Are Privacy Issues Still Plaguing Google?

July 31, 2011

It’s hard to believe that Google is continually putting consumer privacy in question, you would think they would learn. While I’m all for a good Google roast, this is borderline overkill. TechSpot’s Matthew DeCarlo’s article “Goggle’s Street View Cars Collect Locations of Wi-Fi Devices” is an interesting look at what looks like Google’s latest troubles.

Google’s Street View Cars collected information about the Wi-Fi locations of many European users and their “previous locations”. We learned:

“For instance, someone could use the data to show you were at a specific place during a specific time, and that’s something you might not want to share with the world.”

What I don’t get is how this is any different than the check in applications that millions of people are already utilizing on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. It’s also no different than the hundreds of millions of social media users that post their whereabouts on statuses and feeds worldwide.

In order for users to cry “privacy infringement” the data should have been private in the first place. But it sure looks as if privacy issues, whether grounded or not, are an albatross around Googzilla’s neck. It is tough to search if one cannot connect in our opinion.

Leslie Radcliff, July 31, 2011

Sponsored by Pandia.com, an outfit which published my new study of enterprise search and a chapter that provides some of my analysis of the Google Search Appliance.

Baidu Presages Yandex: Revenues Grow

July 31, 2011

RedOrbit.com has posted that "Baidu Announces Second Quarter 2011 Results." Baidu is an internet search provider for the Chinese language. The search giant also provides a platform with which businesses can reach potential customers.

They seem to be doing very well for themselves this quarter. The article says that in the second quarter of 2011 the net income was “RMB1.633 billion ($252.6 million), a 95.0% increase from the corresponding period in 2010. Diluted earnings per ADS(2) for the second quarter of 2011 were RMB4.67 ($0.72); diluted earnings per ADS excluding share-based compensation expenses (non-GAAP) for the second quarter of 2011 were RMB4.77 ($0.74). "

The release added:

Jennifer Li, Baidu’s chief financial officer, told RedOrbit, "Our top and bottom line results grew strongly again this quarter, with healthy increases in overall traffic and paid click growth. We will continue to accelerate our investments in strategic areas, R&D, network infrastructure and bringing new talents on board to drive long term growth."

It is possible with its continued strong numbers and it’s spot on the global market that it may provide potential for Chinese investors and businesses looking to expand their horizons as well as their pocketbooks. Our view is that Baidu and Yandex may be well positioned to encroach on Google’s reach. Both companies have done well in their respective backyards. Now North America beckons. With relevance and other issues circling Google, these companies could implement a digital pincer maneuver.

Stephen E Arnold, July 31, 2011

Sponsored by Pandia.com, an outfit which published my new study of enterprise search and a chapter that provides some of my analysis of the Google Search Appliance.

Arnold, Google, and Innovation: The Google Labs Event

July 31, 2011

Imagine my surprise when a reader sent me a link to “The End of an Era for Google Labs—Innovation Now Via Acquisition and Pontification.” I submitted an analytic write up which ran as a news item. I don’t do news, but Information Today did me the honor of handling my commentary as “real” news. A happy honk to the editor for this decision.

The point of my write up was that Google asserts that innovation will come from product teams. Maybe? I think product teams add features. Some features require innovation, but in my research, the big ideas such as Google becoming the Internet come from the pre-2007 era at Google. Since that wonderful year, Google has been implementing and buying companies to get innovation. In some cases, Google acquires people who developed a company and then join Google to follow their research path. I document a couple of these individuals with companies in their past cases in my monograph Google Version 2.0, which is still relevant and available from this link.

In my Information Today “news” break, I asserted:

… consider that less than 3 weeks after the Google+ tsunami rolled over the lucky invited beta testers, Google purchased Fridge, a start up with technology that allows a Google+ user to create private groups. A few days later, Google bought PittPatt, a start up with facial recognition software. Keep in mind that Google has its own facial recognition technology and Schmidt cautioned governments about the use of such technology. The phrase I jotted down was “facial recognition is too creepy even for Google.” The quote appears in a May 18, 2011 article in The Telegraph, a U.K. newspaper. Creepy or not, Google is buying technology, presumably to add functionality to its lineup of products. I will have to check out Google+ to see if PittPatt features turn up in Picasa, the photo sharing program now integrated into Google+. (Google Labs generated some interesting patent applications such as US2010 0008547, “Method and System for Automated Annotation of Persons in Video Content.”)

I think the shift at Google is understandable and, in fact, almost inevitable.

google we buy stuff copy

Let me go back in time to the mid 1970s. I worked on a project which is long since forgotten. The companies which were the focus of the study have morphed in dramatic ways (GE) and some have just disappeared (RCA). My memory is not to sharp, but let me summarize what I recall from a research project conducted almost 40 years ago.

A Historical Note about Innovation

In the late 1970s, I worked at a major consulting firm. In 1974, only McKinsey & Co., Bain, and Boston Consulting Group challenged my employer for the top spot of the experts-for-hire totem pole. One of my most challenging projects was working on a global study of innovation. The research, commissioned by a Fortune 50 company, was to answer what looks like a simple question, “How do technology leaders innovate?”

