Industry Buzz

Identify Unintended Resource Access with AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) Access Analyzer

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Today I get to share my favorite kind of announcement. It’s the sort of thing that will improve security for just about everyone that builds on AWS, it can be turned on with almost no configuration, and it costs nothing to use. We’re launching a new, first-of-its-kind capability called AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) Access Analyzer. IAM Access Analyzer mathematically analyzes access control policies attached to resources and determines which resources can be accessed publicly or from other accounts. It continuously monitors all policies for Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) buckets, IAM roles, AWS Key Management Service (KMS) keys, AWS Lambda functions, and Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS) queues. With IAM Access Analyzer, you have visibility into the aggregate impact of your access controls, so you can be confident your resources are protected from unintended access from outside of your account. Let’s look at a couple examples. An IAM Access Analyzer finding might indicate an S3 bucket named my-bucket-1 is accessible to an AWS account with the id 123456789012 when originating from the source IP Or IAM Access Analyzer may detect a KMS key policy that allow users from another account to delete the key, identifying a data loss risk you can fix by adjusting the policy. If the findings show intentional access paths, they can be archived. So how does it work? Using the kind of math that shows up on unexpected final exams in my nightmares, IAM Access Analyzer evaluates your policies to determine how a given resource can be accessed. Critically, this analysis is not based on historical events or pattern matching or brute force tests. Instead, IAM Access Analyzer understands your policies semantically. All possible access paths are verified by mathematical proofs, and thousands of policies can be analyzed in a few seconds. This is done using a type of cognitive science called automated reasoning. IAM Access Analyzer is the first service powered by automated reasoning available to builders everywhere, offering functionality unique to AWS. To start learning about automated reasoning, I highly recommend this short video explainer. If you are interested in diving a bit deeper, check out this re:Invent talk on automated reasoning from Byron Cook, Director of the AWS Automated Reasoning Group. And if you’re really interested in understanding the methodology, make yourself a nice cup of chamomile tea, grab a blanket, and get cozy with a copy of Semantic-based Automated Reasoning for AWS Access Policies using SMT. Turning on IAM Access Analyzer is way less stressful than an unexpected nightmare final exam. There’s just one step. From the IAM Console, select Access analyzer from the menu on the left, then click Create analyzer. Analyzers generate findings in the account from which they are created. Analyzers also work within the region defined when they are created, so create one in each region for which you’d like to see findings. Once our analyzer is created, findings that show accessible resources appear in the Console. My account has a few findings that are worth looking into, such as KMS keys and IAM roles that are accessible by other accounts and federated users. I’m going to click on the first finding and take a look at the access policy for this KMS key. From here we can see the open access paths and details about the resources and principals involved. I went over to the KMS console and confirmed that this is intended access, so I archived this particular finding. All IAM Access Analyzer findings are visible in the IAM Console, and can also be accessed using the IAM Access Analyzer API. Findings related to S3 buckets can be viewed directly in the S3 Console. Bucket policies can then be updated right in the S3 Console, closing the open access pathway. You can also see high-priority findings generated by IAM Access Analyzer in AWS Security Hub, ensuring a comprehensive, single source of truth for your compliance and security-focused team members. IAM Access Analyzer also integrates with CloudWatch Events, making it easy to automatically respond to or send alerts regarding findings through the use of custom rules. Now that you’ve seen how IAM Access Analyzer provides a comprehensive overview of cloud resource access, you should probably head over to IAM and turn it on. One of the great advantages of building in the cloud is that the infrastructure and tools continue to get stronger over time and IAM Access Analyzer is a great example. Did I mention that it’s free? Fire it up, then send me a tweet sharing some of the interesting things you find. As always, happy building! — Brandon

Amazon Braket – Get Started with Quantum Computing

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Nearly a decade ago I wrote about the Quantum Compute Cloud on April Fool’s Day. The future has arrived and you now have the opportunity to write quantum algorithms and to run them on actual quantum computers. Here’s what we are announcing today: Amazon Braket – A fully managed service that allows scientists, researchers, and developers to begin experimenting with computers from multiple quantum hardware providers in a single place. Bra-ket notation is commonly used to denote quantum mechanical states, and inspired the name of the service. AWS Center for Quantum Computing – A research center adjacent to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) that will bring together the world’s leading quantum computing researchers and engineers in order to accelerate development of quantum computing hardware and software. Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab – A new program to connect AWS customers with quantum computing experts from Amazon and a very select set of consulting partners. What’s Quantum Computing Ordinary (classical) computers use collections of bits to represent their state. Each bit is definitively 0 or 1, and the number of possible states is 2n if you have n bits. 1 bit can be in either of 2 states, 2 bits can be in any one of 4 states, and so forth. A computer with 1 MiB of memory has 2(8*1048576) states, excluding CPU registers and external storage. This is a large number, but it is finite, and can be calculated. Quantum computers use a more sophisticated data representation known as a qubit or quantum bit. Each qubit can exist in state 1 or 0, but also in superpositions of 1 and 0, meaning that the qubit simultaneously occupies both states. Such states can be specified by a two-dimensional vector that contains a pair of complex numbers, making for an infinite number of states. Each of the complex numbers is a probability amplitude, basically the odds that the qubit is a 0 or a 1, respectively. A classical computer can be in just one of those 2n states at a given time, but a quantum computer can occupy all of them in parallel. If you have been in IT for any length of time, you know that Moore’s Law has brought us to the point where it possible to manufacture memory chips that store 2 tebibytes (as I write this) on a thumb drive. The physical and chemical processes that make this possible are amazing, and well worth studying. Unfortunately, these processes do not apply directly to the manufacture of devices that contain qubits; as I write this, the largest quantum computers contain about 50 qubits. These computers are built on several different technologies, but seem to have two attributes in common: they are scarce, and they must be run in carefully controlled physical environments. How it Works Quantum computers work by manipulating the amplitudes of the state vector. To program a quantum computer, you figure out how many qubits you need, wire them together into a quantum circuit, and run the circuit. When you build the circuit, you set it up so that the correct answer is the most probable one, and all the rest are highly improbable. Whereas classical computers use Boolean logic and are built using NOT, OR, and AND gates, quantum computers use superposition and interference, and are built using quantum logic gates with new and exotic names (X, Y, Z, CNOT, Hadamard, Toffoli, and so forth). This is a very young field: the model was first proposed in the early 1980s, followed shortly by the realization that a quantum computer could perform simulations of quantum mechanical systems that are impossible on a classical computer. Quantum computers have applications to machine learning, linear algebra, chemistry, cryptography, simulations of physics, search, and optimization. For example, Shor’s Algorithm shows how to efficiently factor integers of any size (this video has a really good explanation). Looking Ahead Today’s implementations of public key cryptography are secure because factoring large integers is computationally intensive. Depending on key length, the time to factor (and therefore break) keys ranges from months to forever (more than the projected lifetime of our universe). However, when a quantum computer with enough qubits is available, factoring large integers will become instant and trivial. Defining “enough” turns out to be far beyond what I can cover (or fully understand) in this blog post, and brings in to play the difference between logical and physical qubits, noise rates, error correction, and more! You need to keep this in mind when thinking about medium-term encryption and data protection, and you need to know about post-quantum cryptography. Today, s2n (our implementation of the TLS/SSL protocols) already includes two different key exchange mechanisms that are quantum-resistant. Given that it takes about a decade for a new encryption protocol to become widely available and safe to use, it is not too soon to look ahead to a time when large-scale quantum computers are available. Quantum computing is definitely not mainstream today, but that time is coming. It is a very powerful tool that can solve certain types of problems that are difficult or impossible to solve classically. I suspect that within 40 or 50 years, many applications will be powered in part using services that run on quantum computers. As such, it is best to think of them like a GPU or a math coprocessor. They will not be used in isolation, but will be an important part of a hybrid classical/quantum solution. Here We Are Our goal is to make sure you know enough about quantum computing to start looking for some appropriate use cases and conducting some tests and experiments. We want to build a solid foundation that is firmly rooted in reality, and to work with you to move into a quantum-powered future. Ok, with that as an explanation, let’s get into it! Amazon Braket This new service is designed to let you get some hands-on experience with qubits and quantum circuits. You can build and test your circuits in a simulated environment and then run them on an actual quantum computer. Amazon Braket is a fully managed AWS service, with security & encryption baked in at each level. You can access Amazon Braket through a notebook-style interface: The Python code makes use of the Amazon Braket SDK. You can create a quantum circuit with a single line of code (this is, according to my colleagues, a “maximally entangled Bell state between qubit 0 and qubit 1”): bell = Circuit().h(0).cnot(0, 1) And run it with another: print(, s3_folder).result().measurement_counts()) In addition to the classically-powered simulation environment, Amazon Braket provides access to quantum computers from D-Wave, IonQ, and Rigetti. These devices have a couple of things in common: they are leading-edge tech, they are expensive to build and run, and they generally operate in a very extreme and specialized environment (supercooled or near-vacuum) that must be kept free of electrical, thermal, and magnetic noise. Taken together, I think it is safe to say that most organizations will never own a quantum computer, and will find the cloud-based on-demand model a better fit. It may well be the case that production-scale quantum computers are the first cloud-only technology. The actual quantum computers are works of art, and I am happy to be able to share some cool pictures. Here’s the D-Wave 2000Q: The Rigetti 16Q Aspen-4: And the IonQ linear ion trap: AWS Center for Quantum Computing As I noted earlier, quantum computing is still a very young field; there’s a lot that we don’t know, and plenty of room for scientific and technological breakthroughs. I am pleased to announce that we are forming the AWS Center for Quantum Computing. Located adjacent to the Caltech campus, our goal is to bring the world’s top talent together in order to accelerate development. We will be researching technology that might one day enable quantum computers to be mass-produced, while also working to identify applications that are best solved on quantum computers. Both of these are long-term challenges, and I look forward to watching the progress over the next decade or two. Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab We understand that this is a new and intriguing technology, and we know that you want to learn, build your skills, and make some plans to put quantum computing to use. The Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab will allow you to tap into our own expertise and that of our consulting partners. Our goal is to work with you to find those practical uses, and to help you to build up your own “bench” of qualified quantum developers. You will also be able to take advantage of research and collaboration opportunities at the Quantum Solutions Lab. Quantum Computing Resources Here are some of the reference materials that you might find useful. Some of this will make your head spin, but if I can understand even a little bit of it, then so can you: The Quantum Computing Party Hasn’t Even Started Yet – A very gentle overview of the field. Wikipedia – Quantum Computing – A good summary, with lots of links and diagrams. How Quantum Computers Break Encryption | Shor’s Algorithm Explained – Helpful video. Skip ahead to 8:03 if you want the TL;DR. Quantum Computation and Quantum Information – The definitive (so they say) textbook on the subject. Quantum Computing for the Determined – A series of 22 short explanatory videos, starting with The Qubit. Quantum Computing for the Very Curious – A long-form article by the author of the preceding videos. Quantum Computing Expert Explains One Concept in 5 Levels of Difficulty – Like the title says, quantum computing explained to 5 different people. Quantum Supremacy Using a Programmable Supercomputing Processor – An important result, and a major milestone that shows how a quantum computer can outperform a classical one for a particular type of problem. Be sure to read Scott Aaronson’s Supreme Quantum Supremacy FAQ as well. This is What a 50-qubit Quantum Computer Looks Like – A stunning photo-essay of IBM’s 50-qubit computer. Shtetl-Optimized – Professor Scott Aaronson has been researching, writing, and blogging about quantum computing for a very long time. — Jeff;  

