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The Guardian: Is Tech Envy Blooming?

May 4, 2015

The Guardian newspaper is one of the more tech forward newspapers which print dead tree editions. The publication has embraced open source. It features articles about technology and some of them are fact centric. One of the more interesting write ups or information constructs I have seen is “Take the Test: Could You Get a Job at Google?” I am one of the people who know the answer to this question.

I assumed the article would rehash one of the now hard to find Google Lab Aptitude Tests.


Here’s a sample page from an early version:


Here’s one of the questions:

Consider a function which, for a given whole number n, returns the number of ones required when writing out all numbers between 0 and n. For example, f(13)=6. Notice that f(1)=1. What is the next largest n such that f(n)=n? Don’t go running to WolframAlpha. Just write down the answer and no wonky faux flow charts.

Or you can work through the Guardian’s version of the test. Here’s a representative Guardian question:

Do you prefer dogs to cats?

Here’s a GLAT question.

What’s broken with Unix? How would you fix it?

I don’t have that experience with Googlers and Xooglers. Well, maybe a teeny, tiny bit. But I surmise the Guardian is poking fun at the GOOG. My hunch is that the write up is designed to amuse those at the Guardian. real Googlers and Xooglers are not likely to care. The write up reveals more about what the Guardian perceives about Google and the Guardian’s sense of humor.

Does anyone remember the commercial in which the key beat was, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature?” I wonder if it is okay to spook Mother Google. Of course it is. Would Google react to a person or organization with a Web site? Nah.

Stephen E Arnold, May 4, 2015

A Binging Double Take 

May 1, 2015

After you read this headline from Venture Beat, you will definitely be doing a double take: “ComScore: Bing Passes 20% Share In The US For The First Time.”  Bing has been the punch line for search experts and IT professionals ever since it was deployed a few years ago.  Anyone can contest that Bing is not the most accurate search engine, mostly due to it being a Microsoft product.  Bing developers have been working to improve the search engine’s accuracy and for the first time ever ComScore showed that both Google and Yahoo fell a 0.1 percentage and Bing gained 0.3 percent, most likely stealing it from DuckDuckGo and other smaller search engines.  Microsoft can proudly state that one in five searches are conducted on Bing.

The change comes after months of stagnation:

“For many months, ComScore’s reports showed next to no movement for each search service (a difference of 0.1 points or 0.2 points one way or the other, if that). A 0.3 point change is not much larger, but it does come just a few months after big gains from Yahoo. So far, 2015 is already a lot more exciting, and it looks like the search market is going to be worth paying close attention to.”

The article says that most of search engine usage is generated by what Internet browsers people use.  Yahoo keep telling people to move to Firefox and Google wants people to download Chrome.  The browser and search engine rivalries continue, but Google still remains on top.  How long will Bing be able to keep this bragging point?

Whitney Grace, May 1, 2015
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Google and Europe: Google and Some No So Best Buds

April 28, 2015

I read “Google Antitrust Case: 19 Complainants Named Including Microsoft.” The write up identifies companies complaining about Google:

  • 1plusV (
  • Eurocities
  • Expedia
  • Foundem
  • Hot Map
  • Microsoft
  • Streetmap
  • Trip Advisor
  • Yelp

Yep, 19 but only 10 are listed in the write up. Well, close enough for legal reporting style.

I spotted some of the other 19, but I am not a real journalist, of course. Real journalists work in a different way. Here are some other grousers:

  • BDZV
  • Elfvoetbal
  • Nextage and Guenstiger
  • Odigeo
  • Twenga
  • VDZ
  • Vft
  • Visual Meta (Axel Springer which owns a chunk of the woiuld be Google killer Qwant (Pertimm).

Well, imagine that. Nineteen outfits unhappy with the GOOG.

Stephen E Arnold, April 28, 2015

Google and Its New Best Buds in Europe from Publishing

April 28, 2015

I read “Google Offers Cash Support to Europe’s News Groups.” The idea is that Google will invest $163 million in journalism start ups. The write up points out that “The Financial Times, the Guardian, Spain’s El Pais and Germany’s Die Zeit are among those backing the initiative.”

The BBC, an organization with some experience in conflicts, points out:

Google has also pledged to:

  • work with European publishers to discuss ways to boost revenues via the use of ads, apps, paywalls and analytics data
  • pay for three of its own workers – based in Paris, Hamburg and London – to provide digital skills training to journalists
  • fund research to investigate how people consume news and find new techniques to crowdsource information

Is there any connection between Google’s European challenges and this action? Google set up a similar program in France. Google and France have an interesting relationship with regard to digital information and services. Like Google’s new patent purchase service, there is probably some other motive operating other than helping out start ups. I will leave it to you, gentle reader, to speculate on the “value” of strategic investments.

