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Yahoo and Its Five Mistakes Mom Insists You Must Not Make

August 18, 2016

I love parental inputs to commercial enterprises run by real professional managers, mavens, accountants, and lawyers. The advice is fascinating and almost as amusing as a 1946 episode of “The Jack Benny Show.”

Navigate to “5 Things Entrepreneurs and MBAs Should Learn from Yahoo’s Fall.” Let’s look at each of the admonitions. Mom, I promise that I am listening to you.

The first point is that Yahoo mixed up “being in the right place at the right time” as being smart. Okay, Yahoo was one of the first directories for the Internet. Since folks were struggling to get a sense of what the Internet was, Yahoo’s directory was a good place to start. The company followed its nose and ended up with a big valuation in those early Internet years almost a quarter century ago. The write up points out:

[Yahoo] should have built strong engineering foundation instead focusing on sales and revenue.

My thought is that Yahoo, like many other outfits at that time was trying to figure out how to keep the site online, cope with bandwidth issues, and pay for stuff. Looking back, mom, it is easy to do the shoulda woulda coulda. Yahoo is amazing for surviving as long as it did. Money, mom, is important. May I have my allowance now?

The second point in the write up is tough for me to figure out: “Yahoo forgot what had taken them there.” I am not sure Yahoo knew where the company was at any one point in time. The growth, the engineering challenges, the successes and the failures were one crazy blur. Yahoo in its hay day was like Google now but without the online advertising revenue. Sure, Yahoo had GoTo.com, Overture.com, and its own systems, but lacked the ability to do what Google did. In case you forgot, mom, Google focused on using online advertising to generate revenue from search. That’s it. The rest of Google did not exist. Yahoo had the disadvantage of being in the midst of a cyclone of opportunities. Yahoo, even today, cannot contain the environmental effects of being blindsided by success in its formative years. Mom, I don’t know what happened after the punch I drank.

The third point seems to be that Yahoo killed its “golden goose.” For Yahoo, selling its share of Alibaba was a bad idea. I am not sure that Yahoo management at any point in time could identify a goose, let alone a golden one. Mom, I don’t know why I jumped naked into the Wilson’s swimming pool last night. Honest. Yahoo was and remains a consequence of its formative experiences. Companies have cultural momentum. Change is not particularly  effective. Mom, yes, I will pick up my room.

The fourth point is that Yahoo hired professional managers to fix up the company. See point three. Change is hard. Mom, yes, I will take out the garbage as soon as I get home from Jim’s house.

The fifth point is sort of an MBA diagram. Like many great MBA diagrams, the arrows offer several subtle management insights. Here’s the diagram:


Yahoo did not see opportunities. Yahoo ran into icebergs just like the Titanic. Mom, I promise I will enjoy my time in juvie detention. It will be okay. I have learned my lesson.

What the write up says, in my opinion, is that an entrepreneur riding a hugely successful, little understood roller coaster should:

  1. Understand that luck is not intelligence or, even better, wisdom
  2. Nosce Te Ipsum. Figure out what made one successful: Luck, lots of cash, inept competitors, users who came from the woodwork, etc.
  3. Do not kill sources of money
  4. Do not hire MBAs
  5. Recognize the next big thing and make it a huge success.

Easy. Just like growing up. Mom, you really helped me after I was arrested. I promise I won’t get in trouble again. Parental inputs were, are, and will be the type of information that often makes zero sense. Entrepreneurs, listen to your mother.

Stephen E Arnold, August 18, 2016

Read the Latest Release from…Virgil

August 18, 2016

The Vatican Library is one of the world’s greatest treasures, because it archives much of western culture’s history.  It probably is on par with the legendary Library of Alexandria, beloved by Cleopatra and burned to the ground.  How many people would love the opportunity to delve into the Vatican Library for a private tour?  Thankfully the Vatican Library shares its treasures with the world via the Internet and now, according to Archaeology News Network, the “Vatican Library Digitises 1600 Year-Old Manuscript Containing Works Of Virgil.”

The digital version of Virgil’s work is not the only item the library plans to scan online, but it does promise donors who pledge 500 euros or more they will receive a faithful reproduction of a 1600 manuscript by the famous author.  NTT DATA is working with the Vatican Library on Digita Vaticana, the digitization project.  NTT DATA has worked with the library since April 2014 and plans to create digital copies of over 3,000 manuscripts to be made available to the general public.

“ ‘Our library is an important storehouse of the global culture of humankind,’ said Monsignor Cesare Pasini, Prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library. ‘We are delighted the process of digital archiving will make these wonderful ancient manuscripts more widely available to the world and thereby strengthen the deep spirit of humankind’s shared universal heritage.’”

