Apple Versus Google: Does Google Win?

October 1, 2014

I read “On The Future of Apple and Google.” The bulk of the write up touches bases that are familiar to those who play softball at the Palo Alto fields. However, there was one passage that caught my attention:

The beauty of the modern mobile era is that it isn’t held back by anti-innovators like the carriers or monopolists like Microsoft and Intel who gated the pace of innovation in previous platform eras. The mobile stack has decoupled these previous incumbents from control. Today, Google is snapping up robotics companies and investing in autonomous vehicles, all of which will run futuristic versions of its operating systems and have the promise to measurably improve the way humans live.

Google seems to have the edge. Will governments cooperate. Analyses of companies near the Apple and Google stratosphere may have to find ways to deal with:

  • Closed markets or closing markets. Does China qualify?
  • Low cost competitors approved by governments? What devices will Australia find acceptable?
  • Privacy matters. Even wealthy companies want to avoid large fines. Didn’t Yahoo react when the price tag was $250,000 per day.
  • Social disruptions. Is it naive to assume that daily life will just trundle along in stable areas of the world?

My view is that dominant companies may have to find ways to remain dominant beyond copying one another, buying market share, and emulating Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Stephen E Arnold, October 1, 2014

History of Mathematics Available

October 1, 2014

Short honk: It might be almost 50 years old, but if you are into math, Carl Boyer’s History of Mathematics is worth a look. You can access the full text in image form at http://bit.ly/1oueUIL.

Stephen E Arnold, October 1, 2014

A New Search Engine For Healthcare

October 1, 2014

Imagine being able to shop and purchase health insurance and find healthcare like you were booking a trip? That was the basic idea for Whatclinic.com, described as a TripAdvisor website was designed to meet the demands of South Africa’s healthcare’s needs. IT News Africa has more information in the article, “Global Healthcare Search Engine Launches In SA.”

According to the press release, there are already 500 clinics on the Web site and the numbers is expected to double in the next three months. The information on the clinics includes hours of operation, location, staff, treatments, price, and staff. Like TripAdvisor, people can leave comments and ratings.

“ ‘Our value proposition is based on empowering patients with easily accessible and centralized information to help them make informed decisions about their treatment… specifically, where to source the right treatment for them,’ says [Caelen King, founder of WhatClinic].”

It is no surprise that online healthcare research is growing. WhatClinic.com reports that 15.7 million people use the Web site and projections only show that will increase. There are similar services in America, but WhatClinic should investigate coming to the US or a startup could nab the idea.

Whitney Grace, October 01, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Hadoops Projected Market Earnings Are Huge

October 1, 2014

SaaS (software as a service) is becoming an archaic acronym. Instead of using that all encompassing term, companies are creating their own acronyms and inserting their headlining products at the front. Hadoop has now become Hadoop as a service (HaaS) and along with the acronym Whatech reports that “Hadoop-As-A-Service (HaaS) Market Is Expected To Reach $16.1 Billion Globally By 2020.” Hadoop is expected to have big growth over the next six years as the demand for big data analytics increases.

Its biggest competition is expected to be the company’s own on premise services, but there are many benefits to HaaS. Using the cloud is cheaper and the non-technical interface is easier for users and increase workflow.

The biggest concern with HaaS is one that persists cloud-based technologies:

“Persisting security concerns and lack of awareness among end users are the only pullbacks for the market growth. Information technology is acting as a boon in creating HaaS awareness among target customers. Persisting security concerns are also anticipated to die down to an extent due to the adoption of private clouds and high security cloud storages. AWS has already made a move in this direction with “AWS GovCloud (U.S. region)” that complies with the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) requirements.”

Measures are already being taken to combat cloud security and by 2020 expect them to be tighter than Fort Knox. This is a large estimation for Hadoop and the company’s success points towards continued economic growth. Its competition will be tested to see how well they can compete against Hadoop.

Whitney Grace, October 01, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Cheerleading for dtSearch

September 30, 2014

Short honk: Want to read how one dtSearch user just loves the desktop search system to death? Navigate to “dtSearch: How to handle Big or even Biggish Data.” What strikes me is the write up’s creation of a new buzzword: biggish. dtSearch has been around since 1991 and is now at version 7. The system was once Microsoft centric, but a version for Android is allegedly in beta testing.

The write up states:

The performance of dtSearch is truly impressive and the fact that it’s not only fast but can handle Big Data makes it ideal for all sorts of heavy lifting searches as well as digital forensics; indeed, the company has extensive advice on how to use dtSearch for just that purpose.

There a a few, apparently minor downsides:

There are some things dtSearch doesn’t do such as exporting the data from only one or more indexed fields (for example, just “Sender” and “Date”) although exporting to CSV and importing into Excel allows you to slice and dice the data with ease. My only other criticism of dtSearch is that its user interface looks a little dated.

No information about the time required to add additional content to the index. What happens when dtSearch hits a Drobo with a terabyte of text? Answer: it takes days to index the content collection.

The big plus for dtSearch is not mentioned. In my opinion, dtSearch is one of the few remaining commercial personal desktop search solutions. Exalead and ISYS Search Software have left the field of battle. Freeware and shareware products have an odd predilection to crash and burn.

