Thursday, May 27, 2010

32 Ways To Use Facebook In Your Business

Facebook’s not just for keeping tabs on friends and filling out quizzes — it can also be used as a highly effective business tool. It’s great for marketing your products, landing gigs and connecting with your customers.
Here are 32 ways to use Facebook in your business.
Manage Your Profile
1. Fill out your profile completely to earn trust.
2. Establish a business account if you don’t already have one.If you have a profile, you’re not supposed to create a business account as well – it’s supposed to be one or the other, not both.
3. Stay out of trouble by reading the Facebook rules regarding business accounts.
4. Install appropriate applications to integrate feeds from your blog and other social media accounts into your Facebook profile. (Although you should be careful before integrating your Twitter feed into your Faceboook profile, as a stream of tweets can seem overwhelming to your contacts.)
5. Keep any personal parts of your profile private through Settings.
6. Create friends lists such as “Work,” “Family” and “Limited Profile” for finer-grained control over your profile privacy.
7. Post a professional or business casual photos of yourself to reinforce your brand.
8. Limit business contacts’ access to personal photos.
9. Post your newsletter subscription information and archives somewhere in your profile.
Connect and share with others

10. Obtain a Facebook vanity URL so that people can find you easily.
11. Add your Facebok URL to your email signature and any marketing collateral (business cards, etc.) so prospects can learn more about you.
12. Post business updates on your wall. Focus on business activities, such as “Working with ABC Company on web site redesign.”
13. Share useful articles and links to presentation and valuable resources that interest customers and prospects on your wall, to establish credibility.
14. Combine Facebook with other social media tools like Twitter. For example, when someone asks question on Twitter, you can respond in detail in a blog post and link to it from Facebook.
15. Before traveling, check contacts locations so you can meet with those in the city where you’re heading.
16. Research prospects before meeting or contacting them.
17. Upload your contacts from your email client to find more connections.
18. Use Find Friends for suggestions of other people you may know to expand your network even further.
19. Look for mutual contacts on your contacts’ friends lists.
20. Find experts in your field and invite them as a guest blogger on your blog or speaker at your event.
21. Market your products by posting discounts and package deals.
22. Share survey or research data to gain credibility.
23. Use Facebook Connect to add social networking features to your web site.
24. Suggest Friends to clients and colleagues — by helping them, you establish trust.
25. Buy Facebook ads to target your exact audience.
26. Read up on Facebook Beacon to see if it might be useful for you. Use Network, Group and Fan Pages
27. Start a group or fan page for product, brand or business. Unless you or your business is already a household name, a group is usually the better choice.
28. Add basic information to the group or fan page such as links to company site, newsletter subscription information and newsletter archives.
29. Post upcoming events including webinars, conferences and other programs where you or someone from your company will be present.
30. Update your group or fan page on a regular basis with helpful information and answers to questions.
31. Join network, industry and alumni groups related to your business.
32. Use search to find groups and fan pages related to your business by industry, location and career.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How to Use Facebook: 5 Tips For Better Social Networking

Facebook is a social networking site that is enormously popular, but it can be a frustrating user experience. The design of Facebook leaves a lot to be desired and there are almost too many choices for things to do on Facebook. Also some of the more popular Facebook activities are trivial instead of useful - throwing sheep is an oft-quoted example.

Having said that, there's no doubt that Facebook is a powerful social networking tool. So how can you best utilize it and find the good apps? In this post we aim to find out. We'll be focusing specifically on social activities, rather than the many other potential uses of Facebook (work, brand management, etc).

Tip 1: Update Your Status Regularly
This is a simple thing to do to keep your Facebook profile active. Right at the top of the page there is a place where you can "write something." Usually a comment about what you're doing or thinking. Once a day, or even once every few days, is enough. But update it enough to keep your page interesting.

Tip 2. Use Groups (a.k.a. Lists in Facebook Terminology)
Groups are a core feature of social networking on the Web. To effectively use Facebook, we recommend you set up some groups so that you can filter content. One person who does this very well is our own Marshall Kirkpatrick. Marshall says that he generally scans his Facebook homepage first, then clicks to his groups for family and old friends from school. He noted that "this way most of my time spent on Facebook isn't re-reading the same things I've already read on Twitter."

There is a bit of a trick to setting this groups feature up. Facebook calls this feature "lists," probably to differentiate them from its other Groups feature (which have been usurped by 'Pages' now). Confused? Get used to it, Facebook navigation is awful.

To set lists up for your Facebook account, go to your Facebook homepage and click the "more" link on the left-hand sidebar. You will see a link entitled "Create new list" at the bottom - click on that to create a new group.

Tip 3: Add Your Content From Other Sources (Carefully...)
In this day and age, you are likely creating content in more than a few places on the Web. This ranges from the extreme cases (early adopters who have personal RSS feeds coming out their ears), to those who may just use YouTube and a couple of other niche social websites.

Many early adopters use FriendFeed to aggregate their 'lifestream' of content from multiple sources. Facebook just bought FriendFeed, so expect to see it integrated into Facebook over time. As of now, if you have more than a few content sources and they aren't necessarily the well-known ones like YouTube or, then you'll need to use FriendFeed or an equivalent lifestreaming product to aggregate those feeds. But if you find FriendFeed just a bit too geeky (and many people do), then you can adequately enrich your Facebook profile with external content.

One thing we'd caution, which this author took too long to notice: don't pipe your FriendFeed content into Facebook if you aggregate a lot of content into FriendFeed! It quickly overpowers your Wall and will likely annoy the friends you have who also subscribe to your FriendFeed.

To add external content to Facebook, on your Wall page click the 'Options' link on the top right. Then click 'Settings.'

You can then choose to "import stories" to your Facebook wall from a select number of sites: Flickr, Digg, YouTube and others.

You can add content from other external sources to Facebook by clicking the 'application settings page' link further down the page.

Tip 4: Brighten Up Your Profile With Photos and Videos
This almost goes without saying, but adding multimedia makes your Facebook profile interesting and attractive.

If instead of Facebook you usually use a specialist photo site (like Flickr) or video site (like Vimeo), then you'll need to search around for ways to export your files. I use Flickr and didn't find a satisfactory way to export photos from Flickr to Facebook's Photo albums. But via my Twitter network I managed to discovered a plug-in for iPhoto, which allows Mac users to bulk export from iPhoto to Facebook.

