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Parts Unknown of Dark Web Revealed in Study

May 13, 2016

While the parts unknown of the internet is said to be populated by terrorists’ outreach and propaganda, research shows a different picture. Quartz reports on this in the article, The dark web is too slow and annoying for terrorists to even bother with, experts say. The research mentioned comes from Thomas Rid and Daniel Moore of the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. They found 140 extremist Tor hidden services; inaccessible or inactive services topped the list with 2,482 followed by 1,021 non-illicit services. As far as illicit services, those related to drugs far outnumbered extremism with 423. The write-up offers a few explanations for the lack of terrorists publishing on the Dark Web,

“So why aren’t jihadis taking advantage of running dark web sites? Rid and Moore don’t know for sure, but they guess that it’s for the same reason so few other people publish information on the dark web: It’s just too fiddly. “Hidden services are sometimes slow, and not as stable as you might hope. So ease of use is not as great as it could be. There are better alternatives,” Rid told Quartz. As a communications platform, a site on the dark web doesn’t do what jihadis need it to do very well. It won’t reach many new people compared to “curious Googling,” as the authors point out, limiting its utility as a propaganda tool. It’s not very good for internal communications either, because it’s slow and requires installing additional software to work on a mobile phone.”

This article provides fascinating research and interesting conclusions. However, we must add unreliable and insecure to the descriptors for why the Dark Web may not be suitable for such uses.


Megan Feil, May 13, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


IBM Watson, Google DeepMind Is Slicing into Health Care

March 3, 2016

Gentle reader, you may have seen out write ups about IBM Watson and its work to cure cancer and develop innovative recipes for barbeque sauce with tamarind.

I read “Smart Care: How Google DeeepMind Is Working with NHS Hospitals.” The write up points out:

A smartphone app piloted by the NHS could improve communication between hospital staff and help patients get vital care faster.

Yikes, Watson, a phone. Come here I need you will echo in the corridors of these paragons of efficiency throughout Britain.

I learned:

Their research, published in the journal Surgery, showed that half of hospital patients do not get the care they need fast enough, usually because of poor communication, particularly when one team of doctors or nurses hands over to another. In early pilots at St Mary’s Hospital, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, where Darzi [former health minister in the Blair government and director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London]  is a consultant surgeon, they found medical staff responded 37% faster when alerted by the Hark app than when they used pagers.

Will an app work cooperatively with IBM Watson? Will DeepMind, the app, keep IBM Watson in the lounge area?

Painful questions for an app to answer or notify in this case of technological innovation.

Stephen E Arnold, March 3, 2016

Google and Page Loading Speed

February 25, 2016

I read “Google Has Slowest Loading Home Page on Mobile Compared to Competitors.” I access the Internet from my desktop boat anchor computers. No cigarette racer for me.

The write up makes a startling claim about the speed and efficiency crazed Alphabet Google thing; to wit:

Google actually has the slowest loading home page on mobile devices compares to its major competitors.

The write up contains actual data to prove this bold assertion for the Googzilla. The top speed is 100, and Yahoo delivers a blistering 95.

Now in my own albeit uninformed experience, Yahoo loads slowly or not at all. Yahoo Mail is particularly snailish and unpredictable. The fix is to access dear old Yahoo via a Google search. I click on the Mail link in the Google results, and this often makes the recalcitrant purple people eater “work.”

Now the “test” was performed on mobile devices. I am not sure what devices, how many tests were run, and what mobile services were used to access the tested systems.

The write up seems a bit fluffy, but, heck, I read it. That’s the point. The information may be secondary to the click and the ads. One must not forget the ads.

Stephen E Arnold, February 25, 2016

EasyAsk Unveils Mobile Shopping Solution Through Semantic Search

February 15, 2016

The announcement on PRWeb titled EasyAsk Introduces EasyAsk Voice Shopper Uniting Voice and Mobile for a Revolutionary Shopping Experience pairs shopping with semantic technology. According to the article, users will be able to hold a conversation with the EasyAsk search engine that will lead to the relevant and ideal product for the user. The article says,

“EasyAsk Voice Shopper creates a new paradigm for mobile shopping by allowing customers to have a conversation with a mobile commerce site or app, just like speaking with a sales associate. Having evolved from over 15 years of natural language research and development, the EasyAsk conversational search engine powers the conversation with the customer, combining an understanding of the shopper’s intent with the deep knowledge of retailer’s products and merchandising objectives to deliver the right products.”

