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Behind The Google X Doors

May 18, 2015

Google X is Google’s top-secret laboratory, where the company develops new, innovative technology projects.  The main purpose behind Google X is to make technology more adaptable, useful, as well as improve people’s lives.  The Google Glass was one of their projects, so is Project Loon, where giant, high altitude balloons are released into the sky to bring Internet services to rural areas.  Also do not forget the driverless car.  EWeek has listed “10 Bold Google X Projects Aiming For Tech Breakthroughs,” exploring the new wonders that could eventually be available to your or me.

Are you interested in cleaner, renewable energy?  So are the folks at Makani Power, a Google X project that builds wind turbines and then makes them airborne using kites.  The wind turbines make energy for human consumption.  While energy is important for modern human life, health is a big issue too.

Google X has four projects dedicated to learning more about the human body and disease.  One is a contact lens measure glucose levels in tears, so diabetics will not have to prick themselves with needles to measure their sugar levels.  The Baseline Study project analyzes medical information and uses genomics to define what the human body actually is.  This project’s goal is to predict major diseases before their onset.  Life Labs, acquired in 2014, invented a spoon device that counteracts Parkinson’s disease.  The most astounding is something out of a science-fiction novel:

“Google X is in the nanoparticles business. The company in October unveiled a platform that uses nanoparticles to detect disease. In January, it followed that up with the announcement of the creation of synthetic skin as a proof-of-concept to show what nanoparticle technology might achieve in human biology and health.”

Nanoparticles?  Self-driving cars? Wind turbines on kites?  What will Google X work on next?

Whitney Grace, May 18, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Popular and Problematic Hadoop

May 15, 2015

We love open source on principle, and Hadoop is indeed an open-source powerhouse. However, any organization considering a Hadoop system must understand how tricky implementation can be, despite the hype. A pair of writers at GCN asks and answers the question, “What’s Holding Back Hadoop?” The brief article reports on a recent survey of data management pros by data-researcher TDWI. Reporters Troy K. Schneider and Jonathan Lutton explain:

“Hadoop — the open-source, distributed programming framework that relies on parallel processing to store and analyze both structured and unstructured data — has been the talk of big data for several years now.  And while a recent survey of IT, business intelligence and data warehousing leaders found that 60 percent will Hadoop in production by 2016, deployment remains a daunting task. TDWI — which, like GCN, is owned by 1105 Media — polled data management professionals in both the public and private sector, who reported that staff expertise and the lack of a clear business case topped their list of barriers to implementation.”

The write-up supplies a couple bar graphs of survey results, including the top obstacles to implementation and the primary benefits of going to the trouble. Strikingly, only six percent or respondents say there’s no Hadoop in their organizations’ foreseeable future. Though not covered in the GCN write-up, the full, 43-page report includes word on best practices and implementation trends; it can be downloaded here (registration required).

Cynthia Murrell, May 15, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

SAP and Business Intelligence: Simple Stuff, Really Simple

May 14, 2015

I came across an interesting summary of SAP’s business intelligence approach. Navigate to “SAP BI Suite Roadmap Strategy Update from ASUG SapphireNow.” ASUG, in case you are not into the SAP world, means America’s SAP User Group. Doesn’t everyone know that acronym? I did not.

The article begins with a legal disclaimer, always a strange attractor to me. I find content on the Web which includes unreadable legal lingo sort of exciting.

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It is almost as thrilling as some of the security methods which SAP employs across its systems and software. I learned from a former SAP advisor that SAP was, as I recall the comment, “Security has never been a priority at SAP.”

The other interesting thing about the article is that it appears to be composed of images captured either from a low resolution screen capture program or a digital camera without a massive megapixel capability.

I worked through the slides and comments as best as I could. I noted several points in addition to the aforementioned lacunae regarding security; to wit:

  1. SAP wants to simplify the analytics landscape. This is a noble goal, but my experience has been that SAP is a pretty complex beastie. That may be my own ignorance coloring what is just an intuitive, tightly integrated example of enterprise software.
  2. SAP likes dedicating servers or clusters of servers to tasks. There is a server for the in memory database. There is a server for what I think used to be Business Objects. There is the SAP desktop. There are edge servers in case your SAP installation is not for a single user. There is the SAP cloud which, I assume, is an all purpose solution to computational and storage bottlenecks. Lots of servers.
  3. Business Objects is the business intelligence engine. I am not confident in my assessment of complexity, but, as I recall, Business Objects can be a challenge.

