Industry Buzz

Taking The Rackspace Hybrid Approach To The Bank

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

In this day and age, why do so many people continue spending most of their time working on the things that inspire them the least? Fortunately at Kurtosys, we’ve partnered with Rackspace, a specialized cloud company that allows us to focus on our own inspiring mission of deploying sets of world class financial reporting tools so fund managers worldwide can in turn focus on the clients they readily serve. Think about it. Let’s say you’re a fund manager with a group of clients you love working with every day. You relish in developing short and long-term market strategies to fit your client’s individual needs. One of the best things about your job should be sharing the robust results with your clients each month. But it’s actually the worst. Seriously. Why does it take so many hands to make fact sheets for your funds? First you have to gather results into excel, push them into your documentation platform, then take time to check all the information and get approvals. It’s expensive. Time consuming. And too many times the results are not even accurate. At Kurtosys, we’ve found a much better way to make great looking fact sheets. We pull in your data and third party information into our encrypted database to create a single trusted source to store your information. This allows us to pipe your data into flexible and custom-designed templates that are then delivered for your approval. The advantages? The cost falls to you by nearly half. Turn around times improve dramatically and opportunities for human error are virtually removed. But we can’t do this alone. Last year we partnered with the specialists at Rackspace to build a robust online platform utilizing both bare metal and cloud technologies to create a state-of-the-art client reporting tool for financial advisors. The combination of these technologies is called hybrid cloud computing. And it’s the reason financial advisors and fund managers can spend much more time focused on their client’s best interests. By now, we’ve all heard of the cloud. There are many clouds out there for any type of business. After doing our due diligence, we found that none of them could customize to our demanding needs like Rackspace. It starts with their open platform called OpenStack. Why is this important? Well, obviously when dealing with massive amounts of sensitive financial information, scale and security and are mission critical. That’s why we deploy Swift, which was built and optimized by the OpenStack community to deliver scale, durability, availability and concurrency across the entire data set. An added benefit of open technology is when we discover an immediate way to make our security even stronger, such as optimizing encryption, we can write the code and upload it into the program without having to wait for a proprietary cloud stack to produce a mission-critical upgrade. Our clients require us to deliver massive amounts of data at random intervals economically and quickly — and our hybrid infrastructure can instantly burst through the cloud. In the old days of banking and finance, customer service was a mere afterthought. Today, however, the world—including banking and finance—has gone digital. Customers don’t expect quick responses and access; they demand it. That’s why we appreciate the Fanatical Support teams at Rackspace. When we started the journey towards building better client reporting tools on a cloud architecture we were a small shop. Their team of specialists guided us down the right path early on, and as our clients push us into a more international direction, our partnership with Rackspace and their global reach becomes even more important. This is a guest post written and submitted by Harry Thompson, CTO and Co-Founder at Kurtosys, a Rackspace customer. Kurtosys provides digital marketing and reporting tools to help fund managers attract and retain investor assets.

