Muffing the Bunny: The Skype Animal

July 15, 2020

Sad news. One of the founding Skype engineers has died. We crossed paths at a conference in 2009. The news appeared in “Estonian Engineer Who Helped Develop Skype Passes Away at 48.”

The write up contained this summary of the trajectory of Skype:

eBay acquired Skype in 2005 for $2.6 billion…Skype became a part of Microsoft in 2012. Microsoft has said it would continue to invest in Skype that has crossed 40 million daily active users. Purchased for $8.5 billion, Skype communication tool has failed to keep up with other messaging rivals to date, while Microsoft Teams has seen a meteoric rise as millions of people work from home.

eBay had the service and accidentally ran over the Skype bunny with a riding mower. The three legged Skype was acquired by Microsoft, a company which has managed to make the interface particularly interesting. Someone like a day laborer for the Spanish Inquisition would add it to a collection in which an Iron Maiden plays a prominent part.

Now in 2020 it is teams.

Any thoughts about the trajectory of Skype and eBay’s and Microsoft’s strategic vision regarding video chat via the Internet?

How much longer will the bunny live? Beyond 15 years?

Stephen E Arnold, July 15, 2020

A Moment of Irony: Microsoft and Facebook Ads

June 30, 2020

I recall reading a story about Microsoft’s purchasing a chunk of Facebook. Recode wrote about the deal in “It’s Been 10 Years Since Microsoft Invested in Facebook. Now Facebook Is Worth Almost As Much as Microsoft.”

I thought about this investment when I read “Microsoft Has Been Pausing Spending on Facebook, Instagram.”

The way I understand this is that Microsoft owns some Facebook shares. Facebook holds meetings for those who own stock. The meetings permit submission of questions from shareholders.

Some questions:

  1. Has Microsoft asked questions about Facebook’s ad practices at these meetings?
  2. Has Microsoft contacted Facebook management about its ad-related concerns?
  3. Has Microsoft management determined that selling its Facebook shares is a good or bad idea?
  4. Is the “pausing” virtue signaling or something more significant?

Hopefully one of the “real” news outfits will provide some information to help me answer these questions. If I were not so disinterested in Facebook, I could have one of the DarkCyber team jump in. And what about Microsoft’s financial thinking? Did Enron executives actually think about “energy”?

I do like the idea of a company which owns part of another company not liking the company’s policies. The action? Pausing. Yeah, maybe just another word for virtue signaling?

Stephen E Arnold, June 30, 2020

When You Were a Young Millionaire, Did You Write This Way?

June 29, 2020

I read “Mixer Co-Founder on Microsoft Pulling the Plug, Twitch’s Market Power, and His Startup Journey.” DarkCyber looks at the universes of live streaming services from our observation post in rural Kentucky.

Games are not an all-encompassing world. The travails of Dr. Disrespect, the odd-ball world of ManyVids, or individuals who haunt NoAgendaStream.com.

These services create an opportunity for bad actors, malefactors, and Dr. Jekylls to sell contraband, engage in questionable transactions, and pass messages mostly off the radar of the local country sheriff in Tennessee.

What caught our attention in the GeekWire article was this passage:

“Ultimately, the success of Partners and streamers on Mixer is dependent on our ability to scale the service for them as quickly and broadly as possible. It became clear that the time needed to grow our own livestreaming community to scale was out of measure with the vision and experiences we want to deliver to gamers now, so we’ve decided to close the operations side of Mixer and help the community transition to a new platform.”

The young millionaire and digital nabob may want to consider a job in public relations if he is snubbed by an interesting government agency.

Notable phrases:

  • Ultimately
  • success is dependent
  • vision and experiences
  • we’ve decided
  • operations side
  • help the community
  • transition
  • a new platform.

Yeah, typical 20 something blog speak.

The conclusions we have reached in the DarkCyber intelligence and forecasting center are:

First, Azure couldn’t deliver. If the Softie’s cloud thing can do JEDI, should Azure deliver streaming games? Sure, but it does not.

Second, Microsoft has been friends sort of with Facebook. Does Facebook have a more resilient, agile, responsive, and efficient video service? Facebook may aspire to be social YouTube, but it has a bit of distance to travel.

Third, Microsoft’s mix up with Mixer makes clear that the me to approach to innovation and the blenderized approach to management at Microsoft cannot tap a hot new sector any better than it can update Windows 10.