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My reaction to the presentation is that for the faithful who owe their job and their consulting revenue to SAP’s simplified business intelligence solutions and servers, joy suffuses their happy selves.

For me, I keep wondering about security. And whatever happened to TREX? What happened to Inxight’s Thingfinder and related server technologies?

How simple can an enterprise solution be? Obviously really simple. Did I mention security?

Stephen E Arnold, May 14, 2015

Cloud Adoption Is Like a Lead Balloon

May 8, 2015

According to Datamation’s article, “Deflating The Cloud BI Hype Balloon” the mad, widespread adoption of enterprise cloud computing is deflating like helium out of a balloon.  While the metaphor is apt for any flash pan fad, it also should be remembered that Facebook and email were considered passing trends.  It could be said that when their “newness” wore off they would sink faster than a lead balloon, if we want to continue with the balloon metaphor.  If you are a fan of Mythbusters, however, you know that lead balloons, in fact, do float.

What the article and we are aiming here is that like the Mythbusters’ lead balloon, cloud adoption can be troublesome but it will work or float in the end.  Datamation points out that the urgency for immediate adoption has faded as security risks and integration with proprietary systems become apparent.

Howard Dresner wrote a report called “Cloud Computing And Business Intelligence” that explain his observations on enterprise cloud demand.  Dresner says that making legacy systems adaptable to the cloud will be a continuous challenge, but he stresses that some data does not belong in cloud, while some data needs to be floating about.  The challenge is making the perfect hybrid system.

He makes the same apt observation about the lead balloon:

“Dresner, who was a Gartner fellow and has 34 years in the IT industry, takes a longer-term perspective about the integration challenges.  “We have to solve the same problems we solved on premise,” he explains, and then adds that these problems “won’t persist forever in the enterprise, but they will take a while to solve.”

In other words, it takes time to assemble, but the lead balloon will keep floating around until the next big thing to replace the cloud.  Maybe it will be direct data downloads into the head.

Whitney Grace, May 8, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

SharePoint Release Delayed and Criticized

April 28, 2015

SharePoint was lauded earlier in the year for committing to a new on-premises version of SharePoint Server 2016. However, since then the rollout has been beset by delays and criticism that on-site installations will continue to play the ugly stepsister to the cloud. The United Kingdom’s The Register provides a cynical assessment of the latest news in their article, “SharePoint’s Next Release Delayed Until Deep into 2016.”

The article begins:

“Exchange Server 2016 will be not much more than a rollup of features already deployed to cloud Exchange . . . Redmond’s also revealed that SharePoint server won’t get another refresh until the second quarter of 2016. There won’t even be a beta – or technical preview as Microsoft likes to call them these days – to play with until 2015’s fourth quarter . . . But all those cloudy bits may not be so welcome for the many smaller organisations that run SharePoint, or for organisations waiting for an upgrade. SharePoint 2013 was released in October 2012, so such users are looking at nearly four years between drinks.”

Every SharePoint rollout seems to be plagued by trouble of some variety, so the delay comes as little surprise. The test will be whether tried and true on-premises customers will settle for what increasingly seems to be little support. We will withhold ultimate judgment until the release is made available. In the meantime, head over to ArnoldIT.com to keep up with the latest news. Stephen E. Arnold has made a career out of following all things search, and his dedicated SharePoint feed keeps you informed at a glance.

Emily Rae Aldridge, April 28, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Social Network Demographics by the Numbers

April 23, 2015

The amount of social networking Web sites and their purposes is as diverse as the human population.  Arguably, if you were to use each of the most popular networks and try to keep on top of every piece of information that filters through the feed, one twenty-four hour day would not be enough.

