CyberOSINT banner

Sri Lanka and Loon Balloons

July 29, 2015

If you are in Sri Lanka, you will be able to get high speed Internet. Sri Lanka is conveniently located near south east Asia. It is an island, and it is easy to reach. I assume there will be excellent on the scene reportage about the high speed Internet provided by the Google Loon balloons.

Sriankan Tourism Catogory

A Sri Lankan beach.

The details of this Loon deployment appear in “Google’s Balloons to Provide Sri Lanka with High-Speed Internet.” I learned:

the X Labs creation uses stratospheric balloons that transmit signals to the ground to provide internet coverage even in rural locations. That’s why Sri Lanka’s government news portal is proudly proclaiming that the nation is “on its way to becoming the first country in the world to have universal internet coverage.”

Sriankan Tourism Catogory

You can surf when you are not “surfing.”

There are parts of Kentucky where Internet access is not available; for example, in the restaurant across the street from the largest mall in Kentucky. Sri Lanka is preferable because it is a more cost effective location for a test. Air fare from SFO to Columbo begins at $2,400. Such a deal for a 24 hour trip door to door.

The Sri Lankan infrastructure makes testing as easy as walking across the Stanford University soccer fields.

Google’s new focus on cost control is evident in choosing this remote island for a test. There are a couple of beaches, mountains, and a dynamic, highly charged technological pulse beating throughout an area the size of Texas. One can shop for computer parts at the Micro Centre in Unity Plaza or snag a missing part in Delhi, a short jaunt for an intrepid Googler.

The location for the Loon test is not Sicily. Google is renting some ruins in Sicily for a meeting about cost controls. Sicily is also close to Google’s Mountain View headquarters and an easy trip for the journalists who cover the firm’s excursions into financial probity.

Stephen E Arnold, July 29, 2015

Bing Is A Winner…Huh?

July 29, 2015

Bing is the joke of Internet search.  Skilled Web surfers…no, scratch that term.  Nobody “surfs” the Internet anymore, unless you are an older person trying to maintain relevancy.  Skilled Web users Google or play DuckDuckGo, but according to Mashable, Bing might be ringing in as many jokes anymore, “Microsoft’s Bing Isn’t Such A Failure After All.”

Microsoft VP of advertiser and publisher Rik van der Kooi said that Bing is now able to pay for itself, contrary to its launch six years ago when it hemorrhaged cash from the beginning.  Microsoft wants Bing to be even more profitable by its 2016 fiscal year, which started earlier this month on July 1.

“Microsoft should provide more clarity on Bing’s financials with its next earnings release in July. Profitable or not, Bing is clearly moving in the right direction. The service’s improved financial position, combined with recent strides in pushing its share of the search market to 20%, offer the clearest argument yet that Microsoft still has the power to muscle its way into lucrative and mature technology categories and find solid footing there.”

The article recounts Bing’s unprofitable history, culminating in its more recent successes that have funneled more green into the search engine. This includes Apple making Bing the default search on its mobile OS, a renewed partnership with Yahoo, a ten year deal with AOL, and Bing sending map imaging to Uber.  It finishes by calling Bing a contender and it looks like that may be true.  Let’s wait until they start making self-driving cars until victory is declared.

Whitney Grace, July 29, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Google+ or Google Plus: A Minus It Seems

July 28, 2015

I love product and service names which are unsearchable. I think I have a Google+ or Goiogle Plus account. I am not sure. I will not care any time soon.

I read with interest “Google Gives Up on Google+ As a Facebook Rival.” Let’s see. Google gave up on Orkut, Wave, and I suppose other social things. Each of these “give ups” reminds me of the ethos of my high school math and science clubs. Heh heh, who cares if no one understands.


According to the estimable Wall Street Journal article:

Google launched Google+ four years ago, seeking to create a big social network with a billion or more people updating their status, posting photos and keeping in touch with friends, family and colleagues. The company wanted it to be a “platform layer” that unified Google’s sharing models, as well as a product and a mobile app, Horowitz explained in a (yes, you guessed it) Google+ update. “This was a well-intentioned goal, but as realized it led to some product experiences that users sometimes found confusing,” he wrote. Among the most confusing – and irritating – was a requirement that a user have a Google+ account and profile to log into many other Google services.

But my fondest recollection was that some Googlers had to do Google+ or Google Plus things to get a bonus. Yes, that’s the way to motive the team.

My favorite social service was Orkut. Google allegedly skirmished in court a couple of times. Orkut then became a fave in Brazil among some of the folks who were not likely to be invited to join Google.

Google+ or Google Plus lacked this sort of zing. I remember a Googler writing me, imploring me to become active in Google+ or Google Plus. I think we pump Beyond Search content toward the service.

My hunch is that like Google Glass, Google+ or Google Plus is not dead. Like the characters in an Anne Rice novel, Google me too innovations are like Lestat and his relatives. Oh, when is the next meeting of the math club? I hope it does not conflict with the science club meeting.