Tip 5: Search Out the Best Facebook Apps
Ever since Facebook became a development platform back in May 2007, thousands of apps have been built to add to your Facebook page. As noted in the introduction, these range from trivial (e.g. sheep throwing) to very useful. The best tip here is to find apps that complement your interests.

Our advice is to search the directory for keywords of interest to you. The quality of apps varies greatly and often there are errors (at least I came across them several times when researching this article). When you find an app you like, you can add it to your profile. I added an Art app recently, for example.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How To Test Your Facebook Privacy Settings

We've been talking about Facebook's privacy mess for days now. We all know the story, right? Privacy controls are broken, everyone's getting irritated, Facebook's not too concerned, blah flippidy-freakin' blah.

Don't get me wrong: That's all important information. What's been lacking all this time, though, is a simple fix -- an easy way to make sure your personal Facebook data is actually protected. Sure, you could go on a scavenger hunt to find Facebook's 170-plus privacy options scattered throughout a dozen different pages. But even then, you're likely to miss something in the virtual labyrinth the company's created.
Today, there's a better way. Behold: the one-stop privacy fix-up tool for your Facebook profile.

The Facebook Privacy Scanner

The tool is called ReclaimPrivacy, and its name pretty much tells you what you need to know. Using it is simple: Just surf over to and look for the link that says "Scan for Privacy." Add that link as a bookmark in your browser, either by dragging it onto a bookmark toolbar or by right-clicking it and selecting the "Bookmark" option.

Now head over to Facebook. Sign into your account, then open the bookmarked link.

This will cause ReclaimPrivacy's Facebook privacy scanner to open right at the top of your current Facebook window. Within a few seconds, ReclaimPrivacy will scan through six areas of potential privacy concern and let you know how your account stacks up.

ReclaimPrivacy analyzes everything from your personal information controls to your "instant personalization" settings. It even checks account settings that affect what your friends could inadvertently share about you without your knowledge.

For each area, ReclaimPrivacy will give you a green ("good"), yellow ("caution"), or red ("insecure") ranking. If you hit yellow or red, it'll provide you with specific steps to fix the problem so you don't have to waste time searching for the right setting.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Google Is Headed For Your TV

Google has partnered with Intel and Sony to create Google TV, an ambitious attempt to bake its Android software into TVs, Blu-ray players, and a Google set-top box called Buddy Box. Google TV is clearly a challenge to Apple TV, the Boxee Box, TiVo and to some extent cable itself. The goal is to fuse the Web with televisions in a way that other Internet-connected TVs don't. That is, Google TV is an open platform free of restrictions and powered by hardware that can handle Flash.
Google TV will be available in set-top boxes and televisions this fall, with Sony and Logitech as hardware partners. For now, let's look at the key features of Google TV:

Web and Subscription TV Merge
Google wants to avoid a sharp distinction between Web content and traditional television from cable or satellite. When you search for a show in Google TV you see options for television and Web, the latter option taking you to a screen that lists all online episodes and sources, including Hulu, Amazon and Netflix. You can always jump back into live TV with the press of a button.

Flash Support
The obvious application for Flash is Web video, but Google promises that Flash support will allow Google TV to play games such as Farmville and streaming music sites such as Pandora. Unfortunately Google didn't demonstrate these applications, so we'll have to see whether they work as promised.

One Remote
Demonstrators used big keyboards to navigate Google TV, and stressed that only one input device will be necessary. It's not clear what the actual remotes will look like, but I'll bet Logitech and Sony will have their own designs.

Talks to Android Phones
Google TV has a couple features specifically for Android phone owners: Instead of typing in television search queries, you can dictate them into the phone, and the request is sent to the television by Wi-Fi. Also, if you're watching a video on the phone, you can send it to the television.

Android App Support
In addition to tapping the Web for content, Google TV will work with any Android app that doesn't use phone features. Google only showed Pandora as a demonstration, but hopefully games and other media will run smoothly on the big screen.

The Hardware
Televisions equipped with Google TV technology will have Ethernet and Wi-Fi capabilities. One-click DVR recording will be available on boxes from the Dish network, another partner announced Thursday. There's no word on pricing or specific products. Sony says it plans to offer Google TV on some of its Bravia TV sets as well as Blu-ray players. Google says those who want to add Google TV to existing television sets will be able to buy a Google set-top box called a Buddy Box that will bring the service to any TV.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Web-based Applications - Best Strategies For Success

As a network administrator, part of your job is to manage and ensure application availability and performance. While web applications are great for the user and require very little configuration they can cause bandwidth or latency issues that aren’t so great. The reality, however, is that this is a problem that is becoming more common in network management, and there is help out there to guide you.

One thing to keep in mind is how much your topology comes into play when you are dealing with applications that are hosted which are used via the browser. Many do not realize that this can be the key to problems that may pop up. Issues that result from routing or changes that have been made to switches can be avoided by ensuring that accurate topology maps and records are kept.

Performing regular baselines is also important. Sure, you probably perform a baseline before you make a change or add network components, but a good practice for network management would be to schedule regular baselines. This can be a certain time of the day every week, month and so on. It is import to continue to keep a schedule of baselines to make sure you know exactly where your network performance is at. This way, you can easily know what normal network capacity is.

Once you have done this, you will be ready to further optimize your network, giving it the horsepower needed to run applications smoothly. Everyone wants to see things running quickly and without issue, so this is the fun part.

This is just an overall summary of some of the strategies for web applications and how to maintain them over a network. If you want to learn more, there is a wealth of information from one of the top network management solution providers, SolarWinds. Check out the web applications best practices presentation or maybe brush up on some reading about application mentoring.

Adding tools to your arsenal never hurts, especially when they’re FREE! When you get a chance go ahead and download the free WMI Monitor for real-time performance information on Windows-based servers and applications.

You can also try out Orion Application Performance Manager from SolarWinds, a leader in application performance management. The trial lasts for 30 days. If you like it, you may want to consider adding it to your set of network management tools. It’s easy to use, and gives you full access to its range of tools to get a handle on application management.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How to Fix Your PC

Considering how many different software and hardware components need to work correctly for a modern PC to turn on, it's a small wonder that they work as well as they do. We can't give you a panacea for all of your computer ills, but we can provide a guide to getting out of the most common PC disasters. Here are some useful strategies.

