Past ClubMac meetings

Get the lowdown on what happened at the meetings of Ireland’s friendliest and longest running Apple Mac user group!

The memos of ClubMac meetings held in the September 2013–May 2014 season are presented below:

Click on the links below to read the memos of meetings held during the:

Memos of meetings prior to September 2009 can be found under the Club News section of the bulletin board.


May 2014 meeting and Annual General Meeting

Training session: Key your Mac Secure

Held in advance of the AGM, this was provided by Richard Bannister, Committee member, and considered three essential aspects of security.

  • Although viruses and malware were not the serious problem they represented for Windows machines and some Mac users might not feel a need for protection, those regularly receiving documents from Windows sources might consider installing applications such as Sophos Antivirus (http://tinyurl.com/3gmbjfk) or Avast (http://tinyurl.com/7rj7cnb), both free. Mac OSX 10.6.7 or later provided some virus protection. Beware of fake antivirus software such as MacDefender;
  • Software updates provided automatically for operating systems and applications were mostly easy to deal with and generally reliable — use them. Flash in particular was worth updating frequently;
  • Using the same password for everything meant vulnerability to attack through compromised sites, while a book stuffed with many different passwords was a pain to consult. The solution was to install 1Password (http:tinyurl.com/kmarzna), cost $49, which was easy to use and, on the basis of one master password known only to the user, would generate secure, different passwords for each site visited.

2014 Annual General Meeting

The 2014 Annual General Meeting of ClubMac was held at Old Belvedere Rugby Club on Wednesday, 7th May.

The Chairman, John Maguire, called the Annual General Meeting to order at 8.30 p.m, 20 members being present, the requisite quorum of 10 had thereby been attained.

The agenda of the meeting was read and approved. The minutes of the 2013 Annual General Meeting were read and approved. Following presentation of the Treasurer’s report, which showed that the level of cash resources in the Club account, although still healthy, was down on the previous year, largely owing to the higher cost of meeting premises and a decline in subscriptions, the accounts for the years ended 31 December 2012 and 2013 were read and approved. The Secretary’s report, showing that membership (currently only 38 — although there was still time for new members to join before the end of the year) had stood at end 2012 at 44, five less than the previous year, although average attendance of 23 at meetings had still been reasonable, was read and approved. The Chairman’s report on the state of the Club, was read and approved, following which he thanked all those who had contributed during the past year to the successful running of the Club.

The following were elected officers of the Club:

  • Chairman:
  • Secretary: Sylvia Yates
  • Treasurer: Garrett Wren

The following were elected to the Committee:

  • Richard Bannister
  • Séamus Cannon
  • Gary Costello
  • Stephanie Joy
  • Michael Killen
  • Henry Leperlier
  • Tom Mac Mahon
  • John Maguire
  • Tom Martin

There being no change in the composition of the trustees, no election was called.

Under any other business, John Maguire, retiring Chairman, regretted that it had proved impossible to find another candidate for the post. A proposal that the he should continue to act in a temporary capacity until the Committee could appoint a new Chairman, or at most to September, was accepted. It was agreed that that the training sessions should as far as possible be continued as they had proved useful in attracting new members, which the Club needed. Other methods of attracting new members were considered and it was agreed that efforts be made to give wider publicity to meetings by posting notices on FaceBook and Google. In view of the lack of WiFi access at the current premises, despite the level of rent charged, offers by Gary Costello and Richard Bannister to look at other alternatives were accepted.

The Annual General Meeting rose at 9.15 p.m.

Ordinary meeting

Following the AGM, the Club continued in ordinary meeting.

What’s new

Tom Martin (Committee member) noted the spectacular second quarter results achieved by Apple, due principally to iPhone sales, although the iPod too was holding its own. Apple had now become a very diversified company, a far cry from its early single focus on Macs, and was now sitting on a huge cash pile; a decision to return of some of this to shareholders had been made. Other news included an iOS update to iOS7 and an upgrade to the MacBook Air range. The vulnerability of Macs to the Heartbleed bug in OpenSSL was a concern. The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference to be held in San Francisco in June 2-6 was likely to provide a platform for some interesting Apple announcements.

Apple brand communities in Ireland

Louise Cooney, currently studying for a Master’s degree in Marketing at DIT, reviewed the work she was doing on this subject in preparation for a dissertation she was due to present in September. She would be holding 15 minute interviews with individuals in July and would welcome volunteers from ClubMac to take part in this.


