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JavaScript Code Search

May 25, 2016

The general purpose Web search systems are not particularly useful for narrow queries. As a result, developers who want to locate JavaScript code to perform a specific task have had to bang away at Bing, forums, Google, and odd duck discussions on open source code sites. I learned in “Find JavaScript Code Snippets by Functionality with Cocycles” that there is a niche search engine available. Navigate to Cocycles and run your query. According to the service’s Web site, additional languages will be added to the system in the near future. Worth a look.

Stephen E Arnold, May 25, 2016

MarkLogic Tells a Good Story

May 25, 2016

I lost track of MarkLogic when the company hit about $51 million in revenue and changed CEOs in 2006. In 2012, another CEO changed took place Since Gary Bloom, a former Oracle executive took over, the company, according to “Gary Bloom Interview: Big Data Driving Sales Boom at MarkLogic,” the company is now “topping” $100 million in annual revenue.

MarkLogic is one of the outfits laboring in the DCGX / DI2E vineyard. The company may be butting heads with outfits like Palantir Technologies as the US Army’s plan to federate its systems and data move forward.

MarkLogic opened for business in 2003 and has ingested, according to Crunchbase, $175 million in venture funding. With a timeline equivalent to Palantir Technologies’, there may be some value in comparing these two “startups” and their performance. That is an exercise better left to the feisty young MBAs who have to produce a return for the Sequoia and Wellington experts.

The interview contained two interesting statements which I found surprising:

The driver is Big Data: large corporations are convinced there is an El Dorado of untapped commercial opportunities — if only they can run their reports across all their data sources. But integrating all that data is too costly, and takes too long with relational databases. The future will be full of data in many forms, formats, and sources and how that data is used will be the differentiator in many competitive battles. If that data can’t be searched it can’t be used.

That is indeed the belief and the challenge. Based on what I have learned via open sources about the DCGS project, the reality is different from the “all” notions which fill the heads of some of the vendors delivering a comprehensive intelligence system to US government clients. In fact, the reality today seems to me to be similar to the hope for the Convera system when it was doing the “all” approach to some US government information. That, as you may recall, did not work out as some had hoped.

The second statement I highlighted is:

Although MarkLogic is tiny compared to Oracle there are some interesting parallels. “MarkLogic is at about the same size as Oracle was when I began working there. It took a long time for Oracle to get security and other enterprise features right, but when it did, that was when company really took off.”

The stakeholders hope that MarkLogic does “take off.” With more than 12 years of performance history under its belt, MarkLogic could be the next big thing. The only hitch in the git along is that normalization of information and data have to take place. Then there is the challenge of the query language. One cannot overlook the competitors which continue to bedevil those in the data management game.

With Oracle also involved in some US government work, there might be a bit of push back as the future of MarkLogic rolls forward. What happens if IBM’s data management systems group decide to acquire MarkLogic? Excitement? Perhaps.

Stephen E Arnold, May 25, 2016

China Reportedly Planning Its Own Precrime System

May 25, 2016

Some of us consider the movie Minority Report to be a cautionary tale, but apparently the Chinese government sees it as more of good suggestion. According to eTeknix, that country seems to be planning a crime-prediction unit similar to the one in the movie, except this one will use algorithms  instead of psychics. We learn about the initiative from the brief write-up, “China Creating ‘Precrime’ System.” Writer Gareth Andrews informs us:

“The movie Minority Report posed an interesting question to people: if you knew that someone was going to commit a crime, would you be able to charge them for it before it even happens? If we knew you were going to pirate a video game when it goes online, does that mean we can charge you for stealing the game before you’ve even done it?

“China is looking to do just that by creating a ‘unified information environment’ where every piece of information about you would tell the authorities just what you normally do. Decide you want to something today and it could be an indication that you are about to commit or already have committed a criminal activity.

“With machine learning and artificial intelligence being at the core of the project, predicting your activities and finding something which ‘deviates from the norm’ can be difficult for even a person to figure out. When the new system goes live, being flagged up to the authorities would be as simple as making a few purchases online….”

Indeed. Today’s tech is being used to gradually erode privacy rights around the world, all in the name of security. There is a scene in that Minority Report that has stuck with me: Citizens in an apartment building are shown pausing their activities to passively accept the intrusion of spider-like spy-bots into their homes, upon their very faces even, then resuming where they left off as if such an incursion were perfectly normal. If we do not pay attention, one day it may become so.


Cynthia Murrell, May 25, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Google Is Keeping It Real

May 25, 2016

In the 1990s, we were promised that virtual reality was a sure thing.  While flying toaster screen savers and Pixar’s computer animation kept us distracted, virtual reality was forgotten until recent developments in the gaming industry, such as the semi-affordable Oculus Rift, made it available for the average person.  Virtual reality has become so advanced that people are already saying it will change how we live.

