Facebook Unveils Wedge Open-Source Network Switch

It turns out Facebook is into networking that is more than just social, unveiling an open-source, software-defined networking switch this week at the Gigaom Structure Conference in San Francisco. Some industry-watchers are speculating that Facebook's new switch could ultimately disrupt the networking equipment market, one of the last dominions of proprietary hardware. If it succeeds, the Facebook switch could even pose a threat to network-equipment market-leaders including Cisco and Juniper Networks.

The switch, code-named Wedge, is being tested in Facebook's data centers. The company plans to have it in full production mode and released to the Open Compute Project (OCP) by the end of the year, said Jay Parikh, Facebook's vice president of network engineering.

Facebook founded OCP in 2011 to promote the use of open-source data center hardware. By developing open-source server designs, Parikh said, the company has saved $1.2 billion in infrastructure costs.

Wedge Overcomes Proprietary Limitations

With the proprietary networking gear, Parikh said, EUwe were running into a lot of things that slow down. It doesnEUt give us the flexibility we want -- the control we want -- the ability to configure things, monitor things, adjust [network] flows with things like Messenger, Instagram, Search, and all the other workloads we have. Being able to manage all that on the network is a very rich area for optimization.EU

The Wedge is a "top of rack" switch, built into each rack of servers at a Facebook data center. It has 16 40-Gigabit Ethernet ports and can be expanded to 32 ports, Parikh said. Facebook built its own chassis -- painted Facebook blue -- that is optimized for cooling and can have dual AC or DC power supplies.

The Wedge switch is built using the same microprocessor platform that is in Facebook's servers, and the company has developed its own network operating system, FBoss, which is...

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Adobe Creative Cloud Gets Mobile Apps, Desktop Upgrades

Delivering on its promise to support the creative community with new technologies, Adobe has updated its Creative Cloud with a host of enhancements including desktop upgrades, new hardware, and new mobile apps that connect Creative Cloud to the iPad.

Although the new family of Creative Cloud-connected mobile apps are professional grade, Adobe says they are still easy to use, with the added benefit of extending workflows that were previously locked to the desktop.

In addition, the company has introduced two new drawing apps -- Adobe Line (for free form drawing) and Adobe Sketch (for precision drawing) -- together with its first creative hardware: Adobe Ink, plus a Creative Cloud pen for the iPad, and Adobe Slide, a digital ruler.

Mobile Solutions

For users on the go, Adobe has new mobile apps for creative imaging and photography: Adobe Photoshop Mix and a mobile version of Lightroom. With the latest release, users will also find a new Creative Cloud services experience, spanning the desktop, Web platforms, and mobile devices. When theyEUre logged into Adobe.com, users will be able to easily access their files, colors, fonts, community and collaborators.

Adobe Photoshop Mix offers a new Creative Cloud-connected mobile workflow so users can access creative imaging tools on their mobile devices. And Lightroom mobile is now available for the iPhone in addition to the iPad, providing users with what Adobe said is an efficient way to manage and edit images across desktops, mobile devices, and the Web.

Sketch, Line, and Photoshop Mix give users new ways to create content on-the-go and connect to files stored in Adobe's Creative Cloud. They were created using a new Adobe Creative Software Development Kit (SDK), aimed at speeding the development of third-party mobile apps that access cloud-based Adobe technologies.

Software Development Kit

AdobeEUs new Creative SDK is a software library that lets developers tap...

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Adobe Updates Creative Cloud with Mobile Apps, Desktop Upgrades

Delivering on its promise to support the creative community with new technologies, Adobe has updated its Creative Cloud with a host of enhancements including desktop upgrades, new hardware and new mobile apps that connect Creative Cloud to the iPad.

Although AdobeEUs new family of Creative Cloud-connected mobile apps are professional grade, they are still easy to use and they extend workflows previously locked to the desktop. The company has introduced two new drawing apps, Adobe Line (for free form drawing) and Adobe Sketch (for precision drawing) together with its first creative hardware: Adobe Ink, a Creative Cloud pen for the iPad, and Adobe Slide, a digital ruler.

