Directories: Those Money Makers Never Went Out of Style

November 30, 2016

Printed directories may be under stress due to the cost of sales, paper, ink, and distribution. But my local bank offers a free directory of local businesses. Someone near Harrod’s Creek either has lots of money to waste or has a way to turn the traditional print Yellow Pages into a money maker.

Digital directories have been the heir to the venerable Bell Telephone Yellow Pages. I love directories and so does Google. In 2009, when Google: The Digital Gutenberg was published by a half crazed British eccentric who frittered away time expressing an interest in my research, the premise of the study was that Google was a modern day directory publisher. For the fancy technology and hip Sillycon Valley jargon. Google was in the directory business. Companies paid Google to put their message in front of eye balls. The shift to mobile has simply accelerated the process.

I read “The Comeback of the Directory?” The write up has discovered that directories exist. Not news in Harrod’s Creek, but to the avid readers of an online publication, I hear “Eureka!”

I highlighted this statement:

There are directories for UX designers, iOS developers, Pokemon Go players, remote workers, modern travellers (and many more). … Personally I am a big fan of categorizing a Quality and Fair Web where results are not dependent on the advertisers budget but the users valuation.

Ah, insight upon insight. If you are curious about the main point of Google: The Digital Gutenberg, a video airs as part of a HonkinNews’ special. The seven minute program talks about Google as a directory outfit and the challenge the company faces to make its desktop business model generate the revenue needed to keep the world’s most used search system plump and cheerful. Watch Beyond Search for the link. The video goes live on January 3, 2017.

Spoiler: Google is a directory company today and tomorrow.

Stephen E Arnold, November 30, 2016

Microsoft: On the Bandwagon Singing Me Too

November 30, 2016

In my dead tree copy of the November 21, 2016, New York Times (which just report a modest drop in profits), I read a bit of fluff called “Microsoft Spends Big to Build a Computer Out of Science Fiction.” (If you have to pay to view the source, don’t honk at Beyond Search. Let your favorite national newspaper know directly.)

The main point of the PR piece was to make clear that Microsoft is not lagging behind the Alphabet Google thing in quantum computing. Also, Microsoft is not forking over a measly couple of hundred bucks. Nope, Microsoft is spending “big.” I learned from the write up:

There is a growing optimism in the tech world that quantum computers, super powerful devices that were once the stuff of science fiction, are possible — and may even be practical.

I think “spending” is a nice way to say “betting.”

I learned:

In the exotic world of quantum physics, Microsoft has set itself apart from its competitors by choosing a different path. The company’s approach is based on “braiding” particles known as anyons — which physicists describe as existing in just two dimensions — to form the building blocks of a supercomputer that would exploit the unusual physical properties of subatomic particles.

One problem. The Google DWave gizmos are not exactly ready for use in your mobile phone. The Microsoft approach is the anyon, and it is anyone’s guess if the Microsofties can make the gizmo do something useful for opening Word or, like IBM, treat cancer or, like Google, “solve death.”

Where on the journey to the anyon is Microsoft? It seems that this sentence suggests that Microsoft is just about ready to start thinking about planning a trip down computing lane:

Once we get the first qubit figured out, we have a road map that allows us to go to thousands of qubits in a rather straightforward way,” Mr. Holmdahl [a Microsoftie who has avoided termination] said.

Yep, get those qubits working and then one can solve problems in quantum physics or perhaps get Microsoft Word’s auto numbering system to work. Me too, me too. Do you hear the singing? I do.

Stephen E Arnold, November 30, 2016

The New Hewlett Packard Enterprise: HP Eeek

November 30, 2016

i read “HPE Posts Mixed Q4 Results.” The main idea in the write up is that HPE squeezed out some profit despite a drop in year on year revenue. I noted one interesting phrase in the write up in the midst of the fancy dancing around the revenue erosion:

In September, HPE said it will “spin-merge” its non-core software assets with Micro Focus, a software company based in the UK, in a transaction worth around $8.8 billion. These moves will enable HPE, Whitman said, to be more nimble, play higher growth margins and have an enhanced financial profile.

I also like the confections worthy of the Food Channel expressed in this statement:

The company’s goal, she [Ms. Whitman, chief cook] said, is to be the industry’s leading provider of hybrid IT built on the secure, next-generation software-defined infrastructure that runs customers’ data centers today, bridges them to multi-cloud environments tomorrow, and powers of the emerging intelligent edge. [Emphasis added to highlight jargon]

Yes, intelligent edge. Yep, the edge of my desk is possibly intelligent? But I love the thought behind “intelligent edge.” Maybe I would tweak the phrase to say “intelligence edge.” But, hey, I am not a manager at an outfit with a history of board floundering, flubbed acquisitions, and selling off assets.