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April 2014 meeting

ClubMac held its April 2014 meeting in Old Belvedere Rugby Club on Wednesday, 2nd April.

Training

Richard Bannister, Committee member, demonstrated the various means of enabling live TV to be watched on a Mac from a DTT TV tuner for USB (http://www.elgato.com/en/eyetv/eyetv-go) through providers such as Netflix, 4 on Demand, Horizon and Sky Go and even, though frustratingly, YouTube. He demonstrated how to use a VPN (virtual private network) such as SurfEasy to watch programmes online whose provider — e.g. the BBC — bars access to users from another country.

What’s new

John Maguire, Club Chairman, reviewed the latest Apple news:

  • CarPlay, Apple’s new vehicle for iOS use in the car, would be available on selected models in 2014;
  • Sales of iPhones worldwide had reached 500 million and generated $75 billion profits for Apple by end March;
  • Rumour on the horizon of an iPhone 5S with a bigger screen;
  • Microsoft Office programs available on the cloud, also on iPad;
  • Samsung 4K screen available for under a grand!

Technical Q&A

Monitored by Peter O’Reilly, this considered an iPhone 4S that dropped calls when on the move, could need new battery, remember when upgrading to do this through iTunes; what was AirDrop? — it provided a quick way to share files wirelessly between two Macs without having to connect to an existing network.

Keynote presentation: how to turn a discarded PC into a Mac

Vincent Quinn presented his latest Hackintosh and explained in detail the steps by which he had transformed a Dell laptop found in a skip into the equivalent of a 2008/9 MacBook running Lion (Mac OSX 10.8.5). The procedure was currently much easier than it had been in the past. A general discussion then ensued on the various methods available for upgrading older Macs and giving them greater speed and versatility.


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March 2014 meeting

ClubMac held its March 2014 meeting the Compu b offices on Wednesday, 5th March.

John Maguire, Club Chairman, thanked Noel Hayes, Compu b manager, for his invitation to ClubMac to hold its March meeting at the Compu b premises in Grafton Street, where Noel would be able to demonstrate the new, totally redesigned Mac Pro, the top of the Mac what’s-new list for the month.

Keynote presentation: the new Mac Pro

Noel Hayes unveiled the incredibly small, sleek and silent cylinder that housed Apple’s latest and fastest Mac, which sat comfortably on a desk-top. The new design allowed the heat generated by the machine to rise up from its base through the centre of the cylinder to vent at the top, thus removing the need for a large and noisy fan. In a departure from the previous tower station behemoth, internal expansion capacity had been removed and massive provision made instead for fast external devices. Six Thunderbolt 2 (25 times faster than FireWire 800) ports allowed connection to a maximum of 36 devices allowing almost unlimited personal preferences for add-ons to be met. Four USB 3.0 ports were also included. Internal storage was provided by next generation PCI-express-based flash technology. Two GPUs gave high performance graphics capability and the ability to run up to three 4K-resolution displays. The RAM slots were easily accessible, while RAM was upgradable to a maximum 64 GB. Mac Pro came in two stock configurations, at €3,099 and €4,099 (for details see: the Irish Apple store), but there were also many configure-to-order options for each version — Compu b was currently building six such.

Since the typical Mac Pro purchaser was most likely to be a high-end graphics user: architects, designers, animators, etc., Noel showed the device’s speed in real-time animation editing through a demonstration of the work of ZBrush, a digital sculpting and painting program (ZBrush from Pixologic). In conclusion he demonstrated the versatility of a Cube 3D printer (Cubify) for creating small complex plastic models.

For more information on Compu b, see here.


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February 2014 meeting

ClubMac held its February 2014 meeting at Old Belvedere Rugby Club on Wednesday, 5th February.

John Maguire, Club Chairman, reported that owing to unforeseen circumstances neither Vincent Quinn, scheduled for the Keynote presentation, nor Peter O’Reilly, moderator of the Q&A session, were able to attend the meeting. Both would, however, be at the March meeting, when Vincent would be making his eagerly awaited keynote presentation.

Training

Richard Bannister, Committee member, provided a pre-meeting training session on the equipment and procedures needed to import old recordings on tape and vinyl into iTunes, a skill particularly advisable to acquire in the case of media recorded on tape, which deteriorated with age.

