Microsoft Bing: Assertions Versus Actual Search Results

September 25, 2020

DarkCyber read “Introducing the Next Wave of AI at Scale innovations in Bing.” The write up explains a number of innovations. These enhancements will make finding information via Bing easier, better, faster, and generally more wonderful.

The main assertions DarkCyber noted are:

Smarter suggestions. The idea is that one does not know how to create a search query. Bing will know what the user wants.

More ideas. Bing will display questions other people (presumably just like me) ask. Bing keeps track and shows the popular questions. Yep, popular.

Translations. Send a query with mixed languages, and Bing will answer in your language. No more of that copying and pasting into Google Translate or Freetranslations.org.

Highlighting. This is Bing’s yellow marker. The system will highlight what you need to read. The method? “A zero-shot fashion.” No, DarkCyber does not know what this means. But one can ask Bing, right?

Let’s give Bing a whirl and run the same query against Googzilla.

Here’s a DarkCyber Bing query related to research we are now doing:

Black Sage open source

And here’s the result:

image

Black Sage is an integrator engaged in the development of counter unmanned aerial systems. The firm’s marketing collateral emphasizes that its platform is open. DarkCyber wants to know if the system uses open source methods for compromising a targeted UAS (drone). Bing focuses on a publishing company.

Now Google:

image

The first result from the Google is a pointer to the company. The remainder of the results are crazy and wacky like the sneakers Mr. Brin wore to Washington about a decade ago to meet elected officials. Crazy? Nope, Sillycon Valley.

DarkCyber uses both Bing and Google. Why did Google produce something sort of related to our query and Bing missed the corn hole entirely?

The answer is that Bing does not process a user’s search history as effectively as the Google. All the fancy words from Microsoft cannot alter a search result. DarkCyber is amused by Google and Microsoft. We are skeptical of each system.

Key points:

  • Microsoft is chasing technology instead of looking for efficient ways to tailor results to a user.
  • Microsoft wants to prove that its approach is more knowledge-centric. Google just wants to sell ads. Giving people something they have already seen is fine with Mother Google.
  • Microsoft, like Google, has lost sight of the utility of providing “stupid mode” and “sophisticated mode” for users. Let users select how a query should be matched to the content in the index.

To sum up, Google has a global share of Web search in the 85 percent range. Bing is an also participated player. Perhaps a less academic approach, deeper index, and functional user controls would be helpful?

Stephen E Arnold, September 25, 2020

Microsoft and Search: Here We Go Again

September 23, 2020

Microsoft cannot create reliable software. Example: The Surface Duo, née Andromeda. Example: Windows 10 updates. Example: Windows Mobile. Example: Bob (remember Bob?) The company has good ideas, but it cannot move beyond imitating Amazon for the cloud, piggybacking on Google for a Windows 10X vehicle, and buying Fast Search & Transfer for the jargon-charged enterprise search system the company acquired in 2008.

Microsoft Gets Exclusive License for OpenAI’s GPT-3 Language Model” makes clear that the smart software efforts of Microsoft Research, acquisitions like Powerset and XOXCO, plus the numerous application specific search and NLP functions are not doing the job. The fix is to license the next big thing. Perhaps the challenge is an organization and work process within Microsoft? Maybe technology is not the problem? Maybe execution is?

The write up in the Silicon Valley real news article states:

Microsoft today announced that it will exclusively license GPT-3, one of the most powerful language understanding models in the world, from AI startup OpenAI. In a blog post, Microsoft EVP Kevin Scott said that the new deal will allow Microsoft to leverage OpenAI’s technical innovations to develop and deliver AI solutions for customers, as well as create new solutions that harness the power of natural language generation.

Here we go again. Will the result be a blend Bing, Windows ME, Vista, and MSN?

Stephen E Arnold, September 23, 2020

The JEDI Questioned: Windows 10 Updates and Value

September 21, 2020

Windows 10 Updates Are Pretty Much Useless” suggests that the JEDI outfit and inventor of two mobile phones held together with a hinge is hand waving. Who knew? The article asserts: “IT professionals claim Windows 10 updates rarely deliver value.” The sample on which these shocking conclusions are based contained 500 people. No, we don’t know how these folks were selected or if they were wearing Steve Jobs-style jeans and shirts.

We noted these items from the write up:

  • Of the 500 respondents, 20 percent said they think Windows 10 updates deliver at least some value.
  • 22 percent said the updates left them “indifferent.”
  • In 2018, a similar survey revealed nearly 70% of IT personnel were dismissive of the bi-annual feature updates at the time.

