Talking Down: A Specialty of High-Tech?

October 10, 2019

I am not angry nor am I annoyed. I am surprised. I read “Nadella Warns Government Conference Not to Betray User Trust.” “Nadella”, readers are supposed to know, is a big dog at Microsoft. The write up explains that attendees at an event called Microsoft Government Leaders Summit learned what Microsoft expects them to think and do.

According to TechCrunch (the article may be paywalled, require registration, or just disappear when you view it) reports:

He [Nadella] said it is essential to earn user trust, regardless of your business.

Now a direct quote from Mr. Nadella:

Now, of course, the power law here is all around trust because one of the keys for us, as providers of platforms and tool, trust is everything…. That means you need to also ensure that there is trust in the technology that you adopt, and the technology that you create and that’s what’s going to really define the power law on this equation. If you have trust, you will have exponential benefit. If you erode trust, it will exponentially decay.

Ho, ho, ho.

Mr. Nadella seems indifferent to the problems updating the vaunted Windows 10 operating system is causing users, integrators, and information technology professionals.

What problems?

First, Microsoft has warned 800 million users to install a specific patch in order to avoid terminating with extreme prejudice one’s computer. You can get ore information from the capitalist tool here. Will I trust Microsoft after it killed my computer? Nope.

Second, Windows updates have in the last few weeks killed network adaptors, printers, USB functions, and some audio features. Will a user trust Microsoft’s updates? Nope.

Third, Microsoft is lecturing at a Microsoft sponsored event for government related people. Will these people trust Microsoft when computers in their department cannot print, connect, or play a video? Nope.

To sum up, those dishing out advice about trust may want to make certain that their products and services earn trust.

I suppose one could use Bing or the revised Fast Search & Transfer services to look for more information. But these search services can erode trust as well.

Arrogance, superiority complexes, and confidence — attributes to engender trust? Not in Harrod’s Creek.

Stephen E Arnold, October 10, 2019

IBM Says Hub-and-Spoke Model Will Make Watson a Winner.. What about a Bottleneck?

October 4, 2019

Business Insider amuses me. It recycles IBM marketing material and slaps a paywall on collateral.

One possible example is the write up titled “The Head of IBM’s Watson Walks Us Through the Exact Model Tech Leaders Can Use to Build Excitement Around Any AI project.”

Not the word “exact.” Sounds like a winner. I like the “any AI project”, but I would wager a copy of the IBM PC 704 RAID documentation that if the AI project relied on Amazon, Google, or Microsoft technology, IBM might want to rethink that “any AI project” assurance.

DarkCyber noted this statement which is allegedly spontaneous, unedited, and prose worthy of Cicero, a wordsmith alive when the Romans were using the hub-and-spoke system to organize the Empire as the Barbarians destroyed what Rome built:

One way to ensure projects advance is to appoint leaders within each respective business unit to help support the chief technology, data, or innovation officers, argues IBM’s Rob Thomas, a system he refers to as the “hub-and-spoke” model because the structure resembles one in which a central point is connected to several secondary points. “You need somebody that has a seat at the table at the top that’s saying it’s important to the company,” he told Business Insider. Organizations also “need somebody in those business units that owns this day-to-day, but is accountable back to the company strategy.”

Now the hub-and-spoke analogy is different from the distributed information and computing model. The reason is visible when it snows in Chicago. Flights are delayed because the hub doesn’t work. Contrast that the architecture used by some of the Eastern European pirate streaming video sites.

A node dies and an origin server communicates with a control server to bring the node back up. What is an origin server is taken down? The smart software activates a hot spare origin server and the system comes back up. Magic? Nope, just side deals with some ISPs with interesting perceptions of right and wrong.

What will save IBM? The “thousands of O’Hare flights are cancelled approach” or the distributed system which cyber criminals have embraced enthusiastically.

The fact is that the hub-and-spoke model is unlikely to breathe much life into IBM. The top down approach is conceptually useful because it explains some of the issues arising from Industrial Revolution management: Blue suit, red tie, white shirt, etc.

