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Open Source Survey: One Big Surprise about Code Management

November 23, 2015

I read “Awfully Pleased to Meet You: Survey Finds Open Source Needs More Formal Policies.”

The fact that eight out of 10 outfits in the sample were using open source software was no surprise. The sponsor of the survey is open source centric.

The point I highlighted was:

According to the study, less than 42% of organizations maintain a IT Asset Management (ITAM) style inventory of open source components.

When I read this, I thought, “Who keeps track of the open source components?”

The answer in more than half the companies in the sample was, “Huh? What?”

I circled this point:

Shipley [Black Duck top dog] has also added the following comment, “In the results this year, it has become more evident that companies need their management and governance of open source to catch up to their usage. This is critical to reducing potential security, legal, and operational risks while allowing companies to reap the full benefits OSS provides.”

Is the reason companies spend money with open source commercial plays buying management? If that is the case, the successful commercial open source outfit is the one that has the ability to manage, not the technology and trends the marketers at certain commercial open source companies hype.

Stephen E Arnold, November 23, 2015

Microsoft and Business Intelligence That Sells

November 19, 2015

I read “Microsoft’s Graph Wants to Turn User Data into Business Intelligence It Can Sell.” The write up is interesting because Microsoft has been laboring in the information access vineyards for decades. The products produced are somewhat different from the products of other data vintners in my opinion. The other point is that Microsoft, if the article is accurate, wants to sell information, not software and cloud services, subscriptions to Office, and mobile phones. Wait. Maybe not mobile phones. What will Microsoft be selling?

I learned:

What it [Microsoft] would like to do is to take your user  information and use it in much the same way that Google reads your email to understand when your flight is going to leave, or Microsoft’s Cortana tracks packages. What Google doesn’t have access to, though, is all that information you’ve tucked away into Office: not just email, but documents, OneNote notes, and the like. As the original Office Graph names suggests, Microsoft sees the Graph first as a business tool. Entire companies have already been built around the sort of business intelligence that Microsoft hopes to provide, whether it be customer-relationship management, logistics, or sales analysis tools. Microsoft hopes to take its Office contextual data and provide it as a service to third parties. Eventually it could take data from a company like Salesforce, integrate it with the Office data, and provide a richer mix of data back to its customers. Currently, its partners include, SkyHigh Networks, Smartsheet, and OfficeAtWork.

Microsoft has some interesting ideas. Does the future of Microsoft include search and SharePoint. Sketching plans for the future are interesting and often enjoyable. Delivering is a different exercise. The monitoring functions of Windows 10 hint at some of the questions Microsoft will have to address. Reality and the future are often difficult to reconcile with Alphabet-Google’s and other firms’ efforts.

Stephen E Arnold, November 19, 2015

How to Speak to Executives

November 19, 2015

If you need help communicating with the higher-ups, see “Sales Pitch: How to Sell Your IT Strategy to the Board” at SmartDataCollective. Writer Simon Mitchell points out that, when trying to convince the higher-ups to loosen the purse strings, IT pros are unlikely to succeed if their audience doesn’t understand what they’re talking about. He advises:

“Step out of your technological mindset. Long presentations on subjects outside your audience’s core competence are a waste of everyone’s time. Don’t bore the board with too much detail about how the technology actually works. Focus on the business case for your strategy.”

The write-up goes on to recommend a three-point framework for such presentations: focus on the problem (or opportunity), deliver the strategy, and present costs and benefits. See the post for more on each of these points. It is also smart have the technical details on hand, in case anyone asks. We’re left with four take-aways:

“*Before you present your next big IT initiative to the board, put yourself in their shoes. What do they need to hear?

*Review how you can make tech talk accessible and appealing to non-technical colleagues.

*Keep your presentations short and sweet.

*Focus on the business case for your IT strategy.”

Mitchell also wisely recommends The Economist’s Style Guide for more pointers. But, what if the board does not put you on the agenda or, when you make your pitch, no one cares? Well, that’s a different problem.

Cynthia Murrell, November 19, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Google Plus or Is It +: Try and Trying Again

November 18, 2015

I read a pride of write ups about Google Plus or is it Google +. Searching for odd ball characters like “+” or “^” adds some spice to the researcher’s life.

