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Tag: services (Page 1 of 6)

Amazon will now ship you clothing just to try it on, for free

amazon prime wardrobe

Shopping on Amazon is one of the most painless ways to buy things these days — and that simplicity is one of the big reasons why the company has continued to grow at a breakneck pace — but when it comes to buying clothes, being able to see, touch, and try on a new item is still a win for the mall. That could change rather quickly, as Amazon just revealed a new "try before you buy" option called Prime Wardrobe

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How to create your own private messages service with macOS Server!

Need a secure and private messaging service within your organization? The macOS messages service can help!

Instant messaging is a must in today's business sharing and collaboration software toolset. There are instant messaging services that are free to use (but may need access to your data) or there are paid services that can charge per user.

If you're in need of an instant messaging service that avoids giving up your private information and only costs a nominal fee regardless of the number of users you need, then the messages service on macOS server may fit your bill.

We'll be showing you how to setup and create a private messaging service on macOS for your locally networked connected Macs, iOS devices, and PCs connected to your macOS Server VPN service. Although we can set up this service to allow access from anywhere on the internet without a VPN, we feel the purpose of offering a highly secure and private messaging service outweighs the convenience of being easily accessible.

Install macOS Server on one of your Macs

If you haven't already done so, you'll need to install macOS Server on one of your network Macs. You can follow our detailed guide if you need a little more help, but here is the express version.

  1. Launch the App Store application.
  2. Search for macOS Server in the search bar at the top right of the app.
  3. Click Buy next to macOS Server or if already purchased, you'll be notified that you can download it for free.
  4. Click Install.
  5. Agree to the User Agreement.

Add users to your macOS Server

In order for your organization to start collaborating, you'll need to add the users whom you want to have access to the service.

  1. Start the Server App.
  2. Select Users from under the Accounts listing.
  3. Click the Add button (it looks like a plus symbol) to add a new user.
  4. Type in the Full Name of the user you want added.
  5. Enter a Password for the user.
  6. Verify the password for the user.
  7. Click Create.

  8. Repeat for as many users as required.

Configure the messages service

We'll now need to configure the messages service to only accept connections from your local network IP addresses.

  1. Select Messages from the services listings in the Server App.
  2. Click Edit Permissions.
  3. Select private networks from the dropdown list under When connecting from.
  4. Click OK.

  5. Optionally check Archive all messages if you wish to save all of your organization's messages from every user to disk.

    Note: If you wish to secure this data, make certain to select an encrypted location to save this file to.

  6. Toggle the ON/OFF switch to ON.

If you have an Airport Base Station, you will be prompted to allow for macOS Server to automatically open ports through your router so that external clients can connect to your messages server. Do not allow this. Although it's possible to set this up as a regular internet service to connect from anywhere, the purpose of this tutorial to keep it as secure and private as possible and that sort of setup is beyond the scope of this article.

Connect your Mac clients

For macOS, Apple has already built in functionality for the xmpp protocol, the software that underlies the messaging system used by macOS Server. This means that you needn't download any third party messaging clients and you can work seamlessly with the messages app.

  1. Start your Messages app.
  2. Click Messages in the App menu in the upper left corner of the screen.
  3. Select Add Account from the drop-down menu.
  4. Select Other Messages Account.
  5. Click Continue.

  6. Select Jabber from the Account Type dropdown list.
  7. Enter the User Name you created on your macOS Server in the form of [email protected]

    Note: It's very important to use the Host Name associated with your macOS Server otherwise you'll need to edit configuration files located in /Library/Server/Messages/Config/jabberd.

  8. Enter the Password associated with the user name you entered.
  9. Click Sign In.
  10. Click Continue when prompted to accept the server certificate.

  11. Set your Jabber status to available to log in.
  12. Select a user on the same Local Account as the private server you connect to to start messaging.

Connect your iOS device

You can do a search for xmpp from the app store to see a list of xmpp clients available to download but we found that Monal is about as easy to set up as can be and works well with our macOS Server. Monal also runs on Android and has a native macOS client as well.

  1. Open the App Store on your iOS device.
  2. Search for Monal.
  3. Tap Download.
  4. Tap Install.
  5. Tap Open.
  6. Skip the Tutorial.
  7. Add a New Account.
  8. Under Jabber ID enter your [email protected]

    Note: Make certain to enter a User you created on the messages server and also make certain you use the host name you used when setting up your macOS Server.

  9. Set Self-Signed Certificate to on.

Connect your PCs

We won't go too deeply as to how to connect your Windows and linux PC's but has a nice list of different clients you can try to connect to your macOS messages server.

Connecting when on the local VPN

For you remote users, you can still take part in the private messaging service through the VPN (virtual private network) if you have one set up. You'll need to add your macOS Server's internal network IP address to your personal computer's Host file. Here's how you do it on macOS.

