Google Supports Outraged Scholars

October 2, 2017

Google has taken issue with a recent list from the Campaign for Accountability (CfA), TechCrunch reports in, “Google Responds to Academic Funding Controversy—with a GIF.” Writer Frederic Lardinois reports that the CfA recently released a list of policy experts and academics who, they say, had received Googley dollars last year. The only problem—many who found themselves on the list dispute their inclusion, saying they had not received any funding from Google or, if they had, it was unrelated to the work the CfA specified. Google issued a response, supporting the protesting experts and academics as well as defending its support of researchers in general. The company also struck back; the article explains:

And in a direct attack on CfA, Google also notes that while the group advocates for transparency, its own corporate funders remain in the shadows. The only backer we know of is Oracle, which is obviously competing with Google in many areas. The group has also recently taken on SolarCity/Tesla. In its blog post, Google also argues that ‘AT&T, the MPAA, ICOMP, FairSearch and dozens more’ fund similar campaigns.

Google later created a GIF in response to requests for elaboration. It shares a series of tweets from some of the affected scholars, in which they detail just where the CfA went wrong in each of their cases. Lardinois continues:

It’s not often that a company like Google makes its own GIF in response to a request for comment, but I gather this goes to show that Google wants to move on from this discussion and let the academics speak for themselves. While the CfA’s methods are less than ideal, there are legitimate questions about how even small amounts of funding can influence research.

So far, Lardinois notes, public discussion on how funding can influence research have centered around pharmaceuticals. He projects it will soon grow, however, to include policy research as tech companies ramp up their funding programs

Cynthia Murrell, October 2, 2017

Academic Publication Rights Cause European Dispute

September 4, 2017

Being published is the bread and butter of intellectuals, especially academics. publication, in theory, is a way for information to be shared across the globe, but it also has become big business. In a recent Chemistry World article the standoff between Germany’s Project DEAL (a consortium comprised of German universities) and Dutch publisher, Elsevier, is examined along with possible fall-out from the end result.

At the heart of the dispute is who controls the publications. Currently, Elsevier holds the cards and has wielded their power to make a clear point on the matter. Project DEAL, though, is not going down without a fight and Chemistry World quotes Horst Hippler, a physical chemist and chief negotiator for Project DEAL, as saying,

In the course of digitisation, science communication is undergoing a fundamental transformation process. Comprehensive, free and – above all – sustainable access to scientific publications is of immense importance to our researchers. We therefore will actively pursue the transformation to open access, which is an important building block in the concept of open science. To this end, we want to create a fair and sustainable basis through appropriate licensing agreements with Elsevier and other scientific publishers.

As publications are moving farther from ink and paper and more to digital who owns the rights to the information is becoming murkier. It will be interesting to see how this battle plays out and if any more disgruntled academics jump on board.

Catherine Lamsfuss, September 4, 2017

Seventeen Visions of the Future From Microsoft Researchers

March 31, 2017

Here’s a bit of PR from Microsoft that could pay off in many ways, should the company be wise enough to listen to these women. Microsoft’s blog posts, “17 for ’17: Microsoft Researchers on What to Expect in 2017 and in 2027.” As part of their Computer Science Education Week, the company shares 17 well-informed perspectives on the future of tech, presented by 17 talented researchers. On the way to introducing these insights, the post reminds us:

In this ‘age of acceleration,’ in which advances in technology and the globalization of business are transforming entire industries and society itself, it’s more critical than ever for everyone to be digitally literate, especially our kids. This is particularly true for women and girls who, while representing roughly 50 percent of the world’s population, account for less than 20 percent of computer science graduates in 34 OECD countries, according to this report. This has far-reaching societal and economic consequences.

Consequences like a worldwide shortage of qualified computer scientists, which could be eased by a surge of women entering the field. That’s why they call personnel management ”human resources,” after all.

We are pleased to see one particular researcher on the list, Sue Dumais, who happens to be an alum of the historic Bell Labs. Dumais now works as deputy managing director at Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington, lab. Her view for 2017 makes perfect sense—more progress in, and reliance upon, deep learning models. Among other things, she expects these models to continue improving internet search results. What about further down the road? Here’s Dumais’ vision:

What will be the key advance or topic of discussion in search and information retrieval in 2027?

The search box will disappear. It will be replaced by search functionality that is more ubiquitous, embedded and contextually sensitive. We are seeing the beginnings of this transformation with spoken queries, especially in mobile and smart home settings.  This trend will accelerate with the ability to issue queries consisting of sound, images, or video, and with the use of context to proactively retrieve information related to the current location, content, entities, or activities without explicit queries.

The post urges readers to share this list, in the hope that it will inspire talented kids of all genders to pursue careers in computer science.

