Scadarlia Refines Internet Search Results

June 27, 2017

You can add a touch of arts-and-crafts to your online searches with a third-party preview-and-notation app—“Scadarlia: New Approach to Search Engines Using.” The promo page includes a video and is full of illustrative screenshots. What interests us is the way Scadarlia evaluates the relevance of each result. The Softpedia download page goes into the tech behind the folksy-looking add-on:

The program prompts you with a main window that is split into two sections, which should reinterpret your approach to search engines. While the left section is dedicated to keywords as well as the list of results the search engine considers suitable for your inquiry, the right panel shows the URL you want to analyze in detail. While this may look like a program packing ordinary browser-like capability, it is not. In fact, the application differentiates itself through its ability to follow a series of rules when displaying the results of a Google or Bing search. It can analyze the position of your keywords within your page, making sure that they are as close to one another as possible, since this is what makes them more representative for what you have in mind.

Other features include the color-coding sites by usefulness and the abilities to blacklist sites and to create stop words. The full version can be downloaded for $9.95 from its Softpedia page.

Cynthia Murrell, June 27, 2017

Apple Lovers Demand Their Own Talking Speaker

June 27, 2017

Google and Amazon dominate the intelligent speaker market and it is about to get more crowded.  Marketing Land reports on a recent Morning Consult survey that showed how Apple lovers would like their own talking speaker: “Survey: Amazon Echo, Google Home Onwers ‘Very Interested’ In Apple HomePod.”  Morning Consult surveyed 2,000 US consumers and discovered that one third of them are interested the Apple HomePod and 45 percent are Apple users.

Even more surprising among the results is that the consumers who are the most interested to use an Apple HomePod already own the competing devices.  There are more interesting numbers:

According to the survey, the following were the rankings of variables, “among those who said [the] feature was ‘very important’ when considering a voice-controlled assistant:

57% Price

51% Speaker/audio quality

49% Accuracy of device’s voice recognition

44% Compatibility with devices you may already own, such as your smartphone

30% Access to a variety or music streaming services

29% Ability for device to integrate with other services or platforms, such as controlling smart light bulb

29% Brand that manufactures the device21% Aesthetics or look of the device

Is this an indicator that the Apple cult will win over the home digital assistant market?  It might, but Amazon is still favored among consumers and might be the biggest contender because of the shopping connection and the price.  The accuracy of the HomePod’s voice recognition is very important to consumers, especially when Siri fails to understand.  Bitext could improve Apple, Google, and Amazons’ digital assistants when it comes to natural speech recognition.

Whitney Grace, June 27, 2017

The Voice of Assistance Is Called Snips

June 22, 2017

Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa are the most well known digital assistants, but there are other companies that want to get the same recognition.  Snips is a brand new (relatively) company with the byline: “Our Mission Is To Make Technology Disappear By Putting An AI In Every Device.”  It is a noble mission to enable all technological devices with tools to make our lives better, easier, and more connected.  How did their story begin?

Snips was founded in 2013 as a research lab in AI. Through our projects, we realized that the biggest issue of the next decades was the way humans and machine interact. Indeed, rather than having humans make the effort to use machines, we should use AI to make machines learn to communicate with human. By making this ubiquitous and privacy preserving, we can make technology so intuitive and accessible that it simply disappears from our consciousness.

Snips offer their digital assistant for enterprise systems and it can also be programmed for other systems that need an on-device voice platform, using state of the art Deep Learning.  Snips offer many features, including on-device natural language understanding, customizable hotwords, on device automatic speech recognition, cross-platform, and it is also built using open source technology.

Snips also have their own unique bragging right: they are the only voice platform that is GDPR compliant.  GDPR is a new European regulation mean to protect an individual’s privacy more on connected devices.  If Snips wants to reach more clients in the European market, they might do well partnering with Spain-based Bitext, a company that specializes in linguistic analytics.

Whitney Grace, June 22, 2017


Google: The Full Back Up

June 21, 2017

I read “Google Drive Will Soon Back Up Your Entire Computer.” Sounds good, right? The GOOG will make a bit for bit copy of the data and programs on one’s computer. In the event of a crash, Mother Google will be there. One can search for a file and restore it. That email archive from Thunderbird circa 2011, no problem.

