Google Cloud, Azure, and AWS Differences

October 18, 2016

With so many options for cloud computing, it can be confusing about which one to use for your personal or business files.  Three of the most popular cloud computing options are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure.  Beyond the pricing, the main differences range from what services they offer and what they name them.  Site Point did us a favor with its article comparing the different cloud services: “A Side-By-Side Comparison Of AWS, Google Cloud, And Azure.”

Cloud computing has the great benefit of offering flexible price options, but they can often can very intricate based on how much processing power you need, how many virtual servers you deploy, where they are deployed, etc.  AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud do offer canned solutions along with individual ones.

AWS has the most extensive service array, but they are also the most expensive.  It is best to decide how you want to use cloud computing because prices will vary based on the usage and each service does have specializations.  All three are good for scalable computing on demand, but Google is less flexible in its offering, although it is easier to understand the pricing.  Amazon has the most robust storage options.

When it comes to big data:

This requires very specific technologies and programming models, one of which is MapReduce, which was developed by Google, so maybe it isn’t surprising to see Google walking forward in the big data arena by offering an array of products — such as BigQuery (managed data warehouse for large-scale data analytics), Cloud Dataflow (real-time data processing), Cloud Dataproc (managed Spark and Hadoop), Cloud Datalab (large-scale data exploration, analysis, and visualization), Cloud Pub/Sub (messaging and streaming data), and Genomics (for processing up to petabytes of genomic data). Elastic MapReduce (EMR) and HDInsight are Amazon’s and Azure’s take on big data, respectively.

Without getting too much into the nitty gritty, each of the services have their strengths and weaknesses.  If one of the canned solutions do not work for you, read the fine print to learn how cloud computing can help your project.

Whitney Grace, October 18, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Bing Finally Turned a Profit

October 7, 2016

Bing is the redheaded stepchild of search engines, but according to the Motley Fool the Microsoft owned search engine started to earn a profit during its last fiscal year.  The Motley Fool shares the story in “Bing Became Profitable Last Year.  Can It Keep Up?” Bing’s search advertising generated $5.5 billion in estimated revenue, which is more than what Twitter and Tencent earned.  Into 2016, Bing continues to turn a profit.

Bing’s revenue grew in Microsoft’s last fiscal year quarter and in June 40% of the search revenue came from Windows 10 devices.  When the free Windows 10 upgrade ends soon and thus will end the growth, as Bing will no longer be see a high adoption rate.  Microsoft will continue to grow Bing and profit is predicted to continue to rise:

One important factor is that Microsoft outsourced its display advertising business at the beginning of fiscal 2016. That has allowed the company to focus its sales team on its search advertisements, which generally carry higher prices and margins than display ads. That makes the sales team more cost-efficient for Microsoft to run while it collects high-margin revenue from outsourcing its display ads.

This means Microsoft will raise its ad prices and will focus on selling more ads to appear with search results.  Bing will never compete with Google’s massive revenue, but it has proven that it is less of a copycat and a stable, profit generating search engine.

Whitney Grace, October 7, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Microsoft Embraces Agile and Lean Artificial Intelligence

October 6, 2016

I read “Internal Email: Microsoft Forms News 5,000 Person AI Division.” If the information is accurate, Microsoft brings its agile and lean management methods to smart software. I learned from the article:

Microsoft says it has formed a new 5,000-person engineering and research team to focus on its artificial intelligence products — a major reshaping of the company’s internal structure reminiscent of its massive pivot to pursue the opportunity of the Internet in the mid-1990s.

Microsoft’s pivot to the Internet created the outstanding series of Internet Explorer releases. A similar shift in Windows brought the world Windows Vista, and, of course, the SharePoint collaboration, content management, search, and kitchen sink thing.

According to Microsoft:

End-to-end innovation in AI will not come from isolated research labs alone, but from the combination of at-scale production workloads together with deep technology advancements in algorithms, systems and experiences. The new group will provide greater opportunity to accelerate our innovation in AI, and to enable Microsoft to create truly intelligent systems and products for our customers.

I hoped that Tay would have some words of wisdom about the reorganization. The future of Microsoft Word’s numbering feature or achieving consistent menus in Visio may be on the agenda.

Then there’s SharePoint search. One hopes that its stellar technology informs other Microsoft products, including the pay-to-use promotion for Edge and Bing.

Stephen E Arnold, October 6, 2016

Quote to Note: Microsoft CEO on Tay

October 3, 2016

I circled this quote to note in “Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Artificial Intelligence, Algorithmic Accountability, and What He Learned from Tay.” Here’s the statement about Tay, the chat bot which developed some interesting characteristics:

One of my biggest learnings from [chatbot] Tay was that you need to build even AI that is resilient to attacks. It was fascinating to see what happened on Twitter, but for instance we didn’t face the same thing in China. Just the social conversation in China is different, and if you put it in the US corpus it’s different. Then, of course, there was a concerted attack.

