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Ooooh, Darpa, Ooooh, Baby, Wail

July 29, 2015

I read “DARPA Hired a Jazz Musician to Jam with Their Artificially Intelligent Software.” I would have used the pronoun “its” but I am not artificially intelligence. DARPA brings it axes to a jam fest. The DARPA barrelhouse features some Bose bouncing riffs.


DARPA’s robot, AI infused quartet is down by law.

The write up said:

“A human musician also builds a knowledge base by practicing and by listening and by learning and studying,” Thomas [DARPA cat] said. “So the thing we’re proposing to do is analogous to the way a human learns, but eventually it will be able to do this on a much larger scale. It can scour thousands of transcriptions instead of dozens or hundreds.” Many people might not consider music a form of communication, but Paul Cohen, an AI researcher and head of the Communicating with Computers project, thinks music shares many qualities with the spoken and written word.

You can watch a video and watch these fantastic musicians keep up with a human hep cat. If Dark Web search and drone performance improves with this investment, that’s cool.

Maybe we have another US government moldy fig, dude? Robot musicians would not be persons of interest for alleged use of controlled substances unless WD-40 were reclassified.

Stephen E Arnold, July 29, 2015

Hewlett Packard: A Fashion Forward Management Moment

July 26, 2015

I read “HP Bans T Shirts at Work, and Employees Are Furious.” The write up explains:

several teams within HP’s 100,000-employee-strong Enterprise Services division were sent a confidential memo cracking down on casual dress in the workplace, because higher-ups in the company are concerned that customers visiting the offices will be put off by dressed-down developers, reports The Register.

I enjoy the management antics of HP. I recall the dust up with the board of directors. There is the MBA play of splitting the company in half in hopes of doubling the “value” for someone, maybe a banker or a senior manager. And, who can forget, HP’s purchase of Autonomy, the subsequent mea culpa, and the long flights of legal eagles. A deft touch for sure.

The write up states:

An HP spokesperson said the company does not have a global dress code but had no immediate comment on the report of the memo about the Enterprise group dress code.

Organized to a T shirt like this one:


Stephen E Arnold, July 26, 2015

Google and Disappeared Streets

July 14, 2015

If you spend any time with Google Maps (civilian edition), you will find blurred areas, gaps, and weird distortions which cause me to ask, “Where did that building go?”

If you really spend a lot of time with Google Maps, you will be able to see my two dogs, Max and Tess, in a street view scene.


And zoomed in. Aren’t the doggies wonderful?


The article “The Curious Case of Google Street View’s Missing Streets” is not interested in seeing what the wonky Google autos capture. The write up pokes at me with this line:

Many towns and cities are littered with small gaps in the Street View imagery.

The write up explains that Google recognizes that gaps are a known issue. The article gets close to something quite interesting when it states:

In extreme cases, whole countries are affected. Privacy has been a particular issue in Germany, where many people objected to the roll-out of Street View. Google now has Street View images only for big cities in Germany, like Berlin and Frankfurt, and appears to have given up on the rest of the country completely. Zoom out over Europe in Street View mode and Germany is mostly a blank island in a sea of blue.

Want to do something fun the author of the write up did not bother to do? Locate a list of military facilities in the UK. Then try to locate those on a Google Map. Next try to locate those on a map (oops, Uber map)?

Notice anything unusual? Now relate your thoughts to the article’s list of causes.

If not, enjoy the snap of Max and Tess.

Stephen E Arnold, July 14, 2015

Watson: Will It Be Able to Make Major Government Applications More Intelligent?

June 30, 2015

I recently commented on the 25 percent problem rate in government software. You can find that Beyond Search item at this link. I can relate to companies who want to improve US government software. Go for it.

IBM has a plan which apparently ignores IBM Federal Systems (an outfit which creates, upgrades, and maintains some US government software). The approach focuses on a group of student from the University of Texas at Austin.

The write up states that Lauri Saft, director of the IBM Watson Ecosystem, has this view:

“You don’t program Watson, you teach it. We gave them [the students] the empty shell of Watson and said, ‘Go and come up with ideas you feel would be valuable.’”

The training method was one of Autonomy IDOL’s most important functions. The challenge which IDOL licensees faced, as I understand the system, is that the system can drift unless training and calibration are part of the routine maintenance cycle. For some licensees, the time and cost of the training and calibration were hurdles. Has Watson moved beyond Autonomy’s approach?

