Infographic – iOS Passbook in a nut shell


Types of Passbook Coupons

Store Cards

iOS Passbook Store Cards

iOS Passbook Store Cards

Generic Cards

iOS Passbook Generic Cards

iOS Passbook Generic Cards

Event Coupons

iOS Passbook Event Coupons

iOS Passbook Event Coupons

Store Coupons

iOS Passbook - Coupons

iOS Passbook – Coupons

Boarding Passes

iOS Passbook - Boarding Passes

iOS Passbook – Boarding Passes

Conveniences of iOS Passbook

Conveniences of iOS Passbook

Conveniences of iOS Passbook

Passbook for Developers(https://developer.apple.com)


Queries are Welcome


I aim to have this blog  a two-way forum.

If your came to this blog looking for an answer to an issue you are facing and couldn’t find the answer, please post the query as a comment against this post.


DLNA demystified


This post will try to help you in understanding DLNA from a layman’s point of view

In my opinion, Digitization was the technology which had a far-reaching impact during our time. This helped in making available our Photos, Music and Videos, even Cable on Portable devices or on  devices in which it was not originally intended for.  This offered convenient storage of our media which we cannot think off with out this technology. You entire memories are revolving around Hard Disks or Pen Drives. Your favourite tracks are portable and can be easily carried. You could create a mammoth video library eliminating the hassles of managing your VCD, DVDs or Blu-ray. You are able to enjoy your favourite Cable Channels on your Computer, Tablets or Smart Phones.

Without Digitization, your iPod &  iTunes would have never existed, Your Facebook wall will be boring without your’s and contact’s photos or Videos. How about a world with out CDs, VCD, DVDs and Blu-ray.

How our stored media was played in the past?

Few years back the only way of playing your stored media was by connecting your portable storage thru USB. This created a trend where we found USB ports on all Entertainment Devices released in a span of past 2 to 5 years.

This approach offered convenience to users and made USB hard disks a must to have at our homes.

Introduction of connected Entertainment Devices

We saw our homes, sharing our broadband connection across multiple devices thru routers or switches. This indirectly introduced home networks with in our home. Popular Operating Systems offered limited features which allowed sharing of media across our home desktops or laptops.

During all these years there was a protocol for media sharing under development, which would help users in sharing media across connected devices. More than sharing it will have support of compatible devices talking to each other about its capabilities, and based on that the media is served.  And this technology would allow Entertainment devices to utilize technology without any complex software installations on the devices. Enter the world of Digital Living Network Alliance , aka DLNA.

IMO the first devices which supported DLNA were Blu-ray players. Most likely, because they had a far more use of embedded software compared to earlier devices. Slowly DLNA support started appearing on TVs and portable media players. Your popular gaming devices like Xbox and  PS3 supports DLNA. Developers started launching DLNA supported media servers which can host and serve media to all connected device with in a network. Not only that we started giving more importance to meta-data within our media files. DLNA helps us in organizing our media utilizing the meta-data.

DLNA in detail.

DLNA is a set of protocols or rules defined for supported devices to talk. Other than serving and playing, it offers the framework of controlling DLNA devices also. All DLNA certified or capable devices support one or more DLNA profiles.

  • Digital Media Player (DMP)
  • Digital Media Server (DMS)
  • Digital Media Renderer (DMR)
  • Digital Media Control Point (DMC)

Minimalistic implementation of DLNA is thru DMP. Devices supporting this profile has the capability to play back media served by a DMS. It also has the capability to detect available DMS with in the network. It supports meta-data, organizing media in categories and display thumbnails against you media files. This is the profile supported by all DLNA capable entertainment devices.

What is the use of players if we don’t have any servers? That gap is addressed by the DMS. DMS hosts you media and negotiates with other DLNA devices and shares media based on the request. This is mostly software based implementations. On your Windows 7 and 8 , when you enable sharing of media, DMS is enabled on the background. Entertainment devices supporting Android seems to support DMS also. There are basic to full featured media server applications like Serviio, J River Media Server, miniDLNA which can be installed on your desktops which can serve media to other connected DLNA devices.

An advanced DMP implementation is the DMR. This helps you to playback media from other device to a DMR supported device. WDTV, which is a popular portable media player device supports this. That means from your Windows 7 / 8 you can initiate a command to play media to WDTV, so that you will find the media playing from your WDTV. This feature is available on Samsung and Panasonic Wide screen TVs also. Imagine the flexibility of sending media from your desktop or smart phone, without hooking up your USB disk to the TV and playing from there.

