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eBay Struggles with Cluttered, Unstructured Data, Deploys Artificial Intelligence Strategy

May 24, 2016

The article on Forbes titled eBay’s Next Move: Artificial Intelligence To Refine Product Searches predicts a strong future for eBay as the company moves further into machine learning. For roughly six years eBay has been working with Expertmaker, a Swedish AI and analytics company. Forbes believes that eBay may have recently purchased Expertmaker. The article explains the logic behind this logic,

“One of the key turnaround goals of eBay is to encourage sellers to define their products using structured data, making it easier for the marketplace to show relevant search results to buyers. The acquisition of Expertmaker should help the company in this initiative, given its expertise in artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data.”

The acquisition of Expertmaker should allow for a more comprehensive integration of eBay’s “noisy data.” Expertmaker’s AI strategy is based in genetics research, and has made great strides in extracting concealed value from data. For eBay, a company with hundreds of millions of listings clogging up the platform, Expertmaker’s approach might be the ticket to achieving a more streamlined, categorized search. If we take anything away from this, it is that eBay search currently does not work very well. At any rate, they are taking steps to improve their platform.

 
Chelsea Kerwin, May 24, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Enterprise Search: The Valiant Fight On

May 17, 2016

I read “VirtualWorks and Language Tools Announce Merger.” I ran across Language Tools several years ago. The company was working to create components for ElasticSearch’s burgeoning user base. The firm espoused natural language processing as a core technology. NLP is useful, but it imposes some computational burdens on some content processing functions. ElasticSearch works pretty well, and there are a number of companies optimizing, integrating, and creating widgets to make life with ElasticSearch better, faster, and presumably more impressive than the open source system is.

This news release highlights the fact that VirtualWorks and Language Tools have merged. The financial details are not explicit, and it appears that a company founded by a wizard from Citrix will make Language Tools’ R&D hub for the Florida-based VirtualWorks’ operation.

According to the story:

The combined organization brings together best of breed core technologies in the areas of enterprise search, data management, text analytics, discovery techniques and analytics to enable the development of new and exciting next generation applications in the business intelligence space.

VirtualWorks is or was a SharePoint centric solution. Like other search vendors, the company uses connectors to suck data into a central indexing point. Users then search the content and have access to the content without having to query separate systems.

This idea has fueled enterprise search since the days of Verity, Autonomy, Fast Search, Convera, et al. The real money today seems to be in the consulting and engineering services required to make enterprise search useful.

SharePoint is certainly widely used, and it is fraught with interesting challenges. Will the lash up of these two firms generate the type of revenue once associated with Autonomy and Fast Search & Transfer?

My hunch is that enterprise search continues to be a tough market. There are functional solutions to locating information available as open source or at comparatively modest license fees. I am thinking of dtSearch and Maxxcat. Both of these work well within Microsoft centric environments.

Stephen E Arnold, May 17, 2016

Lexmark to Take Chinese Lessons

May 6, 2016

Dateline Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky. A buzz echoed in the hollow where I live. The message brought good news to Chinese language instructors. When Reuters distributed “Consortium Led by China’s Apex to Buy Lexmark for $3.6 Billion,” a demand for Chinese lessons rippled through the weeds growing around the pond filled with mine drainage.

The write up stated:

Printer maker Lexmark International Inc has agreed to be taken private by a group of investors led by China-based Apex Technology Co Ltd and PAG Asia Capital in a deal valued at $3.6 billion net of cash, the company said….Lexmark said the deal will help its efforts to penetrate the Asia Pacific market.

What if Apex makes Lexmark a money machine? Think about IBM. Lenovo snapped up the IBM PC business. Now the former IBM printer outfit will go across the international date line. What’s next for IBM in the sell off space? Perhaps an outfit in China will ignore the chunks which IBM has divested and go after the whole enchilada.

Big news from the Bluegrass state, but it will not overshadow the Kentucky Derby.

