Wave Rolls Ashore

September 30, 2009

Google Wave rolls into a town of about 100,000 developers. There are dozens of stories that explain Wave. I think that most of them state the obvious. A good example is the Computer World write up “Google Wave: A New Kind of Mega-Application.

For me, an interesting observation in the Computer World story was:

As for businesses, companies desperately need a technology like Wave to help their employees collaborate in a more streamlined way. Unfortunately, most enterprises remain years away from switching to this type of information stream, due to their current technology infrastructures.

What I noticed is that Wave is being explained in terms of existing technologies and well known services. I think such comparisons are helpful. In my opinion, however, those comparisons are incorrect and potentially misleading. Wave is not familiar nor old. Functions within Wave appear to be the familiar services. The environment in which these services exist is quite new. Google is not doing a variant of SharePoint. Google is not putting email on steroids.

Wave is one of the first, although primitive, dataspace applications. Until that concept gets traction, competitors may see Wave and its applications as something familiar given a new coat of paint or some lipstick. That is the type of thinking that created the mental wheel spinning in the telecommunications and publishing sectors when Google was dismissed as a Web search and ad vendor.

There’s a simplified description of dataspaces in Google: The Digital Gutenberg and an IDC report which Sue Feldman and I wrote on the subject in September 2008. If you are an IDC client, request report 213562 or snag a copy of my new monograph from Infonortics.

Stephen Arnold, September 30, 2009

Google Books Explained by Japanese News Service

September 30, 2009

I am puzzled by Google Books. To try and grasp the project, I try to look at and read many of the write ups. One of the more interesting explanations appeared in The Mainichi Daily News in the story “Why the Controversy over Google Books and How Does It Work?” The link is to the English version of the write up. The article is in question and answer form, brief, and to the point. The most interesting comment in the article in my opinion was this question and answer:

Q: If Google Books goes into full swing in the future, books wouldn’t sell any more, would they?

A: Google has pledged to only include a commercial service on out of print books. However, “out of print” isn’t clearly defined, and in any case, we should avoid a situation where the demand for free books destroys mankind’s publishing culture.

I quite like the phrase “avoid a situation where the demand for free books destroys mankind’s publishing culture.” The hitch is that many publishers are struggling to stay afloat. Libraries are strapped for cash. Commercial database companies have not rushed to build competitive services. Governments, at least in the US, have not had much of an appetite for scanning, OCRing, and making searchable book content. Short write ups are good, but Google Books is a complicated beastie which I don’t understand despite my best efforts.

Stephen Arnold, September 29, 2009

dtSearch Desktop 7.63

September 30, 2009

A happy quack to the reader who sent me a link to the description of the new version of dtSearch 7.63. This low-profile company continues to crank out products. Information about the new version can be located using the company’s site search function. The direct link to information is here. The system is Windows centric. Most of the changes improve functionality with Microsoft software. Worth a test drive.

Stephen Arnold, September 29, 2009

Sucking Content from SharePoint

September 30, 2009

A happy quack to the reader who sent me a link to a Slashdot story “Cracking Open the SharePoint Fortress”. This Slashdot item pointed to Computer World in the UK. You can find that original story on the UK Computer World Web site. The articles point out that SharePoint has been a bit of a one way street. Licensees – about 100 million of them I have heard – can put content into SharePoint. Getting that information out is a bit more work. The solution for this “fortress” is Microsoft’s pal Google. The idea is that Google’s Sites’s API can Hoover the info without much hassle. My son’s company Adhere Solutions has had a number of ways to neuter the wild boar SharePoint. The Sites’s API just makes the job easier, faster, and cheaper. Yes, you can have the three attributes courtesy of Google’s wizards. What’s Microsoft’s reaction? I don’t know because I don’t track the dust ups between these two companies. My hunch is that Microsoft will seethe inwardly and then respond in an appropriate way. Microsoft is not likely to let this sharp probe go unanswered.

Stephen Arnold, September 30, 2009

Google Base on Death Row?

September 30, 2009

Garrett Rogers’ “Google Base No Longer for Products” reported that changes are underway for a Google service that few people know about. He said:

It’s hard to tell if Google is actually thinking of pulling the plug on Google Base or not — I’m thinking they are going to let it die a slow death. The reason I think that is because they are actually replacing their Google Base Blog with the Google Merchant Blog.

Google Base has been an interesting beta. If you have not explored the service, you may want to hurry. If Mr. Rogers is correct, the employment ads, the mixed bag of content, and the real estate listings may be removed from the service.

In my opinion, Google Base made clear some interesting Google functions; for example, ability to ingest content and place it into one of Google’s data management systems. Some of the features of Google Base struck me as providing test beds for specific data processing functions. The user was not the focal point of Google Base.

My view is that Google Base might be on death row, but its underlying technology is alive and changing to fit into the rapidly evolving dataspace functionality the Google has been working on since the company made a strategic acquisition in 2006. I can hear now, “All you base are belong to us.” Do you?

