How can Facebook’s data center design apply to your data center plans?
Over the past year, Facebook has thrown some interesting wrenches into the gears of the traditional networking industry. While mainstream thinking is to keep most details of your network operations under wraps, Facebook has been freely sharing its innovations. For a company whose business model is built on people sharing personal information, I suppose this makes perfect sense.
What makes even more sense is the return Facebook gets on their openness. Infrastructure VP Jason Taylor estimates that over the past three years Facebook has saved some $2 billion by letting the members of its Open Compute Project have a go at its design specifications.
But what really turned heads was last year’s announcement of Wedge, an open top-of-rack switch developed with the OCP community. Wedge was followed eight months later by 6-Pack, a modular version of Wedge purposed for the network core. Added to these bare-metal switches is FBOSS, an open Linux-based network operating system (well, not exactly an operating system – more on that in a later post), and OpenBNC for system management.
Why this openness matters to the rest of us is that all of this is not just a mad-science project within Facebook’s lair. You can soon buy Wedge through Taiwanese switch manufacturer Accton, bringing switches into your data center for a fraction of the cost of proprietary switches with integrated operating systems. And you’re not locked in to running FBOSS on the switch either. You can shop around, choosing the NOS that makes the most sense to you, such as Open Network Linux, Cumulus Linux, Big Switch Switch Light, and possibly others such as Pica8’s PicOS or even Juniper’s JUNOS. If you have an intrepid team of developers with time on their hands you can even build your own.
I’ll write more about open switches and open software in subsequent articles, but for now I want to focus on what Facebook has been sharing about their innovations in data center network design and what it means for you. Last November, between the announcements of Wedge and 6-Pack, Facebook opened its newest data center in Altoona, Iowa. And as it has done with its other network innovations, Facebook openly shared its new design.
It turns out that there are some valuable takeaways from the Altoona design that can be applied to data centers of any size.
Say “hyperscale data center” to most anyone who keeps up with such things, and they’ll reflexively name Facebook, Google, and Amazon. And because of this association, people think of hyperscale as something that applies only to mammoth data centers supported by an army of developers.
In reality, hyperscale just means the ability to scale out very rapidly. A hyperscale data center network might be small, but it can grow exponentially larger without changing the fundamental components and structures of the network. You should be able to use the same switches and the same interconnect patterns as you grow – just more of them. You do not need to throw out one class of switches for another just to accommodate growth.
You can have a data center consisting of just a few racks, and if the network is designed right it is a hyperscale data center. Hyperscale is a capability, not a size.
Another misconception about hyperscale data centers is that they are optimized for one or a relatively few applications at massive scale across the entire data center. This stems particularly from the Facebook and Google associations. Hyperscale designs are in fact ideal for very heavy east-west workloads, but hyperscale design principles can apply to an average enterprise data center, supporting hundreds of business applications just as easily as it supports a single social media, big data, or search app.
Hyperscale also conjures up images of do-it-yourself networks built from the silicon up by a cadre of brilliant young architects commanding salaries far out of reach of the average network operator. That might be true of the innovators, but because Facebook has laid its work right out on the table, mere mortals like you and I can put their design principles to work in our own data centers.
To appreciate the significance of the Altoona network, let’s first have a look at the network architecture Facebook is using in its earlier data centers.
Good is not good enough: Facebook’s cluster design
Figure 1 shows Facebook’s pre-Altoona aggregated cluster design, which they call the “4-post” architecture. Up to 255 server cabinets are connected through ToR switches (RSW) to high-density cluster switches (CSW). The RSWs have up to 44 10G downlinks and four or eight 10G uplinks. Four CSWs and their connected RSWs comprise a cluster.
041415 figure 1
Four “FatCat” (FC) aggregation switches interconnect the clusters. Each CSW has a 40G connection to each of the four FCs. An 80G protection ring connects the CSWs within each cluster, and the FCs are connected to a 160G protection ring.
This is a good design in several ways. Redundancy is good; oversubscription is good (generally 10:1 between RSWs and CSWs, 4:1 between CSWs and FCs); the topology is reasonably flat with no routers interconnecting clusters; and growth is managed simply, at least up to the 40G port capacity of the FCs, by adding new clusters.
But Facebook found that good is not good enough.
Most of the problems with this architecture stem from the necessity of very large switches for the CSWs and FCs:
With just four boxes handling all intra-cluster traffic and four boxes handling all inter-cluster traffic, a switch failure has a serious impact. One CSW failure reduces intra-cluster capacity by 25%, and one FC failure reduces inter-cluster capacity by 25%.
Very large switches restrict vendor choice – there are only a few “big iron” manufacturers. And because these few vendors sell relatively fewer big boxes, the per-port CapEx and OpEx is disproportionately high when compared to smaller switches offered by a larger number of vendors.
The proprietary internals of these big switches prevent customization, complicate management, and extend waits for bug fixes to months or even years.
Large switches tend to have oversubscribed switching fabrics, so all ports cannot be used simultaneously.
The cluster switches’ port densities limit the scale and bandwidth of these topologies, and make transitions to next-generation port speeds too slow.
Facebook’s distributed application creates machine-to-machine traffic that is difficult to manage within an aggregated network design.