Stephen E Arnold, May 6, 2016

List of Acquisitions Related to Smart Software

April 20, 2016

I loathe the buzzwords “artificial intelligence,” “cognitive,” and their ilk. I am okay with smart software or, better yet, semi smart software. If you want a listing of the outfits acquiring smart software companies in the last few years, navigate to “The Race For AI: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple In A Rush To Grab Artificial Intelligence Startups.” Mid tier consulting firms will be charging big bucks for their round up of these deals. The list contains the names of 21 outfits and their new owners. Don’t you wish you were a start up owned by IBM or Yahoo?

Stephen E Arnold, April 20, 2016

Alphabet Google Robots: Perfect for the Family and Similar Use Cases? Nope.

April 1, 2016

Editor’s Note: No April Fool’s Day fun.This is as real as it gets.

I read “Google Steps Away from Humanoid Robot PR Problem.” Google, the math and science club outfit, bought Boston Dynamics. This is a robot company which crafts confections for some interesting applications. Does war fighting with autonomous robots ring your chimes? Well, that’s too bad.

Google acquired the nifty robot maker. The gadgets are really cool in my opinion.

What child can resist a couple of robot dogs?

@@@ dog

Is there a pre-school teacher alive unable to turn down the offer of a robot assistant the give the three year olds a cookie and some milk?

Recently there were snaps and a video of a human (always spoilsports when it comes to spiffy technology) trying to topple a Google / Boston Dynamics robot.

@@@ tetherAccording to the write up:

Several robots shaped like humanoids or four-legged creatures were being developed by Boston Dynamics, a robotics company bought by Google for $500 million at the end of 2013. For years, Boston Dynamics has been famous for posting online videos showing its walking robots maintaining their balance despite being kicked and shoved by the company’s human employees. One of the latest videos of the Atlas humanoid robot, published in February 2016, triggered a slew of YouTube comments that described the robot as “terrifying” or referenced Hollywood’s “Terminator” films about an artificial intelligence called Skynet destroying humanity. Such reactions apparently made Google’s public-relations team wary of wading into the online debate, according to Bloomberg News.

The Alphabet Google thing may come to regret its decision.

@@@ fight

What happens if a Boston Dynamics’ robot reads a news story about the terrifying, Skynet future a robot poses? What happens if the robot is self actualized and catches a flight to SFO to resolve the matter?

Yikes. Traffic on 101 will be screwed up that day.

Stephen E Arnold, April 1, 2015

Content Analyst Sold to kCura

March 30, 2016

kCura, an e-discovery company, purchased Content Analyst. Content Analyst was a spin out from a Washington, DC consulting and services firm. According to “kCura Acquires Content Analyst Company, Developers of High-Performance Advanced Text Analytics Technologies

Content Analyst’s analytics engine has been fully integrated into Relativity Analytics for eight years, supporting a wide range of features that are flexible enough to handle the needs of any type or size of case — everything from organizing unstructured data to email threading to categorization that powers flexible technology-assisted review workflows….By joining teams, kCura will bring Content Analyst’s specialized engineering talent closer to Relativity users, in order to continue building a highly scalable analytics solution even faster.

Content Analytics performs a number of text processing functions, including entity extraction and concept identification for metatagging text. When the initial technology was developed by the DC firm specializing in intelligence and related work for the US government, the system captured the attention of the intelligence community. The systems and methods used by Content Analyst remain useful.

Unlike some text processing companies, Content Analyst focused on legal e-discovery. kCura is the new Content Analyst. What company will acquire Recommind?

Stephen E Arnold, March 30, 2016

Short Honk: Time Inc Allegedly Buys MySpace in an AOL Moment

February 13, 2016

I read “Time Inc Acquires Viant, Owner Of Myspace And A Vast Ad Tech Network.” According to the write up, the plan is:

to combine Viant’s business with its own, creating a big data, ad targeting powerhouse. Specifically, Time says it will “merge its premium content, subscriber data, and advertising inventory with Viant’s first party data and programmatic capabilities to bring substantial value to customers of both platforms.”

Ah, synergy. Just like year 2000?

Stephen E Arnold, February 13, 2016

The Duck Quacks 12 Million Queries

January 14, 2016

DuckDuckGo keeps waddling through its search queries and quacking that it will not track its users information.  DuckDuckGo has remained a small search engine, but its privacy services are chipping away at Google and search engines’ user base.  TechViral shares that “DuckDuckGo The Anti-Google Search Engine Just Reached A New Milestone” and it is reaching twelve million search queries in one day!

