For Apple fans, it's that time of the year again
Gerry O'Sullivan has put up a long post on the year just gone by for Apple, which makes for good reading. We find ourselves with not much to add to what he's said there: instead, we're going to present the inaugural Free Stater List of Useful Addresses for Irish Mac Users.
Planning that Mac
First, the essentials. Under Steve Jobs, Apple has a policy of obsessive secrecy over products still in development - which is just as well, really. On the negative side, though, this makes it pretty hit-and-miss to know when the time is right to trade in your beloved-but-struggling PowerBook for a newer, faster model.
This, is where the Apple news and rumour sites come to our aid. The main clearing-house for Apple product gossip is of the mighty MacRumors, which feeds off the indispensable AppleInsider and Think Secret, the French Mac Bidouille/Hard Mac, the OSx86 Project, O'Grady's PowerPage and of course Robert X. Cringely.
Historically, Apple products are announced in keynotes at a certain number of shows throughout the year: MWSF in early January; the National Asoociation of Broadcasters (NAB) show in the US in April; the Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) likewise in June; Macworld Paris in mid-September. The main three rumour sites - MacRumors, Think Secret and Appleinsider - usually receive detailed leaks immediately preceding these events. (Watch that calendar!)
Once the announcements arrive, it's generally a matter of days or weeks before product ships to customers. Then it's over to Macintouch to get the first detailed user reports, and to Bare Feats to get the first benchmarks. Then it's make your mind up time - go with the latest, or with a cheaper, now-deprecated model? Buy a second-hand or refurbished previous version?
Buying your Mac
The most reliable (and fastest) stockist of Macs is the online Apple Store Ireland. (This also has the added advantage of offering free shipping - and if you're entitled to do so, purchase at a discount in the online Apple Education Store).
In terms of bricks-and-mortar stores on the highstreet, where you can walk out with your new prized possession under your arm, then there's the 3G Stores, the O2 Experience Stores, certain Spectra Photo shops in Dublin; Galmac in Galway; Compu b in Limerick and others.
'Refurbished', ex-demo and end-of-life models are our own preferred source of Mac hardware. Typically you're picking up a slightly-scuffed (but otherwise hardly used) model with a full warranty.
Apple Refurbished Store UK (generally opens only on Wednesday mornings)
Cancom (excellent UK dealers, their warranties can be cheaper than Apple's)
Jigsaw24 (UK also, no personal experience on service)
There's only the obvious for this:
(When we want to check on the guide prices, specs and upgradeability of older Macs, we visit xlr8yourmac.com, EveryMac and Low End Mac.)
Support of, Help with, Parts for and Troubleshooting your Mac
Apple Support page
Apple Solution Experts
Boards.ie Mac group
NiMUG - The Northern Ireland Mac Users Group
MacWindows (Windows Active Directory integration)
The Mac Shop (Dublin)
We Love Macs (US)
Mac Pro (US)
Small Dog Electronics (US)
Other World Computing (US)
PB FixIt (US)
PowerBook Guy (US)
PowerBook Tech (US)
PowerBook Zone (US)
Various Mac-related websites which go under none of the above headings. Enjoy.
As the Apple Turns
Joy of Tech