Net net: DarkCyber is thinking that on our list of soon-to-be-cold technical dinosaurs, Microsoft may find itself making big plans with Hewlett Packard, IBM, and Oracle, among others.

As for the young millionaire, after the election there may be a need for a person with wordsmithing skills, the vocabulary of a millennial lawyer, and the sentence structure of Cicero without the flair unfortunately.

Stephen E Arnold, June 29, 2020

xx

Google: The Me Too Innovation Juggernaut

June 28, 2020

Like Microsoft, Google will have an opportunity to explain its business practices. Perhaps the company will explain how its magical black box interacts with the layers of software wrapped around the smart software too? Maybe, maybe not.

Turning to more practical matters, Microsoft’s decision to kill off the empty spaces called Microsoft Stores illustrates that me too innovation does not work reliably. Hey, Microsoft tried. Also, Microsoft’s interesting attempt to clone Amazon Twitch has ended by creeping to Facebook on little cat’s feet. Hasta la vista, Sr. Mixer. The hope is that Facebook’s magic returns and converts Mixer into a Zucking winner. Hope is useful for some.

The real news, however, concerns Google’s embrace of me too innovation. “Group Video Calls Now Arrive on Google Nest Hub Max.” I don’t know what a Nest Hub is. I don’t know what a Nest Max is. I don’t know what a Hub Max is. What I do know is that Google wants to be JLZ. That’s an acronym for “just like Zoom.” News flash: Zoom has a one word product name, “Zoom.” Google is four times more creative because the GOOG uses four words. Efficient, clear, and memorable: Google Nest Hub Max. Who will be the first Stadia addict to have the letters GNHM tattooed on his or her mouse hand?

The second Google item concerns Google’s acquisition of a me too company which developed some glasses like Google Glass. That was a product that sparked one wit to coin the term “glasshole”.

Google’s Parent Alphabet Is Reportedly in Final Stages to Buy Smart Glasses Maker North, As the Augmented Reality Race with Apple Heats up” reveals that Google is acquiring a company which practices the me too approach to product innovation. What happens when two me two innovation teams collaborate? That sounds like one of those discussion questions bandied about in Dr. Francis Chivers’ phenomenological existentialism classes at Duquesne University. Exciting, eh.

Although not on the scale of virtue signaling practiced by other high technology companies, Google wants to be more diverse. Okay, that’s original.

Google Execs Say We Need a Plan to Stop A.I. Algorithms from Amplifying Racism” reports:

Two Google executives said Friday that bias in artificial intelligence is hurting already marginalized communities in America, and that more needs to be done to ensure that this does not happen.

Haven’t I read this sentiment before? You?

See. Me too works!

Stephen E Arnold, June 28, 2020

JEDI Winner Continues to Excel in Software Updates

June 25, 2020

Will the US Department of Defense be happy with updates to a JEDI system that cause crashes? Probably slightly unhappy. “New Windows 10 Update Fail Breaks Some of Its Best Features” reports:

people have been complaining that after installing the Windows 10 May 2020 Update (also known as Windows 10 version 2004), they cannot access files synced to OneDrive – even if they can be seen in Windows 10.

The write up adds:

Even more embarrassingly for Microsoft, it seems this bug has been around for months in early versions of Windows 10 May 2020 Update, with Windows Insiders, who can try out versions of Windows 10 before other people in order to spot bugs like this, complaining that OneDrive no longer works.

Visualize this. You are in a fire zone. You need cloud data. Bad actors ranging rounds are getting closer.

Take a deep breath and follow this procedure:

Press Windows Key R
Key this string: %localappdata%\Microsoft\OneDrive\onedrive.exe /reset
Access needed data.
No problemo. Microsofties may ponder this when they grab a carry out lunch at Bai Tong’s. 
Stephen E Arnold, June 25, 2020

Microsoft Search 365: Just Wonderful Wonderful

June 22, 2020

Analyses of Microsoft’s long romance with enterprise search forget some bad dates. There was the era of dozens of search systems; each unit at Softie HQ knew how to make information findable. Remember Outlook Express? Then there were acquisitions. What about that search system in NCompass? How about that earth shaker Powerset? Yeah, I thought you would remember the spilled chocolate shakes, the slapped hands, and the angry parents.