Stephen E Arnold, April 28, 2015

Google Expands Patent “Service”

April 27, 2015

Have you followed Google’s patent application flow? Well, it continues to creep up. Have you explored Google’s free online patent search? Well, it does not get too many upgrades.

What is getting attention is a new service explained in the Googley manner in “Announcing the Patent Purchase Promotion.” According the write up, you can participate in an experiment that will send your intellectual property to Mother Google. I read:

today we’re announcing the Patent Purchase Promotion as an experiment to remove friction from the patent market. From May 8, 2015 through May 22, 2015, we’ll open a streamlined portal for patent holders to tell Google about patents they’re willing to sell at a price they set. As soon as the portal closes, we’ll review all the submissions, and let the submitters know whether we’re interested in buying their patents by June 26, 2015. If we contact you about purchasing your patent, we’ll work through some additional diligence with you and look to close a transaction in short order. We anticipate everyone we transact with getting paid by late August. By simplifying the process and having a concentrated submission window, we can focus our efforts into quickly evaluating patent assets and getting responses back to potential sellers quickly. Hopefully this will translate into better experiences for sellers, and remove the complications of working with entities such as patent trolls.

I flagged this as a quote to note:

We’re always looking at ways that can help improve the patent landscape and make the patent system work better for everyone. We ask everyone to remember that this program is an experiment (think of it like a 20 percent project for Google’s patent lawyers), but we hope that it proves useful and delivers great results to participants.

With a Xoogler in the PTO and trolls on the defensive, I am confident there may be some deeper, economic thinking behind this “experiment.” I love the Google. I am confident that it will add more patent documents to its patent service. I am confident that Google will continue to be Google even as it faces some financial challenges.

Stephen E Arnold, April 27, 2015

Google and Its Fashion Forward Strategy

April 27, 2015

Enough with the advanced technology. The Google is getting into the Project Runway world. I learned a couple of days ago that the fascinating Google Glass is making a comeback. I mean a fashionable comeback. I think the phrase is fashion forward. None of the Glasshole stuff. Like New Coke, the fashionable Glass will be a winner from the Italian outfit. You can read about the new Glass or Glass 2.0 in “Luxottica Working on Intel Powered Google Glass 2.0.” Curious about Lexottica. Here’s some background information:


I see you.

Another fashion-tastic announcement hit my Overflight system. Here is the write up which snagged my attention: “The Latest Fashion, Trending on Google.” I learned:

…Consumers are Googling tulle skirts, midi skirts, palazzo pants and jogger pants, according to the company, which plans to start issuing fashion trend reports based on user searches twice a year. The new trend aggregations are part of the company’s bid to become a bigger player in e-commerce and fashion beyond its product search engine or advertising platform. In its inaugural report, Google distinguishes between “sustained growth” trends, like tulle skirts and jogger pants; flash-in-the-pan obsessions like emoji shirts and kale sweatshirts; and “seasonal growth” trends, or styles that have come back stronger every spring, like white jumpsuits. It makes similar distinctions among sustained declines (peplum dresses), seasonal ones (skinny jeans) and fads that are probably over and done (scarf vests).

My reaction to the announcement was anticipation. I believe that one or more of the fashionistas at Google will soon be booked to appear on Project Runway. Perhaps the Style cable channel will cover Google on campus lectures. Is there a Marie Claire photo spread about Googlers wearing the latest in Silicon Valley fashion. There are some flashy dressers at the various GOOG offices. A certain Robert W. attended a meeting with me in London in a quite sporty outfit. My recollection is that the person from a certain government agency asked me, “Is that the type of stuff Mr. Brin wore to his initial meetings with Washington DC’s movers and shakers.” I replied, “No, I think that Mr. Brin wore a T shirt with sneakers.”

I am so excited about this festive development. I will set my video recorder so I don’t miss a single episode of Project Runway. Imagine. Tim and Heidi in Google Glass 2.0. I have to take a deep breath. Will the designers use Google to make certain their one day wonders are right in step with the bpm of the style makers?

Stephen E Arnold, April 27, 2015

Is Google Plus Like Glass?

April 26, 2015

I remember reading that Google Plus was the new Google. I remember hearing that Googlers were induced to use Google Plus. I heard on a podcast that Google Plus was a lame duck thing, a modern Orkut.