Projects like these point to the value of preserving the original work as well as making it available for research to people who might otherwise make it to the Vatican.  The Vatican also limits the amount of people who can access the documents.

Whitney Grace, August 18, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233019199/


Superior Customer Service Promised through the Accenture Virtual Agent Amelia

August 17, 2016

The article titled Accenture Forms New Business Unit Around IPsoft’s Amelia AI Platform on ZDNet introduces Amelia as a virtual agent capable of providing services in industries such as banking, insurance, and travel. Amelia looks an awful lot like Ava from the film Ex Machina, wherein an AI robot manipulates a young programmer by appealing to his empathy. Similarly, Accenture’s Amelia is supposed to be far more expressive and empathetic than her kin in the female AI world such as Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. The article states,

“Accenture said it will develop a suite of go-to-market strategies and consulting services based off of the Amelia platform…the point is to appeal to executives who “are overwhelmed by the plethora of technologies and many products that are advertising AI or Cognitive capabilities”…For Accenture, the formation of the Amelia practice is the latest push by the company to establish a presence in the rapidly expanding AI market, which research firm IDC predicts will reach $9.2 billion by 2019.”

What’s that behind Amelia, you ask? Looks like a parade of consultants ready and willing to advise the hapless executives who are so overwhelmed by their options. The Amelia AI Platform is being positioned as a superior customer service agent who will usher in the era of digital employees.

Chelsea Kerwin, August 17, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233019199/

SEO Is a Dirty Web Trick

August 17, 2016

Search engine optimization is the bane of Web experts.  Why?  If you know how to use it you can increase your rankings in search engines and drive more traffic to your pages, but if you are a novice at SEO you are screwed.  Search Engine Land shares some bad SEO stories in “SEO Is As Dirty As Ever.”

SEO has a bad reputation in many people’s eyes, because it is viewed as a surreptitious way to increase traffic.  However, if used correctly SEO is not only a nifty trick, but is a good tool.  As with anything, however, it can go wrong.  One bad SEO practice is using outdated techniques like keyword stuffing, copying and pasting text, and hidden text.  Another common mistake is not having a noindex tag, blocking robots, JavaScript frameworks not being indexed.

Do not forget other shady techniques like the always famous shady sales, removing links, paid links, spam, link networks, removing links, building another Web site on a different domain, abusing review sites, and reusing content.  One thing to remember is that:

“It’s not just local or niche companies that are doing bad things; in fact, enterprise and large websites can get away with murder compared to smaller sites. This encourages some of the worst practices I’ve ever seen, and some of these companies do practically everything search engines tell them not to do.”

Ugh! The pot is identifying another pot and complaining about its color and cleanliness.


Whitney Grace, August 17, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233019199/


As a.I. Scientists Forge Ahead Teaching Robots to Hunt Prey, White House Discusses Regulations And “Understandings”

August 15, 2016

The article on Engadget titled Scientists Are Teaching Robots How to Hunt Down Prey marks advancements in artificial intelligence that may well feed into an A.I. arms race. The scientists working on this project at the University of Zurich see their work in a much less harmful way. The ability to search for and retrieve prey involves identifying and tracking a target. Some of the applications mentioned are futuristic shopping carts or luggage that can follow around its owner. Whether the scientists are experiencing severe tunnel vision or are actually just terrifically naïve is unknown. The article explains,

“The predator robot’s hardware is actually modeled directly after members of the animal kingdom, as the robot uses a special “silicon retina” that mimics the human eye. Delbruck is the inventor, created as part of the VISUALISE project. It allows robots to track with pixels that detect changes in illumination and transmit information in real time instead of a slower series of frames like a regular camera uses.”

Meanwhile, conversations about an A.I. arms race are also occurring, as illustrated by the article on ZDNet titled White House: We’re “Clear-Eyed” About Weaponizing A.I. Humans have a long history of short-sightedness when it comes to weapons technology, perhaps starting with the initial reasoning behind the invention of dynamite. The creator stated that he believed he had created a weapon so terrible that no one would ever dare use it. Obviously, that didn’t work out. But the White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, claims that by establishing a “code of conduct and set of understandings” we can prevent a repetition of history. Commencing eyebrow raise.
Chelsea Kerwin, August 15, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233019199/

Why Search Does Not Change Too Much: Tech Debt Is a Partial Answer

August 12, 2016

I read “The Human Cost of Tech Debt.” The write up picks up the theme about the amount of money needed to remediate engineering mistakes, bugs, and short cuts. The cost of keeping an original system in step with newer market entrants’ products adds another burden.

