Cluuz: Back Online

January 31, 2014

Overflight happily reported that www.cluuz.com came back online. Good news.

Stephen E Arnold, January 31, 2014

First Bookless Library Opens in Texas

January 31, 2014

I’ll never forget the library at my former university. It was huge, and old, and full of treasures just waiting to be discovered. Often, when doing specific research, I’d steal a few moments to wander the stacks, pulling out books at near-random. The books’ different colors, textures, sizes, and degrees of wear piqued my curiosity, and I made a number of valuable, serendipitous discoveries. I’m sorry to report that such musty but magnificent experiences are now just a little closer to extinction. Slashdot announces to the “First U.S. Public Library with No Paper Books Opens in Texas.”

A user known as Cold Fjord writes:

“Bexar Country in Texas has opened a new $2.3 million library called BiblioTech. It doesn’t have physical books, only computers and e-reader tablets. It is the first bookless public library system in the U.S. The library opened in an area without nearby bookstores, and is receiving considerable attention. It has drawn visitors from around the U.S. and overseas that are studying the concept for their own use. It appears that the library will have more than 100,000 visitors by year’s end. Going without physical books has been cost effective from an architecture standpoint, since the building doesn’t have to support the weight of books and bookshelves.”

Ah well, I suppose it was just a matter of time. At least this development is good news for the trees.

Cynthia Murrell, January 31, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Cloud Host Digital Ocean Reverses Imprudent Scrubbing Policy

January 31, 2014

Sometimes a company can grow too fast for its own good. Take the case of DigitalOcean, which eWeek describes in its piece, “Scrubbing Data a Concern in the Digital Ocean Cloud.” It was recently discovered that the cloud hosting firm was not automatically scrubbing user data after every deletion of a virtual machine (VM) instance—not good for security. Apparently, the young company once scrubbed after each VM destroy request, but changed that policy as their growth ballooned.

Writer Sean Michael Kerner tells us:

“As Digital Ocean’s utilization went up, the company found that the scrubbing activity was degrading performance and decided to make it an option that API users needed to manually activate. [DigitalOcean CEO Moisey] Uretsky told eWEEK that even though the data scrubbing has an impact, it is now a cost that his company will bear.

Digital Ocean grew very quickly in 2013, to at least 7,000 Web-facing servers in June 2013, up from only 100 in December 2012, according to Netcraft. One of the reasons for the rapid rise has been Digital Ocean’s aggressive pricing, which starts at $5 for a server with 512MB of memory and a 20GB solid-state drive for a month of cloud service.”

At least the company is taking responsibility for, and learning from, the mistake. Not only is DigitalOcean now faithfully scrubbing every deleted VM instance in sight, Uretsky also specified that his company is hastening to make other changes based on customer feedback. They also, he noted, pledge not to reveal customer data to third parties. The imprudent scrub-optional policy only affected certain DigitalOcean API users, and it does not appear from the article that any programmers were harmed. Headquartered in New York City, DigitalOcean graduated from the TechStars startup accelerator program in 2012.

Cynthia Murrell, January 31, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Gifted Children Not Living Up To Their Potential

January 31, 2014

“Are Gifted Children Getting Lost In The Shuffle?” is a question asked by David Lubinski when he conducted a study that tracked 320 gifted children from age 13 until 38. News At Vanderbilt details how 203 of the children earned a master’s degree or higher, of which 142 earned a doctorate. Most of the children had successful careers, and went on to become doctors, attorneys, software engineers, Fortune 500 senior leaders, and even an advisor to the US President.

The article explains:

“Despite their remarkable success, researchers concluded that the profoundly gifted students had experienced roadblocks along the way that at times prevented them from achieving their full potential. Typical school settings were often unable to accommodate the rapid rate at which they learned and digested complex material. When students entered elementary and high school classrooms on day one having already mastered the course material, teachers often shifted focus away from them to those struggling with the coursework. This resulted in missed learning opportunities, frustration and underachievement, particularly for the exceptionally talented, the researchers suggest.”

The article continues that gifted children were left to their own devices, because they understood course material and that schools fail to have programs for gifted children, though they have special education classes. Lubinski concluded that if children were challenged it would motivate them to push themselves farther.

No argument with the study, except did they take economic, environment, and socioeconomic levels into consideration? What other factors helped these children achieve success and how exactly was a “roadblock” defined?

Whitney Grace, January 31, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

SharePoint 2013 Migration May Not be as Simple as You Think

January 31, 2014

Data migrations of any kind can be costly, time consuming, and expensive. But a SharePoint conversation has a particularly bad rap. The latest Search Content Management podcast focuses on the issue in their piece, “The Trouble with SharePoint 2013 Migration.”

The overview says:

“In any migration, you have to consider your current environment, as well as governance and architecture concerns. And you need to review your data to determine what you will migrate. In addition to your evaluating your architecture and whittling down legacy information and sites, you need to review your taxonomy and metadata and consider secondary issues such as storage capacity.”

Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search, so he has a vested interested in covering SharePoint on his site, ArnoldIT.com. And while he often finds that SharePoint remains the industry leader in enterprise, there are struggles with customization and implementation, especially when a major new release hits. And while good planning benefits more than just a company’s data management, it is especially helpful when so much is at stake.

Emily Rae Aldridge, January 31, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Hardware Management Congruence: Google and Barnes and Noble

January 30, 2014

I have been scanning the Google Motorola news. The write up fall into two camps.

On one hand, there are the Google is really smart. See, for example, “Google to Keep Motorola’s Advanced Technology Group” and “Google’s Tasty Lemonade.”

