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Harmony Lu, pastry chef, eating steak from the kitchen at Alexander’s Steakhouse Taipei. Harmony Lu

Harmony Lu is the pastry chef and mastermind of modernist desserts at Alexander’s Steakhouse Taipei, the newest location of the California-based, Michelin star-winning Alexander’s Steakhouse restaurant family. A former biogeochemist, Lu brings a firm grasp of science to the desserts she engineers in Taiwan. Popular Science spoke with the 25-year-old about her Thanksgiving plans, and some of the science behind them.

What are you eating and/or making for Thanksgiving?

People in Taiwan don’t really have a good idea of what Thanksgiving is. It’s a shame because it’s actually my favorite holiday, partly because it’s so American, but also because the motivation and traditions for Thanksgiving are my favorite things — simply getting together with people I love and sharing good food.

I made a dessert centered around pumpkin pie mousse. I wanted to break a pumpkin pie apart and add some interesting new elements. To make the mousse (the ball in the middle of the plate), I roasted and cooked the pumpkin, blended it in the food processor, and strained it. Then, instead of baking it as I would for pie, I cooked the pumpkin some more on the stove, folding in whipped cream and a bit of gelatin, which allowed me to get that spherical shape. I froze the mousse in silicon molds, and before serving I let them thaw to the right texture.

Alexander’s Steakhouse Taipei Thanksgiving Dessert

The torpedo-shaped thing to the left of the mousse is a quenelle of caramel chantilly, which is a sweetened whipped cream. The thin, crispy biscuit on the right is a caramel feuilletine tuile. Feuilletine breaks into crunchy wafer flakes, kind of like an awesome version of bran flakes, so I also scattered some around the plate to give the feeling of crunchy fall leaves.

The white crumbles are made from white chocolate milk foam frozen with liquid nitrogen. We’re taught to think that you add heat to food in order to cook it, but freezing food is also a version of cooking. So instead of hot chocolate, I made frozen chocolate. Before we serve the dessert to the guests, we’ll add some more liquid nitrogen so it arrives giving off vapor, almost as if it’s steaming hot. It’s still warm here in Taiwan, maybe around 70 or 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so I didn’t want to do a hot dessert, but I like to play with people’s expectations.

The green leaves scattered about are micro celery sprouts, and then I dotted the plate with cranberry sauce to give it some color. I thought I might need to gel the cranberries through a binding process called spherification. I often have to use spherification when I’m finishing a plate with other fruits, like berries, to prevent the gel from running all over the place.

It turned out that I didn’t have to use spherification because cranberries naturally have a high amount of a polysaccharide called pectin, which works as a thickening agent. That’s why making cranberry sauce at home is so easy — unlike other jams or jellies you don’t need to add anything other than a little sugar and acid. The pectin helps the sauce set properly and gives it the surface tension to stay put.

Pectin forms irreversible gels, so once you cook pectin and it sets, you can’t add heat and melt it back down into a thin liquid. The pumpkin pie mousse, on the other hand, is set with gelatin, which is from an animal protein called collagen. Gelling collagen is a reversible process, so if you heat the mousse up it will melt.

Lu’s job entails putting Western spins on traditional Taiwanese desserts, such as this pineapple cake made with roasted pineapple and lemon shortbread instead of the typical doughy exterior. Harmony Lu

My goal with this dessert was to try to give some of my impressions of a traditional American fall. I brought Thanksgiving up at the restaurant, and took it on as my role to do something special for the holiday. Our customer base ranges from Taipei locals to people who have spent time in the US and maybe want to relive their American experiences. But I guess this dessert was as much for me as for anyone else.

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Are You Ready For Microsoft ‘Officetalk’?

Every once in a while, Microsoft comes up with a super popular product, one that people love to use. No, really!

Windows 95 and Windows 7 are good examples. Xbox is awesome. Word had a good run. And a lot of people love Outlook. There are others.

The issue of lovable Microsoft products is separate and distinct from market success, which often earns Microsoft billions, even though people hate using them. Windows Vista, Exchange and Windows Mobile come to mind.

Don’t look now, but Microsoft is sitting on a super lovable product — or at least a concept that could be a product, if Microsoft can muster the vision to ship it before they smother it with features and functionality.

It’s called OfficeTalk. Microsoft unveiled it last week.

