Gartner Starts 2018 with Stale Spam

December 31, 2017

After a decade of New Year blog posts I was running out of ideas. But, I received an email from a Gartner Group professional named Brandon Pineres.


I don’t know Brandon. I don’t know anyone in Florida I would trust to walk my 11 year old boxer Max.

I assume Brandon is a person who is trying hard to sell me Gartner’s consulting services. He may be eager to convert me to a dot point in one of Gartner’s intellectually challenged Magic Quadrants. (BCG’s Bruce Henderson probably shakes each time he contemplates what happened to General Eisenhower’s grid which BCG whipped into the cash cow, star, loser graphic decades ago.) Brandon may be hoping that I will write a check for %55,000 or more so I can give a talk at one of Gartner’s networking events.

Quick tip: Navigate to Beyond Search and run a query for Gartner. I have written about or mentioned Gartner a handful of times. Try this write up, for instance: Cacaphones.


His spam (email I did not request) enjoined with wonky syntax like “being that” and offered with great good cheer:

Having attempted to reach out to you over the last few weeks I wanted to follow up one last time before the end of Gartner’s financial year. Being that Gartner is a publically traded company, we are being offered the most aggressive commercial flexibility now. I have the ability to get you unlimited access at a highly discounted price. I would love to work with you to explore the most cost effective Gartner solution that can support ArnoldIT’s strategy in 2018. Would you be interested in having an exploratory dialog today and discuss the commercial incentives and how you can work with your key analysts in 2018 to accelerate time to revenue and increase awareness with your buyers?

Does the tone and approach reminds you of the baloney some business school majors absorb from adjunct professors who don’t want to work at Wendy’s or McDo’s?

Also, I have no record of Brandon’s “reach out.” I have been sitting in my office working on the second edition of the best selling “Dark Web Notebook” and making Dark Cyber videos. I am not sure Gartner can help me with my strategy. I suppose if he attends the Telestrategies ISS events at which I lecture, he might pick up an idea or two about where my research is headed. Well, maybe not.

Brandon does not think I know that Gartner Group is publicly-traded. I do know this. I also know that Gartner Inc. has trended down, flopping around $123 a share. In an effort to pump up revenue, Brandon’s spam is, according to mid tier consulting firm reason, going to generate revenue from me.


As a former Booz, Allen & Hamilton professional and veteran of some other reasonably interesting jobs, I typically pay little or no attention to what I call mid-tier consulting firms and their staff. I have done odd jobs for some other blue-chip outfits, but I have not involved myself with the mid-tier or bottom-feeders unless I was paid by them to show up at an event or write a short report. In my experience, the non-blue chip firms buy reports from people like me and then put their name on them. Want proof? Check out the erstwhile Dave Schubmehl, an administrative master, at this link.

Several points:

  1. Why not spend a moment to research the person before sending spam? Spam might have unintended consequences.
  2. Why pretend to have tried to contact me and I, because of stupidity or indifference, did not respond to unsolicited email?
  3. Why assume that a former Booz, Allen person will write a check to a mid-tier consulting firm’s offer of low-ball pricing and help making contacts?

My hunch is that there are people who will fall for this type of marketing.

I won’t and don’t. A word of advice from the sage of Harrod’s Creek: Don’t spam me. I can be frisky plus I have time to write humorous essays about those who don’t take the time to learn about my background.

Brandon, I bet 2018 will be a better year without unsolicited emails. What do you think?

Now I have to email your message with headers to my pals at

Stephen E Arnold, December 31, 2017

Who Helps Trash Relevance in Search? INC Has the Answer

December 30, 2017

I read a story in Inc. magazine. The write up’s title is “9 SEO Experts To Follow In 2018.” First, Google is not a person. I think the idea is that a person who wants to buy traffic should pay attention to the GOOG. But I am not sure Google is an expert like the other eight names on the list.

Now my view of search engine optimization is a bit different from that of “experts” in search engine optimization. I think SEO is part of a carnival trick to get people to buy Adwords.

I explain some of the mechanisms in The Google Legacy and Google Version 2: The Calculating Predator. (Alas, out of print, but I sell a rough draft in PDF form. Write benkent2020 at yahoo dot com if you are interested.)

The idea is that people fix up their Web pages to meet Google guidelines. Changes which pass muster produce a boost in traffic. Then usually after a month or so, the changes don’t deliver the traffic. Traffic erodes.

Check with the Google. What’s the fix? More SEO? Nah, just buy Adwords.

When the advertiser grouses that leads aren’t as wonderful as they were perceived to be, what’s the fix?

Give up?

