Data Analytics Is More Than Simple Emotion

November 6, 2015

Hopes and Fears posted the article, “Are You Happy Now? The Uncertain Future Of Emotion Analytics” discusses the possible implications of technology capable of reading emotions.  The article opens with a scenario from David Collingridge explaining that the only way to truly gauge technology’s impact is when it has become so ingrained into society that it would be hard to change.  Many computing labs are designing software capable of reading emotions using an array of different sensors.

The biggest problem ahead is not how to integrate emotion reading technology into our lives, but what are the ethical concerns associated with it?

Emotion reading technology is also known as affective computing and the possible ethical concerns are more than likely to come from corporation to consumer relationships over consumer-to-consumer relationships.  Companies are already able to track a consumer’s spending habits by reading their Internet data and credit cards, then sending targeted ads.

Consumers should be given the option to have their emotions read:

“Affective computing has the potential to intimately affect the inner workings of society and shape individual lives. Access, an international digital rights organization, emphasizes the need for informed consent, and the right for users to choose not to have their data collected. ‘All users should be fully informed about what information a company seeks to collect,’ says Drew Mitnick, Policy Counsel with Access, ‘The invasive nature of emotion analysis means that users should have as much information as possible before being asked to subject [themselves] to it.’”

While the article’s topic touches on fear, it ends on a high note that we should not be afraid of the future of technology.  It is important to discuss ethical issues right now, so groundwork will already be in place to handle affective computing.

Whitney Grace, November 6, 2015

Wall Street Sees Challengers to the Bloomberg Terminal

September 25, 2015

Few industries rely on timely data quite like Wall Street, and the trading platform that has long been the industry favorite has been enjoying that revenue stream for almost 30 years. However, the New York Times now reports that “The Bloomberg Terminal, a Wall Street Fixture, Faces Upstarts.” Writer Nathaniel Popper notes that funds from the popular terminal enable the company’s news endeavors: BusinessWeek and the Bloomberg Business website, it seems, “cost more than they earn.” Will all that fall away if the Bloomberg terminal loses ground to the competition?

The article relates:

“Bloomberg has sustained several challenges to its dominant market position, fending off smaller competitors hoping to bite off a corner of its business. And it has the cash reservoirs to wage a vigorous defense this time around. But Bloomberg’s own history shows that it is not easy to maintain a profitable market position like the one it has held for more than two decades. Bloomberg rose to prominence in the 1990s by nimbly replacing earlier Wall Street data companies — like Quotron and Telerate — that failed to change quickly enough to protect their longtime market dominance. Morgan Downey, the former Bloomberg executive who is building Money.Net, said he decided to leave Bloomberg in late 2013 and create a low-cost challenger after seeing how slowly Bloomberg was changing and how many of the company’s clients wanted a cheaper alternative.”

Cheaper, it seems, is the key word here. Firms are under pressure to cut costs amid new regulations and shifting markets; they are now eyeing lower-cost alternatives to the Bloomberg terminals, which run about $25,000 per year each. See the article for more on the competition, like Money.Net and chat provider Symphony.

What of Thomson Reuters? According to the article, that company’s terminal sales in the U.S. continue to disappoint, though they have done well in certain niche markets. Their terminals, we’re told, are “not notably cheaper than Bloomberg’s.” Will the upstarts topple both venerable firms?

Popper reports stockbrokers have been complaining about Bloomberg’s terminal pricing and lack of innovative product design. Then again, retired New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is said to be taking a more active role in the company. Perhaps with his efforts, it will manage to fend off the challengers. For now.

Cynthia Murrell, September 25, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

The Sad eCommerce Search Realities

September 9, 2015

We love it when articles make pop cultures references as a way to get their point across.  Over at Easy Ask, an articled entitled “ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ – The Realities of eCommerce Search” references the Keith Richards and Mick Jagger song explaining how a Web site loses a customer.  The potential customer searches for an product, fails to find using the search feature, so the person moves onto a new destination.

What happens is that a Web site search function might not understand all the query terms or it might return results that fail to meet the shopper’s need.  The worst option any eCommerce shop could show a shopper is a “no results found” page.  It might be a seem like simple feature to overcome, but search algorithms need to be fine tuned like any other coding.   The good news that decent eCommerce searches have already been designed.

“How can you avoid these misunderstandings? One approach is to employ search software that understands the words in the search and how they relate to each other and the site’s catalog. These search engines are called ‘Contextual Search’ and employ ‘Natural Language Processing’ software. Remember diagramming sentences in elementary school and identifying the nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. Knowing the role of a word in a website search helps find the right products.”