Check out dtSearch at www.dtsearch.com.

Stephen E Arnold, September 30, 2014

Search: Just an Activity

September 30, 2014

Well, this is going to be a surprise for some folks at Google. After building a brand and habit for the search box at Google.com, search is just an activity. I leaned this in “Search Is No Longer a Destination. It’s an Activity.”

If I am an advertiser using AdWords or Facebook’s mechanism, I just want sales. Does the shift from activity to destination increase the value of a Facebook ad versus a Google ad.

The article points out:

Search engines have always had a hard time differentiating themselves to the masses. While digital marketers love analyzing the differences between algorithms, targeting methods, and result page layouts, the average person can’t tell much of a difference. That’s why for years “Google.com” was one of the top searches on Yahoo. That’s why despite some very clever (in my opinion) “Bing It On” TV commercials and some great case studies, Bing has had a very difficult time winning search traffic away from Google. As long as users aren’t dissatisfied with the results, they’ll keep searching wherever is convenient – often without even realizing what search engine they’re using.

Well, I am not sure that “always” is exactly on target. I think Chemical Abstracts differentiates itself quite well from Bing, Google, and a query about torts passed against Lexis. I know. I know. The article is aimed at folks who think about search in terms of Google, not the context of search and its more uninteresting manifestations.

The one point that I noted as fodder for my files was this one:

Context is the key element that powers these new search experiences. While some still contain a box where you can enter a query, their core functionality is around understanding and anticipating the searcher’s needs in the moment based on secondary signals like location, history, and other personal data the user chooses to share. And should the user need answers outside of this proactive information, voice search is the primary point of interaction.

I suppose I should be cheered that Delve, Microsoft’s search for Office 365, is going to get some blogger love. I am not exactly how a person looking for specific information will go about that task if accounts to commercial databases are not affordable and information access becomes an app.

I do not need to worry. The author provides this glimpse of the benefits of the death of traditional search:

No matter what format search marketing may take in the future, brands that build their strategy around providing valuable answers to their customers’ questions will continue to drive success in search – regardless of how the consumer searches, or if they even know what engine they’re using.

Right. When someone looks for a household cleanser, those ads for big name consumers products will fill the bill. How reassuring.

Stephen E Arnold, September 30, 2014

Analytics Troubled by Bottlenecks. Impossible.

September 30, 2014

The hyperbole artists have painted themselves into a corner. I am not sure too many folks know this. The idea that one can crank out killer analyses with a couple of swipes or a mouse click are raising expectations. Like so much in content processing, reality is a just little bit different.

You know that the slips twixt cup and lip must be cropping up in numerous organizations. The Harvard Business Review does not write too much science fiction compared to MIT’s Technology Review across the river.

Beware the Analytics Bottleneck” adopts the same MBA tone that makes Wall Street bankers and lawyers so beloved by the common man and delivers what might be a downside.

The write up states:

“Don’t be overwhelmed. Start slower to go faster.” I think that runs counter to the baloney in the Eric Schmidt Google tome.

Next the HBR wants to keep life simple for the busy one percenters:

Technology doesn’t have to be exposed. Keep the complexity behind the curtain. Definitely good advice if one does not know whether the data are valid and the numerical recipes are configured in an appropriate manner.

Then the golden piece of advice for the go go MBA looking for a payday so he or she can pursue his or her dream of helping people or just spending money:

Make faster decisions for faster rewards.

That’s a sure fire way to break through bottlenecks. Use the outputs to support really fast decisions. Forget that pondering stuff. Just guess.

What’s scary is that when some folks have a tiny bit of knowledge, their deliberations can yield disastrous decisions. Need some examples. Well, do some thinking. How about GM and ignition switches? What about IRS actions and email mysteries? Or multi billion dollar acquisitions that lead to multi billion dollar write offs shortly after handing over the dump trucks filled with cash?

My take on this write up is that the “expert” did not focus on the bottlenecks that Big Data often produce like sex crazed hamsters:

  1. The time and cost to normalize and validate data
  2. The complexity of updating indexes so that reports reflect the most recent data, not stale data
  3. Dealing with the configuration decisions that generate outputs that are just plain wrong
  4. The money spent to get a system back online when it crashes either an old fashioned on premises flame out or one of the nifty new cloud systems that are virtual and allegedly fool proof.

In short, Big Data and analytics pose some very significant challenges for vendors, licensees, and those who use the systems. The good news is that guessing will probably produce better results than reasoning through a decision based on flawed information. The bad news is that fancy content processing systems are likely to gobble budgets and increase certain operational costs.

The HBR obviously does not agree. Well, the fellows around the cast iron stove in Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky, find my observations directly on point.

Stephen E Arnold, September 30, 2014

Among More Changes Connotate Adds New Leader

September 30, 2014

Connotate has been going through many changes through 2014. According to Virtual Strategy they can count adding a new leader to the list: “Connotate Appoints Rich Kennelly As Chief Executive.” Connotate sells big data technology, specializing in enterprise grade Web data harvesting services. The newest leader for the company is Richard J. Kennelly. Kennelly has worked in the IT sector for over twenty years. Most of his experience has been helping developing businesses harness Internet and data. He has worked at Ipswitch and Akami Technologies, holding leadership roles at both companies.

