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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

Coveo Wins a Stevie. Congrats Coveo. What Is a Stevie?

July 21, 2016

The article titled Coveo Sweeps Early 2016 Awards Programs on Coveo promotes some of the many honors and recognitions that the Coveo company and its apps have earned. Among these is the Gold Stevie Award they earned for Sales and Customer Service through Coveo Reveal. The article details the competition for this prestigious yet unknown award,

“More than 2,100 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were evaluated in this year’s competition, an increase of 11% over 2015. Finalists were determined by the average scores of 115 professionals worldwide, acting as preliminary judges. More than 60 members of several specialized judging committees determined the Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award placements from among the Finalists during final judging.”

Coveo Reveal is the first cloud-based, machine leaning search platform for the enterprise. Its main users are customer service professionals, who are able to gain a stronger understanding of areas that can be improved in the overall search process. No surprise that it is winning awards, but we are unfamiliar with this Stevie recognition. According to the American Stevie Awards website, the award has been around since 2002 is named Stevie as in Stephen after the Greek derivation: “crowned.”


Chelsea Kerwin, July 21, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark
Web meet up on July 26, 2016.
Information is at this link: http://bit.ly/29tVKpx.


Bandwidth Item from DARPA

April 5, 2016

Short honk. If you follow the activities of the US government, you may be interested in “DARPA Wants to Give Radio Waves AI to ‘Stretch Bandwidth.” The idea is an important one. The reason is that the US government requires bandwidth to move around certain interesting data. Worth noting. Now about the value of bandwidth “owned” by commercial entities?

Stephen E Arnold, April 5, 2016

Forget Girolamo: Renaissance Florence Outdid Silicon Valley

January 28, 2016

You remember, Girolamo Savonarola, don’t you? Sure, he was the feisty character who did some forecasting, suggested death and hell fire for those into secular art, and a wild and crazy approach to the Big Guy.

Well, forget him. Forget the city state thing, the disease, the child labor, and the starvation of those who did not have land, jewels, and political clout via birth, commerce, or religious affiliation.

Look at the innovation. The Harvard wonks have and the “proof” is exposed in “Renaissance Florence Was a Better Model for Innovation than Silicon Valley Is.” I learned:

Florence reminds us that even devastating events can yield surprising benefits. The city’s Renaissance blossomed only a few decades after the Black Death decimated the city, and in part because of it. Horrible as it was, the plague shook up the rigid social order, and that new fluidity led directly to artistic and intellectual revolution.

I thought money did the trick. Oh, well. Let’s think about how to make Silicon Valley into a baby Florence. Here’s a list of ideas derived from the Harvard ivory tower:

  1. Do the patronage thing. A rich person helps a talented young person. Altruism. More billionaires should help out the folks with great potential.
  2. Whip up some mentors. The faculty at Stanford might fill the bill unless the wizards are too busy consulting or running their own companies.
  3. Look for potential. That mesio in the Mission might be the next Bill Gates. Give the fellow a saw buck and a Tesla. No experience? No problem.
  4. Start a disaster or take advantage of what ever bad thing comes along. The point is to be prepared to act.
  5. Buddy up to the competition. Anti trust, collusion, price fixing, no poaching deals—yep, become pals.
  6. Do the Leonardo and Michelangelo two step. Look at what others are doing; for example, sculpting in the street and dupe it. Imitation is part of the “me too, me too” approach to innovation.

Now where will Silicon Valley put those churches? Think of the store fronts that can be dotted along the San Mateo Bridge. How I wish I was back in college so I could learn more about the wonders of Florence.

But there is that plague thing and, of course, Girolamo. Search was pretty good, just a manual thing available to insiders.

Stephen E Arnold, January 28, 2016

More Bad News for Traditional TV

November 17, 2015

Traditional TV is in a slow decline towards obsoleteness.  With streaming options offering more enticing viewing options with less out of pocket expenses and no contracts, why would a person sign on for cable or dish packages that have notoriously bad customer service, commercials, and insane prices?  Digital Trends has the most recent information from Nielsen about TV viewing habits, “New Nielsen Study On Streaming Points To More Bad News For Traditional TV.”