9 Reasons Your Facebook Posts Get ZERO Engagement

Post Planner -

Tired of getting no engagement on your Facebook posts? Does it feel like you’ve tried hard to build relationships with fans – but the interaction just isn’t there? With Facebook giving ever more reach to posts with high engagement, it’s ever more important that your content grabs your fans’ attention & moves them to take action. So how do you get your fans to engage more on your page? Don’t worry — you don’t have to resort to cat memes quite yet. In this blog post I’ll explain some of the major reasons you don’t get engagement on your Facebook posts. Then I’ll show you how you can fix these problems to give your posts the boost they so desperately need. 9 Reasons Your Facebook Posts Get ZERO Engagement 1. You post at the wrong times Now I know what you’re thinking — isn’t this post all about engagement? Well, yes. But before engagement can occur on your page, you must put your business in a position to be seen by fans. This doesn’t have to involve complicated algorithms & hours spent scrolling through Excel documents. Facebook makes it very simple — in fact, it takes just a few clicks. Check your Facebook Insights to see when your fans are most active online. From your fan page, scroll to the top & select Insights. Then click “Posts”. You’ll see the times your fans were most active in the past week. Remember, that’s local time. Test time slots around the most popular times to see when works best for your page. 2. You don’t have a strong mix of content Getting engagement on Facebook is a lot like going to the gym — you have to mix up your routine if you want to get results. >> Click to Tweet << If you always do the same workout, your body will get used to the movements & you’ll stop seeing progress. Getting the most from any workout means keeping your body guessing & changing up your routine. The same concept applies to your Facebook page. If you post the same content week in & week out, your fans will get bored & engagement will drop. But it’s never too late to change your routine. Facebook’s Insights panel offers a great snapshot of what type of content performs best on your page. To access this, visit your page Insights & click “Posts”. Click the drop-down next to “Likes, Comments & Shares”. Then click “Engagement Rate”. You’ll see the percentage of people who Liked, commented, shared or clicked posts after viewing them. From this you can identify the most successful posts. Test different content on your page to see what resonates with fans. 3. You don’t frame your Facebook posts Imagine your Facebook fans scrolling through their news feed looking for content that stands out from the crowd. You’re competing not only against other businesses, but against posts from friends & family. You have just an instant to grab someone’s attention. Framing your Facebook posts can help. Use a quote, a tip or even your opinion to introduce the post. The right intro can boost clicks, comments & shares. Here’s a great example from Post Planner’s page: // Post by Post Planner. 4. You don’t include calls-to-action Along with framing posts to grab your fans’ attention, using a call-to-action is another way to drive comments, Likes & shares. Here are some tactful ways to ask fans to interact with your content: Ask questions Present the benefits of clicking the link Use statistics to make your point Help fans discover something new Here’s an example from ShortStack: // 5. You don’t post enough  Here’s a question that has business owners wary: How often should I post on my Facebook page? >> Click to Tweet << Fears include: Irritating fans with too many posts Overwhelming fans with content Getting no engagement on posts These are all valid concerns when sharing anything on Facebook. But don’t be afraid of posting too much. You’ll get engagement as long as your content provides value. If your fans enjoy the posts you currently share, then there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t want more. This also gives your fans more opportunities to engage. But there is no perfect number. Experiment to see what works best with your audience. Test content when your fans are most active online. 6. You don’t engage with your fans Now that you have developed a content strategy, you can just sit back & relax, right? Wrong! Posting & scheduling is just a small part of social media marketing. Conversation is king! >> Click to Tweet << Thanks to social media, customers now expect responses to their questions very quickly. Research from Convince and Convert suggests that 42% of users expect a response within one hour. How do you keep up? Sometimes you’re answering questions or responding to comments on your Facebook Timeline. If you don’t have the answer right away, tell the fan you’re looking into the situation. Ignoring fans until you find the answer could make them impatient & crabby. Stay active on your Facebook page to build strong relationships with fans — and to learn about your community & how you can better serve them. >> Click to Tweet << 7. You don’t optimize attention-grabbing images Since your posts compete with other businesses & posts from family & friends, Facebook can sometimes be a tough place to stand out. One of the easiest ways to get noticed in the news feed is to optimize your images. >> Click to Tweet << Here are a few ways images can grab the attention of your fans: Include calls-to-action // Post by Canva.   Be creative // Post by Post Planner. 8. You don’t recognize your fans You can’t build a community without unity. >> Click to Tweet << One of the main reasons you’re on Facebook is to engage with people who love your products or services. A great way to show your fans & potential customers you appreciate their comments is to give them the spotlight. Here are a few ways to recognize your fans: Fan of the Week Highlight content posted by fans Use fan feedback to create your next product or service Here’s how Skittles recognizes their fans: // Post by Skittles. 9. You don’t plan We all know that publishing content on Facebook is as easy as clicking “Post”. But you must have a plan to ensure your posts get maximum engagement from fans. It’s not enough to just publish. Success depends on you having a strong content strategy. >> Click to Tweet << Summary So what does this mean for your business page? You must research content before you post on Facebook. Post Planner’s viral photo finder is a great way to find images that will resonate with fans. Also, keep track of how well your posts perform by monitoring your Facebook Insights. Analyze your Insights weekly to ensure your Facebook marketing strategies are getting results. And keep moving forward! Don’t give up. If a piece of content doesn’t work — make adjustments. What types of posts are getting the most engagement on your page right now? The post 9 Reasons Your Facebook Posts Get ZERO Engagement appeared first on Post Planner.