Cynthia Murrell, March 31, 2017

You Too, Can Learn Linear Algebra

January 24, 2017

Algebra was invented in Persia nearly one thousand years ago. It is one of the fundamental branches of mathematics and its theories are applied to many industries.  Algebra ranges from solving for x to complex formulas that leave one scratching their head.  If you are interested in learning linear algebra, then you should visit Sheldon Axler’s Web site.  Along with an apparent love for his pet cat, Axler is a professor of mathematics at San Francisco State University.

On his Web site, Axler lists the various mathematics books he has written and contributed too.  It is an impressive bibliography and his newest book is titled, Linear Algebra Abridged.  He describes the book as:

Linear Algebra Abridged is generated from Linear Algebra Done Right (third edition) by excluding all proofs, examples, and exercises, along with most comments. Learning linear algebra without proofs, examples, and exercises is probably impossible. Thus this abridged version should not substitute for the full book. However, this abridged version may be useful to students seeking to review the statements of the main results of linear algebra.

Algebra can be difficult, but as Axler wrote above learning linear algebra without proofs is near impossible.  However, if you have a grounded understanding of algebra and are simply looking to brush up or study linear principles without spending a sizable chunk on the textbook, then this is a great asset.  The book is free to download from Axler’s Web site, along with information on how to access the regular textbook.

Whitney Grace, January 24, 2017

Writing That Is Never Read

November 23, 2016

It is inevitable in college that you were forced to write an essay.  Writing an essay usually requires the citation of various sources from scholarly journals.  As you perused the academic articles, the thought probably crossed your mind: who ever reads this stuff?  Smithsonian Magazine tells us who in the article, “Academics Write Papers Arguing Over How Many People Read (And Cite) Their Papers.”  In other words, themselves.

Academic articles are read mostly by their authors, journal editors, and the study’s author write, and students forced to cite them for assignments.  In perfect scholarly fashion, many academics do not believe that their work has a limited scope.  So what do they do?  They decided to write about it and have done so for twenty years.

Most academics are not surprised that most written works go unread.  The common belief is that it is better to publish something rather than nothing and it could also be a requirement to keep their position.  As they are prone to do, academics complain about the numbers and their accuracy:

It seems like this should be an easy question to answer: all you have to do is count the number of citations each paper has. But it’s harder than you might think. There are entire papers themselves dedicated to figuring out how to do this efficiently and accurately. The point of the 2007 paper wasn’t to assert that 50 percent of studies are unread. It was actually about citation analysis and the ways that the internet is letting academics see more accurately who is reading and citing their papers. “Since the turn of the century, dozens of databases such as Scopus and Google Scholar have appeared, which allow the citation patterns of academic papers to be studied with unprecedented speed and ease,” the paper’s authors wrote.

Academics always need something to argue about, no matter how miniscule the topic. This particular article concludes on the note that someone should get the number straight so academics can move onto to another item to argue about.  Going back to the original thought a student forced to write an essay with citations also probably thought: the reason this stuff does not get read is because they are so boring.

Whitney Grace, November 23, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Need a Low Cost College Degree? Dark Web U Is for You

October 11, 2016

The lawless domain just got murkier. Apart from illegal firearms, passports, drugs and hitmen, you now can procure a verifiable college degree or diploma on Dark Web.

The Next Web in an article Dark Web crooks are selling fake degrees and certifications for the price of a smartphone REPORTS:

Cyber criminals have created a digital marketplace where unscrupulous students can
purchase or gain information necessary to provide them with unfair and illegal
academic credentials and advantages.

The certificates for these academic credentials are near perfect. But what makes this cybercrime more dangerous is the fact that hackers also manipulate the institution records to make the fake credential genuine.

The article ADDS:

A flourishing market for hackers who would target universities in order to change
grades and remove academic admonishments

This means that under and completely non-performing students undertaking an educational course need not worry about low grades or absenteeism. Just pay the hackers and you have a perfectly legal degree that you can show the world. And the cost of all these? Just $500-$1000.

What makes this particular aspect of Dark Web horrifying interesting is the fact that anyone who procures such illegitimate degree can enter mainstream job market with perfect ease and no student debt.

Vishal Ingole, October 11, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Google Offers Free Cloud Access to Colleges

August 29, 2016

Think Amazon is the only outfit which understands the concept of strategic pricing, bundling, and free services? Google has decided to emulate such notable marketing outfits as ReedElsevier’s LexisNexis and offering colleges a real deal for use of for-fee online services. Who would have thought that Google would emulate LexisNexis’ law school strategy?

I read “Google Offers Free Cloud Access to Colleges, Plays Catch Up to Amazon, Microsoft.” I reported that a mid tier consulting firm anointed Microsoft as the Big Dog in cloud computing. Even in Harrod’s Creek, folks know that Amazon is at least in the cloud computing kennel with the Softies.

According to the write up:

Google in June announced an education grant offering free credits for its cloud platform, with no credit card required, unlimited access to its suite of tools and training resources. Amazon and Microsoft’s cloud services both offer education programs, and now Google Cloud wants a part in shaping future computer scientists — and probably whatever they come up with using the tool.