Stephen E Arnold, July 28, 2015

Googles Chauvinistic Job Advertising Delivery

July 28, 2015

I thought we were working to get more women into the tech industry, not fewer. That’s why it was so disappointing to read, “Google Found to Specifically Target Men Over Women When It Comes to High-Paid Job Adverts” at IBTimes. It was a tool dubbed AdFisher, developed by some curious folks at Carnegie Mellon and the International Computer Science Institute, that confirmed the disparity. Knowing that internet-usage tracking determines what ads each of us sees, the researchers wondered whether such “tailored ad experiences” were limiting employment opportunities for half the population. Reporter Alistair Charlton writes:

“AdFisher works by acting as thousands of web users, each taking a carefully chosen route across the internet in such a way that an ad-targeting network like Google Ads will infer certain interests and characteristics from them. The programme then records which adverts are displayed when it later visits a news website that uses Google’s ad network. It can be set to act as a man or woman, then flag any differences in the adverts it is shown.

“Anupam Datta, an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University, said in the MIT Technology Review: ‘I think our findings suggest that there are parts of the ad ecosystem where kinds of discrimination are beginning to emerge and there is a lack of transparency. This is concerning from a societal standpoint.’”

Indeed it is, good sir. The team has now turned AdFisher’s attention to Microsoft’s Bing; will that search platform prove to be just as chauvinistic? For Google’s part, they say they’re looking into the study’s methodology to “understand its findings.” It remains to be seen what sort of parent the search giant will be; will it simply defend its algorithmic offspring, or demand it mend its ways?

Cynthia Murrell, July 28, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

PageRank: Viewed through the Linear Algebra Sunglasses

July 27, 2015

I urge you to read and work through the examples in “The $25,000,000,000,000 Eigenvector: The Linear Algebra behind Google.” The write up was a tour be force when it became available in 2006. The explains Google PageRank’s ability to display “the good stuff.” The idea is that the system and method set forth in the PageRank patent finds the most “relevant” Web pages matching a query.

I won’t trouble you with references to some work by Dr. Jon Kleinberg for the CLEVER system. I won’t peel back any of the wrappers  which have been layered around the PageRank system after the company went public in 2004.

I will call your attention to a Wall Street Journal article which strikes me as reasonably accurate. The story is “How Google Skewed Search Results.” If you cannot access this document, check out the also acceptable article “Google May Be Hurting Users by Manipulating Search Results, Says Study.”

Fancy math is great in the classroom. Is it possible that good old human intervention works in some situations? And if manipulation does achieve a desired goal, what’s the point of belaboring the fancy math, precedent work, or the subsequent wrapper code?

Stephen E Arnold, July 27, 2015

Web Sites Going The Way Of The Dodo

July 24, 2015

Apps are supposed to replace Web sites, but there is a holdup for universal adoption. Search Engine Watch explains why Web sites are still hanging tight and how a new Google acquisition might be a game changer: “The Final Hurdle Is Cleared-Apps Will Replace Web Sites.”  The article explains that people are “co-users” of both apps and classic Web sites, but online browsers are still popular.  Why is that?

Browsers are universal and can access any content with a Web address.  Most Web sites also do not have an app counterpart, so the only way to access content is to use the old-fashioned browser.  Another issue is that apps cannot be crawled by search engines, so they are left out of search results. The biggest pitfall for apps is that they have to be downloaded in order to be accessed, which takes up screen space and disk space.

A startup has created a solution to making apps work faster:

“Agawi has developed a technology to stream apps, just like Netflix streams videos. Instead of packaging the entire app into a single, large file for the user to download, the app is broken up into many small files, letting users interact with small portions of the app while the rest of it is downloading.  In the short term, it appears that Google wants to deploy Agawi for users try an app before downloading the full version.”

Google acquired Agawi, but do not expect it to be accessible soon.  Google enjoys putting its own seal of approval on all acquisitions and making sure it works well.  Mobile device usage is increasing and more users are moving towards using them over traditional computers.  Search marketers will need to be more aware than ever about how search engines work with apps and encourage clients to make an app.


Whitney Grace, July 24, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Publishers Out Of Sorts…Again

July 20, 2015

Here we go again, the same old panic song that has been sung around the digital landscape since the advent of portable devices: the publishing industry is losing money. The Guardian reports on how mobile devices are now hurting news outlets: “News Outlets Face Losing Control To Apple, Facebook, And Google.”

The news outlets are losing money as users move to mobile devices to access the news via Apple, Facebook, and Google. The article shares a bunch of statistics supporting this claim, which only backs up facts people already knew.

It does make a sound suggestion of traditional news outlets changing their business model by possibly teaming with the new ways people consume their news.

Here is a good rebuttal, however:

“ ‘Fragmentation of news provision, which weakens the bargaining power of journalism organisations, has coincided with a concentration of power in platforms,’ said Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center at Columbia university, in a lead commentary for the report.”

Seventy percent of mobile device users have a news app on their phone, but only a third of them use it at least once a week. Only diehard loyalists are returning to the traditional outlets and paying a subscription fee for the services. The rest of the time they turn to social media for their news.