How Domain Names Play a Role in Voice Search

The Blog -

Are you ready for what it takes to survive in a voice-first world? With a few smart and effective strategies, you can manage to boost your website’s rank in the new era of voice searches. Domain Names and Voice Search Search engines are evolving at a constant pace making their user experience as simple and hassle-free as possible. The introduction of voice search has, in many cases, eliminated the need to type your queries. Every phone and computer is now powered by a voice assistant (such as Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, and more). The presence of voice-first devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home are now highly common. Voice search is all set to be the next big thing, and for good reason. Conducting a search through voice takes a lot less time than typing out a query and it even offers faster results. A user doesn’t even need to look at the phone or the device in order to get the answer. A revolution in the way people use search engines also requires a revamp of SEO strategies. Since users are asking questions differently, experts need to find better ways to be able to give what search engines will see as the best possible answer. Apart from SEO, there’s also a need for Voice Engine Optimization. What is Voice Engine Optimization (VEO)? Voice Engine Optimization is essentially the process of optimizing your webpage content, business listings, and brand information in order to improve your ranking in the search results. VEO is, in a lot of ways, similar to SEO. Users are widely using search engines to find on-the-go answers for everything from “Best restaurants that serve sushi” to “Will there be snow tomorrow?”. You may think that it’s too early to get into voice search but this is the perfect time to prepare for it. In fact, the sooner you get your VEO right, the better its benefits will be for your business. How can voice search benefit your business? Voice search optimization is a phenomenal way for small and medium businesses to attract potential customers to their website. This is especially true for local businesses. The more you strengthen your brand presence locally, the better you’ll fare in voice search. A lot of voice search queries are local such as “Where can I get the best burrito in Los Angeles?” Or “Best hair salons near Sunset Boulevard.” Therefore, highlighting the details of your local business such as the location, office hours, pictures, etc. can help increase the number of visits to your local store, office or working space. By properly implementing voice engine optimization, both B2B and B2C businesses can enjoy a variety of business benefits. Some of those are: ●      More website traffic. ●      Better brand awareness and visibility. ●      More foot traffic to your stores. ●      Stronger, more relevant connection with the users. ●      Enhanced user engagement. ●      Better chances of conversion and sales. How can your domain name help you win at voice search? A meaningful keyword-rich domain name can go a long way in ensuring that you win at voice search. Mentioned below are a few tips that can help you get the right domain name that is a perfect fit for this new search era. 1. Get voice-search-friendly domain names The right domain name can be a huge aid in performing well in voice search results. A domain name that is clear in its intent and incorporates the right keywords can enhance the chances of your website being picked up by the voice search assistant. To ensure you have the most voice search-friendly domain name, ensure it has the following characteristics: ●      It is short and simple. ●      It is devoid of hyphens, numbers, or creative and incorrect spellings. ●      It is keyword-rich. For example, let’s assume someone wants to visit your website. Between and, which website do you think will be more easily comprehended by a voice search assistant? A domain name can be your secret weapon in fighting the competition and ranking well in voice search. In fact, the use of new domain extensions such as .tech, .store, .online, .space, and more is on the rise and for good reason. They help optimize your domain name voice search. 2. Use natural speech patterns Text based searches are very different from voice searches. When people type their search query, they prefer to use as few words as possible. However, when they use voice search, they will phrase their query as if they were asking another person. Let’s imagine that you’re using voice search to look for websites that sell Batman posters. Here, a domain name such as has a stronger chance to beat the other competing websites. That’s the benefit of having keyword-rich domain names. Just remember, instead of only using single, to-the-point keywords that sound robotic, ensure that the sentences and phrases used on your site and in your content are more conversational. According to a study by Backlinko, Google tends to answer voice search queries with short, 29-word results. This means that it is important that you keep your answers short, simple, and crisp and avoid any super technical jargon. 3. Optimize for local searches According to research, 58% of consumers use voice search to find local business information. Just think about the number of times you’ve searched for things that include the words “near me”. While the content on your website plays a crucial role in optimizing for local searches, your domain name can also be of great help. Domain names such as or are direct and to the point; they’re optimized for city-based voice search queries such as “Order tacos in Florida” or “Buy oxford shirts in Miami”. Localized searches are no longer just about the city or state, but also about particular neighborhoods or localities. Local businesses would do well to factor this into their decision making process when choosing a domain name. For example, is a good, local VEO-optimized domain name for anyone looking for apparel in Queens, New York. With relevant domain extensions such as .store, .tech, .online, .press, and others, you can pick a short and definitive name that clearly highlights the nature of your business and where you are located. A relevant domain name coupled with your business listings on search engines will make it easier for customers to find you. Conclusion In many ways, the era of voice search is already upon us. Marketers, business owners, and entrepreneurs must identify this enormous opportunity to power such searches and take the necessary steps to optimize their content for a voice-first future. Author profile and bio: The post How Domain Names Play a Role in Voice Search appeared first on | Blog.

How Much Does Domain Registration Cost?

