Quote to Note: HP Boss and the HP Management Style

March 25, 2019

I read “The Tech Lawsuit of the Year: HPE v Mike Lynch and Sushovan Hussain.” The write up contains a remarkable passage. The sentences in the article include a quote to note. Here’s what I circled as memorable. Your mileage may vary, of course:

In court filings seen by The Register, Lynch accused HPE chief exec Meg Whitman of responding to concerns he raised in HP management meetings shortly after the Autonomy buyout by “playing country music to the meeting [and] instructing the senior executives attending to take the meaning of the country music songs and apply them to their own management methods”. Lynch also claimed that he was “placed on gardening leave for six months” after telling Whitman that “we are now rapidly losing a lot of good people”.

For me the description of management approach sounds a chime of truth. Here is the statement next to which I placed an exclamation point and a note to myself saying, “Yes”:

playing country music to the meeting [and] instructing the senior executives attending to take the meaning of the country music songs and apply them to their own management methods“. [emphasis added]

As I considered this observation, two songs in the genre of country, particularly the Wild West of Silicon Valley, activated:

  • I’d Be Better Off in a Pine Box
  • I Bought the Boots That Just Walked Out On Me.

HP and its management methods?

Stephen E Arnold, March 25, 2019

Facebook: Ripples of Confusion, Denial, and Revisionism

March 18, 2019

Facebook contributed to an interesting headline about the video upload issue related to the bad actor in New Zealand. Here’s the headline I noted as it appeared on Techmeme’s Web page:

image

The Reuters’ story ran a different headline:

image

What caught my attention is the statement “blocked at upload.” If a video were blocked at upload, were those videos removed? If blocked, then the number of videos drops to 300 million.

This type of information is typical of the coverage of Facebook, a company which is become the embodiment of social media.

There were two other interesting Facebook stories in my news feed this morning.

The first concerns a high profile Silicon Valley investor, Marc Andreessen. The write up reports and updates a story whose main point is:

Facebook Board Member May Have Met Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower in 2016.

Read more

Antitrust: Tension between Consumer Interests and Government Needs

February 28, 2019

Are we facing the next great Ma Bell case? Likely the biggest antitrust case the general population recalls, was a landmark for the difference between having a big company and having a monopoly. In this technological age, however, we’re dealing with far greater impact than phone lines and long distance charges. We learned ore about this interesting battle over at Salon in an article called, “Do Google and Facebook Need to Be Broken Up?”

According to the story:

“Under the antitrust laws, it’s not a violation to be large, to be successful and to have sort of want a competition in the market place providing you have engaged in anticompetitive conduct, either to obtain or to maintain that dominant position, so that the real question is what’s the conduct that it so much to be a problem. That I think is the only way you’d have to focus.”

Why does this matter? Because antitrust and national security are becoming deeper and deeper intertwined. The danger of fake news, hacking, deepfake videos and more have become harder to monitor because of the sheer size of Google and Facebook.

But some government agencies depend on social media and the de facto control points. Is the line blurring or is the line disappearing?

Patrick Roland, February 28, 2019

Watson Weakly: Recruitment the Smart Way

February 26, 2019

IBM is working overtime to become the cloud alternative to Amazon. IBM Watson is back to recipes, health care, and background noise. IBM, however, knows how to capture the attention of the DarkCyber and Beyond Search team in rural Kentucky.

We noted an article in the Register, an online publication, with the interesting title “IBM So Very, Very Sorry after Jobs Page Casually Asks Hopefuls: Are You White, Black… or Yellow?”

The Register asserts:

IBM has apologized after its recruitment web pages asked applicants whether their ethnicity was, among other options, the racial slurs Yellow and Mulatto.

The article describes the wording as a “baffling error.” My hunch is that either IBM Watson or one of his acolytes consumed outputs with the diligence once expects of millennials and smart software, possibly working in tandem.

An IBM professional is quoted as telling the Register:

“Those questions were removed immediately when we became aware of the issue and we apologize. IBM hiring is based on skills and qualifications. We do not use race or ethnicity in the hiring process and any responses we received to those questions will be deleted. IBM has long rejected all forms of racial discrimination and we are taking appropriate steps to make sure this does not happen again.”

Watson? What about that cancer diagnosis? What about inappropriate questions? What about those old people who used to work in personnel?

Stephen E Arnold, February 26, 2019

For FAANG Can Global Regulations Work?

February 20, 2019

Soon, we predict, there will be a global accord about how the Internet should operate. Not a law, of course, but perhaps guidelines that all nations can follow to make the transition and oversight of online activity more even. This, too, has its consequences, but seems to be heading forward, according to CNBC’s article, “Google’s Policy Chief Calls for Common Rules Globally for Tech Regulation.”

According to the story:

“Governments around the world are trying to figure out how to regulate technology from data and privacy to taxation. But there is a fragmented approach. The biggest piece of legislation has been the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which governs all companies operating in the 28 European Union member states.”

While this idea might help level the playing field for many lagging nations and systems, we worry that it will actually create a buffet for hackers and spies. If there is uniformity, will this allow bad guys to attain a deeper mastery, since they will not have to make adjustments for individual organizations? It’s a question intelligence organizations should be asking themselves now, before it gets too far down the road and there is no way to stop it.

