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Smartlogic and SmartLogic: Brand Clash

February 26, 2015

I am a simple person, gliding slowly into the assisted living facility. I know I cannot keep up with the management wizards in the search and content processing sectors. (I do bristle when “experts” address parental instructions toward me in their LinkedIn posts.)

I ran a query for SmartLogic. The Smartlogic I know a bit about is an outfit that performs automated indexing. The company’s hook is “the content intelligence company.” The idea is that if a document is indexed, then the content becomes smarter. This is a claim I have heard repeated from prescient thinkers like Dr. Ron Sacks Davis, the person making possible the TeraText system. Dr. Sacks Davis floated this idea in 1975. Down the line, CALS and then SMGL advocates pitched the advantages of tagging structural elements, stuffing the components and the tags into a database, and discovering the joys of scripted content slicing and dicing. In the modern era, many companies, including Smartlogic, have dusted off the intelligent content moniker as a way to generate interest in automated index, the joys of taxonomies, and slipping a data management system into a company under the cover of metadata. LinkedIn experts are thrashing about this Trojan Horse maneuver as I write this blog item.

Run a query for Smartlogic, however, and one sees that there are two Smartlogics. One uses a lower case “l” in its spelling; the other, an upper case “L.” When I run the query for “smartlogic” on Google, this is what the GOOG displays:

image

Yep, two Smartlogics. One has a dot com domain and the other a dot io domain. The big “L” outfit is doing a much better job of getting its brand into the various electronic media. When i run the query “smartlogic Baltimore”, the heavens open and rain links to helping other companies, writing software, and making the Baltimore business scene vibrant.

Here’s the newer (upper case “L”) SmartLogic.io. Pretty snappy design I would suggest.

image

About one year ago, the content intelligence flavor of Smartlogic was the Big Dog in the Google index. Today, not so much. Here’s what the indexing Smartlogic’s Web site  (lower case “l”) looks like on February 25, 2015:

image

Understated in comparison to the upper case “L” outfit I perceive.

Questions I formulated are:

  • How has Smartlogic marketing squandered its grip on the name “smartlogic”?
  • How is the SmartLogic.io company dominating social media?
  • What happens to Web site traffic and over the transom questions from potential customers who want indexing and end up looking at a services firm in Baltimore?

When search vendors lose control of their brand, I often hear, as I did from Brainware before it was acquired by Lexmark, “You cannot provide links to videos via the keyword “brainware.” The videos are inappropriate.” Mismanaging a company name is my fault?

Get real, Brainware.

I see this erosion when I search for Connotate, Thunderstone, and now Smartlogic and others. I track this via my public Overflight pages.

Fascinating insight into what content processing executives perceive as important.

Stephen E Arnold, February 26, 2015

Simplifying Google and Microsoft: Okay, Just a Wild Swing

February 20, 2015

I know the feeling. A deadline looms and the “real writer” casts about for a trope, an angle, a hook on which to hang a story. I read “Microsoft Is the New Google, Google Is the Old Microsoft.” The write up is a stuffed with product names and MBAisms. Here’s a passage I noted:

Meanwhile Microsoft makes the point that it is still thinking big with arguably the most interesting moonshot program in all of tech right now: Windows Holographic. Holographic is an eye to the future to excite consumers and investors while the company still remains laser focused on the present.

Prior to 2006, Google wanted to squish Microsoft. After 2006, Google began to show signs of progeroid syndrome. The problems had more to do with management issues than flaws in the company’s engineering. By 2010, engineering showed signs of reduced blood flow to the brain of Google. The manifestation of these problems were evident in the reorganizations and the drift from the company’s push to capitalize on research computing harvested for ideas that could be integrated into the firm’s information factory. The problems Google faces are rooted in management and engineering. The visible effects are some wild and crazy decisions about products, what the company can do to deal with the non Google world, and the realization that the business model inspired by GoTo, Overture, and Yahoo was getting long in the tooth.

Microsoft, on the other hand, had its own set of problems. These ranged from bureaucratic hardening of the arteries to really bad engineering. Toss in the shift from the desktop monoculture to a more diverse ecosystem. Microsoft became a value stock and uninteresting to all but the most devoted resellers, Windows lovers, and corporate information technology gurus certified by Microsoft. After much thrashing, the company moved from Gates Ballmer to a manager less inclined to chase his tail without snagging it.

Net net: Both companies have challenges, but there firms have not swapped outfits like twins in a slapstick comedy. Both companies are making decisions in an effort to maintain their revenue and profitability. It is unclear how each company will deal with the challenges in enterprise markets, consumer markets, non US markets, and management processes.

