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SharePoint Fest Coming to Seattle

March 31, 2015

SharePoint training and education is essential for any SharePoint manager and daily user. The updates and changes are so constant that a concerted effort must be made to stay on top of the latest news. One way to stay in touch is to attend a conference, which provides a concentrated burst of information. SharePoint Fest is one notable event and the details of SharePoint Fest 2015 are available in the Benzinga article, “SharePoint Fest Announced for Seattle Washington August 18-20.”

The article begins:

“After an attendance setting record conference in Washington DC, SharePoint Fest will be setting its sights on Seattle. This 13th iteration of SharePoint Fest will take place in Microsoft’s backyard at the Washington State Convention Center . . . The event will consist of pre-conference workshops on August 18th, followed by a two-day conference August 19-20.”

For those who are interested in a daily, low-investment way to stay on top of the latest SharePoint developments, consider Stephen E. Arnold is a long-time expert in search, and his dedicated SharePoint feed is a concentrated place for SharePoint news, tips, and tricks. Consider adding an ArnoldIT reading it to your daily routine.

Emily Rae Aldridge, March 31, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Tag Boosting and Hybrid Cloud Environments from Microsoft Azure

March 29, 2015

The article titled Microsoft Azure Rolls Out Improved Search and New Hybrid Test Environments on Tech Week Europe touts the new direction of Microsoft Azure, namely a focus on “tag boosting,” and hybrid cloud environments. The cloud environments are for playing around with Azure features with local internet connections. As for the “tag boosting,” the ability to use the borders created by developers in order to rank search results will hopefully help narrow the definition of “relevant” searches. Senior Program Manager of Microsoft Liam Cavanagh discusses the work being done,

“Let’s say you have customers that purchase items from you regularly. For each customer, you track their top 3 or 4 brands they buy the most often. Now what you’d like to do is to boost documents in search results when those documents represent products of the preferred brands. Note that this is contextual; each user would have a different set of top-K brands they prefer.“In our experimental API… we’re introducing a new scoring function called “tag” to handle this scenario.”

This “tag” can be assigned manually to each customer, or assigned to clusters of similar shoppers. Azure continues to collect feedback on the results, making it a work in progress. Search does seem to be in progress most of the time at Microsoft.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 29, 2014

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Need to Remove SharePoint Results?

March 26, 2015

I read “SharePoint 2013 Items Removed with Search Result Removal Return from the Dead!” The article explains how to remove results from a user’s search results. If a user cannot locate specific information, that is a benefit, right? The write up includes links to two Microsoft documents that provide more detail. Are your search results comprehensive? Heh, heh, heh.

Stephen E Arnold, March 26, 2015

SharePoint Gets Serious with Information Governance

March 19, 2015

SharePoint has enjoyed continued success over the last 15 years, but it has not been without some bumps along the way. Information governance is one of the noted areas in which Share has fallen flat. Read more in the CMS Wire article, “Keeping SharePoint In Check with Information Governance.”

The article begins:

“Historically, SharePoint was thought to cause as many information governance problems as it solved. The 2001 to 2003 versions did not show Microsoft putting much effort into helping customers with information governance. But after the massive take up of SharePoint Portal Server 2007 licenses, and the often negative conversations coming out of the sizable SharePoint user community, Microsoft started to take governance issues seriously.”

In addition to keep an eye on your news feed for the latest SharePoint buzz, staying tuned to experts in the field is a great way to save time and get pointed information pertaining to improving a SharePoint installation. Stephen E. Arnold has one such SharePoint feed on his Web site, Focusing on tips, tricks, and news, Arnold collocates much of content that users and managers alike will find helpful for navigating day-to-day SharePoint operations.

Emily Rae Aldridge, March 19, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Microsoft Makes Bing Faster

March 16, 2015

Bing is classified as a generic search engine living in Google’s as well as DuckDuckGo’s shadows. In an attempt to make Bing a more viable product, ExtremeTech tells us that “Microsoft To Accelerate Bing Search With Neural Network.” When Bing scours the Internet, it pulls results from a Web index that is half the size of Google’s. Microsoft wants to increase Bing’s efficiency and speed, so they created the Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) technology.

Microsoft breaks Bing’s search into three parts: machine learning scoring, feature extraction, and free-form expressions. Bing still uses Xeon processors for its document selection service and it needs to switch over to new FPGA software to increase its search speed. Microsoft called the team developing the new FPGA technology Project Catapult. Project Catapult uses similar tech designed in 2011, but it relies on half the servers as it did in the past.

Microsoft is relying on convolution neural network accelerators (CNNs) for the project:

“Convolutional neural networks (CNNS) are composed of small assemblies of artificial neurons, where each focuses on a just small part of an image — their receptive field. CNNs have already bested humans in classifying objects in challenges like the ImageNet 1000. Classifying documents for ranking is a similar problem, which is now one among many Microsoft hopes to address with CNNs.”

Armed with the new FPGA, Microsoft hopes to increase Bing’s search and rank business to compete at a greater level with Google. While that may increase Bing’s chances of returning better results, remember that Microsoft still creates OS’s that still fail on initial public releases.

Whitney Grace, March 16, 2015
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

SharePoint and Search: Questions Arise

March 6, 2015

SharePoint search has delivered the best of times for consultants who get paid to make the system work. For users, SharePoint has been a contributor to bad findability times.

I read “Excuse Me SharePoint: A Crossroads or an On-Ramp?” Let me cut to the main point: No one knows. I know that I don’t want to be road kill in the busy intersection of high expectations and massive cost overruns.