Pay-for-TV services have been on the decline for years, but the numbers are huge for the latest Nielsen Total Audience report:

“According to the data, broadband-only homes are up by 52 percent to 3.3 million from 2.2 million year over year. Meanwhile, pay-TV subscriptions are down 1.2 percent to 100.4 million, from 101.6 million at this time last year. And while 1.2 percent may not seem like much, that million plus decline has caused all sorts of havoc on the stock market, with big media companies like Viacom, Nickelodeon, Disney, and many others seeing tumbling stock prices in recent weeks.”

While one might suggest that pay-for-TV services should start the bankruptcy paperwork, there has been a 45% rise in video-on-demand services.  Nielsen does not tabulate streaming services, viewership on mobile devices, and if people are watching more TV due to all the options?

While Nielsen is a trusted organization for TV data, information is still collected view paper submission forms.  Nielsen is like traditional TV and need to update its offerings to maintain relevancy.

Whitney Grace, November 17, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Finnish Content Discovery Case Study

July 31, 2015

There are many services that offer companies the ability to increase their content discover.  One of these services is Leiki, which offers intelligent user profiling, context-based intelligence, and semantic SaaS solutions.  Rather than having humans adapt their content to get to the top of search engine results, the machine is altered to fit a human’s needs.  Leiki pushes relevant content to a user’s search query.  Leiki released a recent, “Case Study: Lieki Smart Services Increase Customer Flow Significantly At Alma Media.”

Alma Media is one of the largest media companies in Finland, owning many well-known Finnish brands.  These include Finland’s most popular Web site, classified ads, and a tabloid newspaper.  Alma Media employed two of Leiki’s services to grow its traffic:

“Leiki’s Smart Services are adept at understanding textual content across various content types: articles, video, images, classifieds, etc. Each content item is analyzed with our semantic engine Leiki Focus to create a very detailed “fingerprint” or content profile of topics associated with the content.

SmartContext is the market leading service for contextual content recommendations. It’s uniquely able to recommend content across content types and sites and does this by finding related content using the meaning of content – not keyword frequency.

SmartPersonal stands for behavioral content recommendations. As it also uses Leiki’s unique analysis of the meaning in content, it can recommend content from any other site and content type based on usage of one site.”

The case study runs down how Leiki’s services improved traffic and encouraged more users to consume its content. Leiki’s main selling point in the cast study is that offers users personal recommendations based on content they clicked on Alma Media Web sites.  Leiki wants to be a part of developing Web 3.0 and the research shows that personalization is the way for it to go.

Whitney Grace, July 31, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Another the End of Article with Some Trivial Omissions

July 19, 2015

Far be it from me to find fault with an economics essay published by the British open source, online hip newspaper The Guardian. I want to point you at “The End of Capitalism Has Begun.” Like Francis Fukuyama’s end of book, the end seems to be unwilling to arrive. Note: if you find that the article has disappeared online, you may have to sign up to access the nuggets generated by The Guardian. Another alternative, which is pretty tough in rural Kentucky, is to visit your local convenience store and purchase a dead tree edition. Do not complain to me about a dead link, which in this blog are little tombstones marking online failures.

There is some rugby and polo club references in the article. The one that I circled was the reference to Karl Marx’s “The Fragment on Machines” from his thriller  The Grundrisse, which connoted to me “floor plans.” But, my German like my math skills are not what they used to be. Anyway, who am I kidding. I know you have read that document. If not, you can get a sniff at this link.

According to the Guardian, the point of the fragment is:

he [Marx] had imagined something close to the information economy in which we live. And, he wrote, its existence would “blow capitalism sky high.

The end of capitalism?

Another interesting item in the essay is the vision of the future. At my age, I do not worry too much about the future beyond waking each morning and recognizing my surroundings. The Guardian worries about 20175. Here’s the passage I highlighted:

I don’t mean this as a way to avoid the question: the general economic parameters of a post capitalist society by, for example, the year 2075, can be outlined. But if such a society is structured around human liberation, not economics, unpredictable things will begin to shape it.

Why raise the issue?

Now to the omission. I know this is almost as irrelevant as the emergence of a monitored environment. What about the growing IS/ISIS/Daesh movement? The Greek matter is interesting to me because if the state keeps on trucking down the interstate highway its has been following, the trucks will be loaded with folks eager to take advantage of the beach front property and nice views Greece affords.