Buy Adwords.

The loop is a nifty one. Lots of SEO “experts” bill clients for changes which may or may not have substantive impact. When whatever impact fizzles, Google is able to suggest Adwords.


My take on the pay for traffic game is that it is evidence of the death of relevance.

Therefore, the eight “experts” are accessories to the termination with extreme prejudice the notion of entering a query and getting results which directly relate to that query.

Call me old fashioned but SEO experts are in cahoots with Google type outfits in the pay for traffic game.

Give me Boolean, precision, and recall.

Sounds crazy right? Just ask an SEO expert. Most will agree. Who cares about relevance and stupid precision and recall?

Well, I do.

Stephen E Arnold, December 30, 2017

Google Confuses Forests and Trees According to an Informed Authority

December 29, 2017

I read an article which would have been unthinkable in 2004 when Google was the Hollywood of online companies. The write up appeared in Gizmodo and has a title guaranteed to annoy those in senior management who actually care about the company’s reputation; to wit:

Google’s Whole Hardware Thing Is Confusing the Hell Out of Me.

The link to the original is here.

The main point of the write up strikes me as:

In its second year thoroughly devoted to the hardware game, Google managed to create ear buds so bad that storing them in their charging case requires a video explanation, and a laptop so fantastic I spend a lot of time on forums plotting ways to load a more useful operating system onto it. In the wide chasm between these two gadgets lies everything else Google announced this year, and together, the hardware paints a confusing picture. Google what the hell are you doing?

My answer to the question is, “Google is looking for sustainable revenues in a way that pumps up or at least props up its online advertising schticht.

The Google can get its act together. But in the present economic climate the Google is not kicking Excite and Lycos or even Yahoo to the curb.

The online search giant has to find relevant results for Amazon, Facebook, and, yes, even Microsoft.

No wonder senior management is either changing roles, flying to hearings in Europe, working to be semi pals with China, or trying to solve death. Even the Loon balloon came back to earth as Google used lesser technology to help out Puerto Rico.

Gizmodo, it seems, is catching on to the whole Googzilla thing. Remember that the dinosaurs died.

Could it be happening again? Instead of a meteor, it may be write ups which document the weakness of the feathered predators. But not here in Harrod’s Creek. We love, absolutely love, the Google.

Stephen E Arnold, December 29, 2017

Watson and CDC Research Blockchain

December 29, 2017

Oh, Watson!  What will IBM have you do next?  Apparently, you will team up with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research blockchain benefits.  The details about Watson’s newest career are detailed in Fast Company’s article, “IBM Watson Health Team With the CDC To Research Blockchain.”  Teaming up with the CDC is an extension of the work IBM Watson is already doing with the Food and Drug Administration by exploring owned-mediated data exchange with blockchain.

IBM chief science officer Shahram Ebadollahi explained that the research with the CDC and FDA with lead to blockchain adoption at the federal government level.  By using blockchain, the CDC hopes to discover new ways to use data and expedite federal reactions to health threats.

Blockchain is a very new technology developed to handle sensitive data and cryptocurrency transactions.  It is used for applications that require high levels of security.  Ebadollahi said:

 ‘Blockchain is very useful when there are so many actors in the system,’ Ebadollahi said. ‘It enables the ecosystem of data in healthcare to have more fluidity, and AI allows us to extract insights from the data. Everybody talks about Big Data in healthcare but I think the more important thing is Long Data.’

One possible result is that consumers will purchase a personal health care system like a home security system.  Blockchain could potentially offer a new level of security that everyone from patients to physicians is comfortable with.

Blockchain is basically big data, except it is a more specific data type.  The applications are the same and it will revolutionize the world just like big data.

Whitney Grace, December 29, 2017

Investigating Cybercrime

December 29, 2017

The devastating Equifax breach is being pursued by federal investigators who know what they are doing, we learn from the piece, “Cybercrimes Present Unique Challenges for Investigators” at SFGate. AP Writer Kate Brumback writes:

The federal investigators looking into the breach that exposed personal information maintained by the Equifax credit report company are used to dealing with high-profile hacks and the challenges they present. The U.S. attorney’s office and FBI in Atlanta have prosecuted developers and promoters of the SpyEye and Citadel malware toolkits, used to infect computers and steal banking information. They’ve helped prosecute a hack into Scottrade and ETrade that was part of an identity theft scheme, and aided the international effort that in July shut down AlphaBay, the world’s largest online criminal marketplace.


The U.S. Attorney’s office has confirmed that, along with the FBI, it is investigating the breach at Atlanta-based Equifax, which the company said lasted from mid-May to July and exposed the data of 145 million Americans.