Micro-blogging sites like Twitter, and hybrid micro-blogging/social networking services like Google Buzz, have proved the potential for collaborative decision-making and timely information sharing in the consumer world.

Like instant messaging, blogging and other communications technologies that started out in the consumer space and trickled up into the enterprise, micro-blogging is almost predestined to become a major enterprise application.

Microsoft OfficeTalk works kind of like Buzz or Twitter, but the data lives on company servers and is owned and managed by the company.

Its purpose, in addition to improving internal company communication, appears to be to redirect company information from closed e-mail conversations to open (within the company) searchable conversations. When any employee wants to find something out, they no longer have to ask the right person and wait for a reply. They can just search the company chatter stream.

Thousands of Microsoft workers have reportedly been using OfficeTalk internally for months. It started as a pet project of two engineers on the Office Labs team. Microsoft recently rolled it out to a small group of customers for a trial.

Each user fills out a profile, which is indexed for search.

OfficeTalk has two “feeds” — one belonging to the user, like on Twitter or Buzz, and the other a “Company Feed” for company communications and conversations. Users can follow other people in the company by subscribing to their feeds.

As on Twitter, each user can specify whether messages sent go only to specific groups (such as followers, ad hoc teams or to the whole department) or if they go to the whole company.

OfficeTalk also has a Twitter-like hashtag keywording system, whereby searchable keywords are added to messages and identified with the # symbol. So, for example, if the company has a holiday party each year, the event can be assigned the hashtag #holidayparty. When someone posts a message of note about that event, they add the hashtag: “Hey, can we bring our kids to the #holidayparty?”. Any search for the hashtag #holidayparty gets all messages with that hashtag.

OfficeTalk will likely involve APIs that enable the development of custom applications integrated with Microsoft Office.

The first is SharePoint 2010, which is a browser-based social content and document management system.

The second is Outlook Social Connector (part of Office 2010), which a contacts-centric social tool vaguely similar in purpose but different in function to Linked-in. (And, in fact, a partnership with Linked-in integrates Linked-in data.)

Outlook Social Connector gives users a social history (previous conversations, future meetings current conversations and so on) about that person, plus other information so users know who they’re talking to. Outlook Social Connector mines data in Outlook and SharePoint to provide social “dossiers” on contacts.

Another way to look at Outlook Social Connector is that it’s “glue” that brings together disparate sets of social data and presents it in various integrated views from within Outlook.

I don’t know for sure, but I believe OfficeTalk functionality might be folded into one or both of these products.

A Microsoft blog post about enterprise social networking almost apologizes to readers for OfficeTalk’s limited functionality, saying that it’s “pretty bare bones.” In that same post, the blogger points out that the OfficeTalk project is “one of the most popular internal concept tests to date.”

Microsoft should but probably doesn’t understand that these two facts are related. Bare bones social networking sites are popular. Look at Buzz. Look at Twitter. There’s no such thing as a bloated, feature rich but successful social networking or micro-blogging service. Limited functionality is the killer feature.

The most likely scenario, given Microsoft’s history, is that OfficeTalk will be augmented, added to, extended, integrated and automated until nobody wants to use it anymore. It will then probably be buried inside one of the other initiatives and forgotten forever. And that would be tragic.

Microsoft: Why not hit a home run this time? Somehow, muster the vision to ship OfficeTalk as a “bare bones” micro-blogging tool. Just this once, give minimalism a chance.

Of course, Microsoft is Microsoft, so they can force OfficeTalk functionality on millions whether they like it or not and unfurl the “Mission Accomplished” banner. But why not ship something people love to use?

Google Buzz for enterprises (Buzz hosted on company servers) is coming. And Buzz will benefit from a massively painful, clumsy rollout, followed by breathtakingly rapid evolution based on user criticism and feedback. Buzz for Enterprises will probably be really good.

And if Google’s enterprise-class version of Buzz isn’t bare bones enough, you can bet Twitter’s will be.

Microsoft has created a clean, “bare-bones” enterprise alternative to Buzz and Twitter. I just hope they can ship it without improving it to death.

4 Myths About Google Panda That Are Still Doing The Rounds

Google Panda was an update introduced in 2011, aimed at preventing low-quality content from gaming its way into the top ranking slots on SERPs. How Google feels about SEO is open to question, but we can say for sure that when you could just pump out reams of garbage content stuffed with keywords and get your site above the fold on the first page, they hated it. Panda’s whole purpose was to make search rank correlate with quality.

