Microsoft Search Community Toolkit

March 31, 2009

SharePoint search is like Baskin-Robbins. Lots of flavors. To create the ice cream treat that suits your taste, you need a selection of toppings. A reader sent me a link to a list of code snippets contributed by SharePoint faithful. You may want to click here and peruse what’s available. Some of the choices:

Not an April 1, 2009, spoof.

Stephen Arnold, April 1, 2009

Teen Codes

March 31, 2009

Short honk: I know among my two or three readers I have at least one person with a teenager. For this person, I want to point out “50 Sexting/IM Acronyms Every Parent/Teenager/Person Should Know” here. For example, WYCM? Might be useful when trying to sort out the Twitter thing young folks do. Not an April 1, 2009 joke.

Stephen Arnold, April 1, 2009

Guardian’s Prescient April Fool Story

March 31, 2009

Short honk. The Guardian’s April 1, 2009, “Twitter Switch for Guardian, after 188 Years of Ink” here may be more accurate than a bit of British humor. The Chicago Sun Times went south. At about the same time, the scribes at the dead tree publication in the UK wrote:

As a Twitter-only publication, the Guardian will be able to harness the unprecedented newsgathering power of the service, demonstrated recently when a passenger on a plane that crashed outside Denver was able to send real-time updates on the story as it developed, as did those witnessing an emergency landing on New York’s Hudson River. It has also radically democratised news publishing, enabling anyone with an Internet connection to tell the world when they are feeling sad, or thinking about having a cup of tea.

Twitter like services may become the news source for those who want currency and brevity. The most effective market research for the Guardian’s scribes may be talking to their children. Those folks will determine how accurate the Guardian’s article will be.

Stephen Arnold, April 1, 2009

Android: Courting Hewlett Packard

March 31, 2009

Microsoft buys some Hewlett Packard servers. Microsoft once bought Dell servers. I picked up rumblings that Microsoft embraced Hewlett Packard after Dell drifted from the all-Microsoft, all-the-time mode of business operations. Against that rumor trampoline, I read “HP Exploring Using Android Software in Computers” with one question in my addled goose mind: “Is Google sufficiently adept to woo HP into the Googleplex with Odwalla beverages, Tony Bennett crooning at lunch, and the recession resistant Googlers as the principal attractions? You can read the Yahoo story via AFP here. For me, the most interesting comment in the write up was:

News that HP is exploring ways to put Android to work in computers is the first hint that the operating system may be shaping up as a contender in a market long-dominated by Windows software made by Google’s rival Microsoft.

If this tie up happens, chalk one up for the GOOG. HP may find that the reception in Redmond might turn chilly. Hewlett Packard, an ink company, has been working to convince me that its servers and its Exstream Software units are the money machines. My thought is that HP is looking for ways to make money and Android looks like a baby Googzilla to ride.

PS. This could be an April’s Fool play by the witty lads at AFP too.

Stephen Arnold, April 1, 2009

Search Me Integrates Twitter Tweets

March 31, 2009

Searchme, Inc. is the first major search engine to integrate “Tweets” into search results and make it easier for searchers to share results with the Twitter community by adding a ‘one-click’ post to Twitter button on every search page.

Searchme is a search engine, designed from the ground up to provide a superior search experience over traditional text-based engines designed more than ten years ago. Less than a year old, Searchme has gained favor with web searchers and has more than 6 million monthly users now growing at a rate of more than a hundred thousand users a day.

Instead of a list of blue links, Searchme delivers large images of the web pages, videos, music and products that play right on the search result page making it easy to find and consume things on the web. Now Searchme has included Twitter search results in this mix and also made it easy for searchers to share their discoveries with the Twitter followers by clicking the large Twitter button on every search result page.

The new Twitter integration adds to the array of social sharing tools in Searchme for sharing stacks with friends and family via email, their blog or the most popular social networking and community sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Digg, Stumble Upon! and Delicious.

