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Alphabet Google and the Gmail Ad Matter

August 27, 2016

Did you know that the Alphabet Google thing manages or provides email for about one billion users. No that’s not a record, search has that many “prospects” for advertisers.

I noted this story: “Google Faces Legal Action over Data Mining Emails.” In theory, humans at the Alphabet Google thing do not read one’s emails. I know that when I sent an email to a Googler, that person did not read the email. So there, doubting Tabithas and Tommies.

I learned from the write up, which I am confident is as valid as any other Internet news item:

… the US District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order denying Google’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by plaintiff Daniel Matera which alleged that Google violated federal and state wiretapping laws in its operation of Gmail. The Wiretap Act prohibits the interception of wire, oral and electronic communications.

I circled this passage as well:

In this latest twist, Judge Koh found Google’s policy of intercepting and scanning emails before they reach the inbox of the intended recipient may violate the California Wiretap Act and denied Google’s motion to dismiss Matera’s lawsuit. Matera is not a Google customer but claims that the “ubiquity of the email service” means that Google has still intercepted, scanned and analyzed his and many others’ emails [Matera] seeks to represent non-Gmail users “who have never established an email account with Google, and who have sent emails to or received emails from individuals with Google email accounts.”

The  Alphabet Google thing is certainly in the midst of a number of legal hassles. We love Google and its relevant search results. I have concluded that there are some folks who cannot hop on the Alphabet Google bandwagon. Cue up John Phillips Sousa remix, “The GOOG and Alphabet Forever.”

Stephen E Arnold, August 27, 2016

Russia Versus Alphabet Google: Mr. Putin May Use an iPhone

August 24, 2016

I read “Out-Of-Court Settlement Between Google & Russia Won’t Happen.” I assume the write up is accurate because everything on the Internet is true blue. The Alphabet Google thing has been jousting with a mere nation state over its approach to Android’s market methods.

Alphabet Google tried for an out of court settlement to negotiate the matter. Whipping out the checkbook is one part of the Alphabet Google business strategy when nation states become too big for their britches.

According to the write up:

In this case, the issue is that Google’s licensing rules require manufacturers to include a number of Google applications should they wish to install and use Android, the open-source operating system, on their smartphones and tablets. Google’s Russian competitor, Yandex, complained to the authorities in 2014 that Google was forcing manufacturers to both include the Google Search and other services along with the Google Play Store on Android-powered devices, but also that Google blocked manufacturers from installing competitor services.

Short summary: Bad, bad Alphabet Google. The fine for this flaunting of Russian laws is around US$6.5 billion. Russia seems to want cash and the Alphabet Google matter to go away for a short time.

I do not understand why mere nation states like Russia cannot get with the Alphabet Google program. Is the new Alphabet Google going to impose trade restrictions on Russia? Will Alphabet Google accuse Russia of violating human rights because companies are people too? Will Alphabet Google ask Android users to protest in front of the FSB office in Moscow? Does Mr. Putin use an iPhone?

So many questions.

Stephen E Arnold, August 24, 2016

Microsoft to Sunset China Search and News Services

August 22, 2016

Recent news has made clear that online content from the U.S. or any country foreign to China faces challenges in China. An article from CNN Money recently published Microsoft is giving up on its Chinese web portal. This piece informs us that Microsoft will sunset it’s MSN website in China on June 7. Through their company statement, Microsoft mentions their commitment to China remains and notes China is home to the largest R&D facility outside the U.S. An antitrust investigation on Microsoft in China has been underway since July 2014. The article shares an overview of the bigger picture,

The company’s search engine, Bing, also flopped in the country amid tough competition with homegrown rivals. It didn’t help that in Chinese, “Bing” sounds similar to the word for “sickness.

In September, Microsoft finally ditched Bing for users of its Edge browser in China, striking a deal with Chinese Internet giant Baidu (BIDU, Tech30) to use its search engine as the default.