Which is a good thing.

The workings of Google’s algorithms is always proprietary. We keep trying to guess; they keep changing the rules. As a result, there are beliefs about the way Panda actually works and even what it’s for that have clung on for years. Some of them aren’t true anymore; some of them were never true; all of them are myths that could lead you to waste your time and even potentially damage your search rank.

#1 – There Will be a Panda Update Soon

There sure will. Tomorrow, in fact – and the day after. In March of 2013, Google announced that Panda would become Panda “Everflux”, integrated with the basic search algorithm and updated constantly.

This myth comes from the impact of the initial Panda rollout, when the desired effect of Panda – spammy sites tumbled down the rankings – were accompanied by numerous undesired outcomes including many scraped sites actually rising up the rankings. In short, the result of the initial Panda rollout was chaos. People look to the likelihood of a “new” Panda update in deep concern in case all that happens again.

The worst downside of this myth is that we’re all like sportspeople taking our eyes off the ball to look at the (non-existent) UFO. There are important Google updates that are changing the way online business is conducted, and because they’re not labeled “Panda” we’re all looking the other way. Last April’s mobile-friendly update hit more sites than Panda (or Penguin, come to that) but it caused less of a stir. We’ve learned to live with Panda, and it’s helped a lot of us by making content marketing and search optimization a lot easier to align.

#2 – The Duplicate Content Filter is Part of Panda

This one is just totally untrue. It’s common, though, because they aim at similar results – rewarding quality – and they came in at the same time.

In a Twitter discussion with Marie Haynes, Google’s John Mueller said categorically that “Those are 2 separate & independent things.”

That seems pretty final.

But it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get slapped for having a bunch of duplicate content. Google has gotten a little more sophisticated at dealing with duplicate content over the years – after all, nearly every site has some. But large amounts will open you up to loss of traffic. It’s not technically a penalty. It sure feels like one when your traffic nosedives, but when you fix it and your site gets recrawled, the traffic should recover. That doesn’t happen with Panda penalties.

There’s also a big difference between the effects of duplicate content within your site and duplicated content from elsewhere on the web: one dilutes traffic and the other sets red flags flying at Google HQ. E-commerce sites are particularly at risk here because they have thousands of product pages that might be using the manufacturer’s product descriptions or generic placeholders. Canonical tags for duplicate pages and your own copy are the cure.

#3 – Too Much UGC Will Attract Panda

User-generated content used to be the Holy Grail. It’s social proof, it’s content for free, and it’s proof of deep engagement. People don’t contribute content to websites they don’t care about.

Post Panda, that began to change. And now SEOs are recommending that clients remove all the user-generated content from their websites.

Once again, this is an overreaction based on misunderstanding what Panda’s all about. It’s not about user-generated, old, thin, whatever. It’s about quality. Some UGC is very high quality, while some is people telling you how you won’t believe how they made money online with this simple trick. Too much of that second kind can actually go against you, as Google’s John Mueller explains:

“Another thing… which is common with forums is low-quality user-generated content. If you have ways of recognizing this kind of content, and blocking it from indexing, it can make it much easier for algorithms to review the overall quality of your website.”

The alleged UGC price is even worse if your site is a forum or acts like one. In cases like Stack Overflow and Quora where almost all the content is user-generated, what is the risk that Google will hunt down spammy UGC? This very thing happened to Mozilla back in 2013.

Mueller recommends cleaning house before you get hit with a penalty:

“The same methods can be used to block forum spam from being indexed for your forum. Depending on the forum, there might be different ways of recognizing that automatically, but it’s generally worth finding automated ways to help you keep things clean & high-quality, especially when a site consists of mostly user-generated content.”

It’s worth revisiting Mueller’s point about high-quality UGC: when you collate it right UGC campaigns can be among the best forms of content in Google’s eyes, as well as being inspiring and effective for users.

Many forum sites run on a question-and-answer basis. One effective way of keeping poor content out of the bots’ claws without messing up your site’s running is to no-index pages that have questions but no answers or that have only posts from the OP of the thread. When useful content builds, those pages can be indexed.

#4 – All Pages Need to be High Quality

This is probably the biggest myth about Panda. That every single page needs to be perfect for the site to rank at all, and if there’s anything on there that Panda doesn’t like, the whole site will suffer.