“Search, by its nature, is social. People like to share what they find with friends and family,” said Randy Adams, Searchme Founder and CEO. “We’re big fans of Twitter at Searchme and quickly realized that this was a great way to make sharing search results fun and easy. The web isn’t just about web pages anymore and we’re committed to embracing this new media as we continue to innovate around the search experience.”

For more information about Searchme, click here.

Stephen Arnold, March 31, 2009

Wales Wikia Search Beached

March 31, 2009

In London at the International Online Meeting a couple of years ago, I listened to a talk by Jimmy Wales. He was explaining the idea of different type of search system. What he referenced emerged as Wikia Search. Bouyed by the success of Wikipedia (the online encyclopedia that slew Encarta), Mr. Wales rolled out a user-generated serach engine. My view of the idea remained neutral. When humans are involved in search, the problems come out of the wood work. Say what yoiu want about Google and its math recipes, but at least there are reasonably objective. When humans pick sites and index, objectivity becomes a matter for discussion. According to the CNet story here, usage was modest, about 10,000 uniques per month.

User generated search listings are a great idea in theory but tough to operate over time an ensure consistency. Other challenges of user generated services include:

  • Humans want to be recognized with money or fame. Algorithms work without too much threat of unionization, slow downs, or quitting
  • Humans get bored. Algorithms don’t, at least not yet
  • Humans volunteer and then only a couple of individuals carry the freight. Algorithms can be spawned and killed when they are no longer needed.

Our 1993 Point service relied in humans and algorithms. We sold it. I try to stick with automation. Some clever folks will find a way to make human labor pay off in the search and content processing space. These will be niche plays because of cost and speed considerations (more accurately, throughput).

Now that Wikia search has reached the beach to die, which human-powered search system is next?

Stephen Arnold, March 31, 2009

Pentaho: More Open Source Business Intelligence Moxie

March 31, 2009

Business intelligence gets knocks for complexity and performance. In my work, I hear about the direct and indirect costs of business intelligence systems. Those buying BI suites and systems drink the KoolAid and then seemed amazed that the manager of customer support doesn’t know what reports mean or how to get reports that answer specific questions. One of these three weaknesses can be addressed in part by the new Pentaho release. Open source business intelligence lets a customer sidestep some of the licensing fees. Alas, some of the other costs remain.

Pentaho, an open source business intelligence vendor, released a new version of its BI suite. You can read the details here. The company’s tag line for version 3.0 is “User friendly, cloud ready, and community powered.”

This new version includes an updated dashboard design tool. The idea is that an authorized user with no training can create a display of metrics without having to wait in a queue for a developer. The notion of personalization eliminates the grousing that canned reports are of minimal use to most line managers. This new version hooks into Amazon’s cloud services. The design of Version 3.0 makes it easier to integrate specialized functions or “hook in” other enterprise data.

There are basic search tools, but like other business intelligence systems, finding information via a key word query lags the more traditional analytic functions. More information is available here. A demonstration is available, but I had to register my trusty boxer dog as a prospect in order to gain access to the information. I much prefer basic information to be available without requiring me to register an animal. When I know I have a need for more detail, that’s when I would be willing to register. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Stephen Arnold, March 31, 2009

Coveo Lands a Whale-Sized Search Deal

March 31, 2009

Bell Mobility and Coveo, a leading provider of information access and search solutions for the enterprise, announced an exclusive next-generation search and access tool called Enterprise Search from Bell.

Powered by Coveo’s patented search and index technology, Enterprise Search from Bell offers business clients comprehensive search capability on their BlackBerry smartphones, including full mobile access to information contained within their Microsoft Exchange server accounts and even across their entire corporate information technology systems.

Wade Oosterman, President of Bell Mobility and Chief Brand Officer for Bell, said:

Enterprise Search from Bell is the only mobile business tool available that provides clients with such instant mobile access to critical enterprise content via their BlackBerry devices. Our partnership with Coveo is another example of Bell’s dedication to delivering data solutions that meet the evolving needs of mobile business. Enterprise Search from Bell provides business users with the ability to securely search and retrieve any information within their Microsoft Exchange server accounts, including emails, attachments content, calendars, tasks and contacts via their BlackBerry devices. With this capability, users can access the precise information they need within seconds, when they need it, without having to know where the document was previously stored.