Other Western tech firms have come under scrutiny in China before, including Qualcomm(QCOM, Tech30) and Apple (AAPL, Tech30). Social networks like Facebook (FB, Tech30) and Google (GOOG) remain blocked in the country.”

It looks like Bing will bite the dust soon, in China at least. Does this news mean anything for Microsoft as a company? While regulations China are notably stringent, the size of their population makes up a notably sized market. We will be watching to see how search plays out in China.

Megan Feil, August 22, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph     There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.                                                                                                                 Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233019199/


Google Shows Some Smart Software Research

August 21, 2016

If you track Google’s research activities, you may know that papers delivered at conferences become tough to tough to locate. A pointer may return a dead link or a page which asks the intrepid researcher to pay for a copy of the document. Other papers just disappear due to the magic of logical management decisions.

For Google’s latest in smart software, navigate to “ACL 2016 & Research at Google.” The day I visited the site, papers could be downloaded for free. These finely honed Googlist write ups do not have dates and some of the bibliographic details one had to provide in high school, but, hey, you have the write ups.

Google explains that it is a leader in natural language processing. Never mind that MIT’s Technology Review pointed out in “AI’s Language Problem” that some of the nifty methods in use today are not ready for the big show. If one says something, that something is true, right?

Stephen E Arnold, August 21, 2016

Alphabet Google and Its Losing Bets

August 19, 2016

I read “A Year after Google Transformed into Alphabet, the Only Thing Clear Is How Much Its Bets Are Losing.” (Now that is a title.) The write up explains that even for the Alphabet Google thing creating sustainable revenue streams is not as easy as solving trivial problems like death. Whoops. Death is not yet cracked. However, Google has cracked the Loon balloon as a wireless component.

I learned from the write up:

Google is still growing—its revenue last quarter was $21.3 billion, up 21% from a year earlier—but similar signs of life have not been seen in Other Bets. In the last four quarters, it’s lost over $3.7 billion, and only generated roughly $500 million in revenue, which works out to less than 1% of Alphabet’s quarterly sales.

In the grand scheme of online ad revenue, what’s the big deal?

This passage caught my attention:

Alphabet’s Other Bets includes things like Google Fiber, the company’s initiative to bring high-speed fiber-optic broadband to the US; Boston Dynamics, a research firm working on humanoid and dog-shaped robots for the military; and Nest, the internet-of-things company Google bought in 2014 that makes smart thermostats and other as-of-yet unnecessary gadgets. In the last year, Nest’s CEO Tony Fadell has left Alphabet amid claims that he was creating a “toxic” work atmosphere, and Boston Dynamics is apparently being shopped around for a buyer as Alphabet struggles to monetize its work.

My hunch is that the article is designed to suggest that the Alphabet Google thing has a problem. I am not sure its “bets” are the challenge. My thoughts flow to Amazon. Mr. Bezos’ outfit has generated additional lines of revenue and seems to be creating new services which complement the core business and open new revenue streams. There’s package delivery, subscriptions, and the cloud business. Even the space initiative and the dead tree newspaper are showing signs of life.

Perhaps the issue is what Google pursues versus what Amazon is doing? Which company is more likely to take a wild and crazy idea and make money from that notion? Some say Amazon; some say Google. Are these company names synonyms for innovation or concentrated market control? Time to go fishing with my Android tablet and a lure from Amazon.

Stephen E Arnold, August 19, 2016

Google Maps: Suddenly Exciting

August 18, 2016

The Alphabet Google thing wants to do maps its way. That’s fine. The Sillycon Valley outfit often perceives that its “logical” approach is the one true way. Not everyone is riding Google’s self driving car, however.

Two write ups caught my eye only because I noticed the dust up over naming places in the Crimea. I assume the Crimea is a nifty place and that the residents are thrilled to have Google adjust map names to make their life easier.