Pro Tip: Use eCommerce marketplaces to drive traffic to your online store

GoDaddy Blog -

For certain types of products and services, buyers are turning more and more to online marketplaces. A buyer might head to Etsy® for a new scarf, or to Elance® for a new web developer, or to Amazon® for a whole shopping list of items. But while it’s often very easy to add your product or service to an existing marketplace — perhaps just a matter of minutes in some cases — such marketplaces do have their downsides when they’re the sole location you use to sell your products or services. In order to ensure that your business will grow in the long term, you have to have an online store of your own. On your own website, you make the final call about pricing, as well as how to frame those numbers for prospective buyers. You’re also the person who decides how many or how few products or services you can sell, whether or not you’ll offer an affiliate program, and even when you can access the money you’ve earned from sales. But while you need an outpost of your own online to really leverage the full products and services you’re selling, marketplaces can come in handy — they’re surprisingly effective marketing tools. Why Marketplaces are Useful for Marketing When your product or service is listed within a marketplace, you aren’t the only person promoting it. Because any company running a marketplace has a financial interest in selling more of the items listed in it (usually because they get some sort of payout), that company is going to invest time and money into promoting the marketplace as a whole. Depending on the company’s marketing strategy, it may also highlight particular sellers or items. Taking advantage of someone else’s willingness to promote your products or services is good business; it means that your own marketing budget will go much further. True, that level of marketing won’t likely be targeted directly at promoting your individual product or service — but that’s okay. You will, of course, go out of your way to offer items on the marketplace that are top notch, so that you’ll have more than the average number of positive reviews and so that you can catch the eyes of users who are browsing the site for options. You might also consider what secondary benefits you can get from listing items for sale in certain marketplaces. Depending on how well known the marketplace in question is, a listing can make you more trustworthy to prospective buyers, effectively letting you piggyback off of an established brand. Some marketplaces even require sellers to meet certain criteria before allowing them to add listings; such sites can help you showcase the quality of what you’re offering to buyers before they even have a chance to read a product description. Tapping into the marketplace’s promotion efforts may also be an option. Many marketplaces have their own blogs, for instance, and give particularly valuable sellers the opportunity to guest post on those blogs. There are even some external blogs that cover some marketplaces, such as Etsy®, that are happy to profile and promote sellers. You can go beyond the obvious promotions, as well: don’t be afraid to contact a marketplace’s organizers about any partnership or promotion ideas you may have. When they have a vested interest in seeing you sell more, they usually are open to any marketing opportunities. Getting Buyers from a Marketplace to Your Own Site For many companies, just having an additional outlet for what you’re selling is beneficial. But the real benefit comes when you can bring buyers from the marketplace back to your own site. Exactly how you do this can vary, depending on your business model, but the key is to use marketplaces to make introductory-level offerings available — not the higher-level products or services you offer. For the really valuable (and higher-priced) options you offer, you want buyers to purchase through your own site. Part of the purpose of moving buyers to a place you control is to ensure you get a bigger portion of the price you’re charging, but you’ll also have more control over the entire buying experience associated with your business. One of the simplest options for making sure that buyers know your site exists is to add a component to the product or service you’re selling that can only be accessed on your site. Whether it’s a tutorial for a specific product, a support page for handling questions, or even a run down of how you handle specific projects, just a link back to your site can be valuable. Test out different options to see what makes sense for your specific offers: Can you add multiple links while maintaining a cohesive experience in what you’re offering through the marketplace? Can you offer media that the marketplace doesn’t support (i.e. a Kindle ebook can’t include video, but can link to a video on your site)? Can you connect a buyer’s first stop on your website to other pages? Can you get a buyer to subscribe to more information? While not all marketplaces will provide you with the contact information of those individuals who have purchased your product or service through the site, many will offer you an email address. Take advantage of that information — that email address is incredibly valuable because it lets you reach out directly to someone who already has a proven interest in your work. Depending on your margins, contacting each buyer individually may be a valuable move. Otherwise, you can set up some automated responses that will still be useful to new buyers. Be wary of just automatically adding a buyer to an email list, however. That’s bad business newsletter etiquette and will like get many of your emails marked as spam. Make it easy for a buyer to follow up his marketplace purchase with a purchase through your site. Offer a clear next step (or, rather, a clear next purchase), whether that’s an upsell, a matching item, or an add-on. You can also encourage buyers to transition in other ways: if you have an email address for each person who has bought from you through a marketplace, you can send out a coupon only usable through your site. The possibilities are endless, once you’ve proven the value of your product or service with that initial marketplace sale. The post Pro Tip: Use eCommerce marketplaces to drive traffic to your online store appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.

Marketers Not Prepared for Negative Feedback: New Research

Social Media Examiner -

Do you have a plan to handle negative feedback? Do you know how to measure your engagement? These issues and more are faced by many social media marketers. In this article, I’ll share research and tips to help you overcome common challenges social media marketers face. #1: Marketers Lack Plan for Negative Comments When it [...]This post Marketers Not Prepared for Negative Feedback: New Research first appeared on Social Media Examiner. Social Media Examiner - Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

5 Ways to Give Your Blog Content More Visibility

Social Media Examiner -

How do people find your blog content? Do you want to reach a larger audience? Delivering your content to customers and prospects in different ways brings more readers to your blog. In this article, I’ll share five ways to get your content in front of more people. #1: Encourage Automatic Sharing with GaggleAMP Every time [...]This post 5 Ways to Give Your Blog Content More Visibility first appeared on Social Media Examiner. Social Media Examiner - Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

Build your business with a .CONSTRUCTION domain name

GoDaddy Blog -

Planning and building is in your blood—it’s what speaks to you! What if I told you there’s a domain name extension that speaks to your customers, telling them exactly what you do in a quick glance? Let me introduce you to .CONSTRUCTION—a domain extension that does all the talking, letting you focus on building an awesome business offline. Gone are the days when small businesses like yours have to use mile-long domains ending with .COM, .NET, .INFO or .ORG to communicate their business name and industry. Those traditional domain extensions have been around for a while, you know, and many of the short, memorable domain names are no longer available. Now, instead of registering a clunky domain like AwesomeNameConstruction.com, you can register AwesomeName.CONSTRUCTION—shorter, sweeter, scannable and downright awesome. Whether you’re a building inspector, carpenter, architect, general contractor or anyone else in the building trade, a .CONSTRUCTION domain name will make your business stand out like a beautiful skyscraper amongst one-story flats. So, are you ready to erect a successful business and take your online identity to the next level with a custom domain? Hard hats aren’t required—it’s simple and will only take a few minutes. To learn more about .CONSTRUCTION and the hundreds of other new domain extensions coming your way, check out this video: The post Build your business with a .CONSTRUCTION domain name appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.