The individual pods are connected via 40G uplinks to four spine planes, as shown in Figure 3. Each spine plane can have up to 48 switches. Key to this topology is that the fabric switches each have an equal number of 40G downlinks and uplinks – maxing out at 48 down an 48 up – so the fabric is non-blocking and there is no oversubscription between pods. Bisectional bandwidth, running to multi petabits, is consistent throughput the data center.
The diagram in Figure 3 shows the color-coded connections between fabric switches and their corresponding spine planes, but doesn’t do justice to how it all ties together. And something that surely strikes you is that there are a lot of links between fabric switches and spine switches. Optics and cables can become expensive, so it’s important to manage the distances between pods and spine planes. (If you’re interested in learning more about Facebook’s architectures, here are the source documents I used for cluster architecture (PDF) and the Altoona architecture.)
If you rotate the pods and line them up, the way the 48 racks of each pod would be arranged into rows in the data center, and then do the same with the spine planes – but lining them up perpendicular to the pods – you get the three-dimensional diagram shown in Figure 4, with the fabric switches becoming part of the spine planes. Distance between fabric switches and spine switches are reduced. Note that there are also edge pods, which provide external connectivity to the fabric.
Facebook network engineer Alexey Andreyev describes the fabric this way: “This highly modular design allows us to quickly scale capacity in any dimension, within a simple and uniform framework. When we need more compute capacity, we add server pods. When we need more intra-fabric network capacity, we add spine switches on all planes. When we need more extra-fabric connectivity, we add edge pods or scale uplinks on the existing edge switches.”
If you want to hear Andreyev describe the Altoona architecture himself, here’s an excellent video:
You might be wondering by now what any of this has to do with you and your data center. After all, Facebook is supporting more or less a single distributed application generating machine-to-machine traffic spanning its entire data center. You probably don’t. And while a 48-rack pod is a scale-down from their earlier clusters, most enterprise data centers in their entirety are smaller than 48 server racks.
So why should you care? Because it’s not the scale. It’s the scalability.
The fundamental takeaways from the Altoona design are the advantages of building your data center network using small open switches, in an architecture that enables you to scale to any size without changing the basic building blocks. First look at the switches. You don’t have to wait for Wedge or 6-Pack to go on the market (Accton will be selling Wedge soon). You can pick up bare-metal switches from Accton, Quanta, Celestica, Dell, and others for a fraction of the cost a big-name vendor will charge. For example, a Quanta switch with 32 40G ports lists for $7,495. A Juniper QFX5100 with 24 40G ports lists for a little under $30,000. Is that a fair comparison? That JUNOS premium gives you a pretty awesome operating system, but the bare-metal switch gives you a bunch of options for loading an OS of your choice.
As for the pod and core design, that can be adjusted to your own needs. The pod can be whatever size you want; while the “unit of network” is a wonderful concept, it’s not a rule. You can create a number of pod designs to fit specific workflow needs, or just to start a migration away from older architectures. Pods can also be application specific. As your data center network grows, or you adopt newer technologies, you can non-disruptively “plug in” new pods.
The same goes for the core part. You can build it at layer 2, or at layer 3. It all depends on the workflows you’re supporting. Using a simple pod and core design you can manageably grow your data center network at whatever rate makes sense to you, from a new pod every few years to an explosive growth of new pods every few months.
Another day, another pretty infographic. This one breaks down the demographic differences between Facebook and Twitter.
Facebook and Twitter are the big boys in the social networking space. So big, in fact, that we’ve probably written about them a bit too much in 2010. But hey, why stop in December? This breakdown was put together by Digital Surgeons and shows demographic statistics (and a few fun facts) for both sites. You may know that Facebook is much larger with 500 million users compared to Twitter’s 106 million, but did you know that 52 percent of Tweeters update their status every day while only 12 percent of Facebook users do the same? How about the fact that half of Twitter’s users are in college compared to only 28 percent of Facebook users. It shows just how much Facebook has changed since its days as a university-only social network. Enjoy.
IT AND Microsoft Certification At Certkingdom.com
Thought I would make this post to give people the feedback about my first IT certification MCSE 2003. As this is rather a large subject covering a variety of areas, I have attempted to break these down Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer 2003 preparation into different segments with timelines.
What is Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE 2003)
Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer 2003 (or MCSE 2008) is the best-known and premiere Microsoft certification. It qualifies an individual as being able to analyze the business requirements for information systems solutions, and design and implement the infrastructure required. As of 2008, the MCSE is available for two different product lines; Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003, each of which requires a different set of exams.
For the MCSE 2003 certification, candidates must pass six core design exams (Four networking exams, one client operating system and one design exam) and one elective exam, for a total of seven exams. For the MCSE 2000, a candidate needs to pass five Core Exams (Four operating system exams, one design exam) and two electives. For the MCSE NT 4.0 (retired), a candidate needed to pass four Core Exams (Networking Essentials, Windows NT Workstation, Windows NT Server and Windows NT Server in theEnterprise) and two electives.
Core Exams for mcse 2003 certification
70-290 Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment
70-291 Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure
70-293 Planning and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure
70-294 Planning, Implementing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 AD Infrastructure
The topic of these exams include network security, computer networking infrastructure, Active Directory, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server, and other topics of both general networking interest as well as specific Microsoft products.