Contextual search that uses natural language processing treats queries based on a user’s true intentions, rather than giving each term the same weight.  Contextual search is more intuitive and yields more accurate results.  The article finishes by saying the customers “get what they need.” Ah, what a wise use of The Rolling Stones.

Whitney Grace, September 9, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


An Obscure Infographic About London Coffee Shops

July 29, 2015

Here’s a unique pair of graphics, particularly of interest for anyone who can see themselves enjoying a cup of joe in London. Gizmodo presents “A Taxonomy of Hip Coffee Shop Names.” The infographic from Information is Beautiful lays out London’s hipster coffee shops by both naming convention and location. Both charts size their entries by popularity– the more popular a shop the bigger disk (coaster?) its name sits upon. The brief write-up sets the scene:

“As you walk down the sidewalk, you see a chalkboard in the distance. As you step a little closer, you smell the deep musk of coffee emanating from an artfully distressed front door. Out steps a man with a beard, a Mac slung under his arm, sipping from small re-useable flat white-sized cup. You’ve stumbled across another hip coffee shop. Now, what’s it called?

“Information is Beautiful … breaks the naming structure down by type: there are ones themed around drugs, chatter, beans, brewing, socialism and more. But they all share one thing in common: they sound just like they could be hand-painted above that scene you just saw.”

So, if you like coffee, London, hipsters, or taxonomy-graphics, take a gander. From Alchemy to Maison d’être to Window, a shop or two are sure to peak the curiosity.

Cynthia Murrell, July 29, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Monkeys Cause System Failure

July 28, 2015

Nobody likes to talk about his or her failures.  Admitting to failure proves that you failed at a task in the past and it is a big blow to the ego.  Failure admission is even worse for technology companies, because users want to believe technology is flawless.  On Microsoft’s Azure Blog, Heather Nakama posted “Inside Azure Search: Chaos Engineering” and she explains that software engineers are aware that failure is unavoidable.  Rather than trying to prevent failure, they welcome potential failure.  Why?  It allows them to test software and systems to prevent problems before they develop.

Nakama mentions it is not a sustainable model to account for every potential failure and to test the system every time it is upgraded.  Azure Search borrowed chaos engineering from Netflix to resolve the issue and it is run by a bunch of digital monkeys

“As coined by Netflix in a recent excellent blog post, chaos engineering is the practice of building infrastructure to enable controlled automated fault injection into a distributed system.  To accomplish this, Netflix has created the Netflix Simian Army with a collection of tools (dubbed “monkeys”) that inject failures into customer services.”

Netflix basically unleashes a Search Chaos Monkey into its system to wreck havoc, then Netflix learns about system weaknesses and repairs accordingly.  There are several chaos levels: high, medium, and low, with each resulting in more possible damage.  At each level, Search Chaos Monkey is given more destructive tools to “play” around with.  The high levels are the most valuable to software engineers, because it demonstrates the largest and worst diagnostic failures.

While letting a bull loose in a china shop is bad, because you lose your merchandise, letting a bunch of digital monkeys loose in a computer system is actually beneficial.  It remains true that you can learn from failure.  I just hope that the digital monkeys do not have digital dung.

Whitney Grace, July 28, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Coveo Announces Growth, Success, and an Internal Promotion

June 8, 2015

The article titled Coveo Announces Another Sequential Best Quarter as Its Intelligent Search Apps Upskill Thousands of People on Digital Journal points to increased market demand for its apps. Coveo’s mission is to aid businesses in improving people’s knowledge and ability with Search. Coveo for Salesforce offers customers a hub to resolve the issues that would typically require a customer service rep. The article explains,

Coveo for Salesforce saw rapid adoption, particularly within the high tech and financial services industries, where mid-size to Fortune 500 organizations selected Coveo to scale customer service operations. Coveo for Salesforce – Communities Edition helps customers solve their own cases by proactively offering case-resolving knowledge suggestions and Coveo for Salesforce – Service Cloud Edition helps agents upskill as they engage customers by injecting case-resolving content and experts into the Salesforce UI as they work.”

The article also discusses the promotion of Mike Raley, currently senior director of demand generation, to VP of marketing. That makes him accountable for the company’s international marketing. The article seems like good news, what with the reported “record levels of bookings growth,” but it offers no actual revenues or information about the $30 million in venture funding the company has amassed.

Chelsea Kerwin, June 8, 2014

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Google has Made Web Sites Hot and Angry

April 7, 2015

Business Insider tells more about Google’s dominating behavior in “The Google Backlash Is Growing.”  The backlash spawned from the FTC’s recently leaked report about how Google threatened to remove Web sites from search engine results if they did not allow Google to use their content.