Bluehost Launches New TLDs

Bluehost Blog -

To make room for more and more websites as the internet continues to grow, ICANN is releasing hundreds of new top level domain names in the next year that can make your website more customizable than ever. Bluehost has officially launched five of these new top level domains, or nTLDs, with plans to release many more in the near future. You can now register .GURU, .PHOTOGRAPHY, .EMAIL, .COMPANY, and .TODAY from the domain manager in your control panel. And, we have plans to release a lot more nTLDs in the next month. These nTLDs work just like .COM, .ORG, or the many others you already know, only they’re much more unique! Use the nTLDs to get the best domain name you’ve always wanted and take advantage of the fun, new, industry-specific domains. Or if you already have a domain you love, be sure to register it with the  nTLDs to protect your brand and maximize traffic to your site. The nTLDs are a great way to let people know exactly what your website is all about. To register a new TLD, simply visit the domain manager in your control panel and search for the one you want. And, if there’s an nTLD you’ve seen ICANN release that Bluehost doesn’t yet offer, we’ll point you to our trusted partner, domain.com to help. Grab your new domain now and keep an eye out for more nTLDs that we’ll be adding very soon!   The post Bluehost Launches New TLDs appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

Project Solum Goes Full Steam Ahead To Milestone 1

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

After less than six months in development, Project Solum has accomplished the first development milestone (Milestone 1). This important event allows deployment of code from Github via Heat to generate a running app deployed to Docker containers using a generalized (Heroku) build pack for the app stack. You can see a short demo of Solum M1 code in action: While it is still early days for Solum, an open source application lifecycle management platform, we have several more milestones planned on our roadmap. Development is progressing at full steam to ensure we reach these subsequent milestones. Solum Summit And Design Workshop Last month, the Solum community conducted our second face-to-face Solum Summit and Design Workshop. Red Hat hosted the event in Raleigh, NC. It was well-attended and featured participation from Rackspace, Red Hat, Mirantis, Numergy and Oracle. The two-day semi-annual workshops provide a forum for the Solum community to come together and have a focused set of discussions on project vision, design and roadmap. Reaching Milestone 1 and the success of the recent summit show Solum’s momentum and illustrate that our community’s vision is taking shape. Project Solum was initiated in November 2013 to make OpenStack clouds easy to consume for app developers. A few months ago, Rackspace expressed interest in joining the proposed Cloud Foundry Foundation along with IBM, Pivotal, VMware, EMC, HP and SAP, which raised speculation that Rackspace might be abandoning project Solum. In reality, Solum development has continued at a good pace. Rackspace views Solum and Cloud Foundry as complementary – each platform serves different customer needs.  Adrian Otto, Principal Architect at Rackspace, spelled out these differences in a blog post. Meanwhile, Rackspace continues to invest in Solum as a platform that is natively designed for OpenStack. I look forward to OpenStack Summit Atlanta next month, where Solum will likely be a major discussion topic.

GoDaddy gets its global on

GoDaddy Blog -

How do you say, “It’s go time,” in French? We want to tell you. Today, GoDaddy announced the next big step in our International efforts by expanding our services for small businesses in Europe. We’re now offering adapted product offerings and localized support in 14 new languages to power small business needs in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and Ukraine. Wow. We couldn’t be happier to empower small businesses around the world. GoDaddy is turning the lights on for small businesses all across Europe. ~ GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving For SMBs that run the gamut from bakery owners to website designers, pet shop proprietors to freelance writers, and everything in between, GoDaddy now offers the products and support they need to build and grow a successful online presence in 42 markets, 44 currencies and 17 languages. “We believe small businesses are an economic driving force globally, which is why GoDaddy is committed to offering the individualized service and support necessary to empower those businesses for success,” said GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving. “In a single day, we turned on support for customers in 21 new markets. This release represents our continued commitment to support small businesses with a completely localized offering.” Lancez-vous! The post GoDaddy gets its global on appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.

