HP Autonomy: Why Do the Deal?

September 30, 2015

I read “If Ray Lane Hated HP’s Autonomy Move So Much, How Did It Happen?”

Darned good question. The article reviews information which suggests that HP chairman was uncomfortable with the tie up. Also, HP’s CFO gave the deal a thumbs down.

According to the article:

Reached for comment an HP spokesperson reiterated that the Autonomy buy had unanimous support from the board.

I assume this is the HP way.

Stephen E Arnold, September 30, 2015

Short Honk: Crawl the Web at Scale

September 30, 2015

Short honk: I read “Aduana: Link Analysis to Crawl the Web at Scale.” The write up explains an open source project which can copy content “dispersed all over the Web.” Keep in mind that the approach focuses primarily on text. Aduana is a special back end for the developer’s tool for speeding up crawls which is built on top of a data management system.

According to the write up:

we wanted to locate relevant pages first rather than on an ad hoc basis. We also wanted to revisit the more interesting ones more often than the others. We ultimately ran a pilot to see what happens. We figured our sheer capacity might be enough. After all, our cloud-based platform’s users scrape over two billion web pages per month….We think Aduana is a very promising tool to expedite broad crawls at scale. Using it, you can prioritize crawling pages with the specific type of information you’re after. It’s still experimental. And not production-ready yet.

In its present form, Aduana is able to:

  • Analyze news.
  • Search locations and people.
  • Perform sentiment analysis.
  • Find companies to classify them.
  • Extract job listings.
  • Find all sellers of certain products.

The write up contains links to the relevant github information, some code snippets, and descriptive information.

Stephen E Arnold, September 30, 2015

Data Science: Converging to Confusion

September 30, 2015

I read “Two Great Visualizations about Data Science.” There is not too much reading involved. The article provides images of two graphics.  The more interesting is “another nice picture about the history of big data and data science.”


Note that in the 2010 column, the separate lines of “technology” have converged into what looks to me like a fur ball.

The diagram captures several important ideas.

First, note that Bayes and Bayesian methods have some continuity. Other numerical approaches are important, but that Bayes has created the equivalent of Gorilla Glue.

Second, progress, particularly after 1990, seems to point to visualization. This is, for me, similar to judges awarding a cake with nice looking icing a blue ribbon without tasting the baker’s confection. Appearances are more important than substance.

Third, the end point of the diagram is a circular image which looks like a 1950s atomic diagram from the old Atomic Energy Forum. I think the image looks like a darned confusing diagram.

I think data science and Big Data are more confusing than they were in 2010. The eccentric orbits are becoming more distorted.

Stephen E Arnold, September 30, 2015

Not Hacking, but Trickery, Lost Bitpay Almost $2 Million

September 30, 2015

The article titled How a Clever Hacker Tricked a Major Bitcoin Company Out of $1.8 Million on Motherboard shines a light on the manipulation of BitPay,a Bitcoin payment service, by a clever hacker. Apparently the attacker sent an email from BTC Media CEO David Bailey’s computer to a BitPay CFO requesting his corporate email information, which he readily supplied because the two companies were already in talks about a potential partnership. The article clarifies,

“The insurance claim on the lost funds was denied because BitPay’s computers were never hacked—instead, they just gave away their email passwords in what appears to be a classic phishing scam. Phishing is when an attacker send a scammy email in the hopes that the victim is not savvy enough to trash it immediately. …Several months after the hack, BitPay was reportedly processing more than $1 million in payments every day.”

The hacker continued using Bitpay’s executive accounts to request funds, all of which were apparently granted until an employee of the transaction software company, SecondMarket, was notified. The article and court case emphasize that this was not a hacking scenario, just a $1.8 Million phishing scam that people using Craigslist for job searches avoid every day.
Chelsea Kerwin, September 30, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


National Geographic Sells Out 

September 30, 2015

The National Geographic Society is one of the most respected institutes in regards to science and journalism related to nature.  For 127 years, National Geographic managed itself as a non-profit organization.  Buzzfeed reports that 21st Century Fox purchased National Geographic in the article, “Rupert Murdoch Is Buying National Geographic.”  Before you start getting upset that National Geographic has “sold out” in the same manner that Sesame Street has a new partnership with HBO, be aware that 21st Century Fox already owned and operated a joint-venture partnership with the company.

The bulk of National Geographic’s properties are being turned over to 21st Century Fox, who will manage them and allow the National Geographic Society to focus on:

“The National Geographic Society said the deal will let the foundation invest more money in sponsoring explorers and scientists. ‘The value generated by this transaction, including the consistent and attractive revenue stream that National Geographic Partners will deliver, ensures that we will have greater resources for this work, which includes our grant making programs,’ said CEO Gary Knell, in a statement.”

