Your Inner Sherlock: People Search Engines

December 31, 2009

Short honk: This write up — “5 Powerful Ways To Google People From Alternative Search Engines” – provides a useful run down of services that focus on “people search”. The idea is a bit like white pages on steroids. The systems provide hits to addresses and phone numbers and some include information from social networking sites. Worth a look. Indulge your amateur detective instincts or just find the phone number of a painter.

Stephen E. Arnold, December 31, 2010

I must disclose that I was not paid to write this. I did weasel some dough from the engaging owner of Gaviri’s universal search system. The ad goes up the first week of January 2010. I will disclose this to the Labor Department (DOL).

A Google Cheerleader Gently Disses MSFT

December 31, 2009

Short honk: A few years ago, I had difficulty finding examples of Google technology “in the wild.” In fact, I telephoned a Google reseller to ask a question. The reseller would not speak with me until the reseller coordinated with Google. I can’t reveal the details of why I called, but let us say that the call was not an unfriendly one.

Flash forward to December 22, 2009, and the blog post by a boss / janitor: “How Google and the Cloud Changed My Company.” The write up has plenty of gory details: executive resistance at the idea of using Google Apps. The best part was this comment:

Oh, did I mention the price? I estimate we will have saved almost $1,000 per employee between hardware and software costs — not to mention the deployment and maintenance savings that we reap over time. Woah. I just took a moment to re-read what I have written. Sounds like I work for Google. I don’t. But this blog is about what works for business and I feel that Google made a bold move to make businesses work better. I actually am not a Microsoft Hater anymore. Outgrew that when I put away the code. I just think they are an old and overpriced model. It will be interesting to see how good their response to Google Docs is: Office Web Apps. I bet MSFT isn’t used to playing catch-up on one of their core businesses!

How times have changed. Google’s burgeoning PR team could not have crafted a better testimonial. Oh, I found this using Google Blogsearch too. Indexed right smartly as well.

Stephen E. Arnold, December 30, 2009

I wish to report to the National Institutes of Health that Google’s grassroots PR is doing fine, thank you. And, because I am not PhD, I was not paid for my write up, attention, or scrutiny of the patient.

eWeek Maddening Ad and Even Wackier Analysis of Bing and Google

December 31, 2009

A big IBM ad plopped itself in the middle of my netbook’s 10 inch screen. The ad was in Adobe’s Flash technology and the whiz kids who crafted this dorky blob forced me to click around until I made it go away. Pretty annoying, and almost as annoying as the “slideshow” called “How Microsoft Bing Could Challenge Google in 2010”. The slides are little more than a series of facts and comments designed to generate page views. Clicking to advance the slideshow was maddening, but the argument was even wackier. There was no analysis. There were statements and facts about a supposition that Microsoft would hook up with News Corp in one more effort to kill Google. Won’t work. The battle does not exist. Here’s why:

  1. The fight is an unequal one. Google has nuclear bombs. Microsoft has dump trucks with fertilizer and diesel fuel.
  2. The users are habituated to a Google world. Changing habits is going to take time and money. Microsoft has money, but I am not so sure about time.
  3. Microsoft can team up with traditional media in the hope that a lack of “real journalism” will hobble Google. Wrong. Google can just hire people to write content exclusively for Google. When that happens, game over.

The Google is being more patient than I would be. I would create the Google Press and put an end to this baloney. I have four or five publishers. I love each. I would dump them in a heartbeat if Google offered to publish my next monograph and give me a slice of the revenue. Traditional publishers are in the blockbuster business. The blockbuster business if very risky. Google is in the information access business. If Google becomes a publisher of news, scholarly journals, and monographs, Google can “own” the rights. Where would people go to get information access? My answer: Googzilla.

My suggestion is find a way to generate money from Google and surf on the beast. Forcing Google to become a publisher is a death sentence for some outfits.

Stephen E. Arnold, December 31, 2009

I must disclose to the US Senate that I was not paid to write about the power of Google as a nation state. Once it becomes a publisher, Google may pass its own laws and issue Google bucks. Pretty interesting thought, right?

