Google: Recycling and Me Too-ing

July 20, 2017

Quite a week for the Google. The company’s Glass product is now positioned as a tool for the world of the enterprise, not the world of the low cost Snap glasses. Snap glasses are available on Amazon for $129.

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Google informs me that “We’ve all been busy.” Nah, I have not been busy no matter what Google asserts.

Someday I will recount some of the information I collected when Google Glass was a fashion thing, a home wrecker, and a mechanism for destabilizing a Silicon Valley whiz kid. But not now, not in this post about recycling and me too-ing.

The recycle part is wrapped, is it not? Google Glass is back as an non-fashion statement. Recycling is good. Newspapers, plastic bottles, and heads up displays which work until the battery dies or the online connection is lost.

Now the me too-ing.

I read “Google Formally Announces Hire, Its LinkedIn Competitor.” That pretty much tells the story. LinkedIn, the job hunting and self promoting engine loved by many folks who want to be in the top one percent, is part of Microsoft. Google wants to be the 21st century Microsoft in order to do something other than sell online ads, finds the job hunting and self promotion sector promising. Well, maybe it will annoy Microsoft and take a bite out of that company’s efforts to be more than a vendor of apps and laptops covered in synthetic fabric.

The idea, as I understand the write up’s version, is:

Google has formally introduced Hire, a recruiting app for small- and medium-sized businesses, which also integrates seamlessly with G Suite…Google has announced Hire, an app that provides a recruiting platform aimed towards US businesses with under 1,000 employees. Hire makes it easier for companies to find suitable candidates for jobs, and manage the interview process efficiently. The app is further aided by seamless integration with Google’s G Suite, which over three million businesses use.

The service looks like “LinkedIn Light” from my vantage point in Harrod’s Creek. But what’s interesting to me is that Google has a dossier invention which creates profiles of people from disparate sources of information. If my memory is working this morning, the example I learned about takes items from multiple databases and assembles a profile. The case example was a snapshot of Michael Jackson. The report was a dossier which included aliases like “Jocko”, pop culture effluvia, and some substantive stuff like location. The presentation seemed quite similar to what is called a bubble gum card in certain circles.

If Google keeps wood behind this project, perhaps the dossier type function will become available. That would be more useful to me than a self promotion profile on LinkedIn. For now, Google seems content to do the me too thing in order to nibble away at Microsoft’s multi billion bet on a social media platform for “professionals,” whatever that term means. Is it possible Google wants to remind the Microsofties that the GOOG wishes to see the company fade into the sunset or buy ads on Google to promote its fabric covered laptop?

I am okay with “LinkedIn Light” because it has a bit of a kick unlike low cal me too alternatives. Google’s innovation balloons may not be able to take off.

Stephen E Arnold, July 20, 2017

Stephen E Arnold,

A Potentially Useful List of Enterprise Search Engine Servers

July 20, 2017

We found a remarkable list at Predictive Analytics Today—“Top 23 Enterprise Search Engine Servers.” The write-up introduces its roster of resources:

Enterprise Search is the search information within an enterprise, searching of content from multiple enterprise-type sources, such as databases and intranets. These search systems index data and documents from a variety of sources including file systems, intranets, document management systems, e-mail, and databases. Enterprise search systems also integrate structured and unstructured data in their collections and also use access controls to enforce a security policy on their users.

Entries are logically presented under two categories, proprietary solutions and open source software. From Algolia to Xapian, the article summarizes pros and cons of each. See the post for details.

However, we have a few notes to add about some particular platforms. For example, the Google Search Appliance has been discontinued, though Constellio is still going… in Canada. SearchBlox is now Elasticsearch, and SRCH2 was originally designed for mobile searches. Also, isn’t Sphinx Search specifically for SQL data? Hmm. We suggest this list could make a good springboard, but server shoppers should take its specifics with a grain of salt, and be sure to do your own follow-up research.

Cynthia Murrell, July 20, 2017

Google: Making Search Better. But What Does Better Mean?