While National Geographic is still popular, it faces stiff competition from other news outlets that generate similar if not more content.  National Geographic wants to have better, modern storytelling “so that we may all know more of the world upon which we live.”

Hopefully this will free up more monies for scientific research, endeavors to protect endangered species, educational programs, and better ways to educate people on the natural world.


Whitney Grace, September 30, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

TweetedTimes: Gone Goose?

September 29, 2015

Short honk. The TweetedTimes allowed “members” to create aggregations of content. I used to look at the semantic and Big Data pages. A few days ago, I noticed that the TweetedTimes, which I think was a Yandex property, went dark on September 23, 2015. I checked to see what was in the Twitter fire hose. Zilch. That says a lot.

Stephen E Arnold, September 29, 2015

NIH Study: Why Some People Are Lousy Searchers

September 29, 2015

Every once in a while a landmark US government funded study answers a perplexing question. Navigate to “Intelligent People’s Brains Wired Differently to Those with Fewer Intellectual Abilities, Says Study.”

The study “proved” that people with well connected brains may do better in life that folks with poorly connected gray matter.

Unbelievable. I thought that user friendly interfaces would allow anyone to get smart via Bing, Google, and Yandex queries.

According to the write up:

The researchers found that “positive” abilities, such as good vocabulary, memory, life satisfaction, income and years of education, were linked significantly with a greater connectivity between regions of the brain associated with higher cognition.

How much did this study cost? I learned:

The scientists were part of the $30m (£20m) Human Connectome Project funded by the US National Institutes of Health to study the neural pathways of the brain.

The net net is that if a person has a lousy vocabulary, poor memory, low income, and other low output characteristics, the unfortunate person may not be a great online searcher.

What happens when the online search systems cater to the folks with lower brain connectivity?

We may need another government study to answer this question. In the meantime, oh, I can’t remember.

Stephen E Arnold, September 29, 2015

The Nikkei Financial Times Deal: Journalism and Quality

September 29, 2015

I read a Harry Quebert type article this morning called with typical big time journalism understatement “The Financial Times and the Future of Journalism.”

Yep, the future. Of journalism.

The set up is an interview which has been converted to a chatty, informed narrative with commentrary from the person asking the questions (a New Yorker “contributor”, which I think means contract worker) and statements from a full-time equivalent at the Financial Times, a salmon colored newspaper consumed by  750,000 quality-centric readers.

The quotes in this blog post come from the CEO of the Financial Times which sold to Nikkei, a Japanese outfit for 40 times the FT’s 2014 revenues. So $37 million netted Pearson, the former owner of the FT, about $1.4 billion. Like the HP purchase of Autonomy, I will be interested to see how the purchase plays out. Obviously Pearson was neither willing nor able to put the FT on a pedestal of cash. The former owner of Madame Tussaud’s wax museum sold the newspaper. Let Nikkei realize the long term benefits of FT ownership I assume.

The write up by the New Yorker magazine, which has pretty good cartoons, is a darned interesting journalistic artifact itself. But I want to focus on some of the statements in the write up, allegedly made by the FT CEO who played a big part in the deal with the Japanese buyer.

I noted this statement:

Nikkei wanted to prepare for the transition to digital, which has been slow in its home market.

My recollection may be fuzzy, but I thought that the Japanese were exploring the digital world, databases, and all sorts of software based activities in Japan’s Fifth Generation Project in the early 1990s. Hey, that was like yesterday in traditional print publishing.

The FT executive allegedly said to the reporter:

I think if you were to summarize the vision that we both share, it would be about growth. We both think there is a very good growth opportunity for the F.T. That requires a long-term perspective. It requires investment. They have committed to that. And for a news organization like the F.T. right now, that’s music to one’s ears, frankly.”

I like the long term growth perspective. Apparently Pearson was not on board with this concept about investment without significant payoff. As a result, Pearson shopped the FT and netted a nine figure payout.

Why did Pearson opt to sell and not pump cash into the FT? Here’s the explanation from the FT executive:

What is lacking is some fuel in the tank and the ability to spread our wings a bit.”

Pearson apparently lacked “fuel”. I wonder if the “fuel” is patience, money, financial resources, or wisdom. The billion dollar deal looked pretty snappy to me. Imagine. More than one billion for a newspaper. That’s the color of money.

Apparently the FT boss perceives those from the Far East—that is, beyond Dover—as adopting Adam Carolla’s “In 50 Years We’ll All Be Chicks” approach. None of this City and Wall Street aggressiveness toward revenues and profits. Here’s a passage I highlighted in green, the color of money:

But Japanese newspapers, including the ones owned by Nikkei, are also known for taking a less aggressive stance toward news than many of their Western counterparts.

