Yahoo and Email Trick. Trick?

October 17, 2016

I read “Users Accuse Yahoo of Email Trick.” The headline is interesting, but I don’t think of Yahoo as a tricky outfit. I would suggest words along the lines of clumsy, mismanaged, inept, and clueless.

The write up suggests that Yahoo took an action to make it difficult and impractical for a person to move email from Yahoo to another service. Evidence of the cloud of unknowing swathing Yahoo in a purple haze which seems to have wafted over the BBC is this statement:

Yahoo has denied that it has made it deliberately difficult for customers to migrate to another email provider. It follows the disabling of an email-forwarding feature which allows people to migrate automatically. Yahoo said it was a “temporary” move while it worked on improvements.

My view is that Yahoo may be incapable of planning an action. My hunch is that Yahoo’s disorganization and dysfunctional decision making reached a conclusion independent of the Verizon sale, public opinion, thoughts about Yahoo mail users heading for Yandex or some other service.

What’s remarkable is that the BBC write up does not question the actions of Yahoo in a manner less like Lucy picking on Charlie Brown and more like the characters in “Silicon Valley.”

On the other hand, maybe Yahoo is shooting an episode of “Silicon Valley” and following the writers’ directions? That makes more sense than some of the behaviors of Yahoot I have watched in Yahoo’s version of reality TV.

Stephen E Arnold, October 17, 2016

Knowledge Management: Dazed and Confused?

October 16, 2016

I read an interview posted by TallyFox. If you are not familiar with the company, TallyFox provides a collaboration and content management system. The idea is that a company’s real and off site workers can share information. The company states on its LinkedIn page:

TallyFox’s intelligence platform, makes knowledge sharing fun and dynamic. With our proprietary algorithm SmartMatchPro, access to expertise is facilitated, collective knowledge becomes accessible, and you can benefit from it right now, anywhere in the world.

The TallyFox interview with Dr. Nancy Dixon (Common Knowledge, a non profit and a book) is interesting. I noted these factoids and assertions:

  • almost 50% of workers are virtual, or “distributed”
  • people who are communicating only virtually tend to lose the sense of purpose of what the organization is about.
  • A challenge is “to motivate our experts to share tacit knowledge to make the knowledge from inside of a project available to the team of another project.”
  • “Collective Sensemaking is a piece of the process which will show us how to take advantage of the virtual and still stay connected in a human way. We are doing it by crowdsourcing, by Innovation Jams, by Working Out Loud, and all of those ways are bringing back the Human Side into the Virtual.”
  • “People don’t offer their knowledge because they don’t know what the other person needs…”

Sounds good.It strikes me that Facebook’s Workplace may be encroaching on the collaboration segment. Does Facebook embrace knowledge management?

Stepping back: Knowledge management leaves me dazed and confused about what, how, where, and why? Perhaps knowledge management should become knowledge “Kumbaya” with people online and posting to Facebook while sitting around a Mac with a fireplace screensaver.

Stephen E Arnold, October 16, 2016

Yahoo Management Judgment: Email and Porn Filters

October 7, 2016

Yahoo, under the unsteady hand of Xoogler Marissa Mayer, caught my attention again. I was going to point to the articles suggesting that Yahoo’s security breach permitted some fine folks to snag one billion users’ credentials.

Small fish.

I read “Yahoo, Reluctant to Disturb Users, Set Them Up for Huge Data Breach.” As I understand it, security was less important than protecting user credentials. I thought the Office of Personnel Management and Sony were all thumbs. Yahoo may be assembled from thumbs, purple ones at that.

Then I saw in one of my newsreaders this gem: “Yahoo Open-Sources a Deep Learning Model for Classifying Pornographic Images.” I understand classifying images. I also understand processing those classified as “pornography” as items to be filtered. Why release this example of Yahoo technology to open source now? I circled in passionate pink this statement:

Yahoo today announced its latest open-source release: a model that can figure out if images are specifically pornographic in nature.

The system uses a type of artificial intelligence called deep learning, which involves training artificial neural networks on lots of data (like dirty images) and getting them to make inferences about new data. The model that’s now available on GitHub under a BSD 2-Clause license comes pre-trained, so users only have to fine-tune it if they so choose. The model works with the widely used Caffe open source deep learning framework. The team trained the model using its now open source CaffeOnSpark system.

The new model could be interesting to look at for developers maintaining applications like Instagram and Pinterest that are keen to minimize smut. Search engine operators like Google and Microsoft might also want to check out what’s under the hood here.

