Mac Information

Apple Macintosh, iPod, iPad and iPhone news and advice in Dublin, Ireland


Broadband in Kilmacanogue...finally?

After two years of delays, it looks like Kilmacanogue in Co. Wicklow is finally about to come into the broadband age. As reported on this site in the past, there have been long delays in the upgrade of the exchange to allow residents in the area to avail of full speed broadband. This week, eircom confirmed to us that the exchange is to be finalised in January 2011, with customers expected to receive the speed boosts by the end of the month. This will assist all landline broadband customers, including Vodafone, Magnet and other providers, and not just eircom customers.

Delays had occurred since we started to follow this story in 2008. At that time eircom stated that broadband would be installed in the area by the start of 2009. This then changed to June 2009, later revised to September and then November 2009. The November date was later confirmed to us by eircom, only for this to be dropped as this deadline approached.


The Mac Information Christmas Guide

Check out our 2010 Christmas Gift Guide, with a look at what we believe to be the best Apple products. We have chosen our favourite Mac, iPods, iPhone and iPad models, which may help you choose the best gadget!

Christmas 2010 iMac Christmas 2010 MacBook Pro Christmas 2010 iPad

Click here for details.

Watch out for Black Friday

Black Friday is a traditional sales day in the US, and over the last few years, some of the discounts available to US shopper have also been available in the UK and Ireland. It traditionally marks the start of the Christmas buying season in the US, following the Thanksgiving holiday.

If you are in the market for a new Mac or accessory, and you can wait until November 26th, then you may get a discount.


Guide: Password protection for your MobileMe galleries

One thing we notice when working with clients, is that they frequently publish photos using MobileMe. This is a great way to share photos, and you do not need to have any knowledge of web design or internet configurations.

However many people do not use the password feature, and publish their personal family photos. This makes the pictures available on the web, and gives anyone access to them. When publishing family pictures, most people would prefer to keep them private, as would your guests and friends! One of the many curses of Facebook is the fact that people publish photos of their friends without their permission.

Here is how to be smart and protect your photos with a name and password...


What we love and hate about the iPad

We have been using our iPad now for about four months, and so it is time to look back on what we most liked and really dislike about this device.

The first point is that we use the iPad for consuming and not producing; in other words we find ourselves reading emails, browsing webpages, and reading Twitter messages on the iPad. We have not moved to producing material, such as using Pages, Keynote or Numbers. We do tend to reply to emails, and will type out short messages but not any long messages or notes. .

iPhone 4 launches in Ireland

The new iPhone 4 has launched in Ireland, and we have the info you need. The iPhone is available on the Vodafone, O2 and 3 networks, and here are the details for each company:


iPad arrives in Ireland on July 23rd

The wait for the iPad to arrive in Ireland is almost over. Apple today announced that it will go on sale here this Friday, July 23rd.

Here are the prices and specs:


Our favourite iPad apps

Here is a quick list of iPad applications which we are using and like. Almost all are free and they can be downloaded using the App Store application on the iPad.

IPad apps for Ireland and the UK

Some of the best free apps:
- iBooks- to download books from the Apple store- lots of classic book are free
- Kindle- Amazon’s version of iBooks but access to the Amazon book store. This let’s you sync your books between your Mac and your iPad or iPhone using their Whisper Sync.
- Epicuruous- iPad version of recipes app
- Twitterific- best app for using with Twitter
- Pocket Pond- fun app- just try it!
- Planets- beautiful graphics showing the planets and stars
- Adobe Ideas- a drawing app


Apple launch their annual Back to School offer

Apple have launched their annual “Back to School” offer for students and teachers. This entitles a person in the education sector to buy a Mac at special prices, and then to claim a rebate for buying an iPod at the same time. Given that the rebate is up to 160 euro, this means you can get an iPod touch for a small price.
Apple Back to School Offer 2010
The price of an iPod touch on the education store is 189 euro, so the effect of the rebate is that you can get the 8GB model for 29 euro.


What we love & hate about iOS 4

The new iOS 4 for the iPhone is now out and we have been working with a developer version for the last few weeks. Here is our list of our favourite and least favourite parts!

What we love...

