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Real Time Data Analysis for Almost Anyone

August 25, 2016

The idea that Everyman can tap into a real time data stream and perform “analyses” is like catnip for some. The concept appeals to those in the financial sector, but these folks often have money (yours and mine) to burn. The idea seems to snag the attention of some folks in the intelligence sector who want to “make sense” out of Twitter streams and similar flows of “social media.” In my experience, big outfits with a need to tap into data streams have motivation and resources. Most of those who fit into my pigeonhole have their own vendors, systems, and methods in place.

The question is, “Does Tom’s Trucking need to tap into real time data flows to make decisions about what paint to stock or what marketing pitch to use on the business card taped to the local grocery’s announcement board?”

I plucked from my almost real time Web information service (Overflight) two articles suggesting that there is money in “them thar hills” of data.

The first is “New Amazon Service Uses SQL To Query Streaming Big Data.” Amazon is a leader in the cloud space. The company may not be number one on the Gartner hit parade, but some of those with whom I converse believe that Amazon continues to be the cloud vendor to consider and maybe use. The digital Wal-Mart has demonstrated both revenue and innovation with its cloud business.

The article explains that Amazon has picked  up the threads of Hadoop, SQL, and assorted enabling technologies and woven Amazon Kinesis Analytics. The idea is that Amazon delivers a piping hot Big Data pizza via a SQL query. The write up quotes an Amazon wizard as saying:

“Being able to continuously query and gain insights from this information in real-time — as it arrives — can allow companies to respond more quickly to business and customer needs,” AWS said in a statement. “However, existing data processing and analytics solutions aren’t able to continuously process this ‘fast moving’ data, so customers have had to develop streaming data processing applications — which can take months to build and fine-tune — and invest in infrastructure to handle high-speed, high-volume data streams that might include tens of millions of events per hour.”

Additional details appear in Amazon’s blog post here. The idea is that anyone with some knowledge of things Amazon, coding expertise, and a Big Data stream can use the Amazon service.

The second write up is “Microsoft Power BI Dashboards Deliver Real Time Data.” The idea seems to be that Microsoft is in the real time data analysis poker game as well. The write up reveals:

Power BI’s real-time dashboards — known as Real-Time Dashboard tiles — builds on the earlier Power BI REST APIs release to create real-time tiles within minutes. The tiles push data to the Power BI REST APIs from streams of data created in PubNub, a real-time data streaming service currently used widely for building web, mobile and IoT applications.

The idea is that a person knows the Microsoft methods, codes the Microsoft way, and has a stream of Big Data. The user then examines the outputs via “tiles.” These are updated in real time. As mentioned above, Microsoft is the Big Data Big Dog in the Gartner kennel. Obviously Microsoft will be price competitive with the service prices at about $10 per month. The original price was about $40 a month, but the cost cutting fever is raging in Redmond.

The question is, “Which of these services will dominate?” Who knows? Amazon has a business and a real time pitch which makes sense to those who have come to depend on the AWS services. Microsoft has business customers, Windows 10, and a reseller/consulting community eager to generate revenue.

My thought is, “Pick your horse, put down your bet, and head to the Real Time Data Analytics race track.” Tomorrow’s $100 ticket is only a few bucks today. The race to low cost entry fees is about to begin.

Stephen E Arnold, August 25, 2016

Microsoft Considers next Generation Artificial Intelligence

August 24, 2016

While science fiction portrays artificial intelligence in novel and far-reaching ways, certain products utilizing artificial intelligence are already in existence. WinBeta released a story, Microsoft exec at London conference: AI will “change everything”, which reminds us of this. Digital assistants like Cortana and Siri are one example of how mundane AI can appear. However, during a recent AI conference, Microsoft UK’s chief envisioning officer Dave Choplin projected much more impactful applications. This article summarizes the landscape of concerns,

Of course, many also are suspect about the promise of artificial intelligence        and worry about its impact on everyday life or even its misuse by malevolent actors. Stephen Hawking has worried AI could be an existential threat and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has gone on to create an open source AI after worrying about its misuse. In his statements, Choplin also stressed that as  more and more companies try to create AI, ‘We’ve got to start to make some   decisions about whether the right people are making these algorithms.

There is much to consider in regards to artificial intelligence. However, such a statement about “the right people” cannot stop there. Choplin goes on to refer to the biases of people creating algorithms and the companies they work for. Because organizational structures must also be considered, so too must their motivator: the economy. Perhaps machine learning to understand the best way to approach AI would be a good first application.

