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US and Europe Split After Much Attensity

February 9, 2016

Most companies that are split across oceans usually have a parent company they remain attached to, however, PR Newswire shares that “IMCap Partners Acquire Attensity Europe.”  Attensity Group Inc. is a leading provider in customer interaction management and its sub-company Attensity Europe headed its solutions across the pond.  Recently, IMCap Partners invested money in a deal for Attensity Europe to split apart from the parent and become an independent company.  Thomas Dreikauss will remain the CEO and also become a new shareholder in the new company.  None of the details related to the purchase price and other details remain private.

Attensity Europe plans to focus on developing its omni-channel customer service and its market-leading product Respond, multilingual and omni-channel response management software.  Respond increases productivity processing customer written requests and ensures better transparency over the service level.

“ ‘The market for CRM solutions is growing by just under 14% a year on average, according to Gartner, and therefore at a much more rapid rate than the overall software market. With Respond Attensity Europe is focusing on the highly attractive and rapid-growth customer interaction management/customer care segment, providing a solution that also fully meets the requirements of very large customer service units. The solution’s analytics, scalability and integration capacity are setting standards in the industry. Respond is a highly flexible, future-proof platform for customer service covering all written communication channels, including social media,” indicated Rolf Menne, operating partner at IMCap. “In cooperation with the highly motivated team at Attensity Europe, we see extremely attractive growth potential.’”

Attensity Europe will be rebranded and already has plans to take off in the coming year.

Whitney Grace, February 9, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Jargon Watch: De-Risking

February 8, 2016

De-Risking Technology Projects” presents some interesting factoids; for example: “Fewer than one in three software projects present successful outcomes.”

The factoid comes from a mid tier consulting firm’s “Chaos” report. The diligent folks who did the research analyzed 50,000 projects.

But the hook which snagged me was the use of the term “de-risking.” The idea is that one takes an assignment at work, works on it, and keeps one’s job even if the project goes down in flames.

How can this state of regular paycheck nirvana be achieved? The write up offers some advice which is obvious and probably has been embraced by those who crank out a collapsing bridge or a search and content processing system which cannot locate information or keep pace with inflows of content.

Here are the tips in case you napped during one of your business school lectures:

  • Balance scope and time available
  • Figure out how and what to deliver
  • Design and implement the solution
  • Prioritize simplicity and performance.

Now how does one get from high rates of failure to success?

Let’s consider implementing a search, content processing, and discovery solutions. Most of the information access systems with which I have examined deliver disappointment. Years ago I reported on the satisfaction users of enterprise search systems reported. The rate of dissatisfaction fell somewhere between 55 and 75 percent of users.

This means that if one third of enterprise software projects like search and content processing fail, the two thirds which survive crank out astounding users who are not happy with the deployed system.

The question “How does one make an enterprise search and content processing?” a success calls into question the products, interfaces, and functionality of many vendors’ work.

My view is that users cope. The belief that information access technology is making corporate work a joy is widely held. Like some other beliefs, reality may not match up.

Wonder why vendors are embracing open source technology? It is part of the de-risking approach. Let others figure out how to fix this stuff.

Does de-risking deliver excellence? In my experience, nope. Jargon is a means of closing a deal. Making something work for its users is a different challenge.

Stephen E Arnold, February 8, 2016

Hackers Revive Dark Web Forum Called Hell

February 8, 2016

After personal details of over four million Adult Friend Finder users was found on the Dark Web site called Hell, this notorious internet hacking forum was shut down by authorities around July 2015. Reported by Instant Tricks, an article Hell is back with Hell Reloaded on the Dark Web explains Hell is currently accessible again on the Dark Web. The article states,

“The exact date of the website’s returning on-line is troublesome to determine, for the posts don’t have a date next to them for security functions. However, judgement by the quantity of posts, it’s honest to mention that the web site came back simply over every week past. Hell is a web portal on the Dark internet that’s employed by hackers everywhere the globe to share their hacking tricks moreover as transfer and post taken knowledge.”

Hell is one of the world’s largest hacking forums on the Dark Web and, as such, is difficult to imagine the site will ever kick the bucket. Interestingly, in its re-emergence, it has been rendered with the same branding as if nothing had changed. “Stephen E Arnold’s Dark Web Notebook” describes this Dark Web resource. We recommend this read for security, law enforcement and information technology officials as these industries’ landscapes evolve due to the enduring presence of sites like Hell on the Dark Web.


Megan Feil, February 08, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Management 101: Sensitivity to Staff

January 24, 2016

I read “Yahoo CEO Cruelly Instills Fear in Her Workforce with Ominous Joke: No Layoffs This Week.”

I love this approach to motivation. I remember hearing Charles Colson, the pre-reformation version, gentle reader, explain to me and others in the meeting the value of fear and intimidation. By golly, I perked up. We may have been contractors to the president’s science advisor, but I got the message. Let’s see. I think that was in the early 1970s. I was useful to my employer because my father and his brother had been fund raisers for Senator Dirksen and Congressman Michel. As a result, I found myself in some darned interesting opportunity spaces when I was in Washington, DC. I saw the “hearts and mind” wall art.

