Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Mildly frustrating

Okay, I usually try not to do the bitching about Ireland that a lot of people here do, 'cause I think one should be generous with one's host country and, besides, what's the point of moving somewhere else if I expect it to be just like home? However, there are a few little things that I feel I'm justified in whinging about.

For a country that managed to turn itself from one of the poorest to one of the richest nations in Europe (hey, highest standard of living in 2005, according to The Economist!) mostly by luring in high tech companies, it sure is a little strange that, high tech-wise, Ireland is 5-10 years behind. And I'm not talking about the big life-changing things- I'm sure the hospitals here have the latest machinery, and I know the universities are fairly well-equipped. I'm talking about the little things that make my life just a teeny bit more difficult.
For example: the Dublin public transportation system. Look as long as you want, there is no page on their website that will show you a map of the bus routes superimposed on a street map of Dublin. The web site shows you what neighborhoods the various routes go to. That's it. However, this is not surprising, because even if you went to the Dublin Bus offices, there are no such maps. There are maps of some of the neighborhoods with the bus routes, but why they can't make a big one with all of Dublin on it and put it on-line, I don't know. There isn't even a little cartoon of what streets the buses go down and what the cross streets are. The information on the poles at the actual bus stops are less than useless: they simply ugly up the street. And on-line trip planning? Ha!
Example two: high speed internet access is a joke. You can get broadband if you have an Eircom land line. The resulting connection is, I'm told, barely adequate. The land line costs you €40/month and the broadband is €30. If you are unlucky enough to move into a place that did not have an existing land line, Eircom will happily charge you upwards of €100 to put one in. If you don't want to pay the exorbitant sums Eircom insists on, then you could go for one of two other choices. For both, the coverage is patchy at best (doesn't even cover all of Dublin, for Pete's sake) and will randomly cut out on you.

None of this is horrible. Mostly the solutions involve my having to walk a little bit further or to have to stop by an office and talk to someone rather than do what I want over the computer. But I'd gotten too used to being able to do practically everything from the comfort of home. Perhaps it's just as well that this kind of thing forces me to move my ass out of my chair, huh?

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