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Researchers Glean Audio from Video

July 10, 2015

Now, this is fascinating. Scary, but fascinating. MIT News explains how a team of researchers from MIT, Microsoft, and Adobe are “Extracting Audio from Visual Information.” The article includes a video in which one can clearly hear the poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb” as extrapolated from video of a potato chip bag’s vibrations filmed through soundproof glass, among other amazing feats. I highly recommend you take four-and-a-half minutes to watch the video.

 Writer Larry Hardesty lists some other surfaces from which the team was able reproduce audio by filming vibrations: aluminum foil, water, and plant leaves. The researchers plan to present a paper on their results at this year’s Siggraph computer graphics conference. See the article for some details on the research, including camera specs and algorithm development.

 So, will this tech have any non-spying related applications? Hardesty cites MIT grad student, and first writer on the team’s paper, Abe Davis as he writes:

 “The researchers’ technique has obvious applications in law enforcement and forensics, but Davis is more enthusiastic about the possibility of what he describes as a ‘new kind of imaging.’

“‘We’re recovering sounds from objects,’ he says. ‘That gives us a lot of information about the sound that’s going on around the object, but it also gives us a lot of information about the object itself, because different objects are going to respond to sound in different ways.’ In ongoing work, the researchers have begun trying to determine material and structural properties of objects from their visible response to short bursts of sound.”

 That’s one idea. Researchers are confident other uses will emerge, ones no one has thought of yet. This is a technology to keep tabs on, and not just to decide when to start holding all private conversations in windowless rooms.

 Cynthia Murrell, July 10, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Digital Reasoning a Self-Described Cognitive Computing Company

June 26, 2015

The article titled Spy Tools Come to the Cloud on Enterprise Tech shows how Amazon’s work with analytics companies on behalf of the government have realized platforms like “GovCloud”, with increased security. The presumed reason for such platforms being the gathering of intelligence and threat analysis on the big data scale. The article explains,

“The Digital Reasoning cognitive computing tool is designed to generate “knowledge graphs of connected objects” gleaned from structured and unstructured data. These “nodes” (profiles of persons or things of interest) and “edges” (the relationships between them) are graphed, “and then being able to take this and put it into time and space,” explained Bill DiPietro, vice president of product management at Digital Reasoning. The partners noted that the elastic computing capability… is allowing customers to bring together much larger datasets.”

For former CIA staff officer DiPietro it logically follows that bigger questions can be answered by the data with tools like the AWS GovCloud and subsequent Hadoop ecosystems. He cites the ability to quickly spotlight and identify someone on a watch list out of the haystack of people as the challenge set to overcome. They call it “cluster on demand,” the process that allows them to manage and bring together data.

Chelsea Kerwin, June 26,  2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Twitter Gets a Search Facelift

June 25, 2015

Twitter has been experimenting with improving its search results and according to TechCrunch the upgrade comes via a new search results interface: “Twitter’s New Search Results Interface Expands To All Users.”  The new search results interface is the one of the largest updates Twitter has made in 2015.  It is supposed to increase the ease with a cleaner look and better filtering options.  Users will now be able to filter search results by live tweets, photos, videos, news, accounts, and more.

Twitter made the update to help people better understand how to use the message service and to take a more active approach to using it, rather than passively reading other peoples tweets.  The update is specifically targeted at new Twitter users.

The tweaked search interface will return tweets related to the search phrase or keyword, but that does not mean that the most popular tweets are returned:

“In some cases, the top search result isn’t necessarily the one with the higher metrics associated with it – but one that better matches what Twitter believes to be the searcher’s “intent.” For example, a search for “Steve Jobs” first displays a heavily-retweeted article about the movie’s trailer, but a search for “Mad Men” instead first displays a more relevant tweet ahead of the heavily-favorited “Mad Men” mention by singer Lorde.”

The new interface proves to be simpler and better list trends, related users, and news.  It does take a little while to finesse Twitter, which is a daunting task to new users.  Twitter is not the most popular social network these day and it’s using these updates to increase its appeal.

Whitney Grace, June 25, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

HP Sales Are Slow, But CEO Says Progress

June 24, 2015

According to Computer Weekly, “HP CEO Hails Business Split Progress Amid Downbeat Q2 Revenue Slumps.”  HP’s Enterprise Service has the worst revenue reports for the quarter along with several more of its business units with a seven percent net loss.  The Enterprise Service saw a sixteen percent loss.