I learned from the write up:

There have been requests for Dropbox to add something like this for ages, and it’s yet to get around to it. Instead, like Drive, people have always had to store files directly in the app’s local folder. For anyone looking for a bit more flexibility in their syncing apps, Google seems like it’s about to become the winning option.

I like the “winning option” for a service about which some details are fuzzy.

My question is, “Will Google scan the backed up data in order to place ads in the service? What about the availability of these data to governments when appropriate documentation is provided to the Google? What happens if the data are part of a legal matter between a person and a corporation?”

Yep, convenient.

Stephen E Arnold, June 21, 2017

Alphabet Google: Just Jobs? Not Likely

June 21, 2017

The is “Connecting More Americans with Jobs.” Sounds good. People want to work, right? Sounds like the right idea even though the notion of universal basic income is floating around like a Loon balloon. With smart software poised to displace MBAs in some of the IPO process steps, jobs are a big deal. Here in Harrod’s Creek, there are quite a few people out of work. There are even some families in which there are two or more generations of people who have never held a full time job. But that’s not a problem.

Google states:

We’re taking the next step in the Google for Jobs initiative by putting the convenience and power of Search into the hands of job seekers. With this new experience, we aim to connect Americans to job opportunities across the U.S., so no matter who you are or what kind of job you’re looking for, you can find job postings that match your needs.

When I read about job aggregation, I thought about the numerous online job services which I have observed over the years. Does anyone remember the BNA’s love affair with job hunting services? And Monster? Love that Monster thing!

From my vantage point, there are several angles to this Google service:

First, aggregating jobs is a useful source of data about people, competitors, and hiring trends. Quick example: Decades ago I was involved in a database called Pharmaceutical News Index. The hot feature of this database was that a person in the pharmaceutical industry could look up a company and see what jobs big wheels and wizards were taking. The information had high value because hires provide direct information about certain types of research initiatives. Now imagine the value of the data of Google can scrape and crunch the job data its announcement references. Valuable information? Yep, definitely above average in my book.

Second, job aggregation is a foundation stone. The service makes it possible to take another step: Matching candidates to jobs. Hey, if you are in the Google system and you want a job, why not let Google’s smart software process your profile and generate a list of potential opportunities. Google has a mostly overlooked dossier function and the nifty analytic tools to make this a walk in the part. Employers might be interested in get information from Google about hiring trends, salaries, and Glassdoor-type insights into what a company is “really like.”

Third, Google’s smart software can knit together a number of items of information about a person or a company. This “federation” of data provides an opportunity for Google to use the Recorded Future technology or a similar home brew technology to predict what is likely to happen for sectors, companies, and even product innovations.

Should Microsoft / LinkedIn be worries?


Stephen E Arnold, June 21, 2017

Russia Demands Google Register or Leave

June 19, 2017

Say, this could be good news for Yandex, the Russian search giant. RT News reports, “Google News Given 3 Mths to Comply with New Law to Stay in Russia.” The article explains:

According to the Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor, major news sites with traffic exceeding a million visitors per day will be put on a special register in 2017. ‘At the moment, only large and popular aggregators such as Yandex, Google,, and others have such a high level of traffic,’ Roskomnadzor spokesman Vadim Ampelonsky told Izvestia daily.

Foreign news aggregators will have three months from January 1 to register their legal entities, thus allowing them to operate in Russia. Currently, there are two major news aggregators owned by foreign companies in Russia – Google and Bing. Bing belongs to Microsoft which already has a Russian subsidiary called Microsoft Rus.

If Google fails to register, it could be fined and, eventually, blocked within Russia’s borders. A quote from Sergey Kopylov, representative of the Russian National Internet Domain, seems to indicate advertising will be against the new rules. We know Google makes most of its money through AdWords, so how will the company respond to this demand?

Cynthia Murrell, June 19, 2017

Will the Smartest Virtual Assistant Please Stand Up?

June 16, 2017

The devices are driving sales. However AI-powered virtual assistants are far from perfect. Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and Cortana are good for basic questions on weather, radio stations, and calendars. But when it comes to complicated questions, all fail.

MarketWatch in an article titled This Is the Smartest Virtual Assistant — and It’s NOT Siri, or Alexa says:

A number of factors will shape the market moving forward, including changes in consumers’ comfort over the security and collection of private data, the progress of natural language processing and advances in voice interface functionalities, and regulatory requirements that could alter the market.