  1. In finder or terminal navigate to /etc.
  2. Edit hosts using your favourite text editor using an administrative account.
  3. Append the IP Address and Host Name of your macOS Server. This will be in the form of " Hostname.local". For example, mine looks like " anthonys-mac-mini.local".

  4. Connect to the VPN on your network.
  5. Set up your macOS computer to connect to messages as instructed above.

How do you keep your messages secure?

Now it's your turn! Let us know how you manage to keep your messages safe and secure or if you simply think this is much ado about nothing!

HomePod vs Google Home vs Amazon Echo: What’s the difference?

Between the new HomePod, Google Home, and Amazon Echo, it can be tough making a decision between devices. So what's the difference?

First things first … What's a HomePod?

It's Apple's long-rumored, Wi-Fi-connected smart speaker. Apple is positioning the HomePod as the quintessential in-home listening device. It also comes with Siri — use the wake phrase, "Hey, Siri," and it can do anything Siri can do!

You can control your HomeKit-enabled accessories (even when you're away from home, since the device acts as a HomeKit Home Hub), listen to music and other content with the device's excellent speakers, set timers and reminders, check your calendar, send messages, etc.

HomePod FAQ: Everything you need to know!

Got it. So the HomePod is a smart speaker just like the Amazon Echo and Google Home?

Well, no, not exactly. Because of Apple's focus on audio quality, it's probably more accurate to compare it to Sonos wireless speakers. Apple's baked in quite the hardware package: seven beam-forming tweeters, one 4-inch, Apple-designed woofer, and a six-microphone array. It also runs on Apple's A8 chip.

Using what Apple calls "Spatial Awareness," its beam-forming tweeters and woofer work together to provide virtual surround sound in whatever space you're in. The HomePod will "scan" the room and adjust its tweeter/woofer system accordingly to provide the best possible sound.

And how does that compare to the Amazon Echo and Google Home?

The Amazon Echo has a single 2-inch tweeter and a single 2.5-inch woofer. It, like HomePod, touts seven built-in, beam-forming microphones. The Echo's tweeter and woofer don't feature beam-forming technology.

Google Home has a single 2-inch full range driver. It includes two beam-forming microphones. Google says it uses its machine learning and neural networks to better understand commands.

Hmm, so HomePod definitely sounds better than Amazon Echo and Google Home, yeah?

Yeah. There's no way either smart speaker can beat that gigantic tweeter array and woofer from Apple.

Got it. Well, I definitely want to listen to music on whatever smart speaker I get. Can you tell me more about what I can expect?

Sure! Here's what you can expect from each device:


  • Google Home: Chromecast streaming in supported apps (with Bluetooth streaming coming soon) and on-device Wi-Fi streaming
  • Amazon Echo: Bluetooth streaming and on-device Wi-Fi streaming
  • HomePod: On-device streaming of Apple Music and AirPlay 2 audio streaming from supported devices (like iPhone and iPad).

Integrated music services

  • Google Home: Pandora, YouTube Music, Google Play Music, Spotify
  • Amazon Echo: Amazon Music Unlimited, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn
  • HomePod: Apple Music

HomePod looks a little light on integrated music services when compared with Google Home and Amazon Echo. Keep in mind you can stream to HomePod with AirPlay 2, so you'll be able to listen to other audio services so long as they offer AirPlay 2 support.

Interesting. Well, I'm also looking for an in-home smart assistant. What can I expect?

You can expect full Siri support on HomePod. The speaker — like in-home iPads and Apple TVs — acts as a Home hub and will let you control your HomeKit-enabled lights and accessories. It's certainly worth noting the HomePod is only going to control HomeKit-enabled accessories; if you've got accessories that are missing that "Works with Apple HomeKit" badge, you'll need a different smart assistant.

Amazon Echo and Google Home are regularly neck-and-neck when it comes to smart home integrations. Amazon's Alexa and the Google Assistant can power a whole swath of connected home products.

Both the Echo and Home offer something called proactivity, too. Amazon Echo can send you ambient notifications by lighting up the LED ring atop its casing and Google Home can do the same with a quick flicker of its four LED lights. You'll get notifications of delayed flights, reminders, upcoming appointments, particularly hairy traffic, and more. Apple made no mention of proactive features for HomePod at WWDC, but the company could announced new features when the device ships in December.

OK, let's talk price.

Good idea. Amazon has several Alexa-enabled devices; Google Home offers a single smart speaker. Same goes for Apple.

Gotcha. So level with me, what's the bottom line?

If you're big on music listening and want an Apple-made, Wi-Fi-connected smart speaker, Apple's HomePod is probably going to be perfect for you. Sonos' comparable-in-sound-but-smart-assistant-less wireless speakers range from $199 - $499, so HomePod hits a sweet-spot there.

If you're not looking for an in-home music listening device (or you don't care about superb sound quality (or you don't care as much about music listening as you do about having a smart assistant in your house)), HomePod might not be for you. The Amazon Echo doesn't sound great, but it's a fantastic voice-controlled smart device. Google Home sounds better and offers all the power of the Google Assistant. Both offer multiple music and audio streaming options and proactive notifications. Unless Apple adds more assistant-focused features between now and December when HomePod launches, Echo and Home are the better, universally appealing speaker assistants.

