Tag Archives: apple
August 20, 2013

Digital Music via iTunes vs. Physical CDs


Agricantus_CD_kuntarimariWhile I'm a big fan of digital music services like Last.fm and Spotify I've always had a very "mixed" relationship with digital purchases of music.

I guess this stems from some bad experiences outside Apple's iTunes store. Having paid for an album I want to be able to "consume" it however I choose on whatever device I want.

Unfortunately if the company you bought music from goes belly up and you don't have "sane" backups of your music purchases you can be simply out of luck ..

This has happened to me a couple of times.

My other big "fear" was hard drive failure.

However with the advent of iCloud I don't really have to worry about this any longer. And Amazon (and others) are now offering similar services.

But I still like having a physical CD.

I like to physically handle the disc and to read the sleeve notes, which sometimes comes with added extras. (Remember the holograms on Enigma's first album?)

While I can download my iTunes purchases onto up to 5 devices that's only 5 devices. What if I want more? DRM is still around, even though it's not nearly as restrictive as it was a few years ago (thankfully!)

With a CD I can lend the music to a friend.

That's not so easy with iTunes purchases, unless you lend your iPod to them ..

However the real "thing" is one of price.

It cuts both ways.

Mainstream artists are readily available both via Amazon (et al) and via iTunes. You'd think that the iTunes version would be cheaper, as there's no packaging or shipping costs, but often it isn't, so I've still had an incentive to keep buying CDs.

But when it comes to artists that are a little less mainstream, such as Sicilian group Agricantus, iTunes wins hands down (assuming they have the artist in their catalogue).

Today I found out that Agricantus had released a new album, Kuntarimari, a few months ago.

So I went to a number of online stores to see about getting a copy. Unfortunately the price before shipping was around 20 Euro in most reputable places. However iTunes had it for under 9 Euro: Kuntarimari - Agricantus

Not only is that more than 50% cheaper than the physical CD, I also got practically instant gratification and was listening to the album within a few seconds of purchasing it.

I'm still going to buy physical CDs and I'll mix and match pure digital with physical, but I'm no longer as "wed" to a particular medium as I used to be. With Spotify I can access a lot of the music I like across multiple devices without ever having to purchase a specific CD. If I want to explore a particular artist I can do so without any "pain". With Last.fm I have lots of fun exploring "tags" and "stations" and again I can do so without actually buying. But if I do find an artist I really like I might go out and buy their album, though as mentioned above, which medium or format I use for the purchase is quite fluid.

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December 23, 2012

Which iPad Apps For My Mother?


I've given my mother my old iPad (wifi model) as I got myself an iPad mini.

So far it's got Flipboard, Facebook and a couple of other apps on it, but I really don't know what else I should install for her.

What would you recommend?

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December 21, 2012



Stolen from Facebook :)


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October 2, 2012

Your Press Release Sucks

Kelly Hardy

Kelly Hardy (Photo credit: blacknight)

For a number of reasons I get sent quite a few press releases. Most, but not all, of them are technology related.

Unfortunately a LOT of PR agencies assume that recipients of their press releases actually care. I suspect most don't.

Unless you're a really popular brand with a zealous following (think Apple) I suspect your press release is not going to be prioritised.

If you put all the actual content into an attachment you're making it way harder for the receiver to work out what you're contacting them about.

I'm not sure what makes a "good" press release or what makes a "bad" one, but I've had some really really bad ones over the past couple of months.

First off .. attachments ..

If you're sending a release it's going to be text. Why put it in an attachment? If it's in an attachment I'll have to open it separately .. if you put it in the body of the email I don't have to - I can read over it quickly.

Links - why on earth do people forget to include these? Why should I have to go hunting for them?

Price - if you're selling a product or service then pricing info can be pretty useful

Images - do NOT embed them in Word docs. Seriously. Also - don't go sending 10 megs of attachments to people. Just link to the damn things. If someone cares enough to download them and maybe use them you gain - plus you can actually track the downloads

Dates - if it's for an event it's kind of key to know when it is

Location - same as above

(Tip: If you can't write coherent press releases outsource it to someone who can. We use Kelly - she's awesome!)

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September 30, 2012

Alphabet For Geeks


When I was a child I had a book called "A is for Apple" which went through the alphabet with each letter being associated with a thing. I think my sister inherited it.

The 2012 version of it might end up with something like this:

No idea where this came from originally, but someone shared it earlier this morning and it brought a smile to my face.


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July 25, 2012

OSX Mountain Lion Is Here!

Cougar / Puma / Mountain Lion / Panther (Puma ...

Cougar / Puma / Mountain Lion / Panther (Puma concolor) closeup. Philadelphia Zoo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Earlier today Apple released OSX Mountain Lion.

So far I've installed it on my work desktop, but haven't had a chance to explore it yet - I left it trying to upgrade my mail .. which will probably take a while.. the downside to not having SSD drives

At home I'm still trying to download it, though I suspect my connection from UPC Ireland is taking a rather long and nasty route, which is why it's taking way longer than it did in the office.

I'm particularly interested in seeing what the new options for Air Play are like, as I'd love to be able to easily stream content to my Apple TV (my current setup is more than a little convoluted!)

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May 28, 2012

Which Noise Cancelling Headphones Are The Best?


Listening to music or watching films or TV shows while on the road is a good way to pass away the time.

At the moment, however, I only have the standard white Apple ear buds. They're functional, but they're not exactly the best earphones on the market in terms of audio quality.