1/ Folders- life is much simpler now, with only 2 screens worth of icons. We like to leave the front screen for the most part as Apple intended, and we now have all of screen two containing folders. Just so much more convenient to find things and organise icons.
2/ Camera zoom- ok so it is digital zoom and not true zoom, but it is great for framing a shot and having some way to focus on our subject
3/ Text character count- now we know how long our text messages are- and we like to know this
4/ Combined inbox- we love this and hated all of the old switching back and forth. We also like the threaded messages where they are grouped together when from the same conversation. Nice touch..

Apple announce new Mac mini range

Apple have announced a new line-up of Mac minis, with a new connection for HDMI, allowing for connection to a TV.
Mac mini
The new Mac mini has two flavours- one for normal Mac use, and one to act as a server. The standard mini comes with 320GB of storage, up form the previous 160GB, and now has a 2.4Ghz Core 2 Duo processor.



How Compu b got it right

The new Compu b store on Grafton Street in Dublin is a shining example of how a retailer can display and sell Apple products. As readers of this site will know, we had been following the opening closely, and in our opinion Compu b have got it right where many other retailers in Dublin failed.

Compu b store in Dublin Ireland

As long time Mac watchers, we remember the “Apple” store on Kildare Street, and even the old Compu b store on the Long Mile road in the early 90s. In recent times we have seen the O2 Experience store on Grafton Street, the 3G stores and most recently, Spectra Photo which was located near the new Compub store. Each of the recent examples took steps to make Apple products available to a wider audience, and yet they held back on stocking a good range of accessories, or having staff who were well versed in the Mac products and repairs.



Films arrive on iTunes store for Ireland

Films have arrived on the iTunes store for Ireland- finally. Years after they arrived in the UK, there is now a good selection of films for rent and download.
iTunes films for Ireland
We took a look at the figures, and here is what we found:

UK Ireland % of UK
Action & Adventure 1124 789 70.20%
Anime 15 7 46.67%
Classics 213 108 50.70%
Comedy 1568 952 60.71%
Concert Films 16 6 37.50%
Documentary 180 57 31.67%
Drama 1889 1132 59.93%
Foreign 59 45 76.27%
Holiday 35 22 62.86%
Horror 462 310 67.10%
Independent 143 46 32.17%
Kids & Family 400 292 73.00%
Made for TV 13 3 23.08%
Music Documentaries 39 20 51.28%
Music Feature Films 48 35 72.92%
Musicals 142 79 55.63%
Romance 527 281 53.32%
Sci-Fi & Fantasy 400 286 71.50%
Short Films 275 181 65.82%
Special Interest 18 10 55.56%
Sports 133 86 64.66%
Thriller 857 598 69.78%
Urban 66 57 86.36%
Western 171 88 51.46%
Total Films in iTunes: 8793 5490 62.44%



Compu b Dublin store opening

This weekend sees the opening of the new Compu b store on Dublin’s Grafton Street. The store is situated beside the Molly Malone statue at the Trinity College end, and it opens for the first time at 11am (17/4/10).
Compu b store Dublin
In the last year Dublin has seen the disappearance of many of the Mac outlets, such as the 3G stores and Spectra Photo. The opening of the new Compu b store is welcome news for Mac shoppers who like to see the product and don’t want to rely on online purchases.



Apple launch new MacBook Pro range

Apple today announced a new line-up for its MacBook pro range. The new 15 and 17” models come with Core i5 and i7 chips inside and the whole range now contain NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M plus Intel HD graphic cards. Apple claim that the new chips offer a speed boost of close to 50%, and this is the most significant update in the line in over a year.
MacBook Pro
The 13” models continue to use the Core 2 Duo processors, but see improvements in the graphics card. Further details can bee seen on the Apple website here.

Check out our Buy a Mac page here.



Article: Pre-ordering the iPad: It's All about the Brand

[This article appeared in TidBITS on March 29th 2010:
For more information about TidBITS please visit the site here]

A number of recent commentators, including one in an article reprinted by Macworld, questioned why anyone would bother to order an iPad before they had a chance to see one in a store or to read the reviews. The answer is "the brand." The strength of the Apple brand explains why people are willing to risk their hard-earned cash on something they haven't personally seen or experienced.

Strong product branding encompasses many variables, such as specifications, pricing, packaging, features, and overall utility. However, those are all part of the rational, logical reasons we buy something. Also significant, and, I would argue, even more important, are the unconscious reasons we buy a product such as an iPod or iPhone. If you talk to someone about why they bought an iPhone, they will list reasons such as the App Store, ease of synchronisation, or other functional aspects of using the phone. The closest we normally get to an emotional reason is the "cool factor," which is an acceptable way of describing your emotions towards the product without appearing goofy! However, these deep emotional keys motivate us to spend money on a product which has not yet been tried and tested.


