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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


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


Thunderstone Rumbles About Webinator

August 6, 2015

There is nothing more frustrating than being unable to locate a specific piece of information on a Web site when you use its search function.  Search is supposed to be quick, accurate, and efficient.  Even if Google search is employed as a Web site’s search feature, it does not always yield the best results.  Thunderstone is a company that specializes in proprietary software application developed specifically for information management, search, retrieval, and filtering.

Thunderstone has a client list that includes, but not limited to, government agencies, Internet developer, corporations, and online service providers.  The company’s goal is to deliver “product-oriented R&D within the area of advanced information management and retrieval,” which translates to them wanting to help their clients found information very, very fast and as accurately as possible.  It is the premise of most information management companies.  On the company blog it was announced that, “Thunderstone Releases Webinator Web Index And Retrieval System Version 13.”  Webinator makes it easier to integrate high quality search into a Web site and it has several new appealing features:

  • “Query Autocomplete, guides your users to the search they want
  • HTML Highlighting, lets users see the results in the original HTML for better contextual information
  • Expanded XML/SOAP API allows integration of administrative interface”

We like the HTML highlighting that offers users the ability to backtrack and see a page’s original information source. It is very similar to old-fashioned research: go back to the original source to check a fact’s veracity.

Whitney Grace, August 6, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Whither Unix Data

July 30, 2015

For anyone using open-source Unix to work with data, IT World has a few tips for you in “The Best Tools and Techniques for Finding Data on Unix Systems.” In her regular column, “Unix as a Second Language,” writer Sandra Henry-Stocker explains:

“Sometimes looking for information on a Unix system is like looking for needles in haystacks. Even important messages can be difficult to notice when they’re buried in huge piles of text. And so many of us are dealing with ‘big data’ these days — log files that are multiple gigabytes in size and huge record collections in any form that might be mined for business intelligence. Fortunately, there are only two times when you need to dig through piles of data to get your job done — when you know what you’re looking for and when you don’t. 😉 The best tools and techniques will depend on which of these two situations you’re facing.”

When you know just what to search for, Henry-Stocker suggests the “grep” command. She supplies a few variations, complete with a poetic example. Sometimes, like when tracking errors, you’re not sure what you will find but do know where to look. In those cases, she suggests using the “sed” command. For both approaches, Henry-Stocker supplies example code and troubleshooting tips. See the article for the juicy details.

Cynthia Murrell, July 30, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


What We Know About SharePoint 2016

July 23, 2015

Everyone is vying for a first look at the upcoming SharePoint 2016 release. In reality those details are just now starting to roll in, so little has been known until recently. The first true reveal came from Bill Baer at this spring’s Microsoft Ignite event. CIO distills Baer’s findings down into their article, “SharePoint 2016: What Do We Know?

The article says:

“The session on SharePoint 2016 was presented by Bill Baer, the head of SharePoint at Microsoft. This was the public’s first opportunity to learn what exactly would be in this version of the product, what sorts of changes and improvements have been made, and other things to expect as we look toward the product’s release and general availability in the first quarter of next year. Here’s what we know after streaming Baer’s full presentation.”

The article goes on to discuss cloud integration, migration, upgrades, and what all of this may point to for the future of SharePoint. In order to stay up to date on the latest news, stay tuned to, in particular the dedicated SharePoint feed. Stephen E. Arnold has made a career out of all things search, and his work on SharePoint gives interested parties a lot of information at a glance.

Emily Rae Aldridge, July 23, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


SharePoint Expert Rehmani Talks SharePoint 2016

July 21, 2015

There is enough news regarding the upcoming SharePoint Server 2016 release to keep every tech writer busy around the clock. Users are crafting expectations and experts are analyzing the little bits of pieces that have become known. Now a known expert, Asif Rehmani, is weighing in with his early assessment. Read more in the Redmond article, “Microsoft MVP Talks SharePoint 2016, Deprecated InfoPath and Getting Help.”

The article begins:

“Microsoft plans to improve usability aspects with its forthcoming SharePoint Server 2016 product, but people still will need help when it arrives. And that’s where Asif Rehmani comes into play. He’s tracked SharePoint from the beginning as a lecturer, educator and trainer and is a nine-year Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for SharePoint.”

The article goes on to discuss some of Rehmani’s thoughts on the upcoming release, including user expectations and how the cloud will integrate into the new version. Stephen E. Arnold is another expert who has his eye on the latest SharePoint news. He reports his findings in an easy to follow format on his Web service, In fact, his SharePoint feed is one of the go-to destinations for SharePoint tips and tricks on the Web.

Emily Rae Aldridge, July 21, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Publishers Out Of Sorts…Again

July 20, 2015

Here we go again, the same old panic song that has been sung around the digital landscape since the advent of portable devices: the publishing industry is losing money. The Guardian reports on how mobile devices are now hurting news outlets: “News Outlets Face Losing Control To Apple, Facebook, And Google.”

The news outlets are losing money as users move to mobile devices to access the news via Apple, Facebook, and Google. The article shares a bunch of statistics supporting this claim, which only backs up facts people already knew.

It does make a sound suggestion of traditional news outlets changing their business model by possibly teaming with the new ways people consume their news.

Here is a good rebuttal, however:

“ ‘Fragmentation of news provision, which weakens the bargaining power of journalism organisations, has coincided with a concentration of power in platforms,’ said Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center at Columbia university, in a lead commentary for the report.”