Kennelly is excited about his new position:

“ ‘This is the perfect time to join Connotate,’ said Kennelly. ‘The Web is the largest data source ever created.  The biggest brands are moving quickly to leverage that data to drive competitive advantage and create new revenue streams. Connotate’s patented technology, scalability, and deep technical expertise make us the natural choice for these forward thinking companies.’”

The rest of the quote includes a small, but impressive client list, more praise for Kennelly, and how Connotate is a leading big data company.

If Connotate did not have good products and services, then they would not keep their clients. Despite the big names, they are still going through financial woes. Is choosing Kennelly a sign that they are trying to raise harvest more funding?

Whitney Grace, September 30, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Processing Content Is Easy, Right?

September 30, 2014

A mobile search app would be useful and appreciated by mobile devices. According to the URX Blog post “Deduplication Of Web Content” it is relatively easy to create a search app, but creating a robust search app is the challenge. A robust search app would need to include link prioritization, feature extraction, re-crawl estimation, and content deduplication. The post is the first in an article series developing a mobile search app.

Deduplicating content is important for user experience:

“Duplicate pages in a search index poison search results. The goal of a search engine is to return both relevant and diverse documents, allowing users to decide the optimal resolution for a query. Without deduplication, the top-k results returned for a user’s query would likely contain duplicate content. In the extreme, all k results will be copies of the same page. This creates a bad user experience where, as the crawler scales out, the duplicate likelihood increases. In fact, Google’s Matt Cutts believes that up to 20% of web content is duplicated.”

The rest of the post examines the different types of duplication, how to identify them, and remove them from search results.

While the search app will serve an important function, it does not make sense to me why people cannot just open a Web browser on a mobile device and conduct a regular search. What I would like to see is an app that searches content on apps on a device.

Whitney Grace, September 30, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Internet Business: Slightly Different Points of View

September 29, 2014

First, navigate to “Another Top Investor Sounds the Alarm: When the Market Turns, a Bunch of Startups Are Going to Vaporize.” No big surprise here. The main idea is, in my opinion:

Over the past few years, it’s been relatively easy for startups to raise money from venture capitalists. In some cases, they’re raising hundreds of millions of dollars to keep their companies afloat. But behind the scenes, they’re plowing through that money either on marketing, overhead, or some other expense, which results in high burn rates. These bloated companies are using their millions to hide serious flaws in their business models.

At some point, those who provide the bucks to the venture firms will want a return. Many of the Fancy Dan outfits are not among the world’s most liquid operations. To raise cash, MBAs and accountants can cook up some quite remarkable solutions. The actions cascade down the line and end up pushing technology companies like those that pitch wild and crazy content technology into an Iron Maiden. This is essentially a casket with spikes protruding into the box and spikes pointing into the box on its lid.

Ta da.

The individual is placed into the Iron Maiden and the door is shut. Ouch.

Now navigate to either the Google book itself or the concepts Web site at http://bit.ly/1mr9OvS. Eric Schmidt argues that businesses should be like Google. You know the moon shots, trying stuff and failing fast (I am not sure how fast Google has failed at social networking, but I don’t want to be argumentative), and value numbers/data over any humanoid subjectivity.

For many search and content processing companies, the senior managers have been failing for years in some cases. I want to make a list of would be start ups and then provide their date of inception. Heck, why embarrass outfits like Attivio, Coveo, Digital Reasoning, Lucid Imagination (now Lucid Works to which I am tempted to add “Really? but I will not.”), and quite a few others.

The point is that we have two somewhat conflicting interpretations of the present business climate. The tweets that inspired the Business Insider write up are taking a hard look at what happens when the money goes away. No money means that affected firms first people, raise prices, and pivot along with a half dozen or so MBA maneuvers before shutting the doors as Convera, Delphes, did Entopia. A few lucky outfits will sell out like Endeca, Exalead, and iPhrase. A few will struggle along sort of open and sort of closed like a number of French search and content processing firms.

On one hand, these outfits are toast if more money is not “found.” On the other hand, forget money. In Google’s world view, these companies need to be more like Google or out Google Google.

The reality is that the contraction of search and content processing has already begun. Some outfits are going to have to find a way to deliver a solution that solves an actual problem and generates sustainable revenue. Companies in this spot include IBM with its Watson project, Hewlett Packard with its Autonomy IDOL technology, and Palantir, a billion dollar baby of considerable note.

My view is that the doom and gloom expressed in the Business Insider write up is more likely to occur than a Google style entity arising from the Google Moon shot and allied suggestions. I am not sure the Google recommendations apply to Google. A company that is 15 years old and has one revenue stream may be a success that fulfills Steve Ballmer’s one trick pony observation.

For search and content processing vendors, there is no easy way out unless money remains plentiful and Google’s advice actually works for an information retrieval company.

Stephen E Arnold, September 29, 2014

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