The write up points out:

Amazon and Microsoft’s cloud services offer an education partnership in free trials or discounted pricing. For the time being, Microsoft Azure’s education program is not taking new applications and “oversubscribed,” the website reads. Amazon Web Services has an online application for its education program for teachers and students to get accounts, and Google is accepting applications from faculty members.

How does one avail oneself of these free services. Sign up for a class and hope that your course “Big Band Music from the 1940’s” qualifies you for free cloud stuff.

Stephen E Arnold, August 29, 2016

IBM Takes Its University Initiative to Scotland

August 22, 2016

The article on Inside HPC titled IBM Partners with University of Aberdeen to Drive Cognitive Computing illustrates the circumstances of the first Scottish university partnership with IBM. IBM has been collecting goodwill and potential data analysts from US colleges lately, so it is no surprise that this endeavor has been sent abroad. The article details,

In June 2015, the UK government unveiled plans for a £313 million partnership with IBM to boost big data research in the UK. Following an initial investment of £113 million to expand the Hartree Centre at Daresbury over the next five years, IBM also agreed to provide further support to the project with a package of technology and onsite expertise worth up to £200 million. This included 24 IBM researchers, stationed at the Hartree Centre, to work side-by-side with existing researchers.

The University of Aberdeen will begin by administering the IBM cognitive computing technology in computer science courses in addition to ongoing academic research with Watson. In a sense, the students exposed to Watson in college are being trained to seek jobs in the industry, for IBM. They will have insider experience and goodwill toward the company. It really is one of the largest nets cast for prospective job applicants in industry history.

Chelsea Kerwin, June 22, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph     There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
Information is at this link:

Need a Mentor? See Here

August 3, 2016

Does your business need a mentor? How about any students or budding entrepreneurs you know? Such a guide can be invaluable, especially to a small business, but Google and Bing may not be the best places to pose that query. Business magazine Inc. has rounded up “Ten Top Platforms for Finding a Mentor in 22016.” Writer John Boitnott introduces the list:

“Many startup founders have learned that by working with a mentor, they enjoy a collaboration through which they can learn and grow. They usually also gain access to a much more experienced entrepreneur’s extensive network, which can help as they seek funding or gather resources. For students, mentors can provide the insight they need as they make decisions about their future. One of the biggest problems entrepreneurs and students have, however, is finding a good mentor when their professional networks are limited. Fortunately, technology has come up with an answer. Here are nine great platforms helping to connect mentors and mentees in 2016.”

Boitnott  lists the following mentor-discovery resources: Music platform Envelop offers workshops for performers and listeners. Mogul focuses on helping female entrepreneurs via a 27/7 advice hotline. From within classrooms, iCouldBe connects high-school students to potential mentors. Also for high-school students, iMentor is specifically active in low-income communities. MentorNet works to support STEM students through a community of dedicated mentors, while the free, U.K.-based Horse’s Mouth supports a loosely-organized platform where participants share ideas. Also free, Find a Mentor matches potential protégés with adult mentors. SCORE supplies tools like workshops and document templates for small businesses. Cloud-based MentorCity serves entrepreneurs, students, and nonprofits, and it maintains a free online registry where mentors can match their skill sets to the needs of inquiring minds.

Who knew so much professional guidance was out there, made possible by today’s technology, and much of it for free?  For more information on each entry, see the full article.



Cynthia Murrell, August 3, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph



Summize, an App with the Technology to Make Our Children Learn. But Is They?

August 2, 2016

The article on TheNextWeb titled Teenagers Have Built a Summary App that Could Help Students Ace Exams might be difficult to read over the sound of a million teachers weeping into their syllabi. It’s no shock that students hate to read, and there is even some cause for alarm over the sheer amount of reading that some graduate students are expected to complete. But for middle schoolers, high schoolers, and even undergrads in college, there is a growing concern about the average reading comprehension level. This new app can only make matters worse by removing a student’s incentive to absorb the material and decide for themselves what is important. The article describes the app,

“Available for iOSSummize is an intelligent summary generator that will automatically recap the contents of any textbook page (or news article) you take a photo of with your smartphone. The app also supports concept, keyword and bias analysis, which breaks down the summaries to make them more accessible. With this feature, users can easily isolate concepts and keywords from the rest of the text to focus precisely on the material that matters the most to them.”

There is nothing wrong with any of this if it is really about time management instead of supporting illiteracy and lazy study habits. This app is the result of the efforts of an 18-year-old Rami Ghanem using optical character recognition software. A product of the era of No Child Left Behind, not coincidentally, exposed to years of teaching to the test and forgetting the lesson, of rote memorization in favor of analysis and understanding. Yes, with Summize, little Jimmy might ace the test. But shouldn’t an education be more than talking point mcnuggets?



Chelsea Kerwin, August 2, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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