“At the heart of the matter is the internal FTC report’s finding that Google was effectively blackmailing competing sites like Yelp and Amazon into using their data in its own search result. If they didn’t agree, they would get blacklisted from search results entirely.”

Google was facing a lawsuit, but they made some changes so they were able to escape…in the US.  In Europe, an investigation is still underway.  Some think the EU is harboring hostilities against a US company, but they are say it is not.

People in the US like Consumer Watchdog want the US Senate to reopen investigations to prove that Google is favoring its own services in search results and making competition appear in lower search rankings.  Google, however, maintains its innocence and wants the matter to rest.

Is it not common business practice to downplay the competition?  Not to say Google is innocent, but it makes logical sense to use that old school business tactic, especially when they control a whole lot of search.

Whitney Grace, April 7,  2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Customers Dissatisfied with SharePoint Online Cuts

December 23, 2014

Certain SharePoint Online features are being phased out. Rumor has it that Public Sites may be the next to go. But in a world where knowing, preparing, and bracing for change is really valuable, Microsoft isn’t talking. ZDNet covers the breaking story in their article, “Microsoft Users Not Happy Over Quiet SharePoint Online Feature Cuts.”

The article begins:

“Microsoft announced the company would enable its business customers to stay on top of the rollout of the myriad moving parts of Microsoft’s Office 365 service. The Office 365 Roadmap site would become a central site for many (but not all) Office 365 features that were announced, rolling out or being nixed before they debuted, officials said. But in the past couple of months, Microsoft has been eliminating quietly some SharePoint Online features — with more possible eliminations to come. Finding out about those planned cuts isn’t as easy as it should be, customers say.”

Stephen E. Arnold has been covering search, including enterprise, for the span of his career. He reports his findings on This SharePoint online rumor is a good example of a time in which it’s important to have outside sources. Arnold reports the latest SharePoint news, rumor, tips, and tricks on his SharePoint feed, and users may find it most helpful when attempting to brace for the impact of changes such as those mentioned above.

Emily Rae Aldridge, December 23, 2014

Google Glass Cracked

November 14, 2014

Google Glass did not revolutionize my life. I am not sure how many people were affected by the craze in a teapot. I can associate Glass with a shattered life. Think psychiatric ministrations, self harm, and chemicals. Yikes! I read “Google Glass Future Clouded as Some Early Believers Lose Faith.” It appears that “real” journalists at Yahoo have open a case containing Google Glass.

I noted this passage as one of interest:

Several key Google employees instrumental to developing Glass have left the company in the last six months, including lead developer Babak Parviz, electrical engineering chief Adrian Wong, and Ossama Alami, director of developer relations. And a Glass funding consortium created by Google Ventures and two of Silicon Valley’s biggest venture capitalists, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Andreessen Horowitz, quietly deleted its website, routing users to the main Glass site.

The write up paints a picture of a much hyped product that seems to lack magnetism. My hunch is that Google lacked the magic touch required to create a successful retail product. Too bad about the scorched earth the Glass comet created as it ploughed into a bean field in Salinas.

But good news. Giant virtual reality headsets are coming. Really.

Stephen E Arnold, November 14, 2014

BrainWare Combines Gaming and Cognitive Skill Development

January 4, 2013

With the holiday season fast approaching, many are looking to purchase video games to satisfy the need for fun for many on their list. However, coupling gaming and cognitive skill development, an offering by BrainWare Safari, is worth a look. The company received raving reviews recently in “Review: Fun Learning Tool Designed to Boost Cognitive Skills” on Blackline Review, which focused on the software program that combines neuroscience with video game technology to strengthen cognitive skills.

However, the importance of such technology goes far beyond just a fun gift or study helper. We learn:

“An improvement in cognitive skills expands the functionality of the human brain and prepares users to learn and excel in both the classroom and work environment.  According to a white paper by Eric Hanushek, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University and an expert on educational policy:  ‘We provide evidence that the robust association between cognitive skills and economic growth reflects a causal effect of cognitive skills…countries that improved their cognitive skills over time experienced relative increases in their growth paths.’”

The product received an overall rating of 8.2 from the recent review, including the highest ranking of 10 in the categories of Product/Service, Value Proposition, Market Size, Revenue Model, and Proof of Concept. We hope this product sets a precedent for including these types of skills in the learning process with an appeal to the gamer in all of us.

Andrea Hayden, January 04, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

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