In 2015, DuckDuckGo received 3.25 billion search queries, showing a 74 percent increase compared to the 2014 data.  While DuckDuckGo is a private oasis in a sea of tracking cookies, it still uses targeted ads.  However, unlike Google DuckDuckGo only uses ads based on the immediate keywords used in a search query and doesn’t store user information.  It wipes the search engine clean with each use.

DuckDuckGo’s increase of visitors has attracted partnerships with Mozilla and Apple.  The private search engine is a for profit business, but it does have different goals than Google.

“Otherwise, it should be noted that although he refuses to have the same practices as Google, DuckDuckGo already making profits, yes that’s true. And the company’s CEO, Gabriel Weinberg, stop to think it is necessary to collect information about users to monetize a search engine: ‘You type car and you see an advertisement for a car, Google follows you on all these sites because it operates huge advertising networks and other properties. So they need these data for search engines to follow you.’ ”

DuckDuckGo offers a great service for privacy, while it is gaining more users it doesn’t offer the plethora of services Google does.  DuckDuckGo, why not try private email, free office programs, and online data storage?  Would you still be the same if you offered these services?

Whitney Grace, January 14, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Did Apple Buy Topsy for an Edge over Google

January 7, 2016

A couple years ago, Apple bought Topsy Labs, a social analytics firm and Twitter partner out of San Francisco. Now, in “Apple Inc. Acquired Topsy to Beat Google Search Capabilities,” BidnessEtc reports on revelations from Topsy’s former director of business development, Aaron Hayes-Roth. Writer Martin Blanc reveals:

“The startup’s tools were considered to be fast and reliable by the customers who used them. The in-depth analysis was smart enough to go back to 2006 and provide users with analytics and data for future forecasts. Mr. Roth and his team always had a curiosity attached to how Apple would use Twitter in its ecosystem. Apple does not make use of Twitter that much; the account was made in 2011 and there aren’t many tweets that come out of the social network. However, Mr. Roth explains that it was not Twitter data that Apple had its eye on; it was the technology that powered it. The architecture of Topsy makes it easier for systems to search large amounts of data extremely fast with impressive indexing capabilities. Subsequently, Apple’s ecosystem has developed quite a lot since Siri was first introduced with the iPhone 4s. The digital assistant and the Spotlight search are testament to how far Apple’s search capabilities have come.”

The article goes on to illustrate some of those advances, then points out the ongoing rivalry between Apple and Google. Are these improvements the result of Topsy’s tech? And will they give Apple the edge they need over their adversary? Stay tuned.

 

Cynthia Murrell, January 7, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Bing Wants Google Bridge to Fall down, My Dear Lady

December 10, 2015

Microsoft has not given up on Bing yet.  While the Microsoft’s brand name search engine has not gained much traction to take on Google in the United States, the United Kingdom might prove else wise.  The Independent reports that “Rik Van Der Kooi: Microsoft Ups Its Challenge To Google With Big Plans For Bing” in the United Kingdom.  Rik van der Kooi is Microsoft’s global head of search advertising and he wants to give Bing users a more ambient experience.  Microsoft is integrating Bing into more features and applications, such as Microsoft Office, Cortana, Gumtree, Windows 10, and Skype.

Kooi is very eager to introduce Bing into Skype, because it will only benefit users.  He says that:

“In the future we are thinking about not artificially pushing it in but maybe putting it in where it’s of use to the user.  I could imagine a scenario where if you were either talking with somebody via Skype or chatting via Skype, that providing a search experience inside of Skype is a very valuable experience. And if it’s valuable to the user then we would consider it.”

Google still controls 88 percent of the UK’s search market, but Kooi did not stoop to using insults when he was asked about Google.  Instead, he said that Bing and Google have different business approaches.  Google is more focused on advertising as a model, which is different than what Bing does.  Microsoft has a clear plan for Bing, including the knowledge that it has a lot of advertiser demand and forming partnerships with more UK platforms for quality traffic.  Kooi is faithful that Bing will continue to gain traction in the UK and the US, it’s already in the double digits.

 
Whitney Grace, December 10, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

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