Patrick Roland, February 20, 2019

Palantir Technologies and KT4 Partners: Information Decision

February 14, 2019

If you follow Palantir Technologies, there is a dust up between KT4 Partners and the producer of intelware; that is, software designed to provide intelligence solutions to licensees.

Like Palantir’s dispute with the original i2 Ltd., the details are difficult to discern due to the legal processes themselves, the desire of those involved to remain out of the spotlight, and the time lag between events.

If you do follow the legal machinations, you will want to read “Delaware Court Provides Guidance for Books and Records Demands to Limit Producing Electronic Data to Stockholders.”

I am not a lawyer and lawyers in general make me nervous; however, it appears that KT4 will be able to access certain documents to which Palantir has denied access.

Why’s this important?

Palantir and KT4 know that money is at stake. Expensive settlements may have an impact on Palantir’s IPO. Furthermore, documents may contain interesting information which could find its way into the media.

Worth monitoring this matter.

Stephen E Arnold, February 14, 2019

Amazonia for February 11, 2019

February 11, 2019

Amazon has been bulldozing away and pushing some jungle undergrowth into the parking lot of major media outlets. Let’s take a quick look at what’s shaking at the electronic bookstore on steroids:

In a New York We May Be Gone

I learned in “Facing Opposition, Amazon Reconsiders NY Headquarters Site, Two Officials Say.” The source? The Washington Post or what some of the DarkCyber researchers call the “Bezos Bugle.” The push back has ranged from allegations of subsidizing a successful company to suggestions that taxpayer money could directly benefit shareholders of Amazon. I learned:

In the past two weeks, the state Senate nominated an outspoken Amazon critic to a state board where he could potentially veto the deal, and City Council members for the second time aggressively challenged company executives at a hearing where activists booed and unfurled anti-Amazon banners. K ey officials, including freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), whose district borders the proposed Amazon site, have railed against the project.

Worth monitoring because if the JEDI deal goes to Microsoft, would Amazon bail out of Virginia?

Indiscreet Pictures and Allegations of Blackmail

Amazon once was a relatively low profile outfit. Then the rocket ships, the Bezos divorce, the JEDI dust up, and now a spat. One headline captures the publicity moment: “Jeff Bezos Says Enquirer Threatened to Publish Revealing Pics.” I don’t want to unzip this allegation. You can expose yourself to the “facts” by running queries on objective search systems like Bing, Google, and Yandex. Alternatively one can turn to the Daily Mail and its full frontal report on this allegedly accurate news story.

Movie Madness

I don’t know anything about the Hollywood movie game. I noted “Woody Allen Sues Amazon for $68 Million for Refusing to Release His Films.” In the context of allegations of blackmail, this adds another facet to the diamond reputation of the humble online bookstore. According to the write up:

Allen blames the studio’s unwillingness to release his films on “a 25-year old, baseless allegation against Mr. Allen” — specifically, Allen’s adopted stepdaughter, Dylan Farrow, telling the world that he sexually assaulted her when she was a child. The suit claims that Farrow’s comments shouldn’t affect the Amazon deal, since the “allegation was already well known to Amazon (and the public) before Amazon entered into four separate deals with Mr. Allen—and, in any event it does not provide a basis for Amazon to terminate the contract.”

Amazon is taking a moral stand it seems. Interesting in the context of the blackmail allegations. Another PR coup?

Accounting Methods or Fraud?

The Los Angeles Times reported that some Amazon delivery drivers’ tips were not paid to the drivers as an add on to their pay. The tips were calculated as part of their regular wage. “Where Does a tip to an Amazon Driver Go? In Some Cases, Toward the Driver’s Base Pay” reported:

Amazon guarantees third-party drivers for its Flex program a minimum of $18 to $25 per hour, but the entirety of that payment doesn’t always come from the company. If Amazon’s contribution doesn’t reach the guaranteed wage, the e-commerce giant makes up the difference with tips from customers, according to documentation shared by five drivers.

Is this an accounting method related in some way to Enron’s special purpose entities? But in the context of blackmail and a legal battle with Woody Allen, I am not sure how to interpret the LA Times’ report if it is accurate.

Amazon and Facial Recognition

Amazon has thrown some support behind the idea that facial recognition systems may require a bit of regulation. I learned about this interest in “Amazon Weighs In on Potential Legislative Framework for Facial Recognition.” The idea is that responsible use of facial recognition technology may be a good idea. The write up stated:

…Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a study that found Rekognition, Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) object detection API, failed to reliably determine the sex of female and darker-skinned faces in specific scenarios.

Image recognition systems do vary in accuracy. The fancy lingo is outside the scope of this week’s write up. Examples of errors are interesting, particularly when systems confuse humans with animals or identify a person as a malefactor when that individual is an individual of sterling character. Eighty percent accuracy is a pretty good score in my experience. Stated another way, a system making 20 mistakes per 100 outputs is often close enough for horseshoes. A misidentified individual may have another point of view.

