Google Transit: Bread and Circuses Morph to Search and Free Rides

February 28, 2014

I don’t have a dog in this fight or a commute to make. I bailed on San Francisco after spending the night in a traffic jam. I did not leave my heart in San Francisco. The earthquake in 1989 validated the wisdom of a retreat to rural Kentucky. Not perfect, but free from some of San Francisco’s idiosyncrasies.

A few days ago, my son and I spoke about his recent business trip to the city by the Bay. I asked him if he saw bus protestors. He told me, “Nope. Lots of talk about Google’s ferries and buses, though.” After our chat, I saw a news item about some folks making their way to Atherton to protest something.

Too bad he missed the action. I was hoping he would have an eye witness account of a bus action or maybe a snap of the protestors milling around the sylvan Atherton.

I did get a chuckle out of “Google Donates $6.8 Million to Fund Free Transit Rides for San Francisco Youth.” I assume the story is chock full of facts. The question I had was, “What’s a youth?” The answer is people aged five to 17. Well, that will help with the private transportation issue, won’t it?

Here’s the quote I noted:

For months, activists have been calling on tech companies to make a larger contribution to the communities that help them attract and retain top workers. Google’s move today signals that pressure from the community has gotten the company’s attention. “San Francisco residents are rightly frustrated that we don’t pay more to use city bus stops,” Google said in a statement to The Verge. “So we’ll continue to work with the city on these fees, and in the meantime will fund MUNI passes for low income students for the next two years.”

Ah, two years.

What tickled my funny bone is the link my mind forged between Roman emperors sponsoring games and providing food to citizens. The issue may be the type of disparity that exists between those who have lots of money and those who don’t have sufficient funds.

What worked for Roman emperors may work in San Francisco. Google assumes that this funding is a step forward. I will watch for the announcement of the Google Games. Will math and physics majors compete in bold physical contests? Will participants come with other skills to showcase. Maybe showcase skills in finding relevant information to a user’s query in Google’s “free” Web search system? Why not refurb the Cow Palace and get the show on the road. Free rides for youth between five and 17 too. Can someone snag a ride on the Google barge to Stockton?

Stephen E Arnold, February 28, 2014

Revised Search Tips For 2014

February 28, 2014

If you need to revamp how search engines find your Web site, the Site Search Today, blog of SLI Systems, reports that “The New Big Book Of Site Search Tips 2014 Has Launched!” The Big Book of Search Tips was written in 2012, while some findable methods have remained the same, others have changed like the face of the iPhone. The new version was written for ecommerce Web sites and includes new search tips, such as:

“Well, for one we found that mobile shopping has come so far in the last couple years – what used to account for 7% of total eCommerce sales in 2011 is now estimated to contribute to 16% of total eCommerce sales. This points to the growing comfort that people feel in making purchases on a mobile device. It’s becoming increasingly important to offer a user-friendly shopping experience.”

The book is advertised to help decrease bound rates, optimize mobile visits, higher conversions, and making mobile search more powerful. It also has tips on improving social media integration, citing how Web sites like Pinterest and Facebook boosted holiday sales. There are hundreds of Web sites that deal with improving ecommerce Web sites, but a company going to the trouble of publishing a book makes it worthwhile to glance over.

Whitney Grace, February 28, 2014
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Google Cannot Use Blame Game In German Lawsuit

February 28, 2014

Google tends to play the innocent when people challenge the company for displaying results with lewd or inappropriate content. After all, Google simply catalogs Internet content and it can’t be held responsible for what others make, right? Wrong says “Google Loses Big In German Reputation Lawsuit” published in Search Engine Journal. Google has been sued before and played this defense. Logically it makes sense, but Google, as the article suggests, is partially responsible. Google’s algorithms rank pages in search results and the company has control over how the search engines works and how it delivers result.

The German case deals with a man who sued Google to remove detrimental photos from search results. He won suits to keep the photos from publication, yet they still appear on the Web. The judge ruled in the defendant’s favor. The article explains that this might set a precedent for Google, but:

“The target of this particular lawsuit suggests in an interview that lawsuits could help to solve this responsibility problem. In essence, he suggests that only people who have completed court cases should be able to remove their photos from Google. It seems smart, but again, I have some concerns. Lawsuits like this are very expensive, and not everyone has the money to hire a lawyer and take time away from work in order to appear in court. Similarly, court cases take months or years to resolve, and they generate a lot of web interest. As a result, people who file often find that their problems are magnified as the case moves forward, and they suddenly have much MORE data to remove.”

Hurdles aside, if someone has the time, money, and patience what is to keep them from suing Google. I can imagine an entire department at Google dedicated to controlling data removal from search results. Brin and Page are probably worrying at this moment.

Whitney Grace, February 28, 2014
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Big Promises for Social Media Monitoring

February 28, 2014

The article titled How to Predict the Future Using Social Media Monitoring on Digimind claims to offer four methods to utilize social media for predictions in your business. The term “future perspective” is offered up, near the phrase “rendering the feeling of regret impossible.” The article’s four main points are Desires, Destiny, Fortune and Fate. Some of the advice offered under the Fate section (with the subtitle “Predict a Downfall”),

“With social listening, brands can set alerts if the number of negative mentions about them passes a certain level, in order to be able to react immediately. Social listening tools allow brands to cluster online information by keyword, media type, country, sentiment and influence as soon as it appears online, meaning the most impactful criticisms can be quickly located and dealt with immediately. Social clairvoyance means brands are predicting downfalls before they happen, and unsealing their fate with fully targeted responses.”