Not only is the IBM solution unusual, it is not special content. What proof? Check out:

Microsoft’s 2009 encomium to SQLServer called “Using SQL Server to Build a Hub-and-Spoke Enterprise Data Warehouse Architecture.”

New? Yeah, well. Convinced? Nope. One could combine Microsoft AI with SQLServer in a corporation. Will IBM support that?

Let’s ask Watson.

Stephen E Arnold, October 4, 2019

Will the Real Disintermediating Entity Step Forward?

October 3, 2019

Big Microsoft day. It’s back in the mobile phone business. Sometime next year, probably coincident with a delayed Win 10 update, the Microsoft Surface Dual Screen Folding Android Phone becomes available. You can get the scoop and one view of Microsoft’s “we’re in phones again strategy” in “Microsoft’s Future Is Built on Google Code.” Do I agree? Of course not, that’s my method: Find other ways to look at an announcement.

The write up posits:

Google underpins Microsoft’s browser and mobile OS now.

I noted this statement as well:

… it could come as quite a shock that the CEO of Microsoft doesn’t care that much about operating systems. But there it is, in black and white. Microsoft obviously isn’t abandoning Windows — it announced a new version of it today — but it matters much more to Microsoft that you use its services like Office. That’s where the money is, after all.

Money. A phone that is not here?

But there’s another side to Microsoft. Amazon, the evil enemy, makes it possible run Microsoft on the AWS platform.

Now who is going to disintermediate whom?

Will Google get frisky and nuke Microsoft’s Android love?

Will Amazon just push MSFT SQLServer and other Microsoft innovations off the AWS platform and suck up the MSFT business.

Will Microsoft find that loving two enemies is more a management hassle than getting a Windows 10 server out the door?

Will Amazon and Google escalate their skirmishes and take actions that miss one enemy and plug the Redmond frenemy?

The stakes are high. Microsoft has done a pivot with an double backflip.

Perfect 10 or broken foot? Enron tried something like Microsoft’s approach. The landing was bumpy. The cloud may not cushion a lousy landing.

Stephen E Arnold, October 3, 2109

Microsoft Finds the UK an AI Loser

October 1, 2019

DarkCyber was surprised to learn that the United Kingdom is a loser when it comes to smart software. This conclusion will be a surprise to those in UK universities engaged in artificial intelligence research and development.

New Microsoft Report Claims U.K. Is Behind The Rest Of The World On AI” alleges that:

British organizations risk being overtaken by their global counterparts unless the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology is accelerated.

The full report is available at this link.

Much of Google’s smart software shares some DNA with the DeepMind outfit. Cambridge University, a reasonably good school, has been cranking out smart software luminaries for decades.

What’s Microsoft’s agenda?

That an easy question to answer.

The Microsoft report wants the UK to use more Microsoft. The Redmond giant needs 80 pages and an 80 gigabyte file to make its point. Terse. Tasty. Terrific. Nope.

Will this approach cause a spike in UK grabbing more Microsoft goodness?

Yeah, well, maybe. But the report seems to have an agenda; specifically, making the point that the UK should use more Microsoft and less of the “other guy’s technology.” The other guy may be none other than Google. Microsoft wants AI to work for everyone (page 39). The “other guy” may be less catholic.

Stephen E Arnold, October 2, 2019

Microsoft and Software Problems

September 30, 2019

Microsoft wants DarkCyber to trust its cloud solutions. Not going to happen.

Navigate to “Windows 10 Problems Are Ruining Microsoft’s Reputation – and the Damage Can’t Be Understated.” The article asserts:

Reputation deflation is the path to damnation…

What? The data dignity company is on the path to hellfire?

We learned from the article:

According to ACSI, customer satisfaction with software for PCs has dropped by 1.3% compared to last year, with Microsoft slipping the most out of all software makers with a 3% decrease. The report further notes: “According to ACSI data, customer perceptions of quality have deteriorated significantly for Microsoft over the past year, as the manufacturer has encountered a host of customer issues with its Windows 10 updates.”