July 17, 2017

I read a darned interesting (no, not remarkable, just interesting) article called “The Google Exec in Charge of Designing Search: ‘There’s Always This Internal Debate about How Much Functionality Should We Add‘”. At first, I thought this was an Onion write up, but I was wrong. The article is a serious expression of the “real” Google. Now the “old” and now “unreal” Google is not applicable. That’s why I thought the write up was like the content I present in HonkinNews.

Here are the points I noted:

First, the write up points out that Google’s core business is its search engine. This surprised me because I thought the firm’s core business was selling ads. I know the “search” system is the honey which attracts the bees (95 percent or so in Europe, for example), but the “search” system is not about finding relevant and objective information. Sure, that happens for some queries, but for most queries, the searches are easy to cache and deliver with matching ads. Examples range from the weather to the latest in the dust ups and make ups between pop stars and starlets.

Second, the source of the write up is an “expert” in “design for search.” I am not sure what “design” means. I am old fashioned and prefer the trusty calculations of precision and recall, the stale bread of Boolean queries, and unfiltered content.

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I prefer to do my own censoring, thank you. I noted this statement:

The whole goal is to try to organize information and deliver it to you. That’s the problem we’re trying to solve. The design has to accommodate multiple people, multiple expectations, and multiple situations. When you’re looking for whatever answer you want, how do we give you the right answer in a way that you’re like ‘oh yeah, that thing?

No, the “whole goal” consists of sub goals designed to deliver the following, based on my research for the three books in my Google Trilogy (alas, no longer in print but I can provide pre publication copies for those who want to buy a set):

  1. Minimize computational demands on the query matching system via caching frequent queries, partitioning indexes to get around the federation of disparate content like Google Scholar, videos indexed in Google Video, and the gusher of stuff emanating from Google Blogs
  2. With clicks on traditional desktops falling and small screen video queries from smart software or humans (imagine!), Google has to find a way to make ads out of everything. Thus, the need to keep revenue ticking upwards while driving costs down becomes a fairly significant sub goal. Some, like myself, say, “Hey, that’s the actual goal.” Others who enjoy watching billions flood into solving death, keeping Glass alive, and building a new puffy office part would disagree. That’s okay. I think I am right.
  3. Maintain the PR and marketing offensive that makes Google the innovation leader in finding information. The methods involve generating mumbo jumbo that disconnects precision and recall from what Google generates: Results that are often off point or some type of content marketing. (I know content marketing works because the Wall Street Journal told me it does. I assume that’s why Google pays some people to write really rah rah articles about Google. As I said in this week’s HonkinNews, “One must be able to tell the difference between a saint who helps people and a billionaire who rides flying car things.)

The write up identifies the experience “things” which Google is incorporating into its search results. Some of these are content objects like tweets. Others are pages which look like mini reports which cobble together “facts” to make it easy for a person to “know” the answer to the question he, she, or a software module had not yet asked. (Predictive results are part of the pervasive search movement in which Google wants to be a player who gets the biggest payday and the most media love.)

I noted this statement which is worthy of one of the New Age types I bumped into when I lived in Berkeley:

When asked if there are any similarities between the design for Search and the design for Google’s new offices in Mountain View and London, Ouilhet pointed to the fact that both are becoming “more open and more flexible.” He said they were also both becoming more “inclusive between people that belong to Google and people that don’t belong to Google.”

Net net: Google has yet to find Act 2 to its Yahoo/Overture/GoTo inspired business model. Setting up more VC operations, incubators, and buying companies in easy to reach places like Bengaluru, Karnataka, and smart software offices in cheery Edmonton, Alberta are not yet delivering on Act 2. If the European Union has anything to say about Google’s search business, we will have to wait for more action from that Google watcher Margrethe Vestager.

Stephen E Arnold, July 17, 2017

PS. For information about the Google Trilogy, write benkent2020 at yahoo dot com and put Google Trilogy in the Subject field.