Will the FT remain independent as other newspapers and real journalistic endeavors do the inclusion, sponsored content, advertising thing? According to the FT executive:

“Editorial independence is absolutely fundamental to the way we operate,” he replied.

He allegedly added:

But I think the most important thing is they understand our values and editorial independence. I’m not going to tell them how to run Nikkei, and they are not going to tell us how to do editorial independence at the F.T. They are very clear about that.

I like that understanding. The owner will not assert control over something the person owns. Shared values among the quality journalists effervesce from this factoid.

The most important passage concerns the FT business model. Here’s the explanation of the FT’s “vindicated”, super-charged approach to generating at some time in the future oodles of dough from a global market of discerning news consumers:

The replacement was cheap trial subscriptions. If you go to the F.T.’s Web site today and try to read a story, you will be prompted to take out a month-long subscription for a dollar….“We are now able to measure, optimize, and track all of these readers and changes with real insight that we could never do before. It sounds dry, but it’s not. It’s really understanding readers, what matters to them. We are never going to edit by numbers, but we are going to inform all of our decisions around data.”

Not only that, the FT is going back to the model for the newspapers which have become pedestal mounted historical artifacts. Newspapers are back as the “trusted” folks in the information business. I know that I trusted newspapers until I read about US diplomacy and yellow journalist in the period from 1895 to 1898.

“Precisely because of digital disruption, precisely because there is so much information and news and information out there, the value of a trusted guide, the value of a trusted brand” has gone up, he said.

Yep, those families losing sons in the dust up among the US, Spain, and Cuba understand that trust stuff.

Then there is a statement which seems to bring the future payday for the new owner of the FT tantalizingly near:

But we fundamentally believed that if it’s quality journalism, people will pay for it. That’s been vindicated.”

From my point of view, what’s been vindicated is that there was a buyer willing to pony up more than $1 billion for a brand, several hundred thousand readers, and a Web site offering a  $1.00 trial subscription. I assume that is the definition of vindication from Pearson’s point of view. I am not sure about Nikkei’s point of view. If the FT’s senior management had an agreement with Pearson designed to keep the FT’s senior management on board, was some of the money shared with the FT leadership? Good question.

I also highlighted in red ink red, not money green, this statement attributed to the FT executive:

But he also said insisted that things are changing in journalism and that the business climate is improving. “There is a belief in journalism,” he said.

Stepping back I thought about the New Yorker’s analysis of the FT deal. Much of the verbiage could be used to describe how the New Yorker feels about its approach to news and information.

I asked myself, “Is this article about the FT or is it about the New Yorker’s perception of quality journalism?” Another good question.

And what about search. Does anyone recall the Endeca FT Newssift project? I do. Moving on.

Stephen E Arnold, September 29, 2015

Data Sharing Is Not Easy

September 29, 2015

Quote to note: Want to do data sharing? Want to offer federated search? Want Spark to ignite your insights?

Before embracing these ideas, you may find “Researcher Examines Complexities of Data-Sharing in Four Research Projects” providing some not well publicized insights. I know those self appointed experts and mid tier consultants do their best to be objective and detail oriented, but some information slips between the cracks in their scientific processes.

One example:

“Having the right data is usually better than having more data; little data can be just as important as big data.”

The person allegedly making this statement labors at UCLA’s Center for Knowledge Infrastructures.

Stephen E Arnold, September 28, 2015

The Many Applications of Predictive Analytics

September 29, 2015

The article on Computer World titled Technology that Predicts Your Next Security Fail confers the current explosion in predictive analytics, the application of past occurrences to predict future occurrences. The article cites the example of the Kentucky Department of Revenue (DOR), which used predictive analytics to catch fraud. By providing SAS with six years of data the DOR received a batch of new insights into fraud indicators such as similar filings from the same IP address. The article imparts words of wisdom from SANS Institute instructor Phil Hagen,

“Even the most sophisticated predictive analytics software requires human talent, though. For instance, once the Kentucky DOR tools (either the existing checklist or the SAS tool) suspect fraud, the tax return is forwarded to a human examiner for review. “Predictive analytics is only as good as the forethought you put into it and the questions you ask of it,” Hagen warns….  Also It’s imperative that data scientists, not security teams, drive the predictive analytics project.”

In addition to helping the IRS avoid major fails like the 2013 fraudulent refunds totaling $5.8 billion, predictive analytics has other applications. Perhaps most interesting is its use protecting human assets in regions where kidnappings are common by detecting unrest and alerting organizations to lock up their doors. But it is hard to see limitations for technology that so accurately reads the future.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 29, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


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