I have an opinion. But first, let me call your attention to this statement from the write up:

They [a cadre of SharePoint “experts] acknowledged enterprise users’ frustrations, which Holme called more of a communication problem than an IT problem. In the past, Microsoft was way behind the industry in implementing new features and has gone to implementing them so rapidly that an item a company demoed yesterday might be gone today. The focus tends to be on the end user, which isn’t always the most useful for an enterprise. And in 2015, a lot of organizations are still trying to figure out SharePoint 2013.

For me, SharePoint is an opportunity to make money. Customers drink the Microsoft Seattle latte and believe three things:

  • SharePoint is the operating system for the organization. Hey, everyone uses Word. SharePoint is just like that.,
  • SharePoint does many things really, really well: Ease of use, document management, search, collaboration, etc.
  • SharePoint search is the state of the art in finding concepts, people, facts, you name it.

The reality is that SharePoint does many things, but none of them is exactly what the customer believes. Most of the functions can be made to work with sufficient money, expertise, time, and management patience.

The problem is that consultants want to sell their SharePoint expertise. Those engineers with hard won SharePoint expertise, like and Oracle database administrator, have little incentive to explain certain aspects of the SharePoint decision. Users are clueless and senior managers pre-occupied with sales, litigation, their compensation package, and personnel issues.

Getting the truth about SharePoint costs, complexities, weaknesses is difficult. When it comes to search, the number of third party alternatives makes one thing clear—SharePoint search is not as good as third party solutions.

So what? Well, you get to spend more money for a utility that should work. That’s good for the third party vendors. For others? Well, like the future of SharePoint, no one knows or no one is saying.

Stephen E Arnold, March 6, 2015

Just How Expensive is Azure

February 9, 2015

Wondering how expensive it would be to implement Microsoft’s cloud storage solution Azure in your business? The company offers a free download that can help (but only if you’re in the U.S.): the Microsoft Azure (IaaS) Cost Estimator Tool. Here’s the description:

The Azure (IaaS) Cost Estimator has been designed keeping in mind the need to provide the IT manager of next generation organizations the ability to quickly assess running cost of the existing on-premises workload on Azure.

About the tool

1. The tool provides real world machine hardware usage

2. It recommends appropriate Azure instance to match the scanned workload

3. It also generates 31-day cost estimates of running such an Azure instance


1. The tool supports

*Microsoft technologies (Hyper-V, SCVMM)

*VMware technologies (vCenter, ESXi)

*Physical environments (Windows, Linux)

2. Support to A series and D-series Virtual Machines

3. Support to all regions apart from US

4. Price conversion in 24 currencies with the latest prices.

5. It is able to export to Excel/.csv that can be used for discussions with Systems Integration partner or a Microsoft representative

6. No data is sent to Microsoft at any time. All report and profile information resides on the machine where the tool is installed

Value Proposition

1. Can be Installed and a profile scan completed within 15 minutes (can be deployed on a Windows client)

2. Enables a comparison with on-premises running costs (e.g. hardware, power, cooling, building, security, and systems management among others)

Then again, if you just want to know whether Azure will be expensive (but don’t need to know by how much) we can save you some time: the answer is yes, when compared to open-source Elasticsearch.

Cynthia Murrell, February 09, 2015

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Microsoft Acquires Revolution Analytics

February 5, 2015

The article titled Revolution Analytics Joins Microsoft on the Revolution blog makes a case for an open-source company partnering up with Microsoft. Revolution Analytics is the software provider for R, the leading programming language for statistical computing and predictive analytics. Between Microsoft supporting Hadoop and working with Linux as well as making REEF open-source and .NET Core, they are no strangers to open-source. The article goes on with more examples,

“Microsoft has been an active participant in many other open source projects, too. There are over 1,600 OSS projects from Microsoft on CodePlex and GitHub. Microsoft engineers have actively contributed to the Linux kernel for years, and the company has contributed to open source community projects including Chef, Puppet, Docker, MongoDB, Redis and OpenJDK. Microsoft blogs regularly provide information and resources for open-source tools, including Chef, Puppet and Docker.”

Before the acquisition, Microsoft was already working with Revolution Analytics, for example in the creation of Xbox online gaming service’s match-making capabilities. The article promises the Revolution Analytic users that there will be no interruption or changes in services. It also assumes that with the acquisition the number of users will be increased and Revolution Analytics will be able to invest more time and energy into ongoing work such as the R Project and Revolution R products.

Chelsea Kerwin, February 05, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

The Smartest AI? Microsoft Cortana

January 20, 2015

You may want to read “The Smartest AI in the Universe Is More Human Than You Think.” You will learn that Microsoft developed this remarkable “more human” technology.

Here’s a passage I highlighted in pale blue:

“Cortana very literally thinks like a person, but she does it at a tremendously faster speed,” said Frank O’Connor, Franchise Development Director at 343 Industries. “Her morality, her sense of humor and emotions are human. They’re real, and they’re ostensibly organic.”

What’s 343 Industries? It is an American video game developer located not too far from Redmond, home of Microsoft.

I don’t play games. I have a Microsoft Phone. I find the voice search sort of useless. Sorry, Microsoft.

Cortana may be smart. She is not in my universe and when she intrudes, I navigate away from her as quickly as I can.

Stephen E Arnold, January 20, 2015

Bing Books: Chasing a Market

January 9, 2015

Books. Interesting idea. Are books a growth market in the Amazon world?Bing is looking at books. Err, doesn’t Amazon/Goodreads do this? I read “Finding Great Books Just got Easier with Bing Best Sellers Search.” The article provides some suggested searches; for example, best business books. I am not sure how many of the thumb typing crowd are into books. Perhaps Bing can pull new readers with its new service? My hunch is that Bing is likely to generate more sales for Amazon. Publishers will find the Bing thing a step in the right direction.

Stephen E Arnold, January 9, 2015

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