The Software Behind the Web Sites

January 17, 2017

Have you ever visited an awesome Web site or been curious how an organization manages their Web presence?  While we know the answer is some type of software, we usually are not given a specific name.  Venture Beat reports that it is possible to figure out the software in the article, “SimilarTech’s Profiler Tells You All Of The Technologies That Web Companies Are Using.”

SimilarTech is a tool designed to crawl the Internet to analyze what technologies, including software, Web site operators use.  SimiliarTech is also used to detect which online payment tools are the most popular.  It does not come as a surprise that PayPal is the most widely used, with PayPal Subscribe and Alipay in second and third places.

Tracking what technology and software companies utilize for the Web is a boon for salespeople, recruiters, and business development professionals who want a competitive edge as well as:

Overall, SimilarTech provides big data insights about technology adoption and usage analytics for the entire internet, providing access to data that simply wasn’t available before. The insights are used by marketing and sales professionals for website profiling, lead generation, competitive analysis, and business intelligence.

SimiliarTech can also locate contact information for personnel responsible for Web operations, in other words new potential clients.

This tool is kind of like the mailing houses of the past. Mailing houses have data about people, places, organizations, etc. and can generate contact information lists of specific clientele for companies.  SimiliarTech offers the contact information, but it does one better by finding the technologies people use for Web site operation.

Whitney Grace, January 17, 2016

Google Drones Down, Loon Balloons Up

January 16, 2017

I read “Alphabet Grounds Titan Solar-Powered Drones, Shifts to Project Loon Instead.” Whatever is going on at Google seems to make life tough for those involved in high school science projects. Bummer. Drones down. Balloons still aloft.

The write up explains:

One of X’s most hopeful initiatives involves providing universal internet access via sky-based wireless routers. One of them, Project Loon, uses high-altitude balloons to loft the routers in the air, and that project is still on track. Another, dubbed Titan and using fixed-wing solar-powered drones, isn’t so lucky…

I learned:

Titan made high-altitude, solar-powered drones that can stay in the air for extended periods of time and could likely serve a variety of purposes for Alphabet. The idea at the time seemed to be to combine the Titan drones with Project Loon balloons to provide internet access to underserved areas of the globe, but it appears that idea has been abandoned.

Alphabet Google needs to find a way to deal with the Alexafication of search. Ad revenue could be the next thing coming down. Will Loon balloons keep the company’s Yahoo-inspired online ad contraption aloft?

Stephen E Arnold, January 16, 2017

Improve Your B2B Search with Klevu

January 6, 2017

Ecommerce sites rely on a strong search tool to bring potential customers to their online stores and to find specific products without a hassle.  B2B based companies have the same goal, but they need an entire different approach although they still rely on search.  If you run a B2B company, you might want to take a gander at Klevu and their solutions: “Search Requirements For A B2B Retailer.”

In the blog post, Klevu explains that B2B companies have multiple customer groups that allow different pricing, products, discounts, etc.  The customers see prices based on allocation from the store, but they cannot use a single price for every item.  Search is also affected by this outcome.  Klevu came out with the Klevu Magneto plugin to:

With the help of our partners and our in-house expertise, we came up with a solution that allows such group prices to automatically work with Klevu. The Klevu Magneto plugin fetches the group prices and, at the time of showing the search results, Klevu’s JavaScript determines the relevant price for rendering. We’ve also ensure that this works in Ajax / quick search as well, as this was an important requirement.

The Klevu Magneto plugin also has an SKU search option, maintaining the same landing page within search results, and instant faceted search.  Klevu researched the issues that its B2B customers had the most problems with and created solutions.  They are actively pursuing ways to resolve bothersome issues that pop up and this is just the start for them.

Whitney Grace, January 6, 2017

Bank App Does Not Play Well with Tor Browser

December 22, 2016

Bank apps are a convenient way to access and keep track of your accounts.  They are mainly used on mobile devices and are advertised for the user on the go.  One UK bank app, however, refuses to play nice with devices that have the Tor browser, reports the Register in the article, “Tor Torpedoed!  Tesco Bank App Won’t Run With Privacy Tool Installed.”

Tesco is a popular bank present in supermarkets, but if you want to protect your online privacy by using the Tor browser on your mobile device the Tesco app will not work on said device.  Marcus Davage, the mainframe database administrator, alerted Tesco patrons that in order to use the Tesco app, they needed to delete the Tor browser.  Why is this happening?