I remember the three key findings of that work completed almost 40 years ago. Our sample was skewed to what the client called “big innovation spenders”, so the investments in innovation were hefty when fully loaded with:

Read more

Lucene/Solr Get Bitten by Java Bugs

July 30, 2011

The open source search crowd loves Lucene/Solr. The Java goodness helps deliver cross platform goodness. The article “Apache and Oracle Warn of Serious Java 7 Compiler Bugs” suggests that scratchy bites in interesting places are now arriving. The subtitle delivers a pay load:

The newly released Java upgrade suffers hotspot-compiler problems that affect Lucene and Solr

Whoa, horsey.

The bottom line, per Apache Project: Don’t use Apache Lucene/Solr with Java 7 releases before Update 2. If you do, the group recommends that you at least disable loop optimizations using the -XX:-UseLoopPredicate JVM option to avoid the risk of index corruptions. The Apache Project strongly recommended that users avoid running any of the hotspot optimization switches in any version of Java without extensive testing. Additionally, Apache Project advised that users who upgrade to Java 7 may need to reindex, “because the Unicode version shipped with Java 7 changed and tokenization behaves differently (e.g. lowercasing).” More information is available in the JRE_VERSION_MIGRATION.txt file that comes with the distribution package.

Our view is probably superficial. With Oracle slipping on an open source T shirt and hanging with the community, open source goodness is floating down Dolphin Way. However, missteps can create hassles for the Lucene/Solr folks. One wonders if these errors were a result of smart folks rushing a project out the door in order to hit the beach or if the Oracle touch is like one of those Bruce Lee fingers of death. One touch and you are a goner.

Excitement is here.

Stephen E Arnold, July 30, 2011

Freebie just like some open source search software but not all.

Quote to Note: Google TV Be or Not Be, That Is the Question

July 30, 2011

TVs charms do not work for me. I enjoy a great quote when I spot one. The story “Who Killed Google TV?” suggested that Google TV was dead. Maybe I just don’t understand modern lingo. Anyway the story recounts the facts that Logitech lost lots of money, the CEO left the company, and that returns of Google TV units now exceed the sale of Google TV units. There are some intersting factoids and an observation that Logitech is sticking with the Google. This makes sense becausse Microsoft is not exactly a potential partner for the next Mouse Ball.

So the title says “killed” but the quote to note was:

Google TV really isn’t dead…

Do I have observations? You bet:

First, Google is a search company that sells advertising. The Google TV thing, like Web Accelerator and the first Google phone store, are vehicles to pump up advertising. What happened to search? Er, it’s there but the donkey does not have the oomph to pull the product.

Second, the TV world is different from the online ad world and different from what it was a year ago. Google is trying to be like Apple along with Amazon and others who see big dollars. Brutal bandwidth costs and cracking the consumer walnut are going to break some teeth.

Third, Google has 30,000 employees and seems to be the company that a Morgan, Rockefeller, and Carnegie would have created at a summer business school symposium. The challenge is to generate a winner that makes the search and online ad model work. I think this might be difficlult.

As for the Google TV, a $99 price won’t make much difference. Will Google TV kill Logitech? I don’t know. Might.

Stephen E Arnold, July 30, 2011

Sponsored by Pandia.com, publishers of The New Landscape of Enterprise Search

Browser Users and Intelligence

July 30, 2011

The financial vice is clamping on many search and content processing companies. I fear that the August attrition rate may be higher than in previous years. In the midst of this seriousness, I spotted a story which I thought was the equivalent of a Colbert Report brief. The article was “Study: Internet Explorer Users Are Dumber.” Did I encounter a smiles moment? Nope.

I think the write up is serious. A study allowed folks to answer some questions. The key finding?

A research firm posted an IQ test on its Web site and then compiled the results from more than 100,000 users. It found that there was no substantial difference between users of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera. But Internet Explorer users had IQs below average.

The write up explains the reasons for the “findings” but I was fascinated by the headline. Why single out Internet Explorer users? Why not include other, more fine grained looks at browsers and intelligence. I surmise Kentucky would have been in the lowest quartile for spelling. Real journalists would be off the chart. Engineers from Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo would have occupied a location in vector space in a dimension not visualizable even by Opera users.

Great fun for a hot summer day of content perusal. Now where did I put my computer? What’s a goose with Internet Explorer supposed to do? I know get back in the pond, chagrined and dumb. Whilst paddling I will consider the question: Who came up with this idea?