Google and Online Graphics

December 31, 2009

Short honk: More hoof beats from the Googzilla. Read “Creating Web-Ready Images with SketchUp Pro and LayOut.” My hunch is that SketchUp is getting some graphic tricks to make life tough for some of the online graphics vendors as well as Google’s neighbors down Adobe way. Excitement? For sure in 2010.

Stephen E. Arnold, December 31, 2009

No one paid me to point out that the Google wants a piece of the graphics revenue cupcake. I suppose this no cash write up has to be reported to the food service manager at the House cafeteria. You know. The one that put up the American fries sign a decade ago, thus endearing us to the French.

So You Want to Be a Googler?

December 31, 2009

Short honk: Looking for big bucks? You can apply to be a “search executive” in London. The job posting appears on the ZDNet UK Web site. The salary is £24,000 to £30,000 per year plus benefits. This works out to about $38,367 to $47,959. The job posting via ZDNet says:

A fantastic opportunity has arisen to join an established media agency in central London as a PPC executive. You will be responsible developing, running, managing and optimizing PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns across all formats. You will need great analytics skills, experience of display, social media advertising and writing clear client reports. Ideally you will be a Google Adwords professional.

Yep, fantastic. I like the “great analytics skills” as well.

Stephen E. Arnold, December 31, 2009

A freebie. I will report this to Securities House in London but the airfare, hotel, and taxi ride may consume three percent of the low end of the pay for the position.

Microsoft Reveals the Chinese Search Market Is Important. Okay.

December 31, 2009

I thought I heard about the importance of China to Microsoft several years ago. Anyway, the Redmond giant sees China’s search market as important. You can get some of the details in the story “Microsoft Pegs China Search Market as Top Priority.” On my most recent visit, I learned that Wu Han is one of the largest cities in the world. Big surprise to me because i didn’t know there was a city call Wu Ham. Lots of mobile devices in China and lots of people. Stands to reason that the Chinese market is important. The most interesting statement in the write up, in my opinion, was this passage:

China’s search market was worth 2 billion yuan ($293-million) in the third quarter, up 38 per cent, with homegrown leader Baidu well ahead with 63.9 per cent followed by Google at 31.3 per cent, according to research firm Analysys International.

Stay tuned because lots of search outfits have figured out that China is important. Not exactly a secret three or four years ago, but it must be news to the Toronto Globe & Mail.

Stephen E. Arnold, December 31, 2009

A freebie. I will alert the RCMP.

Another SharePoint Search Update

December 30, 2009

Short honk: You can download updates to WSS from the links in this TechNet post. Yes, constant refinement. Happy holidays.

Stephen E. Arnold, December 28, 2009

A freebie. I officially report this to the Senate Police, located above a museum and labeled as something other than the police.

Microsoft and Its Entity Cube

December 30, 2009

Entity extraction has been around for a long, long time. Microsoft Research has revivified the discipline with its EntityCube. Here’s the description of EntityCube in the Microsoft EntityCube team’s words:

EntityCube is a research prototype for exploring object-level search technologies, which automatically summarizes the Web for entities (such as people, locations and organizations) with a modest web presence. The Chinese-language version is called Renlifang. The need for collecting and understanding Web information about a real-world entity (such as a person or a product) is mostly collated manually through search engines. However, information about a single entity might appear in thousands of Web pages. Even if a search engine could find all the relevant Web pages about an entity, the user would need to sift through all these pages to get a complete view of the entity. EntityCube generates summaries of Web entities from billions of public Web pages that contain information about people, locations, and organizations, and allows for exploration of their relationships. For example, users can use EntityCube to find an automatically generated biography page and social-network graph for a person, and use it to discover a relationship path between two people.

Microsoft Research points out that this is a test, eschewing the Google term “beta”. There are some issues, which include entity extraction, name disambiguation, entity ranking, and relationship extraction, among others. Softpedia’s “Introducing Microsoft’s EntityCube” is a useful overview.