Megan Feil, August 24, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Gartner Declares Microsoft a Winner

August 12, 2016

I read “Microsoft Is a Leader in 18 Gartner Magic Quadrants, Including Cloud Infrastructure as a Service.” Those folks at Microsoft should be darned proud of themselves. Receiving  A grades in 18 Gartner Magic Quadrants is remarkable.

I noted this passage in the write up:

Microsoft is the only cloud computing vendor that is a Magic Quadrant Leader in all of the major cloud services categories, including IaaS, Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). These ratings place Microsoft in an enviable position above Amazon AWS, Salesforce, and Google. Looking at the following chart, we can see that Microsoft is a Leader in fully 18 different Magic Quadrants.

Yes, Microsoft stomps on Amazon. I can here the chant “We’re number one” now even though I am in Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky.

What are those 18 Magic Quadrants? I think this is the list, but I can be wrong. My view is that Gartner’s experts are never, ever, ever incorrect in their objective analyses of leading vendors. Perish the thought that the Magic Quadrant is influenced by any subjective element. I shudder to think how subjectivity influencing ratings would rock the myriad consultants wherever they may work.

The 18 Magic Quadrants:

Application develop life cycle management or ADLM

Business intelligence and analytics platforms or BIAP

Cloud infrastructure as a service or CaaS

CRM customer engagement center or CRMCEC

Data warehouse and data management solutions for analytics or DWaDMSfA

Disaster recovery as a service or DRaaS

Enterprise content management or ECM

Horizontal portals or HP (Please, do not confuse the leadership outfit Microsoft with the struggling Hewlett Packard)

Identity as a service or IDaaS

Mobile application development platforms or MADP

Operational database management systems or ODBMS

Public cloud storage services or PCSS

Sales force automation or SFA

Unified communications or UC (Not to be confused with Google ooze)

Web conferencing or WC (Please, be careful with this acronym in the UK)

X86 server virtualization infrastructure or XSVI.

Frankly, the best acronym on this list, which is filled with impressive acronyms, is DWaDMSfA. However, I quite like UC which may be pronounced “uck” and  WC. But for the connotation of a loo, WC is outstanding. I know that Microsoft is the all time champ of the enterprise.

Perhaps Amazon will pick up its marbles and focus on space travel and selling weird voice activated surveillance devices? Kudos to Microsoft for its stellar and totally objective achievement.

Stephen E Arnold, August 12, 2016

SharePoint and Business Intelligence Data

August 4, 2016

Lucky for me one of my dogs is a member of TechTarget. I was able to read “Three Ways to Import Power BI Data into SharePoint.” The headline caught my attention because I had just checked out the wild and crazy assertions Recommind made for importing Encase data into its patented Autonomy IDOL like system. The trick is to pay extra for the connector.

Well, no need to spend more money with SharePoint because it can import data from Microsoft’s own business intelligence systems and even urls. Now before you jump up and down about importing data from urls, keep in mind that urls often present some darned exciting information to users. Importing directly can be a thrilling experience. Make sure you have taken a deep breath and have plenty of space for the exceptions and, of course, the data.

The write up presents two methods which strike me as a bit more straightforward. One can import business intelligence data from Excel. There you do. A SharePoint installation can use Excel data. I am not eager to fiddle with the results of the import because some text, programmatic instructions, and the Fancy Dan formatting can produce interesting results. But, hey, the write up says it works. Set aside some extra time to twiddle the resulting information.

The third approach is more interesting. The use case involves importing “raw data.” Here’s the really clever trick, gentle reader:

The report data can be saved as a comma-separated values file. Now, simply upload the CSV file to a SharePoint list within your team site.

I am not sure my understanding of “raw data” corresponds to information in a report, but what do I know? Not much.

What’s remarkable is that SharePoint, after all these years of hyperbole, does not provide seamless data interchange among Microsoft’s own products. Never fear. When the import does not produce information usable in SharePoint, just call a Gold Certified consultant. That’s a user friendly way to deal with a really unusual task like sharing information with SharePoint.

Ah, Microsoft. Ask Cortana for help in locating an expert who can do the sharing thing.