A representative article is “Google Isn’t Giving Up on Its Social Networking Ghost Town Google +.” That’s an important idea. Google has been struggling with the Facebook type service since the days of Orkut.

Google, unlike Facebook, comes at social from the search and retrieval angle spiced with a healthy dependency on online advertising juice. Facebook originated with an idea appealing to lonely folks in a dorm.

According to the write up:

the web giant has just given the service a complete overhaul on iOS, Android and the web. The new design focuses on “collections” and “communities”, positioning Google+ as a network dedicated to interests, rather than a personal service. Its layout has also been simplified and better optimized for mobile.

Some of the comments on Hacker News were quite interesting. Here are three:

Dredmorbius: Google have been tremendously coy about what their success metrics for G+ are, though they’ve played highly disingenuous all-but-utterly-fake numbers games in playing up “engagement” since the very beginning. I’d argue that the issue isn’t numbers, but relevance. G+ is lousy in many ways but has a few small areas of success, notably its Notifications mechanic, a community which, for me, works fairly well, and a search which while pathetically under-featured is comprehensive and fast. inning the numbers game for social vs. Facebook in its current incarnation is a fool’s errand. Numerous people have pointed this out, including ex-Googlers pointing at the “Interest Graph” (though suggestions for following / pursuing this date to the first few months of G+). If Google does grab the Cosmo crowd, that’s fine, so long as it doesn’t also chase off the Nature/PLOS crowd in the process. Unfortunately, Google’s proven more than happy to sling absolute snot (as in the G+ “What Snot” feature … oh, no, that’s “What’s Hot”). Power users learn how to disable that instantly.

A second comment I noted:

Nilkn: This [Google’s design approach] is actually part of why my recent switch from Android to iOS was so refreshing. While material design looks great on some level, it seems to be so remarkably wasteful of space. Google+ actually feels claustrophobic to me in a way: there’s so much content, and yet you can see so little of it at a time. It creates a feeling of being constantly lost.

And a final one:

Pbreit:  Seems like it’s still drastically missing the mark on having a reason for being. Why would I use this? What would I put on there? Why there and not elsewhere?

The Alphabet Google thing wants to be social. It wants to generate ad revenue. It wants to be more than search. Noble goals.

Stephen E Arnold, November 18, 2015

Wynyard Telstra Deal

November 16, 2015

I know that search vendors are busy doing customer relationship management, governance, indexing, and many other jargon choked activities in an increasingly desperate attempt to grow organic revenues.

I want to highlight this news item, “Telstra First on Board as Wynyard Seals $3.2 Cyber Solution Deal.” The announcement is important for the low, low profile Wynyard outfit. The company combines a range of content processing functions with a solution that delivers high value, actionable outputs.

High value means that the company reduces the costs of certain tasks and services which can be linked directly to outcomes. Value also means that the services are less expensive than a mosaic of individual content functions.

You will have to do some digging to get information about Wynyard, one of the leaders in the cyber OSINT and related disciplines. According to the write up:

According to Richardson [Wynyard CEO] , ACTA [Wynyard service] identifies cyber breaches that have compromised traditional defenses, operating inside the company network by processing big-data network logs using advanced machine learning techniques to analyze data for anomalous patterns that are out of step with usual behavior. Terms of the deal will see Telstra – one of the world’s largest telecom companies – use ACTA across its internal ICT network to assist in preventing high consequence cyber crime.

Wynyard offers other interesting services. Worth paying attention to this outfit in my opinion. Real value is more than made up MBA silliness.

Stephen E Arnold, November 16, 2015

Yahoo and Management: Hollywood and Nemi Ships

November 16, 2015

On a trip to Italy, I learned about Caligula’s ships for Lake Nemi. Somehow, despite a crackerjack education at a college in a corn field, I did not know that Benito Mussolini drained the lake and began work to recover the ships. As luck would have it, the fine leader pulled off the salvage operation. One of the interesting discoveries was that Caligula’s architect covered the hull with lead. The idea was that water annoyances would not consume the wood. Not necessary. The lake was did not have shipworms. What happened to the ships? In the World War II spat, the ships burned. Poof. The Nemi ships can be a management inspiration: Grandiose, expensive, useless.