The issue appears to be related to security. Tesco’s help site notes that the Android app checks for malware and other possible security risks (such as the phone being rooted) upon launching and, in this case, the Tor software triggers an alert.  The Tor Project makes two apps for Android, the aforementioned Orbot and the Orfox browser, both of which allow users to encrypt their data traffic using the Tor network. According to the Play Store, Orbot has been downloaded more than five million times by Android users.

App developers need to take into account that the Tor browser is not malware.  Many users are concerned with their online privacy and protecting their personal information, so Tor needs to be recognized as a safe application.

Whitney Grace, December 22, 2016

Palantir Factoid: 2016 Government Contract Value

December 21, 2016

I read “Palantir CEO at Trump-Tech Summit Raises Red Flags.” The idea is that Palantir is a peanut when compared to publicly traded giants like IBM and Microsoft. The presence of Peter Thiel, an adviser to the Trumpeteers, adds some zip to both Facebook and Palantir. But Palantir’s Alex Karp was at the meeting as well. The idea is that the Trumpeteers continue to get stereophonic inputs about technology and other matters.

This is the factoid which caught my attention. I assume, of course, that everything I read online is dead center accurate:

Palantir received about $83 million from the government this year tied to 71 transactions, according to USASpending.gov.

What happens to Palantir’s bookings if some changes to the DCGS program come down the pike? Perhaps Palantir will be running some meetings at which giants like IBM are going to be eager participants. On the other hand, IBM and some of the folks at the Trumpeteers’ technology summit might not be happy.

Net net: I was dismayed at the modest bookings Palantir has garnered. I expected heftier numbers.

Stephen E Arnold, December 21, 2016

Lucidworks Sees Watson as a Savior

December 21, 2016

Lucidworks (really?). A vision has appeared to the senior managers of Lucidworks, an open source search outfit which has ingested $53 million and sucked in another $6 million in debt financing in June 2016. Yep, that Lucidworks. The “really” which the name invokes is an association I form when someone tells me that commercializing open source search is going to knock off the pesky Elastic of Elasticsearch fame while returning a juicy payoff to the folks who coughed up the funds to keep the company founded in 2007 chugging along. Yep, Lucid works. Sort of, maybe.

I read “Lucidworks Integrates IBM Watson into Fusion Enterprise Discovery Platform.” The write up explains that Lucidworks is “tapping into” the IBM Watson developer cloud. The write up explains that Lucidworks has:

an application framework that helps developers to create enterprise discovery applications so companies can understand their data and take action on insights.

Ah, so many buzzwords. Search has become applications. “Action on insights” puts some metaphorical meat on the bones of Solr, the marrow of Lucidworks. Really?

With Watson in the company’s back pocket, Lucidworks will deliver. I learned:

Customers can rely on Fusion to develop and deploy powerful discovery apps quickly thanks to its advanced cognitive computing features and machine learning from Watson. Fusion applies Watson’s machine learning capabilities to an organization’s unique and proprietary mix of structured and unstructured data so each app gets smarter over time by learning to deliver better answers to users with each query. Fusion also integrates several Watson services such as Retrieve and Rank, Speech to Text, Natural Language Classifier, and AlchemyLanguage to bolster the platform’s performance by making it easier to interact naturally with the platform and improving the relevance of query results for enterprise users.

But wait. Doesn’t Watson perform these functions already. And if Watson comes up a bit short in one area, isn’t IBM-infused Yippy ready to take up the slack?

That question is not addressed in the write up. It seems that the difference between Watson, its current collection of partners, and affiliated entities like Yippy are vast. The write up tells me:

customers looking for hosted, pre-tuned machine learning and natural language processing capabilities can point and click their way to building sophisticated applications without the need for additional resources. By bringing Watson’s cognitive computing technology to the world of enterprise data apps, these discovery apps made with Fusion are helping professionals understand the mountain of data they work with in context to take action.

This sounds like quite a bit of integration work. Lucidworks. Really?

Stephen E Arnold, December 21, 2016

Google Stretches Its AI Wings

December 19, 2016

Google has been very busy launching AI solutions. For example, ReCode tells us, “Pow! Bang! Google Uses Its AI to Bring Visual Punch to Digital Comic Books,” while the New Atlas reports, “DeepMind AI Slashes Cooling Costs at Google’s Data Centers.” Making comic books easier to read is nice, and reducing electric consumption is even better. We would be happy, though, to finally see more relevant search results; perhaps Google will tackle that side project soon.