Ironically, the company’s stock rose 1 percent, mostly due to HP expanding into China due to a new partnership with Tsinghua University.  The joint venture will focus on developing HP’s H3C’s technology and its China-based server business, supposedly it will have huge implications on the Chinese technology market.

Another piece of news is that HP will split up:

“[CEO Meg ] Whitman also spoke in favour of the progress the company is making with its plans to separate into two publicly traded business entities: one comprised of its consumer PC and printing operations, and the other focused on enterprise hardware, software and services.

The past six months have reinforced Whitman’s conviction that this is the right path for the company to take, and the split is still on course to occur before the end of the firm’s financial year.”

The company wants to increase its revenue, but it needs to cut gross costs across the board.  HP is confidant that it will work.  Sales will continue to be slow for 2015, but they can still do investment banking things at HP.

Whitney Grace, June 24, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

New Analysis Tool for Hadoop Data from Oracle

June 23, 2015

Oracle offers new ways to analyze Hadoop data, we learn from the brief write-up, “Oracle Zeroes in on Hadoop Data with New Analytics Tool” at PCWorld. Use of the Hadoop open-source distributed file system continues to grow  among businesses and other organizations, so it is no surprise to see enterprise software giant Oracle developing such tools. This new software is dubbed Oracle Big Data Spatial and Graph. Writer Katherine Noyes reports:

“Users of Oracle’s database have long had access to spatial and graph analytics tools, which are used to uncover relationships and analyze data sets involving location. Aiming to tackle more diverse data sets and minimize the need for data movement, Oracle created the product to be able to process data natively on Hadoop and in parallel using MapReduce or in-memory structures.

“There are two main components. One is a distributed property graph with more than 35 high-performance, parallel, in-memory analytic functions. The other is a collection of spatial-analysis functions and services to evaluate data based on how near or far something is, whether it falls within a boundary or region, or to process and visualize geospatial data and imagery.”

The write-up notes that such analysis can reveal connections for organizations to capitalize upon, like relationships between customers or assets. The software is, of course, compatible with Oracle’s own Big Data Appliance platform, but can be deployed on other Hadoop and NoSQL systems, as well.

Cynthia Murrell, June 23, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Basho Enters Ring With New Data Platform

June 18, 2015

When it comes to enterprise technology these days, it is all about making software compliant for a variety of platforms and needs.  Compliancy is the name of the game for Basho, says Diginomica’s article, “Basho Aims For Enterprise Operational Simplicity With New Data Platform.”  Basho’s upgrade to its Riak Data Platform makes it more integration with related tools and to make complex operational environments simpler.  Data management and automation tools are another big seller for NoSQL enterprise databases, which Basho also added to the Riak upgrade.  Basho is not the only company that is trying to improve NoSQL enterprise platforms, these include MongoDB and DataStax.  Basho’s advantage is delivering a solution using the  Riak data platform.

Basho’s data platform already offers a variety of functions that people try to get to work with a NoSQL database and they are nearly automated: Riak Search with Apache Solr, orchestration services, Apache Spark Connector, integrated caching with Redis, and simplified development using data replication and synchronization.

“CEO Adam Wray released some canned comment along with the announcement, which indicates that this is a big leap for Basho, but also is just the start of further broadening of the platform. He said:

‘This is a true turning point for the database industry, consolidating a variety of critical but previously disparate services to greatly simplify the operational requirements for IT teams working to scale applications with active workloads. The impact it will have on our users, and on the use of integrated data services more broadly, will be significant. We look forward to working closely with our community and the broader industry to further develop the Basho Data Platform.’”

The article explains that NoSQL market continues to grow and enterprises need management as well as automation to manage the growing number of tasks databases are used for.  While a complete solution for all NoSQL needs has been developed, Basho comes fairly close.

Whitney Grace, June 18, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Magic May Not Come From Pre-Made Taxonomies

June 17, 2015

There are hundreds of companies that advertise they can increase information access, retrieval and accuracy for enterprise search by selling prefabricated taxonomies.  These taxonomies are industry specific and are generated by using an all-or-nothing approach, rather than individualizing them for each enterprise search client.  It turns out that the prefabricated taxonomies are not guaranteed to help enterprise search; in fact, they might be a waste of money.  The APQC Blog posted “Make Enterprise Search Magical Without Money” that uses an infographic to explain how organizations can improve their enterprise search without spending a cent.

APQC found that “best-practice organizations don’t have significantly better search technology.  Instead, they meet employees’ search needs with superior processes and approaches the content management.”

How can it be done?