Alexa Gets a New Skill

The Digital Reader reported that you can now have Alexa play a choose your own adventure audiobook. Amazon wants to make sure it has a grip on the emerging trend of “interactive fiction.” Perfect for the mobile phone, zip zip zip reader.

Baby Activity API

The engineers at Amazon have chopped another trail through the digital jungle. Programmable Web reported that Amazon’s new baby activity skill API let parents track infant data hands free. Parents should be able to track their baby’s data. Are third parties tracking the infant as well? The write up states:

The new API includes several pre-built interfaces for tracking specific data points, including Weight, Sleep, DiaperChange, and InfantFeeding. Amazon plans to continue adding to these interfaces in hopes of streamlining integration.

If a third party were to have access to these data, combining the baby data with other timeline data might yield some useful items of information at some point in the future. Behavioral cues, purchases, social interactions, and videos watched could provide useful insights to an analyst.

More Live Streaming and a Possible Checkmate for QVC

Amazon Live Is the Retailer’s Latest Effort to Take on QVC with Live Streamed Video” states:

Amazon is taking on QVC with the launch of Amazon Live, which features live-streamed video shows from Amazon talent as well as those from brands that broadcast their own live streams through a new app, Amazon Live Creator.

Will the Twitch model work for remarkable products like super exclusive Tanzanite? QVC may try to compete. DarkCyber believes that effort would tax the shopping channel in several ways. Some cloud pros might suggest putting QVC offering on a cloud service. Will AWS make the short list?

 Amazon Space

Atlantic reported that the electronic bookstore “has 288M sq. ft. of warehouses, offices, retail stores, and data centers.”

Quite an Amazon-scale week.

Stephen E Arnold, February 11, 2019

Free Web Search and Objective Results

February 8, 2019

I spotted a story from the Moscow Times called “Google Began Censoring Search Results in Russia, Reports Say.” I read:

Google began complying with Russian requirements and has deleted around 70 percent of the websites blacklisted by authorities, an unnamed Google employee told Russia’s Vedomosti business daily Wednesday. An unnamed Roskomnadzor source reportedly confirmed the information to the paper. On Thursday, a Roskomnadzor spokesman told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency that the regulator had established a “constructive dialogue” with Google over filtering content.

Let’s assume the report is accurate.

Is this the model for filtering content in online indexes which Google developed to comply with different countries’ laws and regulations?

If the Russian regulatory authority is “fully satisfied”, the Google system appears to be working.

Several questions crossed my mind; to wit:

  1. Has Google used this system to filter content in other countries; for example, the US, Brazil, or Iran?
  2. Does the system work with acceptable reliability? Some potentially objectionable can be located via a Google image query to cite one example?
  3. What is the economic payoff of Google find a solution to its pre-filtering disputes with Russia?

Interesting, particularly when one asks the question, “Am I getting accurate information when running a query on Google, regardless of the country in which the query appears to have been launched?”

If search results are shaped, what does one do to locate potentially useful information? One answer, I suppose, is to pay for commercial online access. Another may be to assume that what’s online IS the correct data set? One could ask those in one’s social network, but that too may be filtered.

But free services are free. Free services may have other characteristics as well. What does “free” mean? Hmmm.

Stephen E Arnold, February 8, 2019

Google: GDPR Vulnerability?

February 6, 2019

If you are curious about the impact of the GDPR on Google, you may want to take a look at “What to Know about Google’s GDPR Troubles.” I don’t have a good sense of what constitutes an objective review of Google and GDPR. Also, I don’t know if the information in the write up from Digiday is 100 percent accurate. Footnotes can be helpful when they are included.

Nevertheless, the article suggests that Google may be a target for individual EU member actions related to GDPR. At this point, it is not clear how many legal entities can go after the company generating more than $80 million a day in profit.

The write up states:

While the majority of GDPR warnings and fines have come from the French regulator, it won’t likely remain that way.

The cost of litigating in separate companies and any fines levied could become onerous even to an outfit like Alphabet Google.

Stephen E Arnold, February 6, 2019

Moving the Google: Right to Be Forgotten Has an Impact

January 23, 2019

I have heard that it can be difficult to reach a human at Google. It appears that a Dutch surgeon and her attorneys were successful. “Right to Be Forgotten Used to Force Google to Remove Medical Negligence Link” states:

Amsterdam’s district court has forced Google to remove search results relating to a Dutch surgeon’s past medical suspension…

The difference between printed information and digital information is becoming discernible. Print can exist in multiple copies in tangible form in many places; for example, university libraries, archives, and personal information collections. Making a change to a printed document can be tricky, but it can be done.

However, changing the digital record is a bit easier; for example, deleting a pointer in an index.

The question becomes, “What happens when a person wants to reconstruct the details of a particular matter?”

The answer is that information is relative. Figuring out what happened becomes a bit more difficult and expensive.

What happens?

I can’t look up the answer online, but I could ask IBM Watson. These types of answers may have to suffice with Silly Putty information.

A court decision may leave behind a paper trail. But the actions of a single system administrator may be impossible to identify and verify.

Epistemology may be due for a renascence when setting the record straight.

Stephen E Arnold, January 23, 2019

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