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Harsh Criticism of Yahoo

September 24, 2015

Kill dear old Yahoo? IBTimes reports on some harsh words from an ivory-tower type in, “NYU Professor: Yahoo Ought to Be ‘Euthanised’ and Marissa Mayer’s Pregnancy Saved her Job.” It seems marketing professor Scott Galloway recently criticized the company, and its famous CEO, in a televised Bloomberg interview. In his opinion, any website with Yahoo’s traffic should be rolling in dough, and the company’s struggles are the result of mismanagement. As for his claim that the “most overpaid CEO in history” only retains her position due to her pregnancy? Reporter Mary-Ann Russon writes:

“Galloway says that Yahoo would not be willing to face the public backlash that would come from firing a woman in such a position of power who has just announced she is pregnant.

“This is not a stretch since there are still far fewer women in leadership positions than men – as of March 2015, only 24 of the CEOs in Fortune 500 companies are women – and the issue with how companies perceive family planning remains a sore point for many career-minded women (Read: Gamechangers: Why multimillionaire ‘mom’ Marissa Mayer is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t).

“However, Galloway also pointed the finger of blame for Yahoo’s woes at its board, which he said has been a ‘lesson in poor corporate governance,’ since there have been five CEOs in the last seven years.”

Though Yahoo was a great success around the turn of the millennium, it has fallen behind as users migrate their internet usage to mobile devices (with that format’s smaller, cheaper ads). Though many still use its free apps, nowadays most of Yahoo’s revenue comes from its Alibaba investment.

So what does Galloway recommend? “It should be sold to Microsoft,” he declared. “We should put a bullet in this story called ‘Yahoo’.” Ouch. Can Yahoo reverse their fortunes, or is it too late for the veteran Internet company?

Cynthia Murrell, September 24, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


13 Big Data Trends: Fodder for Mid Tier Consultants

September 20, 2015

Let’s assume that a colleague has lost his or her job (xe, in Tennessee, I heard). The question becomes, “What can I do with my current skills to make big money is hot new sector?”

The answer appears in “13 New Trends in Big Data and Data Science.” The write up is intended to be a round up of jazzy hot topics in a couple of even hotter quasi-new facets of the database world. Like enterprise search, databases are in need of juice. Nothing helps established technology than new spins in old orbits.

My6 suggestion is to read through the list of 13 “new trends.” Pick one, and suggest to your prospect hunting pal to get hired. Nothing to it.

Allow me to illustrate the method in action.

I have selected trend 8 “The rise of mobile data exploitation.” There are some companies active in this field; for example, S2T. The S2T name means simulation software and technology. The outfit processes a range of digital information and analyzes it with the company’s own tools. Anyone can work in this sector. The demand for talent is high. The work is not too difficult. The desire to hire “experts” various aspects of data is keen. No problem. Sure, there may be some trivial requirements like checking with a person’s mom and his or her best friends to make sure the applicant can be trusted. Hot trend. No problemo.

Let’s look at another field.

Trend 11. High performance computing (HPC). What could be faster than Apple’s new mobile chip? What could be higher performance than the Facebook or Google infrastructure. If the job seeker is familiar with these technologies, the world of Big Data excitement awaits. The experience is the important thing, not knowledge of optimized parallelization pipelines.


Each of the 13 trends makes it clear that there are numerous opportunities. These range from digital health (IBM Watson is a PR player) to the trivial world of analytic apps and APIs.

After reading the article, I was delighted to see how many important trends are getting buzz.

Big Data is definitely the go to discipline. I anticipate that anyone interested in search and cotnent processing will be able to pursue a career in Big Data.

Now some skeptics believe that Big Data is a nebulous concept. Do not be dissuaded. The 13 trends are evidence that databases and the analysis of their contents is the future. Just as these activities have been since the days of Edgar Codd.

The mid tier consultants can ride with the hounds.

Stephen E Arnold, September 20, 2015

Brand-New Watson Health Unit Has Boston Buzzing

September 17, 2015

The article titled IBM Watson Health Unit Begins to Take Shape on TechCrunch investigates the work being done to initiate the new healthcare unit in Boston and surrounding community that IBM hopes to use to address major issues in healthcare. Already this year IBM has purchased and partnered with numerous companies in the field. Recently, Boston Children’s Hospital joined the list as well as Apple and Johnson & Johnson. The article states,

“As part of today’s broad announcement, IBM indicated that it would be working with Sage Bionetworks’ Open Biomedical Research Platform around the first Apple projects. Sage will be collecting information from Apple Devices using ResearchKit developer tools, initially with breast cancer and Parkinson’s patients. It will be aggregating storing, curating and analyzing the information coming in from the Apple Devices. IBM will be providing the underlying technology with its IBM Watson Health Cloud platform.”