In fact, Panda is sometimes applied in quite a granular fashion and generally poor-quality penalties will hit individual pages, not the whole site. The site’s main pages can still rank well even if some of that site’s content doesn’t.

What you’re looking for is the overall picture Google gets of your site. If you have an awesome site with a few bad pages, Panda might hit those pages but your site will rank well just the same. The other way around won’t work out so well. Yoast’s Joost de Valk explains:

“Panda usually affects your site because you have too many low quality pages as a proportion of your overall number of pages.”

Identifying pages that need to be fixed is a matter of checking in your analytics tool to find pages with low traffic and high bounce. Apply common sense: some pages might be really useful for the few visitors they get. Some might have what looks like a high bounce rate because visitors get what they need fast and leave.


Panda is a different beast when you look at it close up. Far from being capricious, Panda’s demands seem fairly reasonable when you know what they actually are and how to work with them. Don’t let myths about certain types of content, content length, or some impending Pandageddon update stop you from making your site Panda-friendly!

Image Credits

Featured image via DepositPhotos

Are You Ready For The New School Year?

As we get ready to begin a new school year, we think about what things need to get done. Is my classroom ready? What will my first day with the students look like? Is my teaching aligning with the district’s vision for the upcoming school year? All of these things are important, but in all the back-to-school madness, we often times tend to forget the little things that will enable us to have a successful school year.

Challenge yourself. Do what is best for the students, not what is easiest for you. Has there been something you have been wanting to try? Possibly flipping your classroom or taking a risk to try that new innovative idea. Whatever it is, if it will enhance student learning, go out on the limb and try it. It is worth it for your students’ sake.

As you plan for the new school year, take time to think about these tips.

2. Bring Positive Energy into Meetings

We all know that person who does nothing but complain and look for the negative in everything. Be a positive leader. Look for the good in situations. Bring a positive vibe to colleagues. Once you bring that energy, others will quickly follow.

3. Welcome Change

Most of the time, we have no control over decisions made. Change can be a great thing. Don’t focus on the past, look at the present and plan for the fuure. Think about why change is happening and seek ways it can help improve student learning. 

4. Remain Upbeat About All Your Students

“ALL means ALL”. Don’t look for excuses for why a student isn’t performing. Look for solutions. We need to believe ALL of our students can achieve.

5. Stay Away From Gossip

Don’t waste your time on the unecessary things. Nothing is worse than being caught up in the rumor mill. Instead of gossiping, fill that time focusing on student learning or building positive relationships with your colleagues.

6. Take Care of Yourself

You can’t be productive if you aren’t healthy or worse, burnt out. What makes you feel relaxed? Set aside time for yourself, doing things you enjoy outside of education.

7. Maintain a Growth Mindset

Things can improve. If things are tough, brainstorm solutions. Look for the positive in every situation and believe everyone is capable of achieving.

8. Lead by Example

Don’t wait for others. If you know something needs to be done, do it. Everyone has the ability to be a leader. Our students need all of us to be successful. Regardless of title, remember it takes a village.

9. Seek Ways to Collaborate

We can achieve a lot more as a team. Extend your personal learning network. Plan with colleagues. Take courses. Participate in Twitter Chats. There are a variety of ways you can continue life-long learning.

10. Have Fun!

Make sure you enjoy what you are doing. Don’t be afraid to laugh with your students. When your students see you are passionate, they will be more likely buy into what you are teaching. Plus, no one enjoys a grumpy teacher.

Most important, as eager kids begin trickling through our school doors, never forget they are the reason why we are all here. Always keep their interests first. Best of luck to each of you in the upcoming school year!

Teachers: What Are Your Intentions For The New Year?

I regularly set intentions before a meeting or before teaching a class, or at the start of the day. Declaring my intentions (sometimes in writing, sometimes spoken to someone, sometimes only articulated in my head) helps me set a direction for how I would like things to go. I find that when I set an intention, my actions and words are more likely to follow that intention, even when I’ve consciously forgotten about it. So of course, I set intentions at the start of the year — both the academic and calendar year.

In 2011, I intend to focus more on what is working in our schools. This is a practice that I cultivate; it’s like eating well. I know I need to do it, and yet I constantly find myself slipping into obsessing over the gaps and holes, the everything-that’s-not-done, the learning or teaching that isn’t happening.