If you are not familiar with the pre reformation Mr. Colson, you might find this obituary helpful. I highlighted this passage:

Charles W. Colson, the Republican political operative who boasted that he would “walk over my own grandmother” to ensure the reelection of President Richard M. Nixon and went on to found a worldwide prison fellowship ministry after his conversion to evangelical Christianity.

The write up about the fascinating Yahoo and its Xoogler leader reported:

The backlash is mounting against Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer for a horrible joke she attempted to make recently at a companywide meeting, and now many in her presumably deflated workforce fear for their jobs. Mayer reportedly told the company that there will be “no layoffs… this week,” and although her comments were intended to be humorous, many who call the tech giant home are left wondering about their employment status within the company. “This is the reason employee morale is so low,” said one employee to the New York Post, who wished to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution.

Yep, humor works really well as a management mechanism. Nothing relaxes an individual like a reminder that the mortgage may go unpaid, one’s home life is disrupted, and one’s professional standing is decimated.

Good stuff. Mr. Colson would have approved. My recollection is that he liked to be a bit more colorful. You know. The grandmother thing was a nice rhetorical touch. Xoogler management 101, gentle reader. Think what one does in management 102.

Stephen E Arnold, January 23, 2016

IBM and Severance: An Arbitrary Winter Chill

January 22, 2016

I read “IIBM Alters Severance Terms.” The idea is that an IBMer gets a review and learns that s/he is no longer needed. The reason may be incompetence; the reason may be downsizing; or the reason may be part of the IBM’s desire to outsource. Who knows? Saving money makes sense after 15 consecutive quarters of revenue decline and the massive spending to make Watson a household word, pay off Bob Dylan, and visit every possible media outlet with the tidings of gladness and joy about cognitive computing.

The write up points out:

Employees who took the IBM Separation Allowance Plan used to get 6 months pay. Now it’s one month.

That sounds fair. Some money may be better than zero money. The write up quotes the IBM explanation, which I find just thrilling for the employees soon to be affected by the change:

The separation allowance payment available under the Individual Separation Allowance Plan, regardless of the circumstance under which ISAP is offered, is one month of pay. For employees covered by IBM’s Growth Driven Profit-sharing program or on any type of sales or services incentive plan or any special program which is offered in lieu of the IBM Growth Driven Profit-sharing program, the one month of pay made under ISAP is paid in a lump sum, using the employee’s base pay amount (also known as reference salary) (full or part time). Any separation allowance payment under any of IBM’s plans is in lieu of any other form of separation pay to which the employee is, may, or might have become entitled. An individual separation allowance is not an automatic entitlement and will not accrue or be paid for reasons other than those listed above. No separation allowances under any of IBM’s plans will accrue if an employee has outstanding indebtedness to IBM or debts for which IBM may be responsible. However, if an employee makes arrangements satisfactory to IBM to repay any such outstanding debts, a separation allowance may be paid. Indebtedness to IBM could include, but is not limited to, a debit commission balance, an IBM US Mobility Plan equity loan, an unpaid balance on an installment purchase of an IBM product, credit card debt, excess tax loan, an outstanding travel expense account or failure to return IBM-owned property. In the event of rehire by IBM or any of its subsidiaries as a regular employee within 30 days after separation of employment with a payment under the Plan, IBM reserves the right to require repayment of the full ISAP payment.

Did IBM Watson assist in the writing of these statements? The conditionals add a bit of spice. Just what one needs as Joshua makes its way to IBM Federal Systems in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Stephen E Arnold, January 22, 2016

She Is a Meme Librarian

January 20, 2016

Memes are random bits of Internet culture that come and go faster than the highest DSL speed.  There are so many memes out there that it seems impossible to catalog the trends, much less each one.  The Independent tells us that Amanda Brennan has made a career out of studying and documenting memes, becoming the world’s first meme librarian: “Meet Tumblr’s ‘Meme Librarian,’ The Woman With The Best Job On The Internet.”

Brennan works at Tumblr and her official title is content and community manager, but she prefers the title “meme librarian.” She earned a Master’s in Information from Rutgers and during graduate school she documented memes for Know Your Meme, followed by Tumblr.

“[In graduate school] immediately I knew I did not want to work in a traditional library. Which is weird because people go to library school and they’re like ‘I want to change the world with books!’ And I was like ‘I want to change the world of information.’ And they started a social media specialization in the library school, and I was like, ‘This is it. This is the right time for me to be here.’”

Brennan is like many librarians, obsessed with taxonomy and connections between information.  The Internet gave her an outlet to explore and study to her heart’s content, but she was particularly drawn to memes, their origins, and how they traveled around the Internet.  After sending an email to Know Your Meme about an internship, her career as a meme librarian was sealed.  She tracks meme trends and discovers how they evolve not only in social media, but how the rest of the Internet swallows them up.

