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Google Aims Beyond Search

February 11, 2016

I read “Alphabet’s Google: Looking Forward at a Future Beyond Search.” For a moment, I thought Google was going to ignore this blog. After reading the article, I breathed a sigh of relief. The Alphabet Google thing wants to diversify its revenue stream. I also concluded that Google wants to eliminate a human’s annoying habit of running queries the human thinks are important to the human. Pesky humans!

The write up reveals:

Google’s attempt at switching from traditional search queries to streaming other apps right within their search app can be interpreted both as Google’s drive towards the future and a sure indication that the current ads model is crumbling. The pressing need to innovate is further instigated by the arrival of companies like InMobi who have a dedicated mobile only strategy and Google’s closest competitor Facebook who seem to be heading towards contextual ads with their Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp platforms.

The write up is enthusiastic about Google’s money losing bets on the future. I learned:

The big question which remains to be answered is if Google can innovate fast enough to remain relevant in the search industry and fund one of its moonshot projects into a major revenue source. And if this quarter is any indication, the answer to that question is a resounding yes.

Yep, but I want to think up my own queries. I also do not want ads displacing substantive information. I want to be a semi sentient human no matter how much the Alphabet Google thing wants to put me in a self driving car so I can be exposed to information that someone else wants me to view.

Stephen E Arnold, February 11, 2016

To Search the Dark Web

February 11, 2016

If you have wondered how, exactly, one searches for information on the Dark Web, take a gander at “The Best TOR Search Engines of 2016” at Cyberwarzone. Reporter CWZ writes:

“On the TOR network you can find various websites just like you find on the ‘normal web.’ The websites which are hosted on the TOR network are not indexed by search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, but the search engines which are listed below, do index the TOR websites which are hosted via the TOR network. It is important to remember that you do need the TOR client on your device in order to access the TOR network, if you cannot use a TOR client on your device, you can use one of the free TOR gateways which are listed below in the web TOR providers tab.”

The article warns about malicious TOR clients, and strongly suggests readers download the client found at the official TOR website. Four search engines are listed— https://Ahmia.fi,  https://Onion.cab, https://onion.link/, and http://thehiddenwiki.org/.  CWZ also lists those  Web TOR gateways, through which one can connect to TOR services with a standard Web browser instead of using a TOR client. See the end of the article for that information.

 

Cynthia Murrell, February 11, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Yahoo Is Not Playing Games

February 9, 2016

Years ago I had to review a Google pitch to Yahoo about games. The basic idea was that the Alphabet Google thing wanted to team up with Yahoo in the mobile and online game sector. Yahoo, as I recall, blew off their neighbor. Not surprising. The Alphabet Google thing and Yahoo had a legal do si do about the GoTo/Overture advertising notion. There was a settlement, and I think that the Yahooligans were not completely comfortable having their lunch eaten by those sports down the road.

Flash forward to 2016. The old Yahoo is still the old Yahoo. I think the company is for sale, but the Xoogler running the show won’t spill the beans. There are more opportunities than ever for the purple gang to find their future elsewhere.

I read “Yahoo Games Has Passed Away at Just 13” and learned that those games that once caught the fancy of Googzilla are no more. The write up informed me:

Yahoo Games, THE once-hopping online game hub best known for its simulacrum of classic board and card games, is shutting down. The news was buried amidst major changes for the company: As we reported Tuesday, Yahoo will lay off roughly 15 percent of the company, downsize across the board, and shutter many offerings, including its TV efforts.

One wonders what might have been if Yahoo and the Google got their act together and did a game deal. My hunch is that the answer is not much. Both companies believe that if they enter a niche, success is inevitable.

Yahoo and its stakeholders have learned how that has worked out. The Googlers are just now beginning to ponder the limits of there zero gravity approach to online revenue.

Net net: A good idea a decade ago won’t carry the water from the river to the well today. Yahoo may be moving down a path that Google will reluctantly follow.