I think about the Roman emperor’s ships when I learn about the antics of Google management meet ups like the one reported in “Google’s Elite Camp Conference Returns to Sicily.” The idea seems to be that an off site training event is conducive to Googley innovation, learning, and management. With training sometimes deductible, depending on the country in which the tax authority resides, these Nemi-esque meets up can also deliver some down time.

I read “Marissa Mayer’s Convoluted Yahoo Strategy: There’s No Place Like Home” this morning (November 16, 2015). The article reports:

Last fall, in one of the stranger and more expensive efforts to boost company morale, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer decided that all her executive staff needed to play dress-up. In an elaborate photo shoot that took place at an offsite at the Cavallo Point Lodge in Marin County, north of San Francisco, she cast all the top staffers as characters from “The Wizard of Oz” and made them pose for a poster in full costume, since it was to be the theme of the upcoming employee holiday party.

When comparing this Wizard of Oz approach, the make believe of over the rainbow struck me as almost prudent. No Italy. No Nemi-style meet up in Sicily.

The write up adds:

One thing is clear: Yahoo’s not in Kansas anymore.

My thought is that fancy parties like those for which the Nemi boats were ideal, meet ups crafted with Google DNA, and play acting are Silicon Valley at its most decisive. As Dorothy said:

“If we walk far enough we shall sometime come to someplace.”

Hopefully that place includes revenue with a side order of healthy profits. Xooglers may think like Google, but Xooglers have to deliver the goods for stakeholders. Should Yahoo be a media company, a search company, or something else entirely. Right now Yahoo may have jumbled the costumes for its Oz thing.

Stephen E Arnold, November 16, 2015

Icann Is an I Won’t

November 16, 2015

Have you ever heard of Icann?  You are probably like many people within the United States and have not heard of the non-profit private company.  What does Icann do?  Icann is responsible for Internet protocol addresses (IP) and coordinating domain names, so basically the company is responsible for a huge portion of the Internet.  According to The Guardian in “The Internet Is Run By An Unaccountable Private Company. This Is A Problem,” the US supposedly runs the Icann but its role is mostly clerical and by September 30, 2015 it was supposed to hand the reins over to someone else.

The “else” is the biggest question.  The Icann community spent hours trying to figure out who would manage the company, but they ran into a huge brick wall.  The biggest issue is that the volunteers want Icann to have more accountability, which does not seem feasible. Icann’s directors cannot be fired, except by each other.  Finances are another problem with possible governance risks and corruption.

A supposed solution is to create a membership organization, a common business model for non-profits and will give power to the community.  Icann’s directors are not too happy and have been allowed to add their own opinions.  Decisions are not being made at Icann and with the new presidential election the entire power shift could be off.  It is not the worst that could happen:

“But there’s much more at stake. Icann’s board – as ultimate authority in this little company running global internet resources, and answerable (in fact, and in law) to no one – does have the power to reject the community’s proposals. But not everything that can be done, should be done. If the board blunders on, it will alienate those volunteers who are the beating heart of multi-stakeholder governance. It will also perfectly illustrate why change is required.”

The board has all the power and the do not have anyone to hold them accountable.  Icann directors just have to stall long enough to keep things the same and they will be able to give themselves more raises.

Whitney Grace, November 16, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Weekly Watson: Extending Watson in Multiple Areas

November 11, 2015

I read “IBM Takes Watson Deeper Into Business Computing Field.” I like that word “deeper.” It suggests that Watson is already in the business computing field and now like a fracker is going even farther down the corporate bore hole.

The article is an interview with Robert High, who is vice president and chief technology officer of the IBM Watson Group. I highlighted three statements in the write up as quotes to note. These are real keepers, gentle reader.

First, I highlighted this statement:

All those services are designed to basically get in and understand various aspects of the human condition in all the different forms that we use to express ourselves. We want to help businesses better understand the transformative effects that cognitive computing can have on their business outcomes.

Ah, the human condition. A query on Google for the phrase returns pointers to crime literature. I like the “transformative effects” angle as well. I think the blend of Big Blue and actualization an interesting way to explain smart software. Google doesn’t do philosophy; Google open sources its smart software libraries.