I assume the answer is, “Yes.” Therefore, the use of Watson to improve government software by making that software more intelligent should be a home run.

The students in Austin created a Watson app named CallScout. The focus is not on government software as I think of market opportunities. The students are working on a social service program in Texas. The application is customer support solution. That’s good.

My thought was that IBM Federal Systems would be using Watson’s remarkably broad spectrum of capabilities to address issues at the national level, maybe the regional level for Homeland Security or the EPA. I did not expect a local app for social services in Texas.

Perhaps the IBM Federal Systems Watson home run will be announced soon. The incubator with student thing is not likely to boost IBM top line revenues in the way a major US government Watson deal would. But PR is PR, big or small. IBM needs its Federal Systems’ unit to get the Watson revenue flowing. Time is a wastin’ because there are other outfits nosing into this potentially lucrative territory.

Stephen E Arnold, June 30, 2015

How to Succeed in China: Maybe Follow the Rules?

June 27, 2015

I love articles which explain how to do something to anticipated readers who have zero chance to build a business in China. Navigate to “A New Wave of US Internet Companies Is Succeeding in China—By Giving the Government What It Wants.”

I am not sure a degree in business is required to understand this concept. In my experience, when one is in another country, common sense suggests that the government officials expect outsiders to play by the rules. Ever wonder why West Point cadets look so darned polished. Well, consider the downside associated with wearing an Iron Maiden T shirt, soccer trunks, and flip flops?

The write up points out:

“If you want to develop an internet business in Chinese now, you have to be willing to work with the Chinese government, even if that means censoring content or sharing access to your data,” Ben Cavender, principal at the China Market Research Group, told Quartz.

Outfits who have learned this simple lesson, according to the write up, are LinkedIn, Uber, and Evernote. Outfits who have not figured out the calculus of the West Point approach to order include Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Hey, Facebook is trying. I saw a news item revealing that the Facebook top Facebooker learned sort of Chinese. Yippy.

So which companies have “better” managers? Those in the big market or those looking at the big market?

How does this related to search and content processing? I don’t know of too many information access companies dominating the Chinese market. When it comes to cyberOSINT, there is Knowlesys which sort of operates in Hong Kong and does have an office in China.

Class dismissed. Oh, you with the flip flops, may I have a word with you?

Stephen E Arnold, June 27, 2015

You Cannot Search It If It Is Not There: The Wayback in Russia

June 26, 2015

I know that many people believe that a search reveals “all” and “everything” about a topic. Nothing is further from the truth. There are forces at work which wish to ensure that only certain information is available to a person with an Internet connection.

Navigate to “Russia Bans the Internet Archive’s ‘Wayback Machine’.” The Wayback Machine, which once had tie ups with outfits as different as the Library of Congress and Amazon. I found it useful when working as an expert witness to be able refresh my memory on certain Web sites’ presentation of information. I am confident there are other uses of “old information.”

According the write up, Russia is not to keen on the notion of old information. Kenneth Waggner, one of my high school teachers, had Russian language textbooks from the Stalin era. He had marked passages included in one book and excluded from another. If he were correct, the tradition of filtering has a reasonable track record in Russia. Keep in mind that other countries and company and individuals have the same goal: Present only what a smarter, more informed person thinks I should be able to access.

The article states:

By banning access to the Internet Archive, the government is denying Russian Internet users a powerful tool—one that is particularly useful in an environment where websites often disappear behind a state-operated blacklist, as is increasingly true in Russia today.

Governments are like horse races. No one is sure of the winner unless the race is rigged.

Stephen E Arnold, June 26, 2015

The US Government and Software: Some of It Works Maybe

June 25, 2015

I read “Report: Government Software Flawed, Rarely Fixed.” Over the years I have tallied some anecdotes about US government software. Examples range from outputs that come from a pool of demonstration data instead of the actual data from the system to content management systems which cannot manage content.

The write up states:

According to Veracode’s annual software security report just 24 percent of government sector software was found to be compliant — the lowest rate among seven sectors Veracode studied.  The report suggests that one reason could be government’s frequent use of scripting and older languages such as ColdFusion, which can lead to more vulnerabilities. When it comes to fixing those vulnerabilities, government again had the lowest rate at just 27  percent. Veracode looked 34 industries in all, grouped into seven sectors: government, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, retail and hospitality, technology and “other.”