Forbes wants to paint a simple word picture for these two large and deeply stressed organizations. My focus is search. So consider that utility function. Neither company delivers high value findability for its constituents. When two firms whiff at bat, one must look beyond the appearance of failure to identify the root cause. Why has Google search gone off the rails? What’s up with the Bing thing? Is a failure with a utility function a manisfestation of more substantive issues?

For now, considered analyses of the weakness of Google and Microsoft is what I want to find in “real journalism”, not generalizations about goofy products or “moon spoon” metaphors. Even I tire of referencing the Loon balloon.

Stephen E Arnold, February 20, 2015

China Questionable. Is Russia the Next Down Market for Google?

February 18, 2015

I read “Google Faces Russia Android Probe after Yandex Protest.” The main idea is that the quite good Yandex search engine perceives itself to be disadvantaged due to Google policies for Android search. Who knows if the hurdle is real or imagined. Perception is everything. Think about the idea of Mr. Putin endorsing certain types of nation state interaction. Perception.

The write up opines:

Google may try to defend itself by noting that manufacturers are free to install rival services if they choose not to pre-load its other software. It is also likely to argue that customers can carry out searches via other software – including Yandex’s search app – after buying an Android handset or tablet.

Seems reasonable. The problem is that Google is not exactly an insider in Russia. Mr. Brin was to ride a Russian space ship. That seemed to fizzle.

If Yandex gets a decision that pegs Google as a bad boy, Russia like China may become a market that becomes difficult for Google to dominate.

Stephen E Arnold, February 18, 2015

Watson and Toys: The Next Pet Rock?

February 17, 2015

If I were working, I would try to hit my goals. One of the takeaways from my years at Halliburton Nuclear Services was that selling big deals was generally preferable to selling little deals.

IBM seems to have a deal scale problem with Watson. Here’s a possible illustration of what I call “spreadsheet fever.”

Navigate to “Elemental Path Debuts The First Toys Powered By IBM Watson.” The article explains that an IBM partner is using Watson make toys smarter. I recall the toys I had as a child: a wooden car, a ball, and eventually a cheapo chemistry set. (I was able to use the chemistry set to create some wonderful, persistent odors until my mother nudged me toward physics and math.)

The write up points out that “none of the co-founders have kids themselves, they believed in this idea of “connected” toys to both entertain and educate children.”

Okay, no problem.

My reaction to this effort is that it is a good PR generator. A spreadsheet jockey can set up a model that makes clear how much money will flow from a pet rock or beanie baby type hit.

For me, I fear that Watson is unlikely to generate sufficient revenue to sustain the financial hopes and dreams of IBM.

Here’s a statement from an Alliance@IBM contributor:

I’ve decided to RA IBM! Yes, you read that right. Henceforth, in every case and every way, I’m going to RA IBM. That means whenever there’s an opportunity to weigh in on whether products and/or services should be from IBM or anyone else, I will vote for the anyone else. And when IBM products and/or services are already entrenched in my environment, I will do everything in my power to convince any powers that be that they could – and should – be doing better with solutions other than IBM’s. In other words, I will be rating IBM a 3 or less everywhere I go, and RA’ing their backside. Why? Well, first off, their products and/or services *are* 3-(or worse)-worthy. As a former IBMer, I have inside information on how poorly they treat their employees, and there’s just no way that people being treated thusly could produce goods and/or services of the quality and commitment to every customer’s success that happy employees elsewhere could. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t blame IBM employees for intentionally sabotaging IBMs plans, albeit in subtle ways that slowly ground their operation to a halt. Surely, hell hath no fury like the employee scorned. But there’s another reason: IBM is *old*. Yes, I’ve decided to discriminate against IBM based on age. “What’s good for the goose..”, right?

That may be a question for Watson. Just access Watson via the Cognitoy product of your choice. I quite like the green ones. That’s “green” for the oodles of revenue Watson will generate from toys, tamarind barbeque sauce, and, of course, curing cancer.

Isn’t Lucene, home grown scripts, and some IBM magic a rocket fuel for revenue? Watson, would you answer?

Stephen E Arnold, February 17, 2015

Another Google Doubter

February 16, 2015

Is there a blossoming Venus Fly Trap in our Googley world. “Hoping Google’s Lab Is a Rainmaker” recycles grousing by US big media about investments without returns. I don’t want to peer into the Google Glass thing. I just see so so technology and mental health challenges.

This morning I read “Don’t Be Google.” The source was an outfit known to find good things to say about Googley things. Times seem to be changing. The write up has a clever graphic. The query “google where did it all go wrong” is entered into a search box. And like IBM Watson, no reasonable answer is forthcoming.

The article points out three actions in the forms of quotes from folks supposedly in the know. The first question concerns YouTube. I have wondered about YouTube for a long time. There is a reference to Google’s orphaning projects.  Do you remember Web Accelerator? It was a crude antecedent to SPDY, which has been killed too. GTalk is a goner. Do these examples suggest more misses than hits.