The following is MCSE specialization, Upgrade paths
MCSE on Windows Server 2003
• MCSE on Windows Server 2000
• MCSE on Microsoft Windows NT 4.0
• MCSA on Windows Server 2003
• MCSE: Messaging on Windows Server 2003
• MCSE: Security on Windows Server 2003
MCSE on Windows 2000
• MCSE: Messaging on Windows 2000
• MCSE: Security on Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
Train for your MCSA or MCSE 2003 Training on Windows Server 2003 and get closer to Windows Server 2008. The strength of Windows Server 2003 in the market today indicates that demand for related IT expertise will continue for years to come. The best way to demonstrate you have those skills—and to inspire confidence in a hiring manager, your team, and yourself on Windows Server 2003—is with the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) credentials. These credentials will not retire.
The most efficient way for Microsoft 2003 exams training.
- MCQ’s Training (multiple choice questions)
- Case Studies Training
- Study guides Training
- Labs Preparation
- Online Videos Training
- Audios Training
- Exams Testing Engines
- Scenarios Bases Question and Answers
When I started in the first line role, one of my initial questions was ‘what do I need to learn to get the best online mcse 2003 training at my home?’ I was given feedback from my friends whom boiled down to IT skills, MCSE 2003 would be preferential, but more importantly are your willingness to learn, attitude and aptitude.
I knew from the moment I had finished my initial training, that I was different to the normal bread of Helpdesk personnel. Rather than spending my time surfing the web, I had my head in a book reading and learning.
I also vetted all of my calls as if I was second line (even though I wasn’t). This did ruffle a few feathers, but I cleared it with my friend first and also made sure that a second line person approved my comments, before it went to third line. The feedback from my Team Leaders was it showed initiative and willingness to learn.
If your preparing for career change and looking for MCTS Training the best online training provider that provide the all the and complete MCTS certification exams training in just one package, certkingdom self study training kits, save your money on bootcamps, training institutes, It’s also save your traveling and time. All training materials are “Guaranteed” to pass your exams and get you certified on the fist attempt, due to best training they become no1 site 2009 & 2010.
In addition I recommend Certkindom.com is best and No1 site of 2008 which provide the complete Windows Server 2003 certified professionals training, Microsoft MCITP, Microsoft MCTS, Cisco CCNA, Cisco CCIE, CompTIA A+, IBM, Citrix, PMP, ISC, and lots more online training self study kits, saving your time and money on all those expensive bootcamps, conventional training institutes where you have take admission pay fees first and if you don’t want to continue no refunds no transfer to any other training course, If you planed to take CCNA or specialization in MCSE 2003 all the process starts again; as for getting online training can be much beneficial and you don’t need to take for fill any from to switch your training on any desire certification.
Greatest Tech Battles Ever Told
In honor of the patent war heating up between Apple and Samsung, we’re looking back at epic tech battles. The one thing they all have in common: the future of the universe hung in the balance. (Okay, not the universe but a really big market.)
Oracle. Apple. Google. Facebook. Microsoft. SAP. We’ve seen some of the biggest names in some of the nastiest battles over the years. The balance of power shifts, markets move, and there’s a disturbance in the Force. Call it Tech Wars.
iOS vs. Android
It’s iOS vs. Android with the future of mobile as the prize. Want more drama? Throw in the fiery words of the most admired CEO in history, the late Steve Jobs: “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go to thermonuclear war on this. They are scared to death because they know they are guilty.”
PC vs. Mac
This is the greatest tech battle ever, played out on the small screen pitting the geeks against the cool kids. It is the battle from which all other battles have been judged. The words “I’m a PC, I’m a Mac” have become part of our culture. So who has won? Like Star Wars Jedi vs. Sith, the tide turns with every generation.
Oracle vs. SAP
Quick, what software can cost millions of dollars and take years to integrate? Hint: This complex software has derailed many CIO careers. There can be only one, of course, and it’s enterprise resource planning, or ERP. Oracle and SAP have gone head-to-head for years at this high-stakes poker table.
Facebook vs. MySpace
In the super-hot social networking space, Facebook rules the empire. But it wasn’t always that way. MySpace used to be the most visited social networking site in the world, riding pop culture, music and teenyboppers to lofty heights. Then came Facebook. It appealed to the young, college-educated professional and ushered social networking into the mainstream.
VHS vs. Beta
VHS and Beta are pretty much gone now, but the two technologies sparked the first battle for the living room — specifically, home movies. VHS, of course, won. It was the machine that launched a thousand rental stores across the country.
But nothing lasts forever, and VHS itself became victim to the DVD, which, in turn, is succumbing to streaming movies. Meanwhile, rental stores are getting torn down as quickly as a bad VHS machine chewed up the edges of a tape.
Internet Explorer vs. Netscape Navigator
If you were following the tech scene in the 1990s, you’d remember the browser war between Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator — one that drew in the Department of Justice and put Microsoft in the crosshairs of a precedent-setting antitrust case. It led to the surreal sight of Bill Gates testifying and saying over and over, “I don’t recall.” That’s right, the same guy with the brilliant mind.