HostGator Blog -

The post How Much Does Domain Registration Cost? appeared first on HostGator Blog. You’re trying to figure out how to budget for your new website and need an answer to the question of how much a website costs per month. Along with factors like web design and web hosting costs, an important consideration is how much you need to spend on domain registration. How Much Does Domain Registration Cost? For most website owners, domain registration will cost in the range of $10-$20 a year.  That’s what most of the people reading this right now can expect, but it’s not the whole answer to what domain registration costs. On the low end, you may be able to register a domain for free (generally as an add-on to another service like web hosting). On the high end, popular domain names have sold for as high as tens of millions of dollars.  That’s a pretty huge range in cost. To figure out what accounts for the difference between the extremes and what you can expect, this post will share the most important information you need to know about what domain registration costs.   What is a Domain Name?  Before you spend money on something, you need to understand what you’re actually paying for. A domain name is the address you type into a web browser to bring up a specific web page. It’s the thing that starts with https or www and ends with something like .com or .org. Some high-profile examples of domain names include and While every website technically has another address—the IP address that machines use to recognize it—as far as humans are concerned, the domain name is a website’s address on the web.  Why Do I Need a Domain Name? Nobody wants to spend money on something if they don’t have to. But for many people, registering a domain name is downright necessary. For others, it can be a smart decision. There are three main instances where someone would want to buy a domain name: 1. You’re starting a website. A domain name is one of the expenses required in starting and running a website. It’s non-negotiable. If you want people to be able to see your website, you need a domain name.  2. You’re considering a business or website idea. If you’ve got a great idea for a business or website you want to start and a name you like in mind, nabbing the domain name sooner rather than later is a smart idea. If you register a domain name before someone else thinks of it, you’ll stake your claim on it in advance while it’s still available.  3. You want to use it as an investment. Buying domain names for investment purposes was more common in the early days of the internet, when there were more .coms with popular keywords still available to claim. Now that most are taken, it’s hard to find domains at a good price that make a solid investment. Nonetheless, if you think you have the skill spot a domain name likely to go up in value, you can buy it now in the hopes of selling it later.  6 Factors That Influence the Cost of a Domain Name How much you spend on domain registration depends on a few main choices you make.  1. The domain registrar you choose A domain registrar is a business that sells domain names and handles the business of registering them. There are hundreds of domain registrars, and each can set their own pricing for the domain names they sell. If any registrar you consider seems overly expensive or untrustworthy, don’t worry, you have other choices.  The best domain registrar to go with is one that’s registered with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), has a strong reputation within the industry, and sells domains at reasonable prices based on industry standards. Even better if your registrar packages the domain name with other services you need, like a website builder. Then you can save on additional costs of WordPress hosting and other services.  2. Your top-level domain A top-level domain (TLD) is the extension you see at the end of a domain name. The most popular option is .com, but you’ve probably also seen websites that use .net, .org, .gov or .co, just to name a few of the most popular.  Top-level domains often communicate something about a website. In particular: Country top-level domains tell you where a website is basedWebsites with .org are non-profitsWebsites with .gov are governmental organizations or departmentsWebsites with .edu are associated with educational institutions  In addition, many of the newer TLDs like .biz or .co signal that a website is for a business. And some like .io or .tv say something about the specific industry a business is in.   TLDs are one of the main factors in what registering your domain will cost. Those that aren’t as well-known or popular, like .xyz or .site will tend to be cheaper than the common options that are more in demand.  3. Length of contract Many domain registrars will offer different annual rates based on how long you register a domain for. You may be able to save money by committing to a few years upfront, versus paying annually.  For any website owner certain they intend to keep the website running for the long term, this is a good deal. If you’re registering a domain because you have an idea for a possible future business that may or may not get off the ground, it might make sense to stick with a shorter contract to start.  4. Domain name privacy Everyone who registers a domain is required to provide personal information, including their name, email, and physical address. That information goes into the ICANN WHOIS database to ensure that if a website owner breaks any laws, authorities have a way to find and hold them accountable.  While there’s a practical reason for the database, having your personal data listed means giving up more privacy than many website owners are comfortable with. For that reason, many domain registrars offer domain name privacy as an add-on for an additional cost. You provide your information to the registrar, and they pass theirs along to the directory to publish instead. You keep your privacy, but still manage to stay within all the rules. Domain name privacy will typically add $10-40 a year or so to the cost of your domain registration.  5. Domain name availability Most of the factors we’ve discussed so far can cause a difference of a few bucks here and there to your domain registration. This one is where the differences can get big. If you register a domain name that’s already available, your costs will be relatively low. If you decide you really want one that someone already owns, you’ll probably be paying much higher prices. That’s where the multi-million dollar domain name sales we mentioned earlier start to come into play.  Most of the domain names that someone already owns won’t cost in the millions. Although you should know, many of them won’t even be for sale. If you set your sights on a domain name someone’s actively using, don’t get your hopes up. They’ll probably want to keep it.  But a portion of the domain names already owned were bought by investors with the specific intention of selling them. If the domain you want belongs to an investor, they’ll be interested in selling, as long as you can agree on a price.   6. Keyword popularity If you’re buying a domain off an investor, a big factor in how they set their price will be keyword popularity. URLs are one factor in search engine optimization (SEO). Having a domain name that incorporates valuable keywords can therefore make your website easier for people to find in the search engines. If the domain you want consists of a keyword phrase that gets a lot of searches on Google, be prepared to spend more because of it. How Much Should I Pay for a Domain Name? All of that information may be good to know, but what you really care about is how it applies to you and the domain name you want. If you can come up with a good domain name for your business that someone hasn’t already bought the .com for, then you can register your preferred option for less than $15 a year. If you’re okay with considering a less common TLD, you can potentially get your domain for less than $10 or, in some cases, less than $2 a year (at least to start). If you’ll be buying your domain name from an investor though, it will all depend on who owns it now and how valuable they believe it is. As the owner, they get the set the price and you’ll have to decide what it’s worth to you.   How to Buy a Domain from an Investor Registering a domain name that’s available is easy enough, you just search for it at HostGator and check out. But buying a domain name from an investor is more complicated.  If you’re lucky and the domain owner is actively trying to sell it, you can easily find out how to buy by simply visiting the URL. If that doesn’t work, then you need to figure out who owns the domain. You can try the WHOIS directory for this. If they’ve opted for domain name privacy, the information listed should still go to the domain registrar who can pass it along.  Once you’ve found contact information for the owner, reach out with an offer. You can do this directly, or consider going through a domain name broker. A broker can help manage the negotiations and provide you some protections when it comes time to pay for your domain name. Once you and the owner come to an agreement, pay for your domain name through a secure site (ideally a third-party site that provides you both some level of protection), and get your domain name.  How to Find an Available Domain Buying a domain name from an investor is both more complicated and inevitably more expensive than finding one that’s already available. If your heart is set on a specific name, the owner has all the power to set the price and you have to accept it or be willing to move on. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you’re willing to come up with a new domain idea that no one’s bought yet. And by getting a little creative, you can probably figure something out you like nearly as much as your original idea.  Do some brainstorming. Think about keywords, synonyms, and words in other languages that mean something similar to what you have in mind. Consider animals or characters you can add to your domain name to give it some more personality (hey, it worked for this gator-loving website).  Plug lots of ideas into our domain search tool, and then look at the available suggestions the tool generates.  By opening your mind to new ideas, you may come up with a domain name that’s not only available (and thus affordable), but also more unique and memorable than the one you thought you wanted.  How to Find the Best Domain Registrar for Your Money Domain registrars are not all created equal. To make sure you choose the best domain registrar for your needs, consider the following: Do they have the proper accreditation? All legitimate domain registrars will be accredited by the ICANN. You can double-check a company’s accreditation by seeing if they’re listed here.  In some cases though, the name listed may be different than the name of the company you register your domain with. For example, HostGator’s domain registrations go through the registrars LaunchPad and eNom. Are their prices fair? Check and see if what a registrar is charging is in line with what’s typical from other companies. You don’t want to end up paying considerably more because you didn’t compare your options.Do they offer other services you need? This isn’t required for a registrar to be worth considering, but it can make your life easier. If you can manage your domain name in the same place that you manage your web hosting, website builder, or other website services, it’s one less account you have to deal with. HostGator’s domain registration is easy, the prices are fair, and you can take care of your domain management and renewals in the same place you manage your web hosting services and website updates.  Domain registration doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. Simply use our domain search tool to find the domain you want, and it can be yours within minutes. Still looking for a hosting provider to help you build your online presence? HostGator is a leading hosting provider that offers a number of different hosting packages so you can build your perfect website.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