Though investigators would not tell Brumback anything about this specific investigation, they shared some of what it is like to pursue cybercrime in general. For example, one prosecutor notes that for every conviction there are about 10 times as many investigations that dead-end. Aliases and invite-only forums make it difficult to identify perpetrators; often, success is the result of a slip-up on the part of the bad actor. Another complication—as we know, the internet transcends boundaries, and several foreign governments do not extradite to the U.S. (or do, but slowly). Once we do catch the bad guys, they can be punished, but the issue of restitution tends to be prohibitively complicated. With a focus on prevention, investigators are now working with many companies before breaches occur.

Cynthia Murrell, December 29, 2017

IBM Watson: Now the Personal Assistant You Cannot Harass

December 28, 2017

I miss those wonky and expensive IBM Watson ad campaigns. However, Watson has not gone away. Watson is now available as the IBM Watson Assistant. You will need to be a “developer”, but I would wager that IBM wants you to be working at a Fortune 50 company and looking for a way to spend lots of money for IBM services. You can do magic with the program. Ready to role? Read the legal “rules” here, not the info about hand crafting “rules” to make the system appear so darned helpful. Oh, one point about rule based systems. These gems have to be thought up, coded, tested, and maintained. Does that sound time consuming? You ain’t seen nothing yet. Artificial intelligence is just so “artificial.” What happens if I haven’t coded my unharassable assistant for a specific task like figuring out how to deanonymize i2p hexchat sessions? Well, you get the idea: The personal assistant is harassing me.

Stephen E Arnold, December 28, 2017

Amazon Sends a Happy New Year Greeting to Google

December 28, 2017

I read “Amazon Is Planning a Push into Digital Advertising in 2018, Challenging Google and Facebook.” Let’s assume that this is “real” news, just for kicks.

The write up asserts:

The company [the Bezos machine called Amazon] is also looking to sell advertising beyond Amazon sites and products. For example, a source with knowledge about the situation says it is working with third-party mobile advertising companies such as Kargo to pair advertising on television and on mobile screens.

That seems clear.

Who cares?

I would suggest that Google may notice this New Year’s greeting.

I learned:

Although Amazon doesn’t break out revenues from its advertising business, eMarketer estimates Amazon was the fifth-largest digital advertiser in the U.S. in terms of revenue this year. Still, it makes up a little more than 2 percent of the market. It’s leagues below industry leaders Google and Facebook, which take home more than 70 percent combined, according to a recent estimate from analysts at Pivotal.

Because Amazon is a small advertising fish compared to the Facebook and Google whales, ramping up its ad sales will generate some cash for the Bezos machine.

Facebook will be on the watch, but my view is that the Google will be riveted to Amazon’s progress.


Google is largely dependent on online advertising. As Steve Ballmer observed before buying the thrills of a pro basketball team, “Google is a one trick pony.”

Mobile is not Google’s best trick. With desktop search declining, those ad revenues require Herculean strength to keep hoisted high. If the Amazon play is successful, Google may develop a Greek god scale headache from:

  • Loss of ad revenue to Amazon with no easy way to pump up the volume if Facebook stays the course while Amazon does some price cutting
  • The shift to the mobile search model makes it more difficult for Googzilla to burn off the fat in excess ad inventory
  • The Google search machine has lost product search to Amazon. Although the specific impact is tough to determine, catching up to the juggernaut in Seattle adds to the burden of the Internet’s go to search engine. Alphabet Google has to outperform and out maneuver Facebook and Amazon.

Life for the GOOG in 2018 will be tough enough because of anti monopoly hassles in Europe, struggles with wonky hardware trying to leapfrog Amazon’s home devices, and user grunts and snorts about search results relevance deteriorating.

Not even Google’s slick PR team can make Amazon’s New Year’s greeting into good news. The new year will be, as Google once said, “interesting.”

Yes, interesting if the story is almost like “real” news.

Stephen E Arnold, December 28, 2018

Humans Living Longer but Life Quality Suffers

December 28, 2017

Here is an article that offers some thoughts worth pondering.  The Daily Herald published, “Study: Americans Are Retiring Later, Dying Sooner And Sicker In Between”.  It takes a look at how Americans are forced to retire at later ages than their parents because the retirement age keeps getting pushed up.  Since retirement is being put off, it allows people to ideally store away more finances for their eventual retirement.  The problem, however, is that retirees are not able to enjoy themselves in their golden years, instead, they are forced to continue working in some capacity or deal with health problems.