Typepad On Pinterest: This Full House

Everything Typepad -

Typepad is on Pinterest!  We love pinning and repinning great content from Typepad blogs in every genre, and we're always looking for great, inspirational content. Are you on Pinterest? Drop your link in the comments, and don't forget to follow Typepad right here! If you're not on Pinterest yet, check it out - it's a great way to promote your blog and connect with others! Want some inspiration? Check out our featured pinner, This Full House! This Full House follows Liz and her large family all living under one roof.  Her style of writing draws you in like you're catching up with an old friend. FOLLOW: Pinterest | Blog  Want to promote your pinterest account on your Typepad blog? Just go to Blogs > Content and add the Pinterest Widget to your Sidebar via the center menu. While you're there, make your blog posts "pinable" by adding the Pin It button to your post footers. Want even more? Learn how to promote your blog on Pinterest and follow Typepad at www.pinterest.com/typepad.

Does Support Still Matter In The World Of Hybrid IT?

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

Three support considerations for enterprises looking to move to Hybrid IT Over the last three years, we’ve seen the emergence of hosted hybrid clouds as a great alternative for enterprises looking for a balance between the agility and flexibility public clouds provide and the security and control of private clouds. Forrester, IDC and others predict massive growth in this segment and we’ve seen this trend at Rackspace as well. Given the proliferation of cloud models (public cloud, hosted private cloud and on-premise private cloud), getting the model right is critical for IT departments looking to create great internal and external customer outcomes. As a result, the way enterprises think about support needs to change. Clearly defined support roles and responsibilities between IT and service providers are critical Many of the CIOs and IT organizations that I’ve worked with are starting the process of transitioning from a service delivery organization to a service management organization. This evolution is important because as these IT organizations deal with incorporating cloud computing and hosting, they also have to contend with supporting significant legacy environments. To maintain service quality, it is critical that clear lines of delineation between service providers and IT are developed and documented for each type of service. Careful attention must be paid to aligning in-house expertise with service provider capabilities, escalation processes and reporting. Enterprises also need to keep in mind that roles and responsibilities can vary significantly by service provider, type of platform and location of the environment. Leveraging service providers’ support is a great way to manage your talent In this era of flat IT budgets and talent shortages, utilizing service providers to augment your staff can be a great way to deal with these issues. For example, a quick search for “VMware” on www.indeed.com yields nearly 18,000 postings; competition for needed talent is significant. While service providers can be an effective means to deal with talent shortages, not all service providers are created equal. Pay special attention to a service provider’s reputation for customer satisfaction, number of certified support personnel and track record. Support costs are not always easy to evaluate, but are important to understand Without performing extensive (and expensive) time driven activity-based costing analysis, it can be very difficult to get a true handle on internal IT support costs and even harder to analyze support costs across a wide array of hybrid service options. While service provider costs are known, due to bundling it is often not clear what is attributed to support vs. CAPEX, bandwidth, etc. In addition, those support costs have to be mapped to roles and responsibilities for each organization and service provider. The result is that an apples-to-apples comparison is difficult. Various service providers, including Rackspace, offer TCO analysis services that can shed light on costs in a hybrid IT environments, but these offerings tend to focus on the portfolio of that particular service provider. This is a good option for enterprises that already have an understanding of their internal support costs and can accurately assess the TCO analysis results. Another option is to utilize third-party consultants – that can be expensive but the analysis can be more encompassing and tailored to the specific situation more easily.

Bing Translator Plugin for WordPress Enables Webmasters and Developers to Localize Site Content

Bing's Webmaster Blog -

Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc. has released a new Bing Translator plugin that lets you apply the power of Bing Translator to any WordPress site running version 3.8 or later. Using the plugin, visitors can translate a site into any of the 40+ supported languages in one click without leaving the page once this light-weight, cross-browser plugin is installed. This plugin also provides options for a setting a color scheme, as well as an option to allow visitors to suggest translations. The Bing Translator plugin should be installed from within the WordPress Dashboard by clicking on Plugins > Add New and search for "Bing Translator” and works on any WordPress site. A site developer can also manually install the plugin by downloading it from WordPress.org, then adding the “bing-translator” folder in the “/wp-content/plugins/” directory. Here is the video for How to Use Bing Translator Plugin for WordPress. More Links to Get Started Bing Translator Blog Post Blog Post from Microsoft Open Technologies Translator Plugin Site on WordPress.org Installing & Configuring the Bing Translator for WordPress Using the Bing Translator for WordPress Adding Bing Translator to WordPress using WordPress Widgets Adding Bing Translator to WordPress using Shortcodes Adding Bing Translator to WordPress using PHP Template Tags Congratulations to Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc team for their great work on the Bing Translator Plugin for WordPress!  Bing Translator Team

Important Change - Managing Your AWS Secret Access Keys

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Last month I urged you to download your secret access key(s) for your AWS (root) account in advance of a planned change in our access model. We have implemented the change and you can no longer retrieve existing secret access keys for the root account. If you lose your secret access key, you must generate a new access key (an access key ID and a secret access key). Now is a great time to make a commitment to follow our best practices and create an IAM user that has access keys, instead of relying on root access keys. Using IAM will allow you to set up fine-grained control over access to your AWS resources. -- Jeff;