In the wake of the recent security issues at a certain US government agency, the challenge is now national news.

Stephen E Arnold, June 25,2015

Short Honk: Snowden Document Inventory

June 12, 2015

Short honk: Curious about Snowden documents? If so, navigate to “Snowden Doc Search.” The site provides a snippet and some tags. We have seen other Snowden collections, but we view these with skepticism and indifference. You, gentle reader, may find the approach just what you need as a source of jargon and milspec graphics.

Stephen E Arnold, June 12 2015

IBM Elevates Tape Storage to the Cloud

June 9, 2015

Did you think we left latency and bad blocks behind with tape storage? Get ready to revisit them, because “IBM Cloud Will Reach Back to Tape for Low-Cost Storage,” according to ComputerWorld. We noticed tape storage was back on the horizon earlier this year, and now IBM has made it official at its recent Edge conference in Las Vegas. There, the company was slated to present a cloud-archiving architecture that relies on a different storage mediums, including tape, depending on an organization’s needs. Reporter Stephen Lawson writes:

“Enterprises are accumulating growing volumes of data, including new types such as surveillance video that may never be used on a regular basis but need to be stored for a long time. At the same time, new big-data analytics tools are making old and little-used data useful for gleaning new insights into business and government. IBM is going after customers in health care, social media, oil and gas, government and other sectors that want to get to all of their data no matter where it’s stored. IBM’s system, which it calls Project Big Storage, puts all tiers of storage under one namespace, creating a single pool of data that users can manage through folders and directories without worrying about where it’s stored. It incorporates both file and object storage.”

A single pool of data is good. The inclusion of tape storage in this mix is reportedly part of an attempt to undercut IBM’s cloudy competitors, including AWS and Google Cloud. Naturally, the service can be implemented onsite, as a cloud service, or as a hybrid. IBM hopes Big Storage will make cloud pricing more predictable, though complexity there seems inevitable. Tape storage is slower to deliver data, but according to the plan only “rarely needed” data will be stored there, courtesy of IBM’s own Spectrum Scale distributed storage software. Wisely, IBM is relying on the tape-handling experts at Iron Mountain to run the tape-based portion of the Big Storage Project.

Cynthia Murrell, June 9, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


The Public Living Room

June 6, 2015

While much of the information that libraries offer is available via the Internet, many of their services are not.  A 2013 Gallup survey showed that over 90 percent of Americans feel that libraries are important to their communities.  The recent recession, however, forced local governments to cut library funding by 38 percent and the federal government by 19 percent.  Some library users see the “public living room” (a place to read, access computers, research, play games, etc.) as a last bastion for old technology and printed material.

Alternet’s article. “Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever In The Age Of Google” highlights a new book by John Palfrey called BiblioTech that discusses how libraries can maintain their relevancy and importance in communities.  Palfrey’s biggest argument is that humans are creating huge amounts of data, which is controlled by big and small tech companies.  These companies are controlling what information is available for consumption, while libraries offer people the ability to access any type of information and free of charge.

Palfrey offers other reasons to continue using libraries: print and ink archives are more reliable than digital, how physical, communal space is important for communities and education, and how librarians are vital components.

“These arguments, however, rely too heavily on the humans-are-better-than-technology rationale where “better” is measured by technological rather than humanistic standards. If librarians have a higher success rate than Amazon’s algorithm at recommending books, this might not be true forever. Does that mean we won’t need librarians at some point? No, the dilemma of disappearing libraries is not just about efficiency, it’s also about values. Librarians recommend books because they are part of a community and want to start a discussion among the people they see around them—to solve the world’s problems, but also just to have a conversation, because people want to be near each other. The faster technology improves and surpasses human capability, the more obvious it becomes that being human is not merely about being capable, it’s about relating to other humans.”

Palfrey’s views are described as ideological and in many ways they are.  Politicians cut funding, because they view libraries as archaic institutions and are blinded when it comes to the inequity when it comes to information access. Libraries indeed need a serious overhaul, but unlike the article explains, it is not simply updating the buildings and collections.  It runs more along the lines of teaching people the importance of information and free information access.

Whitney Grace, June 7, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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