But the killer point is that Google has morphed into Microsoft. The supporting fact for this remarkable idea is that Google has more former Microsoft employees than employees from any other company.

The paragraph I circled is illustrative of the more critical view of the online ad giant:

This may help to explain why Google is, I believe, slowly but steadily losing our trust. Nowadays, when you interact with Google, you don’t know if you’ll be talking to Awesome Google; Mammon Google; …or a former Microsoftian whose beliefs and values were birthed in Redmond, and who, as a result, identifies a whole lot more with Mammon — and with bureaucratic infighting — than with Awesome. Say what you like about Apple, and I can complain about them at length, you always know what to expect from them. (A gorgeous velvet glove enclosing an exquisitely sleek titanium fist.) But Google seems increasingly to have fragmented into a hydra with a hundred tone-deaf heads, each with its own distinct morality and personality. That wouldn’t matter so much if trust and awesomeness — “don’t be evil!” “moonshots!” — weren’t so intrinsic to the Google brand … which, to my mind, gets a little more tarnished every year.

I don’t agree. I think Google is just the superest information and content processing company I used to monitor closely. Google, as I recall, is the company that informed China it had to change its ways. How is that working out?

Stephen E Arnold, February 16, 2015

IBM Layoffs or Resource Action Numbers

February 11, 2015

I keep looking for information about Watson. That’s the super smart search system pegged to generate a billion in revenue in a year or so. I came across a fascinating analysis of IBM’s layoff in my quest for Watson info. The article is “Which IBM Layoff Numbers Add Up?” The write up is a collection of estimates about how many IBM professionals and contractors have an opportunity to find their future elsewhere.

One comment jumped out for me:

63,000: The number of current employees in excess of what IBM’s business model can sustain, according to an analysis by David Ing, a former president of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (and former IBMer)posted here. IBM today should have about 350,000 workers; it’s current staff numbers are at about 413,000.

It looks to me as if this “expert” suggests that IBM has 63,000 people which the company cannot keep in the flock.

Watson, what’s your analysis? The Business News Network offers a possible response to this question. How does financial engineering sound? I think the phrase was “total disaster.”

Stephen E Arnold, February 11, 2015

Watson to Learn about the Samurai Way of Lingo

February 11, 2015

I am taking language lessons. Believe me. At age 70, I marvel at how my memory has changed as I drift toward total obsolescence. My language instructor is a multi degreed human who is a native speaker with a good command of English. I did not consider hiring an investment firm to teach me a new language. Watson is, by golly, going to learn Japanese and work wonders in next generation computing.

IBM, however, appears to see the world through different lenses tinted with the glow of the recent Resource Actions. For background, see the employee comments on the Endicott Alliance site.

I learned in “IBM’s Watson Turns Japanese and Moves Into Robots” that:

IBM and SoftBank Telecom have agreed to bring the technology behind Watson — the IBM computer that won the television game show “Jeopardy!” — into Japan.

There you go. SoftBank and its telco outfit. Softbank is thrilled with the tie up:

Naoyuki Nakagaki, a spokesman for SoftBank Telecom, said in an email that his company would look to the Japanese-enabled Watson to “create new value in the Japanese market.” The company expects to make both business and consumer products. “We believe Watson will help differentiate SoftBank Telecom’s product offerings among telecommunications and other commoditized services,” he said by email.

My view is that Watson will have to generate a lot of money to hit the magical figure of $10 billion in revenue once projected for the Lucene based system.

If the deal does not yield big bucks, I wonder if the executives involved in this commercialization of near magical software will have to learn about bushi, the rules, and the actions expected when a defeat has been suffered.

I had a Japanese customer who delighted in telling me about various samurai customs. He alleged that he was a direct descendent of a samurai. The founder of the company of which he was president also shared this background. Believe me, I made sure I did not screw up with this outfit or my customer who was the managing director of a big Japanese outfit.

I recall his explaining suppuku, which some Americans call harakiri. Suppuku involves killing oneself to release the samurai’s spirit to the afterlife. The idea is that a failure is atoned in a fairly messy way.

According to Asian History,

The more common form of seppuku was simply a single horizontal cut. Once the cut was made, the second would decapitate the suicide. A more painful version, called jumonji giri, involved both a horizontal and vertical cut. The performer of jumonji giri then waited stoically to bleed to death, rather than being dispatched by a second.

Question: How would Watson commit suppuku? I can figure out what the executives should do, but I am not sure a computer, even one as super smart as Watson, could pull its plug.

Well, maybe Watson could. It can talk, calculate, create recipes with tamarind, cure cancer, and do financial cartwheels for investment firms. Pulling a plug seems easy.

Will an IBM pull Watson’s plug when the billions fail to materialize in the next quarter or two?