If your PC won't turn on: Try plugging it into a different outlet or power strip; if it's a laptop, try a different battery and power adapter, if you have another one handy. For desktops, make sure that all your internal plugs and cards are properly seated--graphics card, RAM, everything.

If none of this helps, it's probably a problem with your motherboard or power supply, and unless you've got spare parts handy, you're probably best off calling the manufacturer's tech support line.

Safe Mode--click for full-size image. If your PC turns on, but won't successfully boot into Windows: First, start booting up, and press F8 repeatedly during the boot process. This may allow you to access a menu that lets you select different boot options with your keyboard, one of which is "Safe Mode".

Select Safe Mode, uninstall the last thing you installed, update all your drivers (if you need to download new ones, you may need to select the "Safe Mode With Networking" option instead), and open up the System Restore app (Start Menu, Accessories, System Tools, System Restore) to roll back to an earlier point when your PC could successfully start up.

If you hear a series of beeps on startup, you might have a motherboard-level problem.If you hear a series of beeps on startup, you might have a motherboard-level problem. Safe Mode not working? Your hard drive might be failing. Get your rescue drive or manufacturer recovery discs, boot up from it, and save whatever data you haven't backed up.

Then run your disk diagnostic app--you can always run Check Disk, which is built into Windows, by right-clicking your hard drive, selecting Properties, clicking the Tools tab and selecting Check now... under the "Error Checking" tab. There's no cure for bad sectors--you'll have to replace the drive.

If you hear your PC emitting a set of beeps during the startup process, it's most likely your BIOS trying to tell you that you have a motherboard-level problem with your PC--your processor fan might be unplugged, for example, or your power supply might not be working.

The beep patterns aren't standard, so you'll have to get on a different PC and check out your BIOS manufacturer's Web site to figure out what's wrong.

Your BIOS--click for full-size image. If Windows successfully boots, then crashes soon afterwards: Start by updating all your drivers--first, the essential drivers provided by your PC manufacturer, then the drivers for your peripherals and extra devices. Don't forget to update your BIOS, too.

If your PC is crashing soon after startup, try uninstalling anything you recently downloaded and checking your startup apps and background processes to see if something is going wrong.

Windows Task Manager--click for full-size image. You can view the processes in the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl-Shift-Esc and clicking the Processes tab--and you can use as a reference for figuring out the obscure ones. For startup items, search for msconfig and click on the Startup tab to see what's going on. If something you recently installed shows up in there, it might be your culprit.

If your crashes aren't so easy to reproduce, try running a scan for viruses and malware with your preferred security suite.

On the other hand, if you recently installed a new security suite and started seeing problems, try uninstalling it and then use a different one. Security apps typically get deeper into the guts of your system than other apps, meaning they're more prone to incompatibilities.

Still can't figure it out? Google can be your best friend when it comes to troubleshooting, especially if you have an error message handy--even if the official support sites haven't covered your specific problem, odds are that someone has posted on a tech forum about it.

Search for the specific error message--in quotes--for best results, and if you can't find an immediately obvious error message, try looking in Control Panel, Problem Reports and Solutions (Vista); or, for Windows 7, open Control Panel, Action Center, Maintenance, View reliability history, and click on View all problem reports at the bottom of the window.

If you can't find any leads, you might have to do a clean Windows reinstall. Back up your data, reformat, and install from scratch.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Guide To Home Networking 2

Setting Up Your New Network
Okay, so you've installed your networking infrastructure (if you're using wired or HomePlug networking). Now it's time to set everything up. I'll assume that you're starting from scratch. (If you're having problems with your network, check out "Set Up Your Home Network: Windows 7 Edition" for more tips.)

The steps are pretty straightforward, but keep in mind that these are general rules of thumb. Various models and brands of access points and routers may differ on specific configuration details. Note that when I refer to "routers" in this section, most of this advice also applies to access points in Wi-Fi-only networks.

Also, don't assume that experience with older routers means you'll just be able to jump in and configure new ones. Some recent routers have substantially automated the setup process, but it's useful knowing how to manually set up your router if there are exceptions to the rules you've followed before.

Configure the Router to Connect to One PC

Typically, you'll connect your router or access point to your PC via an ethernet cable. Routers usually have multiple ethernet ports, so connecting a PC is easy. An access point may require something called a crossover cable, which is a special ethernet cable with two of the pins reversed. Some access points come with a short crossover cable, but you may need to obtain one before proceeding.

Some routers require you to configure your PC to a specific IP address in order to perform setup. Recently released products may be bundled with a software CD that walks you through the configuration process. Note that different brands may have different default IP addresses for the router itself. For example, Linksys routers default to, while D-Link users have You'll need to consult your router or access-point documentation for specifics.
Set Up Router and Wi-Fi Security

Every router comes with a default admin account that has a default password, which is usually listed in the documentation. It's startling how many users simply leave the admin password at the default, which allows random people to hijack your router. So the first thing you should do is change the admin password.

Securing your Wi-Fi network
The next step is to set up wireless security. A general rule of thumb is to configure for the highest level of security: WPA2, which uses AES encryption. However, some applications and older hardware may not work with WPA2, so you may need to opt for WPA with TKIP encryption for compatibility. Some much older devices may support only the original WEP security scheme, but that has been shown to be relatively insecure. I recommend upgrading to newer devices.

One important step here is to enter a password that acts as an encryption key. Though you want to remember the password easily, you don't want it to be so easy as to be hackable by an outsider. Pick a long, relatively arcane password. (WEP keys are more limited--but you're not using WEP, right?)

Connect the Router to Your ISP
If you have a recent-generation router, it may come with software that will autoconfigure the ISP settings, but you might want to do this manually anyway. Connecting to the Internet means entering key information about your ISP into the router.

* Connect your cable modem, DSL modem, or other gateway that your ISP supplied to the port labeled "WAN" or "Internet" on the router.
* Set the IP address of the router as indicated by your service provider, if you use a static IP. Otherwise, simply set the router to be assigned an IP address by your service provider automatically via DHCP. Note that this is different from the gateway address you'll set in any client hardware that connects to the router.