Yep, algorithmic bias. Perhaps in the rush to make a marketing splash some steps were hop scotched?

Who was responsible for the mistake?

We were [building Tay] as a prototype to learn. Right now, given the media cycle that we have, there is no distinction between a prototype and a released product.

The media. I knew it.

Stephen E Arnold, October 3, 2016

Microsoft to Solve Cancer

September 30, 2016

I believe Google is working on the solution to death. Microsoft, aced out of the death challenge, has turned its attention to cancer. I read “Microsoft Will ‘Solve’ Cancer within 10 Years by ‘Reprogramming’ Diseased Cells.” I learned that Microsoft

has assembled a “small army” of the world’s best biologists, programmers and engineers who are tackling cancer as if it were a bug in a computer system.

The write up added:

The biological computation group at Microsoft are developing molecular computers built from DNA which act like a doctor to spot cancer cells and destroy them.

Several thoughts.

First, I wonder if Microsoft might want to get Kindles and Web cams working with Windows 10. Perhaps a less lofty goal than solving cancer, some Windows 10 users might find the fixes helpful.

Second, will Microsoft improve upon its software development so that Tay type errors do not inadvertently cause cancer cells to become more robust. Microsoft’s artificial intelligence has performed in amusing ways, but solving cancer seems a bit more difficult than chatting. Microsoft Tay did not impress.

Third, if Google indeed does solve death, does that not suggest that Google has also solved cancer?

No answers, but the publicity machine is working quite well.

Stephen E Arnold, September 30, 2016

SearchBlox 8.5 Now Available

September 28, 2016

A brief write-up at DataQuest, “AI-Based Cognitive Business Reasoning with SearchBlox v8.5,” informs us about the latest release of the enterprise-search, sentiment-analysis, and text-analytics software. The press release describes this edition:

“Version 8.5 features the addition of new connectors including streaming, API and storage data sources bringing the total number of available sources to 75. This new release allows customers to use advanced entity extraction (person, organization, product, title, location, date, time, urls, identifiers, phone, email, money, distance) from 18 different languages within unstructured data streams on a real time basis. Use cases include advanced federated search, fraud or anomaly detection, content recommendations, smart business workflows, customer experience management and ecommerce optimization solutions. SearchBlox can use your existing data to build AI based cognitive learning models for your most complex use cases.

The write-up describes the three key features of SearchBlox 8.5: The new connectors mentioned above include Magento, YouTube, ServiceNow, MS Exchange, Twilio, Office 365, Quandl, Cassandra, Google BigQuery, Couchbase, HBase, Solr, and Elasticsearch. Their entity extraction tool functions in 18 languages. And users can now leverage the AI to build learning models for specific use cases. The new release also fixes some bugs and implements performance improvements.

Cynthia Murrell, September 28, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

The Uncertain Fate of OpenOffice

September 27, 2016

We are in danger of losing a popular open-source alternative to the Microsoft Office suite, we learn from the piece, “Lack of Volunteer Contributors Could Mean the End for OpenOffice” at Neowin. Could this the fate of open source search, as well?

Writer William Burrows observes that few updates for OpenOffice have emerged of late, only three since 2013, and the last stable point revision was released about a year ago. More strikingly, it took a month to patch a major security flaw over the summer, reports Burrows. He goes on to summarize OpenOffice’s 14-year history, culminating it the project’s donation to Apache by Oracle in 2011. It appears to have been downhill from there. The article tells us:

It was at this point that a good portion of the volunteer developer base reportedly moved onto the forked LibreOffice project. Since becoming Apache OpenOffice, activity on project has diminished significantly. In a statement by Dennis Hamilton, the project’s volunteer vice president, released in an email to the mailing list it was suggested that “retirement of the project is a serious possibility” citing concerns that the current team of around six volunteer developers who maintain the project may not have sufficient resources to eliminate security vulnerabilities. There is still some hope for OpenOffice, though, with some of the contributors suggesting that discussion about a shutdown may be a little premature, and that attracting new contributors is still possible.

In fact, OpenOffice was downloaded over 29 million times last year, so obviously it still has a following. LibreOffice is currently considered more successful, but that could change if OpenOffice manages to attract a resurgence of developers willing to contribute to the project. Any volunteers?