25 Creative Tips for Increasing Your Affiliate Income

Grow Traffic Blog -

Affiliate marketing is one of the more convenient forms of online money-making, simply because you can do everything from the comfort of your own home. That said, there’s a difference between making some money with affiliate marketing and making a living with it. To reach the latter, you need to be creative, aggressive, and varied with your marketing efforts. Here are 25 tips you can use to boost your income through your affiliate links, in no particular order. 1. Create Product Comparisons You’d be surprised how many people don’t think to do this. A lot of people, when shopping, come up with two or three options for what they want to buy, and want to figure out which one is the best. If you provide the direct comparisons between two items a user might want, they’ll be more likely to be convinced and will purchase then and there. A longer, detailed comparison article between two products can help sales for both products, while a more general comparison table with 5+ products on it can be a general hub for both sales and links to more detailed reviews. 2. Use a Quiz for Personalized Recommendations Have you ever found one of those personality quizzes that tells you which Disney princess you are or whatever? You can make something like that, except with questions about product usage and needs. You can use those questions to deliver a specific recommendation of a specific product to a user who takes the test. This way, you guide a user directly to the product most useful to them, as determined by your questions. There are several quiz engines you can use to make these systems. 3. Convince Users to Join a Newsletter Newsletters allow you to keep an audience around beyond a simple visit and forget it. A lot of people who visit your site might not have the intent to purchase right away, but you still want to keep them around so that when they do purchase, they do it through you. By promoting a newsletter on your site, you can encourage them to visit more than once, and keep them circulating until they make their purchases. Thankfully, newsletters aren’t too difficult to create. 4. Aim to Target Action Keywords In general, there are two kinds of search queries online. There are search queries where people want to buy something, and search queries where they want to research something. You should target both. Action keywords are phrases like “best plastic toothpick” or “buy nail clippers”, which indicate a clear intent to make a purchase. You should write content using phrases like these that focuses on allowing users to buy the items in question as easily as possible. 5. Aim to Target Information Keywords At the same time, you should be creating content for informational keywords as well. “The benefits of plastic toothpicks” or “different kinds of nail clippers” are the kinds of content that users might be searching for if they aren’t sure they want to buy, but they want to know more. This kind of content can be longer, more informational, with a few calls to action for those who are convinced to buy along the way. 6. Provide Usage Guides and Tutorials If your site is entirely focused around selling products, people will stick around until they buy, but then they’ll have no further use for you. To keep them around, it’s worthwhile to write content that keeps them coming back. My favorite for this is the usage guide; write instructions and “top 10 uses for” and other sorts of guides for the products you sell. For things like knives, tools, and objects that require care, a guide for proper care and storage can be a nice evergreen piece of content as well. 7. Make Use of the Curiosity Gap What the heck is the curiosity gap? Well, if you’ve ever read an old Buzzfeed article, you know what it is. It’s basically clickbait. Well, you don’t want to actually use clickbait, since most people are wise to it by now. Instead, tone it down and exploit the low level curiosity that comes from asking questions and providing a sense of mystery. It’s surprisingly easy to do. 8. Strive for Authentic Content One of the most prominent tips for writing affiliate content is to only write about products you own or have used, so you have authentic experience with them, which comes across in writing. I can tell you for certain that you don’t need to buy or own items to write authentically about them, but you DO need to be a talented writer to pull it off. Either way, try to publish plenty of authentic or authentic-feeling content so your users trust you more. 9. Include Gripes and Negative Points One of the best ways to boost trust and make your content feel authentic is to include cons: negatives, downsides, gripes, and other elements about a product. A common sales tactic is to promote all the virtues of an item to make it sound great and worth buying, but it comes off as fake. By including gripes you have with the item, you can give a more honest assessment and make people decide whether they can overlook the gripe and still use the product. 10. Use Add to Cart Links This one is specifically an Amazon affiliate tip. With Amazon, your affiliate cookies typically last 24 hours before they expire. However, if the user adds the product to their cart, you still get credit for it if they make the purchase within 90 days. On the plus side, this gives you a lot more leeway for large impact purchases. On the down side, it only applies to that one product, not everything the user buys. You need the regular cookie for that. You can use direct “add to cart” links by using affiliate networking tools like AmaLinks Pro, which has an option to create links that directly add products to cart instead of just taking the user to the product page. I find these work best with single larger items the user might be researching, not small items they’re likely to buy immediately. Still, test it with your spread and see how it works. 11. Add Links to Product Images This is a simple and yet surprisingly effective tip: just make images that you use of the products into clickable links, affiliate links that lead to the product page in question. I know when I see an image of a product, I expect to be taken to the product page, so when it just links to a larger version of the image – or isn’t a link at all – it’s a wasted opportunity. 12. Create a Top Seller List A top seller list can be something similar to a comparison chart, except it’s more of a list of products without comparing all of their attributes. You can use it to link to more informational pages about individual products, but mostly it just showcases the best selling products in your catalog. There are a lot of different tools to help you find this kind of list. 13. Create a Ticker for Deals There are plenty of sites that monitor deals on products, like CamelCamelCamel, SlickDeals, and Deal News. My recommendation is to monitor sites like these to see when products in your niche go on sale, and then promote those sales on your site. A Hello Bar or top banner can be a good way to showcase those deals and convince users now is the right time to buy. 14. Use a Twitter for Deals and Flash Sales You can use every social network to promote your site, but Twitter is a great option to keep up with deals and flash sales. When products go on sale, they often sell out quickly, so Twitter is a great choice for keeping your users aware of quick deals they can take advantage of for savings. 15. Promote a Wide Spread of Products I often see new affiliate marketers making one major mistake, from both sides of the mistake. Some of them only go for the high ticket items, the ultraHD TVs, the high priced furniture, the diamond-encrusted phone cases and whatever else. They might sell one a month, and they wonder why they can’t make a consistent income. On the other hand, some sell nothing but $1 items and wonder why they never make more than $100 or so a month. To be truly successful, you need a mixture of small, frequent sellers and rare, high priced sellers. That gives you the most overall consistency. 16. Create Several Related Sites Another mistake I often see people make is trying to imitate something like SlickDeals. They want a generalist site that has some kind of product for everyone. The thing is, it’s virtually impossible to compete in that niche. It’s better to make a niche sites centered around specific categories of products. If you want to spin off into another kind of product, make another site. You can keep similar branding and make it an umbrella network of sites if you want to share your newsletter, but you don’t have to keep them linked at all. 17. Keep Content Up to Date One of the most important keys to success with an affiliate site is to keep your content up to date. If a product changes significantly, such as the build quality dropping or the main vendor disappearing, update your content to reflect that. If a new product hits a niche and blows your old recommendations out of the water, update guides to reflect that. Making sure your site is up to date is incredibly important for SEO and for user trust. 18. Find Alternatives when Products Disappear As part of keeping your site and your content up to date, keep an eye on the products you link to. Now and then, a product will become unavailable. When this happens, make sure to update your site accordingly. You can either find another seller, or you can find another comparable product to recommend. I don’t recommend deleting the content, for two reasons. First, the product might come back. Second, that content is ranking in search, and will help bring in new users even if the product is gone. 19. Keep Your Site Active Unlike many commercial blogs, you don’t necessarily have to publish a new blog post every other day for an affiliate marketing site, though you certainly can if you have enough you can write about. I recommend publishing at least once a week, but regardless, you need to keep your site active. Otherwise, you’re likely to lose out on traffic over time as people start to think your older site isn’t relevant any more. 20. Use More Than One Affiliate Network or Program One great tip too many people forget about is that you’re never stuck just using one affiliate network. Most people use Amazon because it’s a low bar to clear to use it and the variety of products is insane. You can, however, make use of two, three, or even more affiliate networks. 21. Add Branding to Your Website One element of trust that many people don’t think about is simple branding and customization. There are a lot of affiliate marketing starter kits out there that give you basic website configuration and themes, but they leave the branding to you. You can really kick up the user trust by adding a brand name that’s not an exact match domain, a logo, and a custom color scheme to your site. 22. Understand User Behavior with a Heatmap There are several different companies that provide heatmaps, but they all do the same thing; they show you where users are clicking on your site. You can use this to identify lost opportunities, like elements of graphics users think are clickable and bits of formatting you can make into links. 23. Make Use of Amazon OneLink OneLink is an interesting addition to the Amazon affiliate program. Did you know that normal Amazon links only monetize US traffic? You have to sign up for regional affiliate programs to monetize clicks from other regions. OneLink allows you to essentially merge your accounts into one and provide one link that monetizes all of that different traffic. No mucking about with regionalized variations of your website; just use this link. 24. Create Multimedia Content Don’t forget that you aren’t just limited to your blog with an affiliate site. Too many people fall into the trap of thinking that an affiliate site is low effort. Make YouTube videos, do livestreams, and build infographics. The more types of content you make, the more avenues you have to bring people into your monetization funnel. 25. Run Some Ads This one might be a bit of questionable tip, but you can run ads to promote your content. You generally won’t promote an affiliate link directly, but rather, a piece of content or a landing page. As long as your cost per conversion is lower than your profits from each affiliate sale, it can still be a profitable option. The post 25 Creative Tips for Increasing Your Affiliate Income appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

12 Social Media Marketing Predictions From the Pros

Social Media Examiner -

Is your marketing ready for the coming changes? Looking for expert insight to help you get your marketing plans on the right track? In this article, 12 marketing experts share their predictions to help you prepare your social media marketing plans for the coming year. #1: Facebook Ad Costs Push Advertisers Off the Platform Facebook […] The post 12 Social Media Marketing Predictions From the Pros appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

AWS Launches & Previews at re:Invent 2019 – Sunday, December 1st

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Here’s a summary of the launches and previews that were announced at Midnight Madness! Launches AWS DeepRacer Update – New Features & New Racing Opportunities. AWS DeepComposer – Compose Music with Generative Machine Learning Models. Amazon Transcribe Medical – Real-Time Automatic Speech Recognition for Healthcare Customers. A New, Simplified, Bring-Your-Own-License Experience for Microsoft Windows Server. AWS End-of-Support Migration Program for Windows Server. SageMaker Operators for Kubernetes. Automate OS Image Build Pipelines with EC2 Image Builder. Previews Here’s an overview of the previews that were announced, along with links that will let you sign up and/or learn more: Amazon EventBridge Schema Registry – The schema registry stores the structure (schema) of Amazon EventBridge events and maps them to Java, Python, and Typescript bindings so that you can use the events as typed objects. You can add schemas to the registry yourself, or you can enable Schema Discovery to automatically capture and add schemas for all events sent to an event bus. To learn more, read Introducing Amazon EventBridge Schema Registry and Discovery in Preview. AWS IoT SiteWise Preview – We are expanding the existing AWS IoT SiteWise preview, and are adding some new features. This service helps you to collect and organize data from your factories, wind farms, mines, and other large-scale production facilities & supply chains. You can create a virtual representation of your facility, monitor production performance metrics, and use AWS IoT SiteWise Monitor to visualize the data in real time. Your industrial equipment can communicate with AWS IoT SiteWise through a gateway or through native integration with AWS IoT Core. AWS IoT SiteWise supports OPC-UA and MQTT, along with direct access via the AWS IoT SiteWise API functions. To learn more, read the What’s New. AWS IoT SiteWise Monitor -This new SaaS application lets you monitor and interact with the data collected and organized by AWS IoT SiteWise. You can visualize equipment data & view dashboards (here’s a sample): To learn more, read the What’s New. — Jeff;

Amazon Transcribe Medical – Real-Time Automatic Speech Recognition for Healthcare Customers