I noted a number of other points away from which the essay steered its speeding Russian Zil. How does one find information in the end of world?

I think about information access more than I ponder the differences between Horatio in Hamlet and Daniel Doyce in Little Dorrit. To get up to speed on Daniel Doyce, check out this link.

Like Fukuyama’s social analysis, this end of may point to speaking engagements and consulting work. The hope is that the author may want these to be never-ending. Forget the information access and the implications and impacts of IS/ISIS/Daesh.

Let’s hope online search works unless it is now the end of that too.

Stephen E Arnold, July 19, 2015

What Is Watt? It Is the Innovation That Counts.

July 11, 2015

Years ago I worked with a polymath named Fred Czufin. Czufin was an author, writer, consultant, and former Office of Strategic Services cartographic specialist. Today Czufin would be buried in geocoding.

Why am I mentioning a fellow who died in 2009.

Czufin introduced me to James Watt. I knew the steam engine thing, but Czufin was bonkers over James Watt’s innovative streak.

I thought of Czufin, my ignorance of an important scientist, and our reasonably fun times when we collaborated on some interesting projects.

I read “A Twelve Year Flash of Genius.” The write up sparked anew my effort to chip away at my ignorance of this 18th century inventor. Watt struggled with the engineering problems of early Newcomen pumps. Mostly these puppies exploded.

Watt went for a walk and cook dup the idea of a condenser. Eureka. Steam engines mostly worked. Even my server room air conditioner contains a version of Watt’s invention.

I am not going to take sides in the flash of genius approach to innovation. One can argue that the antecedents for Watt’s thinking littered the laboratories of his predecessors, tinkerers, and fellow scientists.

My hunch is that there was no single epiphany. The result of sifting through many facts, fiddling around, and then trying to figure out if and then why something worked made him a bright person.

As I think about James Watt, I wonder when a similar thinker will come up with a breakthrough in information access. Most of the search systems with which I am familiar are in their pre-condenser stage. They blow up, fizzle, disappoint, hiss, and produce more angst than smiley faces.

My hunch is that Czufin would be as impatient as I about the opportunity a modern day James Watt can deliver. Search has more in common with Newcomen’s pump than a solution to a very important information problem.

Stephen E Arnold, July 11, 2015

Information Theory: An Eclectic Approach

June 8, 2015

I love information theory. If you want to get some insight into selected themes in this discipline, check out “Journey into Information Theory.” The course or “program” falls into two sections: Ancient Information Theory and Modern Information Theory. What is interesting is that the Ancient category zips right along from written language to Morse code. Where the subject becomes troublesome for me is the Modern section. The program moves from “symbol rate” to Markov chains. To my eye, there are some omissions. But it appears that the course or program is free.

Stephen E Arnold, June 8, 2015

Is Collaboration the Key to Big Data Progress?

May 22, 2015

The article titled Big Data Must Haves: Capacity, Compute, Collaboration on GCN offers insights into the best areas of focus for big data researchers. The Internet2 Global Summit is in D.C. this year with many exciting panelists who support the emphasis on collaboration in particular. The article mentions the work being presented by several people including Clemson professor Alex Feltus,

“…his research team is leveraging the Internet2 infrastructure, including its Advanced Layer 2 Service high-speed connections and perfSONAR network monitoring, to substantially accelerate genomic big data transfers and transform researcher collaboration…Arizona State University, which recently got 100 gigabit/sec connections to Internet2, has developed the Next Generation Cyber Capability, or NGCC, to respond to big data challenges.  The NGCC integrates big data platforms and traditional supercomputing technologies with software-defined networking, high-speed interconnects and visualization for medical research.”

Arizona’s NGCC provides the essence of the article’s claims, stressing capacity with Internet2, several types of computing, and of course collaboration between everyone at work on the system. Feltus commented on the importance of cooperation in Arizona State’s work, suggesting that personal relationships outweigh individual successes. He claims his own teamwork with network and storage researchers helped him find new potential avenues of innovation that might not have occurred to him without thoughtful collaboration.

Chelsea Kerwin, May 22, 2014

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

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