Despite being one of the world’s richest countries and having some of the best healthcare, Americans’ health has deteriorated in the past decade.  Here are some neighbors to make you cringe:

University of Michigan economists HwaJung Choi and Robert Schoeni used survey data to compare middle-age Americans’ health. A key measure is whether people have trouble with an “activity of daily living,” or ADL, such as walking across a room, dressing and bathing themselves, eating, or getting in or out of bed. The study showed the number of middle-age Americans with ADL limitations has jumped: 12.5 percent of Americans at the current retirement age of 66 had an ADL limitation in their late 50s, up from 8.8 percent for people with a retirement age of 65.

Also, Americans’ brains are rotting with an 11 percent increase in dementia and other cognitive declines in people from 58-60 years old.  Researchers are not quite sure what is causing the decline in health, but they, of course, have a lot of speculation.  These include alcohol abuse, suicide, drug overdoses, and, the current favorite, increased obesity.

The real answer is multiple factors, such as genes, lifestyle, stress, environment, and diet.  All of these things come into play.  Despite poor health quality, we can count on more medical technological advances in the future.  The aging population maybe the test grounds and improve the golden years of their grandchildren.

Whitney Grace, December 28, 2017

Turning to AI for Better Data Hygiene

December 28, 2017

Most big data is flawed in some way, because humans are imperfect beings. That is the premise behind ZDNet’s article, “The Great Data Science Hope: Machine Learning Can Cure Your Terrible Data Hygiene.” Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan explains:

The reality is enterprises haven’t been creating data dictionaries, meta data and clean information for years. Sure, this data hygiene effort may have improved a bit, but let’s get real: Humans aren’t up for the job and never have been. ZDNet’s Andrew Brust put it succinctly: Humans aren’t meticulous enough. And without clean data, a data scientist can’t create algorithms or a model for analytics.


Luckily, technology vendors have a magic elixir to sell you…again. The latest concept is to create an abstraction layer that can manage your data, bring analytics to the masses and use machine learning to make predictions and create business value. And the grand setup for this analytics nirvana is to use machine learning to do all the work that enterprises have neglected.

I know you’ve heard this before. The last magic box was the data lake where you’d throw in all of your information–structured and unstructured–and then use a Hadoop cluster and a few other technologies to make sense of it all. Before big data, the data warehouse was going to give you insights and solve all your problems along with business intelligence and enterprise resource planning. But without data hygiene in the first place enterprises replicated a familiar, but failed strategy: Poop in. Poop out.

What the observation lacks in eloquence it makes up for in insight—the whole data-lake concept was flawed from the start since it did not give adequate attention to data preparation. Dignan cites IBM’s Watson Data Platform as an example of the new machine-learning-based cleanup tools, and points to other noteworthy vendors investigating similar ideas—Alation, Io-Tahoe, Cloudera, and HortonWorks. Which cleaning tool will perform best remains to be seen, but Dignan seems sure of one thing—the data that enterprises have been diligently collecting for the last several years is as dirty as a dustbin lid.

Cynthia Murrell, December 28, 2017

Internet Wake Up: You Have Overslept

December 27, 2017

On a call yesterday, I agreed to do three talks for a law enforcement and intelligence conference company. On that call, one of the individual’s said:

The Internet has become a problem for investigators.

No disagreement from the ArnoldIT contingent who has been engaged for many years in tracking cyberOSINT, the Dark Web, the tools for thwarting Fullz, etc. I don’t think the “problem” will become easier to solve in the coming months.

Electronic data is tough to contain even when a nation state clamps down on telcos, ISPs, users, and Web site owners.

I found “My Internet Mea Culpa” a bit surprising because I assumed that most people had figured out that digital information is not exactly the happy grandmother viewing her daughter’s second birthday party on a mobile phone.

I noted this passage:

For the last twenty years, I believed the internet prophets of old. I worshipped at the altar of Stewart Brand and Kevin Kelly. I believed that the world would be a better place if everyone had a voice. I believed that the world would be a better place if we all had no secrets. But so far, the evidence points to an escapable conclusion: we were all wrong.

Yep, but today’s Internet has been around for a long time.

Read the full “mea culpa.”

Enjoy the implications of this statement:

What if Silicon Valley’s core beliefs — even the benign ones — are wrong?

Science club methods are not for grandmothers. Never will be.

How many artists were in my high school science club?

Exactly zero.

And there was a reason. When “Revenge of the Nerds” was a thing, I for one thought, “Now we’re talking.” Grandmothers did not get it. Never will.

In my experience, the Google-types “got it” from the git-go.

Stephen E Arnold, December 27, 2017

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