Google Develops a Job-Hunt Feature

July 17, 2017

Does the process of searching for a job really need an innovative update? Apparently, Google believes so, as  Quartz reports in, “Google Is Testing a Job-Search Feature that Could Rival LinkedIn—and Facebook.” Writer Joon Ian Wong cites SEO consultant Dan Shure, who stumbled upon an apparent test-run of the feature. We learn:

Dan Shure apparently triggered the feature by entering ‘jobs online’ in the Google search box. This returns a specially formatted box containing a list of jobs above the main search results. Clicking these jobs leads to a portal where users can select tabs to display jobs by title, city, employer, and more. The page also shows jobs by industry, including health care, advertising and marketing, and retail. The jobs listed are attributed to third-party job sites, such as Internships.com and Catholic Jobs Online. …

 

The broad base of jobs available on the search feature suggests Google is going after the same general jobs market as Facebook is, with its own jobs function. LinkedIn is better known for its white-collar listings, but it, too, has been trying to cater to workers of all types, including blue-collar workers (paywall), in recent years.

Wong notes the company has also been developing Google Hire, a recruitment-management tool for the employer side, but with no fanfare. So it does seem that Google is stepping into the job-hunt & worker-search arena. Can it compete with LinkedIn, the niche’s veteran?

Cynthia Murrell, July 17, 2017

Google Ups the Ante for Local SEO

July 14, 2017

Google is now allowing small businesses to insert content directly into search results. The content can be a special event or anything related to business that will appear as featured snippet in the carousel.

As reported by The Verge in an article titled Local Businesses Can Now Feature Content Directly in Google Search Results, the author says:

The new posts show up below the company card in search results, where information like the location, phone number, web address, and hours of the company are already aggregated. The Posts feature is available starting today for verified companies using Google My Business.

As more business move their marketing activities online, it is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to reach out to their customers. Google, being the leader in this space does not want local business to miss out on this and is rolling out services like these for small businesses.

Digital marketing already is too competitive for small businesses with limited budgets. With these changes, Google expects that local businesses will try to introduce digital marketing into their marketing mix. Google gains by procuring data of local businesses. What else does it want?

Vishal Ingole July 14, 2017

WaveNet Machine-Generated Speech from DeepMind Eclipses Competitor Technology

July 13, 2017

The article on Bloomberg titled Google’s DeepMind Achieves Speech-Generation Breakthrough touts a 50% improvement over current technology for machine speech. DeepMind developed an AI called WaveNet that focuses on mimicking human speech by learning the sound waves of human voices. In testing, the machine-generated speech beat existing technology, but is still not meeting the level of actual human speech.

The article expands,

Speech is becoming an increasingly important way humans interact with everything from mobile phones to cars. Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., Microsoft Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google have all invested in personal digital assistants that primarily interact with users through speech. Mark Bennett, the international director of Google Play, which sells Android apps, told an Android developer conference in London last week that 20 percent of mobile searches using Google are made by voice, not written text.

It is difficult to quantify the ROI for the $533M that Google spent to acquire DeepMind in 2014, since most of their advancements are not extremely commercial. Google did credit DeepMind with the technology that helped slash power needs by 40%. But this breakthrough involves far too much computational power to lend itself to commercial applications. However, Google must love that with the world watching, DeepMind continues to outperform competitors in AI advancement.

Chelsea Kerwin, July 13, 2017

Android VPN App Security Analyzed

July 12, 2017

Here’s an important warning for users of mobile devices—beware VPN apps in the Google Play store.  Thats the upshot of a white paper from Australian research organization CSIRO, “An Analysis of the Privacy and Security Risks of Android BPN Permission-Enabled Apps.” Researchers found, for example that 18% of VPN apps in the Google Play store do not actually encrypt anything, and 38% harbor malware of some sort.

