaxy S7 has replaced his Samsung Solid, which, some years ago, was dubbed 'The Brick', though this is a pet name to be used only by family members and Robin was not impressed when the phone shop assistant had the temerity to employ it.

This assistant visibly recoiled in horror at the sight of The Brick and was gobsmacked when he realised that it was opened with a screwdriver (or coin!).

It's a little bit sad, really, that The Brick's time has come to an end, especially when its SIM card was removed and the screen flashed up "Goodbye".

It's been around for much of our life together.

The rubber casing had worn off in places, as had some of the colouring on the keypad. The scratches on the surfaces are like wrinkles, testament to a happy, productive, period in our lives.

And, boy, was it sturdy! Robin always carries his phone in his chest pocket. It fell out on many occasions, without adverse impact. Smartphones need a cover for the screen, a case for the back and insurance for accidents.

One autumn night, The Brick fell out when he was trying to finish cutting a field of corn. He couldn't find it in the dark.

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He came home for my phone and when he returned and dialled the number, The Brick sang out clearly from his damp muddy bed, "brrring, brrring".

But he had drawbacks - like a tiny memory, which only had room for a handful of photos.

A few months ago, The Brick started to, well, brick it. Robin is not a slave of fashion and was content up to then with its performance. But he is also very aware that smartphones accommodate many useful applications for the farmer.

It's going to take over some of the stuff he currently does on the computer.

For example, Robin is going to put on the area of every field and will be able to use that in conjunction with the GPS on the tractor when spreading fertiliser.

He already has the costly part of the technology. It won't be all plain sailing, though. One day, he went to take a photo of a heifer and tapped on the camera. What he saw on the screen was himself. So he turned the camera. Then he could only see the back of the phone.

Our 13-year-old, Sarah - the designated smartphone interpreter - pointed out that there was a screen icon that flipped the cameras.

Another time, Robin asked her: "Is it a swipe, a slap or a punch to turn off the alarm… because none of them seem to work?"

Robin's replaced a workhorse - a steady robust gelding that was good at its primary job of making and receiving calls - for a racehorse, a fine-boned, filly.

She turns heads and makes the heart flutter and has the potential for far more thrills. Though she's also costlier to keep and is vulnerable to everything from chills and curbs to sore shins.

So welcome, honey, to the world of the various tech anxieties, such loss of Wi-Fi and rapidly fading battery. With the support of your loving family, I've no doubt you will survive it.

When I told Robin what this column was about, he said: "Oh, no, don't say you're going to be making fun of me in the national media. Again.

"At least it won't in be the week of the Ploughing," he added.

"Or will it?" he asked.

"No," I assured him.

He turned to walk out the door.

"Though I suppose that does mean your buddies will have another week to hone their slagging," I said, to his disappearing back.

He kept walking.

PS: We'll both be on the Farm Indo stand on the Tuesday.

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