Important Change - Managing Your AWS Secret Access Keys

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Last month I urged you to download your secret access key(s) for your AWS (root) account in advance of a planned change in our access model. We have implemented the change and you can no longer retrieve existing secret access keys for the root account. If you lose your secret access key, you must generate a new access key (an access key ID and a secret access key). Now is a great time to make a commitment to follow our best practices and create an IAM user that has access keys, instead of relying on root access keys. Using IAM will allow you to set up fine-grained control over access to your AWS resources. -- Jeff;  

AWS Week in Review - April 21, 2014

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Let's take a quick look at what happened in AWS-land last week: Monday, April 21 We announced New Features for Amazon Redshift. The AWS .NET Development Blog talked about Overriding Endpoints in the AWS SDK for .NET. The AWS Security Blog took on the task of Demystifying EC2 Resource-Level Permissions. Tuesday, April 22 We announced that you can now Add Tags to Your Elastic Beanstalk Environments. We announced that Amazon Kinesis API Calls are now Available in CloudTrail Log Files. Wednesday, April 23 We announced AWS Elastic  Beanstalk for Docker. We announced that AWS Auto Scaling now Includes Expanded Support for Dedicated Instances. We announced that Amazon RDS now Supports Upgrades from Version 5.5 to Version 5.6 of MySQL and Version 11.2.0.4 of Oracle Database. Thursday, April 24 We announced that you can now Backup and Restore Redis ElastiCache Nodes. We announced Improved Query Filtering and Conditional Updates for DynamoDB. We announced that Amazon RDS Now Supports Oracle Database 11.2.0.4. Friday, April 25 We introduced new AWS customer success stories from Flipboard, Infor, Dolphin, Qihoo 360, SoundCloud, and Tiens Group. This week AWS Marketplace added new products including CKAN, piXserve, and Ubuntu Server 14.04. Stay tuned for next week! In the meantime, follow me on Twitter and subscribe to the RSS feed. -- Jeff;

Federico Mariani: Illustrator and Toy Designer

Oh, How Pinteresting! -

Federico Mariani started reading comic books in Kindergarten. In school, his teachers all told him he couldn’t draw but that didn’t stop him from imagining characters and telling stories. Today, he is a full time illustrator, toy designer and visionary behind Rainbowland—a world he created where two of his characters, Kororo & Joujou live. See how Federico dreams up his next ideas, share his artwork, and finds inspiration with Pinterest! Federico, can you give us a quick peek into your background in design and illustration? My passion for illustration and toy design came early, since I was a kid. In Kindergarten, I devoured comics like the Italian “Corriere dei Piccoli” or Disney books and Marvel comics. I loved the illustrations and I knew somehow this is the job I’d want to do. My teachers all told me that I couldn’t draw. But ever since my schooldays, I’ve always been drawing characters, comics and illustrations. How did you fall into toy design? I’ve always been a big fan of toys. The golden years of my childhood coincided with the years of the great robot arriving from Japan, which is when I began a collection of Micronauts and Transformers. I’ve always been a big fan of collectible toys and action figures such as MOTU (Masters of the Universe), GI.Joe or M.u.s.c.l.e. Then, 8 and 16-bit video games were introduced which influenced me a lot too. At that time, I began to draw robots and creatures. In 2006, I started to consider the toy-design world as a possible job. I immediately started to create robots and other characters by drawing everything I had seen in my childhood. This opened the door for more real opportunities like to design the MICROBOIDZ plushes and the two sets of CALAMITI-CARS. I like drawing toys more than illustrating magazines or books, and that’s what I’d like to do more in the near future. We saw your current designs on your “illustrations board” and even work in progress (WIP: Rainbowland boards). How do you use Pinterest to dream up new ideas? Pinterest has been very helpful in the search for ideas and useful for promotion. When I make two or three boards of my own work, it helps me get my images around the world, which is not easy with just a static website. As an artist, visibility is important. And with Pinterest, I can reach the eyes of many people. Follow Federico Mariani’s board My ILLUSTRATIONS on Pinterest. Rainbowland is currently a “work in progress” project. It is a kind of world, or theme park of my dreams, where all the characters that I have created live. Although much of my research is on a hard disk, through Pinterest, I have a collection of several images of inspiration. It’s faster than a search on Google! Others on Pinterest have so many interesting things on their boards, that once you enter it’s hard to get out of it. I use it mainly to search for illustrations such as researching graphic types. Sometimes it’s simply for ideas on how to dress or decorate the house. It is very useful! Whats the most rewarding part about inventing new characters or stories? I love the character design. The search for images, sketches and the combination of elements to create an interesting character is my favorite part of my job. It reminds me a lot when I selected the best pieces of Lego to make a better construction or how to mix the ingredients for a great recipe. Lots of people have ideas about what makes good illustration. What’s your personal take on art, design and style? There is no rule—it’s all relative—but probably the idea, original style and engagement. I am attracted by very colorful or accurate illustrations or by signs that remind me of something familiar. But there are also those who consider scribbles true works of art. One thing that makes the difference is the “heart”. Some have it. You recognize it while others have just drawings. An Art Director of a magazine once said to me, “we see many things similar to yours, but yours have something more. You can see that there is a passion behind it.” I will never forget that. Any words of encouragement for young designers looking to jump into toy design or illustration? Passion, originality, hard work and patience. And to create your own recognizable style without copying others. Also do not be in a hurry to create a style. Sometimes it takes many years—as it happened to me—I tried for a while, and then at the end I found it from where I began. It is the happy ending of the story! Or the new beginning. Thanks Federico for sharing your designs and dreams. If you want to see more of what he’s creating visit his website and Pinterest boards!

