Open Standards and Money

February 28, 2011

With the Oracle-Google legal hassle over Java code, we are keeping our eyes open for actions that might have an impact on open source. In “UK Government Defines Open Standards as Royalty Free”, we think there is a hint of an issue that may gain some momentum in the months ahead. The UK, with its slow but steady economic decline, is creating a situation where the UK government is going to want to have tight control over the money it spends. Governments are particularly interesting when it comes to money. Most of the talk is about everything except cutting government spending and eliminating waste. However, in this write up from The H Open, we noted this passage:

New procurement guidance from the UK government has defined open standards as having “intellectual property made irrevocably available on a royalty free basis”.

I like that word “irrevocably”. How often is the digital world “irrevocable”.

This paragraph also caught out attention:

The guidance goes on to further define open standards as ones which result from an open, independent process and that are approved by a recognized standardization organization (the W3C and ISO are given as examples). The standards themselves must be thoroughly documented and publicly available at zero or low cost and have intellectual property “made irrevocably available on a royalty free basis”. It is also required that they can be shared and implemented across a number of platforms and using different development approaches.

In our experience, the “open” angle is often a marketing tactic. IBM, for example, puts its demo system on a TV game show and sells as OmniFind 9,1, the Lucene open source search solution. There are many companies using open source for their commercial purposes.

Now the government wants open and irrevocable to work in the same semantic cluster. I suppose the “low cost” notion is understood as well. What exactly is “low cost”?

How practical are government pronouncements about “open” when Oracle and its duo of MySQL and Java is on the legal offensive? Will this sort of oracular approach send waves of change across open source search and content processing? Some government officials in the Middle East are having some difficulty getting their wishes transformed into behavior if what I see on TV is accurate. You can, at least for the time being, download the UK report here.

Stephen E Arnold, February 28, 2011


Embedded Functionality: The SIM Option

February 28, 2011

We worked on a project a decade ago to slap content processing in firmware. The problem was snail like CPUs and memory bandwidth. These problems are close to getting solved well enough to open a new era in search and content processing.

The article

Embedded SIM Technology “MWC: Embedded SIMs key to Machine-to-machine communications. is a harbinger. We think this development may exert some influence certain types of search deployments.

SIM cards, or subscriber identity module cards, have become integral to mobile security. Now, the Mobile World Congress (MWC) is pushing standards for embedded SIM technology. Says the organization’s Rob Conway,

To drive the rise of connecting “things” the embedded SIM is vital, so that’s why the GSMA announced the embedded SIM initiative[  ] in November and published requirements for standards around the technology. This will help ensure that the SIMs cannot be easily removed, which helps operators provision over-the-air updates up to the point of sale and beyond. This will bring mobile broadband to all sorts of devices, like cars and smart meters.

The MWC helps ensure that the embedded SIM security will remain consistent with that of SIM cards. They also predict that mobile payments will soon eclipse other payment methods, adding another powerful reason to get mobile security right.

The standard requirements will be submitted to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute at the end of this month. This is certainly a trend worth watching. We are pondering the implications for mobile search.

Cynthia Murrell February 28, 2011

NLP Gets a Full Monty

February 28, 2011

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is experiencing huge growth.  From handwriting recognition to foreign language translation to predictive text on your handheld, NLP is used in many different ways to help our technology recognize what we mean when we simply speak or write English (or whatever language you happen to use in life).  Natural Language Processing with Python is a book available in pdf that gives a useful introduction to NLP based on the Python programming language with its shallow learning curve.

According to its own introduction:

“This book provides a highly accessible introduction to the field of NLP. It can be used for individual study or as the textbook for a course on natural language processing or computational linguistics, or as a supplement to courses in artificial intelligence, text mining, or corpus linguistics.”

The book is geared toward beginning and intermediate levels, so even if you are new, don’t be intimidated.  It is full of exercises, and the authors have used entertaining examples to lighten what might otherwise be a heavy subject.  The book is available for free download and the Natural Language Toolkit with open source Python modules is as well.  Whether your background is arts and humanities or science and engineering, this is a recommended read.

Alice Wasielewski, February 28, 2011

Open Source Wake Up

February 28, 2011

What’s the Deal with Open Source” gives a basic overview of what open source software is and the different ways it can be used and modified.  The article repudiates the fear that open source software is lower quality:

People also often see open source endeavors as being run by a few unkempt coders in their parents’ basements on a budget of nothing, updating when they get a chance (if ever). While many open source projects are run by less than a handful of contributors, larger open source systems like the Mozilla Foundation and the several Linux distributions clearly show that the system can work on a large-scale as well.

With millions of people using open browsers like Chrome and Firefox, everyday Web users are comfortable with open source technology.

One key point is that the main advantage of open source for a user: it’s free and can be extended without getting tangled in some of the restrictions placed on proprietary software.