Stephen E Arnold, February 11, 2015

Is Facebook the Internet?

February 9, 2015

There has been a buzz in some circles that Facebook is the Internet. I think that one’s point of view plays a part in feeling comfortable with the statement. The author of “Millions of Facebook Users Have No Idea They’re Using the Internet” finds the idea more than a little intriguing. The write up makes reference to Facebook users far from Silicon Valley.

I highlighted this passage:

Since at least 2013, Facebook has been making noises about connecting the entire world to the internet. But even Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s operations head, admits that there are Facebook users who don’t know they’re on the internet. So is Facebook succeeding in its goal if the people it is connecting have no idea they are using the internet? And what does it mean if masses of first-time adopters come online not via the open web, but the closed, proprietary network where they must play by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s rules?

The write up points out that there is a slip twixt cup and lip. However, the theme of Facebook is the Internet continues to form the spine of the write up. I noted this passage:

Already services are starting to move away from the open web and to Facebook. And it’s happening not just in the poor world, but in poor parts of the developed world, where there also exists a sense among some that using an app isn’t the same as using the internet, which requires a web browser like Safari or Internet Explorer.

My view is that the notion of the open Internet is going to be a thorny issue. Governments are clamping down on some types of Internet sites. I checked one extremist Web site based in France. On February 5, 2015, the site was online. On February 6, 2015, the site returned 404s. However, some of the somewhat disturbing videos posted by the Web site remaining available on YouTube.com.

The idea for a state-certified information service may have some appeal. Did you explore Sputnik? Have you encountered issues with site access in China, Iran, or Turkey?

Is there a future in walled gardens?

Stephen E Arnold, February 9, 2015

Hewlett Packard and Autonomy: A Fourth Try for Clear Thinking

February 8, 2015

The weekend approacheth. Another legal action takes place. The article “Former Autonomy CFOI Tries Again to Halt HP Shareholder Settlement” does a good job of explaining why Sushovan Hussain (Autonomy’s former CFO) wants to put the brakes on HP’s settlement of a shareholder lawsuit. The legal maneuverings are too complex for me.

According to the article:

The shareholders accused HP of issuing misleading statements about the financial health of Autonomy. Terms of the early settlement deal, since rejected by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, proposed not only to drop claims against HP, its executives and directors including CEO Meg Whitman, and but also for law firms representing the shareholders to assist HP with any criminal charges that might result against former Autonomy execs including Hussain and the company’s former CEO Mike Lynch. HP is on its fourth attempt to obtain approval from the judge for a settlement. The latest proposal includes terms that would basically bar anyone from suing HP over the Autonomy deal, a move which Hussain says amounts to a legal overreach and strips him of his legal rights.

Several thoughts crossed my mind:

First, HP is investing considerable time, money, and effort in going after Autonomy. But HP bought Autonomy and presumably reviewed the deal before forking over $11 billion.

Second, the after purchase remorse seemed to affect HP management in a surprising way; to wit, HP did not know what it purchased. Isn’t HP management’s job to know what it buys?

Third, with each passing month, HP is lagging farther and farther behind the companies that have leapfrogged Autonomy’s late 1990s technology. Will it be too late for HP to generate the billions in revenue from Autonomy’s technology to recover their investment and generate a return for HP stakeholders?

I find this soap opera lacking the logic of the Tela Novela Entre el amor y el odio. I know whom I would nominate as el odio.

Stephen E Arnold, February 8, 2015

Graphic Pits dtSearch against Lucene

February 6, 2015

An oddball TechWars graphic suggests that Lucene is making life difficult for vendors of proprietary search systems. In the site’s head-to-head “dtSearch vs Lucene” comparison, the open source solution seems to handily trounce dtSearch. Of course, for us, Lucene means Elasticsearch. For those unfamiliar with TechWars, here’s what the site’s description of what it does:

Data-driven: TechWars shows objective data gathered from the web to help you make the right decision when choosing technology for your projects.

Up-to-date: TechWars scans the web to catch the latest trends, so you can sit back and relax while we keep you updated.

Professional: TechWars is built for professionals, by professionals. Let’s build the best tech comparison tool together!

Community: TechWars serves the developer community by opening case studies for discussion. We are always open to requests and feedback via Facebook and Twitter.

The graphic compares dtSearch and Lucene in several areas. We’re told that 196 of TechWars users use Lucene, versus just 15 who use dtSearch. Under the “which companies use it?” heading, sixteen companies (several high-profile) are listed for Lucene, but “no companies found” for dtSearch. Um, it seems like a pretty shallow dataset they’re tapping into there. The site does use Google data for one comparison—a graph that shows how very many more folks have searched for information on Lucene than on dtSearch. At a glance, Lucene would seem to be coming out ahead.

Cynthia Murrell, February 06, 2015

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