The three steps are quite simple:

  1. Build taxonomies that reflect how people actually think and work-this can be done with focus groups and periodically reviewing taxonomies and metadata. This contributes to better and more effective content management.
  2. Use scope, metadata, and manual curation to ensure search returns the most relevant results-constantly the taxonomies for ways to improve and how users are actually users search.
  3. Clear out outdated, irrelevant, and duplicate content that’s cluttering up your search results-keep taxonomies updated so they continue to deliver accurate results.

These are really simple editing steps, but the main problem organizations might have is actually implementing the steps.  Will they assign the taxonomy creation task to the IT department or information professionals?  Who will be responsible for setting up focus groups and monitoring usage?  Yes, it is easy to do, but it takes a lot of time.

Whitney Grace, June 17, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Differing Focuses for OneDrive and SharePoint Online

June 9, 2015

Microsoft is unveiling a new OneDrive for Business, and hopes that it offers a secure and sanctioned alternative to other lightweight solutions increasingly preferred by users like: Box, Dropbox, or Google Drive. Search Content Management covers the story in their article, “OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Fill Different Niches.”

The article says:

“Microsoft has recognized users’ preference for lightweight systems, and that preference may explain the recent success of OneDrive for Business (ODB), a cloud file-sharing service that is part of the Office 365 suite. But Microsoft also has SharePoint, its heavier, more traditional content/collaboration platform, which also supports integration with a version of ODB.”

It seems that Microsoft is putting OneDrive up in the battle against others in the cloud file-sharing arena, while leaving SharePoint to handle more structured collaboration. It will be interesting to see how customers and enterprise managers market the two to their users. Stephen E. Arnold also has good coverage on both solutions for those who are looking for more information. His Web service,, offers a good go-to SharePoint feed to keep users updated on the latest SharePoint tips, tricks, and news.

Emily Rae Aldridge, June 9, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

SharePoint Grasps for Relevancy in the Realm of Social

June 2, 2015

Ever since the rise of social platforms, SharePoint has attempted to keep up. While many users would say that these attempts were struggled behind the majority of social technology, Microsoft was making an effort to keep their enterprise heading in the social direction. The battle has been long and hard and Redmond Magazine gives the latest update in its article, “Microsoft Looks To Bring Social Back to SharePoint with Office Graph.”

The article describes how Microsoft is more or less stuck between a rock and a hard place in their game of social “keep-up”:

“Not that an enterprise-class team and document collaboration vendor should try to match the capabilities of what are, more often than not, a collection of unsecure, noncompliant, sometimes untested tools . . . But here’s the rub: if you don’t offer end users the tools they want, and make key features available on the mobile devices (and operating systems) they want to use, all of those security, auditing, compliance, and reporting standards will become irrelevant because people won’t use your platform.”

So Microsoft continues to battle for relevancy. Its latest move is Office Graph, and analysts are optimistic that this social layer may finally be a way for Microsoft to deliver on its promise of personalized and intelligent social solutions. To stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the social world of SharePoint, keep an eye on, in particular his SharePoint feed. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search and follower of SharePoint. His reporting offers a succinct insight into the developments that affect productivity and user experience.

Emily Rae Aldridge, June 2, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Prepare To Update Your Cassandra

June 2, 2015

It is time for an update to Apache’s headlining, open source, enterprise search software!  The San Diego Times let us know that “DataStax Enterprise 4.7 Released” and it has a slew of updates set to make open source search enthusiasts drool.   DataStax is a company that built itself around the open source Apache Cassandra software.  The company specializes in enterprise applications for search and analytics.

The newest release of DataStax Enterprise 4.7 includes several updates to improve a user’s enterprise experience:

“…includes a production-certified version of Cassandra 2.1, and it adds enhanced enterprise search, analytics, security, in-memory, and database monitoring capabilities. These include a new certified version of Apache Solr and Live Indexing, a new DSE feature that makes data immediately available for search by leveraging Cassandra’s native ability to run across multiple data centers.”

The update also includes DataStax’s OpCenter 5.2 for enhanced security and encryption.  It can be used to store encryption keys on servers and to manage admin security.

The enhanced search capabilities are the real bragging points: fault-tolerant search operations-used to customize failed search responses, intelligent search query routing-queries are routed to the fastest machines in a cluster for the quickest response times, and extended search analytics-using Solr search syntax and Apache Spark research and analytics tasks can run simultaneously.

DataStax Enterprise 4.7 improves enterprise search applications.  It will probably pull in users trying to improve their big data plans.  Has DataStax considered how its enterprise platform could be used for the cloud or on mobile computing?

Whitney Grace, June 2, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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