A survey revealed that none of the virtual assistants tested was able to answer 100% of questions (let alone attempt them). Virtual assistants that attempted to answer them were not answering the questions correctly. Google was at the top of the heap while Siri was the last.

The article also points out that people want complicated questions answered rather than the simpletons that these virtual assistants answer. It seems, the days of perfect virtual assistants are still far away. Till then, Google search engine is the best bet (the survey says so)

Vishal Ingole, June 16, 2017

What to Do about the Powerful Tech Monopolies

June 14, 2017

Traditionally, we as a country have a thing against monopolies—fair competition for the little guy and all that. Have we allowed today’s tech companies amass too much power? That seems to be the conclusion of SiliconBeat’s article, “Google, Facebook, and Amazon: Monopolies that Should be Broken Up or Regulated?” Writer Ethan Baron summarizes these companies massive advantages, and the efforts of regulatory agencies to check them. He cites a New York Times article by Jonathan Taplin:

Taplin, in his op-ed, argued that Google, Facebook and Amazon ‘have stymied innovation on a broad scale.’ With industry giants facing limited competition, incumbent companies have a profound advantage over new entrants, Taplin said. And the tech firms’ explosive growth has caused massive damage to companies already operating, he said. ‘The platforms of Google and Facebook are the point of access to all media for the majority of Americans. While profits at Google, Facebook and Amazon have soared, revenues in media businesses like newspaper publishing or the music business have, since 2001, fallen by 70 percent,’ Taplin said. The rise of Google and Facebook have diverted billions of dollars from content creators to ‘owners of monopoly platforms,’ he said. All content creators dependent on advertising must negotiate with Google or Facebook as aggregator. Taplin proposed that for the three tech behemoths, there are ‘a few obvious regulations to start with.’

Taplin suggests limiting acquisitions as the first step since that is how these companies grow into such behemoths. For Google specifically, he suggests regulating it as a public utility. He also takes aim at the “safe harbor” provision of the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which shields Internet companies from damages associated with intellectual property violations found on their platforms. Since the current political climate is not exactly ripe for regulation, Taplin laments that such efforts will have to wait a few years, by which time these companies will be so large that breaking them up will be the only remedy. We’ll see.

Cynthia Murrell, June 14, 2017

Decoding SEO and Traffic Generation

June 12, 2017

Businesses are desperately trying to get noticed online. However, most businesses focus on generating traffic while sidelining the ultimate motive of generating sales.

According to an article published on Business 2 Community titled The Ugly Truth: Why SEO Isn’t Driving Better Website Sales, the author states:

Driving traffic to your website with SEO is only half the battle. It’s also important to make sure your website is designed in a way that converts those leads into sales. When you have a website that has a solid conversion rate, it ensures the investment you make in SEO will result in a guaranteed boost in sales.

What business owners fail to understand is that traffic is just one part of the equation in generating sales online. You need to keep your potential customers engaged, develop trust among them, and offer them incentives among many other things. With millions of websites being launched every day, these are some of the key factors that can set you apart from the herd. Focus on generating sales and not just driving traffic, or resort to Google AdWords Campaigns.

Vishal Ingole, June 12, 2017

Google and Its Learnings: Hiring, Meeting Productivity, and Product Failures

June 11, 2017

I am not too keen on podcasts. I did read a summary of a podcast called “What Google Learned Fighting Hiring Bias, Bad Meetings and Failing Products.” The information struck me as, well, remarkable and semi-interesting. Here are the highlights I noted:

  1. Google created a “hiring algorithm” that skewed to men. Wow, anyone who has been at a Google facility might have been able to figure out that men were plentiful. But now Google admits is has a “bias.” That should fire up some thinking among legal eagles worrying about possible actions on behalf of aggrieved Xooglers. Well, maybe not. Google doesn’t want “to be discriminating.” There you go.
  2. Make people participate in meetings by asking those who do not speak a question. Good idea. But what about Googlers in meetings who [a] don’t pay attention, [b] play with their mobile phone, [c] fool with their laptop computer, [d] all of the above. Asking questions can be useful. But what if the person is not paying attention or chooses not to answer? Hmmm.
  3. “Hope” cannot save a product from cratering. Now that’s an insight I find interesting. I thought data was behind Google decisions. I must have missed something as did the people responsible for some of Google’s most fascinating attempts to disrupt; for example, solving death.

Ah, Google. A management terrarium.

Stephen E Arnold, June 14, 2017

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