The company has also rolled out new mobiles apps for creative imaging and photography with the release of Adobe Photoshop Mix and a mobile version of Lightroom as well as a new Creative Cloud services experience across desktop, Web and mobile. When theyEUre logged into Adobe.com, users will be able to easily access their files, colors, fonts, community and collaborators, according to a post on the companyEUs blog.

More Specifically

Adobe Photoshop Mix offers a new Creative Cloud-connected mobile workflow so users can access creative imaging tools on their mobile devices. And Lightroom mobile is now available for iPhone in addition to iPad, providing users with what Adobe said is an efficient way to manage and edit images across desktops, mobile devices and the Web.

Sketch, Line and Photoshop Mix give users new ways to create content on-the-go and connect to files stored in Creative Cloud. They were created using a new Adobe Creative Software Development Kit (SDK), aimed at speeding the development of third-party mobile apps that access cloud-based Adobe technologies.

AdobeEUs new Creative SDK is a software library that lets developers tap into AdobeEUs creative technologies to build mobile apps. The SDK will let developers...

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Apple iWatch Reportedly Coming in October

The emerging smart watch market may soon have a major new -- and possibly disruptive -- entry. According to a new report, Apple will be releasing a smart watch this fall in different models, with more than 10 sensors to track health and fitness.

The report, in Friday's Wall Street Journal, cited "people familiar with the matter." It said the sensors are intended, in part, to counter questions about what a smart watch can do that a smartphone does not.

Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, told us that, "when The Wall Street Journal prints rumors, generally speaking they're not pure speculation" because of the quality of the publication's sources.

'Dovetails' with Health App

He noted that an emphasis on health and fitness tracking in a possible smart watch "dovetails" with the Health app built into the new iOS 8 that provides a dashboard for health data from a variety of sensors and other apps, not to mention the new HealthKit tool for developers. Of course, Apple could also release another kind of device to collect such data, or could even not release such a device, but those possibilities are not likely.

"I am expecting Apple to launch complementary hardware to their software," Greengart said, adding that he expects it will be "something that fits on your wrist."

Additionally, the report indicates that the Apple smart watch line, which many believe will be called iWatch, will be available in various screen sizes. The specifics of only one device size was mentioned in the story -- 2.5 inches diagonally for the watch face. Shipments of such watches, according to one unnamed component supplier, are expected to reach as high as 15 million units by the end of the summer. Chief Executive Tim Cook has already said his company will launch new...

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LogMeIn BoldChat Brings Live Chat Service to Mobile Phones

LogMeIn is making a bold move on the mobile front. The company has released BoldChat mobile, a live chat and multichannel customer engagement tool that aims to help companies tap into opportunities with the rising audience of mobile consumers.

BoldChat is not a new product, but just-introduced mobile features take it to another level. New tools help companies employ live-chat bells and whistles on their mobile Web sites. Companies can also build live chat right into existing iOS and Android mobile apps.

The promised result: a consistent user experience for customers no matter whether they are using desktop, laptop or mobile devices. LogMeIn also predicts that BoldChat mobile will boost mobile shopper conversion rates.

Embracing Transformation

"To truly be competitive, companies must embrace this transformation of the consumer and start to think about their mobile strategies as far more than just a mobile optimized Web site and/or an informational mobile app,EU said Steve Castro-Miller, Vice President of products for LogMeIn's Service Cloud. EUOptimizing mobile engagement means offering multiple, intuitive ways for consumers to seek help, ask questions and gain insights, from in-app and Web site chat to text messaging to email to social media.EU

Need some convincing? LogMeIn and the E-tailing Group recently conducted a study that shows over 70 percent of consumers use mobile devices to research products and services. But thatEUs not the big revelation. The study also found many companies have not adapted fast enough to keep up with modern mobile consumer demands. Customers rated over 40 percent of mobile shopping experiences EUunsatisfactory.EU

Sundance Catalog Company, a top 500 Internet retailer and a BoldChat customer, is convinced.