Routers isolate your internal network from the Internet by presenting a single IP address to the Internet. But your home network sees a different IP address as the router gateway, typically or

* If your ISP provides you with a modem that acts as a gateway device, as some do, you'll need the IP address for that device. The gateway adds another layer, which has yet another IP address. Your ISP should have configured that piece of hardware earlier.
* If you use alternate DNS providers, such as OpenDNS, you'll want to enter that information. (If you don't know what this is, then you can ignore this step.)

Connect Any Wired Devices to the Router
If you want to connect some PCs or other hardware via wired ethernet, now is the time to hook them up. Also, if you have an ethernet switch, attach that to one of the router's standard ports (not the port labeled "WAN").

I'm assuming that you left the router set to supply IP addresses to your internal network automatically, via DHCP. If you did, any client hardware should pick up an IP address from the router.

Connect Wi-Fi Hardware
The last step to getting your network running is to configure Wi-Fi hardware. When you fire up your hardware and tell it to connect via Wi-Fi, you'll need to enter the encryption key (Wi-Fi password) you set up in the router.

Some routers implement something called "Wi-Fi protected setup," which can automate the process of connecting wirelessly to the router. You may still need to enter the password, but you won't need to tell the device what type of security you're using, or other connectivity details. Again, check the documentation for each piece of hardware.
Configure for Software

You may need to configure your router for particular software needs. For example, you may be a heavy user of videoconferencing or VoIP (voice over IP). Or maybe you're a serious online gamer. In any of those cases, you may need to configure features such as port forwarding or virtual servers.

Virtual servers allow you to configure particular ports as public; the router redirects incoming requests to a specific system. This arrangement can be useful if you're running a Web server or an FTP site.

For gaming, VoIP, and other similar software, you'll want to use port forwarding. If you're not comfortable mucking around with your router settings, check out Simple Port Forwarding.

Ports are specific to individual IP addresses (for example,, in which the xxxxx is the port number). Each IP address can support 65,536 ports. For instance, 80 is the port that Web browsers use, and every router automatically recognizes this.

Depending on the application, you may need to configure a TCP (transmission control protocol) port or UDP (user datagram protocol) port--or both.

Forwarding ports is a painSome games and other applications may use only specific ports to connect to the game server or other systems. As a result, you might need to configure your router for particular port numbers. For example, the screenshot here shows a D-Link port forwarding management page, configured for the Xbox Live service (port 3074) and the Slingbox (port 5001).
Port Forwarding, uPnP, and DMZ

Current-generation routers and software are often more sophisticated, and you may not have to configure port forwarding. The general rule is to try to connect with the game first, without port forwarding, and then add it if you can't connect.

If the router has UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) capability, some apps will use it to configure port forwarding while the game is running, and then turn it off when the software shuts down. Some users disable UPnP for security reasons, however. If you do, you may need to configure the proper ports for your app.

You can find lists of ports and related applications on the Internet, if your game or application manuals don't give you that information.

One thing to avoid, if at all possible, is a firewall DMZ. A DMZ (literally taken from the military term "demilitarized zone") allows you to configure a particular computer to be set up outside the firewall. That PC, as a result, is completely exposed to the Internet. This can be useful for running game servers for older games that are difficult to set up using port forwarding, but you should avoid it if you can. A system in a DMZ is open to all manner of intrusions from the Internet.

A Brief Note on Firewalls
FirewallsModern hardware routers often ship with fairly sophisticated firewalls built into them. If yours does, you may not need to use a software firewall, such as the Windows firewall, or the firewalls incorporated into Internet security software. In my home, we typically turn off software firewalls. Is that safe? We've never had an intruder get into our home network.

Most routers have logging capability built in, and checking those logs is always illuminating. When we look at the log for our home router, a D-Link DIR-655, we see a few entries that read like the following:

Blocked incoming TCP connection request from IP address xxx.yyy.zzz.123 to [router IP address]

I've changed the IP address above, and I've chosen not to reveal my router IP address for obvious reasons. What this can represent is a serious intrusion attempt, or some software bot simply pinging the router to see if the network is exposed.

No firewall is completely foolproof, but we've had good success with hardware firewalls built into modern routers. While the default settings are often good enough, many have additional capabilities for the truly paranoid. So if you're worried about intruders sneaking into your network, ratchet up all the settings on your hardware firewall.

I can offer some general troubleshooting tips here, but hardware and software combinations can vary widely. Be prepared to contact your ISP, your router manufacturer, or tech support for each piece of client hardware as appropriate. (For more tips, check out "How to Fix Anything.")

Plug it inPhotograph: Kevin Candland Can't set up the router: Sometimes, you can't even connect to the router or access point for initial configuration. Make sure you've connected to the correct port; some older routers may allow you to perform initial setup only by connecting to a specific port. Similarly, older routers and most access points may require a crossover ethernet cable.

In addition, you may need to first set up your PC for a specific IP address, and then reboot to actually connect to the router.

The router doesn't see the ISP: This often happens if the router is set to automatically receive an IP address from the ISP, but you've asked for one or more static IP addresses (or if you've entered a static IP address incorrectly). Also, if your modem doubles as a gateway, you'll have to configure your router differently.

The client hardware can't connect: Make sure DHCP is enabled. If you're using a Wi-Fi connection, make sure that security and encryption are set up correctly. For example, many laptops ship with tools from the manufacturer to streamline the configuration process. I've seen some of these tools incorrectly detect the type of security being used, so you may have to go to Windows' own networking utilities to set that.

All Plugged In
A wiring panelNow for a look at one particular network: the one in my home. Our family's network is relatively complex in scope, but while we do some online gaming, we don't run a Web server or an FTP site from within the house.

As I mentioned, we have bundles of Cat 5e wiring at the baseboards in one home office, plus structured wiring to several key rooms in the house. All this is tied together into a central structured-wiring panel, which houses a pair of Netgear 16-port gigabit ethernet switches.

The room has a single Cat 5e wired drop, which connects to a compact Linksys eight-port gigabit ethernet switch. All of the wired devices connect via the switch.

Prior to putting a wired drop in the family room, we were using a D-Link DAP-1522 802.11 wireless bridge. The bridge connected to the router via Wi-Fi, and has four gigabit ethernet ports. Now that we have five wired devices, having a physical drop and an eight-port switch has been incredibly useful.