Only techie publications cared much about the great decade-long Database War between Oracle, Sybase, Informix, IBM and others. According to tech writer Eric Lai, the war started a fixation on performance measured by artificially enhanced benchmarks, which has “led to a distrust of benchmarks that lingers to this day.” Oh, Oracle won.
Bookstores vs. Amazon
Pity the humble, independent bookstore and even the mega bookstore. Book readers saunter in, explore different titles, gaze through books and then… whip out their iPhone and order it on Amazon. The massive online bookstore took a wrecking ball to the brick-and-mortar bookstore and upended an industry. The mayhem continues to this day. Heck, Amazon brought the phrase “brick-and-mortar” into modern-day vernacular.
Google vs. Yahoo
Remember when “search” was a neat little Web tool from companies with cute sounding names? It didn’t take long for search to become a powerful market driven by search engines with complex algorithms that generate tons of dollars of online advertising. Google stomped on Yahoo and became one of the biggest, baddest tech companies on the planet. Struggling Yahoo has had five CEOs in five years and now hopes ex-Googler Marissa Mayer can lead a comeback.
War Games (Nintendo, Xbox and Playstation)
Nintendo, Xbox and PlayStation have been battling it out in the gaming industry for years, from home video consoles to mobile platforms. It’s been fun to watch and play, and if you’ve got kids, you’ve probably paid for them all. The intense competition has led to grand advancements in gaming, including epic online adventures, awesome first-person shooting campaigns and the Wii. Gaming now is one of the biggest markets for consumer tech.
Google Apps vs. Microsoft Office
When Google Apps first appeared on the Web to go head-to-head with the venerable Microsoft Office suite, it didn’t look like a fair fight. Google Apps were quirky to use and didn’t feel ready for prime time. But tech wars can turn on a dime. Google Apps has since cut a swath out of Microsoft’s market share, although Office is likely to continue to dominate the all-important productivity market for the foreseeable future.
Jedi Yoda vs. Darth Sidious
Epic tech battles have the feeling of the universe hanging in the balance, kinda like when Jedi Master Yoda took on the Darth Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith. In some tech battles, good did not always triumph over evil. In Star Wars, Yoda got his butt kicked, narrowly escaped, and slumped off into exile telling us what we already knew. “Failed, I have.”
I am currently engaged with mentoring some young technology start-up businesses. What strikes me about these companies is that they spend the majority of their time utilising their skills to deliver their product. They are agile, knowledgeable and very hungry to succeed and to create.
When do they find time to “learn” new emerging technologies? They seem to have learnt it “on the fly” as they go along – such is the pace of technology at the moment. With cloud computing, mobile computing and social media now becoming the current “bubble”, I realised just how easy it is for anyone in IT to become out of date quite rapidly.
There is an old saying which says “use it or lose it” and I will add “use it, grow it and keep your eyes open to what is happening around you, always”. In this process we must keep learning.
Stopping learning, even for a few months or a whole year can make a huge difference. It is like being having a motor car – use it regularly and it works fine (sure it may need a little maintenance), but leave it parked outside for a year unused and the battery will be flat, tires a bit softer, oil a bit tired, the gas will have lost its vitality etc. (Of course it does depend on where you park it – it may not even be there when you return!)
Learning is the same, especially in IT (and most other professions – like medicine, law, tax etc) we need to keep up to date, and even a few months “out of the game” will render us less sharp, and left with an uphill battle if we want to regain our status.
If “IT” is our career, then we need to learn on a regular basis, via personal learning, e-learning, books, attending classes, or as I am realising, by working with very sharp entrepreneurs who are leveraging the three technology areas listed above without even breaking into a sweat.
What are your experiences of keeping yourself in the best shape you can?
Facebook has added a “subscribe” button to its comments box plugin, allowing users to follow comments made by users who have enabled Subscribers.
The new link allows users to subscribe to commenters with one click, and gives commenters another way to grow their subscriber base, Facebook said. In some cases, it will also show a subscriber count next to the button.
The link will only appear on public comments made by Facebook users who have allowed other users to subscribe their updates.
The move is an evolution of the subscribe button the social-networking giant added last month to user profiles, which gives users the option of subscribing to all, most, or only important updates the other person posts to the site. Those updates show up in the user’s news feed.
Facebook is also letting people subscribe to news feeds of users they’re not friends with. Upon doing so, they will see the public updates the person has shared on their profile. And like with friends, users will be able to determine how many of those updates they will see in their news feed.
Brooke Rutledge of Mississippi has joined a growing number of Facebook users who are suing the social networking giant over allegations that it violates federal wiretap laws. Facebook may not be a phone company, but it has been accused multiple times of using cookies to track users even after they log out of the service. Palo Alto has since twice denied the allegations, and has also twice fixed the issue. In addition to this one, several similar lawsuits have been filed in other states, including Kansas, Kentucky, and Louisiana.
The Mississippi lawsuit, which seeks class action status for millions of Facebook users, was filed this week at the US District Court in Mississippi. Brooke asserts claims for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, trespassing, and invasion of privacy.
“Leading up to September 23, 2011, Facebook tracked, collected, and stored its users’ wire or electronic communications, including but not limited to portions of their internet browsing history even when the users were not logged-in to Facebook,” the complaint states. “Plaintiff did not give consent or otherwise authorize Facebook to intercept, track, collect, and store her wire or electronic communications, including but not limited to her internet browsing history when not logged-in to Facebook.”