“To the best of our knowledge, there is no open source model or algorithm for identifying NSFW images,” Yahoo research engineer Jay Mahadeokar and senior director of product management Gerry Pesavento wrote in a blog post.

These are two examples of Yahoo’s interesting approach to its priorities. Pushing security aside to keep Yahoo zippy and putting flawed code into open source for others to fix.

Nifty judgment. Yahoo cannot do security, and it appears it cannot code “smart” software.

Yahooooo! or Yahoot.

Stephen E Arnold, October 7, 2016

Microsoft Embraces Agile and Lean Artificial Intelligence

October 6, 2016

I read “Internal Email: Microsoft Forms News 5,000 Person AI Division.” If the information is accurate, Microsoft brings its agile and lean management methods to smart software. I learned from the article:

Microsoft says it has formed a new 5,000-person engineering and research team to focus on its artificial intelligence products — a major reshaping of the company’s internal structure reminiscent of its massive pivot to pursue the opportunity of the Internet in the mid-1990s.

Microsoft’s pivot to the Internet created the outstanding series of Internet Explorer releases. A similar shift in Windows brought the world Windows Vista, and, of course, the SharePoint collaboration, content management, search, and kitchen sink thing.

According to Microsoft:

End-to-end innovation in AI will not come from isolated research labs alone, but from the combination of at-scale production workloads together with deep technology advancements in algorithms, systems and experiences. The new group will provide greater opportunity to accelerate our innovation in AI, and to enable Microsoft to create truly intelligent systems and products for our customers.

I hoped that Tay would have some words of wisdom about the reorganization. The future of Microsoft Word’s numbering feature or achieving consistent menus in Visio may be on the agenda.

Then there’s SharePoint search. One hopes that its stellar technology informs other Microsoft products, including the pay-to-use promotion for Edge and Bing.

Stephen E Arnold, October 6, 2016

What Content Management Systems Ring the Chimes of US Government Procurement Teams?

September 28, 2016

The answer to this question does not require a consultant in content management or, as the insiders term it, CMS. Navigate to Digital Gov’s run down. The list is, like many things about the US government, “unofficial.” You can look up an agency like the Economic Research Service and learn that the whiz kids at ERS rely upon Umbraco, an open source CMS which works with Microsoft software. It should. Umbraco lists Microsoft as a customer. What this says about SharePoint I will leave to you, gentle reader.

There are some interesting systems in use; for example:

  • EpiServer from former Microsoft Sweden folks
  • DotNetNuke for the Department of Defense. The name of the product may have resonated with someone at the DoD.
  • RedDot, a German software product which is now an OpenText property
  • WebZerve, product of xpdient Inc.
  • InMagic Presto, which I thought was a law firm centric system. InMagic is now owned by a Canadian firm.

The list is a sure fire guide for those who want to sell CMS consulting services to government agencies. Any notion of standardization or buying US software seems to be out of fashion.

Stephen E Arnold, September 28, 2016

Yahoo Security Breach: The Pee-Wee Purple Solecism

September 23, 2016

Remember ShrinkyDinks. Kids decorate pieces of plastic. The plastic then gets smaller when heated. I believe the ShrinkyDink management process has been disclosed. The innovator? Marissa Mayer, the former Google search guru turned business management maven.

Image result for shrinkydinks

What’s the ShrinkyDink approach to running a business? Take a revenue stream, decorate it with slick talk, and then reduce revenues and reputation. The result is a nifty entity with less value. Bad news? No. The upside is that Vanity Fair puts a positive spin on how bad news just get worse. A purple paradox!

ShrinkyDink Management. Pop business thinking into a slightly warmed market and watch those products and revenues become tinier as you watch in real time. Small is beautiful, right? I can envision a new study from Harvard University’s business school on the topic. Then comes an HBR podcast interview with Marissa Mayer, the Xoogler behind the ShrinkyDink method. A collaboration with Clayton Christensen is on deck. A book. Maybe a movie deal with Oliver Stone? As a follow up to “Snowden,” Stone writes, produces, and directs “Marissa: Making Big Little.” The film stars Ms. Mayer herself as the true Yahoo.

I read “Yahoo Verizon Deal May Be Complicated by Historic Hack.” Yahoo was “hacked,” according to the write up. Okay, but I read “hack” as a synonym for “We did not have adequate security in place.”