I've been looking into getting something better, but I'm really not sure which brand and model is best.

Bose have some very nice models and there's also a nice linkup for Flying Blue members.

There's also a few from Dr Dre that look pretty good.

So which ones would people recommend and why?

Ideally ones that have a proper carrying case ie. are airplane friendly, as that's what I'll be using them for most.

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May 19, 2012

iTunes Weirdness


One of the reasons I love using Apple products is because they're incredibly simple and easy to use. I don't need to worry about what's going on under the hood - I just click and it works.

Of course the downside to Apple products is that when they don't work you're left scratching your head.

My latest issue is with albums bought via iTunes.

For some really odd reason the audio files download, but are not playable!

And to make it all the more "fun" iTunes doesn't throw any errors

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May 11, 2012

Replacing My Macs

Michele + laptop

Michele + laptop (Photo credit: blacknight)

For more than a month I've been working without a decent laptop or desktop at home. I've been using a rather old and slow iMac (a late 2006 model) which will only take 3 GB of RAM and has a rather annoying habit of swapping like mad and freezing several times per day. The laptop I've been using is the MacBook Pro equivalent. Instead of simply freezing it will randomly lose all network connectivity and refuse to reconnect until I reboot it.

Fun times!

Fortunately the insurance companies are both paying out, so I finally ordered replacement machines today.

As a laptop I opted for a MacBook Air. I used to have both an Air and a MacBook Pro, but I'm hoping that a relatively beefy Air will work for me:

1.8GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7
256GB flash storage

Since it's a 13 inch I'll probably have to get a new sleeve for it, as the one it's replacing was the smaller 11 inch.

As a desktop for my home office I opted for a 27 inch iMac:

3.1GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5
4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB
1TB Serial ATA Drive + 256GB Solid State Drive
AMD Radeon HD 6970M 1GB GDDR5
Apple Magic Mouse
Apple Wireless Keyboard (British) & User's Guide (English)
Accessory Kit

The "plan" is to upgrade the RAM via Crucial, as they're significantly cheaper than getting RAM from Apple direct. I might be able to use the original RAM in one of my other machines.. even if I can't I'm hoping to beef up the RAM to the maximum that it'll take (16 GB)

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April 11, 2012

Some Lessons Learnt From My Burglary

CUPERTINO, CA - OCTOBER 20:  An Apple employee...

CUPERTINO, CA - OCTOBER 20: An Apple employee displays the new MacBook Air during an Apple special event at the company's headquarters on October 20, 2010 in Cupertino, California. Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the new MacBook Air in eleven and thirteen inch models starting at $999. He also announced the OSX Lion operating system for Mac computers. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

As I mentioned recently I was the victim of a break-in and burglary.

I'm still trying to sort out the insurance claims, so I honestly do not know at this stage how that will pan out.

I have, however, learnt a few interesting things.

Some of these lessons are specific to Ireland, while others are probably applicable anywhere.

Reporting the break-in to the police promptly is obviously a good idea. Try not to disturb things, though you obviously have to still live in the house or flat. The crime scene team came around to lift fingerprints the day after the break-in and were mainly interested in "clean" surfaces where they could pick up clear prints. I was lucky in that the house wasn't tossed over completely and the thieves (scumbags) only took the high value and obvious items.

Dealing with the Gardai (Irish police) has been relatively pleasant. They've all been very polite and helpful.

One of the things you will need to get from them for your insurance is the "pulse number', which is some kind of tracking number for the case in their systems. It's also used by the insurance companies to verify the legitimacy of your claim.

Dealing with the insurance claims has been a little bit more painful. Since the items were a split between personal property (eg. the TV) and company property (eg. laptops) I've been dealing with two very different types of insurance claims process. The business one is relatively easy and more electronic than anything else, while the personal one has involved a lot of phone calls and letters.

I hate filling out forms and the insurance claim ones can be quite daunting, as I'm afraid that filling them out incorrectly could make the difference between the claim being paid out or not.

Things I have learnt though ..

Keep a record of serial numbers and receipts if you can. If you buy from Apple online or even in one of their physical stores their email receipts are very detailed. You'll need to provide as much information as possible about the stolen items and both your original purchase price and the cost of replacement.

I couldn't, for example, find any trace of the original television beyond knowing the size and make. If I'd even had the manual the insurance assessor would have been happier, though having said that TVs aren't that "exotic".

Several friends have recommended a number of services that I could use (in the future) for keeping track of computers and which would make it easier to report them and track them if they were stolen. Of course I didn't have any of those services activated, but I will be using them if / when I replace my laptops etc.,

One of the things that worried me was that the Amazon Kindle was linked directly to my Amazon account. De-activating it and blocking it would have been easier if I'd registered with Amazon. Oddly enough you need to do that manually, even though they ship you the Kindle already setup with your personal details ie. they know who it is for.. Fortunately Amazon's customer service is excellent and they were able to block the device, though it did take a bit longer on the phone than I would have liked.

Another thing that is a natural concern is data.

In my case I don't really keep much on my machines. In the case of the MacBook Air there was practically nothing on it, as its hard drive had been wiped a couple of weeks ago when it was being repaired. I've stopped storing passwords for web services on my local machines and have been using LastPass for the last couple of months.

Improving the security of my home is something that I am quite worried about now. Getting an alarm of some kind fitted would be a good deterrent, though under recent Irish legislation you can't do it yourself and have to get a certified fitter to do it for you. That also means that it costs a lot more than it used to.

Now to wait and see if the insurance companies do their job!


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