Seventy percent of mobile device users have a news app on their phone, but only a third of them use it at least once a week. Only diehard loyalists are returning to the traditional outlets and paying a subscription fee for the services. The rest of the time they turn to social media for their news.

This is not anything new. These outlets will adapt, because despite social media’s popularity there is still something to be said for a viable and trusted news outlet, that is, if you can trust the outlet.

Whitney Grace, July 20, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Google Before The SEC

July 6, 2015

Searching the Web you can find the most amazing and obscure items, such as this little gem from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Web site: “Schedule 14A” registered by Google IncSchedule 14A explains information required for an SEC proxy statement, which is given to stockholders when votes are solicited at stockholders’ meetings.  This Schedule 14A lists many of the high-tech projects Google is working on to improve the lives of people.  Google founder Sergey Brin supposedly writes the schedule, but more than likely is was written by an assistant and his name was signed at the end.

It opens with this brief passage:

“When Larry and I founded Google in 1998, many elements came together to make our work possible. Like other companies at the time, we benefited from the increasing power and low cost of computation and from the unprecedented shift of information to the internet. We shared a profound belief in the power of technology to make life better for people everywhere and imagined what life could be like 10, 15, 20 years down the road. Nevertheless, now that we are here, I am amazed at the progress and opportunities. For example, I could not have imagined we would be making a computer that fits in a contact lens, with the potential to make life better for millions of people with diabetes.”

It is followed by a description of the contact lens that measures glucose levels in a body, then it goes into how Google revolutionized search and in turn delivered high-end services like email and Google Photos.

What Google piece would be complete without mentioning the self-driving cars?  Autonomous cars came about by increased computation power, but at least they do mention it will be sometime before they are ready for consumers.

Google does have an impressive list of accomplishments, sure to please any stockholder.  The question is will there be anything they will not experiment with?

Whitney Grace, July 6, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Dassault Systemes’ “Single View of the Truth” Problem-Solving Approach

July 3, 2015

The article on Today’s Medical Developments titled Collaborative Design Software uses the online collaborative design video game Minecraft to consider the possibilities for programmers working together in the future. Dassault Systemes’ is in the process of implementing a change to many design engineers working more collaboratively off a master file. The article quotes Monica Menghini, a Dassault executive,

“Our platform of 12 software applications covers 3D modeling (SOLIDWORKS, CATIA, GEOVIA, BIOVIA); simulation (3DVIA, DELMIA, SIMULA); social and collaboration (3DSWYM, 3DXCITE, ENOVIA); and information intelligence (EXALEAD, NETVIBES)… These apps together create the experience. No single point solution can do it – it requires a platform capable of connecting the dots. And that platform includes cloud access and social apps, design, engineering, simulation, manufacturing, optimization, support, marketing, sales and distribution, communication…PLM – all aspects of a business; all aspects of a customer’s experience.”

The point is that Dassault wants to sell customers a dozen products to solve a problem, which seems like an interesting and complicated approach. They believe new opportunities could include more efficient design-building, earlier chances for materials specialists to cut costs by opting for lighter materials, marketing could begin earlier in the process and financial planners would have the ability to follow the progress of a design, allowing for a more transparency on every level of production.
Chelsea Kerwin, July 3, 2014

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Meatbags Prevent Google’s Self-Driving Car

July 2, 2015

Driving is a privilege not a right…for humans and Google wants it for its self-driving carsGoogle, however, is still in the test phasing for its self-driving cars and announced that they would publish results of the study on a monthly basis.  They first report recently came out and it says that Google cars were in twelve accidents when they were on real roads.  The Register takes a snarky, informative approach to self-driving cars in “Google: Our Self-Driving Cars Would Be Tip-Top If You Meatheads Didn’t Crash Into Them.”

Google has twenty-three Lexus SUVs that have driven 1,011,338 miles with the self-driving software and 796, 250 miles with a human behind the wheel.  Many of the cars have taken to the real road, but nine are still restricted to the private track.

Google blames all twelve of the accidents on human error, not the software, and it is due to either the human driver in the autonomous car or the driver in the other car.  The Google cars, being rear-ended from driving too slow, caused seven accidents.  One accident was due to the Google car braking trying to avoid a collision and two more were when non-Google cars failed to obey traffic signs.  The worst accident caused when a Google car was driving at 63 mph and was sideswiped by a car changing lanes.  No one was hurt.  The last two accidents were the fault of Google’s employees: both accidents resulted in Google cars rear-ending the cars in front of them.

Google is quick to point out the software’s positive aspects:

“The report also highlighted some of the smarter aspects of the cars’ software. Google cars can identify emergency vehicles, for example, and automatically give way in a fashion many fleshy drivers are irritatingly unwilling to do.  The other example given was Google cars dealing with cyclists who didn’t obey the rules of the road. One cyclist veered in front of the car at night, and the software was clever enough to stop immediately to avoid a crash.”

Google will have its cars drive ten thousand miles a week on the software.  A recent luxury car ad campaign was critical of the self-driving car, saying people want the luxury of driving themselves with all the benefits of said luxury car.  It will be the TV vs. radio battle again, but the one thing holding back the self-driving car will be human error.  Stupid, stupid humans.

Whitney Grace, July 2, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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