This is not anything new. These outlets will adapt, because despite social media’s popularity there is still something to be said for a viable and trusted news outlet, that is, if you can trust the outlet.

Whitney Grace, July 20, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Google: The Forever Rising Revenue Starship

July 18, 2015

I read “Google Adds a Record $60 Billion to Its Stock in One Day.” According to this write up and dozens of others, the GOOG has broken a barrier. The company is, like a deep space probe of money, into the Forever Rising.

I read:

Google Inc. just gave its investors the biggest present ever. The search-engine giant added $65 billion to its market capitalization today, more than the size of Hewlett-Packard Co. The surge, following earnings that topped analyst estimates, is the biggest one-day gain in value ever for a U.S. company, according to data compiled by S&P Dow Jones Indices. Apple Inc. held the previous record, with a $46.4 billion surge in April 2012.

Will legal hassles, cost cutting, the surge in mobile usage, and the challenges of making money in China and Russia slow the Forever Rising, the new monetary interstellar vehicle?

Absolutely not. Lawyers, even countries, cannot exert sufficient gravitational pull to cause the money craft to veer from its trajectory.

Diamonds Are Forever. Oh, that’s the movie thing.

Stephen E Arnold, July 18, 2015

Google Revenue Tweaks: Mobilegeddon the New Beginning

July 16, 2015

I read “Google’s Mobilegeddon Moves Hitting Marketers, Sites.” The write up reports an action by Google that I had not considered. The ballyhooed mobilegeddon hit my radar months ago.

Here’s the big news, according to ZDNet:

there’s a 25 percent gap between what they pay for clicks vs. what they get. “Parity or click through rates are growing faster than cost per clicks,” said Gaffney [presumably an Adobe principal wizard]. “We’re not even close right now. To see the gap widening is troubling.”

My view: Get used to it, gentle reader. The GOOG has a number of strings, but some of the chunkiest and most curvaceous in terms of revenue have been on “The Biggest Loser.”

As a result, the revenue mavens at the Google are beefing up other revenue streams.

Adobe is cheerleading for Facebook, but seems to be quite placid when the Zuck wants Flash to be disappeared.

Google, Zuck, Adobe: What’s this mean pour vous. Spend more, get less. Enjoy the excitement of the new feature “World That Click Streams Abandoned.”

Stephen E Arnold, July 16, 2015

Google, Its Strategy, and Cost Cutting: Excitement Looms

July 15, 2015

I will not mention Loon balloons. I promise.

Navigate to “Google Product Strategy: Make Two of Everything.” The write up points out that Google’s strategy is a variation on the Doublemint twins trope. If one is good, two are better. More better. Just like Vonage.

The write up points out:

The company’s actions have shown it doesn’t really believe in focusing on a single solution to a problem, regardless of how much easier that would make things for users. It has to deal with external competitors in all sorts of areas, and Google seems to see no reason why competition can’t also come from within—Google products competing with other Google products.

Internal competition good. Revenue? Well, now that is the one point I found lacking in the write up. Doublemint twins are expensive. Imagine being a frat rat trying to woo both of the Doublemint twins. Twice the cost. Exponentiate the management hassles. Yikes. Talk about complexity between classes and on weekends. I stayed in the library. A simple college life for me.


Google has for more than a decade done many things. The Googlers have many interests. I understand. I have many interests, but I have learned at age 70 that one must bring discipline to make any progress.

After many years of effort, Google’s business model is based on the GoTo/Overture pay-to-play approach to traffic. Google, if I recall the Yahoo settlement regarding GoTo/Overture methods, did not invent its approach to online advertising.

What has played out over the last decade has been online advertising generating 90 to 95 percent of Google’s revenue.

The wild and crazy stuff has not, in my opinion, has not altered Google’s dependence on the online advertising business model.

How much more profitable would Google have been if it did not do the two of everything method? How much money would the company generate for stakeholders if some of the moon shots were put back in the hanger and the lights turned out.

Solving death. Great idea. Live forever. Well, maybe. Frittering away dough on YouTube and creating a mass of unfindable and often forgettable video content.

The write up mentions Android and Chrome. Google Glass and the wonky Google watch warrant a mention. The author identifies more than 10 additional duplications.

In my opinion, the big message is a lack of discipline. Now there is a new CFO who wants to cut costs. See “The five things Wall Street Wants from Google’s new CFO.” The write up also misses the mark.

Wall Street wants the revenues from the good old days. Go back to the hockey stick financials from 2004 to 2007. The company is, as Steve Ballmer said, a one-trick pony.

Google might consider taking a gander at the Sakai’s concept of bunsha. Those Xooglers are cranking out innovative outfits once they leave the GOOG. Some of these are going to do the hockey stick thing. (Sorry, no company names in a free blog, gentle reader.)

What’s happening is that Google is embracing the procedures of a high school math club. Now you can ponder the Loon balloons, elevators to space, etc. etc.

Stephen E Arnold, July 15, 2015

Next Page »