The Internet connection is through Comcast's Business ISP service, which connects via a cable connection to an SMC gateway. While the gateway also has a built-in router, that's limited to 10/100 fast ethernet, so the router is disabled.

A single cable runs from the gateway to the D-Link DIR-655, which has four gigabit ports. Another cable runs from one of the gigabit ports to one of the Netgear 16-port switches, and the two switches are bridged through a short cable.

The Case Network
Overall, the network itself has been pretty reliable. In addition to the Nintendo Wii, we have an iPhone and an iPad connecting via Wi-Fi, as well as a couple of laptop PCs. We've never had a problem with network throughput to any device in the house, even with multiple large downloads.

One of us is often taking part in videoconferencing while the other is downloading a large game through Valve Software's Steam gaming service at the same time; neither of us has experienced issues with connectivity, apart from the rare occasions (twice in the past nine months) that the Comcast connection has dropped for brief periods (the longest was about 2 hours).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Guide to Home Networking

Home networking is never as simple as merely connecting device A to device B. This guide will walk you through the jargon of setting up a home network. I'm focusing on PC networking here, but I will talk about consumer electronics gear in the context of delivering material from your PC to the living room, as well as Internet connectivity.

Home networking guideSome of the following advice may apply to renters as well as to homeowners, but if you rent rather than own, you have much less control over your physical environment. Your landlord may not appreciate your punching holes in the walls to string Cat 5e cabling, for example.

What Do You Need From Your Network?
Before whipping out your credit card and buying up gear, figure out what you're trying to accomplish with your home network.
* Are you just looking to connect a couple of laptops and maybe a Wi-Fi-equipped cell phone to the Internet for Web access? You might be able to get by with a single 802.11n access point.
* Do you work at home frequently, and require access to a corporate network through VPN (virtual private network) technology? You'll need a good router that can handle VPN passthrough.
* Are you a serious online gamer? Do you connect to massively multiplayer online games or through services like PlayStation Network or Xbox Live frequently? You'll need not only to buy a good router but also to steep yourself in key router capabilities such as port forwarding.
* Do you watch TV through the Internet, using services like Hulu or the networks' own Websites? If you're streaming video from the Internet to multiple locations in your home, you'll want a reliable networking infrastructure--probably a wired network.

Determining the answers to such questions will go a long way toward ensuring that you build a network suitable for your home without spending too much in the process.

Your Network Infrastructure Options
Most homeowners have three basic choices for moving data around their abode: wired ethernet, Wi-Fi, and HomePlug (powerline networking).
Wired Ethernet

Ethernet cable
Nothing today beats gigabit ethernet for moving data around the home. (While 10-gigabit ethernet is starting to make inroads in corporate environments, it's still too expensive for most homeowners.) Gigabit ethernet translates to a maximum throughput of 125 megabytes per second, but you'll rarely see that speed; this is about as fast as a midrange hard drive, although networking overhead will make gigabit seem slower.

The primary standard for gigabit today is 1000Base-T, or IEEE 802.3ab. 1000Base-T runs over twisted-pair copper wiring. If you plan on using gigabit ethernet, you'll need Cat 5e (Category 5e) wiring. (You can also use Cat 6 cabling, though that's overkill for gigabit ethernet.)

Be careful when buying Cat 5e, however--some cheaper cables labeled "Cat 5e" may not be solid copper, or may be smaller than the standard 24-gauge, and your throughput on such lower-cost cables may be reduced. Make sure you buy cabling from a reputable manufacturer, and take care to avoid the cheapest cables.

The weakness of gigabit ethernet lies within its strength: It requires physical wiring. So you'll need to string Cat 5e to any room where you want that level of connectivity.
Structured Wiring

Structured wiringIf you're running other kinds of wiring around the house (telephone, fiber-optic, coax, or the like), you might be able to kill two birds with one stone with structured wiring, which bundles all of them in a single sheath. The term "structured wiring" actually encompasses a range of products, including wiring panels, junction boxes, and other items, but I'm mainly discussing the actual wiring here.

While the structured bundle is thicker than individual cables, it makes running cable throughout a home easier, though you'll still have to punch holes in your walls.

A structured wiring drop
In my home office, which is a basement room, I have Cat 5e running on the floor, in gathered bundles. This approach is fine in a single room that isn't intended for lots of visitors, but it's a less-than-optimal solution for social-gathering locations, like living rooms--you'll want to run the wires behind the walls there. (Check out for more structured-wiring tips.)

If you can't (or won't) run cables through your house, the next best setup is Wi-Fi.

I'll say it up front: if you're planning on using Wi-Fi for whole-house networking, think again. While 802.11n sounds great--offering throughput up to 300 megabits per second, and no wiring hassles--it isn't ideal if you want to do lots of media streaming and moving big files around.

For example, in my home we have a Windows Home Server with several user accounts. We also use the server as a repository for applications. Installing large apps over wired gigabit ethernet takes only a little more time than installing from a CD. But installing software over an 802.11n link can take a very long time.

On the other hand, if you simply want to connect a small number of PCs, Wi-Fi may be the right way to go for you. Wi-Fi is a quick and easy way to connect several business laptops, Wi-Fi-enabled cell phones, and light-duty devices such as an Apple iPad or a netbook.

If you like the convenience of Wi-Fi for connecting laptops and phones, you might consider a mixed network, using a combination of Wi-Fi and gigabit ethernet. I'll discuss one possible scenario for a mixed-mode network on the next page.
What Kind of Wi-Fi Do You Need?

If Wi-Fi is your only alternative, definitely go with 802.11n. The prices of 802.11n routers and access points have dropped substantially, so there's no point in using older 802.11g gear unless your networking needs are minimal. (Check out PCWorld's wireless router and networking reviews, while you're at it.)

Before you start shopping for Wi-Fi equipment, make sure you know what kind of equipment you're looking for--you'll see both "wireless routers" and "wireless access points" out there.

Cisco M20 802.11n wireless routerRouters take incoming traffic from the Internet and route the traffic to the correct system inside the network. They handle the task through a built-in NAT (network address translation) capability. Routers also act as firewalls between the internal network and the outside Internet, but that's an additional function.

Traditionally, access points simply existed to connect Wi-Fi-equipped PCs, and didn't handle routing functions. Early access points needed to be connected to a router. These days that definition has become a little fuzzy, and most home-oriented access points have built-in routers but lack wired-ethernet switches.