What about Fast Search & Transfer? Quite a buy in 2008! So what if the Fast senior management had to dodge legal eagles for a few years? Does anyone recall the refusal of some customers of the Fast ESP refusing to pay their bills? The financial fancy dancing. No, why bother.

I could go on, but I won’t. The write up “Microsoft Search in Microsoft 365: A Valuable Enterprise Search Engine” does not bring up the past. Nobody cares. Enterprise search is a joke. No one in his or her right mind wants a company search engine to wander hither and yon to find semi relevant information. Those using enterprise search — remember, it’s a myth, gentle reader — want to locate the PowerPoint the crazy sales manager changed for yesterday’s presentation in Reno. Where is it? Well, it sure isn’t in an enterprise search system. What’s in the enterprise search system is the angry email from the customer in the presentation audience who heard the sales wizard reveal the actual pricing of the deal. That customer wants the sales manager’s head, not a list of search results. And you, gentle reader, are trying to find the presentation in the Enterprise 365 whatever. Well, good luck with that.

The write up asserts:

Before a user can use Microsoft Search, they must be logged into Microsoft 365. Once logged in, the user needs only to open their browser, go to Bing.com, and enter the search query. Upon doing so, Bing will return both public and private search results.

There you go, JEDI fans. There’s nothing like snagging a laptop and having access to a search system that displays the user’s view of an organization’s data. That access control works like a champ just like Microsoft’s Windows 10 updates.

Plus you get links to lots of stuff. Particularly useful is “All” which presents any oddball hit that the system knows is that PowerPoint which has not been indexed and is therefore unfindable unless you meet the sales wizard at the airport.

Are there flaws in the 365 search? Sure there are. The author identifies one the size of a pre extinction brontosaurus:

In my opinion, the most significant limitation associated with using Microsoft Search is that the search engine does not index your file servers. It assumes that most of your file data reside in SharePoint Online. The only way that Microsoft Search can index files stored on-premises is if you have a hybrid SharePoint deployment and the files that you want to index are stored within SharePoint.

Yeah, but what about that “all”? Seems like a logical fallacy, doesn’t it. All with notable omissions. Oh, well, home economics courses don’t spend much time of stuff like logic. Chopped onions, yes? Logical Grand Canyons? Nah.

Net net: Microsoft has been lost in search space for decades. Will the company deliver a system that mostly works? Hey, the purpose of enterprise search at Microsoft is the generation of work for Microsoft Certified Professionals. Those experts don’t need something to work to subscribe to a Porsche. That means Microsoft’s enterprise search mirrors the enterprise search industry quite well, thank you.

Stephen E Arnold, June 22, 2020

Microsoft LinkedIn: An Infusion of Skype or Zune?

June 15, 2020

Skype mostly worked. Then the interface became more like Bob’s. The JEDI knight of updates tries to be on the cutting edge of technology. Despite early attempts at video interactions, Microsoft has managed to remain a few paces off the lead. TechRepublic shares the late party invitation addressed to Microsoft’s professional social media platform: “LinkedIn Unveils New Virtual Events Feature For Communities To Stay Connected During COVID-19.”

LinkedIn’s new teleconferencing feature is Virtual Events and it allows organizations to connect in real time, so it is basically the same as Zoom. Does Microsoft want those looking for a job or consulting gigs to make the shift from Zoom or the interesting Google services? We noted:

“Rishi Jobanputra, head of product for Linkedin pages, said Virtual Events allows brands to target a specific audience and design a more personalized experience while making it easier for brands to share and archive their video content so users can easily find it. This not only extends the shelf life of the event but also allows organizations to target industries with content that may have may have been missed.”

LinkedIn is also integrating the Pages, LinkedIn Live, and Events so they will seamlessly fit together.

Several big companies have already successfully used Virtual Events, when in-person events were forced to cancel. But some virtual conferences, meetings, and hook ups have not delivered. Human interaction remains popular among many people; for example, those without sufficient bandwidth, a computing device, or an interest in the virtual world of experience.

Worth monitoring? Perhaps the events will be on Twitch or Microsoft’s Mixer? Wait! Isn’t Mixer a virtual meeting operation too?

Okay, Zune that and out.