What say you?

Did we help you figure out the difference between HomePod, Google Home, and Amazon Echo? Still have some questions you want answered? Sound off in the comments (or over on Twitter) and I'll try to get your question answered!

How to buy a song you like from Apple Music on your iPhone or iPad

Want to purchase a song you love listening to on Apple Music? It's trickier than I'd like, but doable.

When Apple redesigned the iPhone and iPad's Music app to focus on your music collection, iCloud Music Library, and Apple Music, it removed all traces of a previously-highly-placed item: iTunes. 

Yes, streaming music is all the rage, and for good reason — with offline play and customized playlists, your music library is bigger and more interesting than ever before. But if you still like occasionally owning music, the iTunes app is where you'll do your purchasing.

One frustrating side-effect of this change: It's now much more difficult to buy a song you've found and love on Apple Music. There's no direct way to "Open in iTunes," even if a song or album isn't supported in Apple Music at all. (I see you, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1.) Instead, when you stumble across non-streamable media in the Music app, you'll be greeted with a depressing alert informing you of its unavailability on your device.

Rather than having to manually open the iTunes app and search every time you want a song, however, there's an easier way — all thanks to a few enterprising folks on the Internet.

How to open an Apple Music song in iTunes (the easy way)

If you own the Workflow app, you need only install a quick and easy workflow to make this happen.

  1. On your iPhone, open the Open in iTunes Store workflow (courtesy the Workflow Gallery).
  2. Tap Get Workflow.
  3. Select Open.
  4. Press Done.
  5. Open the Music app and navigate to the song you'd like to open in iTunes.
  6. Firmly press on the song to open its 3D Touch menu (or tap on the song, then tap the More (…) button).
  7. Tap Share Song.
  8. If you've never used workflow before, tap the More (…) button at the bottom of the screen, then enable the Run Workflow switch and press Done.
  9. Press the Run Workflow button.
  10. Press the Open in iTunes Store button.
  11. If it's your first time using this workflow, you may have to press Run Workflow to give the app permissions, then return to step 6.

Your song should open in iTunes.

Once you've gone through this once, you can open any future Apple Music songs in iTunes by doing the following:

  1. Open the Music app and navigate to the song you'd like to open in iTunes.
  2. Firmly press on the song to open its 3D Touch menu (or tap on the song, then tap the More (…) button).
  3. Tap Share Song.
  4. Press the Run Workflow button.
  5. Press the Open in iTunes Store button.

Your song should open in iTunes.

How to open an Apple Music song in iTunes (the hard way)

If you don't want to mess around with Workflow (though we highly recommend it), you can essentially do this manually:

  1. Open the Music app and navigate to the song you'd like to open in iTunes.
  2. Firmly press on the song to open its 3D Touch menu (or tap on the song, then tap the More (…) button).
  3. Tap Share Song.
  4. Press the Copy button.
  5. Open Safari.
  6. In the URL bar, paste the copied link and add the following text: &app=iTunes.
  7. Press Open.
  8. The song should display in the iTunes Store.

How to open an Apple Music song in iTunes — or just about any other streaming service

If it's not just iTunes you're looking to connect with, but other streaming services, you can use Matt Abras's free SoundShare app to make that happen.

SoundShare uses Facebook to connect multiple different services together; once set up, you can access iTunes with the click of a button.


Let us know below.

Students can get a 6-month Amazon Prime trial right now, then 50% off after that

How To Get Free Amazon Prime

It’s graduation season right now, which means thousands upon of thousands of students are in the process of leaving school and entering the real world. Poor, poor students. If you’re lucky enough to not be among the classes that just graduated, enjoy it while you can. And as if your life doesn’t already have enough perks, here’s one more for you: Amazon has a special promotion right now gives students a 6-month trial of Amazon Prime. Once the trial is over, you can either cancel and never pay a dime or keep your Prime subscription for 50% off Amazon’s normal price for Prime.

Here’s a quick blurb from Amazon on the promotion and the benefits of Prime:

This is a great deal for your readers. Students with an active college email address (ending in .edu) can sign up to try a Student Prime Membership FREE for 6 months and get two-day free shipping for any of their last minute needs. Perfect timing for graduation period as well as summer break.

Once they finish with the 6-months free trial, they will enjoy Prime Membership at 50% off the regular price ($49 instead of $99 per year). Prime Student membership offers many of the same perks as regular Prime, including free two-day shipping, unlimited photo storage with Prime Photos, and exclusive discounts available only to students. Amazon Student subscribers also have access to Amazon’s streaming service, Prime Video, so if they feel like procrastinating during final exam study period, they can stream the thousands of movies and shows offered as part of their membership for free.

You can sign up for your free 6-month trial of Amazon Prime right here on the Amazon website.

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