You have a Player, Server and Renderer, why cannot we have a remote control? That’s filled by DMC implementation. Applications are available which can control the DLNA devices available on your network. This is handy in a complex implementation of DLNA. Assume you have multiple DLNA devices available on your network. Your Living Room TV is DLNA capable. You have DLNA server hosting the Media available on your NAS Device. You have a DLNA supported Audio Player available on your Kitchen. Using DMC running on your Smart phone or tablet, you can control the media playing on each of the entertainment devices. Complex implementation supports the concept of Rooms hiding your physical devices and decide and control the media playing on each of the Rooms or Zones. One open source app available for iOS, Android etc is Kinsky from Linn.

See Also : More articles on DLNA

Imagine the possibility of serving your Photos, Music and Movies from a central location to your connected Entertainment Devices. So,  What do I need ?

  1. Network – Can be wireless or wired
    1. A UPNP supported network router or Switch
  2. Media Server
    1. Your existing Desktop or Laptop
    2. One of the below
      1. Serviio , a free media server available on Windows , Linux and Mac OS
      2. Your very own Windows 7 or 8
      3. miniDLNA, Rygel available on Ubuntu
      4. J River Media Server, advanced server, Paid version
      5. XBMC – Open Source Media Server available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS, iOS, Android etc. This is an entertainment monster, DLNA is one from its arsenal
  3. DLNA capable Entertainment Devices
    1. Any of the following
      1. TV
      2. Blu-ray Players
      3. Media Players from Western Digital
      4. Xbox
      5. PS3
      6. Smart Phone with DLNA Media Player App
  4. DLNA Media Control Point (Optional)
    1. Any of the DMC App available on smart phone or tablet
      1. Kinsky
      2. J River Media Server which has Media Controller component also

Other than hooking up the components to your network, defining your media library there is nothing complex involved. As the DLNA devices are self negotiating, they are able to recognize other DLNA pieces with in the network.

Post your feedback or questions, if any.


Restore Ubuntu Boot Menu after Windows 8 Install


Read on to get back your Ubuntu Boot Menu which disappeared after your Windows 8 install.

Most of us would like to utilize our Desktops for running multiple Operating Systems, which co-exist on our Hard Disk.  Each OS has its own boot-manager to help us in booting to our OS of choice during start-up.  Windows 8 also has the same, but some what partial in allowing us to use our favorite Ubuntu after Windows 8 install. Windows 8 hijack the boot record and puts its own boot manager. Its tidy compared to earlier versions and recognizes existing Windows install. But it never recognizes (purposefully ? ) any Linux-based installations.  So after your Windows 8 install, you will not have any option to get to your Ubuntu.

Ubuntu / Linux communities knows this and they have long back put up a solution to fix this. The utility in lime light is “boot-repair”.  It has a basic and advanced mode to repair or get back your grub  boot manager back. When this is restored, grub will be updated to include your newly installed Windows 8 also in the boot menu.

Ubuntu has a detailed help page on how to achieve this. So I’m not going to explain this in detail and leave you to visit the following url to go ahead.  You will need a Ubuntu Live CD to start with.

Boot-Repair : Community Ubuntu Documentation


Tip: How To play media available on Windows 8 FROM connected Entertainment Devices


Windows 8 can serve media available on it to connected Entertainment Devices. This makes it possible to enjoy your Videos or Photos on your living room wide-screen TV or play music on your networked AV Receiver. The technology that makes this possible is DLNA in disguise. Microsoft hardly mentions this anywhere.

For this to work, your Entertainment Devices should be DLNA enabled and in particular supporting DLNA Media Player profile.

This is the basic functionality supported by all DLNA enabled TV, Blu-ray Players, PS3, XBox, AV Receivers and other Media Players.

Setup your Media Library.

Follow the following steps to add media stored on your local hard disk to Media libraries on Windows 8.

  1. Launch Windows 8 Desktop App by clicking on the “Desktop” tile on your Start Screen
  2. Once on the Desktop, fire up “File Browser”(look for the Folder icon on your task bar on the Desktop)
  3. File Browser by default show your libraries in the window opened
  4. Double Click the library to which you want to add media files. For eg Music
  5. By default your My Music (in this eg) folder and C:\Users\Public\Public Music (in this eg) are available on the Library
  6. To add a different Folder to your library, Click on “Manage” menu from the File Browser menu bar
  7. Click on “Manage Library”
  8. A dialog box will open to add your folders containing media to the Library
  9. The “Library locations” section will list your existing folders available on the library
  10. To add a new folder location, Click on Add and then navigate to your folder of interest and click on “Include Folder”
  11. Repeat step 10 for additional folders if required
  12. Click OK to close the “Music Library Locations” (in this eg) dialog box
  13. Windows will scan and list the media files in the File Browser. You will see that it also displays the Meta data  in the listing
  14. Continue steps 4 to 12 for other media types as appropriate