Amazon Web Services Blog -

In 2017, we launched Amazon Transcribe, an automatic speech recognition service that makes it easy for developers to add speech-to-text capability to their applications: today, we’re extremely happy to extend it to medical speech with Amazon Transcribe Medical. When I was a child, my parents – both medical doctors – often spent evenings recording letters and exam reports with a microcassette recorder, so that their secretary could later type them and archive them. That was a long time ago, but according to a 2017 study by the University of Wisconsin and the American Medical Association, primary care physicians in the US spend a staggering 6 hours per day entering their medical reports in electronic health record (EHR) systems, now a standard requirement at healthcare providers. I don’t think that anyone would argue that doctors should go back to paper reports: working with digital data is so much more efficient. Still, could they be spared these long hours of administrative work? Surely, that time would be better spent engaging with patients, and getting a little extra rest after a busy day at the hospital? Introducing Amazon Transcribe Medical Thanks to Amazon Transcribe Medical, physicians will now be able to easily and quickly dictate their clinical notes and see their speech converted to accurate text in real-time, without any human intervention. Clinicians can use natural speech and do not have to explicitly call out punctuation like “comma” or “full stop”. This text can then be automatically fed to downstream applications such as EHR systems, or to AWS language services such as Amazon Comprehend Medical for entity extraction. In the spirit of fully managed services, Transcribe Medical frees you from any infrastructure work, and lets you scale effortlessly while only paying for what you actually use: no upfront fees for costly licenses! As you would expect, Transcribe Medical is also HIPAA compliant. From a technical perspective, all you have to do is capture audio using your device’s microphone, and send PCM audio to a streaming API based on the popular Websocket protocol. This API will respond with a series of JSON blobs with the transcribed text, as well as word-level time stamps, punctuation, etc. Optionally, you can save this data to an Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) bucket. Amazon Transcribe Medical In Action Let’s do a quick demo with medical text from MT Samples, a great collection of real-life anonymized medical transcripts that are free to use and distribute. I’m using a streaming application modified for Transcribe Medical, and you’ll be able to do the same in the AWS console. You can view a video recording of this demo here. Now Available! You can start using Amazon Transcribe Medical today in the US East (N. Virginia) and US West (Oregon) regions. Give it a try, and please share your feedback in the AWS forum for Amazon Transcribe, or with your usual AWS support contacts. - Julien

Automate OS Image Build Pipelines with EC2 Image Builder

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Earlier in my career, I can recall being assigned the task of creating and maintaining operating system (OS) images for use by my development team. This was a time-consuming process, sometimes error-prone, needing me to manually re-create and re-snapshot images frequently. As I’m sure you can imagine, it also involved a significant amount of manual testing! Today, customers still need to keep their images up to date and they do so either by manually updating and snapshotting VMs, or they have teams that build automation scripts to maintain the images, both of which can still be time consuming, resource intensive, and error-prone. I’m excited to announce the availability of EC2 Image Builder, a service that makes it easier and faster to build and maintain secure OS images for Windows Server and Amazon Linux 2, using automated build pipelines. The images created by EC2 Image Builder can be used with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and on-premises, and can be secured and hardened to help comply with applicable InfoSec regulations. AWS provides security hardening policies that you can use as a starting point to meet the “Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG)” standard needed to operate in regulated industries. The pipelines that you can configure for EC2 Image Builder include the image recipe, infrastructure configuration, distribution, and test settings, to produce the resulting images. This includes the ability to automatically provision images as new software updates, including security patches, become available. As new images are created by the pipelines, you can additionally configure automated tests to be run to validate the image, before then distributing it to AWS regions that you specify. EC2 Image Builder can be used with EC2 VM Import/Export to build images in multiple formats for on-premises use, including VMDK, VHDX, and OVF. When testing you can use a combination of AWS-provided tests and custom tests that you have authored yourself. Let’s take a look at how to get started using EC2 Image Builder. Creating an OS Image Build Pipeline From the console homepage I can quickly get started by clicking Create image pipeline. Here, I’m going to construct a pipeline that will build a custom Amazon Linux 2 image. The first step is to define the recipe which involves selecting the source image to start from, the build components to apply to the image being created, and the tests to be run. Starting with the source image, I’m going to select a managed image provided by EC2 Image Builder. Note that I can also choose other images that either I have created, or that have been shared with me, or specify a custom AMI ID. Next I select the build components to include in the recipe – in other words, the software I want to be installed onto the new image. From within the wizard I have the option to create a new build component by clicking Create build component. Build components have a name (and optional description), a target operating system, an optional AWS Key Management Service (KMS) key to encrypt the component, and a YAML document that specifies the set of customization steps for the component. Build components can also be versioned, so I have a lot of flexibility in customizing the software to apply to my image. I can create, and select, multiple build components and don’t have to do all my customization from one component. For this post however I’ve clicked Browse build components and selected some Amazon-provided components for Amazon Corretto, Python 3 and PowerShell Core. The final step for the recipe is to select tests to be applied to the image to validate it. Just as with build components, I can create and specify tests within the wizard, and I have the same capabilities for defining a test as I do a build component. Again though, I’m going to keep this simple and click Browse tests to select an Amazon-provided test that the image will reboot successfully (note that I can also select multiple tests). That completes my recipe, so I click Next and start to define my pipeline. First, I give the pipeline a name and also select an AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) role to associate with the EC2 instance to build the new image. EC2 Image Builder will use this role to create Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances in my account to perform the customization and testing steps. Pipeline builds can be performed manually, or I can elect to run them on a schedule. I have the flexibility to specify my schedule using simple Day/Week/Month period and time-of-day selectors, or I can use a CRON expression. I selected a managed IAM policy (EC2InstanceProfileForImageBuilder) with just enough permissions to use common AWS-provided build components and and run tests. When you start to use Image Builder yourself, you will need to set up a role that has enough permissions to perform your customizations, run your tests, and write troubleshooting logs to S3. As a starting point for setting up the proper permissions, I recommend that you attach the AmazonSSMManagedInstanceCore IAM policy to the IAM role attached to the instance. Finally for the pipeline I can optionally specify some settings for the infrastructure that will be launched on my behalf, for example the size of instance type used when customizing my image, and an Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) topic that notifications can be forwarded to. I can also take control of Amazon Virtual Private Cloud related settings should I wish. If the operating system of the image I am building is associated with a license, I can specify that next (or create a new license configuration on-the-fly), along with a name for my new image and also the AWS regions into which the new image will be shared, either publicly or privately. Clicking Review, I can review all of my settings and finally click Create Pipeline to complete the process. Even though when I configured my pipeline I asked for it to run daily at 06:00 hours UTC, I can still run it whenever I wish. Selecting the pipeline, I click Actions and then Run pipeline. Once the build has completed, the AMI will be ready to launch from the Amazon EC2 console! Thinking back to my earlier career years and the tasks assigned to me, this would have saved me so much time and effort! EC2 Image Builder is provided at no cost to customers and is available in all commercial AWS Regions. You are charged only for the underlying AWS resources that are used to create, store, and share the images. — Steve

A New, Simplified, Bring-Your-Own-License Experience for Microsoft Windows Server and SQL Server