"With more and more of customers using mobile devices to shop and research, it's essential that we approach customer engagement with a mobile mindset," said Tim Taggart, Director of Customer Service & Fulfillment at Sundance Catalog Company....

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Cheese! Small Businesses Get Sales off Instagram

A picture is worth thousands of dollars for Limelight Extensions. Phones start ringing at the Farmington Hills, Michigan, salon each time co-owner Miranda Jade Plater posts pictures on photo-sharing app Instagram. Would-be customers call to book appointments or ask questions about hair extensions she posts.

Colorful styles get the most attention. Plater still gets calls about a photo of herself that she uploaded two months ago. In it, she's wearing long, black curly hair extensions with the ends dyed bright orange. That photo alone has generated about $10,000 in sales.

"Without Instagram I couldn't tell you where we would be right now," she says.

Instagram is an increasingly important part of small businesses' social media strategies. It's helping them drive sales, gain customers and develop their brand. The app is especially helpful to restaurants, bakeries, clothing stores, hair salons and other businesses that sell items that photograph well.

The app, which was founded in 2010 and was bought by social media company Facebook Inc. in 2012, reaches more than 200 million users worldwide. Owners say it's easy to use and like that they can automatically post their Instagram photos on their businesses' other social media accounts, including Facebook and Twitter.

PAYING FOR ATTENTION

To boost Limelight Extensions' followers, Plater pays local models and reality show stars to promote the company on their accounts. Payment is either a percentage of sales, a flat rate or free hair. In return, they post photos of themselves wearing the extensions with a link back to Limelight Extensions' Instagram account. The company has more than 27,000 followers.

Yumbox is trying a similar strategy. The Doylestown, Pennsylvania-based company makes colorful lunch boxes with portioned sections meant to teach kids balanced eating. It recently paid a well-followed health food blogger to post a photo of a food-filled Yumbox. The post spiked traffic to its...

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New Push To Get Girls into Computer Sciences

Diana Navarro loves to code, and she's not afraid to admit it. But the 18-year-old Rutgers University computer science major knows she's an anomaly: Writing software to run computer programs in 2014 is -- more than ever -- a man's world.

"We live in a culture where we're dissuaded to do things that are technical," Navarro said. "Younger girls see men, not women, doing all the techie stuff, programming and computer science."

Less than one percent of high school girls think of computer science as part of their future, even though it's one of the fastest-growing fields in the U.S. today with a projected 4.2 million jobs by 2020, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This week Google, with a driverless car and Web-surfing eyeglasses under its belt, has given The Associated Press an early look at how it's trying to change the gender disparity in its own workforce, and in the pipeline of potential workers, by launching a campaign Thursday called "Made with Code."

The initiative begins with an introductory video of girls -- silly, serious and brave -- meeting President Obama, painting over graffiti and goofing around. The narrator says: "You are a girl who understands bits exist to be assembled. When you learn to code, you can assemble anything that you see missing. And in so doing, you will fix something, or change something, or invent something, or run something, and maybe that's how you will play your bit in this world."

A website features female role-model techies who write software to design cool fabrics or choreograph dances. There are simple, fun coding lessons aimed at girls and a directory of coding programs for girls. The search giant is also offering $50 million in grants and partnering with Girls Who Code, a nonprofit launched in 2012 that runs summer coding...

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Review: Amazon Phone Watches You Watch It

Amazon set out to do something different with the unveiling of its first smartphone Wednesday. How about a completely new way of interacting with your phone, for starters?

As part of the showcase of its brand new "Fire Phone," Amazon.com Inc. took the wraps off a feature it calls "dynamic perspective." Turns out, it's more than just a gimmick that allows you to see in 3-D.

