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AI Technology Poised to Spread Far and Wide

April 3, 2015

Artificial intelligence is having a moment; the second half of last year saw about half a billion dollars invested in the AI industry. Wired asks and answers, “The AI Resurgence: Why Now?” Writer Babak Hodjat observes that advances in hardware and cloud services have allowed more contenders to afford to enter the arena. Open source tools like Hadoop also help. Then there’s public perception; with the proliferation of Siri and her ilk, people are more comfortable with the whole concept of AI (Steve Wozniak aside, apparently). It seems to help that these natural-language personal assistants have a sense of humor.  Hodjat continues:

“But there’s more substance to this resurgence than the impression of intelligence that Siri’s jocularity gives its users. The recent advances in Machine Learning are truly groundbreaking. Artificial Neural Networks (deep learning computer systems that mimic the human brain) are now scaled to several tens of hidden layer nodes, increasing their abstraction power. They can be trained on tens of thousands of cores, speeding up the process of developing generalizing learning models. Other mainstream classification approaches, such as Random Forest classification, have been scaled to run on very large numbers of compute nodes, enabling the tackling of ever more ambitious problems on larger and larger data-sets (e.g.,”

The investment boom has produced a surge of start-ups offering AI solutions to companies in a wide range of industries. Organizations in fields as diverse as medicine and oil production seem eager to incorporate these tools; it remains to be seen whether the tech is a good investment for every type of enterprise. For his part, Hodjat has high hopes for its use in fraud detection, medical diagnostics, and online commerce. And for ever-improving personal assistants, of course.

Cynthia Murrell, April 3, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

EBay Develops Open Source Pulsar for Real Time Data Analysis

April 2, 2015

A new large-scale, real-time analytics platform has been launched in response to one huge company’s huge data needs. VentureBeat reports, “EBay Launches Pulsar, an Open-Source Tool for Quickly Taming Big Data.” EBay has made the code available under an open-source license. It seems traditional batch processing systems, like that found in the widely used open-source Hadoop, just won’t cut it for eBay. That puts them in good company; Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and LinkedIn have each also created their own stream-processing systems.

Shortly before the launch, eBay released a whitepaper on the project, “Pulsar—Real-time Analytics at Scale.” It describes the what and why behind Pulsar’s design; check it out for the technical details. The whitepaper summarizes itself:

“In this paper we have described the data and processing model for a class of problems related to user behavior analytics in real time. We describe some of the design considerations for Pulsar. Pulsar has been in production in the eBay cloud for over a year. We process hundreds of thousands of events/sec with a steady state loss of less than 0.01%. Our pipeline end to end latency is less than a hundred milliseconds measured at the 95th percentile. We have successfully operated the pipeline over this time at 99.99% availability. Several teams within eBay have successfully built solutions leveraging our platform, solving problems like in-session personalization, advertising, internet marketing, billing, business monitoring and many more.”

For updated information on Pulsar, monitor their official website at

Cynthia Murrell, April 2, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

The Ins and Outs of the Black Market Economy

March 24, 2015

The article titled The Cybercrime Economy: Welcome To The Black Market of The Internet on ZeroFox discusses the current state of the black market and the consequences of its success. The author delves into the economy of the black market, suggesting that it, too, is at the mercy of supply and demand. Some of the players in the structure of the black market include malware brokers, botnet “herders,” and monetization specialists. The article says,

“So what’s the big deal — how does this underground economy influence the economy we see day to day? The financial markets themselves are highly sensitive to the impact of cyber crime… Additionally, fluctuating bitcoin markets (which affects forex trades) and verticals that can be affected through social engineering (the Fin4 example) are both targets for exploitation on a mass scale….There is a good reason cyber security spending surpassed 70 billion in 2014: breaches are costly. Very costly.”