Also this week, former Louisiana Attorney General Richard Ieyoub filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Facebook user Janet Seamon. The allegations were almost identical: the social networking giant is accused of collecting and storing users’ Internet browsing history without their permission. Ieyoub is asking a judge to certify the lawsuit as a class action. It seeks unspecified punitive damages and statutory damages of $100 for each day that each class members’ data was “wrongfully obtained” or $10,000 for each alleged violation.
Last week, John Graham filed a federal lawsuit in US District Court in Kansas against the social networking giant. Graham is asking the federal court to decide whether the interception was intentional, the extent of communications intercepted and stored, and whether the court should prohibit Facebook from intercepting such communications when a user is not logged in. He is also seeking a preliminary and temporary injunction restraining Facebook from intercepting electronic information when users are not logged in and from disclosing any of the information already acquired on its servers. Last but not least, the lawsuit seeks statutory damages of $100 per day for each of the class members or $10,000 per violation, punitive damages along with attorney fees and court costs.
Also last week, Facebook user David Hoffman filed a federal lawsuit in US District Court in Kentucky against the social networking giant. Hoffman is asking a judge to grant the suit class-action status. Hoffman’s lawsuit also seeks an injunction restraining Facebook from intercepting electronic information when users aren’t logged in and from disclosing any of the information already acquired. Last but not least, it seeks damages of $100 per day for each of the class members or $10,000 per violation, along with an undisclosed amount in punitive damages.
Each of these lawsuits has been filed under a provision of the federal Wiretap Act that prohibits interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications. Facebook is being accused of violating said wiretap laws with tracking cookies that records users’ online activity even when they are not logged into the service. Similar cases against Facebook and others filed under the wiretap law have been thrown out because browser cookies are simply not considered wiretaps and plaintiffs have difficulty proving any harm.
I have contacted Facebook for a statement in regards to these lawsuits.
Last month, self-proclaimed hacker Nik Cubrilovic accused Facebook of tracking its users even if they log out of the social network. He explained that even after logging out of the service, whenever he visited a website that had a Facebook plugin, information including his account ID was still being sent to Palo Alto.
The company responded by denying the claims and offering an explanation as to why its cookies behave the way they do. Palo Alto explained that it does not track users across the Web and its cookies are used to personalize content. As for the logged-out cookies, Facebook said they are used for safety and protection.
After a long technical discussion, Cubrilovic confirmed Facebook made changes to the logout process, and that the cookies in question now behave as they should. They still exist, but they no longer send back personally-identifiable information after you log out. The company also took the time to explain what each cookie is responsible for.
Following all this, 10 privacy groups and US congressmen last month sent letters asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Facebook for these and other practices. Facebook also needs to worry about this lawsuit.
Furthermore, Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner has agreed to conduct a privacy audit of Facebook. Given that the social network’s international headquarters is in Dublin, the latter is the more serious one as the larger majority of the site’s users could be affected (see Europe versus Facebook).
Even worse, the issue came back last week. It was discovered that the datr cookie, which can be used for tracking users, was once again being set on third-party websites with a Facebook social plugin – whether you are logged in or logged out of the service. Facebook confirmed the bug, said only some third-party websites were affected, and fixed it.
Facebook has outlined plans to encourage users to share more of the media they consume – including music and movies – with friends.
Its founder Mark Zuckerberg also unveiled a dramatic redesign to the website, replacing user profiles with an audio visual timeline of their life.
The updates were revealed at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference.
A wave of new features in recent weeks have been welcomed by some users and caused annoyance to many others.
Facebook’s latest changes point to a desire to keep users engaged through new features, in the midst of rapid innovation from social networking rivals.
The site’s application platform has been redesigned to allow users to share what they are consuming on streaming music services such as Spotify, and the movie rental site Netflix.
Continue reading the main story
Knowing you helped a friend discover something new and they liked your taste in music, and that you now have that in common, is awesome”
Mark ZuckerbergFacebook founder[/indent]
News sites, including the Guardian and Independent newspapers, are also included in the initial roll out.
Depending on privacy settings, users will be able to see what friends are doing – for example, playing a song – then listen-in themselves.
Mr Zuckerberg said he wanted to create, what he called, “real time serendipity”.
“Being able to click on someone’s music is a great experience, but knowing you helped a friend discover something new and they liked your taste in music, and that you now have that in common is awesome,” he added.
Facebook said that users would only be able to do as much on the site as its media partners allowed in each country, so free music sharing through streaming apps would only work where that service was already available outside Facebook.
Alongside the deeper integration of media content, the restyling of Facebook’s profile pages is also likely to prove a hot topic among users.
Rory Cellan-Jones examines how Facebook’s announcement affects the social networking war
The most radical departure so far from the site’s well known profile format will doubtless prove contentious with its sometimes conservative members.
Identities will now be defined through a densely packed vertical timeline of major life events, made up of photos, videos and other items. The level of detail diminishes the further down a reader scrolls.
Profile pages had previously been limited to basic information along with a stream of every single item posted by a user.
The latest offering is significantly different to those of Facebook’s biggest social networking rivals, Google+ and Twitter, and more closely resembles the once-popular site Myspace.