Home routers include wired-ethernet switches. Note that you can still find routers that connect only via wired links and don't have built in access points.

For our purposes here, I'll use the term "router" to mean a wired router with a built-in Wi-Fi access point. An access point, for this article, is a Wi-Fi router without built-in wired-ethernet switching. Routers don't cost much more than most access points, though, so consider one anyway--you never know if you'll need the added flexibility at some point.

The key to good 802.11n performance is to pick the right router. Routers can vary widely in features and performance, though if you have a small living area and only one or two systems connected to the router, you might never notice.

Small Net Builder offers more-detailed performance reviews, if you're concerned about throughput or area coverage. Lower-cost routers may have only fast ethernet support, and only a single Wi-Fi radio. When you're shopping for equipment, here are several key features to look for.

* Simultaneous dual band: Such routers can support both 2.4GHz and 5GHz or 5.8GHz. Only a few routers fully support 5.8GHz; you'll get increased bandwidth, but you'll also sacrifice some range, particularly through walls. Some newer routers may include a pair of 5GHz radios.
* Multiple antennas: You'll want an 802.11n router with two antennas at a minimum. Some home routers may have no visible antennas, but carry multiple antennas embedded in the case. That's okay for moderately sized homes.
* Replaceable antennas: If you have longer range requirements, consider a router with external, replaceable antennas. These typically attach to a small, coax-style connector. Antennas are widely available from a number of sources, and come in a variety of sizes and configurations.

Depending on your needs, you might also want to look for routers with QoS (quality of service) support for better media streaming, gaming support (if you're an online gamer), and guest access (if you have a stream of friends dropping by who might want to connect).

One key issue to note with Wi-Fi networks is that your bandwidth splits among multiple client connections. Think about an 802.11n router with 300-mbps bandwidth. Now imagine connecting ten PCs to that router via Wi-Fi. All ten systems must share that 300 mbps. Fortunately, most modern routers are pretty smart about allocating bandwidth as needed, and some routers allow you to set up bandwidth allocation limits.

WISH settings on a D-Link routerAnother feature that some routers support is WISH (wireless intelligent stream handling), which allows you to prioritize certain types of traffic to specific clients or sets of clients. You might want to enable WISH if you're streaming video from one system (a home server) to another (a living-room PC or network-equipped HDTV). Similarly, WISH is useful for making sure that VoIP connections remain reliable.
Extending Wi-Fi

There may be times you'll want to extend your Wi-Fi network to wired-only devices, like the Xbox 360 game console or BD 2.0 network-equipped Blu-ray players.

A wireless bridge is just the thing you need. You can find bridges with a single ethernet port for connecting one device, as well as bridges with a built-in ethernet switch for setting up several devices at the same time in one area.

Alternatively, you could just increase the range of your network. Standard access points often have a bridge or extender mode, but you can also find dedicated range extenders that essentially act as relays for your Wi-Fi signal.

Powerline Networking (HomePlug)
Netgear's powerline offeringsIf you want reliable bandwidth to particular computers or devices, but aren't able to string Cat 5e wiring, consider a HomePlug powerline networking setup. HomePlug uses your home's existing power lines for carrying network signals. The HomePlug standard has been evolving over the years, and current products include QoS (quality of service) settings and offer maximum throughput of up to 200 mbps.

That's less total bandwidth than 802.11n, but HomePlug connections are for single clients. You can plug an ethernet switch into a HomePlug connection, of course, but at the cost of splitting that bandwidth.

The problem with HomePlug is that your total bandwidth is at the mercy of your electrical wiring. Actual speeds vary wildly--brand-new adapters might get over 100 mbps in an ideal home but only 10 to 15 mbps in an older building.

Newer construction often means better wiring, but how that wiring is laid out can also be a factor. In my home, we have discontinuous wiring--the only way to route a signal from the basement to the top-floor bedrooms is through the circuit-breaker panel. That's often a bottleneck, and it can sometimes even completely block a HomePlug signal.
Mixed-Mode Networks

In my home, we use a mixed-mode, wired and Wi-Fi network. As I noted earlier, my basement office has bundles of Cat 5e wiring running along the baseboards. We also paid to have professional electricians run structured wiring to several key rooms in the house, including the living room, the family room, and the kids' bedroom. Everything is tied together with structured wiring into a central panel in the basement, in the storage area adjacent to one of the two home offices.

This works well for us: We have wired networking where we need it, and Wi-Fi access throughout the house. Of course, your needs may be simpler--you might want wired networking in just one room, and Wi-Fi in the rest of the house.

I've seen other people install their cable modem connection in the living room, along with an 802.11n router. As a result, their networked entertainment devices can have wired connections, while various laptops connect via Wi-Fi.

Depending on your needs, just a single router with four ethernet ports and Wi-Fi access-point capability may get the job done. Or your requirements may be more complex, in which case you'll prefer to run wires to multiple rooms, as well as to include wireless repeaters or range extenders as necessary.

To be continued

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Network Management Using Network Management And Administration Software

The benefits of the advancement of computer technology extend to big network companies. The enormous number of tasks perform in a particular network cannot be completed by relying solely on the number of people employed in it. It is highly impossible to do all tasks manually. But, through advanced software, network management or administration has become more efficient.

Managing a certain network is a daunting task. It is very physically taxing if the department in charge of network administration will do all tasks manually. Moreover, doing tasks manually can result to the paralysis of the entire network service. That is why, network management software or network administration software is highly needed.

Network management or network administration software is a prerequisite in network companies because it provides security in the operation, management, or administration of networked systems. The network administrator is the person who takes charge of the department which personnel is dedicated in network administration.

Finding network management software is not at all taxing. The market offers many brands of this software at different price ranges. However, looking for the most efficient is relatively difficult because not all brands contain the most needed features. The most needed features of this software consist of integrated administration capability, support for configuration, accounting, performance, and security, efficient interface that can make all network elements visible, identifies problems as well as areas damaged by problems, combine network layers.

There are a number of best reviewed network management software. Ground Monitor is one of them because its best features include new web front end, commercial support, ad active development integration. However, its drawback lies in installation. Nagios is also competitive in the market. It has a number of features which include capability to monitor network services, host resources, and environmental factor. The drawback of Nagios lies in installation because it is done manually, hence, it takes much time to install.