The article also suggests that businesses must hurry to keep up with the online insights available, and be aware of the search behaviors related to their sites. Of course, the question that one must ponder while reading about the wonders of predictive social media monitoring is, if it works, why aren’t all licensees wallowing in dough?

Chelsea Kerwin, February 28, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Figuring out SharePoint Licensing Models

February 28, 2014

SharePoint used to be an on-site installation, but as the cloud emerges in all areas of software, it is also becoming a big factor in SharePoint installations. However, it is not always easy for an organization to determine the best installation for their particular situation. Search Content Management addresses the issue in their article, “Making Sense of SharePoint Licensing Models.”

The article begins:

“Just as the seasons change, the Microsoft licensing landscape has undergone shifts. This is especially true as the company transitions to offer ‘services and devices.’ After years of working primarily as a vendor of software that is installed and run on-premises, Microsoft is moving away from, though not yet abandoning, its traditional model. The new model increasingly emphasizes annuity payments for Software as a Service and services.”

Customers can choose from traditional on-site SharePoint, SharePoint in the cloud and Office 365, and Hosted SharePoint. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search and follower of the latest SharePoint news. On, he has found that while users are eager to utilize the cloud, security and user experience issues are still holding some organizations back.

Emily Rae Aldridge, February 28, 2014

Quote to Note: Open Source Is a Little Pregnant

February 27, 2014

I came across “Why Is Atom Closed Source?” The thread had a very interesting statement from mojombo. I quote:

Atom won’t be closed source, but it won’t be open source either. It will be somewhere inbetween, making it easy for us to charge for Atom while still making the source available under a restrictive license so you can see how everything works. We haven’t finalized exactly how this will work yet. We will have full details ready for the official launch.

Several years ago I gave a talk and used this diagram to illustrate the spectrum of open source search software:


Some of my information explaining the diagram turned up in an azure chip consulting firm report. Well, that’s how the semi straight consulting firms work.

The point of the diagram is that open source software is on a path to be commercial software. The open source cheerleaders deny this trend. I, on the other hand, submit that the Atom quote makes it pretty darned clear that being a little pregnant is not much different from having a commercial baby. Open source is increasingly a marketing ploy with lipstick.

Stephen E Arnold, February 27, 2013

Watson to Developers: I Challenge You.

February 27, 2014

I try not to think about Watson, the IBM super smart, game winning, billion dollar baby. I don’t bring it up in conversations, and I try not to think about how home brew code and open source search technology can outgun any other information access system on the planet. Please, spare me. Every search vendor with whom I come in contact pitches the same old mantra: Better, Faster, Smarter, Better Value.

I read “IBM Is Challenging Developers to Insert Watson into Mobile Apps.” Wow, quite a write up. The main point in my view is that mobile developers stand to make a pile of money when they integrate Watson into their mobile applications. I suppose IBM is indifferent to the core problem of mobile apps; to wit: Apps have recreated the wild and crazy world of the early days of computing. There is no easy way to locate an app. There is no way of knowing if the app is goodware or badware. There is no easy way to figure out how much user information is sucked from the app or what happens to that information if it is gobbled. How easy is it to find an app? Well, go looking for a ringtone. Let me know how that turns out for you.

IBM’s role in mobile computing is easy to sum up: IBM is not a factor in my mobile world. To change that, IBM is issuing a “developer challenge.” The article asserts:

Over the next three months, IBM will host its Watson Mobile Developer Challenge to find the best ideas for mobile apps that can take advantage of Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities. Three winners will join the IBM Ecosystem program and receive assistance from Big Blue to turn their ideas into commercial applications. But IBM stands to gain just as much from this as the winners do.

I anticipate that developers will make money in 2014 is several somewhat old fashioned ways:

  1. Developers sell their services to anyone without the expertise to build a mobile application. Companies with in house development teams will hired contractors because in many organizations, staff are unable to do or complete work due to incessant meetings, reorganization, or Dilbert-type issues
  2. Individual developers will code up a solution and hope to hit a home run. For the WhatsApp team, the method worked well. For most independent developers, the app is a way to either sell contract programming or get hired by a large firm in desperate need of developers because incessant meetings, reorganization, or Dilbert-type issues trigger a Parkinson’s Law response
  3. College students code an app in order to pass a course. Some professors may jump at the chance to turn a class loose on a coding challenge like Watson’s. Others may leave it in the hands of the student to find something to fill time between classes and hanging out with pals.
  4. Small development shops create apps that solve a problem and generate revenue from the established base of mobile customers for Android and Apple devices. Platforms with less traction like Windows Phone gizmos are likely to be attractive to a small percentage of small development shops if the app leads to more project work.
  5. A growing number of developers create an app in order to bilk money from users. I am not too enthused about this group, but it is possible that IBM’s challenge could attract some individuals who see a Watson app as a low friction way into a corporate environment.
  6. Some developers (maybe some are former IBM staff or contractors?) may code a Watson app because of loyalty, a way to establish contacts at IBM, or as a way to obtain first hand knowledge of what working with the Watson outfit requires.