Stephen E Arnold, August 4, 2016

Azure Media Services Meets Microsoft Machine Learning

July 26, 2016

The article on TechCrunch titled Microsoft Is Bringing Automatic Video Summarization, Hyperlapse, OCR, and More to Azure Media Services discusses the machine learning enhancements coming soon to the cloud-based resources for video workflows. Media Services will be able to summarize videos, perhaps more honestly than the average theatrical trailer. Face detection is another perk. The article details,

“Microsoft is building face detection into these tools and the company is including its ability to detect people’s emotions (something the company’s Cognitive Services already do for still images). Using this, you could easily see how people reacted to a speech at an event, for example. If your keynote goes on for too long, you will probably see people’s emotions go from happiness to indifference and then to sadness and contempt.”

The face detection and feature-reading technology is also shown in CaptionBot, Microsoft’s AI robot that can describe images. The uses of this sort of capability are extremely broad, but marketing professionals especially must be foaming at the mouth. Other features such as motion detection and optical character recognition as well as superior speech-to-text capabilities will certainly have users flocking to the upgrades. Also exciting is the Hyperlapse developments, which Microsoft promises will enable time-lapsing of videos in Azure Media Services without frame limitations.


Chelsea Kerwin, July 26, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on July 26, 2016. Information is at this link: http://bit.ly/29tVKpx..

Content Marketing about Bing Changing Lives

July 25, 2016

I love content marketing. Stories which contain a mixture of facts and other information are amusing. Consider “How the Power of Search Has Changed the Way We Live.” I use Bing. I also use Yandex, the Google thing, Unbubble, MillionShort (when it is online), Gibiru, and a number of other systems. No one search system duplicates the result sets of other systems. The write up blithely ignores this observation.

I learned that I could learn about search in a Microsoft white paper (yep, another content marketing thing) called “The Humanization of Search.” I assume Microsoft has abandoned its effort to co-opt the phrase “beyond search.” Nice try, folks.

You can download this write up from this link and watch a video. The write up is 18 pages of juicy fruit. I noted three statements:

  1. Voice queries are longer than text queries
  2. People ask questions when entering a search via voice
  3. Questions use who, what, how, when, and where structures.

Okay, take a moment to catch your breath.

Microsoft wants to be the big dog in voice search. I understand. The hitch in the git along is that the big dog seems to be cross town neighbor Amazon with its weird black speaker gizmo. Then there is the persistent problem of the Alphabet Google. Microsoft is in the game, but I don’t see the company pushing the Messis and Ronaldos of voice search to the second team for a while if ever.

Like IBM, the notion that saying things is much easier than delivering results. I find the parallel between IBM Watson cognitive computing marketing and IBM’s performance start evidence that talk does not generate sustainable revenues and rising profits. Microsoft may be dazzled by its white paper lingo, but the company has to demonstrate that its mismanagement of the mobile market is an exception, not the steady pulse of missing shots in front of the goal.

Read the white paper. Watch how the shift from search leads to marketing; for example:

As experiences across platforms become more prevalent, marketers need to familiarize themselves with emerging technology, as well as the massive growth opportunities that stem from search being more incorporated into everyday human life.

Confused. So was I.

Stephen E Arnold, July 25, 2016

You Do Not Tay?

July 25, 2016

The article titled Microsoft CaptionBot: AI Image Guessing App Really Isn’t Sure Who Barack Obama Is on International Business Times assesses Microsoft’s latest attempt at AI following the catastrophic Twitter robot Tay which quickly “learned” and repeated some pretty darn offensive ideas about Hitler and Obama. The newly released version named CaptionBot is more focused on image descriptions. The article states,

“Users are asked to upload any photo to the site, then Microsoft’s AI system attempts to describe what is in the image. The system can recognise celebrities and understands the basics of image composition but…, it isn’t yet perfect… You know when you recognise someone, but can’t quite put your finger on who it is? Caption Bot doesn’t do that, it just fails to even describe what a photo of Barack Obama is, never mind who he might be.”

From the examples, it is clear that while CaptionBot is much better at understanding and defining objects than people, objects often create difficulty as well. An image of a yellow vehicle from Cars was described (without confidence) as a white toilet next to a yellow building. To be sure, if you stare at the image long enough, the toilet shape emerges.