Randy Taran, a blogger for the Huffington Post, writes in a recent post, “What we pay attention to grows.” I know that, but I forget. So my intention: focus on the positive, focus on what’s working.

In the Classroom

When I taught, it was critical that I did this. I had to find my students’ strengths and skills. I had to make those public and then build on them. And then I carefully and strategically introduced missing skills.

Eddie (a pseudonym) always comes to mind when I think about doing this. When I met him at the beginning of sixth grade, he hated reading and read at a second grade level. He rejected anything “academic,” refused to do homework, and was often off-task and goofing around. He commanded a presence and could easily get his peers distracted; he loved the attention.

I gave Eddie opportunities to perform for his classmates and be on stage. He actually had some talent in this area. I used a structure called Readers’ Theater where students dramatically read the dialogue in a story aloud in front of the class. In order to play this role, they have to prepare: they have to read their lines at home beforehand, paying close attention to rhythm, tone, intonation, etc. Students need to understand the character’s context, the setting, and the subtext of the story. They also need to be able to read fluently.

Eddie loved this structure. He thrived on the attention and as a result, did the required reading to prepare for his performance; that is, he did his homework — without any threats or promises of rewards. Later, when I led my students through an intensive study of medieval Europe, I lured Eddie through the learning with the promise of an acting opportunity in the end. It worked. He came along and learned and then performed for an audience of hundreds. (See my blog post here to read more on this.) I know how it worked with kids to focus on strengths, on what was already there.

Focus on What Works

What does it mean to me now to focus on what’s working? I work as a coach with leaders — principals, central office administrators, and teacher leaders. I work in schools that have long struggled and communities in crisis and with people who are sometimes pushed into roles for which they have little preparation. It takes effort to find the functioning components, but it’s critical, because we have to build from what’s working, and it’s those spots that motivate and inspire and energize and remind me that we can transform public schools.

But I also intend to hone my observational powers to keep uncovering what’s working in our schools because I simply feel so much better when I do. When I was a teacher, I often left school at the end of the day feeling that I hadn’t done enough and students weren’t learning fast enough. I felt drained and depleted if I didn’t intentionally focus on what I had done well and what students had learned. Focusing my reflections on what worked motivated me way more than obsessing over my failures.

So next year, I will look for all the shiny bright spots in our public schools and I will do what I can to make them visible (including documenting my discoveries on this blog) and I will guide principals and teachers to do the same. I’m looking forward to that.

Edutopia community, what intentions (or resolutions) do you have for yourselves as educators in 2011?

Are You Ready To Switch?

A user’s perception of how good a network is will generally be based on two main factors: speed and reliability. These demands, coupled with the need to accommodate ever more bandwidth-hungry applications, means that network administrators are under continual pressure to provide a faster and more reliable system. So how do you give your growing Ethernet LAN a performance boost, without implementing complicated upgrades that could affect the stability of your network? One common strategy is to replace existing 10BaseT Ethernet hubs with switches. In this article, we’ll look at how Ethernet switches can make your network faster and examine what factors you should consider before purchasing.

Ethernet switches

Ethernet switches are not a new technology, having been popular in corporate environments for a number of years. In such environments, where speed is a priority over cost, switches are pretty much the standard. However, in smaller LANs, and LANs that have been in place for some time, Ethernet hubs are still working away, albeit slowly.

Replacing your Ethernet hubs with switches can yield massive improvements in performance. Not only are switches capable of making same-speed transmissions faster than hubs, they can also unleash performance improvements in equipment that you already have. For example, many older hubs have transmission speeds of only 10Mbps, but many newer PC’s have network cards with 100Mbps capability. Plug a 100Mbps network card into a 10Mbps hub, and you will have a 10Mbps connection. Plug the same 100Mbps network card into a 100Mbps switch, and it is possible to achieve data transmission speeds of 200Mbps, as well as gaining the speed improvements provided by the basic process of switching.

How switches improve performance

Layer 2 and Layer 3 switches

Layer 2 switches: Because switches make their forwarding decisions by using the MAC address, they are often referred to as Layer 2 switches in reference to the second layer of the OSI data model.

Layer 3 switches: You can also buy Layer 3 switches, which have the capability to make their decisions based on the network address or service as defined by the third layer of the OSI model. Some high-end switches use a combination of methods, switching at the most appropriate layer depending on the configuration. The high level of flexibility found in switches means that they can also be used for other network configuration tasks, such as the establishment of virtual LANs (VLANs).