How to Land a Job at LinkedIn using LinkedIn

LinkedIn Official Blog -

A few months ago, I was a market researcher in Boston at Procter & Gamble, one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies, and today, I’m a Research Consultant in San Francisco at LinkedIn, home of the world’s largest professional network and a company whose mission truly inspires me. I used LinkedIn to land my job here at LinkedIn, naturally, and in the process, underwent major life and career changes for the better. I uprooted my life in Boston where I grew up to move to San Francisco, a city that I’ve idealized for so long and started working in the ‘tech’ industry, where growth and change are necessary to survive. It all started with LinkedIn and I want to share the steps I took so others who are looking to make a big career move can benefit from what I learned. Know your story and your values. It took months of introspection to figure out what I wanted. I had to understand what motivated me, what excited me (on a day-to-day basis) and what I was good at. I also thought about the company and mission I was working towards, and what values were important to me. There were also other difficult questions that I had to answer such as: What do I want to do next? Why do I want a different role? How does a chemistry degree relate to the skills needed for what I want to do next? How will I transition from working in a consumer goods company to a tech company? I knew that I was easily enticed by other people’s roles, but it was easy to idealize other roles without understanding the day-to-day activities or skills needed for those roles. I talked with other mentors and trusted co-workers. One friend suggested that I research myself for an entire work week. Using a stack of sticky notes, I used one each time I felt inspired or uninspired by my work and wrote down what I was doing at that time. This exercise helped me piece together the type of work or things at work that energized me. Once I researched myself and answered the tough questions,  I was then able to craft my story. This story is my way of understanding myself and helping others understand who I am, and what value I can bring to an organization: “The common theme in my background has always  been research. With a Bachelors degree in Chemistry from Cornell University, I started off running experiments with molecules and analyzing lots of data, but realized that I wasn’t seeing the impact of my work and I wasn’t interacting with people. When I joined P&G, I was given the opportunity to research people, their behavior and use this information to shape our business strategies, which excited me. It was here that I learned the value of relationships and leadership, which challenged me to grow as a person.  I spent almost four years here and was now looking to grow in ways that the company couldn’t help me do. I wanted to be part of an industry that was undergoing significant growth and in a place where I could stretch my technical skill set. Naturally, LinkedIn seems like the next best fit. “ Research the company before reaching out. I did my research on LinkedIn as a company before I applied or reached out to anyone at the company. To me, this came naturally as I genuinely love using LinkedIn and researching. I researched the company page and watched their videos on cultural fit and transformation I chose a job posting that I wanted to apply for. I read their company blog. I read a few articles by LinkedIn Influencers For years, I was also an avid fan of Pulse, their mobile app that aggregates news from all over the web and had started using the LinkedIn platform to read status updates and articles. For me, it was important that I believed in the culture, the product, the mission and culture of the company. Proactively reach out to an employee at the company you’re interested in via LinkedIn before applying. While I was still working at Procter & Gamble (P&G) and after figuring out what I wanted,  I reached out via InMail to Sohan, a LinkedIn employee who was a second degree connection at the time. He had previously worked in a similar role as me at P&G. Although I didn’t know Sohan at the time, we had several mutual connections, so I sent him an InMail that was both personal and friendly. I inquired about his role, his work and his transition from a consumer goods to a tech company. Sohan also gave me insight into what LinkedIn was looking for in a candidate and the skills and traits needed to be successful in his role. Although I was unsure if I should reach out (would I be seen as annoying, desperate?), I decided that I had very little to lose. In my experience, people are usually more than eager to help you out if you are sincere. Ask for an introduction. After Sohan’s detailed response, I was convinced that I wanted to do something similar. I asked him to introduce me to the hiring manager of a LinkedIn job posting that I had been considering. As luck would have it, he sat next to the hiring manager of the posting and Sohan eagerly introduced me to him. Update your LinkedIn profile and make it easy to understand. For me especially, I knew that a jump from the consumer goods to the tech industry was unusual and would bring about many questions not just from interviewers but from friends as well. After some thought, I attempted to create a profile without corporate jargon and to explain my skills in a way that was easy to understand with the litmus test being my family, who still thought I ran chemistry experiments at a chemical company. My brother is a systems engineer, my mom is an real estate manager and my dad is a retired professor in computer engineering so the concept of marketing research was foreign. If my family could understand my experience, then most people would too. Start with the end in mind. My research on the company and on myself prior to reaching out paid off when things started moving quickly and I was having multiple phone interviews. Balancing an actual job and interviewing, including flying out to San Francisco on a week’s notice, required careful planning and thought. I set aside time in my calendar, managed my work and blocked time off as vacation. Although I was surprised things moved quickly,  I was prepared. My story is not unique… I am not the only one who has a similar journey. Not surprisingly, I’m now part of the nearly 100% of new hires at LinkedIn that have been impacted by LinkedIn in the past six months, which means, people who are getting hired are leveraging relationships and doing their homework, too. With an ever increasingly competitive job market and widening skills gap, knowing the right people and doing your research becomes critical to standing out. Sometimes it just takes a little motivation and courage to reach out to someone.