With social media becoming more ingrained in daily life, it makes one wonder who is using what network and for what purpose.  Business Insider discusses a recent BI Intelligence about social media demographics in the article: “Revealed: A Breakdown Of The Demographics For Each Of The Social Networks.”  Here are some of the facts: Facebook is still mostly female and remains the top network.  Twitter leans heavier on the male demographic, while YouTube reaches more adults in 18-34 demographic than cable TV.  Instagram is considered the most important of teenage social networks, but Snapchat has the widest appeal amongst the younger crowd.  This is the most important for professionals:

LinkedIn is actually more popular than Twitter among U.S. adults. LinkedIn’s core demographic are those aged between 30 and 49, i.e. those in the prime of their career-rising years. Not surprisingly, LinkedIn also has a pronounced skew toward well-educated users.”

Facebook still reigns supreme and pictures are popular with the younger sect, while professionals all tend to co-mingle in their LinkedIn area.  Surprising and not so revealing information, but still interesting for the data junkie.  We wonder how social media will change in the coming year?

Whitney Grace, April 23, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

What is the Depth of Deep Linking?

April 21, 2015

One the Back Channel blog of Medium.com, an article called “Will Deep Links Ever Truly Be Deep?” discusses the hot topic of how apps are trying to forge “deep” connections with each other, by directing linking to each other rather than the fragmented jumping between apps users have to suffer through.  The article points out that this is not a current trend, in fact it has been going on since the 1990s (did they even know what an app was back then?).  In the 1990s, deep links dealt with hopping from one Web site to another.  It makes the astute observation that, as users, we leave behind data mined by service providers for a profit and our digital floundering could be improved.

“ Chris Maddern is cofounder of Button, one of several companies that have set out to make deep links work in the land of apps, and he talks with rapid precision about the sorry state of mobile interoperability today.”

‘Right now it’s no secret that the Internet’s paid for basically by big companies buying tiny time-slices of your eyeballs against your will,’ Maddern says. Button wants to change that by “capturing users’ intent.” For instance, you’re reading a New York Times travel story about Barcelona. You want to book an Airbnb there pronto. On your phone, you’d have to exit your New York Times app, then start up your Airbnb app and search for Barcelona in it. In a Web browser, you could have clicked straight through from one site to the other?—?and landed directly on a page of Barcelona listings.”

It goes on to discuss the history of deep links, the value of our information, and how mobile apps are trying to create the seamless experience we have in a regular browser.  The problem, however, appears to be that app developers like major companies do not want to play nicely together, so we have the fragmented the experience.  The bigger issue at hands is the competition!  Developers claim they are building the deep links described in the article, but they are not.  App use is more about profit than improving content value.

Whitney Grace, April 21, 2015
Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Expert System Webinar: Sharepoint and Semantics Add Value for Users

April 20, 2015

Expert System offers a system capable of turbo-charging information access in SharePoint installations. The company has developed a fact-based webinar to demonstrate the power of Expert System’s semantic technology.

The company’s Cogito Connected for SharePoint features a document library, complete with metadata enrichment for files to increase their visibility as well as their content. The library will also be retained in SharePoint and be available for use by other files and accurate time and date of most recent tagging will be captured for each file. Users will also be able to process multiple attachments in the Document List and the search function is enhanced with fully integrated Web components.

With Cogito, users can locate content via a custom taxonomy, entities, or faceted search options. SharePoint users can locate needed information via point-and-click, eDiscovery, and traditional keyword search enriched with organization-specific metadata. Expert System’s Cogito allows users to browse content organized by topics, people, and concepts, which makes SharePoint more useful to a busy professional.

SharePoint is one of the most popular collaborative content platforms for enterprise systems, but like many proprietary software programs it has its limits. The good news is that companies like Expert System discover SharePoint’s weaknesses and create solutions to fix them.

Using its patented technology Cogito, Expert System addresses one of the main user concerns when looking for information housed in SharePoint. Cogito sharply reduces the difficulty of navigating and locating content in SharePoint. This problem stems from creators improperly tagging content or not tagging it at all.

In an exclusive interview, Maurizio Mencarini, Expert System had this to say about Expert System’s Cogito Connected for SharePoint:

“Cogito Connected for SharePoint addresses these two areas by providing the power of Cogito semantics to the application of consistent, automated tagging of SharePoint content. With the addition of fully integrated web parts that expose the granularity of content generated metadata, Cogito enhanced SharePoint optimizes the management of content for the SharePoint administrator. For the user, Cogito Connected for SharePoint significantly improves the SharePoint search experience by enhancing the search capabilities beyond the list to include faceted search including category, entity and topic.”