I wonder if this will be a future focus of library science in the future?


Whitney Grace, January 20, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Machine Learning Hindsight

January 18, 2016

Have you ever found yourself saying, “If I only knew then, what I know now”?  It is a moment we all experience, but instead of stewing over our past mistakes it is better to share the lessons we’ve learned with others.  Data scientist Peadar Coyle learned some valuable lessons when he first started working with machine learning.  He discusses three main things he learned in the article, “Three Things I Wish I Knew Earlier About Machine Learning.”

Here are the three items he wishes he knew then about machine learning, but know now:

  • “Getting models into production is a lot more than just micro services
  • Feature selection and feature extraction are really hard to learn from a book
  • The evaluation phase is really important”

Developing models is an easy step, but putting them in production is difficult.  There are many major steps that need attending to and doing all of the little jobs isn’t feasible on huge projects.   Peadar recommends outsourcing when you can.  Books and online information are good reference tools, but when they cannot be applied to actual situations the knowledge is useless.  Paedar learned that real world experience has no comparison.  When it comes to testing, it is a very important thing.  Very much as real world experience is invaluable, so is the evaluation.  Life does not hand perfect datasets for experimentation and testing different situations will better evaluate the model.

Paedar’s advice applies to machine learning, but it applies more to life in general.


Whitney Grace, January 18, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Meg Whitman Prediction: From Advocates of Quitting

January 15, 2016

I love predictions. Most folks forget the ones which do not materialize. The others get a moment of Internet fame and then die like day lilies.,

I read an interesting chunk of prognosticative fluff in “Meg Whitman Will Leave HP and 4 Other Predictions For 2016.”

The prediction is that Ms. Whitman will “declare victory” and head to a more halcyon place. Fortune asks, “Who could blame her?”

That’s nifty. A quitter. I suppose when one works at Fortune, the idea of quitting is a pretty attractive one.

Will Ms. Whitman depart? I don’t know. I do know that the litigation she spawned will continue through 2016 and probably years to come.

When she departs, the law firms dealing with her Autonomy allegations may give her a bouquet of —what?—day lilies?

Stephen E Arnold, January 15, 2016

The Duck Quacks 12 Million Queries

January 14, 2016

DuckDuckGo keeps waddling through its search queries and quacking that it will not track its users information.  DuckDuckGo has remained a small search engine, but its privacy services are chipping away at Google and search engines’ user base.  TechViral shares that “DuckDuckGo The Anti-Google Search Engine Just Reached A New Milestone” and it is reaching twelve million search queries in one day!

In 2015, DuckDuckGo received 3.25 billion search queries, showing a 74 percent increase compared to the 2014 data.  While DuckDuckGo is a private oasis in a sea of tracking cookies, it still uses targeted ads.  However, unlike Google DuckDuckGo only uses ads based on the immediate keywords used in a search query and doesn’t store user information.  It wipes the search engine clean with each use.

DuckDuckGo’s increase of visitors has attracted partnerships with Mozilla and Apple.  The private search engine is a for profit business, but it does have different goals than Google.

“Otherwise, it should be noted that although he refuses to have the same practices as Google, DuckDuckGo already making profits, yes that’s true. And the company’s CEO, Gabriel Weinberg, stop to think it is necessary to collect information about users to monetize a search engine: ‘You type car and you see an advertisement for a car, Google follows you on all these sites because it operates huge advertising networks and other properties. So they need these data for search engines to follow you.’ ”

DuckDuckGo offers a great service for privacy, while it is gaining more users it doesn’t offer the plethora of services Google does.  DuckDuckGo, why not try private email, free office programs, and online data storage?  Would you still be the same if you offered these services?

Whitney Grace, January 14, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Google: Autos and Virtual Reality. Search? Not So Important?

January 13, 2016

I read two stories about the new Alphabet Google thing and its foci for 2016.

The first report comes from McPaper in the story “Google Forms Virtual Reality Division As Facebook Rivalry Heats Up.” The main idea is that Facebook is pitching virtual reality and getting lots of media coverage. The response for the Alphabet Google thing has been to do a reorganization.

Now I don’t much about virtual reality and I know zippo about modern management theory. I do think that when a giant company with many interests outside of the firm’s core technology does a reorganization after the Consumer Electronic Show, that’s a signal of note.

Has Google pulled a “let’s buy Motorola” or a “let’s reorganize now” maneuver?

Sure, looks like a knee jerk.

Meanwhile the Google is showing some signs of promiscuity. I read “Google Self-Driving Car Boss to Automakers: ‘We Hope to Work with Many of You Guys’.” I presume that the Alphabet Google thing will answer phone calls from those who want to work with the GOOG. The write up points out that there is a new president of the “self driving car project.” Hmm. President of project. I thought the title for that type of work was “project manager.”

The new Alphabet Google thing seems to be batting its Jack Benny blue eyes at anyone who finds the cachet of the search vendor alluring.

Zebras can change their stripes one assumes.

And search. Er, what?

Stephen E Arnold, January 13, 2016

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