The emphasis on mobile shopping is due to the research showing the low mobile shopping conversion rate of only 0.80%, most likely due to the pain-in-the-neck that is mobile shopping! Who hasn’t switched from their phone to their computer after clicking an email link for a cute pair of sneakers? In a perfect world, this new service would be like speaking to a real person. But unless I am mistaken, it will probably feel more like any number of voice menus that people find themselves shouting at to be understood.


Chelsea Kerwin, February 15, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Myanmar in Mobile: A Reminder of How Easy It Is to Make Assumptions

January 25, 2016

I suggest you read the write up “The Facebook Loving Farmers of Myanmar.” Useful information. You can work through the article and get a sense of the importance of connectivity to farmers in a region which is quite a bit different from Silicon Valley and Route 128.

I want to highlight two points which I noted. My hunch is that these will be different from many other folks’ reaction to the article.

The first point is a reference to the failure of the “one laptop per child” thing cooked up by someone in the US of A’s right coast. Here’s the quote I highlighted:

But the more we probe, the less justifiable the Samsung premium becomes. The Chinese phones are cheap but capable. I wonder if this makes Negroponte happy. His one laptop-per-child dream was never fully realized but one smartphone-per-human—far more capable and sensible than a laptop, in many ways—has most certainly arrived. I take notes.

The point is that traditional desktops and laptops are not what has captured the attention of the farmers of Myanmar. The shift to phones, Chinese phones in particular, can be described as a miss, a big miss for the “one laptop per child” idea. How many other high tech beliefs are going to be shown to be just wrong enough? This, for me, is a reminder that what seems obvious to those on the left and right coasts in the United States are pitching the equivalent of snowshoes to people who live where it does not snow.

The second point I circled was:

I realize then that smartphone tech crossed the Good Enough threshold years ago.

What if the money pumped into improving smartphones by making them bigger, smaller, in different colors, etc. is a living, breathing example of diminishing returns. No mater what the phone designers and manufacturers cook up, the pay back will keep getting smaller. Apple is becoming mobile dependent. Google is becoming mobile dependent. What if these investments creep toward lower and lower returns. In a lousy economic environment, could there be financial trouble ahead for these and allied companies?

My hunch is that there are more farmers in Myanmar type folks than there are those who can get hired at the likes of the sparkling tech citadels on the left and right coast of the US, the silicon fen, and the other confections of techno-wizardry.

The one laptop per child play was not just wrong by a little; it was wrong by a mile unless Google knows something the folks in Myanmar do not. See “Google Donates More Than $5 Million to Give Chromebooks to Refugees.”

Stephen E Arnold, January 25, 2016

Alphabet Google Android Revenue

January 22, 2016

I read “Google’s Android Generates $31 Billion Revenue, Oracle Says.” Who knows how accurate this “number” is, but I find it interesting because the “number” allegedly spins off $22 billion in profit.

My math is not too good. But I think it means that the Alphabet Google thing has more profit than costs when  it comes to Android. Numbers north of 200 percent strike me as okay.

The write up asserts:

An analysis of the search engine giant’s tightly held financial information was disclosed Jan. 14 by an Oracle attorney in the database maker’s lawsuit accusing Google of using its Java software without paying for it to develop Android. Google said in a court filing that the lawyer based her statement on information derived from its confidential internal financial documents. “Look at the extraordinary magnitude of commerciality here,” the Oracle attorney, Annette Hurst, told a federal magistrate judge as she discussed Android revenue and profit, which have never been publicly disclosed.

I wonder if Oracle perceives that the use of its Java technology has contributed to this revenue.

I think so. The write up states:

The five-year-old showdown between Google and Oracle has returned to U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco after a pit stop at the U.S. Supreme Court, where Google lost a bid to derail the case. The damages Oracle now seeks may exceed $1 billion since it expanded its claims to cover newer Android versions.

There is nothing like a flock of legal eagles circling alleged revenue to signal that spring is not far away. Yandex is grousing a bit about Android. Gee, I wonder why.