I think that a challenge is likely to be somewhat disappointing for IBM. One of the three “winners” may get a brass ring, but the big question is, “Why doesn’t IBM’s existing developer program work for Watson?” The answer to this question, in my view, is quite important.

The fact that even the write up says:

So, yeah, IBM is smart to get on this movement early because Google, a whole lot of startups, and potentially other cloud providers such as Microsoft and Amazon Web Services also realize that the future is in advanced computing capabilities delivered as services. And although Watson got a lot of attention by winning Jeopardy! in 2011, it’s going to need a lot more — in the form of developers — to win at this game.

Game, yes, Jeopardy for developers. IBM may inadvertently be signaling that Watson is struggling. The goal is $10 billion for Watson. But what is the goal of a Watson developers? Maybe write a money maker for Android or iOS? Get hired at Apple or Google? Get venture funding and create a WhatsApp and sell out to a big company for lots of money?

Plug in your perception of the payoff. Does it include coding for Watson? My hunch is that IBM will have to do more than run a 12 week challenge to achieve traction for Watson as the killer mobile app enabler. Disagree? I don’t really care, but you can post your push back using the comments section of the blog. Just don’t spam me like one journalist who keeps telling me his write ups are “interesting.” I assure you, gentle reader, that only I determine what’s interesting to me.

A Watson challenge is definitely not interesting.

Stephen E. Arnold, February 27, 2014

Datameer as a Spreadsheet, Combining Multiple Data Sources and Datasets

February 27, 2014

The article titled How to Integrate Multiple Data Types Into Hadoop With Datameer on the Datameer blog delves into the staff’s favorite features of the program. Besides a small amount of gushing, the article offers insight into the workings of Datameer and metaphors for its applications. The author says that Datameer’s ability to combine various data sources is its best feature, due to the ease with which users can combine datasets. The article states,

“One of the most compelling features in Datameer, in my opinion, is its ability to bring in multiple different data sources — structured, unstructured, from traditional databases, cloud sources, local files, etc. — and then be able to combine those datasets quickly and easily. You can think of Datameer as the single spreadsheet to bring previously siloed data sources together into a single view. I’ve created the below video to show you just how easy it is to do in our data integration wizard.”

The article offers the example from the Datameer staff workers, whose marketing office daily pulls from both Salesforce aand Marketo, two separate datasets. Datameer is set to automatically integrate the data into a single, more powerful dataset. The article also notes that if you don’t see your own preference for data source in the screenshot demos, Datameer also offers plug-ins for a customer connection.

Chelsea Kerwin, February 27, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Staff Changes at Connotate Accompany the Promise of Synergy

February 27, 2014

The announcement on NJTC TechWire titled Connotate Promotes Tom Williams to Chief Operating Officer explains that the changes in staff were made to improve customer service and operations strategy. Tom Williams was promoted from his position as VP of Operations and Professional Services at Connotate. Keith Cooper, CEO of Connotate, is quoted in the longer version of the article,

“As our client base continues to grow and the Big Data industry matures, there was an immediate need for an experienced leader to guide customer partnerships and operations… We’re excited to announce the well-deserved promotion of Tom Williams to COO. Creating a succinct synergy between our technology and customers is our number one goal, and Tom brings the level of experience and depth of knowledge to make that happen.”

The staff changes at Connotate are touted in the announcement as creating “synergy between technology and customers.” Williams is quoted in the article as well, explaining how Connotate’s strategy works. By working with clients on data extraction and providing the data back in a method that makes transformations unnecessary, the client’s systems are quickly able to take the data in. Connotate is especially known for their work in background checks, consumer electronics and executive profiles, with such big name clients as the Associated Press, McGraw-Hill and Thomson Reuters.

Chelsea Kerwin, February 27, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

New App Helps Norwegians Find Recipes for Locally Foraged Food

February 27, 2014

The article titled The Seasonal Recipe App: Tapping into the Mental Model on Comperio’s blog explores the new demo app aimed at helping Norwegians find food in nature. According to the article, the app will allow for searching by places where one might find certain foods and when in the year one would be most successful. They would also be able to search for recipes by the ingredients they have found. The article explains,

“Since a lot of people in Norway actually go into the nature and forage, fetch, pick, shoot and fish their own food, we wanted to divide into some of the most typical and normal places where you can find those types of food. We then have two variables for our search: Place where you find the food and Time of year (Month)…. The places we’ve chosen [are] The sea, the farm, the garden, the forest, the mountain.”

The app shows a query matrix organized by types of ingredients. The app uses Elasticsearch in order to combine all of the types of information, from the foods grown in the area of the user, the time of year and the recipes themselves, according to the article Sourcing Local Food with Comperio Search,, and Elasticsearch on Qbox.

Chelsea Kerwin, February 27, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

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