Stephen E Arnold, February 9, 2016

Alphabet Google Giveth and Taketh Away

February 9, 2016

Folks are buzzing because there is a new head of Google search. You can read the news in “Head of Google Search Retires, Artificial Intelligence Chief to Take Over.”

None of the write ups I have scanned point out that the Google system since 2001 has been essentially tweaked, not changed. Search improvements have been like plastic wrappers swathing the clever girl’s algorithms.

The 2001 era system was also easy to spoof, rooted in the now archaic paradigm of boat anchor computers, big monitors, and non-touch technologies. And my favorite: Search engine optimization and the death of relevance.

So count ‘em. 2001 to 2016. That works out to 15 years. Wonder why search is less and less relevant? Perhaps the world view of Google’s search and retrieval system is as relevant as a zoot suit in downtown San Jose.

The more significant items in my opinion are that Google is back in the killing features business. Check out “Google Earth Traffic Layer Dropper.” The write up points out:

Google Maps still has live traffic information, which shows as different colors on the route when you ask for directions as seen below, so it is evident that Google still has the information.

Good news? Maybe. Google just does stuff. Makes sense. Take action and move forward.

The other announcement struck me as straight out of Europe’s medieval period. I read “Google Fiber  Plan to Give Free Internet to the Poor.” Interesting idea. The Alphabet Google thing is helping out folks so these individuals can take advantage of Google’s smart services and products.

Droit du seigneur is alive and well.

Smart software, capricious actions, and helping out the folks who lack some resources. The world’s most valuable company is evolving. Left out in the cold? Hmm. Too bad.

Stephen E Arnold, February 8, 2016

Google DeepMind: Headhunters Rejoice

February 8, 2016

Google is not keen on publishing lists of employees. Sure, one can dig through public documents like patent applications, blog posts, and journal articles. But wouldn’t it be wonderful for Google to make available a list of key people for a hot discipline like artificial intelligence? Sort of an artificial headhunters’ list?

You can find a partial list of DeepMind Googlers in “The 14 Most Impressive AI Scientists Working at Google DeepMind.” I assume that folks looking for smart software wizards will be checking out LinkedIn, white pages, and conferences to have a chat.

Stephen E Arnold, February 8, 2016

How Often Do You Use Vocal Search

February 8, 2016

Vocal search is an idea from the future: you give a computer a query and it returns relevant information.   However, vocal search has become an actual “thing” with mobile assistants like Siri, Cortana, and build in NLP engines on newer technology.  I enjoy using vocal search because it saves me from having to type my query on a tiny keyboard, but when I’m in a public place I don’t use it for privacy reasons.  Search Engine Watch asks the question, “What Do You Need To Know About Voice Search?” and provides answers for me more questions about vocal search.

Northstar Research conducted a study that discovered 55% percent of US teens used vocal search, while only 41% of US adults do.  An even funnier fact is that 56% of US adults only use the search function, because it makes them feel tech-savvy.

Vocal Search is extremely popular in Asia due to the different alphabets.  Asian languages are harder to type on a smaller keyboard.  It is also a pain on Roman alphabet keyboards!

Tech companies are currently working on new innovations with vocal search.  The article highlights how Google is trying to understand the semantic context behind queries for intent and accuracy.

“Superlatives, ordered items, points in time and complex combinations can now be understood to serve you more relevant answers to your questions…These ‘direct answers’ provided by Google will theoretically better match the more natural way that people ask questions in speech rather then when typing something into a search bar, where keywords can still dominate our search behaviour.”

It translates to a quicker way to access information and answer common questions without having to type on a keyboard.  Now it would be a lot easier if you did not have to press a button to activate the vocal search.

Whitney Grace, February 8, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Googlies: Post Financial Factoids

February 7, 2016

I read a number of articles about Google’s stunning financial results. I took out my trusty 5×8 note cards and jotted down the items which I found interesting.