What’s new

Club Chairman, John Maguire, noted that Apple had reported revenue of $57.6 billion for the final quarter of 2013, slightly up on the same period in 2012, and a net profit of $13.1 billion, having sold a record 26 million iPads as well as 51 million iPhones and 4.8 million Macs in the process. However, despite this cheering news, as iPhone sales had been below what most analysts had forecast Apple's share price had tumbled. Nevertheless, the Mac OS was currently celebrating 30 years of existence, the initial release of the first Mac having been January 24, 1984, a year in which a number of other interesting events also occurred. Other points of interest were the report of the release of a North Korean computer with a Linus-based OS uncannily similar to the Mac”s, and the availability of an online solution to problems some users of Mail had been experiencing with reception of emails.

Useful utilities

Richard Bannister, Committee member, demonstrated the advantages of AdBlock (link to AdBlock web site) a utility able to block out advertisements on all or selected sites so making reading their content a hassle-free experience.

Technical Q&A

Questions covered: transfer of photos from iPhone to Mac — don’t use Bluetooth, send as attachment to email; how to change font size of desktop text –> go to System Preferences –> Displays and select appropriate resolution.

A general discussion then ensued among those present and moderate by the Chairman on various aspects of Mac, iPhone and iPad usage.


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January 2014 meeting

ClubMac held its January 2014 meeting at Old Belvedere Rugby Club on Wednesday, 15th January.

What’s new

Club Chairman, John Maguire, noted the approach of iPhone’s 7th birthday this year (June 29), with 250 million units currently sold worldwide. The all-new MacPro was now on sale in Ireland at €3099 (with 12G RAM) — €4099 plus; a recent snag found had been failure to recognise a wireless mouse prior to initial start-up despite the need of a mouse for the procedure. Among entertaining items observed at the Computer Electronics Show (CES 2014) January 7-10 in Las Vegas were: Narrative Clip, a life-blogging mini camera that when clipped to jacket or shirt would take 2 photos a minute or 4,000 photos over a two day battery life; several 4K displays; and JamStik, a small Guitar shaped gadget that, when coupled with an iPad, would make playing or learning to play a guitar a snip. Also noteworthy were a range of new Apple-focused storage items designed to work wirelessly with iPad.

Another newcomer in Ireland was Raspberry Pi (http://www.raspberrypi.org/faqs), demonstrated by Gary Costello, Club member, a credit-card sized computer that, when plugged into a TV and a keyboard, served to browse the web, do word-processing and other office tasks, play video or be used as a media centre. The Raspberry Pi Foundation had developed the device for schools to help children learn programming, but adults had much to gain from the device too!

Useful utilities

Tom MacMahon, Committee member, drew attention to the usefulness of Automator, an application developed by Apple and included in OSX from Tiger onwards, for automating repetitive tasks into batches for quicker alteration so saving time and effort in manually amending individual files. In particular, he showed how large batches of photo files held in folders could be rapidly renamed for easier identification and retrieval later on.

R-Name, a free-to-download app for file name changes was also mentioned by Richard Bannister, Committee member (Link).

Technical Q&A

Questions covered: how to confine a Google search to websites in Ireland only — enter “(subject)site:*.ie” in the Google search box or use Google Advanced Search (http://www.google.com/advanced_search) and put “Ireland” in the region box; how to reverse corruption of a database on a Drobo back-up storage device, possibly due to a power outage — use of a disc recovery service recommended; what is Camara? — a social enterprise set up in 2005 in Dublin but since expanded to UK and USA that sends refurbished computers and provides digital literacy training to schools and other educational institutions in Africa, the Caribbean and Ireland, takes Macs (http://camara.org/give-computers/ethical-computer-reuse-recycling/).

Tom Martin mentioned Houdaspot, a nifty application for searching for files on your hard disk and connected external disks (Link).

Main presentation: Training on systems maintenance software

Richard Bannister, Committee member, provided an overview of the apps and programs needed to keep a working computer fit and healthy:

  • CCleaner: for removing cache files and similar (Link);
  • Disk Utility: for repair of permissions (found in the Utilities folder within the Applications folder);
  • Disk Warrior: for rebuilding the hard disk file directory and speeding performance (Link);
  • iDefrag: for defragmenting files, freeing up disk space and speeding performance (Link);
  • OnyX: the Swiss Army knife of maintenance for the advanced user only (Link).

For a full review see: follow this link.