As for how to upset the economy of the black market, the article posits that “cutting off the head” will not work. Supply and demand keep the black market running, not some figurehead. Instead, the article suggests that the real blame lies on the monopolies that drive up prices and force consumers to look for illegal options.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 24, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Qwant Develops Qwant Junior, the Search Engine for Children

March 17, 2015

The article on Telecompaper titled Qwant Tests Child-Friendly Search Engine discusses the French companies work. Qwant is focused on targeting 3 to 13 year olds with Qwant Junior, in partnership with the Education Ministry. Twenty percent of the company is owned by digital publishing powerhouse Axel Springer. The child-friendly search engine will attempt to limit the access to inappropriate content while encouraging children to use the search engine to learn. The article explains,

“The new version blocks or lists very far down in search results websites that show violence and pornography, as well as e-commerce sites. The version features an education tab separately from the general web search that offers simplified access to educational programme, said co-founder Eric Leandri. Qwant Junior’s video tab offers child-appropriate videos from YouTube, Dailymotion and Vimeo. After tests with the ministry, the search engine will be tested by several hundred schools.”

Teaching youngsters the ways of the search engine is important in our present age. The concept of listing pornography “very far down” on the list of results might unsettle some parents of young teens smart enough to just keep scrolling, but it is France! Perhaps the expectation of blocking all unsavory material is simply untenable. Qwant is planning on a major launch by September, and is in talks with Brazil for a similar program.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 17, 2014

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Swiftype Raises More Money for Web Site Search

March 16, 2015

TechCrunch tells us that search startup “Swiftype Raises $13M More For Its Starter Site And App Search.” Swiftype’s mission is pretty straightforward: they want to create customizable search tools that do not suck (TechCrunch’s own language). You have to admit that it is a bold move, considering many out-of-the-box solutions do stink worse than dial-up from 1995 and open source (while it is free and awesome) requires a bit of developer experience. Swiftype takes the guesswork and makes a tailored solution without the hassle or developer experience.

While Swiftype originally started out for Web sites, they have moved into other areas:

“On the other hand, online publishers might not be the most lucrative customer base, so while co-founders Matt Riley and Quin Hoxie told me they still support publishers (and we still use Swiftype at TechCrunch), they’ve also expanded into other areas, particularly knowledge bases (basically, FAQs and customer support sites) and e-commerce.”

The search company will use the $13 million will probably invest the money to expand its already popular search tools. New Enterprise Associates led the Series B funding and they were used for the original Series A round. Swiftype used New Enterprise Associates to form a long-term partnership.

Whitney Grace, March 16, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Antidot Semi-Pivot to eCommerce Search

February 21, 2015

I wanted to capture Antidot’s semi pivot from enterprise search to eCommerce search. The French company provides a useful description of its afs@store product. If you bang this product name into the GOOG, you find that the American Foundry Society, Associated Food Stores, and the American Fisheries Society push Antidot’s product down the results list. In general, names of search and content processing systems often disappear into search results. Perhaps Antidot has a way to make the use of the “@” sign somewhat less problematic.

The system, according to Antidot, system delivers features that sidestep the unsticky nature of most eCommerce customer visits. Antidot asserts:

  • Rich, tolerant and customizable auto complete featuring products, brands, categories…
  • Fully typo-tolerant search
  • Semantic search that understands your customer’s words
  • Dynamic filtering facets to rapidly select desired products
  • Web interface to simply monitor and manage your searchandising

the company offers a plug in for Magento, the open source eCommerce system, that enjoyed love from eBay. It is difficult to know if that love is growing stronger with time, however.

I did notice that the “See and read more” panel had zero information and no links. Hopefully this void will be addressed.

Stephen E Arnold, February 21, 2015

The Method to the Oracle Commerce Solution for Retail Executives

January 29, 2015

The blog entry on CREDO Technology Solutions titled Oracle Commerce Leverages ATG and Endeca discusses the method to Oracle’s commerce solution. In order to make smart decisions that impact customer experience and engagement, Oracle brought together search, business intelligence, and ecommerce through the acquisitions of ATG Web Commerce and Endeca. The article explains,

“The Oracle Commerce Solution…[enables] the online and digital channels across mobile, web devices and even kiosks. Oracle Commerce leverages ATG for creating sites, data and content that drive the customer experience. Once the data and content is defined, the solution leverages Endeca for placement and optimization of the cross-channel customer experiences. The joint offering provides extensive capabilities in personalization and merchandising, enabling customers to have their online interactions be guided, fully personalized and applicable to their specific objectives.”