Stephen E Arnold, January 22, 2016

Yandex Faces the Reality of the Android Phone Trojan Horse

January 20, 2016

I noticed this statement in “Russia’s Google Could Be Poised for a Huge 2016”:

…Just two years ago Yandex had twice the search market share as Google, the company only owns 57%  of the Russian search market today. Google, on the other hand, has increased its share from 25% to nearly 35%. But this is where the story gets interesting. Yandex contends that the reason Google has increased its market share is because Android phones — which account for 80% of the smartphone market in Russia, according to Yandex — are preloaded with the Google search app, while the same isn’t the case for Yandex’s app.

The Yandex system is pretty good. If you are looking for information in Russian, the system is excellent.

What Yandex lasts is a Trojan horse like Android to carry the search clicks to the mother ship.

Will litigation in Russia thwart the Alphabet Google thing? Nope.

Stephen E Arnold, January 20, 2016

Advice for Marketers, Not Consumers, on the Present and Future States of Location Data Technology

January 14, 2016

The article on Mashable titled Location Data’s Dirty Secret: How Accuracy is Getting Lost in Today’s Data Shuffle relates the bad news for marketers, and hugely relieving news for paranoid consumers, that location data quality is far from precise. The money being funneled into location-targeted mobile ad revenues is only part of the picture, but it does illustrate the potential power of this technology for marketers, who want to know everything they can about shopping habits and habits in general. But they may be spending on useless data. In fact, the article states,

“Studies indicate that more than half of mobile location data is inaccurate. In fact, a report from the MMA offers a laundry list of variables that negatively impact location data quality. Culprits include a “lack of accuracy standards and market education,” “urban density,” “inaccurate interpretations” of location data that have been translated into a latitude/longitude coordinate and poor “data freshness.”

The article is largely optimistic that if marketers do a little research into the source of their locating data, they will know whether it can be trusted or not. That, and an objective third party will help marketers avoid big money-wasting mistakes. Must be nice to be a marketer instead of a consumer, the latter has little chance to avoid being a pawn followed around the chess board by her cell phone.


Chelsea Kerwin, January 14, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


SEO Tips Based on Recent Google Search Quality Guidelines

December 30, 2015

Google has recently given search-engine optimization pros a lot to consider, we learn from “Top 5 Takeaways from Google’s Search Quality Guidelines and What They Mean for SEO” at Merkle’s RKG Blog. Writer Melody Pettula presents five recommendations based on Google’s guidelines. She writes:

“A few weeks ago, Google released their newest Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, which teach Google’s search quality raters how to determine whether or not a search result is high quality.  This is the first time Google has released the guidelines in their entirety, though versions of the guidelines have been leaked in the past and an abridged version was released by Google in 2013. Why is this necessary? ‘Quality’ is no longer simply a function of text on a page; it differs by device, location, search query, and everything we know about the user. By understanding how Google sees quality we can improve websites and organic performance. Here’s a countdown of our top 5 takeaways from Google’s newest guidelines and how they can improve your SEO strategy.”

We recommend any readers interested in SEO check out the whole article, but here are the five considerations Pettula lists, from least to most important: consider user intent; supply supplementary content; guard your reputation well; consider how location affects user searches; and, finally, “mobile is the future.” On that final point, the article notes that Google is now almost entirely focused on making things work for mobile devices. SEO pros would do well to keep that new reality in mind.

Cynthia Murrell, December 30, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Google Clamps down on Surprise Costs in BigQuery

December 23, 2015

The article titled Google Promises to Rein in Runaway Query Costs on Fortune discusses the obstacles facing Google’s BigQuery data tool. Google hopes to make BigQuery a major resource for big companies considering cloud technology, but unpredictable costs are getting in the way of the “low-cost big data analytics option” marketing that Google has deployed. Hence, the introduction of “custom quota” and Query Explain,

“Google is now offering potential inquisitors a way to set a “custom quota” to ensure that the number crunching on a specified project does not exceed a pre-set daily limit. In addition, a Query Explain feature promises to lay out, how BigQuery will go about processing the question on the table in advance. That way, in theory, you can see if your questions will be “write, read, or compute heavy” and better anticipate where performance bottlenecks could lurk…”

One might fairly ask why there was any delay in these services, since customers are not known for their fondness of mobile phone type billing surprises. Amazon is also standing next to Google waving at RedShift, a BigQuery competitor in the air. But the simpler pricing and efficiency of BigQuery might be more appealing to many companies, especially with the more controlled processes now available.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 23, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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