Is Microsoft Windows winning over the hearts and minds of the JEDI minions? Not much progress it seems. How excited can one get when an operating system is a utility function. Fiddling with an operating system appears to put speed bumps on the information highway.

What about bum updates? Not even a bold online information services dares to enter that digital swamp.

Stephen E Arnold, September 21, 2020

Microsoft Azure: Big Like a Trillion

September 16, 2020

Microsoft, the JEDI knight for 2020, is bigger and more capable. “Microsoft AI Tool Enables Extremely Large Models with a Trillion Parameters.” Yep, a trillion. Can you visualize a trillion? I can’t. When I worked at an interesting consulting firm, I learned about a study of the behaviors of Boards of Directors for large public companies. The finding was that the Boards would spend more time discussing small financial activities than multi-million or multi-billion dollar deals. So a trillion. Yeah, right.

The write up asserts:

Microsoft Corp. has released a new version of its open-source DeepSpeed tool that it says will enable the creation of deep learning models with a trillion parameters, more than five times as many as in the world’s current largest model.

The article continues:

DeepSpeed is a software library for performing artificial intelligence training. Announced in February, it has already gone through multiple iterations that increased the maximum size of the models it can train from more than 100 billion to more than a trillion.

What’s interesting is that Microsoft cannot install a $0.99 codec into Windows 10. The trillion is 12 zeros. The .99 is off the radar, just like the crazy assertions about big data. DeepSpeed, like a JEDI unable to deal with a codec.

Stephen E Arnold, September 16, 2020

The JEDI Gang: Updates Are Great

September 13, 2020

We have an assortment of Mac, Linux, and Windows 10 computers. The Windows updates are, of course, perfect. If you have experienced an uncomfortable moment when a Windows 10 computer is updating, you will find “Windows: The Dread of Updates” interesting. The main point of the write up is:

I got Windows 10 for free and I still feel like I’ve been horribly ripped off. My time is worth more than this.

The explanation for update problems varies. The real reason is that Windows has become so convoluted, no one knows why the “system” fails.

My most recent thrill involved a pop up that demanded I upgrade a codec via the Windows Store. What? I thought there was an update process that did not involve the Windows Store. Wrong. I followed the link, learned I had to pay $0.99 for the HEVC update.

The system did its thing and promptly crashed. After a reboot, I learned that the Microsoft provided file could not install.

No kidding. But the Microsoft mechanism for charging me $0.99 for the codec worked.

These guys are going to power the US military establishment? Of course.

Stephen E Arnold,  September 13, 2020

Help the Duo, Obi-Wan. The Future Is Here

September 11, 2020

I read “Surface Duo Is Packed with Power and Bugs.” If you want to locate the story online, you will need to search for “Microsoft Surface Duo Review: Two Screens, Too Many Problems.” Why? “Because Murdoch.” Did you have to ask?

The key point of this short item is to point to the title of Matt Barlow. Now the good part. His title allegedly is:

corporate vice president of modern life, search and devices.

Okay, modern life is replete with buggy Windows 10 updates, the pandemic, financial turmoil for non-monopolistically inclined enterprises, and social unrest. The search thing is a bit of a joke. We need Elizabeth Barrett Browning to count the number of ways to “search” using Microsoft applications and solutions. (How about that Excel and Dynamics search by the way?)

Now jump to the ultimate paragraph in the write up which says:

I’m hungry for the real power and productivity promised by this future  feeling gadget. It just has to actually work.

The hunger is a trope related to the ill-cooked steak. The split infinitive is the new “real” journalism. Gritty.

The point, however, is probably one Microsoft’s corporate vice president of modern life, search, and videos would prefer to delete. Yeah, that’s the reminder that Microsoft outputs have to work actually.

Actually?

Stephen E Arnold, September 11, 2020

Microsoft Channels the Google: Users Moved to Second Class Status

September 9, 2020

Microsoft is notorious for angering its users, no matter how loyal they are to the brand. Microsoft developers must get perverse pleasure from annoying their clients, because Fossbytes details how “New Microsoft Edge Support Page May Have Pissed Users Even More.”

Another thing Microsoft is notorious for is its support and help pages not being helpful at all. Apparently they have upped the ante on useless support information, because users cannot uninstall Microsoft Edge.

Microsoft Edge is Microsoft’s built-in Web browser and users do not like it. They want to remove it. Windows will not allow users to install it. The only way to get rid of Edge is to switch to a Mac or join the Linux community. Most computers come with default browsers. Apple products have Safari and Chromebooks from Google use Chrome.