Additionally, IBM Watson Health Cloud for Life Science Compliance was also announced, as the cherry built on top of IBM Softlayer. It is designed to aid companies in the life science industry with a fully compliant cloud solution capable of meeting the demands of the heavily regulated field. Not mentioned in the article is any mention of what the revenues are for this Health Unit initiative, as if they are entirely irrelevant.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 17, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Politwoops Window Now Blackened

September 17, 2015

Why is Twitter helping politician around the world cover their tracks? The Bangkok Post reports, “Website that Saves Politicians’ Deleted Tweets Suspended.” Founded by the Open State Foundation as tool for transparency, Politwoops had made an agreement with Twitter in 2012 to use its API to post tweets that politicians (or their advisors) thought better of in retrospect. While Twitter reasons that any of their users should be able to take back tweets, the Open Foundation director asserts that public statements by public officials should remain part of the public record. The article states:

“Since being formed at a so-called hackathon five years ago, the website that is a useful tool for journalists and a frequent source of embarrassment for politicians, has spread to 30 countries from Egypt to the Vatican, as well as the European Parliament. It started operating in the US in 2012 thanks to the Sunlight Foundation, which fights for transparency in politics. Diplotwoops which screens deleted messages by diplomats and embassies around the world was set up in 2014. Twitter was not immediately available for comment, but the Open Foundation said it was told the social media giant decided to suspend access to Politwoops ‘following thoughtful internal deliberation and close consideration of a number of factors that doesn’t distinguish between users.’”

Um, except that one user is not like another. The public has a vested interest in knowing where elected officials stand, and it is tough to search when the content is no longer available. I wonder just what prompted Twitter’s “thoughtful internal deliberation.”

Cynthia Murrell, September 17, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Europol and FireEye Are Fighting Digital Crime

September 15, 2015

The Internet is a hotbed for crime and its perpetrators and Europol is one of the main organizations that fights it head on.  One the problems that Europol faces is the lack of communication between law enforcement agencies and private industry.  In a landmark agreement that will most likely be followed by others, The Inquirer reports “Europol and FireEye Have Aligned To Fight The International Cyber Menace.”

FireEye and Eurpol have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) where they will exchange information, so law enforcement agencies and private industry will be able to share information in an effort to fight the growing prevalence of cyber crime.  Europol is usually the only organization that disseminates information across law enforcement agencies.  FireEye is eager to help open the communication channels.

” ‘The threat landscape is changing every day and organizations need to stay one step ahead of the attackers,’ said Richard Turner, president for EMEA at FireEye.  ‘Working with Europol means that, as well as granting early access to FireEye’s threat intelligence, FireEye will be able to respond to requests for assistance around threats or technical indicators of compromise in order to assist Europol in combating the ever increasing threat from cyber criminals.’ ”

The MoU will allow for exchange of information about cyber crime to aid each other in prevention and analyze attach methods.  The Inquirer, however, suspects that information will only be shared one way.  It does not explain which direction, though.  The MoU is going to be a standard between Big Data companies and law enforcement agencies.  Law enforcement agencies are notorious for being outdated and understaffed; relying on information and software from private industry will increase cyber crime prevention.

Whitney Grace, September 15, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Big Data: Trade Offs Necessary

September 14, 2015

i read “How to Balance the Five Analytic Dimensions.” The article presents information which reminded me of a college professor’s introductory lecture about data analysis.

The basics are definitely important. As the economy slips toward 2016, the notion of trade offs is an important one to keep in mind. According to the article, making sense of data via analytics involves understanding and balancing:

  1. The complexity of the data. Yep, data are often complex.
  2. Speed. Yep, getting results when the outputs are needed is important.
  3. The complexity of the analytics. Yep, adding a column of numbers and calculating the mean may be easy but not what the data doctor ordered.
  4. Accuracy and precision. The idea is that some outputs may be inappropriate for the task at hand. In theory, results should be accurate, or at least accurate enough.
  5. Data size. Yep, crunching lots of data can entail a number of “big” and “complex” tasks.

I agree with these points.

The problem is that the success of a big or small data project with simple or complex analytics is different from a laundry list of points to keep in mind. Knowing the five points is helpful if one is taking a test in a junior college information management class.

The write up does not address the rock upon which many analytics project crashes; that is:

What are the systems and methods for balancing resources across these five dimensions?

Without addressing this fundamental question, how can good decisions be made when the foundation is assumed to be level and stable?

Most analytics work just like the textbook said they would. The outputs are often baloney because the underlying assumptions were assumed to be spot on.

Why not just guess and skip the lecture? I know. Is this an acceptable answer: “That’s too time consuming and above our pay grade”?

The professional who offers this answer may get an A in class but an F in decision making.

Stephen E Arnold, September 14, 2015

Free InetSoft Data Tools for AWS Users

September 14, 2015

Users of AWS now have access to dashboard and analytics tools from data intelligence firm InetSoft, we learn from “InetSoft’s Style Scope Agile Edition Launched on Amazon Web Services for No Extra Cost Cloud-based Dashboards and Analytics” at PRWeb. The press release announces:

“Installable directly from the marketplace into an organization’s Amazon environment, the application can connect to Amazon RDS, Redshift, MySQL, and other data sources. Its primary limitation is a limit of two simultaneous users. In terms of functionality, the enterprise administration layer with granular security controls is omitted. The application gives fast access to powerful KPI reporting and multi-dimensional analysis, enabling the private sharing of dashboards and visualizations ideally suited for individual analysts, data scientists, and small teams in any departmental function. It also provides a self-service way of evaluating much of the same technology available in InetSoft’s commercial offerings, applications suitable for enterprise-wide deployment or embedding into other cloud-based solutions.”