Second, I put a light blue stroke next to the paragraph revealing the existence of “Watson West.” At Watson West, there will be a “Blue Mix” garage. Very trendy. The idea is:

The intent is to expand our presence in Silicon Valley, with a focus specifically on cognitive computing. We want to foster more relationships in Silicon Valley among entrepreneurs and startups and investors. Our intent is to integrate into that community, leverage that community and extend that community for the value for our clients.

The final segment I noted with a firm blue exclamation mark is this answer to the question, “What is the greatest success story for Watson thus far?” Notice that the question wants one concrete case example. The response is memorable:

It’s in multiple areas.

Okay. Watson’s greatest success is in multiple areas. No revenues, no specifics, just generalizations. After 14 consecutive quarters of declining revenue, IBM identifies a single success as fuzziness.

Stephen E Arnold, November 11, 2015

Unicorns, Lots of Unicorns

November 10, 2015

One of my two or three readers sent me a link described as a “Unicorn Club wall graphic.” I located this diagram, the product of an outfit called CB Insights, at this link. Here’s a tiny version of the list of unicorns artfully arrayed on a time line spanning 36 months:


The message of the graphic is the blur created with the jammed names and logos of companies in the Jan 2015 and later portion of the chart. Here’s a snippet:


The number of unicorns has increased. On the list are MarkLogic, an XML centric data management outfit, and BuzzFeed, the maker of listicles.

I find this graphic interesting. Many of the companies on the graphic are ones about which I know zero and probably never will; for example, Thumbtack and some about which I know a little bit like MarkLogic.

A couple of thoughts crossed my mind as I marveled at the number of big bets made in 2015; here are three:

  1. Quite a few investors have bet big money on outfits because there is a belief that these companies will make big revenues. Hope springs eternal, of course. Customers and sustainable revenue may be a more limited resource.
  2. Is the economy more robust than the information available to me suggests?
  3. The likelihood of froth seems high. Are there empty store fronts in your area? Are most businesses thriving?

The diagram suggests that there will be some financial excitement ahead. The question is, “What type of excitement?” An XML data management company? Lists of factoids?

The business of some of these outfits is raising money, not generating sustainable organic revenues. Unicorns like raising money. The revenue part is not so much fun to do. Thinking about revenues is more enjoyable and easier.

Stephen E Arnold, November 10, 2015

Yahoo 2015: A Xoogler in the Drink, Calls in the MBAs for a Rescue

November 10, 2015

Years ago, when Google was a foundling, the myth of the brilliance of the Googler was fresh, new. Xooglers have had a good run. Work at the 24×7, wild and wonderful outfit for a few years. Then cash in and become an investment banker, an entrepreneur, or a senior manager.

Yahoo did the Xoogler thing. There was chatter years ago that the Yahoo was going to be a big deal in the exciting Internet world with mobile, smart software, semantics, apps, and original content.

How is that working out?

I read “Yahoo Hires McKinsey to Mull Reorg, as Mayer Demands Exec Pledge to Stay” to find out. Interesting analysis from a person in a good position to observe and gather information. Among the tidbits I jotted down were:

  • The new swing for the fences initiative is Project Index. Index? That’s an exciting concept.
  • Yahoo does not want to lose key staff. Who does?
  • The top Xoogler hired the bluest of the blue chip consulting firms to help put some revenues on the books.

Okay, another big plan. Just like those at Google except and this is a classic “but for” construction—ad revenue. Google has it. Yahoo has less. A home run is unlikely to win the game in which Yahoo finds itself.

Losing staff? The fix is not to lock a professional down in my opinion. Working with a company is a choice. When folks decide not to work with an outfit, no contract will fix the free agent mentality of certain folks. The effort may cause people to bail out.

And the McKinsey thing? Blue chip consulting is a darned exciting type of work. Who is the client? The Xoogler? The Board of Directors? The stakeholders? Consider the answer, gentle reader. Blue chip consulting firms may not have all the answers, but the blue chip firms know how to set their agenda and then follow up.

What will McKinsey do? Preserve McKinsey. Yahoo may be in for some surprises because not even the smartest Xooglers in the world see opportunity quite the same way blue chip consulting firms do.

McKinsey did not hire Yahoo. Yahoo allegedly hired McKinsey. Who has the power now?

Stephen E Arnold, November 10, 2015

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