When I read the reports of the HPE financial results I had this thought:

I wonder if HPE’s senior management has properties with the bookings and potential of Dr. Michael Lynch’s DarkTrace.

Dr. Lynch is going one direction: up. HPE is going another: down.

I doubt if the senior management of HPE thinks much about Dr. Lynch’s business acumen. HPE thinks about finding a scapegoat for its own failure in the due diligence process, understanding the search and content processing market, and its management methods.

As I said, just a thought.

Stephen E Arnold, November 30, 2016

Bug-Free, Efficient Tor Network Inching Towards Completion

November 30, 2016

The development team behind the Tor Project recently announced the release of Tor 0.2.9.5 that is almost bug-free, stable and secure.

Softpedia in a release titled New Tor “The Onion Router” Anonymity Network Stable Branch Getting Closer says:

Tor 0.2.9.5 Alpha comes three weeks after the release of the 0.2.9.4 Alpha build to add a large number of improvements and bug fixes that have been reported by users since then or discovered by the Tor Project’s hard working development team. Also, this release gets us closer to the new major update of The Onion Router anonymity network.

Numerous bugs and loopholes were being reported in Tor Network that facilitated backdoor entry to snooping parties on Tor users. With this release, it seems those security loopholes have been plugged.

The development team is also encouraging users to test the network further to make it completely bug-free:

If you want to help the Tor Project devs polish the final release of the Tor 0.2.9 series, you can download Tor 0.2.9.5 Alpha right now from our website and install it on your GNU/Linux distribution, or just fetch it from the repositories of the respective OS. Please try to keep in mind, though, that this is a pre-release version, not to be used in production environments.

Though it will always be a cat and mouse game between privacy advocates and those who want to know what goes on behind the veiled network, it would be interesting to see who will stay ahead of the race.

Vishal Ingole, November 30, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Emphasize Data Suitability over Data Quantity

November 30, 2016

It seems obvious to us, but apparently, some folks need a reminder. Harvard Business Review proclaims, “You Don’t Need Big Data, You Need the Right Data.” Perhaps that distinction has gotten lost in the Big Data hype. Writer Maxwell Wessel points to Uber as an example. Though the company does collect a lot of data, the key is in which data it collects, and which it does not. Wessel explains:

In an era before we could summon a vehicle with the push of a button on our smartphones, humans required a thing called taxis. Taxis, while largely unconnected to the internet or any form of formal computer infrastructure, were actually the big data players in rider identification. Why? The taxi system required a network of eyeballs moving around the city scanning for human-shaped figures with their arms outstretched. While it wasn’t Intel and Hewlett-Packard infrastructure crunching the data, the amount of information processed to get the job done was massive. The fact that the computation happened inside of human brains doesn’t change the quantity of data captured and analyzed. Uber’s elegant solution was to stop running a biological anomaly detection algorithm on visual data — and just ask for the right data to get the job done. Who in the city needs a ride and where are they? That critical piece of information let the likes of Uber, Lyft, and Didi Chuxing revolutionize an industry.

In order for businesses to decide which data is worth their attention, the article suggests three guiding questions: “What decisions drive waste in your business?” “Which decisions could you automate to reduce waste?” (Example—Amazon’s pricing algorithms) and “What data would you need to do so?” (Example—Uber requires data on potential riders’ locations to efficiently send out drivers.) See the article for more notes on each of these guidelines.

Cynthia Murrell, November 30, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

HonkinNews for 29 November 2016 Now Available

November 29, 2016

This week’s HonkinNews covers IBM Watson QAM (not a yam and not part of an internal combustion engine). We also report that Palantir Technologies has stereophonic input to the Trump Transition Team. You will also learn about EasyAsk’s amazing guarantee regarding eCommerce revenues. The show includes another dispatch from the front lines of the artificial intelligence wars. Google is on the offensive. Hitachi aims to become the first Japanese company to notch a perfect score in the enterprise search high diving content. If you thought Willie Shakespeare worked alone, we rain on your parade courtesy of text analytics researchers who identify Kit Marlowe’s digital fingerprints on Henry VI. Imagine. Theater types collaborating. We thought Hollywood types invented this approach to content. This program gives the dates for the three videos about Stephen E Arnold’s The Google Trilogy. You can access the video at this link.

Kenny Toth, November 29, 2016

Web Search Engine Market Share: Some Surprises

November 29, 2016

Did you know that the Excite search engine, owned by IAC Corporation, still operates the Excite.com Web site in the US, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK? I must admit neither my goslings or I knew this fact. I was prompted to check out excite after I read “Is Bing A Thing? The Answer: It Depends.”

The write up points out that Google has a global desktop Web search share of 75.2 percent. Google’s share of the mobile table search engine market is 94.18 percent. The data appeared in these two charts.

image

and

image

Bing commands 1.26 percent of the mobile table search market which lags behind Yahoo’s 3.51 percent. In the back of my mind, a tiny voice says that Microsoft provides Yahoo search with search.