Once the library is step up, you can find media files on newly added locations on Windows 8 built-in media apps like Music, Videos and Photos

Share your Media with in your network

Follow the following steps

  1. Invoke the Charms Bar
  2. Click on “Settings” then select “Change PC Settings”
  3. On the “PC Settings” column select “HomeGroup”
  4. Once selected you will see the “Libraries and Devices” settings on the left side
  5. Switch the toggle to “ON” for the Media types you want to share. Windows 8 may throw up a message that File Sharing needs to be enabled on your network if it’s currently disabled. Accept and continue.
  6. Under “Media Devices” section , enable the option for allowing your media devices to play the content

Your Media is ready for playback from your connected devices. On your Entertainment device’s respective menu, you will find your Windows 8 Machine name along with the user who is sharing listed under servers. You can navigate to the media folders and starts playing on your Entertainment Device.

Currently Windows 8 doesn’t do any media transcoding, so you will be only able to play media types supported by your Entertainment Device.

If your media is available on a network folder or NAS, the steps captured under “Setup your Media Library” will not work. In that case use Windows Media Center if available, to add your network location to the respective library.


How To : Setup @me.com or @iCloud.com email account on Windows 8


Follow the following steps to connect @me.com or @iCloud.com email accounts to Windows 8 Mail App

Updated on 2 Oct 2013.  iCloud SMTP doesn’t authenticate if the username contains @iCloud.com also. If your existing iCloud mail account already registered in Mail App on Windows 8 stopped working, then create a new account with the following instructions. If you are doing so, please ensure, on the Wizard which starts , you key in your @iCloud.com email id instead of @me.com id.  If you continue the wizard with @me.com id, email sending will fail. Also, the SMTP port  has changed , instead of 25 use 587. Also SSL needs to be enabled for SMTP.

  1. Start Mail App
  2. Invoke Charms Bar by moving your cursor to the right edge of the Screen
  3. Select “Settings” then select “Accounts”
  4. Select “Add an account”, then select “Other Account”
  5. Select “IMAP”, Click “Connect”
  6. Key in your @iCloud email address and password on the respective fields
  7. Then click on “Show more details”
  8. On “Email User Name” field enter the iCloud id without the @icloud.com part. For e.g. if your id is abc@iCloud.com, enter just abc . iCloud SMTP server fails authentication, if you enter the username with the @iCloud.com part.
  9. On “Incoming (IMAP) email server” field key in imap.mail.me.com
  10. Leave “Port” field entry  at 993
  11. Leave “Incoming server requires SSL” selected
  12. On “Outgoing (SMTP) email server” field key in p07-smtp.mail.me.com
  13. Change “Port” field entry to 587
  14. Leave “Outgoing server requires SSL” selected .
  15. Leave “Outgoing server requires authentication” selected
  16. Leave “Use the same username and password to send and receive email” selected
  17. Click on Connect

Mail App will now complete the setup and sync your emails from your account

Once you see your mails from me.com or iCloud.com, few more settings needs to be changed.

While you are in the newly setup account mail box in the App

  1. Invoke Charms Bar by moving your cursor to the right edge of the Screen
  2. Select “Settings” then select “Accounts”
  3. Click on your @me.com or @iCloud.com from the list of accounts
  4. Scroll down to “Special Folders” section
  5. For “Sent Items” select “Sent Messages” from the drop down list
  6. For “Deleted Items” select “Deleted Messages” from the drop down list
  7. For “Junk” select “Junk” from the drop down list

That’s it. If you wish you can adjust the mail download interval and the timeline for which mails to be downloaded locally.


Windows Phone 8: How its going to penetrate the Enterprises?


Windows 8, both Desktop and Phone versions of the OS have been out for a while. Overall, the acceptance of the same has been favorable from the tech world. One area where Windows Phone 8 can shine is the Enterprise, due to multiple factors.

We will use the following three key sections to analyse and find whether Windows Phone 8 can make an impact on the Enterprise landscape or not.

The Present

The current enterprise mobile solutions are heavily dominated by Blackberry and iOS Devices to some extend.

Blackberry

Blackberry still remains the Enterprise IT Department’s favoured mobile work force solution, highly contributed by the secure framework for email delivery and reliability. There is nothing at this moment which can excel the security and reliability of Blackberry.

But over the few years, compared to other Phone manufacturers Blackberry have failed to raise any enthusiasm on the Consumer front. Also the infrastructure solution from Blackberry haven’t seen any major innovation or upgrade from what they have started. They have been trying hard to push ahead, but the time horizon that has been projected by them to come up with something new has been longer compared to competitors, who have a recycle period of 6 months on an average. All these factors have triggered a shift in continuing with Blackberry solutions among the current users. On another note, my honest view is Blackberry OS 10 has very promising Enterprise features baked in.