Stephen Arnold, September 30, 2009

XML May Get Marginalized

September 29, 2009

I found the write up by Jack Vaughan interesting and thought provoking. XML (a wonderful acronym for Extensible Markup Language), a child of CALS and SGML, two fine parents in my opinion, may have its salad days behind it. You can read “XML on the Wane? Say It Isn’t So, Jack” and make up your own mind. Let’s assume that XML is a bum and no longer the lunch guest of big name executives. What happens? First, the Google methods are what I would call “quasi XML”; that is, XML in but Googley once processed by the firm’s proprietary recipes. My view is that Google gets an advantage because its internal data management methods, disclosed to some extent in its open source technical documents, remains above the fray. Second, if XML goes the way of the dodo, then the outfit with the optimal transformation tools can act like one of those infomercial slicers and dicers—for a fee, of course. Finally, the publishers who have invested in XML face yet another expense. More costs will probably thin the herd. In a quest for more revenue, XML junkies may be forced to boost their prices which will further narrow their customer base. In short, if XML gets the bum’s rush, Google may get a boost and others get a dent in the pocketbook.

Stephen Arnold, September 29, 2009

SchemaLogic Pumps Up Financing

September 29, 2009

SchemaLogic, according to Northwest Innovation, has raised $1.0 in debt financing. SchemaLogic is a specialist in software and systems that allow an organization to keep its metadata in one repository. The idea is that any enterprise system in the organization can tap into the SchemaLogic repository and, therefore, metadata inconsistency is eliminated or greatly reduced. The firm’s backers, according to the article, include “Artis Capital, Goldman Sachs Group, and Madrona Venture Group.” Total funding is more than $13 million.

Stephen Arnold, September 29, 2009

Oracle Tahiti Is No Vacation

September 29, 2009

Oracle and its various search systems have dropped off my radar. Unfortunately I received a call from a former colleague asking me a question about SES 10g configuration. I thought I had downloaded documentation for this system, but I think the downloading tool went south and I never mustered the energy to try and snag the Oracle docs. Latency on the Oracle Web site has been an issue for me in rural Kentucky. I navigated to Tahiti, which you can access at http://tahiti.oracle.com/. I tried a number of search strings. The search result for “Oracle search” was a blank screen. Another of my queries produced this remarkable result list:

oracle results

I then tried just the search string “search”. Here’s what I received:

oracle results 2

Several aspects of these queries left me dumbfounded:

First, why is the search system unable to return hits about Secure Enterprise Search, Ultra Search, search, and text retrieval?

Second, why are these two result lists so dissimilar. Both results were generated by Tahiti and I have zero idea why the results vary.

Third, what happened to relevance, snippets, facets, and other useful features that I saw in a search system used for Oracle’s marketing literature. I think that system was provided by Siderean Software. Even TripleHop can produce more meaningful results.

I thought IBM had the blue ribbon for frustrating search systems. I may have to revise that opinion.

Stephen Arnold, September 29, 2009

CNN Dogpaddles for Dollars, Stories Just $199

September 29, 2009

CNN is looking at a freight train speeding down the tracks. CNN is in an auto stalled across the rail crossing. User generated videos, Web logs, and Tweets make it easy for me to check out what is going on without the help of CNN’s talking heads. To generate cash and get some traffic, CNN will license rights to one of its stories for $199. The price is less than the $500 that the $500 charged by iCopyright. You can read the details in “À la Carte Services from CNN Sells Stories for $199” and make your judgment about the offer. You can buy a story at the CNN store. Hurry.

Stephen Arnold, September 29, 2009

Exclusive Interview with SurfRay President

September 29, 2009

SurfRay has come roaring back into the search and content processing sector. SurfRay, like many other companies, had to tighten its belt and straighten its tie in the wake of the global financial turmoil. With the release of new versions of Ontolica (a search system that snaps into SharePoint) and MondoSearch (a platform independent Web site search solution), SurfRay is making sales again. ArnoldIT.com spoke with Søren Pallesen about the firm’s new products. In a wide ranging interview, Mr. Pallesen, a former Gartner Group consultant, said:

SurfRay’s mission is to deliver tightly packaged search software solutions for businesses to provide effective search for both internal and external users. With Packaged we mean easy to try, install and use. Our vision is to be our customer’s first choice for packaged enterprise search solutions and to become the world’s third largest search solution provider in the world measured on number of paying business customers by 2012. The last six months have been an exciting time for SurfRay. I took over as CEO; we significantly increased investment in product development and an ambitious expansion of the organization. This has paid off. SurfRay is profitable, and we have released new versions of our core products. Ontolica is now in version 4.0, including a new suite of reporting and analytics, and MondoSearch 5.4 is in beta for a Q4 release. As a profitable company we are in the fortunate position to be able to fund our own growth and we are expanding in North America among other by hiring more sales people as well as formation of a Search Expert Center in Vancouver, Canada that will serve customers across the Americas. We are also expanding in Europe most recently with formation of SurfRay UK and Ireland, allowing us to expand sales and support with local people on the ground in this important European market.

When asked about the difference between MondoSearch and Ontolica, Mr. Pallesen told me:

Customers that buy our products typically fall into a number of usage scenarios. Simply put Ontolica solves search problems inside the firewall and MondoSearch outside the firewall. Firstly customers with SharePoint implementations look for enhanced search functionality, and turn to our Ontolica for SharePoint product. Secondly, businesses that do not use SharePoint but have the need for an internal search solution on an intranet, file servers, across email, applications and other sources buy Ontolica Express and use it in combination with Microsoft Search Server Express for simple single server installation or Micro Search Server for multiple load balanced server installations. Thirdly, customers with the need for robust and highly configurable web site search buy MondoSearch. Especially popular with businesses that want to implement up- and cross selling on their search results page.

You can read the full text of the interview in the Search Wizards Speak series on ArnoldIT.com. For more information about SurfRay, visit the company’s revamped Web site at http://www.surfray.com.

Stephen Arnold, September 29, 2009

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