“Facebook is positioning itself as not just your social graph online, but your life online,” Forrester Research analyst Sean Corcoran told the Associated Press.
You can use a wireless network (WLAN) to share Internet access, files, printers, game consoles, and other devices among all the computers in your home. After you’ve completed the initial wireless router setup and added your computers and devices to the network, you can use your home network to surf the web or to play online games—whether you're sitting in your living room or relaxing in your backyard.
It's easier than ever to set up a wireless network, especially now that Internet access and routers (like Linksys wireless routers and D-link wireless routers) have become widely available. What you’ll need to set up your wireless network An operating system that supports wireless networking The Windows 7 operating system fully supports wireless networking. For Windows Vista users, we recommend installing Windows Vista Service Pack 2 before setting up your wireless network. For Windows XP users, we recommend installing Windows XP Service Pack 3. Use Windows Update to check whether you need the service pack and to install it. Click the Start button, click All Programs, click Windows Update, and then click Check for updates. Although the service packs for Windows Vista and Windows XP are not required for wireless networking, they can make things much easier and can help protect you against hackers, worms, and other Internet intruders. A broadband (DSL or cable) Internet connection To set up a wireless network, you need a broadband or high-speed Internet connection (not a dial-up connection) provided by an Internet service provider (ISP), usually for a monthly fee. Two common broadband technologies are Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and cable technology. These require a DSL modem or a cable modem (often provided by your ISP). After you have an ISP and a modem, you're ready to connect to the Internet. Set up a new connection to the Internet: Windows 7 and Windows Vista Windows XP A wireless router, a DSL modem, or a cable modem with built-in wireless networking support The router converts the signals coming across your Internet connection into a wireless broadcast, sort of like a cordless phone base station. Newer DSL and cable modems come with integrated wireless networking capability and are called modem routers. If the modem router you received or purchased from your ISP already has wireless capability built in, you do not need to purchase a separate wireless router. Just follow the instructions provided by your ISP for activating your wireless connection. If you do need to purchase a wireless router, be sure that you buy a wireless router and not a wireless access point. The Linksys router is a popular router for wireless networks because it’s simple to set up. There are many routers to choose from, for example: Linksys wireless routers D-Link wireless routers Cisco wireless routers ASUS wireless routers While you're looking for a wireless router or other wireless equipment in stores or on the Internet, you might notice that you can choose equipment that supports four different wireless networking technologies: 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n. We recommend 802.11g (Wireless-G) or 802.11n (Wireless-N) because they offer excellent performance and are compatible with almost everything. NOTE: If you do not want to buy a wireless router or if you want to connect computers or devices temporarily for a specific purpose, like sharing devices or games, you can set up a temporary wireless network without a router. This is called an ad hoc network. Set up an ad hoc network: Windows 7 Windows Vista Windows XP A computer with built-in wireless networking support or a wireless network adapter If you have a newer computer, you may already have built-in wireless capabilities. If this is the case, you don’t need a wireless network adapter. Here’s how to check whether your computer has wireless support installed: Windows 7 and Windows Vista Windows XP If your desktop or laptop computer does not have built-in wireless support, you need to purchase a network adapter to wirelessly connect your computer to your wireless router. If you need an adapter for a desktop computer, buy a USB wireless network adapter. If you have a laptop, buy a PC card-based network adapter. Make sure that you have one adapter for every computer on your network. NOTE: To make setup easy, choose a network adapter made by the same vendor that made your wireless router. For example, if you find a good price on a Linksys router, choose a Linksys network adapter to go with it. To make shopping even easier, buy a bundle, such as those available from Linksys, Actiontec, D-Link, Netgear, Microsoft, and Buffalo. If you have a desktop computer, make sure that you have an available USB port where you can plug in the wireless network adapter. If you don't have any open USB ports, buy a USB hub to add additional ports. A copy of your router setup instructions Before you begin setting up your wireless network, it’s a good idea to make sure that you have the copy of the setup instructions provided by the router manufacturer or your ISP. If you do not have a copy, visit the manufacturer’s website for get instructions on how to set up your router. All routers vary, and you may need to consult the instructions to set up your wireless network using your specific router. Shopping list Shop for a wireless router Shop for a computer with built-in wireless networking support Shop for a wireless network adapter After you have everything you need, follow these five steps to set up your wireless network. 1. Connect to the Internet Make sure that your Internet connection and your DSL or cable modem are working. Your wireless network depends on this connection. 2. Connect your wireless router These are the steps for connecting a stand-alone wireless router to your DSL modem or cable modem. If you have a modem router, follow your ISP’s instructions for connecting your network. Since you'll be temporarily disconnected from the Internet, print these instructions before you go any further. First, locate your cable modem or DSL modem and unplug it to turn it off. Next, connect your wireless router to your modem. Your modem should stay connected directly to the Internet. Later, after you've hooked everything up, your computer will wirelessly connect to your router, and the router will send communications through your modem to the Internet. Next, connect your router to your modem: Note: The instructions below apply to a Linksys wireless router. The ports on your router may be labeled differently, and the images may look different on your router. Check the documentation that came with your equipment for additional assistance. Or do a Bing search on “[your manufacturer/model] wireless router setup” to find images and instructions. If you currently have your computer connected directly to your modem: Unplug the network cable from the back of your computer, and plug it into the port labeled Internet, WAN, or WLAN on the back of your router. If you do not currently have a computer connected to the Internet: Plug one end of a network cable (included with your router) into your modem, and plug the other end of the network cable into the Internet, WAN, or WLAN port on your wireless router. If you currently have your computer connected to a router: Unplug the network cable connected to the Internet, WAN, or WLAN port from your current router, and plug this end of the cable into the Internet, WAN, or WLAN port on your wireless router. Then, unplug any other network cables, and plug them into the available ports on your wireless router. You no longer need your original router, because your new wireless router replaces it. Next, plug in and turn on your cable or DSL modem. Wait a few minutes to give it time to connect to the Internet, and then plug in and turn on your wireless router. After a minute, the Internet, WAN, or WLAN light on your wireless router should light up, indicating that it has successfully connected to your modem. 