I ran the query “dataspace” on Microsoft Academic, which has some EntityCube features enabled. I got a results list and as shown in the screenshot below, a list of entities on the left side of the results screen. I reviewed the hits and the ranking was somewhat unexpected. Experts whom I expected to appear toward the top of the results list were buried.

entitycube

There was a more general purpose version of the system available at http://entitycube.research.microsoft.com/, but I did not want to install Silverlight, the bane of Major League Baseball, on this underpowered netbook. If you want quotes and more bells and whistles you can walk down this path.

According to Geek in Disguise, EntityCube offers some interesting features when you search for information about a person. Here’s what Geek in Disguise said, “Specifically, EntityCube automatically generates:

  • A biography page for a person.
  • A social-network graph for a person.
  • A shortest-relationship path between two people.
  • All titles of a person that are found on the Web. “

On10.net reported that EntityCube:

builds a dynamic Wikipedia page for the entity or person you search for. The types of information you’ll find include biographies, a social-network graph, relationships between people (mouse over the link to see how they are connected), and titles of people.

I checked my files and found a note to myself that a similar technology was in use to pluck product names from content for Microsoft’s Live.com product catalog service. You can compare the Microsoft technology with that of Cluuz.com. I find Cluuz.com’s approach more useful for my research. The set of content for Cluuz.com comes from the Yahoo.com index. Results from the Microsoft demo seem sparse. Cluuz.com seems to have addressed the problems identified with the Microsoft service.

Stephen E. Arnold, December 30, 2009

A freebie. If anyone were working at a watchdog agency in Washington, I would report this sad state of money-free writing.

Quote to Note: Extreme Journalism Management Advice

December 30, 2009

My hard copy New York Times ran a story on page B1 with a jump to B2. The article was “Adding Fees and Fences on Media Sites”. By the time you click the link, the article may be a goner unless you pay. That’s the summary of the write up, which continues the News Corp. global push to make life tough for their kids. Those “kids”, by the way, are the ones abandoning traditional media. I am not too interested in the write up, but I read it and wrote down a quote that is a keeper. Here’s what I noticed as important:

One of the problems is newspapers fired so many journalists and turned them loose to start so many blogs,” Mr. Mutter [pundit and blogger]. “They should have executed them. They wouldn’t have had competition. But they foolishly them out alive.”

The “they” are traditional publishers, I believe. Joke or regret? When I think about the publishing outfits for which I have worked, I am not sure. There was a fictional murder in a film. I am not too good at visual recollection but “Citizen Kane” comes to mind. I also remember writing a paper about newspaper wars. The phrase that comes to mind is “yellow journalism” and I associate that phrase with sensationalism and pros like Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. As a result, I am not sure if Mr. Mutter was cracking a one liner or referencing what those sufficiently desperate may do to resolve a stressful situation. Anyway, this is a heck of a quote.

Stephen E. Arnold, December 30, 2009

I am not sure to whom to report that Tess licked my hand when I was typing. Technically that is a form of emolument and, therefore, must be disclosed. I suppose I report this fact to Jefferson County Animal Welfare Unit. When I walk my dogs, the officer eyes me carefully.

The Google Goes to College

December 30, 2009

Short honk: If you want to see what is ahead for college students, read “Google Apps and College Kids: True Love?” I am surprised when I point out in my lectures that some people are unaware of Google’s march on the education market. If you are lost in a cloud of unknowing, this write up in MSPmentor (published on December 22, 2009) provides some backfill on this topic. For me, the most important point in the write up was:

First, there’s a chance Google will make additional vertical market pushes in 2010 and beyond. Google insiders have downplayed the vertical market chatter to me. But I’m watching and listening for more clues. Second, tomorrow’s workforce–today’s college students- will demand Google Apps and/or similar SaaS applications when they show up at your door for work. Third, those Google-savvy college grads will also work for your customers. In my mind there’s no doubt a Google Enterprise push is coming in 2010.

Despite the funky formatting there are some useful links.

Stephen E. Arnold, December 26, 2009

Oyez, oyez, to the Department of Education. A freebie. Do you hear that? A freebie.

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