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December 2013 meeting (and Christmas Party)

Introduction and What’s new

Club Chairman, John Maguire, opened the meeting and briefly reviewed the goings-on in the world of Apple. A raffle was held for a number of USB flash drives to commemorate the season.

He also announced that the first meeting of 2014 would take place on January 8.

Technical Q&A

Peter O’Reilly dealt with a number of queries from those present including difficulties with installing Mavericks and closing apps on an iPad.

Christmas Party

The main focus of the meeting was the Christmas party and here as always Sylvia excelled herself with the range of seasonal fare (and special mention to Henry for the wine selection — which is one reason why this writer, Tom Martin, cannot remember too much about what actually transpired at the meeting!).

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November 2013 meeting

ClubMac held its November 2013 meeting at Old Belvedere Rugby Club on Wednesday, 6th November.

Training

A training session took place ahead of the main meeting. Presented by Richard Bannister, Committee member, it demonstrated how to consolidate old email accounts (Indigo, Eircom, etc.) into Gmail and then set that up on different devices.

What’s new in the world of Apple

Club Chairman, John Maguire, noted Apple’s record revenue and profits in the quarter ending 28 September 2013, with 34 million iPhones, 14 million iPads and 4,6 million Macs sold. It was noteworthy that Apple’s share of the market had currently risen from 3% to 20%, in contrast with Microsoft’s decline to 33% from 90%, partly as a result of Android’s rise as a significant competitor in the market. There had been, with regard to products: the launch of an all-new Mac Pro (should be available in Ireland in December); the arrival of an updated MacBook Pro with Retina display, fourth-generation Intel Core processors, the latest graphics, longer battery life, faster flash storage and next generation Wi-Fi; the release of OSX Mavericks as a free download from the App Store, bringing with it iBooks, Maps, a new version of Safari and other novel features; sale of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c now in Ireland; and announcement of the iPad Air featuring a 9.7" Retina display in a thinner and lighter design as well as a new iPad mini with Retina display.

Technical Q&A

Under the guidance of Peter O’Reilly, Club member, this considered OSX Mavericks from the point of view of the variable time taken to download it in relation to the Mac involved and its current OS, as well as reviewing any bugs so far found such as incompatibility with Western Digital external drives. While it included a number of interesting new features, Mavericks was considered a refinement rather than a major retooling of the previous OS, its principal achievement being improved communication between OS and iOS devices.

Keynote presentation

Cameras in professional photography through the years

Brian Redmond, Club member, demonstrated an impressive collection of cameras used by professionals over the years, the leading makes being Leica, Hasselblad, Nikon and Canon, and ranging from models using 35mm camera film (first introduced by Leica in 1957) through single lens reflex models popular from the early 1970s to the latest digital cameras. The digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera was the current professional workhorse for photography at weddings and other social events, whereas fixed lens cameras were ideal for portraiture and zoom lenses vital for sports events and reporting. The current trend was for smaller, lighter and more compact cameras, witness the popularity of the iPhone, now a high performance device. Brian then demonstrated the equipment needed for quality portraiture and showed how Aperture could be used to enhance the results obtained.

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October 2013 meeting

ClubMac held its October 2013 meeting at Old Belvedere Rugby Club on Wednesday, 2nd October.

What’s new in the world of Apple

Club Chairman, John Maguire, reported on Apple’s launch in September of the iPhone 5s (comes in gold, black and silver, processor twice and fast as earlier versions, better camera, fingerprint sensor access), the iPhone 5c (in six colours, slightly cheaper) and iOS7 (many new features but no major changes).

Useful Utilities

Tom Martin, Committee member, demonstrated the virtues of LaunchBar, an application to help a Mac user whose work entailed much keyboard time to improve productivity. Unlike other means of accessing applications that needed to be consulted while at work on the keyboard, it did not entail lifting the hands off, so cutting productivity, but accomplished the task with a keystroke. It was produced by an Austrian company, Objective Development, and cost 24 euro, which included the program and an instruction eBook. A free trial for a limited period was also available.

For more information on LaunchBar, visit the Objective Development web site.

Jack Quinn, ClubMac member, mentioned an alternative programme, QuickSilver, which has the advantage of being free. For more information, visit the developer’s web site, QSAPP.