Louis Tetu, Coveo’s Executive Chairman, said:

Search technology is by far one of the most promising information technology investments for enabling workforce productivity across the enterprise. Mobile search solutions provide employees with all the relevant information they need from any location. In contributing our expertise to Bell Mobility, we are helping to drive innovation in their mobile business solutions, which is part of our initiative to be a player in the ‘smartphones for business revolution’ market trend.

The service features Coveo’s user-friendly interface. The new enterprise search service from Bell offers numerous possibilities to business users who work with large amounts of rapidly changing information. Executives, sales professionals, account managers, professional services providers, customer care, call center representatives, IT administrators, project managers and human resources, legal and engineering professionals are provided instant access to the information they require to perform their roles more effectively. As a result, this drives improved productivity and enables higher levels of self-service across the workforce.

Bell Mobility’s partnership with Coveo is unique in the market as it combines the mass distribution reach of a market-leading national mobile carrier with an innovative enterprise search solution to offer customers in all areas of Canada the ability to drive better business performance across their workforce in a rapid and economical deployment model.

For further information on Enterprise Search from Bell click here. For more information about Coveo, click here. To read the interview with Laurent Simoneau, the search expert driving Coveo’s technology, click here.

A happy quack to the Coveo team from the goslings in Harrod’s Creek.

Stephen Arnold, March 31, 2009

Fast Forward "Machine to Organism" Baffler

March 31, 2009

I heard that the Fast Forward conference is no more. My understanding is that it will be rolled into a SharePoint conference, which seems to fit the road map for the Fast technology. I did a routine check of the Fast Forward Web log for information (no joy) and read “From Machine To Organism” here.

The article struck me as unrelated to Fast Search & Transfer’s technology. In fact, the piece seemed to describe SAP’s efforts to regain lost momentum. The original SAP world is gone, replacing it is a world populated by “homo zappians”. The wrap up of the argument is that a different type of enterprise software model is needed.

I think I agree, but here’s the disconnect for me. Microsoft purchased Fast Search & Transfer in April 2008 for about $1.2 billion dollars. The company released some Web parts late in 2008. At the Fast Forward conference, Microsoft suggested that Fast Search’s technology would be integrated with other Microsoft products according to a road map.

In the new world of homo zappiens (great phrase!), the emerging paradigm seems to be more along the Google model than along the SharePoint – Fast ESP model. Google, by definition, is an integrated, “as is” infrastructure. The Microsoft cloud play is a work under construction. The road map focused on integrating SharePoint and Fast ESP, both of which are mostly on premises installations.

If SAP is in trouble, Microsoft should be thrilled that its attempt to buy the company flopped. My thought is that the road map for Fast Search seems to be closer to the SAP model than the Google model. If I am right, this “Machine to Organism” analysis is off by about nine degrees which could spell disaster for Microsoft in my opinion.

Stephen Arnold, March 31, 2009

Encarta: Content Is King and Wikipedia Is Arthurian

March 31, 2009

Content is king. More accurately, in the encyclopedia sector, Wikipedia is more kingly. Microsoft has figured out that it could not do what Encyclopedia Britannica, World Book, and other descendents of Denis Diederot failed to achieve. Encarta seems to be a stark reminder that money, confidence, and a desktop operating system monopoly don’t have the clout to displace a user-generated online reference service. If you are lucky, this link to the AFP story on Yahoo News will be available when you click here. For me the most interesting comment in the article was:

Encarta’s popularity faded after the nonprofit Wikipedia Foundation launched Wikipedia online in 2001.

I am surprised it took eight years for the Redmond company to see the writing on the Wikipedia Web site. Encarta’s search struck me as a bit wheezy. I use the GOOG to search Wikipedia, and I review the articles before I link to them. I think Wikipedia is quite good, certainly good enough to kill the multimedia, noisy, sluggish Encarta.

Stephen Arnold, March 31, 2009

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