The write up is interesting and includes some original art. Even though the art is good, the information presented is better; for example:

For a manager, a code base high in technical debt means that feature delivery slows to a crawl, which creates a lot of frustration and awkward moments in conversation about business capability.  For a developer, this frustration is even more acute.   Nobody likes working with a significant handicap and being unproductive day after day, and that is exactly what this sort of codebase means for developers. Each day they go to the office knowing that it’s going to take the better part of a day to do something simple like add a checkbox to a form.  They know that they’re going to have to manufacture endless explanations for why seemingly simple things take them a long time.  When new developers are hired or consultants brought in, they know that they’re going to have to face confused looks, followed by those newbies trying to hide mild contempt.

My interest is search and content processing. I asked myself, “Why are search and retrieval systems better than they were in 1975. When I queried the RECON system, I was able to find specific documents which contained information matching the terms in my query. Four decades ago, I could generate a useful result set. The bummer was that the information appeared on weird thermal printer paper. But I usually found the answer to my question in a fraction of the time required for me to run a query on my Windows machine or my Mac.

What’s up?

My view is that search and retrieval tends to be a recycling business. The same basic systems and methods are used again and again. The innovations are wrappers. But to make search more user friendly, add ons look at a user’s query history and behind the scenes filter the results to match the history.

The shift to mobile has been translated to providing results that other people have found useful. Want a pizza? You can find one, but if you want Cuban food in Washington, DC, you may find that the mapping service does not include a popular restaurant for reasons which may be related to advertising expenditures.

We ran a series of queries across five Dark Web search and retrieval systems. None of the systems delivered high precision and high recall results. In order to find certain large sites, manual review and one-at-a-time clicking and review were needed to locate what we were querying.

Regular Web or Dark Web. Online search has discarded useful AND, OR, NOT functions, date and time stamps, and any concern about revealing editorial or filtering postures to a user.

Technological debt explains that most search outfits lack the money to deliver a Class A solution. What about the outfits with oodles of dough and plenty of programmers? The desire and need to improve search is not a management priority.

Some vendors mobile search operates from a vendor’s copy of the indexed sites. Easy, computationally less expensive, and good enough.

Tech debt is a partial explanation for the sad state of online search at this time.

Stephen E Arnold, August 12, 2016

Battle of the Maps

August 10, 2016

Once upon a time Mapquest.com used to be the best map Web site on the Internet, then came along Google Maps and then Apple Maps unleashed its own cartography tool.  Which is the better GPS tool?  Justin Obeirne decided to get to the bottom and find which application is better.  He discussed his findings in “Cartography Comparison: Google Maps And Apple Maps.”

Both Google and Apple want their tool to be the world’s first Universal Map, that is the map most used by the world’s population.  Google Maps is used by one billion of the world’s population, but Apple Maps has its fair share of users too.  These tools are not just mere applications, however, they are powerful platforms deployed in many apps as well.

These maps have their differences: colors, styles, and even different types of maps.  The article explains:

“At its heart, this series of essays is a comparison of the current state of Google’s and Apple’s cartography. But it’s also something more: an exploration into all of the tradeoffs that go into designing and making maps such as these.  These tradeoffs are the joy of modern cartography?—?the thousands of tiny, seemingly isolated decisions that coalesce into a larger, greater whole.  Our purpose here is not to crown a winner, but to observe the paths taken?—?and not taken.”

After reading the article, take your pick and decide which one appeals to you.  From my experience, Google Maps is more accurate and prone to have the most updated information.  Apple makes great technology, but cartography really is not their strongest point.


Whitney Grace, August 10, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233019199/

Alphabet Google Cannot Sink the Yacht Affair

August 5, 2016

I am not sure why the Google yacht thing continues to make news. One person. One yacht. One death. That’s pretty small potatoes in today’s interesting world. I noticed “Kiss of Death and the Google Exec” and decided to skip it. No, I thought, I may as well skim the “real journalism” and check out what continues to attract the attention of “real journalists.” But the story has one big omission. Spoiler: Google’s people operations and its role in assisting employees.

The write up summarizes the incident, a blip really. A fellow named Forrest Hayes worked at Google. He was involved in the company’s secret projects. He bought a boat. He ended up dead.

The write up reminded me:

On the night of November 22, 2013 … Forrest Hayes was on his yacht … and he didn’t come home that night. And his wife became concerned. She called the captain they retained for this yacht and he went and he got on the boat… Hayes’ body was found lying in the main cabin.

The write up then states:

Hayes had a profile page on a dating website, called SeekingArrangement.com. It would be a critical clue in learning the identity of that mystery tattooed woman.


