Watching My Local McDonald's Study Sessions
Bernie Goldbach in Cashel | Laptop snapped at our local McDs.
McDonald's in Cashel is the only place you can sit and surf after 10PM in town. The local library's free wifi closes much earlier than that.
If you live in a rural area within 10 miles of our local McDonald's in Cashel, County Tipperary, you should be able to see high-speed internet services over-the-air. However, if you cannot afford twenty or thirty euros a month for a mobile data contract, McDonald's is free for the surfing.
I've seen school students in their uniforms finishing up Happy Meals before spending an hour online in their seats while completing school assignments. The local McDonald's signal reaches outside to picnic tables and upstairs in the Topaz next door there's a very strong free wifi option as well. I have never seen staff requiring people seated with laptops to purchase meals or beverages. That said, it's hard to sit and watch someone eat without salivating yourself.
Where I work in the Limerick Institute of Technology, many of my students have laptops, tablets or smart phones more advanced than me. But they don't always have the data plans needed to connect their devices to cloud services when away from campus. As a result, I'm putting my course notes and assessment material inside shared Evernote folders that they can use to sync and download slide decks and long form reading assignments. I also need to cross-check to see that students know how to ensure they've downloaded relevant material before they leave the open nodes on campus. In my experience, they teach each other how to master this 21st century skill.
Every semester, a representative from O2-Ireland visits our campus to show a special 10 euro a month plan that registered students and staff can use to connect to high speed O2 data services. It's the one I use for high bitstream activities like Skype and Google Hangouts. But using the service costs as much as a week's supply of chips at lunch so it's a real sacrifice stepping up to the offering.
I wish the local Chambers of Commerce would take a page out of the Clonmel Chamber's book and map out the centre of towns before setting up a mesh of free Wi-Fi service. I don't think such an initiative will be funded by the Irish Minister for Communications. Ireland needs a permanent community wifi solution because the Fast Food Haters aren't going to approve of McDonald's leading the way with their civic amenity.
Bernie Goldbach is currently mayor of McDonald's in Cashel where he downloads more than 200 MB of audio content every week, often by war-driving next to the spacious windows.