Recode’s Mark Bergen describes Google’s comic-book enhancement tool, called Bubble Zoom:

The latest [AI] insertion is a neat visual trick to make it easier to read comic books within the Google Play Books app. Unfurled at Comic-Con International, it’s called Bubble Zoom and does just that — zooms in on text bubbles in comics with one touch. Last fall, Google introduced new mobile formats for digital comics, an attempt to get more comics readers, a devotee-heavy group, spending time and money within Google’s digital media store.

That could work. Meanwhile, Google is certainly seeing financial benefits from its AI-enhanced data center cooling project. Michael Irving at the New Atlas explains:

Now, Google has set its DeepMind system loose on its massive data centers, and drastically cut the cost of cooling these facilities in the process. Running Gmail, YouTube, and the all-knowing Google Search guzzles a tremendous amount of power, and while Google has invested heavily in making its servers, cooling systems and energy sources as efficient and green as possible, there’s always room for improvement. Especially when the industrial-scale cooling systems are difficult to run efficiently, given the complex interactions that occur between equipment, environment and staff in a data center. To account for all those factors that a human operator or traditional formula-based engineering might miss, the team put DeepMind to work on the problem, and the result was a drastic reduction in power consumption for the center’s cooling systems.

The article goes on to describe how the difference was measured, using the PUE metric and the record-breaking results they achieved. Naturally, Google expects to apply this successful tool throughout their buildings. We’re told they also plan to share the methodology with other organizations, so they can reduce their energy consumption, too. No word yet on how they plan to monetize that initiative.

Cynthia Murrell, December 19, 2016

Yahoo Data Value

December 18, 2016

I read “Hacked Yahoo Data Worth $300,000 on the Dark Web.” The Yahoot fumbled bumbled its way to losing more passwords. I have seen numbers ranging from 300 million, 500 million, and one billion. The answer to the question is allegedly $300,000. Seems to work out to about $0.0003. That strikes me as close to the credibility of the Yahoot management team. Those Xoogler led wizards know how to deliver “value.” Yahoo. It’s a hoot. Change that yodel to “yahooooot.”

Stephen E Arnold, December 18, 1016

Trump and Tech: A Question and My Answer

December 18, 2016

I read “So What Attracted Tech Bosses to the Billionaire President-Elect Donald Trump?” The several hundred word write up tackles an obvious question. There is one answer:

Power.

Why use so many words to answer the question? My thoughts:

  1. Author is paid to produce a certain number of words. A one word real journalistic write up is not acceptable.
  2. Author wants to trot out some cute Trumpies; for example, trumpelthinskin
  3. Author wants to amplify the reasons to include greed and money.

Nope. Power. When I was a wee lad, I lived in Washington, DC. When I was a bit older I was detailed to “assist” the elected official who was the chair of the then Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. A bit later I fumbled around on a White House job. Some call it Potomac fever.

Take it from me: Power. One word. The answer. I did like the begging for dollars tack on too.

Stephen E Arnold, December 18, 2016

Gallup Survey Shows American Faith in Almost All Institutions Waning Except Military

December 17, 2016

The article on The Washington Examiner titled Fishwrap: Confidence in Newspapers, TV News Hits Bottom relays a Gallup survey that shows Americans trust in media slipping to a new low. The focus of the survey was general loss of confidence in various institutions such as churches, banks, big business, and Congress. The article translates the findings,

Overall, said Gallup’s analysis, “Confidence in banks — which took a hit amid the bursting housing bubble in 2007 and 2008, and dropped further after the ensuing financial crisis — fell the most, plunging from 49% in 2006 to 27% now. Confidence in organized religion, which has felt the effects of the scandals enveloping the Catholic Church, dropped from 52% to 41%, one point below last year’s previous low of 42%.

TV news, print news, and Congress saw the greatest falls of about 10%, perhaps unsurprisingly given the lackluster diplomatic skills of our current Congress and the outright failure of the media to properly vet and address the presumptive Republican nominee. Interestingly, the scandals involving General Petraeus as well as those surrounding the military’s failure to manage sexual assault of its female members over the last few years have done nothing to diminish that institution in the eyes of the public. It stands solid and unshakeable at 73%.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 17, 2016

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