The write up points out:

The biggest question is when Yahoo found out about the breach and how long it waited to disclose it publicly, said Keatron Evans, a partner at consulting firm Blink Digital Security. (Kara Swisher at Recode reported that Verizon isn’t happy about Yahoo’s disclosures about the hack.)

CNBC points out that fixing the “problem” will be expensive. The write up includes this statement from the Xoogler run Yahoo:

“Such events could result in large expenditures to investigate or remediate, to recover data, to repair or replace networks or information systems, including changes to security measures, to deploy additional personnel, to defend litigation or to protect against similar future events, and may cause damage to our reputation or loss of revenue,” Yahoo warned.

Of interest to me is the notion that information about 500 million users was lost. The date of the problem seems to be about two years ago. My thought is that information about the breach took a long time to be discovered and disclosed.

Along the timeline was the sale of Yahoo to Verizon. Verizon issued a statement about this little surprise:

Within the last two days, we were notified of Yahoo’s security incident. We understand that Yahoo is conducting an active investigation of this matter, but we otherwise have limited information and understanding of the impact. We will evaluate as the investigation continues through the lens of overall Verizon interests, including consumers, customers, shareholders and related communities. Until then, we are not in position to further comment.

I highlighted in bold the two points which snagged my attention:

First, Verizon went through its due diligence and did not discover that Yahoo’s security had managed to lose 500 million customers’ data. What’s this say about Yahoo’s ability to figure out what’s going on in its own system? What’s this say about Yahoo management’s attention to detail? What’s this say about Verizon’s due diligence processes?

Second, Verizon seems to suggest that if its “interests” are not served, the former Baby Bell may want to rethink its deal to buy Yahoo. That’s understandable, but it raises the question, “What was Verizon’s Plan B if Yahoo presented the company with a surprise?” It seems there was no contingency, which is complementary with its approach to due diligence.


The decision making process at Yahoo has been, for me, wonky for a long time. The decision to release the breach information after the deal process and before the Verizon deal closes strikes me as an interesting management decision.

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Is Google Biotech Team Overreaching?

September 9, 2016

Science reality is often inspired by science fiction, and Google’s biotech research division, Verily Life Sciences, is no exception. Business Insider posts, “‘Silicon Valley Arrogance’? Google Misfires as It Strives to Turn Star Trek Fiction Into Reality.” The “Star Trek” reference points to Verily’s Tricorder project, announced three years ago, which set out to create a cancer-early-detection device. Sadly, that hopeful venture may be sputtering out. STAT reporter Charles Piller writes:

Recently departed employees said the prototype didn’t work as hoped, and the Tricorder project is floundering. Tricorder is not the only misfire for Google’s ambitious and extravagantly funded biotech venture, now named Verily Life Sciences. It has announced three signature projects meant to transform medicine, and a STAT examination found that all of them are plagued by serious, if not fatal, scientific shortcomings, even as Verily has vigorously promoted their promise.

Piller cites two projects, besides the Tricorder, that underwhelm. We’re told that independent experts are dubious about the development of a smart contact lens that can detect glucose levels for diabetics. Then there is the very expensive Baseline study—an attempt to define what it means to be healthy and to catch diseases earlier—which critics call “lofty” and “far-fetched.” Not surprisingly, Google being Google, there are also some privacy concerns being raised about the data being collected to feed the study.

There are several criticisms and specific examples in the lengthy article, and interested readers should check it out. There seems to be one central notion, though— that Verily Live Sciences is attempting to approach the human body like a computer when medicine is much, much more complicated than that. The impressive roster of medical researchers on the team seems to provide little solace to critics. The write-up relates:

It’s axiomatic in Silicon Valley’s tech companies that if the math and the coding can be done, the product can be made. But seven former Verily employees said the company’s leadership often seems not to grasp the reality that biology can be more complex and less predictable than computers. They said Conrad, who has a PhD in anatomy and cell biology, applies the confident impatience of computer engineering, along with extravagant hype, to biotech ideas that demand rigorous peer review and years or decades of painstaking work.

Are former employees the most objective source? I suspect ex-Googlers and third-party scientists are underestimating Google. The company has a history of reaching the moon by shooting for the stars, and for enduring a few failures as a price of success. I would not be surprised to see Google emerge on top of the biotech field. (As sci fi fans know, biotech is the medicine of the future. You’ll see.) The real question is how the company will treat privacy, data rights, and patient safety along the way.

Cynthia Murrell, September 9, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
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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,, 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, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
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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, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
Information is at this link:

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