The first write up concerns Palestine. Navigate to the delightfully named article “Palestine Is Exactly Where It Was. Google Cannot You See!” The main point of the write up is:

Search engine Google has removed Palestine from its maps service on July 25 and replaced it with Israel

But Google says, “Palestine was never on Google Maps after claims it had been airbrushed away.” This point appeared in a story in the UK newspaper The Telegraph. Google apparently uses a dashed line to display a “disputed” terrritory. Adding a bit of spice to the story was this statement in the rejoinder:

Google said in a response that Palestine had never been marked as a territory on its map, but that a glitch in the software had resulted in Palestinian areas being removed. “There has never been a ‘Palestine’ label on Google Maps,” said a spokesman for Google. “However, we discovered a bug that removed the labels for ‘West Bank’ and ‘Gaza Strip’. We’re working quickly to get these labels back to the area.”

A glitch is nothing new in Harrod’s Creek. My steam powered computer and Bell+Howell camera are often persnickety. In the contentious part of world in which Palestine exists, the Google change has caught some attention.

The other story is about South Korea. Point your easily monitored browser at “Google Accused of Getting Free Ride on Map Data.” The issue, as i understand it, is the location of the map data. The notion of distributed computing is A OKAY with the Alphabet Google thing, but the concept seems to run counter to the wishes of a nation state. I learned:

Google’s recent attempts to carry South Korea’s geographical information outside the nation is mired in controversy. Those who oppose Google’s use and storage of the Korean map data overseas argue that sensitive security data, including locations of military facilities, would be exposed to external threats and Google wants to get a free ride by accessing the data for which the government and Korean firms spent trillions of won to develop.

The idea of using Google’s existing systems is not making some folks happy in
South Korea.

How will Google plot a course through the dangerous shoals of online maps. I experienced one solution a couple of years ago. Google did not include a location on a Google map. That works. Fortunately I was standing outside the Washington, DC eatery called Cuba Libre when I noticed the restaurant was not on the map.

If it is not on Google, the restaurant did not exist, at least at that point in time in front of the physical restaurant.

Logical, of course.

Stephen E Arnold, August 18, 2016

Content Cannot Be Searched If It Is Not There

August 16, 2016

Google Europe is already dealing with a slew of “right to be forgotten” requests, but Twitter had its own recent fight with deletion related issue.  TechCrunch shares the story about “Deleted Tweet Archive PostGhost Shut Down After Twitter Cease And Desist” order.  PostGhost was a Web site that archived tweets from famous public figures.  PostGhost gained its own fame for recording deleted tweets.

The idea behind PostGhost was to allow a transparent and accurate record.  The Library of Congress already does something similar as it archives every Tweet.  Twitter, however, did not like PostGhost and sent them a cease and desist threatening to remove their API access.  Apparently,Google it is illegal to post deleted tweets, something that evolved from the European “right to be forgotten” laws.

So is PostGhost or Twitter wrong?

“There are two schools of thought when something like this happens. The first is that it’s Twitter’s prerogative to censor anything and all the things. It’s their sandbox and we just play in it.  The second school of thought says that Twitter is free-riding on our time and attention and in exchange for that they should work with their readers and users in a sane way.”

Twitter is a platform for a small percentage of users, the famous and public figures, who instantly have access to millions of people when they voice their thoughts.  When these figures put their thoughts on the Internet it has more meaning than the average tweet.  Other Web sites do the same, but it looks like public figures are exempt from this rule.  Why?  I am guessing money is exchanging hands.


Whitney Grace, August 16, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233019199/

The Alphabet Google Thing: The Russia Glitch

August 15, 2016

I know that Alphabet Google is the darling of the Sillycon Valley set. I noted the allegedly accurate factoids in “Russia Fines Google $6.75 Million for Android Antitrust Violations.” No alleged I assume.