Then the write up reports that a video camera on the boat recorded drug use. What was the drug for the Google exec? I learned:

As police would learn, the drug of choice that night was heroin.


The video allowed the police to locate the individual recorded on the boat’s video system. The write up explains what the meet up Web site provides its customers.

Using a range of investigative techniques, the police confronted the suspect. The suspect had other relationships and had a “dark” life. The write up explains that

in September of 2013, two months before Forrest Hayes died, Tichelman’s fiancé, Dean Riopelle, died with heroin in his system…

The write up notes:

Alix Tichelman pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

Then the write up jumps back to the family of the Google exec. I learned:

After the hearing, there was another stunning development. Prosecutor Rafael Vasquez says the family of Forrest Hayes told him they never wanted Alix Tichelman charged.

“The family did not want this case to be filed, they would have been very happy if this case had been dismissed,” Vasquez explained. “They were terrified about the prospect of this case going to trial.” The family, he said, did not want that video from Hayes’ boat to ever be made public. “I can only imagine what further pain, what further humiliation they would endure if that video was released out into the public,” said Vasquez.

My reaction to this story is mixed. On one hand, the event is public and is a subject suitable for “real journalism.” On the other, an individual behaved in a manner which seems out of bounds.

Google has people operations. Could the folks involved with this function at Google have implemented programs to assist the Google executive? This question is not addressed in the write up. Also, were co-workers of the Googler aware of the person’s behavior?

Working at companies like Google can be stressful. The write up focuses on the sensational nature of the boat incident. I wonder if the “real journalists” will consider the Google management angle. Searches for information about “Google people operations” return a modest amount of information in my opinion. There may be work to do for the “real journalists” interested in this incident.

Stephen E Arnold, August 5, 2016

IBM Cognitive Storage Creates a Hierarchy of Data Value

August 5, 2016

The article titled IBM Introduces Cognitive Storage on EWeek reveals the advances in storage technology. It may sound less sexy than big data, but it is an integral part of our ability to sort and retrieve data based on the metric of data value. For a computer to determine a hierarchy of data value would also enable it to locate and archive unimportant data, freeing up space for data of more relevance. The article explains,

“In essence, the concept helps computers to learn what to remember and what to forget, IBM said… “With rising costs in energy and the explosion in big data, particularly from the Internet of Things, this is a critical challenge as it could lead to huge savings in storage capacity, which means less media costs and less energy consumption… if 1,000 employees are accessing the same files every day, the value of that data set should be very high.”

Frequency of use is a major factor in determining data value, so IBM created trackers to monitor this sort of metadata. Interestingly, the article states that IBM’s cognitive computing was inspired by astronomy. An astronomer would tag incoming data sets from another galaxy as “highly important” or less so. So what happens to the less important data? It isn’t destroyed, but rather relegated to what Charles King of Pund-IT calls a “deep freeze.”


Chelsea Kerwin, August 5, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Is Google a New Science Fiction Sub-Genre?

August 5, 2016

Science fiction is a genre that inspires people to seek the impossible and make it a reality.  Many modern inventors, scientists, computer programmers, and even artists contribute their success and careers from inspiration they garnered from the genre.  Even search engine Google pulled inspiration from science fiction, but one must speculate how much of Google’s ventures are real or mere fiction?  Vanity Fair questions whether or not “Is Google’s BioTech Division The Next Theranos?”

Verily Life Sciences is GoogleX’s biotech division and the company has yet to produce any biotechnology that has revolutionized the medical field.  They bragged about a contact lens that would measure blood glucose levels and a wristband that could detect cancer.  Verily employees have shared their views about Verily’s projects, alluding that they are more in line to fanning the Google fanfare than producing real products.  Other experts are saying that Google is displaying a “Silicon Valley arrogance” along the lines of Theranos.

Theranos misled investors about its “state of the art” technology and is now under criminal investigation.   Verily is supposedly different than Theranos:

“Verily, however, is not positioning itself as a company with a salable product like Theranos. Verily ‘is not a products company,’ chief medical officer Jessica Mega argued Monday on Bloomberg TV. ‘But it’s a company really focused on trying to shift the needle when it comes to health and disease.’ That’s a distinction, luckily for Google, that could make all the difference.”

There is also a distinction between fantasy and a reality and counting your chickens before they hatch.  Google should be investing in experimentation medical technology that could improve treatment and save lives, but they should not promise anything until they have significant research and even a prototype as proof.  Google should discuss their ventures, but not brag about them as if they were a sure thing.


Whitney Grace, August 5, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


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