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Customers have asked us to provide an easier way to bring, and manage, their existing licenses for Microsoft Windows Server and SQL Server to AWS. Today we are excited to announce a new, simpler, bring-your-own-license (BYOL) experience. When launching Windows Server or SQL Server instances, customers can use licenses from AWS with a pay-as-you-go model or they can bring their own existing licenses. When using software licenses obtained from AWS, customers get a fully-compliant, pay-as-you-go licensing model that doesn’t require managing complex licensing terms and conditions. The new BYOL experience launched today enables those customers who want to use their existing Windows Server or SQL Server licenses to seamlessly create virtual machines in EC2, while AWS takes care of managing their licenses to help ensure compliance to licensing rules specified by the customer. Previously, when bringing their own server-bound licenses, customers needed to write additional automation to manage capacity, and ensure effective utilization of the dedicated hosts that are required for BYOL. This process made managing hosts non-EC2 like, and certainly unlike the simple and easy-to-use experience when using licenses provided by AWS. The new BYOL experience simplifies the host management experience for customers, by automating the key host management tasks such as allocation and release of hosts, managing host capacity, and enabling capabilities such as auto scaling and auto recovery of hosts. As a result, you can simply create a BYOL instance on Dedicated Host the way you create any other EC2 instance. Let’s take a walk-through of the new, simplified, experience to bring a licensed image to the AWS Cloud. In this post I am going to use a Windows Server license but the experience is the same if I wanted to bring Windows Server and SQL Server licenses. Setting up License Management With my licensed image imported and available as a private AMI in my account in Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), it’s time to head to the AWS License Manager console and get started by first creating a license configuration, which I do by clicking Create license configuration from the License Configurations page. I fill out a name for the configuration, an optional description, and select the License type, which in this case I set to Cores. Note that I can set an upper limit for cores, which we recommend customers set according to the number of licenses they are bringing, in addition to enabling Enforce license limit. For this walk-through I’m going to leave both unset. Clicking Submit creates the new license configuration, which will then be shown on the License configurations page. The next step is to associate the AMI containing my licensed operating system image with the configuration. Selecting the configuration I just created, from Actions I select Associate AMI. This takes me to a page listing my custom images, where I select the image I want and click Associate (note that I could select and associate multiple images, for example I could also add my Windows Server and SQL Server image also shown below). With my license configuration setup completed for my Windows Server – don’t forget, I could also have set up a configuration to bring my Windows Server with SQL Server licenses too – I next need to create a Host resource group and associate it with the license configuration. A Host resource group is a collection of Dedicated Hosts that can be managed together as a single entity using your specified preferences. I start by selecting Host resource groups from the navigation panel, and then clicking Create host resource group. I give my Host resource group a name, and select the license configurations I want to associate with this group (I can select more than one), then click Create. Note the options for EC2 Dedicated Host management. Leaving these selected means I do not need to manage capacity and Dedicated Hosts myself. AWS License Manager will automatically manage my hosts for me when I launch instances into a Host resource group, and also ensure I stay within my license count limits if so configured. That’s it for setting up my license configuration and Host resource group, so now I can head to the Amazon EC2 console and launch some instances. Before I do, I want to bring to your attention one more feature of the new BYOL experience – integration with AWS Organizations. If my account is the master account for an Organization, an additional option is shown when creating Host resource groups – Share host resource group with all my member accounts. As the name suggests, selecting this option will cause the Host resource group to be shared with the member accounts in my Organization. When member accounts launch instances, the hosts get allocated automatically in my master account. This enables me to use the same host across multiple accounts, and not require hosts in every member account, increasing host utilization. Launching an Automatically Managed BYOL Image In the Amazon EC2 console I click Launch instance and select the AMI that contains my licensed version of Windows Server (or Windows Server with SQL Server, if that is what I am bringing), on the My AMIs tab in the launch wizard, then select the instance type I want to launch, before arriving at the Configure Instance Details page. In the launch wizard, as I have selected an image associated with a license configuration, Tenancy is already preset to the required Dedicated host – Launch this instance on a Dedicated host setting. I toggle the option under Host resource group to Launch instance into a host resource group and can then select the appropriate Host resource group. In the screenshot below I’ve selected my group, however, if I have only one group, EC2 will automatically launch the instance in the mapped Host resource group based on the license configuration attached, without me needing to select it in the launch wizard. In order to maximize utilization, the new experience also provides for heterogeneous instance support on Dedicated Hosts. What that means is if I launch different sized instances of the same family, an attempt is made to place them together on the same host (previously you could only create instances of the same size and family on one host). At this point, I can click Review and launch, although you likely have more settings you want to specify for storage, tags, and security group, before proceeding. Once the instance(s) have launched, on selecting an instance in the console the Details tab shows me it has been associated with a Host resource group. I can optionally also click the Host ID to view details of the host. BYOL, Auto Scaling and Dedicated Hosts Automatic management of instances launched through Auto Scaling onto Dedicated Hosts is an additional benefit of the new BYOL support, and is easy to set up and use. In the launch wizard shown above, I could have created and specified a new Auto Scaling group, but instead I’ve chosen to create a Launch Template and used that to define settings for my Auto Scaling group. In the snapshots below, you can see that all I need do in the launch template is select my licensed image and then, under Advanced Details, my license configuration. Next I simply specify the template when creating an Auto Scaling group, and I’m done! As new instances are created in the group during launch, or a scaling event, they will be mapped automatically onto a Dedicated Host, something that has not been possible when using BYOL before today. Availability of the New BYOL Experience The new BYOL experience is available for your eligible Windows Server and SQL Server licenses. As a reminder, customers can also bring their own SQL Server licenses with Active Software Assurance to default (shared) tenant EC2 through License Mobility benefits. This new experience gives our SQL Server customers another way to bring their existing licenses. For more information on licensing, please visit the Windows on AWS FAQ. Additional information on Microsoft licensing options on AWS can be found here. Be sure to also check out AWS License Manager, to learn more about management preferences. The simpler BYOL experience is available now to customers in the US-East (Northern Virginia) and US-West (Oregon) regions, and will be available in other regions in the coming days. — Steve

New AWS Program to Help Future-proof Your End-of-Support Windows Server Applications

Amazon Web Services Blog -

If you have been in business a while, you might find yourself in a situation where you have legacy Windows Server applications, critical to your business, that you can’t move to a newer, supported version of Windows Server. Customers give us many reasons why they can’t move these legacy applications – perhaps the application has dependencies on a specific version of Windows Server, or the customer has no expertise with the application, it may even be the case that the installation media or source code has been lost. On January 14, 2020, support for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will end. Having an application that can run only on an unsupported version of Windows Server is problematic as you will no longer get free security patch updates, leaving you vulnerable to security and compliance risks. It is also difficult to move an application like this to the cloud without significant refactoring. If you have legacy applications that run only on unsupported versions of Windows Server, then it’s often tempting to spend money on extended support. However, this is simply delaying the inevitable and customers tell us that they want a long-term solution which future-proofs their legacy applications. We have a long-term solution To help you with this, today, we are launching the AWS End-of-Support Migration Program (EMP) for Windows Server. This new program combines technology with expert guidance, to migrate your legacy applications running on outdated versions of Windows Server to newer, supported versions on AWS. If you are facing Windows Server 2008 end-of-support, this program offers a unique solution and path forward that solves the issue for the long-term as opposed to just delaying the decision for another day. It is important to note, you don’t need to make a single code change in the legacy application and you also do not require the original installation media or source code. In a moment, I will demonstrate how the technology portion of this program works. However, you should know, you will need to engage an AWS Partner or Professional Services to actually conduct the migration, the product page lists the network of partners who you can speak to about pricing and your specific requirements. So let us look at how this works, I’ll run you through the steps that a partner might take when they migrate your application where the installation media is available. On Windows Server 2016, I attempt to run the setup file that would install Microsoft SQL Server 2000. I am prompted by Windows that this application can’t run on this version of Windows Server. In this case, I also cannot run the application in compatibility mode. I then move over to an old Windows Server 2003 that is running locally in my office. I run a tool that is a key piece of technology used in the AWS EMP for Windows Server, we use this tool to migrate the application, decoupling it from the underlying operating system. First, I have to select a folder to place my completed application package after the tool completes. Next, I start a capture which takes a snapshot of my machine. This is used later to understand what has been changed by the installation process. The tool then prompts me to install the application that I want to migrate. The tool is listening and capturing all of the changes that take place on the machine. I run the application and go through the installation process, setting up the application as I would normally do. The tool identifies all of the shortcuts created by the application installer, and I am asked to run the application using one of these entry points and to run through a typical workflow inside the application. The whole time, the tool is watching what process and system-level APIs are called, so it creates a picture of the application’s dependencies. Once the capture is complete, I am presented with all of the files changed by the monitored application. I then need to work through these and manually confirm that the folders are indeed part of the installation process. I go through the same process for registry keys. I manually verify that the registry keys are indeed related to the installation. Finally, I give the package a name. The package includes all the application files, run times, components, deployment tools, as well as an engine that redirects the API calls from your application to files within the package. This resolves the dependencies and decouples the application from the underlying OS. Once the package is complete, there are a few manual configuration adjustments that will need to be made. I won’t show these, but I mention it as it highlights why it’s required to have an AWS Partner or Professional Services conduct this process – some of the migration process requires in-depth knowledge and experience. I then move over to a Windows Server 2016, and run the packaged application. Below you can see that my application is now running on a server it was previously incompatible with. The AWS EMP for Windows Server supports even your most complex applications, including the ones with tight dependencies on older versions of the operating system, registries, libraries, and other files. If you want to get started with future-proofing your legacy Windows Server workloads on AWS, head over to the AWS End-of-Support Migration Program (EMP) for Windows Server, where we list partners that can help you on your migration journey. You can also contact us directly about this program by completing this form. — Martin  