Also Blackberry doesn’t have anything to offer for the current Enterprise users demand on working on Office documents and instant messaging. Their BBM solution is more of peer-to-peer messaging solution which will not work for Enterprises, who would like these to be integrated with their Corporate Directories.

iPhones and iPads

iOS devices currently enjoys a favourable position in Enterprise space. This is mainly attributed by the push or acceptance from top executives, who were either bored by the crude Blackberry handsets or who liked to use their shiny iDevices also at work. This acceptance at the top management and the pressure put on IT departments by the top decision makers started the trend in penetration of these devices with in the enterprise. Still, iOS devices in Enterprise are limited to a creamy layer with-in the hierarchy.

Another landscape where Apple dominates are the startups and technology based organizations who doesn’t want to invest heavily on Enterprise Infrastructure or use their own implementations and want to have a loosely coupled work environment. Over a period of time Apple also supported this trend by improving their support for Microsoft Exchange Active Sync and device security aspects.

Still IT departments are skeptical in accepting iDevices as a replacement for their existing infrastructure on security aspects and control on these devices.

The Future

Another not so significant player is Android. Due to Open source nature and lack of native support of Enterprise exchange policies , they never were in the radar of Enterprise IT. Companies like Samsung and LG have tweaked the OS to in-corporate the same. But on Nexus versions, which offered pure Android experience, this was not supported. So the users have to depend on third-party applications from NitroDesk and RoadSync for this. Haven’t heard any large-scale implementation of these tools at Enterprise level. The usage was limited on the Consumer space, where users like to have access to MS Exchange on their personal phones. Windows Mobile (predecessor of Windows Phone OS) did have these build in but, the lack of acceptance on the Consumer Space and continued support of Blackberry solutions saw hardly any adaptation.

But, this is gone change with the presence of Windows Phone 8. This new revamped mobile OS from Microsoft has started seeing acceptance from Consumers mainly due to the new virgin UI and social media integration. Unlike Apple who hardly had any Enterprise integration other than ActiveSync support, this new OS has the Enterprise Core built-in like its Desktop counterparts.

How?

Now why this could be a threat to iOS and Blackberry on Enterprises?

  • Blackberry is at the verge of being written off by Enterprises soon. To have a blackberry based messaging solution, the overhead is more for IT Department. You need to have a tie up with the Mobile Service Provider, license cost and maintenance of additional servers for this solution.
  • iDevices are still consumer devices at the core. Other than ActiveSync, device encryption and support for Exchange policies, it is still lagging in surviving on Enterprises. Joining a Domain, accessing files server with in the Enterprise etc. are not native to the OS or missing.

Another key factor which cannot be ignored is most of the Enterprises run Microsoft based Enterprise solutions at their organizations. Hardly seen any major shift in this trend.

The lacking from the existing players is where Windows Phone 8 have a niche.

  • To support a messaging solution on Windows Phone 8, IT doesn’t need any extra infrastructure. Your existing Exchange server is more than enough. ActiveSync licenses are part of the deal
  • No dependency on Mobile Service Provider
  • Support for Device Encryption and Security as per Enterprise Policies
  • Tight integration with Microsoft based Enterprise components in the OS. SharePoint for example.
  • Native support of MS Office applications on Windows Phone 8 is another nail in the coffin for the current players on Enterprises.
  • Device Management and Provisioning
  • Can have an Enterprise hosted App Store

The acceptance on Windows Phone or tablets on the consumer front is skeptical. One factor highlighted by analysts is the low App penetration in Windows App Store. But there are other plus points which can influence consumer adaptation. iOS has started getting bored for users.

A fresh UI from Windows Phone till it ages would pull in consumers. Unlike iDevices, you are not locked into an ecosystem.

On the Enterprise it’s a different story. IT doesn’t take decisions on WOW factor and usability.

Their key decision-making parameters are cost and how well they can have integration with their existing infrastructure, which is dominated by Microsoft solutions.

Security and native MS Office are another enablers for voting for Windows Phone or tablets. VOIP solution based on Skype which gives a transparent experience, also cannot be ignored. Enterprises will be slow on migrating to Windows 8 based Desktop and laptops, but there is nothing holding Enterprises from adopting Windows Phone 8, who want to replace the aging Blackberry Devices.

So until Apple comes with its own infrastructure solutions for enterprise and Blackberry speeding up their upgrade process – Windows 8, both Desktop and Mobile will be a threat to both on the Enterprise.