The second surprise after the data stunned me, was this series of statements:

What differences in search algorithms do Bing and Google have? According articles from HubSpot and Ignite Visibility, here are a few:

  • Bing favors factually relevant results over socially relevant sites
  • Bing places more weight on only websites with official domain names like .gov or .edu
  • Bing places more emphasis on social media signals
  • Bing still considers keywords used in page title, meta tags, and meta keyword field

Well, well, well. Bing is into facts despite its stake in Facebook.

Are the data accurate? Well, the Google mobile search market strikes me as unreasonably low.

Stephen E Arnold, November 29, 2016

 

 

Fake and Bake: Wikileaks Excitement

November 29, 2016

I love the chatter about fake news. I noted the story “Putting This Out There for Everyone’s Information (Is This for Real?) Before ItsNews 11-18-16… Wikileaks Is Gone.” According to the write up, a person named Jim Stone thinks that Wikileaks is a gone goose. The source cited above “felt drawn to put this [the story about Wikileaks as a disappeared organization] out there. To step away from the possibility that the story is bogus, the author of Kauilapele blog crawfishes:

Once more, I do not know for sure if this is true.

What’s the big reveal? Here you go:

The destruction of WikiLeaks was an unprecedented global effort.

There you go. Will accuracy and truthiness algorithms snag the Kauilapele item as possibly incorrect? Run those Bing, Google, and Yandex queries and decide for yourself.

Stephen E Arnold, November 29, 2016

Tor Comes to the Rescue of Turkish Online Activists

November 29, 2016

Authorities in Turkey have effectively banned the use of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Tor, however, has to come to the rescue of users, particularly online activists who want to get the word out about the social unrest in the country.

Motherboard in a report tiled Turks Are Flocking to Tor After Government Orders Block of Anti-Censorship Tools says:

Turkish Internet users are flocking to Tor, the anonymizing and censorship circumvention tool, after Turkey’s government blocked Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Usage of Tor inside of Turkey went up from around 18,000 users to 25,000 users on Friday, when the government started blocking the popular social media networks, according to Tor’s official metrics.

Apart from direct connection to the Tor Network through TOR browser, the network also allows users to use bridge relays that circumvent any access restrictions by ISPs. Though it’s not yet clear if ISPs in Turkey have also banned Tor access; however, the bridge relay connections have seen a spike in number since the ban was implemented.

It is speculated that the Government may have notified ISPs to ban Tor access, but failed to tell them to do so effectively, which becomes apparent here (a Tweet by a user):

I believe the government just sent the order and didn’t give any guide about how to do it,” Sabanc? told Motherboard in an online chat via Twitter. “And now ISPs trying to figure it out.

This is not the first time Tor has come to the rescue of online activists. One thing though is sure, more and more people concerned about their privacy or do not want to be repressed turning towards anonymous networks like Tor.

Vishal Ingole, November 29, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Facebook AI pro Throws Shade at DeepMind Headquarters

November 29, 2016

An AI expert at Facebook criticizes Google’s handling of  DeepMind, we learn in Business Insider’s article, “Facebook’s AI Guru Thinks DeepMind is Too Far Away from the ‘Mothership’.” Might Yann LeCun, said guru, be biased? Nah. He simply points out that DeepMind’s London offices are geographically far away from Google’s headquarters in California. Writer Sam Shead, on the other hand, observes that physical distance does not hamper collaboration the way it did before this little thing called the Internet came along.

The article reminds us of rumors that Facebook was eying DeepMind before Google snapped it up. When asked, LeCun declined to confirm or deny that rumor. Shead tells us:

LeCun said: ‘You know, things played out the way they played out. There’s a lot of very good people at DeepMind.’ He added: ‘I think the nature of DeepMind eventually would have been quite a bit different from what it is now if DeepMind had been acquired by a different company than Google.

Google and Facebook are competitors in some areas of their businesses but the companies are also working together to advance the field of AI. ‘It’s very nice to have several companies that work on this space in an open fashion because we build on each other’s ideas,’ said LeCun. ‘So whenever we come up with an idea, very often DeepMind will build on top of it and do something that’s better and vice versa. Sometimes within days or months of each other we work on the same team. They hire half of my students.

Hooray for cooperation. As it happens, London is not an arbitrary location for DeepMind. The enterprise was founded in 2010 by two Oxbridge grads, Demis Hassabis and Mustafa Suleyman, along with UCL professor Shane Legg. Google bought the company in 2014, and has been making the most of their acquisition ever since. For example, Shead reminds us, Google has used the AI to help boost the efficiency of their data-center cooling units by some 40%. A worthy endeavor, indeed.

Cynthia Murrell, November 29, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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