AWS Week in Review - April 21, 2014

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Let's take a quick look at what happened in AWS-land last week: Monday, April 21 We announced New Features for Amazon Redshift. The AWS .NET Development Blog talked about Overriding Endpoints in the AWS SDK for .NET. The AWS Security Blog took on the task of Demystifying EC2 Resource-Level Permissions. Tuesday, April 22 We announced that you can now Add Tags to Your Elastic Beanstalk Environments. We announced that Amazon Kinesis API Calls are now Available in CloudTrail Log Files. Wednesday, April 23 We announced AWS Elastic  Beanstalk for Docker. We announced that AWS Auto Scaling now Includes Expanded Support for Dedicated Instances. We announced that Amazon RDS now Supports Upgrades from Version 5.5 to Version 5.6 of MySQL and Version 11.2.0.4 of Oracle Database. Thursday, April 24 We announced that you can now Backup and Restore Redis ElastiCache Nodes. We announced Improved Query Filtering and Conditional Updates for DynamoDB. We announced that Amazon RDS Now Supports Oracle Database 11.2.0.4. Friday, April 25 We introduced new AWS customer success stories from Flipboard, Infor, Dolphin, Qihoo 360, SoundCloud, and Tiens Group. This week AWS Marketplace added new products including CKAN, piXserve, and Ubuntu Server 14.04. Stay tuned for next week! In the meantime, follow me on Twitter and subscribe to the RSS feed. -- Jeff;

Redefining The Hybrid Cloud At EMC World 2014

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

EMC World 2014 kicks off next week in Las Vegas, and Rackspace will be there in full force. We’ll be highlighting our decade-long partnership with EMC and discussing how we’re working together to redefine the hybrid cloud. Here’s a look at what we’re up to as EMC World rocks the Venetian Monday, May 5 through Thursday, May 8. Keynote Presentation Wednesday, May 7, 2:30 p.m. Rackspace CTO of Global Enterprise Solutions Sean Wedige (@swedige) will participate in the Isilon keynote presentation as a featured panelist. Wedige will also participate in an Isilon Birds-of-a-Feather panel discussion prior to the keynote at 1 p.m. Breakout Presentation Wednesday, May 7, 4 p.m. “Migrating Traditional Apps From On-Premises To The Hybrid Cloud” featuring Rackspace Cloud Solutions Architect Jaret Chiles (@jaretchiles) Re-architecting legacy apps for the public cloud is very resource intensive. However, migrating apps to a hosted hybrid cloud that’s composed of bare-metal servers, VMware virtualization, EMC storage, and public cloud offers cloud-bursting benefits, but with less risk and cost. Join us and learn the five-step path to the hybrid cloud. In-Booth Presentations Tuesday, May 6 and Wednesday, May 7 We also have a number of presentations planned for the Rackspace booth at EMC World (booth No. 256). In-booth presentations are at the same time both Tuesday and Wednesday. 12 p.m.: SharePoint Exchange, featuring Racker Matthew Lathrop (@MatthewRAX) 1 p.m.: Dedicated vCenter, featuring Racker Brent Scotten (@BrentScotten) 2 p.m.: Building a VMware Hybrid Cloud, featuring Racker Barrow Hamilton 3 p.m.: Isilon, featuring EMC’s Paul Levine Visit The Booth Come see us at booth No. 256 throughout the event. You can visit with an on-site specialist about how to redefine your business with the hybrid cloud. Exhibit hours are 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, May 5; 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 6; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, May 7. And we’ll have prize giveaways Tuesday and Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. We’ll see you next week at EMC World.

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