AWS DeepComposer – Compose Music with Generative Machine Learning Models

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Today, we’re extremely happy to announce AWS DeepComposer, the world’s first machine learning-enabled musical keyboard. Yes, you read that right. Machine learning (ML) requires quite a bit of math, computer science, code, and infrastructure. These topics are exceedingly important but to a lot of aspiring ML developers, they look overwhelming and sometimes, dare I say it, boring. To help everyone learn about practical ML and have fun doing it, we introduced several ML-powered devices. At AWS re:Invent 2017, we introduced AWS DeepLens, the world’s first deep learning-enabled camera, to help developers learn about ML for computer vision. Last year, we launched AWS DeepRacer, a fully autonomous 1/18th scale race car driven by reinforcement learning. This year, we’re raising the bar (pardon the pun). Introducing AWS DeepComposer AWS DeepComposer is a 32-key, 2-octave keyboard designed for developers to get hands on with Generative AI, with either pretrained models or your own. You can request to get emailed when the device becomes available, or you can use a virtual keyboard in the AWS console. Here’s the high-level view: Log into the DeepComposer console, Record a short musical tune, or use a prerecorded one, Select a generative model for your favorite genre, either pretrained or your own, Use this model to generate a new polyphonic composition, Play the composition in the console, Export the composition or share it on SoundCloud. Let me show you how to quickly generate your first composition with a pretrained model. Then, I’ll discuss training your own model, and I’ll close the post with a primer on the underlying technology powering DeepComposer: Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN). Using a Pretrained Model Opening the console, I go to the Music Studio, where I can either select a prerecorded tune, or record one myself. I go with the former, selecting Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. I also select the pretrained model I want to use: classical, jazz, rock, or pop. These models have been trained on large music data sets for their respective genres, and I can use them directly. In the absence of ‘metal’ (watch out for that feature request, team), I pick ‘rock’ and generate the composition. A few seconds later, I see the additional accompaniments generated by the model. I assign them different instruments: drums, overdriven guitar, electric guitar (clean), and electric bass (finger). Here’s the result. What do you think? Finally, I can export the composition to a MIDI or MP3 file, and share it on my SoundCloud account. Fame awaits! Training Your Own Model I can also train my own model on a data set for my favorite genre. I need to select: Architecture parameters for the Generator and the Discriminator (more on what these are in the next section), The loss function used during training to measure the difference between the output of the algorithm and the expected value, Hyperparameters, A validation sample that I’ll be able to listen to while the model is trained. During training, I can see quality metrics, and I can listen to the validation sample selected above. Once the model has been fully trained, I can use it to generate compositions, just like for pretrained models. A Primer on Generative Adversarial Networks GANs saw the light of day in 2014, with the publication of “Generative Adversarial Networks” by Ian J. Goodfellow, Jean Pouget-Abadie, Mehdi Mirza, Bing Xu, David Warde-Farley, Sherjil Ozair, Aaron Courville and Yoshua Bengio. In the authors’ words: In the proposed adversarial nets framework, the generative model is pitted against an adversary: a discriminative model that learns to determine whether a sample is from the model distribution or the data distribution. The generative model can be thought of as analogous to a team of counterfeiters, trying to produce fake currency and use it without detection, while the discriminative model is analogous to the police, trying to detect the counterfeit currency. Competition in this game drives both teams to improve their methods until the counterfeits are indistinguishable from the genuine articles. Let me expand on this a bit: The Generator has no access to the data set. Using random data, it creates samples that are forwarded through the Discriminator model. The Discriminator is a binary classification model, learning how to recognize genuine data samples (included in the training set) from fake samples (made up by the Generator). The training process uses traditional techniques like gradient descent, back propagation, etc. As the Discriminator learns, its weights are updated. The same updates are applied to the Generator. This is the key to understanding GANs: by applying these updates, the Generator progressively learns how to generate samples that are closer and closer to the ones that the Discriminator considers as genuine. To sum things up, you have to train as a counterfeiting expert in order to become a great counterfeiter… but don’t take this as career advice! If you’re curious to learn more, you may like this post from my own blog, explaining how to generate MNIST samples with an Apache MXNet GAN. If you just want to play music and have fun like this little fellow, that’s fine too! Coming Soon! AWS DeepComposer absolutely rocks. You can sign up for the preview today, and get notified when the keyboard is released. - Julien

FindMyHost Releases Final 2019 Editors’ Choice Awards

My Host News -

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Web Hosting Directory and Review site released the final Editor’s Choice Awards for 2019 today. Web Hosting companies strive to provide their customers with the very best service and support. We want to take the opportunity to acknowledge the hosts per category who have excelled in their field. The FindMyHost Editors’ Choice Awards are chosen based on Editor and Consumer Reviews. Customers who wish to submit positive reviews for the current or past Web Host are free to do so by visiting the customer review section of  By doing so, you nominate your web host for next months Editor’s Choice awards. We would like to congratulate all the web hosts who participated and in particular the following who received top honors in their field: Dedicated Servers Tier.Net   Visit Tier.Net  View Report Card Business Hosting   Visit  View Report Card SSD Hosting   Visit  View Report Card VPS   Visit  View Report Card Secure Hosting RivalHost   Visit  View Report Card Cloud Hosting   Visit  View Report Card Enterprise Hosting   Visit  View Report Card Shared Hosting   Visit  View Report Card Hybrid Servers QualityHostOnline   Visit QualityHostOnline  View Report Card Managed Hosting ServerWala   Visit  View Report Card Budget Hosting   Visit  View Report Card Reseller Hosting   Visit  View Report Card Blog Hosting Innovative Hosting   Visit InnovativeHosting  View Report Card cPanel Hosting   Visit  View Report Card About FindMyHost FindMyHost, Inc. is an online magazine that provides editor reviews, consumer hosting news, interviews discussion forums and more. was established in January 2001 to protect web host consumers and web developers from making the wrong choice when choosing a web host. showcases a selection of web hosting companies who have undergone their approved host program testing and provides reviews from customers. FindMyHost’s extensive website can be found at

National Computer Security Day – How Volunteers Fixed The Worst Vulnerability On The Web

InMotion Hosting Blog -

November 30th is Computer Security Day. It’s easy to take for granted how networks and technology have made life much easier. And it’s even easier to go by without even noticing how much of our daily lives on the Internet rely upon security protocols invented and maintained by people we’ve never heard of. We can’t thank these people if we don’t even know who they are. How OpenSSL Opened The Web For Business It’s difficult to remember a time in which purchasing products online was little more than a pipe dream. Continue reading National Computer Security Day – How Volunteers Fixed The Worst Vulnerability On The Web at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.

7 Tips To Optimize Social Media Visuals For Customer Engagement

Reseller Club Blog -

With research showing that social media posts with images are shown to get up to 2.3x more engagement than those without, it’s no wonder that people are looking to find content that shows instead of tells. But because this is isn’t a secret to any marketer, you’ll notice your social posts competing with a stream of other visually appealing images on news feeds.  This means that you’ll need to have an understanding of which types of images actually resonate with your audience. This article provides tips to help you come up with a solid social image strategy, which can in turn, help improve conversion rates.  7 tips to make your brand’s social media content visually effective to your viewers As alluded to earlier, merely adding visuals to your social posts will no longer be enough to capture the attention and imagination of your audience enough to merit engagement. To help you be more effective with your use of visuals, here are seven tips to help optimize customer engagement.  2.Brand your social media presence It’s been found that humans can form an impression in as little as 50 milliseconds. This means that a well thought out image accompanied by a witty caption may not have the time to resonate with your audience before they form an impression.  To work around this, you’ll need to have a recognizable social branding, which doesn’t only require a compelling social logo – it’s going to take consistency. As you can see with the example below from Blue Star Donuts, their social profiles have that recognizable blue star as their social logo. It is then accompanied by visually stimulating images of their products. The combination of the two across their channels allows them to communicate their brand value at first glance.  Source2. Choose images that are easy to digest In a similar vein to being easily recognizable, you’re going to want to use images that are easy to understand. With a ton of content clamouring for audiences’ attention, you’ll want to use an image that quickly conveys your message.  It could be an animated text on loop, as Adobe Spark does below.  View this post on Instagram Step outside where the magic happens. #adobespark A post shared by Adobe Spark (@adobespark) on Aug 1, 2019 at 9:48am PDT Or you could go a step further and utilize technology that’s gaining popularity. GoPro does this well with their VR videos, which not only show how much fun you can have with their products, it also allows audiences to interact with their content – a boon for any social post.  3. Use a variety of image types and formats While there’s something to be said about consistency, there’s also great value in being consistently entertaining. And with platforms like Instagram regularly introduces new features and image formats, it would be wise to leverage your audiences’ interest in these to your advantage.  But it’s not just Stories features, different formats, and optimal Instagram image sizes you can play around with, you can also utilize the following to help your visual messaging: Use infographics to relay facts and stats.  Illustrate how your products and services can be best used.  Add screenshots to your tutorial videos.  Create a graphical summary of your posts.   4. Go beyond static images and upload social media-specific videos Videos can generate up to 34% more conversions as it makes content easier to digest for individuals on the go. Capitalize on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube that allow you to post both short and long videos that can be used to engage your audience.       Subtitles are integral to engaging people on the go as over 85% of videos on Facebook are viewed without the need for sound. Optimize your videos in a way that they can work just as effective on mute as it does with sound on. Incorporate animated texts or subtitles to highlight the key points of your videos to make it easier for your viewers to digest the information in your posts. 5. Optimize your visual content for SEO Articles with relevant images get 94% more views, on average, compared to articles without images. This is because audiences respond well to the combination of text and visuals. Additionally, SEO doesn’t just affect keywords in your copy, but it also uses visual search as a factor in your ranking. Optimizing your visual content to include keywords that relate to the subject matter of your posts is an effective way to increase your brand’s visibility, this is why it’s integral to have thumbnails in videos that effectively convey what the content is about. Using varied forms of images can make it easier for search engines to pick up on your content: Infographics: Instead of reading a manuscript on informing people about your product, you may opt to use infographics to visually present your numbers and statistics in an enticing and attractive way. Visually represented data incur over 12% more traffic and over 200% more shares compared to posts that do not make use of images. As well, there are a number of tools that can help make creating infographics that much easier.  Visual instructions: There’s no better communication tool than providing visual guides to your audience. Making use of visual imagery through how-to photos or screenshots will make it easier for customers to follow you on posts that are concerned with product instructions, promo guidelines, and even help desk processes. One study found that 62% of millennials prefer the development of visual search over any other new technology. And with visual search continuing to trend, make sure that your images are indexed with strong keywords and descriptions through their ALT tags in the source code so that it’ll be easier for the engine to include it in searches 6. Leverage Facebook or Instagram live One of the many invaluable assets of social media platforms is its live-streaming function. Facebook and Instagram offer live streaming which allows your subscribers to follow your content and give them a behind-the-scenes look at your new projects and events. Allowing your customers to engage with you live adds another layer of being able to interact with your brand. Having them interact with you and each other by sharing their experiences in following an ongoing event makes it easier for them to feel that they’re a part of a community. Make sure that your followers are made aware of potential live streams so that they can tune in and make time to be a part of it to engage with your posts. Awareness is key in hyping up your viewers to look forward to special events, especially if they have a customer’s incentive to stay tuned either in the form of entertainment value or through giveaways and prizes to be won. 7. Observe copyright laws Making use of copyrighted images is a simple way for your brand to go down in court due to infringement. Penalties and legal ramifications aren’t forgiving as to whether you accidentally used a copyrighted image or not. Free stock images are often the course of action for brands as most of them are free for use. On the other hand, making use of licensed images may be tricky as you might have to ask permission or to buy the license itself to have access to using it for your products.  Thankfully enough, simple and free photo-editing tools such as Canva, VSCO, and Adobe Photoshop Express that can spice things up even if you’re using stock photos. But of course, if you have the resources, the best case for you is to develop your own design team for your content. A brand manual can make it easier for you to deal with quality control while ensuring that the images and graphics used for content are in line with your brand’s message. Conclusion: Proper communication is the key to creating an effective digital marketing strategy. The effectiveness of a brand’s image is only as strong as the team behind it, that includes your graphic designers, marketing heads and social media managers who coordinate, execute and maintain the consistency of your brand’s look.  Curating a content strategy guide can be an effective solution to ensuring that you have your own personal rulebook in knowing how your followers want to engage with your content and how effective certain types of digital marketing strategies are to them. Train your team in how to research and develop content, with posts properly studied and analyzed to see whether they were effective or ineffective in reaching your success indicators. By keeping a close eye on how your followers respond to the type of content you produce, you’ll be able to cater what works for them by keeping them enthusiastic in looking forward to more content by engaging with your brand.  .fb_iframe_widget_fluid_desktop iframe { width: 100% !important; } The post 7 Tips To Optimize Social Media Visuals For Customer Engagement appeared first on ResellerClub Blog.