The write up stated:

This bug-related reputational damage isn’t just about desktop operating systems, though. The wider public perception of Microsoft flailing around in an almost amateurish fashion could well have a knock-on effect when it comes to the levels of trust in the company, and all those future dreamy cloud products we mentioned at the outset could be subsequently affected…

Microsoft wants to catch up with Amazon. Amazon, on the other hand, does not seem worried about catching up with Microsoft.

Microsoft may be creating problems for itself.

Stephen E Arnold, September 30, 2019

Just Like Amazon: Prepackaged AI Available from Microsoft

September 16, 2019

Fast food computer software got its start with Microsoft Windows and Bill Gates was the short order cook. Technology has certainly become user friendlier, although programming, coding, and the more advanced functions remain special orders on the technology menu. Forbes describes how Microsoft wants to continue its fast food services with a brand new idea that could make it the go to name for AI, “Microsoft Offers ‘Premade’ No-Code Artificial Intelligence.”

Quick serve software and technology is not a new concept, but making AI follow the same route as an OS is conventional. Microsoft is the most used to system for most businesses in the western world and now it wants to offer its customers AI capabilities through its Power Platform. The Power Platform combines Microsoft Power BI, PowerApps, and Flowing into one platform. Flow is a powerful function, because it allows non-technical users to create/automate workflows that span multiple apps and services. One new tool in the Microsoft Power Platform concerns AI development:

“Newest among the Microsoft Power Platform goodies is Microsoft AI Builder, a no-code AI capability which also supports integrations with PowerApps and Flow. Microsoft AI Builder is (if you hadn’t guessed from the name) a means of shortcutting to almost ‘premade’ AI tasks that enterprises often need in regularly occurring business situations. It takes common AI scenarios and provides point-and-click solutions for app makers to solve everyday tasks like forms processing, object detection and text and binary classification.”

Microsoft AI Builder will be useful to manufacturing, banking, hospitality, retail, and other industries that require real-time customer feedback.

The Microsoft Power Platform allows users to build high grade AI based tools and other functions that would usually require an IT expert to develop.

Whitney Grace, September 16, 2019

Tech Giants Are Classy and Semi Clever

August 16, 2019

I read “Google Attacks Windows by Comparing It to a Broken-Down Car.” Classy on two criteria:

  1. TechRadar’s story title. DarkCyber loved the “broken down” bound phrase
  2. Google’s decision to diminish the Microsoft system.

The Google has coveted Microsoft’s position in the computing world. The company rolled out its word processing, presentation, and ledger software specifically to undermine Microsoft Office. Years ago a Googler explained the strategy. (Sorry. I can’t tell you why a real Googler was talking to a person who lives in rural Kentucky.)

Humor is useful, particularly for stand up comedians. Jack Benny made fun of Fred Allen. The two had a feud.

The difference is that from where I view the world across the hollows and streams filled with mine drainage:

  1. Both companies deliver software and services which are deeply problematic. Whether it is Google’s irrelevant results on ad choked page or Microsoft’s updates which kill systems upon which people rely for “work” — both outfits have some technical work to do.
  2. Both companies are monopolies in distinct ways. Google controls a number of services; for example, content delivery via the Android complex. Microsoft dominates in business software.
  3. Both companies have an arrogance which surfaces in product support and public messaging.

To sum up, two deeply flawed organizations sniping at one another is less amusing than what flows from professional comedians.

The ad and the news giant reporting about the ad remind me of individuals who think that their insights are really clever.

Maybe they are, but will high school antics determine what type of laptop computer I will buy? Nope. I am happy with an eight year old Mac Air. No reason to change because advances in the tools I use on a day to day basis are not changing in a meaningful, useful manner.

When innovation stalls and creativity wanes, why not go for jokes?