No word on iPad for Ireland

The announcement last week that the iPad will go on sale in the US on April 3rd, and in selected counties later in April, have left Irish customers wondering- when? Apple announced that the iPad would be available for pre-order this week (March 12th) before going on sale in the US on Saturday April 3rd. The statement went on to say " in addition, all models of iPad will be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK in late April."
iPad in Ireland
This essentially follows the lines for Apple retail stores. Countries with retail stores will get the iPad first, presumably because shoppers will expect the device to be available in an official Apple store first. However countries without Apple stores, such as Ireland, do not yet have a launch date.



Vodafone introduce a price

Vodafone have announced tethering prices for the iPhone.

1GB will cost an expensive €9.99, but 10GB will cost €19.90. This second option seems like far better value and matches Vodafone's prices for mobile broadband USB sticks.
Tethering with Vodafone Ireland
However this compares to O2 rates, where the top plan includes 15GB for €19.99.
Here the current O2 tethering rates:
1GB - €12.50 monthly
7.5GB - €16.99 monthly
15GB - €19.99 monthly

What makes the O2 plan so cynical is that the iPHone comes with an unlimited data plan. It is just that when you use the iPHone to provide internet to your Mac or PC, they charge the tethering rates above.



Vodafone announce release of iPhone on March 25th

Vodafone have announced the release date for the iPhone on its Irish network. The iPhone is due on March 25th, and they have also released the final price plans.

Some of the prices have changed since the pre-release which began in December. Here are the full details:



Ways to escape Eircom

It will come of little surprise to anyone who reads the news on this website that we encourage clients to use companies other than Eircom. Their shoddy service has caused frustration and lost business to many of our clients, and their customer service is one of the worst we have experienced in Ireland.

Our own business has been damaged by them over the last few years with a rogue salesman who tried to sell us a broadband package which did not exist, and with slow speed broadband being available on our lines. So what do you do to escape these guys?

We recommend two levels of change. Firstly, you could consider a new provider for your phone line and internet. Vodafone strike us as having a slightly weak service, but we currently use them for phone and internet. Their customer service is generally good, although they are still tied to Eircom. Any faults and repairs need to be handled by Eircom engineers, and if you get a man/woman who is working by the book, they may not help you as they will not work on anything inside your house. However we have been happy with Vodafone's service, even if the speed of our internet depends on Eircom's network.



Listening to radio on the iPhone or iPod touch

Many people we have spoken to have a yearning to listen to radio on their iPhone. This is not possible from a hardware point of view- there is no radio receiver in the iPhone. However you can download apps which will let you listen to radio stations using internet feeds.

One such example which we like is FStream. It is a free app, and you will need to know the address for the radio stations you wish to listen to:
FStream for iPhone and iPod touch radio
However we have gathered a few examples:



Internet tethering problems in Ireland

Internet tethering on the iPhone offers the possibility of using your phone as a modem, something which is very welcome for travellers and business users. It may can reduce the number of devices you carry with you, as many people on the road would already have a USB modem, which plugs into a laptop and provides 3G data access.
iPhone tethering in Ireland
Apple explain the steps required to set up internet tethering on this page, and troubleshooting tips here.

However the situation in Ireland is quite different when you go to use this feature. O2, still the only official provider of iPhones in Ireland, charge an extra fee for using tethering. Here are their current prices:
1GB O2 Advance Internet Tethering - €12.50 monthly - 1 GB usage allowance
7.5GB O2 Advance Internet Tethering - €16.99 monthly - 7.5 GB usage allowance
15GB O2 Advance Internet Tethering - €19.99 monthly - 15 GB usage allowance



RTÉ embrace the iPhone and iPod touch

One interesting development we have noticed over the last few months is RTÉ's embrace for apps on the iPhone and iPod touch. The latest application is the RTÉ news app, which is availbale for free on the iTunes App Store for Ireland. it's worth noting that if you try to buy the RTÉ News app from the US store, it costs $2.99.
RTE News app
The RTÉ news app is quite a simple application with two main functions: the first is top stories section which reflects the news stories on the RTÉ website. It has four sections covering news, sport, business and entertainment. The second feature is the "watch live" section, which has a video feed of RTÉ News headlines and weather. There are two other buttons at the bottom of the screen, one called "share" and one called "RTÉ Mobile". However these are just links for sharing details of the app with a friend and a link to other mobile features and applications. So on first impressions it looks as if this application has more to it, but in fact it is just a combination of the RTÉ website news, and the news video feed. Overall it is useful, if rather uninspiring. [Click here- iTunes link].