3. Configure your wireless router Using the network cable that came with your wireless router, you should temporarily connect your computer to one of the open network ports on your wireless router (any port that isn't labeled Internet, WAN, or WLAN). If you need to, turn your computer on. It should automatically connect to your router. Next, open Internet Explorer and type in the URL or address to configure your router. NOTE: Do this on the computer that you are using to set up your wireless network. The computer automatically links you to the router’s page. If you type the router’s URL on a different computer, typing the address in the navigation bar will not take you to your router’s configuration page. On the router configuration page, you might be prompted for a password. The address and password you use varies depending on what type of router you have, so refer to the instructions included with your router or on the manufacturer’s website. For quick reference, this table shows the default addresses, user names, and passwords for some common router manufacturers. If the address is not listed here, you can read the documentation that came with your router or go to the manufacturer's webpage to find it. There may be multiple website addresses you can use. Router Address Username Password 3Com http://192.168.1.1 admin admin D-Link http://192.168.0.1 admin admin Linksys http://192.168.1.1 admin admin Microsoft Broadband http://192.168.2.1 admin admin Netgear http://192.168.0.1 admin password Actiontec http://192.168.0.1 username password Internet Explorer shows your router's configuration page, along with the modem IP address and other information. Most of the default settings should be fine, but you need to configure three things: Your wireless network name, known as the SSID. This name identifies your network, and it appears in a list of available wireless networks. You should change the default SSID that your ISP provided and give your network a unique name that none of your neighbors are using. This helps you identify your network, and it can help keep your wireless network secure by preventing it from overlapping with other wireless networks that might be using the default SSID. Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA or WPA2), which can help protect your wireless network. It’s important to help secure your wireless network by setting up a network security key, which turns on encryption. With encryption, people can't connect to your network without the security key, and all information sent across your network is encrypted so that only computers with the key to decrypt the information can read it. This can help prevent attempts to access your network and files without your permission. Wi Fi Protected Access (WPA or WPA2) is the recommended wireless network encryption method. Wireless encryption (WEP) is not as secure. Windows 7, Windows Vista Service Pack 2, and Windows XP Service Pack 3 support WPA2. When you set up most routers (stand-alone routers and modem routers), you are asked to provide a pass phrase that the router uses to generate several keys. Make sure that your pass phrase is unique and long (you don't need to memorize it). Some routers and modem routers now come with a function called Quick Security Setup (or QSS) that automatically issues you a key when you press a button on the router. Be sure to keep a hard copy and a digital copy of your network security key and pass phrase, in case you lose or misplace them. You can recover a lost network key or reset it on your router, but these are complicated processes that are different for every router and they sometimes entail setting up your network again. Your administrative password, which controls your wireless network. Just like any other password, it should not be a word that you can find in the dictionary, and it should be a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Be sure to save a hard copy and a digital copy of this password, too, because you'll need it if you ever have to change your router's settings. The exact steps you follow to configure these settings will vary depending on the type of router you have. After each configuration setting, be sure to click Save Settings, Apply, or OK to save your changes. Get more help making your network secure. Now, before connecting your computers and devices to the network, you should disconnect the wireless network cable from your computer. 4. Connect your computers, printers, and other devices to the wireless network You can connect multiple computers, printers, and many other peripheral devices, such as an Xbox, Xbox 360, TV, cell phone, iTouch, or iPad, to your network. Before you connect them to your network, make sure that the computer or device you want to add has built-in wireless networking or a network adapter. Many newer devices have built-in wireless capability. If the computer or device you want to add does not have built-in wireless network support, plug the network adapter into your USB port and place the antenna on top of your computer (in the case of a desktop computer) or insert the network adapter into an empty PC card slot (in the case of a laptop). Windows automatically detects the new adapter and may prompt you to insert the CD that came with your adapter. The on-screen instructions guide you through the configuration process. Use the following links to find step-by-step instructions for adding your specific computer or device to your network using your operating system. There are instructions for each operating system, and they show you how to automatically or manually add wired (Ethernet) or wireless computers and how to add computers running Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP. There are also instructions for adding printers and both wired and wireless devices. Windows 7 Windows Vista Windows XP Use Windows XP to join a network Add a Windows XP-based computer to your network Windows XP: Add an Xbox or Xbox360 to your network 5. Share files, printers, and more Now that your computers and devices are connected, you can begin sharing files, printers, games, and much more. One of the top reasons for setting up a home network is to share a printer. Another is to share files. The steps for doing this, however, aren’t always obvious, so here are instructions to get you started: Share a printer Windows 7 Windows Vista Windows XP Share files Windows 7 Windows Vista Windows XP File and printer sharing with Windows XP, 2000, 98, ME, and NT 4.0 File and printer sharing: Frequently asked questions Windows 7 Windows Vista Windows XP Troubleshooting After your wireless network is set up, Windows can help you troubleshoot network connection problems. Windows 7 Windows Vista Windows XP Get more help setting up, securing, and using a wireless network: Windows 7 Windows Vista Windows XP
I've been using Windows Vista for several months now, first testing it and then writing my book, Breakthrough Windows Vista. Now I'm running the final version on my computer. The first thing you'll notice about Windows Vista is the new Aero interface. It's more polished than previous versions of Windows, and it also makes it easier to focus on your work. But aside from the user interface, there are several cool new features that my family and I use regularly. Once more people start using it on a widespread basis, there will be others like me saying, "Wow. An operating system can do this?"