Cynthia Murrell, September 27, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link:



Microsoft and Both Hewlett Packards Are Chums

September 20, 2016

I read “Microsoft Beats Out Rivals for HP Software Deal.” The write up does not answer the following questions:

  1. Did Microsoft or HP’s public relations advisers bring this story to Fortune Magazine?
  2. How much will HP save by using Microsoft’s sales management and database software instead of Oracle’s and Salesforce’s software?
  3. How much will the transition from the Oracle and Salesforce systems to the Microsoft system cost?
  4. Why couldn’t HP use its hardware with the Oracle and Saleforce systems?
  5. Why did HP choose a proprietary solution when there are satisfactory open source options available?
  6. Who back was injured after the frenzy of scratching ended?

What the write up reveals is that Oracle and Salesforce lost a big customer. I also highlighted this passage:

This deal adds another dimension to HP-Microsoft partnerships. HP is a huge and longtime hardware partner—its PCs ship with Microsoft Windows and often with its Office applications as well. There is significant overlap between the two companies’ reseller partners. And since most Microsoft partners run Dynamics CRM already, HP’s use of the product could simplify collaboration and data exchange. HP claims about 100,000 partners worldwide.

I will not comment about the “claims” about partners. Let’s see. HPQ buys hardware from HPE. Microsoft is a partner for HPQ and HPE. Looks like a friendly group. Add one person and the companies have a gold foursome. Will Google get asked to join the group? We know Oracle and Salesforce won’t.

Stephen E Arnold, September 20, 2016

Algorithm Bias in Beauty Contests

September 16, 2016

I don’t read about beauty contests. In my college dorm, I recall that the televised broadcast of the Miss America pageant was popular among some of the residents. I used the attention grabber as my cue to head to the library so I could hide reserved books from my classmates. Every little bit helps in the dog eat dog world of academic achievement.

When Artificial Intelligence Judges a Beauty Contest, White People Win” surprised me. I thought that algorithms were objective little numerical recipes. Who could fiddle 1=1=2?

I learned:

The foundation of machine learning is data gathered by humans, and without careful consideration, the machines learn the same biases of their creators. Sometimes bias is difficult to track, but other times it’s clear as the nose on someone’s face—like when it’s a face the algorithm is trying to process and judge.

Its seems that an algorithm likes white people. The write up informed me:

An online beauty contest called, run byYouth Laboratories (that lists big names in tech like Nvidia and Microsoft as “partners and supporters” on the contest website), solicited 600,000 entries by saying they would be graded by artificial intelligence. The algorithm would look at wrinkles, face symmetry, amount of pimples and blemishes, race, and perceived age. However, race seemed to play a larger role than intended; of the 44 winners, 36 were white.

Oh, oh. Microsoft and its smart software seem to play a role in this drama.

What’s the fix? Better data. The write up includes this statement from a Microsoft expert:

“If a system is trained on photos of people who are overwhelmingly white, it will have a harder time recognizing non-white faces,” writes Kate Crawford, principal researcher at Microsoft Research New York City, in a New York Times op-ed. “So inclusivity matters—from who designs it to who sits on the company boards and which ethical perspectives are included. Otherwise, we risk constructing machine intelligence that mirrors a narrow and privileged vision of society, with its old, familiar biases and stereotypes.”

In the last few months, Microsoft’s folks were involved in Tay, a chatbot which allegedly learned to be racist. Then there was the translation of “Daesh” as Saudi Arabia. Now algorithms appear to favor folks of a particular stripe.

Exciting math. But Microsoft has also managed to gum up webcams and Kindle access in Windows 10. Yep, the new Microsoft is a sparkling example of smart.

Stephen E Arnold, September 16, 2016

Revenue Takes a Backseat to Patent Filings at IBM

September 9, 2016

The post on Slashdot titled IBM Has Been Awarded an Average of 24 Patents Per Day So Far in 2016 compares the patent development emphasis of major companies, with IBM coming out on top with 3,617 patent awards so far in 2016, according to a Quartz report. Patents are the bi-product of IBM’s focus on scientific research, as the report finds,

The company is in the middle of a painful reinvention, that sees the company shifting further away from hardware sales into cloud computing, analytics, and AI services. It’s also plugging away on a myriad of fundamental scientific research projects — many of which could revolutionize the world if they can come to fruition — which is where many of its patent applications originate. IBM accounted for about 1% of all US patents awarded in 2015.

Samsung claimed a close second (with just over 3,000 patents), and on the next rung down sits Google (with roughly 1,500 patents for the same period), Intel, Qualcomm, Microsoft, and Apple. Keep in mind though, that IBM and Samsung have been awarded more than twice as many patents as Google and the others, making it an unstoppable patent machine. You may well ask, what about revenue? They will get back to you on that score later.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 9, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link:

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