Whitney Grace, June 15, 2020

How to Spark Interest in Desktop Linux? Microsoft Tries a Fresh Approach

June 12, 2020

DarkCyber noted “Removing “Annoying” Windows 10 Features is a DMCA Violation, Microsoft Says.” The write up asserts:

Ninjutsu OS, a new software tool that heavily modifies Windows 10 with a huge number of tweaks, mods and extra tools, has been hit with a DMCA complaint by Microsoft. According to the copyright notice, the customizing, tweaking and disabling of Windows 10 features, even when that improves privacy, amounts to a violation of Microsoft’s software license.

The write up presents a list of Ninjutsu enabled functions which violate the DMCA (digital millennium copyright act):

  • Customize Windows 10 with powerful tweak and optimize.
  • Protect your privacy by tweak and customize Windows 10.
  • Disable many of the annoying features built into Windows.
  • Unwanted Windows components removal.
  • Remove/Disable many Windows programs and services.

The implications of this Microsoft action are interesting to contemplate. DarkCyber believes that Microsoft may have found a way to increase usage of Linux on the desktop.

Stephen E Arnold, June 12, 2020

Microsoft: Some Employees Express Discontent

June 12, 2020

Microsoft — yep, the outfit which cannot update its Windows 10 operating system without killing some computers — has another hillock obscuring its vision of cloud dominance. The obstruction is not Redmond’s other friendly jungle environment Amazon.

The mound of woe may be composed of employees objecting to whom and which entities the masters of JEDI sell the ever-reliable and entertaining digital products and services. Taking a less than 365 view, “Microsoft Employees Urge Nadella to Cancel Contracts with Police” reports:

Several Microsoft employees have written a letter to CEO Satya Nadella, urging the company to cancel contracts with the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and other law enforcement agencies in the wake of police brutality episodes during the Black Lives Matter protests. The internal email with the subject line “Our neighborhood has been turned into a warzone” seen by the portal OneZero, nearly 250 Microsoft employees have asked the tech giant to formally support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and calls for the resignation of the Seattle mayor.

Interesting. Similar employee “suggestions” have been respectfully and not-so-respectfully submitted to other high-technology outfits.

The basic idea is that employees either perceive the right to influence what the company sells and to whom and which entities.

DarkCyber wants to note:

  1. Employees may have a hand in creating software like Windows 10 which, when updated, fails. It seems reasonable that [a] the employees cannot do work that “works” or managers cannot manage so that products and services “work”.
  2. A company with internal difficulties is likely to find itself vulnerable to sabotage or work slowdowns on certain projects which staff determine do not deserve full commitment. If this assertion is accurate, some entities may lose confidence in the Redmond outfit, assuming that confidence has not begun to erode due to other factors. (Possibly the Zune effect?)
  3. An operating environment which increases uncertainty can undermine stakeholder confidence. The appearance of “management effectiveness” is necessary to prevent feedback which escalates uncertainty. Such uncertainty can influence the behaviors of partners, shareholders, prospects, existing customers, and employees. (Yikes, employees.)

Net net: A small perturbation may presage a larger seismic event. To be frank, it is more difficult to envision worse news that Forbes’ Magazine publishing “Microsoft Confirms New Windows 10 Upgrade Warnings.” Imagine a news service for business people warning that a forced upgrade will kill devices and services like Internet connectivity.

Didn’t Microsoft roll out Bob (a graphical interface for Windows) and the big, bright, and failed Windows Phone?

Yeah. Management, governance, confidence — a trifecta.

Stephen E Arnold, June 12, 2020

The Presumed JEDI Contract Winner Knows How to Catch Attention

June 3, 2020

Yep, Microsoft. If “Microsoft Puts Windows 10 May 2020 Update on Hold for Most Devices” is accurate, the creators of Bob and Vista are matching their previous technical achievements. DarkCyber highlighted this passage:

Microsoft’s latest May 2020 update is on hold for most devices as the company works to resolve a raft of issues… The company even added a prominent warning in Windows Update over the weekend. If you’re on the previous version looking to get the May 2020 Update (Build 2004), Windows Update will remind you that your device “isn’t quite ready for it.”

What happens if Department of Defense personnel require a stable version of Windows. Sometimes, not always, it is life and death for the user of a computing device, a laptop, or a cloud service.

Updating that kills a user’s system may have other — wait for it — consequences. Ah, Microsoft. Good enough even when it isn’t.

Stephen E Arnold, June 3, 2020

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