Find your Apple on Campus store

If you teach or are studying in an education institution, make sure you use your campus store if you choose to buy an Apple product. Apple have a dedicated webpage dealing with the AOC stores. Click here.

Apple on Campus stores

Apple lists the Apple on Campus stores for Ireland, including those for UCC, DIT, Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art , TCD and UCD. These stores allow studens and staff to buy Apple equuipment at reduced prices, normally a few percent lower than the normal education store.

The site also includes information on Apple products and how they can be used in education, for both teaching and studying.


iPad in Education

About ten years ago I spent the majority of my time travelling between libraries in the UK and Ireland, researching for my PhD. This was a notes gathering exercise for about two years, as I collected material relating to my research field in Liverpool, Nottingham, Manchester, London and Dublin.

In those days I had two main tools to hand- my Apple PowerBook G3 laptop, and my trusty Apple eMate. Many people may have forgotten or may not even be aware of the eMate 300. It was launched in 1997, and was a small, light, green plastic mini device, a cross between a PDA and a laptop- a netbook without the net!

Apple eMate 300

This light PDA/laptop hybrid meant it was easy to carry around libraries, and was ideal for notes. The keys were smaller than on a standard PowerBook keyboard, but it was still comfortable to work on. It also had a stylus pen, which worked on the touch screen. There was no mouse input, and so you controlled windows and dialogue boxes using the pen on the greyscale screen.


Apps we would like to see on the iPad

With the introduction of the iPad, and its launch coming in March, we have been thinking about what apps we would like to see on the iPad. Up to now, apps on the iPhone have normally been widget-type apps, plus games and utilities. However the iPad offers the opportunity for larger input, through typing on the touchscreen keyboard or through an external keyboard.

The combination of keyboard and larger screen offers new opportunities for existing developers. So what apps might make it to the iPad, and lure us away from our laptop. Could the iPad replace a MacBook (Pro/Air) on the road?

1/ FileMaker- we liked FileMaker's sortie into the world of iPod/iPhone apps, but would love to see a more powerful iPad database app, which allows full FileMaker editing. This could be great for client databases for sales people on the road, or for researchers in universities.
FileMaker Pro for iPad


Top 5 groups who will want an iPad

Here is our assessment of the top five groups who should look at buying an iPad:

Top 5 iPad uses

1/ Presenters: the iPad is a great way to make presentations. With iWork available for the iPad, users can run Keynote. This means that sales people on the move could receive a presentation by email, edit it and then present it using the VGA adapter which will connect an iPad to a standard projector.


Apple iPad arrives- plenty of surprises

Apple have launched the new iPad, a tablet based computer, which runs a modified version of the iPhone OS.

Apple's new iPad for UK and Ireland

The iPad is a new type of device, primarily for viewing data, such as webpages, email, photos and books. It has access to three stores- the App Store, the iTunes Store, and the new iBook store, where users can download books from major publishers.

A few initial thoughts:


Vodafone Ireland iPhone settings

Just in case any new Vodafone Ireland iPhone users need the details for their data and MMS settings, here they are:
Vodafone Ireland iPhone
To enter these, go to Settings -> General -> Network-> Cellular Data Network

Cellular Data
Username: vodafone
Password: vodafone

Username: dublin
Password: dublin
MMS proxy:
MMS Max Message Size: 307200
MMS UA Prof URL: .

Eircom fail to meet their own deadline for broadband

Once again Eircom have failed to meet their own deadline for installing broadband in the Kilmacanogue area. According to their own website, Eircom had promised the installation of broadband in the region by the end of 2009. This was on top of an original promise that broadband would be in place by the end of October 2009 (first reported here).
Eircom Broadband
We have tried to contact Eircom PR on a number of occasions but they have not responded. All of this does little to help individuals and small businesses in the area who need broadband to carry on their businesses or residents who wish to have broadband for home use.

We will continue to try to get information from Eircom and keep you updated..