Stephen E Arnold, August 16, 2019

Microsoft Walks the Fine Line with China

August 13, 2019

US President Donald Trump is daily criticized by US news outlets. One of the latest criticisms is how Trump is handing trade negotiations with China. Trump’s take is that he is fighting for a better trade agreement that does not take advantage of the US, while his opposition says he wants more money in his pocket and is screwing everything up for the US economy. As a result of the Chinese-US trade conflict, rumors circulated that many companies would take their manufacturing jobs elsewhere; among them was Microsoft.

ITProPortal states that the rumor is false in their story, “Microsoft Says It Won’t Be Quitting China.” Microsoft was not the only company that was believed to withdraw from China; Amazon, HP, and Dell were also on the list that would move their factories to southeast Asian countries. The US-China trade war was not the only reason these companies were going to leave. Raising labor costs was a big issue.

Microsoft will stay in China and continue to have its factories manufacture Xbox parts. However, the other companies on the list might leave:

“When HP was asked to discuss the report, the company told Tom’s Hardware it won’t discuss rumors, but that it ‘shares industry concerns that broad-based tariffs harm consumers by increasing the cost of electronics.’”

The trade war affected technology company Huawei, believed to be a threat to national security, and ZTE was almost destroyed.

China is a hard country to abandon. Even if the labor costs go up, nothing can beat the amount of people to market products to and there never is a labor shortage.

Whitney Grace, Augustk 13, 2019

Capital One and Surprising Consequences

August 4, 2019

DarkCyber noted the ZDNet article “GitHub Sued for Aiding Hacking in Capital One Breach.” According to the “real news” outfit:

While Capital One is named in the lawsuit because it was its data that the hacker stole, GitHub was also included because the hacker posted some of the stolen information on the code-sharing site.

Github (now owned by Microsoft) allegedly failed to detect the stolen data. Github did not block the posting of Social Security numbers. These follow a specific pattern. Many text parsing methods identify and index the pattern and link the number to other data objects.

What law did Github violate? Management lapses are not usually the stuff that makes for a good legal drama, at least on “Law and Order” reruns. The write up reports:

The lawsuit alleges that by allowing the hacker to store information on its servers, GitHub violated the federal Wiretap Act.

DarkCyber thanks ZDNet for including a link to the complaint.

Lawyers, gotta love ‘em because we have a former Amazon employee, a financial institution with a remarkable track record of security issues, and a company owned by Microsoft. What about the people affected? Oh, them. What if Github is “guilty”? Perhaps a new chapter in open source and public posting sites begins?

Stephen E Arnold, August 4, 2019

The Online Titans Deliver News As Slivers of Information

July 8, 2019

Last week a person who plays piano in our local symphony orchestra asked me, “How can I keep track of the news?”

Ever helpful, I immediately responded The Big Project. If you are not familiar with this service, navigate to this link for news. The service is a useful place to look for US and non-US news. Content is in English as well as in other languages. The layout takes a bit of learning, but the service is a good one.

But the write up “Google News vs Microsoft News: Which News Reader Is Better” goes in a different direction. In the article, the two choices are Google and Microsoft. The methods of access are mostly mobile centric.

The bottom line seems to be a fine “no decision” by the experts at Guiding Tech. The article states:

Here is what I think. Google News is better when it comes to managing sources and finding content or news stories. You can control and add topics, blogs, and magazines. The Full Coverage and Timeline feature are beneficial. Microsoft News offers a better reading experience. The dark mode is consistent, it blocks ads effectively, and you can change the layout or even font size.

Gentle reader, compare these two news services to the content available from The Big Project. Answer these questions:

  1. Which of the three allows explicit access to specific sources?
  2. Which of the three contain content in more than one language?
  3. Which of the three makes it possible to follow a story across publications and countries?

Like much US generated information, the perspective within the American lens is different (sometimes) from that which is available from multiple lenses.

Informed or uninformed? Which is better? In Harrod’s Creek, we go with the multiple source approach. Big slices and chunks of news, please, not slivers, not tiny slivers from a curated selection of just okay sources.

Stephen E Arnold, July 8, 2019

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