Alphabet Google, according to the write up:

…The country’s [Russia’s] Federation Anti-monopoly Service (FAS) said that Google forced mobile phone manufacturers to include Google search on the home screen of all Android devices and bundling other services with Google Play, while preventing manufacturers from pre-installing competing services. The case was opened in February 2014, when one of those rivals, Yandex, filed an official complaint against Google. Last year, the authorities decided that it had broken Russian competition law. The ruling was upheld again in March, when Google lost an appeal.

What’s interesting is that Google has a never-say-nyea attitude. I learned:

While Russia’s fine against Google is tiny, an order from the FAS demanding that the ad giant change the restrictions it places on device makers in the country could prove to be more damaging. Google is appealing against the order, with a hearing scheduled for August 16.

Does anyone care about Alphabet Google’s travails in Russia? One person. Margrethe Verstager, the EC’s competition commissioner. Just eight years ago, a Googler was supposed to hitch a ride on Russia’s Soyuz flight to the International Space Station. Since then, Russia seems to be taking a more critical look at the search advertising giant.

Stephen E Arnold, August 15, 2016

Improving Information for Everyone

August 14, 2016

I love it when Facebook and Google take steps to improve information quality for everyone.

I noted “Facebook’s News Feed to Show Fewer Clickbait Headlines.” I thought the Facebook news feed was 100 percent beef. I learned:

The company receives thousands of complaints a day about clickbait, headlines that intentionally withhold information or mislead users to get people to click on them…

Thousands. I am impressed. Facebook is going to do some filtering to help its many happy users avoid clickbait, a concept which puzzles me. I noted:

Facebook created a system that identifies and classifies such headlines. It can then determine which pages or web domains post large amounts of clickbait and rank them lower in News Feed. Facebook routinely updates its algorithm for News Feed, the place most people see postings on the site, to show users what they are most interested in and encourage them to spend even more time on the site.

Clustering methods are readily available. I ask myself, “Why did Facebook provide streams of clickbait in the first place?”

On a related note, the Google released exclusive information to Time Warner, which once owned AOL and now owns a chunk of Hula. Google’s wizards have identified bad bits, which it calls “unwanted software.” The Googlers converted the phrase into UwS and then into the snappy term “ooze.”

Fortune informed me:

people bump into 60 million browser warnings for download attempts of unwanted software at unsafe Web pages every week.

Quite a surprise I assume. Google will definitely talk about “a really big problem.” Alas, Fortune was not able to provide information about what Mother Google will do to protect its users. Obviously the “real” journalists at Fortune did not find the question, “What are you going to do about this?” germane.

It is reassuring to know that Facebook and Google are improving the quality of the information each provides. Analytics and user feedback are important.

Stephen E Arnold, August 13, 2016

Google by the Sea: One Percenters Top 100 Hoe Down

August 13, 2016

I have no idea if “Fireworks, Ancient Ruins, and Celebrities: Inside Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s Exclusive Conference in Italy” took place. It might be an elaborate virtual reality confection with After Effects magic to make a get together real. The article explains that Google had a three day conference for a number of average Joes and Janes. The location was Sicily, previously known as a mise en scène for certain criminal activities and the birthplace of Archimedes, a fellow who would have been a Googler if Google existed in 287 BCE. The write up points out that George Lucas was in attendance and looking suave. I checked out the photo, and I don’t think I would have used the word “suave.” The food included homemade pasta, wine and cheese tastings, live music, fireworks, and selfies. After reading the article and looking at the photos, I realized that grilling squirrel next to the pond filled with mine drainage was very similar to this Google hoe down. The local Lucas wandered over to my squirrel roast. He did not look suave. He looked as if he wanted to be some place else. I concluded that cooking squirrels was something the one percent of the one percenters probably would not enjoy. I noted that Google’s George Lucas’ eyes looked like the squirrel’s eyes when I tossed him / her into the pile of Kingsford briquettes. No CGI for me.

Stephen E Arnold, August 13, 2016

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