The feature makes use of four infrared cameras pointed at your face that help judge whether you're looking at the screen straight-on, at an angle and how close you are to the screen. The phone can then adjust the image accordingly. That gives you the ability to see depth in images, to see around objects in the foreground, to zoom in for a better look, and to toggle through websites, books and menus and even to play games by tilting the phone back and forth and up and down while you look at it.

Another feature called "Firefly" brings what's known as augmented reality to life in a new way, by turning your phone into a powerful tool that recognizes book covers, CDs, DVDs, songs, movies, grocery items, phone numbers and websites and pulls them into the phone so you can take action.

For Amazon, the major benefit of this is that it takes price comparison shopping to a new level, because any item you see while walking down the aisle of a Walmart or Target can get an instant price check. Amazon says the phone can recognize more than a hundred million items. And if you link your credit card information to the service, you can make a purchase with a couple taps.

But more than that, by releasing these tools to developers, Amazon has made what could be a major contribution to what a smartphone can do.

With...

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LinkedIn Rolls Out Job Search App for iPhone

LinkedIn has launched a job search app for the iPhone designed to make it easier for users to find and apply for jobs. The Advanced Search function lets users filter jobs by title, location, company, industry, or seniority level to find the job openings that are most relevant to them.

The new standalone Job Search app for iOS is available in the U.S. only for now and it can be downloaded in the Apple app store, according to a post on LinkedInEUs official blog.

Applicants who apply to jobs on the first day theyEUre posted are 10 percent more likely to land those jobs, LinkedIn said. ThatEUs why users need to be able to search for jobs wherever and whenever they want, not just when theyEUre sitting at their desks.

EULanding your dream job can feel like a full-time job. So we wanted to make it easier to find, research, and apply for your next opportunity by maximizing your EUin betweenEU moments,EU according to the post. EUThe next time youEUre in a line for coffee or stuck waiting for a delayed flight, why not jump start your job search from your phone?EU

Better Than LinkedInEUs Main Site

Although LinkedInEUs main site offers filtering search tools and allows to users save searches and jobs, the Job Search for iPhone also lets users find job opportunities wherever they want with location-based search. They can also get automatic recommendations and notifications based on their searches and they can apply for jobs with their LinkedIn profiles with just a couple taps.

LinkedIn said more than 40 percent of its users are currently using mobile to look at jobs on its main site. But thatEUs not always a private proposition. So the appEUs default settings will ensure that anything users do within the app wonEUt be shared with anyone,...

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FCC: ‘Serious’ Internet Congestion Found at Some Points

Congestion on the Internet is real and in some cases very serious, according to FCC and academic studies measuring broadband speeds at various points in the U.S. Both studies found backups at some points connecting Internet service providers and the network's backbone -- the equivalent of on-ramps -- that affected quality of service, particularly for high-demand uses like Netflix video streaming.

"During our testing we noticed that at certain points through the test network we saw some very serious congestion," said a Federal Communications Commission official in a conference call with news media. "We aren't prepared to make conclusions right now, but we will be looking at how video service providers are affected by this congestion."

18-Hour Slowdowns

David Clark, a senior research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, said Wednesday that his study's preliminary data shows congestion seems to be mostly sporadic and temporary, lasting two to three hours at a time. But in some cases, he told a congressional briefing, the slowdowns at some interconnection points have lasted as long as 18 hours a day over several months.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said last week that his agency was looking into complaints by Netflix and backbone providers Cogent and Level 3 that ISPs were purposely allowing congestion, to pressure streaming video services into contracting with them for special treatment. The allegations appear against the backdrop of Wheeler's controversial proposal to allow ISPs to give some Internet traffic priority over other traffic, abandoning the FCC's previous doctrine of so-called Net neutrality.

A federal appeals court threw out the Net neutrality regulations in January. The FCC chairman then proposed replacement rules in May that critics maintain would curb freedom of speech on the Internet. Many of the biggest companies on the Internet -- including Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft,...

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