In addition to Ground Monitor and Nagios, Centreon, OpenNMS, ZABBIX, and NINO are also best selling network management software. Centreon serves well in supervising or monitoring applications and its new front end and functionalities to NAgios is its main edge over other software. OpenNMS can provide services in areas such as service polling, performance, and event administration and notification. ZABBIX is similar to Centreon because it can monitor network and servers. NINO is also an efficient tool for the management of routers, servers, switches, and applications.

These are just some of the network administration software available in the market. If you cannot find a nearby software store that offers these tools, then search in the web. The net offers a lot of sites where you can download this software at different prices or for free. Before you select, read first the reviews and the features of the software you intend to buy.

The best network administration is marked with efficiency and quality, hence, grab now any network management and network administration software.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

How To Create Your Own Information Product

You can still produce your own info-product even though you are not an expert of any kind. Continue reading and you’ll realize that creating and selling your info-product profitably is not as difficult as it may seem. Bear in mind to start with the basics.

Take a look at yourself before researching every idea that strikes your fancy. It’s probable that you may know more than what you think, so ask yourself first what it is that you can offer.

Take inventory of yourself and ask yourself questions. What are you currently doing for a living? Maybe an occupation or a hobby. How about interests? By evaluating yourself you could discover more ideas. This, in itself can save you countless hours of research.

Create your outline and keep it basic. What your outline should do is to put things in order and serve as a guide. You can begin by first utilizing broad general categories. For anything that you intend to evaluate or implement, you can and should make use of this technique. Once you have your broad categories laid out, you can prioritize your categories and divide them into sub-categories.

Evaluate and refine your idea if it’s attainable and if there’s a market for it. Even if sometimes you don’t feel you have a marketable idea; you now have a good perspective of what you know. You can use this in conjunction with another idea that you’re doing research on. The more knowledge of your own that you can tap into, the less time it will take you to get your product to market. This is a key issue with any product.
More often than not, it takes quite a bit of effort and time to create a product and get it to market.
Prior to creating your own information product you must ensure that there is a demand for the product you want to develop. Now if you enjoy evaluating Surround Sound Systems and you have enough knowledge to be able to instruct on how to wire and install these systems you may have something that people want.
One must first verify if people are interested and if there is a market for it before you produce an info-product.
If you are thinking about making your own product, it is essential for you to make sure that you have created a product that consumers will actually be interested in. If you offer information product that will help fill a need or solve a problem, it’s more probable for people to buy these products. Determining what your customers want to buy isn't always the easiest thing to do. For you to create your own info-product, you must determine where and how to find the information you need to make your business venture successful. Hence, you need to realize the importance of doing some market research before you develop and bring a product to the market. The moment you've found out that a viable market exists for your product, then you can go ahead and create your information product.

The simple fact of the matter is that to be successful in internet marketing, you need something to promote and sell, whether a physical item, or info-product.
Understanding these tips on how to produce information products can supply a steady flow of profitable business for you.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Three Tips For Hosting A Web Conference

Using teleconferencing solutions is an excellent way to smooth the progress of negotiating various business deals and coming to a joint consensus during a meeting. Online meeting tools make it possible for several people in different locations all around the globe to participate in Internet events, share files and documents and attend web conferences.
Steps to a Successful Meeting
Just like a traditional business meeting, a live meeting must run smooth in order to be effective. Here are some tips to help you organize your next online meeting for maximum success:
• Start your meeting on time.
The number one rule of web conferences is to always begin on time. It is important for you to be sitting at your desk or conference table ready to pay attention at least ten minutes before the agreed meeting time. Take this time to get into the meeting zone and mentally and physically prepare your presentation.

• Fix any technical problems ahead of time.
Nothing will kill an online meeting faster than waiting twenty minutes for a technical problem to be corrected. The point of most business meetings is to impress the prospects, which is difficult to do if your connection keeps cutting in and out or gets lost all together.

• Make sure your online meeting is interesting.
Be sure that all of the content that you include in your presentations and speeches for your web conferences are packed full of interesting facts and data. Keep things moving along at a comfortable pace. Do not focus too much on a single topic and move from one subject to the next with calculated ease.
Business video conferencing vendors provide users with everything they need to access a number of different facilities with a broad range of conferencing software. In addition to offering some of the latest and greatest in web conferencing equipment and services, companies like RHUB also offer customers cost effective deals. Cost effectiveness is one of the main attractions to online conferencing.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Collecting Data in Designing a Corporate Computer Network

Suppose that you are appointed to lead a project of a computer network design in your organization that contains many sites that need to be integrated into a single corporate private network, what are you going to do? As a team leader, a time-frame project as general needs to be developed first that includes the brainstorming to collect data as much as possible, the blueprint project, budget forecasting, liaising with the third parties and so on.

It’s quite difficult to start a project properly without knowing exactly what the strengths and weaknesses of supporting infrastructure which the system will base on. It is therefore, a computer network design should start by brainstorming to collect data as much as possible.

Assume this computer network design will involve three sites: one main headquarter office in Sydney, one main office in Jakarta, and one remote site – the gold mine in the middle of the Borneo jungle. The principal of the organization would like to have all the sites linked to a single corporate computer network to allow inter-sites communication including data, voice, or probably video conference and off course to allow easy communication with the whole world.

Telecommunication Requirements
The first data for your computer network design that needs to be collected is the telecommunication system requirements. The main question is how to link all of the sites to allow system communication to happen. The following questions can be used to collect the data for the telecommunication requirements.

1. How to arrange the Telecommunication service in remote site? We understand that both the main offices in Sydney and Jakarta are located in the area where you can find lots of communication services. What about the remote site – the site in the middle of the jungle? You should liaise with the third party company that can provide WAN services technology - probably uses the satellite link communication.
2. Collect the information what kinds of communication will be allowed for remote site to the Jakarta office: data only, voice, video, or combination of those. This information is important to help you determine how wide the satellite link bandwidth you need. This will relate to the budget since satellite link is expensive.
3. What kind of WAN technology to link data between Jakarta and Sydney, frame relay, ISDN network, VPN connection? Liaising with the third party – the telecommunication company will help.