Stephen E Arnold, July 30, 2011

Sponsored by Pandia.com, publishers of The New Landscape of Enterprise Search

Google and Its Selective Access Patent Document

July 29, 2011

Keep in mind that I am not a legal eagle. Eagles of any type make me nervous. As a goose in Harrod’s Creek, I did find the patent application, dated July 28, 2011, US20110185412, “Providing Selective Access to a Web Site” thought provoking. Googler Arturo E. Crespo and Louis Vincent Perrochon filed an application in April 2011, but it popped out of the USPTO’s intellectual kitchen yesterday. What’s it about? Here’s the abstract:

A restricted web site has features that are selectively exposed to clients. A screening web site interacts with clients and collects data about the clients using passive and/or active techniques. The screening site generates a token for the client, and includes data in the token identifying the token and describing the client. The token is encoded in a cookie and saved in the client’s web browser. The client subsequently provides the token to the restricted site. The restricted site validates the token to ensure that it is legitimate, has not expired, and has not been used before. The restricted site selects one or more features to provide to the client based on the data about the client in the token and/or on other information. If the client does not present a token or the token is invalid, the restricted site does not expose any features to the client.

If you are an old hand at US patent lingo, you will want to spend a few minutes considering the Claims. The diagram below points to a “screening” site which interacts with “restricted” site.

image

Source: US20110185412

The notion of “selective access” is nuanced, deep, and  interesting. Are there potential applications beyond navigation of password protected sites? Is it possible to take selective outputs and formulate a new construct? Are selectively extracted components in a form such that each can be stored in a Programmable Search Engine? No answers yet. Keep in mind that a patent application is nothing more than an open source document which in some cases may be science fiction or an exercise of some type.

Stephen E Arnold, July 29, 2011

Freebie, just like access to the wonderful USPTO search and retrieval system

Ardentia Search Now Connexica

July 29, 2011

Short honk: We were updating the Overflight links today and noted that Ardentia Search which had positioned itself as a “business intelligence company” is now redirecting to Connexica.com. The About Us page references Ardentia Search. The managing director of the company is Richard Lewis. Here’s the important bit:

As CTO at Ardentia, [Richard Lewis] was responsible for the development of BI and Data Warehouse products which are now used in over 100 NHS organizations as well as providing analysis and extract services for the National Program for IT. Richard founded Connexica in 2006 by buying the IPR for his latest BI and search product from Ardentia.

If you don’t recall the Ardentia system, here’s a block diagram I unearthed from the Overflight archive:

ardentia overview

A number of search and content processing companies are repositioning, not disappearing.

Stephen E Arnold, July 29, 2011

Freebie

Connectbeam May Be Disconnected

July 29, 2011

Short honk: The Connectbeam.com Web site is down and listed as available on GoDaddy. The company was an enterprise  social search vendor. Here’s what I have from one of my Overflight files:

Founded in 2006, Connectbeam provides modern Web services applications to enterprises and their employees. The underlying premise behind Connectbeam’s application is that informal social networks already exist inside all companies and with the right platform, those networks will grow in practical value through efficient information sharing and expert-colleague discovery. Connectbeam was the first company to integrate concepts of social book-marking and tagging with those of social networking specifically for the enterprise. The Connectbeam application resides securely behind your corporate firewall easily deployed as a physical appliance enhancing information-sharing and collaboration in the daily work-flow of enterprise employees, boosting their innovation, improving their decision-making, intensifying their collaboration, and helping them to build valuable relationships across the company, effortlessly. Connectbeam, headquartered in Mountain View, California, is venture-backed and privately held.

If anyone has information, please, post it using the comments section of the blog.

Stephen E Arnold, July 29, 2011

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, author of The New Landscape of Enterprise Search

Google: A Legal Victory and a Local Push Back

July 29, 2011

The frenzy over Google+ seems to be ebbing. Google+ is important, but until the business version becomes widely available and I can search for content, I am keeping my enthusiasm in check. There is some interesting Google news, and it is of the sort of good and maybe bad branch of the digital information tree.

On the good news side, I learned in “One Small Antitrust Victory for Google” that Google successfully worked though a legal matter involving TradeComet. The issue concerned antitrust. Google faces a number of other legal challenges, but the longest journey begins with a single step.

On the maybe bad news side I read “Google May Be Outgrowing Their [sic] Home in Mountain View.” Pronoun agreement aside, I found the news item provocative. California cities are strapped for revenue. One would assume that Mountain View would be thrilled to have the Google pump more tax into the city. Not so. According to the the write up:

City council member Laura Macias told the Wall Street Journal “we may not develop as much as Google wants.”  Mountain View is a region that has lots of greener, wildlife and is not city-like. Google is interested in building bridges, recreation facilities, corporate housing and more offices. This will result in high density populations and lead to a different culture and life-style in the region, Several city council members in Mountain View are not happy about it.

Well, there is Belmont, a wonderful city not far from Mountain View. Perhaps Google’s approach will woo the legal eagles who are involved in Scott’s Valley?

What is quite clear is that what may be small issues for some companies can balloon into supersized challenges for what is one of the success stories of Silicon Valley.

Google’s hotel search service comes not a minute to soon. Perhaps the shift of innovation into product groups will pay dividends for the search and advertising giant which, for now, calls Mountain View home?

Stephen E Arnold, July 29, 2011

Sponsored by Pandia.com, publishers of The New Landscape of Enterprise Search

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