Chelsea Kerwin, July 25, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/DarkWeb meet up on July 26, 2016. Information is at this link: http://bit.ly/29tVKpx.2


Chatbot Tay Calls into Question Intelligence of Software

June 30, 2016

Chatbots are providing something alright. These days it’s more like entertainment. Venture Beat shared an article highlighting the latest, Microsoft’s Tay chatbot comes back online, says it’s ‘smoking kush’ in front of the police. Tay, the machine-learning bot, was designed to “be” a teenage girl. Microsoft’s goal with it was to engage followers of a young demographic while simultaneously learning how to engage them. The article explains,

“Well, uh, Microsoft’s Tay chatbot, which got turned off a few days ago after behaving badly, has suddenly returned to Twitter and has started tweeting to users like mad. Most of its musings are innocuous, but there is one funny one I’ve come across so far. “i’m smoking kush infront the police,” it wrote in brackets. Kush is slang for marijuana, a drug that can result in a fine for possession in the state of Washington, where Microsoft has its headquarters. But this is one of hundreds of tweets that the artificial intelligence-powered bot has sent out in the past few minutes.”

Poised by some sources as next-generation search, or a search replacement, chatbots appear to need a bit of optimization, to put it lightly. This issue occurred when the chatbot should have still been offline undergoing testing, according to Microsoft. But when it was only offline because of learning bullying and hate speech from trolls who seized on the nature of its artificial intelligence programming. Despite the fact it is considered AI, is this smart software? There is a little important something called emotional intelligence.


Megan Feil, June 30, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Microsoft LinkedIn: A Social Clippy Ahead?

June 15, 2016

I don’t pay too much attention to Microsoft. Once one of my Windows 7 machines morphed into Windows 10 and killed my video editing system, I learned to love the Apple. I did read the story “Microsoft Buying LinkedIn For $26.2 Billion Cash In Its Biggest Acquisition To Date” in the capitalist tool.

Fresh from its success in mobile phones, Microsoft is embracing professional social networking. LinkedIn is a wonderful tool for those who are looking for work, people who want to create a billboard for themselves read by other LinkedIn users, and individuals who are LinkedIn thought leaders.

I assume that the story is indeed accurate. My thought is that lucky users of Microsoft Word will have a way to include LinkedIn information in a document. What could be better than slipping in one’s LinkedIn profile when one creates a memo to one’s boss?

The write up states:

LinkedIn’s shares jumped 48% to $194.55 in pre-market trading on Monday morning in New York, about a buck and a half under the offer price  suggesting investors are confident a rival big won’t emerge. Microsoft’s shares declined by 4.2% to $51.48 in pre-market trading.

If the deal goes through, LinkedIn stakeholders may be the winners. No word about the payoff for the intrepid job seekers who make LinkedIn chug along. I hope I can have a live LinkedIn link each time I include a person’s name or a company in a PowerPoint. Would that be annoying? Never just an improvement upon Clippy.

Recode thinks the deal is the org chart “for the whole world.” Hmmm. Whole world? SillyconValley hyperbole maybe? Rio’s slum entrpreneurs? Innovators in Soweto? Nope. it’s a clippy thing.

Stephen E Arnold, June 15, 2016

Google Has Much at Stake in Intel Tax Case

June 3, 2016

In the exciting department of tax activities, 9to5Google reports, “Google Could Effectively Recoup All the Tax it Paid Last Year if Intel Wins Test Case.” Why is Google so invested in a dispute between Intel and the IRS? Writer Ben Lovejoy explains:

“In essence, the case hinges on share compensation packages paid by overseas subsidiaries. The IRS says that the cost of these should be offset against the expenses of the overseas companies; Intel says no, the cost should be deducted by the U.S. parent company – reducing its tax liabilities in its home country. The IRS introduced the rule in 2003. Companies like Google have abided by the rule but reserved the right to reallocate costs if a court ruling went against the IRS, giving them a huge potential windfall.”

This windfall could amount to $3.5 billion for Alphabet, now technically Google’s “parent” company (but really just a reorganized Google). Apparently, according to the Wall Street Journal, at least 20 tech companies, including Microsoft and eBay, are watching this case very closely.

Google is known for paying the fewest taxes it thinks it can get away with, a practice very unpopular with some. We’re reminded:

“Google has recently come under fire for its tax arrangements in Europe, a $185M back-tax deal in the UK being described as ‘disproportionately small’ and possibly illegal. France is currently seeking to claim $1.76B from the company in back taxes.”

So, how much will the world’s tax collectors be able to carve out of the Google revenue pie? I suspect it will vary from year to year, and will keep courts and lawyers around the world very busy.


Cynthia Murrell, June 3, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


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