So now AWS users can pick up free tools with this Style Scope Agile Edition, and InetSoft may pick up a customers for its commercial version of Style Scope. The company emphasizes that their product does not require users to re-architect data warehouses, and their data access layer, based on MapReduce principles, boosts performance. Founded in 1996, InetSoft is based in New Jersey.

Cynthia Murrell, September 14, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Computers Learn Discrimination from Their Programmers

September 14, 2015

One of the greatest lessons one take learn from the Broadway classic South Pacific is that children aren’t born racist, rather they learn about racism from their parents and other adults.  Computers are supposed to be infallible, objective machines, but according to Gizmodo’s article, “Computer Programs Can Be As Biased As Humans.”  In this case, computers are “children” and they observe discriminatory behavior from their programmers.

As an example, the article explains how companies use job application software to sift through prospective employees’ resumes.  Algorithms are used to search for keywords related to experience and skills with the goal of being unbiased related to sex and ethnicity.  The algorithms could also be used to sift out resumes that contain certain phrases and other information.

“Recently, there’s been discussion of whether these selection algorithms might be learning how to be biased. Many of the programs used to screen job applications are what computer scientists call machine-learning algorithms, which are good at detecting and learning patterns of behavior. Amazon uses machine-learning algorithms to learn your shopping habits and recommend products; Netflix uses them, too.”

The machine learning algorithms are mimicking the same discrimination habits of humans.  To catch these computer generated biases, other machine learning algorithms are being implemented to keep the other algorithms in check.  Another option to avoid the biases is to reload the data in a different manner so the algorithms do not fall into the old habits.  From a practical stand point it makes sense: if something does not work the first few times, change the way it is done.

Whitney Grace, September 14, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Bing Snapshots for In-App Searches

September 9, 2015

Developers have a new tool for incorporating search data directly into apps, we learn in “Bing Snapshots First to Bring Advanced In-App Search to Users” at Search Engine Watch. Apparently Google announced a similar feature, Google Now on Tap, earlier this year, but Microsoft’s Bing has beaten them to the consumer market. Of course, part of Snapshot’s goal is to keep users from wandering out of “Microsoft territory,” but many users are sure to appreciate the convenience nevertheless. Reporter Mike O’Brien writes:

“With Bing Snapshots, developers will be able to incorporate all of the search engine’s information into their apps, allowing users to perform searches in context without navigating outside. For example, a friend could mention a restaurant on Facebook Messenger. When you long-press the Home button, Bing will analyze the contents of the screen and bring up a snapshot of a restaurant, with actionable information, such as the restaurant’s official website and Yelp reviews, as well Uber.”

Bing officials are excited about the development (and, perhaps, scoring a perceived win over Google), declaring this the start of a promising relationship with developers. The article continues:

“Beyond making sure Snapshots got a headstart over Google Now on Tap, Bing is also able to stand out by becoming the first search engine to make its knowledge graph available to developers. That will happen this fall, though some APIs are already available on the company’s online developer center. Bing is currently giving potential users sneak peeks on its Android app.”

Hmm, that’s a tad ironic. I look forward to seeing how Google positions the launch of Google Now on Tap when the time comes.

Cynthia Murrell, September 9, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


 Datameer Declares a Celebration

September 8, 2015

The big data analytics and visualization company Datameer, Inc. has cause to celebrate, because they have received a huge investment.  How happy is Datameer?  Datameer’s CEO Stefan Groschupf explains on the company blog in the post, “Time To Celebrate The Next Stage Of Our Journey.”

Datameer received $40 million in a round of financing from ST Telemedia, Top Tier Capital Partners, Next World Capital, Redpoint, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Software AG and Citi Ventures.  Groschupf details how Datameer was added to the market in 2009 with the vision to democratize analytics.  Since 2009, Datameer has helped solve problems across the globe and is even helping make it a better place.  He continues he is humbled by the trust the investors and clients place in Datameer, which feeds into the importance of analytics for not only companies, but also anyone who wants supportable truth.

Datameer has big plans for the funding:

“We’ll be focusing on expanding globally, with an eye toward APAC and Latin America as well as additional investment in our existing teams. I’m looking forward to continuing our growth and building a long-term, sustainable company that consistently provides value to our customers. Our vision has been the same since day one – to make big data analytics easy for everyone. Today, I’m happy to say we’re still where we want to be.”

Datameer was one of the early contenders in big data that always managed to outshine and outperform its bigger name competitors.  Despite its record growth, Datameer continues to remain true to its open source roots.  The company wants to make analytics available to every industry and everyone.  What is incredibly impressive is that Datameer has numerous applications for its products from gaming to healthcare, which is usually unheard of.  Congratulations to Datameer!

Whitney Grace, September 8, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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