If you are an avid social media maven, navigate to “Why Google+ Failed, According to Google Insiders.” If accurate, the write up suggests that Google’s powers of innovation are more like the power of imitation. Am I correct in recalling that Google’s ad business was foreshadowed by Overture/GoTo. Nah, that can’t be write. Imitation?

I read:

The main problem with Google+, one former Googler says, is the company tried to make it too much like Facebook. Another former Googler agrees, saying the company was “late to market” and motivated from “a competitive standpoint.” There may have been some paranoia — Facebook was actively poaching Googlers at a certain point, one source said. Google+ employees within Google were sectioned off, this person said, possibly to prevent gossip about the product from spreading. Google+ employees had their own secret cafeteria called “Cloud,” for example, and others on the Mountain View campus weren’t permitted. “There was definitely an aura of fear for a time,” this person said.

I quite like that phrase “aura of fear.” Poetic. I ran into a fear of Google. A PR distribution service would not distribute a news release with a reference to Google. No explanation, just a rejection. Interesting.

For more comments about Google Plus, read the story. I thought their might be trouble when the “+” was used in the service name. Ever try to search for a plus in the new, mobilized Google? I guess more effort went into name X Labs. Ever try to search Google for “X”?

Stephen E Arnold, April 26, 2015

Digital Economy Growth Engines Lose RPMs

April 24, 2015

Short honk: I read several articles about the financial reports of Facebook, Google, and Yahoo. I enjoyed the explanations about the revenues and profits. Here are the write ups open on my desktop monitor at this moment:

Is there a message to be decrypted from these data? Yep.

Stephen E Arnold, April 24, 2015

Google Allegedly Just Gets a Good Idea: A Data Platform

April 24, 2015

Wow. I read some interesting and often crazy stuff. But this is a keeper. Navigate to “Google Builds a Data Platform That’s the Last Piece of Its Ad Empire. Connects Dots for Marketers and Challenges Facebook.” Never mind that the Google has been working on the data platform thing for advertising for what is it now, 12 or 13 years. Never mind that the guts of the ad system’s interfaces have been a project at the Google for more than a decade. Never mind that the guts of the data platform idea originated before Google hired Drs. Halevy and Guha along with hundreds of other scientists and engineers eager to knit together data from Google’s various repositories. But, hey, it is an advertising Web site, and I assume advertising experts are a heck of a lot more informed than little old me.

I read:

Of course, Google faces regulatory scrutiny for any move it makes, as well as talk of anti-competitive practices. In fact, the company was charged in Europe last week with behaving like a monopoly in search. The ad tech community has been concerned that Google is offering all the services that lock advertisers into its ecosystem and squeeze out rivals.

What the write is about is the “lead” which Facebook has over Google. The problem is not technology, in my humble opinion. The problem is that Google is focused on technology and Facebook was built to allow a person to get a date. Facebook followed its social-human thing, and the GOOG has been embracing the ever lovable zeros and ones. There are Googlers at Facebook, but Facebook will not become a Google. I would argue that Google cannot become a Facebook.

The data platform is secondary to the source of the information fueling the respective systems. Facebook users are the content sources. Google’s content comes from other places. Both companies face significant challenges and neither is likely to morph into another.

Why not merge into a Googbook or Facegle? If it works for Comcast and Time Warner, it might work for Google and Facebook. Ad buys just become easier. Ad people often prefer the easy approach.

Stephen E Arnold, April 24, 2015

The Elusive Video Recognition

April 22, 2015

Pictures and video still remain a challenge for companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, and more.  These companies want to be able to have an algorithm pick up on the video or picture’s content without relying on tags or a description.  The reasons are that tags are sometimes vague or downright incorrect about the content.  VentureBeat reports that Google has invested a lot of funds and energy in a deep learning AI.  The article is called “Watch Google’s Latest Deep Learning System Recognize Sports In YouTube Clips.”

The AI is park of a neural network that is constantly fed data and programmed to make predictions off the received content.  Google’s researchers fed their AI consists of a convolutional neural network and it was tasked with watching sports videos to learn how to recognize objects and motions.

The researchers learned something and wrote a paper about it:

“ ‘We conclude by observing that although very different in concept, the max-pooling and the recurrent neural network methods perform similarly when using both images and optical flow,’ Google software engineers George Toderici and Sudheendra Vijayanarasimhan wrote in a blog post today on their work, which will be presented at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference in Boston in June.”

In short, Google is on its way to making video and images recognizable with neural networks.  Can it tell the differences between colors, animals, people, gender, and activities yet?

Whitney Grace, April 22, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

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