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Windows Vista can help you do a lot of things—new tools to help you organize, store, and edit your music and photographs are just two examples of how you can use the new operating system. In this article, though, we'll discuss four ways that my family and I have already started to take advantage of Windows Vista at home. Stay in touch with Windows Sidebar If you have ever wished for a place on your desktop to organize and manage all the information you need, your wish has come true. Windows Vista offers the Windows Sidebar, a vertical bar on your desktop that holds information such as weather, news headlines, a calendar, and all sorts of other things that can be added. On my Windows Sidebar, I have a notepad to make notes to myself, a small calendar so I can see the date, local weather so I know whether or not to bring the dog in from the cold, a clock to tell me when it's time to stop working, and a newsfeed so I can stay in the loop with the outside world. Having exactly the information that I want and need at a glance saves me a lot of time. I don't have to search in multiple areas to find it, because it's already there. The Windows Sidebar can be customized to meet your needs, and can stay behind of or in front of open programs on your desktop. Windows Sidebar uses gadgets to provide this information. A right-click on Windows Sidebar lets you add gadgets from an online gadget gallery, where you can also add other things such as a slide show, stock ticker, or contacts book. You can add a gadget for almost anything you can think of—radio stations, wind speed, feng shui, you name it. You just decide on the gadgets that you want to display and the information automatically updates as long as you're connected to the Internet. Find what you need with Instant Search Despite all the cool things in Windows Vista, the new Instant Search feature may just be my favorite. It's really a new approach to accessing programs, documents, accessories, email, and system tools on your computer—plus searching the Internet. To access this feature, click the Start button. You'll see the Instant Search box at the bottom of the dialog box. To search your computer for a file or program, just type the name or part of the name. Almost instantly, the dialog box will fill with anything that matches that name—and the matches will be grouped for you into Programs, Files, and Communications. (Other groupings can appear depending on the search involved.) The figure below shows a search for the word "snag"; you can see how the search function grouped all its findings for me. Instant Search instantly locates items on your computer and network, plus lets you conduct Internet searches. Another useful aspect of Instant Search is its ability to do Internet searches without the use of a browser. Just type the word or phrase you're seeking on the Internet into the box, and select the Search the Internet option just above the Instant Search box. A browser will open with results from the Microsoft Live Search engine. The results of your search will appear on the page just as if you had accessed the Internet through a browser. Get organized with the multi-person Windows Calendar If you have anyone else in your life to keep track of, Windows Calendar is going to be right up your alley. This calendar is built in to Windows Vista and has automated integration features that make it truly easy for multiple people to use. It works like any other calendar program from Microsoft (you can create appointments, tasks, reminders, etc.), but the integration aspect allows you to create multiple calendars that can show you appointments and tasks side by side in one view. Each person in your family creates a calendar and chooses a color code for it. If, for example, you want to compare calendars to see who can pick up your son from football practice, you can select the individual calendars you want to see. Like in the image below, each of those calendars appear in one simple view. The color coding shows you who is doing what at a particular time. You can launch Windows Calendar from the Instant Search box by typing "Calendar." Windows Calendar can integrate multiple calendars into one view for you. Keep an eye on your kids with Parental Controls Worried about how much time your kids spend on the computer or the Internet? Nervous about the type of games and programs that they download? Rest easy: Windows Vista Parental Controls let you set limits on how long your children can access the Internet, the number of hours they can spend on the computer in general, and which games they can play or programs they can run. This feature even gives you activity reports so you can see at a glance which websites your kids have visited, as well as which files they have downloaded off the Internet. You can turn on these controls by opening Parental Controls through the Instant Search box. Select the user that you want to apply the controls to, and the window shown in the figure below will appear. In a point-and-click manner, you select the restrictions that you want. Your child can always request permission to access a blocked item, by the way, but you have the final approval. Parental Controls can help you control what your child sees and uses on the Internet, as well as limit time spent on the computer. Windows Vista truly does offer a lot to home users. I've found myself using more features in this operating system than I have with any other. Give a try—you'll be pleasantly surprised at how easy and intuitive it is to use.