You need to dig and find more data that specific to the project. Telecommunication requirements should be sorted out first before you can proceed to collect other infrastructure requirements in this case.

Network Infrastructure Requirements
Second requirement for your computer network design is to collect data regarding the network infrastructure requirements. All related data for both logical and physical infrastructure requirements must be collected as much as possible. The following questions can be used to collect the data.

1. How many hosts will be in each site including workstations, servers, switches, routers, wireless access points, and VoIP. This will help in calculating and designing the IP address requirements.
2. Collect the information with the principal management if they need to host public resources either in Sydney or Jakarta sites. If so, where will all the public resources be located, inside the private network or in the DMZ (perimeter network)? This will help in designing the entry-point security. By hosting public resources, domain name must be designed in a secure manner such as separating the domain naming between internal and public usage.
3. Collect the information regarding the security requirements for internal network. Will particular sections or departments need security boundary? This will help in designing your computer network if the network segmentation within the local network is needed. And also helps in designing how the users are grouped and appropriate policies are developed to comply with the security requirements.
4. Collect the information with the principal management to develop service level agreements regarding the availability of the network resources. How critical the network resources will affect the business continuity if they ever fail to function. This will help you design the requirements of the redundant resources such as the need of clustering, load balancing and so on.
5. Collect the information regarding the location in each sites such as how good the power is, how long the distances between each building that will connect to the network, is it feasible to run the network cabling or wireless connection. If the wireless connection is needed, examine how the attenuation factors will affect the wireless performance.
6. Collect the information if the travelling users or tele-workers will be allowed to access the corporate network resources. This will help you design your VPN requirements and the security requirements regarding the authentication and the authorization for remote connection.
7. And still more diggings needed regarding the infrastructure requirements that is specific to the project. By having the brainstorming data regarding the infrastructure requirements you can make the budget regarding the hardware, software, and consultants requirements for the implementation of your computer network design.

Disaster Management
In your computer network design, the disaster recovery and business continuity planning should be in mind. The what if this fail question should base all the decisions of your design including selecting the location, hardware, software, models, the third party involves and so on. For example in building the server room, it’s a wise decision not to populate all the servers into a single main server room. Another alternate server in different building would be much better to avoid a single point of failure in case of the main server room is totally burned in fire disaster. The draft diagram of the computer network design should be evaluated precisely. Risk security assessment must be performed to help you design the appropriate control to reduce the possible threats to occur and if the threats ever occur, what actions must be taken to allow the business to run at least in the minimum operational level.

In your computer network design should also consider the easiness in maintaining the system later by the administrators by providing a comprehensive documentation including the operational manuals and disaster recovery planning.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Vital Tips For Website Logo Design

The website logos are the the first impression that visitors see when visiting the websites.They are typically small graphics (.jpg, ..gif or .png file) at the top of your pages:

* Illustrative or Graphic Logos: require graphic design skills and are really the domain of graphic designers.
* Text Based Logos: basically use your company or website name in a suitable font or colour with maybe a simple background graphic.

Most websites opt for very simple website logos usually with the company or website names and sometimes simple descriptive phrases. Good website logos usually create good impression to the visitors and play a part in the business cooperation, so the websites had better make the simple names or phrases look nice and distinctive.

Tips for Website Logos Design
How to create good website logos? And what do the desginers need to pay for attention to when creating the website logos? Please check the following vital tips for effective website logos design. * Always keep to a simple design especially if you are doing it yourself.
* Don't overcomplicate your website logos.
* Stay with simple text based website logos if you do it yourself.
* Make the Text easy to Read.
* Have the website logos professionally made if you want an illustrative type logo.
* If you are just starting out online, and aren't creating website logos for an existing business use a simple text logo, and change it later as your site builds traffic.
* Make you own website logos using traditional tools like Microsoft paint, Photoshop or similar package.
* Make your own using a professional logo package.
* Have your website logos professionally made by a logo designer.

Logo Creation
Tools Now some logo creation tools are emerged in the IT world, most of which are aimed at the people who are neither good at designing website logos nor skilled in some professional software for design. Usually the tools are of rich templates for the website logos, and the users can easily choose one logo that he or she likes and make some changes, such as replacing the colors, resetting the effects, modifying the texts' style, and so on.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Power And Cost Benefits Of An Hp Blade Server

How do you save storage space on your HP blade server? Reduce the number of Ethernet cables attached to the rear of the blade enclosure by boosting the network intelligence of the HP BladeSystem. This can only be done by using the highest performance and lowest cost Ethernet switches for the c-Class of the HP Blade. In essence, its the performance and cost of your Ethernet switches that determine the effectiveness of your system.

To get the most of your HP Blade, you need a switch that has low power consumption, high speed performance, high manageability, and works seamlessly with your already existing networks. Ideally, a company should use a 10GB Ethernet line, as this provides high bandwidth to better manage the system through higher speed performance. When you use the high broadband range of these lines, you can effectively reduce the number of Ethernet cables required by your HP BladeSystem and rely more on a central network intelligence.

Large corporations have been leveraging the simplicity, flexibility and reliability of an HP BladeSystem for years. Recent improvements in the technology have made it much more cost effective so that small and mid size companies can get on board. Finally, the perfect size HP Blade has arrived, eliminating complex cabling as well as stand alone systems and networks. By sharing storage, applications and IT resources through an HP Blade Server, companies can manage their data systems much more cost effectively. Businesses also gain the ability to easily change and adapt to new technological requirements, as the system can be added onto without a high cost of infrastructure.

Businesses rely on their servers as the lifeblood of their business. These servers present countless challenges in management and storage responsibilities. Traditionally, companies rely on complex computer systems that are unreliable and inflexible. Complicated systems frequently go down, which leads to frustrated users, loss of revenue and downgraded customer service. Expanding the server, storage or network capacity can be a time consuming and expensive. This often forces business to procrastinate growth simply because there is no more room to grow. An HP blade server instead can be added at will very cost effectively. Businesses can increase their bandwidth and data storage at will to meet their needs. An HP blade server provides the solution by efficiently storing data systems. Your servers, storage and network switching can be included in one compact system, cutting the number of components you need. With fewer Ethernet cable lines, your system becomes more centralized and efficiently capable. An HP BladeSystem is a cost effective way for a business to centralize its IT needs