The in-depth paper describes the investigation into four main areas of concern: third-party user tracking and permissions access; malware presence; traffic interception; and user awareness of potential risks. The researchers specify:

In this paper we provide a first comprehensive analysis of 283 Android apps that use the Android VPN permission, which we extracted from a corpus of more than 1.4 million apps on the Google Play store. We perform a number of passive and active measurements designed to investigate a wide range of security and privacy features and to study the behavior of each VPN-based app. Our analysis includes investigation of possible malware presence, third-party library embedding, and traffic manipulation, as well as gauging user perception of the security and privacy of such apps. Our experiments reveal several instances of VPN apps that expose users to serious privacy and security vulnerabilities, such as use of insecure VPN tunneling protocols, as well as IPv6 and DNS traffic leakage. We also report on a number of apps actively performing TLS interception. Of particular concern are instances of apps that inject JavaScript programs for tracking, advertising, and for redirecting e-commerce traffic to external partners.

The paper concludes by recommending Android revamp their VPN permission model. It also describes most users as “naïve” to the realities of mobile VPN security. For anyone wishing to educate themselves on the issue, this paper is a good place to turn.

Cynthia Murrell, July 12, 2017

Google and Indian Government Spar over Authenticity of Google Maps

July 12, 2017

The Indian government has rejected the authenticity of maps used by popular navigation app Google Maps terming them as technically inaccurate.

Neowin in an article titled Indian Government Calls Google Maps “Inauthentic”; Asks Citizens to Use Their Solution says:

In an attack against the service, Surveyor General of India, Swarna Subba Rao said that the maps used by Google weren’t “authentic” and were “unreliable” with limited accuracy. She also stressed on how Survey of India’s own mapping data was qualitatively more accurate.

The bone of the contention seems to be Google’s inaccurate mapping of Kashmir, the northern territory disputed by Pakistan. Google was also denied permissions to map the country at street levels for Street View citing security concerns.

Considering the fact that Google has the largest user base in India, this seems to be a setback for the company. An official of the Indian government is recommending the use of their own maps for better topographical accuracy. However, the government approved maps are buggy and do not have a great interface like Google Maps.

Vishal Ingole, July 12, 2017

 

Google Abandons Email Ads; Stops Reading User Emails

July 11, 2017

Gmail, the largest email provider, has stopped the email ads program after enterprise customers raised concerns over privacy and enterprise data.

As reported by Bloomberg in an article titled Google Will Stop Reading Your Emails for Gmail Ads, the author of the article says:

Google is stopping one of the most controversial advertising formats: ads inside Gmail that scan users’ email contents. The decision didn’t come from Google’s ad team, but from its cloud unit, which is angling to sign up more corporate customers.

Launched on in April 2004, Gmail initially was an invitation only email service. As the user base increased, the then parent company Google decided to sell ad space within the mailbox to advertisers based on email contents.

Gmail now will abandon this practice as many corporate clients have enrolled for the paid version of the email named G Suites. The decision came from Diane Greene, who heads the Cloud division of Alphabet, Inc. Alphabet’s dominance over search engine business continues. The next bastion might be Cloud services, as indicated by this move. Right, Google?

Vishal Ingole, July  11, 2017

Loon Balloons: An Uber and Out?

July 10, 2017

I read a long write up in Wired Magazine. The story is titled “The Lawsuit That Could Pop Alphabet’s Project Loon Balloons.” The main point of the write up is that Google may have poked itself with an intellectual property X-Acto knife blade. An outfit named Space Data has been into balloons and other assorted activities for years. The key passage for me was this statement:

It [Space Data] convinced the US Patent and Trademark Office to cancel most of one of Project Loon’s foundational patents, and say that Space Data came up with the idea first. Loon’s patent for changing a balloon’s direction by adjusting its altitude—a core feature of both systems—is now legally back in Space Data’s hands.

To make a long story short, the Google is now the Uber-type outfit to Space Data which is wearing a Googley T shirt. I assume that Space Data will create Google style flashing badges with the words “patent infringement” blinking cheerfully.

I have loved the idea of Loon balloons. Actually, not me. The Beyond Search goose has a soft spot for loons. I think our goose once dallied aloft with a svelte loon.

Stephen E Arnold, July 10, 2017

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