The article argues that customer engagement has never been more important to make a company stand out from the crowd. The ability to personalize a customer’s online experience and ensure that customers are able to easily navigate can make or prevent a sale, and the article specifically calls on retail executives to focus their efforts on ecommerce usability. The article stresses consistency and engagement above all else, and offers a sales pitch for interested parties.

Chelsea Kerwin, January 29, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Amazon and Its Management Approach

January 6, 2015

I find that analyses of high-tech company management gyrations quite entertaining. Once a company is successful, does it not follow that other projects will be successful? Aren’t managers of high-tech wonders able to manage other businesses owned by their employer? I hear a Greek khoroos intoning, “True, true, true.”

Within the conventions of Greek drama as understood by one of my somewhat addled high school teachers, “Stuff then happens.”

Following Fire Phone Flop, Big Changes at Amazon’s Lab126” captures one of these moments in the Amazon melodrama, “As Profitability Remains Elusive.” (Will this become a CNBC reality show?)

The article explains that the Fire Phone was a failure. Okay, got that. The management fix is to shuffle some senior managers. The issue of having a 3,000 person research outfit is ignored, which is a Silicon Valley tradition—Hop over the underlying question, “Who was managing this operation from Amazon’s headquarters?”

Therefore, management change commences.

The most interesting part of the write up was this quote:

As Bezos has told employees there in the past, his goal is to make it so Lab126 can take a hardware product from ideation to market in just months, a cycle as ruthlessly efficient as the company’s retail operations.

The assumption that if one thing works (selling like Wal-Mart) then making hardware will work too. Barnes & Noble has demonstrated its acumen with what I call “the Nook cook.” Failures are like bad burritos. Reheating a bad burrito does not improve the burrito. Now Amazon is emulating Barnes & Noble and adding the zesty seasoning of assuming that success in one business automatically triggers success in another, unrelated business. Pizza Hut has a pretzel pizza. Amazon has a Nook Fire.

What’s next? Maybe Amazon should buy Yahoo and stir it into the mix.

Stephen E Arnold, January 6, 2014

Bloomreach: Googlers, MBAs, and $41 Million in Funding

January 3, 2015

Founded in 2009, Bloomreach is now popping up in my Overflight system. The company is buying Google ads and publishing a blog written by Bloomreach’s storyteller. The company is a “personalized discovery platform.” The angle seems to be ecommerce search, which will probably make EasyAsk, Endeca, and SLI Systems long for the day when MBAs ignored search for more glamorous endeavors.

The company offers an interesting mix of marketing oriented search services. There is hosted search and consulting. I noted a bit of search engine optimization as well. And, not surprisingly, there is some “Big Data marketing” lingo too.

Information about the company is available at this link.

Stephen E Arnold, January 4, 2015

Baymard Institute Announces E-Commerce Search Issues, EasyAsk Standing Nearby with Solution

December 10, 2014

The article on Digital Journal titled Baymard Institute Study Finds Major Problems with Search on Leading E-Commerce Sites considers the study’s findings that “essential e-commerce search capabilities” are missing from many sites, creating an obstacle in their potential for online sales. Poor test results included low tolerance for misspellings, a lack of support for search based on certain produce features, and a lack of support for thematic searches. Reportedly the study broke down search into twelve categories and EasyAsk, the site search “solution” provider jumped into the ring with a white paper on how to improve search and raise sales. The article explains,

“[The] white paper, Improving E-Commerce Search to Meet the Needs of the Modern Shopper, identifies specific solutions for the problems identified in the Baymard Institute Study. [It] also shows examples of how EasyAsk customers such as The North Face, Oya Costumes, InkJet Superstore, and Travers Tools have delivered an engaging search experience as identified in the Baymard Institute report. “The inadequacies of traditional, outdated keyword search engines are prominently displayed in the Baymard Institute Benchmark Study,” said Craig Bassin, CEO of EasyAsk.”

The immediacy of their response and their collaboration in letting organizations freely download part of the study might raise some eyebrows. The article does not go into detail on who exactly sponsored the study, either.
Chelsea Kerwin, December 10, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

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