It is SOP for computers to come with a preinstalled Web browser and doing otherwise would not be good marketing, especially for a company as big as Microsoft. What rankles users more than anything is the aggravation and taunting behavior:

“But the way it’s promoting Edge may be easily called as too pushy. Probably, Microsoft shouldn’t have just created a page called “Can’t Uninstall Microsoft Edge” and blatantly tell users they can’t uninstall Microsoft Edge at all. Surely, a user browsing the web to find a solution wouldn’t dance in joy after reading it. If you think your product is good, then you have to release it properly and then at least trust your users that they’ll eventually start using it.”

There is a way around using Microsoft Edge. Download another browser like Chrome or Firefox, then make it the default browser. You might not be able to delete Edge, but you can delete the icon from the desktop and not browse the Web with it.

Whitney Grace, September 9, 2020

Windows and Its Fan Boys: Sound Problems Plague Podcast

September 4, 2020

At the gym yesterday, I was listening to a new to me podcast called Windows Central. The program focused on the two phones stuck together. About 15 mintues into the podcast, one of the experts on the program could not turn off sound from another program running on his Windows 10 computer. There was muttering; there were unhelpful suggestions from a co-host; and there was the sound of clicks and sighing. Most amusing was the fact that the expert could not figure out from whence the unwanted sound was coming. Ah, Windows 10.

But there is a fix for our intrepid Windows’ cheerleader. “PowerToys Now Lets You Mute Your Webcam or Microphone on Windows 10” provides a link to a free but experimental control that allegedly may have solved the expert’s quite shallow mastery of Windows 10. (I mean an expert who cannot mute sound communicates a great deal about “experts” and, of course, about the Byzantine, increasingly exciting Windows 10 operating system.)

I want to point out that the $0.99 codec for HEVC which I downloaded from the Windows Store (!) did not install. But that was a minor problem compared to forced updates that killed my printer not long ago. Yes, Microsoft is a JEDI knight, but the fancy engineering powering the system has some — how shall I phrase it — issues. What happens in a battle when the sound does not work on a JEDI powered laptop? Telepathy? Luke Skywalker suddenly appears?

And for experts who cannot figure out why two sound streams are playing on a podcast? That will be a boost for these wizards’ credibility. No, I don’t understand why I want two phones held together with a hinge.

And, no, I did not listen to the entire program. I mean an expert who cannot control his machine’s audio. Amazing stuff.

Stephen E Arnold, September 4, 2020

Microsoft Wants More Humans to Build Bots

August 22, 2020

Journalists have feared for their jobs since digital media consumed the field in the late 1990s. While this is not the robot apocalypse, Microsoft decided to downsize its human news staff in favor of AI bots says ABC News in: “Microsoft Cuts MSN News Staffers In Move Towards AI Editors.”

In July, Microsoft laid off an undisclosed amount of MSN news editors. This layoff comes during the COVID-19, when unemployment is at an all time high, Microsoft’s layoffs are not surprising. The company has shrunk its news editors since 2014. To flesh out its news, MSN has partnered with other news sites to redistribute content. These other news sites are, of course, paid.

There are multiple problems with AI software, the biggest being its racial and gender biases. There are many documented cases of dark skinned people being misidentified, such as the most recent case:

“The Guardian reported that the company’s AI software in early June confused two mixed-race singers from the British band Little Mix. MSN mistakenly used a photograph of Leigh-Anne Pinnock for a story about fellow band-member Jade Thirlwall and her personal reflections on racism.

Thirlwall quickly voiced her displeasure on Instagram. ‘@MSN If you’re going to copy and paste articles from other accurate media outlets, you might want to make sure you’re using an image of the correct mixed race member of the group,’ she wrote, adding: “It offends me that you couldn’t differentiate the two women of color out of four members of a group … DO BETTER!’”

It is a really embarrassing mistake for a company like Microsoft to make. How hard is it to collect diverse data sets, not to mention keep some editors on staff to fact check the AI bots? Humans are not perfect and so are their AI bots!

Whitney Grace, August 22, 2020

TikTok: Our Way or the Huawei

August 4, 2020

Excitement ahead. There’s nothing like the Rona and a financial crisis to catch attention. But these may be also ran topics if the trade tension between China and the US is cranked up.

China Accuses US of Outright Bullying over TikTok” reports that Wang Wenbin (Chinese official) allegedly said:

“The US, without providing any evidence, has been using an abused concept of national security… unjustifiably suppressing certain non-US companies.”

To add some zest, President Trump wants Microsoft to know that its okay to buy TikTok comes with a price tag? The figures are not available. Whatever the amount, a piece of the action goes to the US government.

That angle is likely to put some on edge. Yep, it seems that the US wants one way or its the Huawei for the only app in several years which may have a chance to generate traction in the wonderlands of Facebook and YouTube.

Stephen E Arnold, August 4, 2020

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