Our view is that open source, the notion of “free” may not be free like beer but more like free kittens.  However, with competent programmers on hand, open source software can be useful for the certain organizations.

Alice Wasielewski, February 28, 2011


Protected: SharePoint URL Query String Parameters

February 28, 2011

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This Time Fortune Pokes the GOOG

February 27, 2011

Short honk: Navigate to “Can Samsung Save Google TV with ARM Processors?” I am not sure you need to read the article in order to get the angle of attack. Google TV needs to be “saved”. Winner products need to be available and then upgraded. The comments about the cost of Intel chips are interesting but Fortune puts the knife in Googzilla in the title. The text adds some zest.

Stephen E Arnold, February 27, 2011

Freebie unlike the Google TV

Yahoo Chatters On

February 27, 2011

Computerworld has posted an interview with Yahoo’s newish CTO, Raymie Stata. In it, Stata discusses his role in Yahoo’s evolution.

For one thing, the previous CTO position is now occupied by two people: The CTO and a new CPO. CPO means chief product officer. Okay. Stata sets direction while the CPO manages the engineers. This shift frees him to focus on technology and market exploration. Okay.

The interviewer asked about criticisms that Yahoo has been behind the curve on innovation. Stata believes the charge ignores much that the company has been doing, like investments in demand- and supply-side platforms and early cloud-related innovations. However, he also admitted that:

“When it comes to new product categories and deeply innovative features in existing product categories, Yahoo hasn’t delivered and the first step in getting better is to acknowledge that. In strategy conversations late last year, we did acknowledge that, and we’ve put in place innovation programs inside the company to support the development of new product categories and of very innovative features.”

Hmm, we’ll see how these plans work out. For our money, doing is better than talking.

Cynthia Murrell, February 27, 2011

Useful List of Math Books

February 27, 2011

Search and its sister disciplines are essentially applied math. We like to keep our eyes open for useful math books. Some of search’s mysteries are partially revealed in the discussion of certain interesting problems.

Math(blog) has collected “30 great Math Books as Recommended by our Readers.”

Math(blog)’s readers answered the call to endorse their favorite math tomes:

“Now that the results are in, we must say that while some titles were expected, there are quite a few surprises as well. Quite frankly we were blown away by the great list of math books we compiled with your input.”

The listing also includes quotations from the submitters, and the titles are linked to their Amazon pages. See the comments section for even more suggestions.

Cynthia Murrell, February 27, 2011

More Questions about Google and from BusinessWeek

February 27, 2011

Google’s Search Gold Mine Could Tap Out” at Bloomberg BusinessWeek is an important article, if only because a major business magazine is talking about a potential Google revenue problem.

Oh, Google is doing fine right now. Its 2010 profits improved by 30 percent over 2009’s. It also still dominates in the Search arena. However, Bloomberg’s Jeffrey F. Rayport wonders whether the good times will last- quite a shift from previous “rah rah” coverage.

Horizontal search is the root of Rayport’s doubt. Google’s failure in the real estate search market points to the value of narrower “category specialists” such as and Zillow. Such specific search engines, in real estate and other fields, can produce more personalized, and more useful, results. They also tend to bring in more revenue. As Rayport summarizes:

“As online users grow more sophisticated, impatient, and demanding, horizontal search may prove steadily less compelling than vertical search—at least for the kinds of search advertisers will bid against and the kinds of queries that result in sales. If that’s the case, Google must find ways to verticalize big search categories fast—or bring commercial potential offerings such as Android and YouTube to scale in a big hurry.”

Our view is that when BusinessWeek figures out a problem may exist, the smart money has known something for days, maybe weeks.

Cynthia Murrell February 27, 2011

Sinequa Speaks Speed

February 26, 2011

Alexander Bilger of Sinequa, a French-based business search firm, boasts, “Our engine has been tried 10 times faster than the competition.” Sinequa, “a specialist search engine for companies hungry for development, is reinforcing its presence in Germany. It intends to increase its workforce by 30%.”

Bilger pays special attention to Sinequa’s work with Credit Agricole, the largest retail banking group in France. He credits Sinequa’s success in winning the multi-million euro contract to its search engine’s superior speed, 10 times as fast as the competition. Bilger also boasts upcoming versions as being more compatible with the latest software and operating systems, including the newest cloud computing advances.

While Bilger makes claims of Sinequa’s superior performance, no evidence is provided and the firm is still a relatively small one, currently employing about 35 individuals. However, its linguistic foundations may indeed give it an edge in the multi-lingual EU.

Bilger was only recently appointed head of the company after the announcement of Jean Ferre’s departure. The two had been co-directors. We remind ourselves that many factors influence performance. Speed, like love, is difficult to define without some parameters.

Emily Rae Aldridge, February 26, 2011


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