Technical Q&A

Under the guidance of Peter O’Reilly, Club member, the problems considered included: trouble in updating to iOS7 on an iPhone through iTunes; loss of bookmarks when iOS7 was installed on an iPad; the means for getting information on ink status from an HP laser printer; how to get a personal music collection, i.e. not iTunes purchases, downloaded to an iPod from an old broken down PC; what to do when the download of the latest OSX froze in mid-stream.

Guest presentation: Using iPads in education

Éanna Ó Brádaigh, Business Development Manager, Apple Ireland, said that Apple had early recognised the importance of the personal computer in the education field and continued to accord it high priority, working with educators to maximise the contribution IT could make to the learning experience. Lectures and courses in all fields of endeavour were currently available on ITunesU for educators and others to use. For twelve years from 1985, the Apple Classroom of Tomorrow had considered the impact of the new technology on teaching and learning. However, the expanding horizons and personalised approach offered by devices such as the iPhone and iPad and the sources made available through many apps and iBooks meant that in the 21st century computer technology would not merely serve as a substitute for books and blackboards but would augment, modify and encourage innovation and the personal involvement of students in the learning process by adding extra tools and visual aids. Some fifty thousand educational apps were available for the Mac. Furthermore, Apple had enlisted the help of a number of distinguished educators in preparing innovative interactive video courses on various subjects: impressive examples of an algebra course and a geography field trip course were shown. Features were also available that would give iPad users with visual, motor or other disabilities access to such courses and tools. Currently, 10% of secondary schools in the Republic were working with iPads in the classroom but handicaps such as the need to prepare teachers for the new approach, the need to develop further improved tools in the future, the current lack of availability of e-textbooks and cost concerns could slow the achievement of universal access to such aids.

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September 2013 meeting

ClubMac held its September 2013 meeting at Old Belvedere Rugby Club on Wednesday, 4th September.

John Maguire, Chairman, welcomed those attending the first meeting of ClubMac’s 2013-2014 season. In the interval before the start of the main meeting he hosted a short training session giving an overview of scanning together with a demonstration of the basics of scanning a document or photograph. Further short training sessions on other aspects of computer use were forseen for later meetings.

Technical Q&A

Moderated by Henry Leperlier, Committee member, this discussed solutions to such problems as the recent reduced quality of video calls with FaceTime; erratic email reception on an iPad mini; the advantages of keeping data on iCloud; Safari quitting 10-15 seconds after start-up; a computer failing to wake after a sleep time-out.

What’s new in the world of Apple

John Maguire, reviewed the happenings in the world of Apple during the summer, the main features being the announcement in May of an overhaul of iOS with a view to its release in the autumn, the appearance of a new MacBook Air in June, the release of a redesigned AirPort Extreme in July, a new top-range iPhone rumoured for September and the expected release in the United States in the autumn of a new OSX upgrade, to be dubbed Mavericks. Apple sales were holding up well despite competition on the smart phone front from Samsung. To be noted, among other titbits, were the lectures on technical matters made available free from khanacademy.org and the opening by Compu B of a new outlet in Galway city.

Guest presentation

Vincent Quinn, Mac and Linux consultant and owner of Ferret on the Dartboard, gave an impressive demonstration of how to set up a server in the home with minimum cost and effort. The components required were: a copy of SME Server — open source Linux server software free to download (http://wiki.contribs.org/Main_Page); an old PC; a couple of network cards; network cables; and an uninterrupted power supply with provision for safe shutdown in case of a power cut. Internet input came through the relevant ISP’s wireless router into the SME Server installed in the old PC and from there through a network switch to the array of destination Macs (Mac, iPad, iPhone, etc) and including an access point for a visiting computer. The procedure for setting up the system took a remarkably short space of time. The principal advantage of having one's own server was that all data, including incoming email, could be held in it behind a secure firewall and was accessible by all Macs in the system. A number of configurations were possible.

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Entry-level training

Are you new to the Mac? Have you switched from the PC or do you want to brush up your Apple Mac skills? Then you may be interested to know that at our monthly meetings, ClubMac has been providing entry-level training in the following areas:

  • Importing music into iTunes
  • Maintaining your Mac
  • iWork (Pages, Keynote & Numbers)
  • iPhoto
  • Using iCloud
  • Apple’s Mail programme

ClubMac’s popular training session will recommence during the Spring season.


Buying a Mac?

Please support our favourite Apple dealers, Galmac Computers, Stream Solutions and CompuB, who provide club members with a discounts on hardware and software purchases and/or repairs.