8 Ways to Break Through the Holiday Clutter

Nexcess Blog -

Starbucks has rolled out their Eggnog Latte, which means the holidays are upon us. For consumers, this means being overwhelmed with deals, advertisements, and offers. For you, as a merchant, it means finding a way to separate yourself from your competition, so you don’t lose revenue this holiday season.  It’s no longer enough to create blanket campaigns that hope to find the right audience. Now, effective ecommerce strategies require retailers to target the right consumers during every stage of their journey. This is especially important during the holiday season. You need to follow consumers from ideation to purchase and provide an experience that delights throughout. Otherwise, you’ll quickly find your store lost in the holiday clutter.  Don’t panic – bringing together an effective strategy is relatively simple with these eight techniques for standing out from the holiday clutter. Instead of focusing on one, consolidate your strategy, and approach this holiday season from all angles. Offer a Holiday Bundle At the end of September, Canon released its new 90d camera. Unfortunately for retailers with a surplus of last season’s model, this meant a potentially large amount of worthless stock (consumers want the latest products, right?). Old stock doesn’t have to be abandoned. Instead, how about repackaging them as a bundle that addresses consumer needs? Casey Neistat’s one simple rule for vlogging is to use the best camera you have access to and worry more about the story than the gear. Yes, the 90d has 4K and other fancy features, but the 80d is still a solid purchase. Package it with a decent lens for vlogging and you’ve got a bundle that you can market to people looking to get started with YouTube video production. And you can take this further. Add an inexpensive mic and make it an all-in-one package for vlogging. Then, put some marketing muscle behind it and market to that video niche. Before abandoning products, stop and think about how you can bundle and market them to a specific niche as the holidays approach. Combine this with special price points consumers won’t find elsewhere and you’ll be able to bring in revenue that you might have thought was lost.  Segment Your Email List Consumers often feel that their inbox is inundated with clutter during the holiday season. This is because most companies sending emails are doing nothing more than blanketing their list with offers. They’re doing nothing to tailor the emails they’re sending to what their subscribers are actually interested in. Segmentation is the process of taking a list of potential customers and then placing them into smaller groups. These groups (or segments) would be divided based on interests. One group may be interested in camera equipment, another would have shown an interest in fashion.  Using a service like Convertkit, you can tag users as they view your site. You can then use those tags to segment subscribers for offers that are specific to what they are interested in. According to Campaign Monitor, marketers have noticed a 760% increase in sales after segmenting their email campaigns.  Using our camera bundle example above, once the user makes a purchase, you can follow up by sending them information on products that are relevant to their existing purchase. Add-ons like media cards or lights work well here due to being relevant and important tools as consumers continue to work on their video quality. Share Wish Lists Wish lists are a great way for consumers to share what gifts they want with family and friends. As a merchant, you need to enable faster gift-purchasing journeys and an improved user experience.  Unfortunately, not every online store allows its customers to share wish lists with friends. Many don’t even have a wish list functionality available to users. If that’s your WooCommerce store, stop and get the WooCommerce Wishlists addon now. This plugin allows consumers to add a wish list to your store, one that is shareable and publicly searchable.  Another, often understated, benefit of wish lists is that they can be used as social proof. do this effectively by showing the number of users who have added a particular product to their wish list next to the item description. The most users interested in an item, the more likely another user will make a purchase.  Offer Back in Stock Notices In 2018, Retail Dive found that ecommerce stores lost $22 billion in sales due to lack of stock. This statistic hasn’t gotten any better. Instead of waiting, it can be easier for online consumers to find a product elsewhere. They are, after all, only a few clicks away from your competitors. Online shopping narrowly overtook in-store purchasing in February of 2019. To maintain the status quo, ecommerce retailers need to provide a fulfillment experience similar to brick and mortar stores.  By offering notifications to your customers when products are back in stock, you’re building trust. Multiple stores have seen a significant jump in sales within a month as consumers were emailed when products were available to purchase. Offer a Webinar Have you ever purchased something and then realized you didn’t really understand how to maximize its potential? I was like that with my first “nice” camera. I was excited to use it, but also frustrated because I simply wasn’t getting the results I had hoped for. You’re in a perfect position to provide value where your competitors aren’t. Take the 80d camera bundle. By offering a workshop on how to get started with YouTube videos, you’re offering customers a clear path forward – not only in terms of expanding their product knowledge, but also with regards to offering additional products that can help them advance their skillset.  You can talk about mic placement, what it takes to have a good story, and then walk through some of the basics of prepping your videos for publishing. Each of these touchpoints provides you with the opportunity to offer better equipment that will improve their consumer experience and your bottom line.  Even if someone hasn’t purchased that bundle yet, let them sign up and then offer the bundle at the end of the webinar. You’ve collected their email to use in your email segments later, and you’ve shown them that you’re an expert, so they’re more likely to trust you over your competition when they’re ready to purchase. Free Shipping Free shipping has often been seen as an expensive option for smaller retailers, but it may not be as expensive as you think.  By conducting an A/B test, you can compare the difference in order volume between free and paid shipping. In many cases, offering free shipping will increase order volume to a point where the revenue increase is enough to offset shipping costs.  However, if you find that your free shipping costs more, it’s time to see if a minimum threshold changes that number. Offering free shipping for orders over $40 may turn it into a profit center for you. If so, make sure you tell users when they’re at $38 and offer them an additional product that helps them get free shipping. Then, remind them after they check out that they saved money with free shipping. Other strategies to use would be to offer free shipping only on your cheapest shipping offer, or only in the geographical areas that make sense. You may even be able to add the shipping cost into product price by increasing it slightly and then highlighting that the product comes with free shipping. Test Your Abandoned Cart Campaign At some point, we all head to our favorite eCommerce merchant and add products to our cart, only to leave them there and maybe never make the purchase. Online retailers can see between 55% and as high as 80% cart abandonment rates.  However, with a solid cart abandonment email campaign, you can see as many as 45% of those consumers return to their cart and potentially make a purchase.  Use a tool like Jilt if you don’t have a campaign set up already. Jilt is built specifically for ecommerce and makes capturing emails easy so that you can automate your abandoned cart campaign. You can even use Jilt to offer dynamic discounts on products that have been left in the cart. A solid abandoned cart campaign will help you stand out from the holiday crowd. Consumers have already been on your site. They know who you are. So while you’re fresh in their minds, sending a clear and actionable reminder will bring their business back. Up to 50% of consumers that click on an abandoned cart email will become purchasers. Differentiate Yourself This Holiday Season As the holiday’s approach, ask yourself how you’re going to embrace the season in a way that lets you stand out. Do you have a dog that you can dress up? Can you decorate a tree in your products and share it on social media?  Use the holiday time to build some marketing pieces that consumers will find humorous and want to share. No, it may not go viral, but you’ll continue to build trust and your brand and drive continued growth.  Yes, the holiday time is a busy season. We all have many things coming at us trying to get our attention, but with a bit of work upfront, you can make sure your store doesn’t lose revenue this holiday period.  Differentiate your store this holiday season with managed WooCommerce, an ecommerce platform that offers you the tools you need to break through the holiday clutter as standard. Get started now.  The post 8 Ways to Break Through the Holiday Clutter appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

How to Use Instagram to Generate Organic Leads

Social Media Examiner -

Are you using Instagram to connect with new prospects? Wondering how to generate leads without using Instagram ads? To explore how to use Instagram for organic lead generation, I interview Jenn Herman on the Social Media Marketing Podcast. Jenn is an Instagram marketing expert and co-author of Instagram For Dummies. Her live course is called […] The post How to Use Instagram to Generate Organic Leads appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.


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