Here are the Googlies for February 2016:

I assume that online advertising is not subject to saturation. Does this mean that Google’s revenue is infinite? Sure it is, but it might be a comfort to some stakeholders if, after 15 years, Google had additional revenue streams. Look at Amazon. It is going to do the brick and mortar bookstore thing to raise dough.

Monocultures are fascinating.

Stephen E Arnold, February 7, 2016

Google Versus Russia: Does Google Have SU 35 Capabilities?

February 6, 2016

I read “Kremlin Considering Google Tax on Technology Services.” The article suggests that Russia may tax online services. The services named include Google, Facebook, and Apple. I know that Facebook works hard to avoid certain conflicts. Apple has its hands full with the specter of not having any hot products in 2016. So the Google?

The world’s most valuable company may have to pay more than a UK “get out of jail” fine if the write up is accurate. I learned from the “real” news source:

Klimenko, an early Russian Internet innovator, was appointed as President Vladimir Putin’s Internet adviser in December.  His suggestion of a kind of value-added tax on technology services in Russia comes only days after he asserted that Google, Facebook, and other social-media companies will be blocked in Russia “sooner or later” if they do not comply with a law enacted in August requiring them to locate facilities that store Russia data in Russia. And it comes after Russian news agencies reported that Putin on January 29 signed an executive order asking federal agencies to work with Klimenko on amending legislation to ensure equal operating conditions for companies within Russia with respect to the Internet.

Google may get a chance to demonstrate its potency if Russia boosts taxes. I recall that Mr. Brin’s space flight did not work out. Will this new chess match result in Google’s sitting on the sidelines in Russia?

Worth monitoring. Now about that source and its “real” journalists? Nah, never mind.

Stephen E Arnold, February 6, 2016

Google: A Cyber Caliphate Target?

February 4, 2016

I don’t think of Google as a particularly good target for hackers. However, if the information in “ISIS Affiliate Cyber Caliphate Announces Plans to Hack Google” is accurate, my favorite search service is on notice.

According to the write up:

IS affiliate ‘Cyber Caliphate’ forms a Google Hacking Team to Hack Google Remember Cyber Caliphate? Yes, the hacking group affiliated to IS or ISIS/Daesh is planning to hack Google. According to International terrorism watchdog group Terror Monitor, the Islamic State “cyber army” has announced plans to hack Google.

I am not sure what “hack Google” means, but the message seems less than positive.

The Googlers have a reasonably good security system. Worth watching the developments if there are any beyond what seems to be a news release type message.

Stephen E Arnold, February 4, 2016

Bing Clocks Search Speed

February 4, 2016

Despite attempts to improve Bing, it still remains the laughing stock of search engines.  Google has run it over with its self-driving cars multiple times.   DuckDuckGo tagged it as the “goose,” outran it, and forced Bing to sit in the proverbial pot.  Facebook even has unfriended Bing.  Microsoft has not given up on its search engine, so while there has been a list of novelty improvements (that Google already did or copied not long after their release) it has a ways to go.

Windows Central tells about the most recent Bing development: a bandwidth speed test in “Bing May Be Building A Speed Test Widget Within Search Results.”  Now that might be a game changer for a day, until Google releases its own version.  Usually to test bandwidth, you have to search for a Web site that provides the service.  Bing might do it on command within every search results page.  Not a bad idea, especially if you want to see how quickly your Internet runs, how fast it takes to process your query, or if you are troubleshooting your Internet connection.

The bandwidth test widget is not available just yet:

“A reader of the site Kabir tweeted a few images displaying widget like speed test app within Bing both on the web and their phone (in this case an iPhone). We were unable to reproduce the results on our devices when typing ‘speed test’ into Bing. However, like many new features, this could be either rolling out or simply A/B testing by Microsoft.”

Keep your fingers crossed that Microsoft releases a useful and practical widget.  If not just go to Google and search for “bandwidth test.”

 

Whitney Grace, February 4, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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