Expert System’s solution delivers a better SharePoint experience for the user and improves work productivity for employees, since they will be able to locate information quicker. Expert System knows what many users don’t realize: the value of being able to locate and recognize content quickly. In this case, Expert System applied this knowledge to SharePoint, but it can be used for other programs in any field. On April 28, 2015 from 12:00 PM-1:00 PM EST, Expert System will host a free webinar called “Implementing a Better Search Experience” where attendees will “learn how to make SharePoint more than a place where you put documents and start transforming your collected knowledge in your collective knowledge.”

Expert System was founded in 1989 and its flagship product is Cogito. Solutions based on the Cogito software include semantic search, natural language search, text analytics, development and management of taxonomies and ontologies, automatic categorization, extraction of data and metadata, and natural language processing. Expert System is working on exciting new developments on everything from enterprise systems to security and intelligence.

Expert System wants to share its knowledge with users so they can have a better user experience, apply the knowledge to other areas, and, of course, make daily tasks simpler.

The new “Implementing a Better Search Experience” will be offered on April 28, 2015, from 12 to 1 pm Eastern Time. You will learn how you can transform your organization’s collected knowledge in actionable collective knowledge.

Sign up for the April webinar at http://bit.ly/1FalGjH.

Stephen E Arnold, April 20, 2015

Gartner VP Claims Researching “Ethical Programming” Necessary for Future of Smart Machines

April 17, 2015

The article on TweakTown titled Gartner: Smart Machines Must Include Ethical Programming Protocols briefly delves into the necessity of developing ethical programming in order to avoid some sort of Terminator/ I,Robot situation that culminates in the rise of the machines and the end of humanity. Gartner is one of the world’s leading technology research and advisory companies, but it hardly sounds like the company stance. The article quotes Frank Buytendijk, a Gartner research VP,

“Clearly, people must trust smart machines if they are to accept and use them…The ability to earn trust must be part of any plan to implement artificial intelligence (AI) or smart machines, and will be an important selling point when marketing this technology.”

If you’re thinking, sounds like another mid-tier consultant is divining the future, you aren’t wrong. Researching ethical programming for the hypothetical self-aware machines that haven’t been built yet might just be someone’s idea of a good time. The article concludes with the statement that “experts are split on the topic, arguing whether or not humans truly have something to worry about.” While the experts figure out how we humans will cause the end of the human reign over earth, some of us are just waiting for the end of another in a line of increasingly violent winters.

Chelsea Kerwin, April 17, 2014

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Improving the Preservica Preservation Process

April 17, 2015

Preservica is a leading program for use in digital preservation, consulting, and research, and now it is compatible with Microsoft SharePointECM Connection has the scoop on the “New Version Of Preservica Aligns Records Management And Digital Preservation.”  The upgrade to Preservica will allow SharePoint managers to preserve content from SharePoint as well as Microsoft Outlook, a necessary task as most companies these days rely on the Internet for business and need to archive transactions.

Preservica wants to become a bigger part of enterprise system strategies such as enterprise content management and information governance.  One of their big selling points is that Preservica will archive information and keep it in a usable format, as obsoleteness becomes a bigger problem as technology advances.

“Jon Tilbury, CEO Preservica adds: ‘The growing volume and diversity of digital content and records along with rapid technology and IT refresh rates is fuelling the need for Records and Compliance managers to properly safe-guard their long-term and permanent digital records by incorporating Digital Preservation into their overall information governance lifecycle. The developing consensus is that organizations should consider digital preservation from the outset – especially if they hold important digital records for more than 10 years or already have records that are older than 10 years. Our vision is to make this a pluggable technology so it can be quickly and seamlessly integrated into the corporate information landscape.’ ”

Digital preservation with a compliant format is one of the most overlooked problems companies deal with.  They may have stored their records on a storage device, but if they do not retain the technology to access them, then the records are useless.  Keeping files in a readable format not only keeps them useful, but it also makes the employee’s life who has to recall them all the easier.

Whitney Grace, April 17, 2015
Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

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