To understand how using switches can make such a difference in performance, let’s quickly review how Ethernet networks function. When a computer connected to an Ethernet network wants to send data, it listens for any other traffic on the network segment; when the computer determines the media is clear, it attempts to transmit. Because Ethernet is a base-band technology, only one signal can use the cable at a time. So, if two machines attempt to talk at exactly the same time, their transmissions collide, damaging the data.

The network cards of the sending PCs sense the collision, wait for a random time period, and then attempt to resend the data. If the cable is clear this time, the transmission is completed. If it isn’t, and another collision occurs, the re-transmit process repeats. This collision-based system means that the more devices connected to an Ethernet segment, the more likely collisions are to occur, degrading performance exponentially. Switching provides vast improvements in speed by literally preventing these collisions.

In a switched network, each station has its own dedicated segment. The sending PC doesn’t have to consider that another device may be using the segment, which eliminates the possibility of collisions. The isolation of devices in this way is known as microsegmentation. With a switch in place, when the PC wants to send data, it transmits directly to the switch without having to wait. The switch examines the data, determines from the destination Media Access Control (MAC) address which other port on the switch to send the data to, and forwards it to that port.

Eliminating the need to worry about collisions provides a further opportunity for switches to improve performance, by allowing communication to occur in full-duplex mode. When a PC and a switch communicate in full-duplex mode, they send and receive data on the cable at the same time. This is possible because in a full-duplex communication, the two connected devices drop the standard Ethernet communication system (which by its nature caters to multiple accesses of the media) in favor of a more direct one-to-one method. Full-duplex communication can deliver double the throughput–a 100Mbps connection running in full-duplex will effectively become a 200Mbps connection.

Buying a switch

When you’re buying a switch, you need to consider a number of factors:

How many ports do you need on the new device? Consider not just your current needs, but your future requirements, as well.

Look at the speed at which the ports on the switch operate. Switches described as 10/100 models can accommodate both speeds, and usually have the ability to detect the speed at which a connection can be made. This feature, known as auto-negotiation, is also how the switch determines whether full duplex communication is possible.

Consider whether you need management capabilities. Managed switches will often have features such as port mirroring and remote monitoring, which can be useful if you are troubleshooting network devices or measuring bandwidth utilization.

Managed devices have the ability to communicate with a network management system, usually via Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), or are capable of communicating with proprietary network management systems.

Check how much memory is available for buffering data on the switch. The size of the buffer can play a large part in the overall performance. Look carefully at manufacturers’ specifications, because some quote figures for the entire switch, whereas others quote on a per-port basis.

Ascertain whether there is an opportunity for expansion. Some switches have the ability to accept plug-in expansion modules to provide high-speed uplink capabilities, or media conversion options. Again, consider your current as well as your future requirements.

Once you have decided on the features you need, it’s time to go shopping. When you start to look around for switches, you may notice that prices vary a great deal. With switches, as with any other type of networking equipment, the name makes quite a difference. Products from manufacturers such as Cisco or Nortel are likely to cost more than those from some of the smaller and less well known manufacturers. That doesn’t mean a device from a smaller company may not be suitable for your needs. If it has the features, backup, and support you’re looking for, then it may be the switch for you. As always, shop around and compare features and prices.

Whether you go with one of the big names or buy from a smaller manufacturer is a matter of personal and business preference. From a price perspective, the biggest influence is likely to be whether the unit has management capabilities. For an unmanaged switch, costs can be as low as few hundred dollars for an eight-port unit. For a larger, managed unit from a major manufacturer, you can expect to pay between $75 and $125 per port.

A risk-free upgrade

Perhaps the most attractive feature of using a switch as an upgrade is that doing so is almost risk free. The implementation of a new switch generally has no effect on other networking components, such as cabling, network cards or other network devices. Depending on which switch you purchase, in many cases, the actual upgrade is as simple as connecting a power cord to the new switch, unplugging the cables from an existing hub, and plugging the cables into the switch. If you are looking for a quick, easy and reliable way to improve the performance of your Ethernet LAN, switches represent what could be the easiest network upgrade you ever do.

Drew Bird (MCT, MCNI) is a freelance instructor and technical writer. He has been working in the IT industry for 12 years and currently lives in Kelowna, BC., Canada. You can e-mail Drew at [email protected].

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