On the other hand, there are the Google goofed viewpoint; for example, “Analysis: Larry Page’s Smashed Handset Strategy – Google Ends Bid To Be Apple.”

My view is somewhat different.

First, I see some parallels between the Barnes & Noble Nook adventure and Google-Motorola.

Second, the management shifts at Motorola did not have a material impact on the revenue-generating power of Android phones. Keep in mind that these phones were treated just like other vendors’ phones in terms of access to software.

Third, the confusion between indexing the Web and building a business using Overture-type methods and sustaining a diversified business persists. Even the somewhat uneven ZDNet spotted this trend of revenue erosion in AdSense. Check out “Google’s Earnings: What Future for Plunging AdSense Business.”

Now the tide is turning in other important ways. I noted that Google is going to pay a cost of business tax going forward. The most recent indication of this is “Patent Troll Strikes at the Very Heart of Google’s Empire.”

In my own little world of information retrieval, the challenges Google faces are easily viewed by running queries against the Google search system. In order to help my team and some of my clients navigate the interesting world of filtered results, sponsored results, personalized results, and irrelevant results, I have set up DeeperQI. It is a free service.

Google is fascinating and emitting some interesting signals. Not all of them are beamed at Motorola devices and marketers.

Stephen E Arnold, January 30, 2014

EUFeeds Seems to Be a Goner

January 30, 2014

I liked scanning the headlines from major European newspapers. Click on a flag and the EUFeeds’ screen would display the publication title and current headlines from hundreds of news publications in Europe. Well, that was last week. This week the site displays:

image

Videotwitter disappeared earlier this year. You may want to give The Big Project a whirl if you want access to news from different countries. You can find The Big Project news page at http://bit.ly/1b8vqYd.

Stephen E Arnold, January 29, 2014

Calculating How Much Amazon Costs

January 30, 2014

Amazon Web Services are a good way to store code and other data, but it can get a little pricey. Before you upload your stuff to the Amazon cloud, check out Heap’s article, “How We Estimated Our AWS Costs Before Shipping Any Code.” Heap is an iOS and Web analytics tool that captures every user interaction. The Heap team decided to build it, because there was not a product that offered ad-hoc analysis or analyzed an entire user’s activity. Before they started working on the project, the team needed to estimate their AWS costs to decide if the idea was a sustainable business model.

They needed to figure how much data was generated by a single user interaction, but then they had to find out where the data was stored and what to store it on. The calculations showed that for the business model to work a single visit would have to yield an average one-third of a cent to be worthwhile for clients.

CPU cores, compression, and reserve instances reduced costs, but there are some unexpected factors that inflated costs:

1. AWS Bundling. By design, no single instance type on AWS strictly dominates another. For example, if you decide to optimize for cost of memory, you may initially choose cr1.8xlarge instances (with 244GB of RAM). But you’ll soon find yourself outstripping its paltry storage (240 GB of SSD), in which case you’ll need to switch to hs1.8xlarge instances, which offer more disk space but at a less favorable cost/memory ratio. This makes it difficult to squeeze savings out of our AWS setup.

2. Data Redundancy. This is a necessary feature of any fault-tolerant, highly available cluster. Each live data point needs to be duplicated, which increases costs across the board by 2x.”

Heap’s formula is an easy and intuitive way to calculate pricing for Amazon Cloud Services. Can it be applied to other cloud services?

Whitney Grace, January 30, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Yahoo Attempts to Regain the Search Crown

January 30, 2014

Yahoo has not been the top search engine for a long time and they have focused their energies on other promising projects. CEO Marissa Mayer kept search in the back of her mind when she purchased Aviate, creator of a contextual app search and organization for mobile phone users. Business Insider describes the acquisition in “Yahoo Just Acquired A New Search Product That Could Hurt Google.”

According to the article, contextual search is very important to technology companies and many already have projects concerning the new search trend in development.

What makes contextual or semantic search different? The article states:

“Basically, contextual search differs from the regular search you know on Google by trying to anticipate what you really mean or want based on cues in your past searches or in other stores of data the search tool has access to. It’s not just about matching keywords and ranking incoming links.”

Under Yahoo, Aviate’s product will organize phone apps on the home screen based on its best guess to what the user needs at the moment. Mayer is probably out to solve the app overload problem, where users download hundreds of apps and hardly use any of them. Aviate takes hide and seek out of finding apps. The search product will also locate items before users access other search applications.

Mayer has a good idea. Organize the tools that are supposed to make life easier. It also sounds like she is trying to set up the Yahoo equivalent of the Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store. What will she name it?

Whitney Grace, January 30, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Spread Literacy with Free Book Downloads

January 30, 2014

One of the most wonderful things about the Internet is that it brings countless opportunities to access books. There are many Web sites solely dedicated to house free books, but who wants to spend the time sifting through Google search results when you can be reading? The Just English blog took the work out of finding these digital literature warehouses in the post, “Free Books: 100 Legal Sites To Download Literature.”

Rather than being a basic list, the post categorizes the book Web sites into different groups. Included on the list are classic English literature, textbooks, math, science, children’s books, philosophy, religion, plays, modern fiction, romance, and fantasy, foreign language, history, culture, rare books, arts and entertainment, mystery, and poetry.

One of the most interesting Web sites on the list is called Banned Books and it provides the full text and historical context of why these books were challenged. Banned Books has a late 1990s design style, but the information is still sound. The children’s books Web sites are also noteworthy, because they include books with illustrations. The illustrations are usually left out, because of file size and download speeds. The Internet may be bad for print, but it does encourage literacy.

Whitney Grace, January 30, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

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