Do not forget, however, that virtual reality is still fake.  It is a reflection of the real world and no matter how high in definition the graphics are, it is not real.  Uber Gizmo says that Google does not want to give its users a fake experience, rather “Google’s Focus Reportedly On AR, Not On VR”.

AR stands for augmented reality and Google has already experimented in the area.  The Google Glass was an augmented reality headset, although it had a limited reach and appeal.  The new Google Cardboard, however, is a VR platform that provides a cheaper alternative to expensive VR goggles.  Google is heading into the augmented reality arena, because:

“Apparently the reason for going with augmented reality is because Google doesn’t think that the public will invest too much in virtual reality headsets, which in their current iteration are huge and chunky devices that can’t really be worn outside. This is versus augmented reality in which your phone could offer up such features, and not to mention the more svelte design of the Google Glass.”

Virtual reality is simply the predecessor to augmented reality, similar to how motion capture techniques are replacing some live action special effects.  It is another example of how we are at the start of something new, but it will take time to catch on.


Whitney Grace, May 25, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Google Quote to Note: Search and Smart Software

May 24, 2016

I saw a Quora post by Peter Norvig, one of Alphabet Google’s wizards. [You m ay have to log in to view the statement. Also, the Quora search result for you may require some fiddling. Hey, life in the fast search lane is exciting.]

Novig’s subject is search. I highlighted these statements from the most viewed writer in artificial intelligence:

“Modern” Google, as Sundar has set out the vision, is based not just on suggestions of relevant information, but on informing and assisting.

In short, Google will figure out what “you” really want. But what if I want to locate specific words and phrases? Well, too bad for me.

How about that precision and recall stuff? It seems Google has admitted the 80 percent ceiling for precision and recall. I circled:

With information retrieval, anything over 80% recall and precision is pretty good—not every suggestion has to be perfect, since the user can ignore the bad suggestions. With assistance, there is a much higher barrier.

Really? A glass ceiling which has been evident in the TREC results for what? A decade?

Does this suggest that when Google cannot solve a problem, it punts? What about that solving death thing?

Stephen E Arnold, May 24, 2016

Palantir: Information Leaks from Secret Outfit?

May 24, 2016

I read “Palantir To Buy Up To $225 Million Of Stock From Employees.” I am not too interested in a company trying to provide cash to workers who have to buy food in Sillycon Valley. The main point of the write up from my vantage point in wide open Harrod’s Creek is that the source of the information is a memo. I assume that outfits providing certain government agencies with services some are not supposed to know about or talk about are water tight.

Guess not.

Here’s the passage I highlighted in “loose lips sink ships” red:

The so-called “liquidity event” will be held at a price of $7.40 per share, Palantir said in a memo to staff that was obtained by BuzzFeed News.

Yo, dudes, passive voice. How? Some color, please. Also, who exactly is leaking or hacking what? Was this an encrypted message, a clear text message on a password protected system? Was the message sent using a special “channel”, available to some government contractors.

Several questions fluttered through my mind this fine May morning:

  1. What is Palantir doing which allows memos to find their way into the outside world?
  2. What about the security for some of the projects which Palantir pursues for certain government agencies?
  3. If Palantir itself is leaking information into Sillycon Valley channels, what’s up with the firm’s management?
  4. Is governance an issue at Palantir post i2 and post HBGary?

I have a compendium of 100 pages of Palantir information I have compiled from open sources. I cannot recall an internal document in my collection of research. I may offer this round up of Palantirist factoids and opinion in a for fee Cliff’s Notes-type of PDF. Want a copy? Write, please.

What’s changed at Palantir Technologies, home of the Hobbits, keeper of the seeing stone. Perhaps the seeing stone cannot perceive security issues as well as some assert. The situation reminds me of my comments to the Google about the flow of information about its projects which found its way into open source channels. The Googler with whom I spoke seemed indifferent to the issue. I concluded, “Hey, that stuff does not happen to Google.”


Stephen E Arnold, May 24, 2016

DGraph Labs Startup Aims to Fill Gap in Graph Database Market

May 24, 2016

The article on GlobeNewsWire titled Ex-Googler Startup DGraph Labs Raises US$1.1 Million in Seed Funding Round to Build Industry’s First Open Source, Native and Distributed Graph Database names Bain Capital Ventures and Blackbird Ventures as the main investors in the startup. Manish Jain, founder and CEO of DGraph, worked on Google’s Knowledge Graph Infrastructure for six years. He explains the technology,

“Graph data structures store objects and the relationships between them. In these data structures, the relationship is as important as the object. Graph databases are, therefore, designed to store the relationships as first class citizens… Accessing those connections is an efficient, constant-time operation that allows you to traverse millions of objects quickly. Many companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, LinkedIn and Dropbox use graph databases to power their smart search engines and newsfeeds.”

Among the many applications of graph databases, the internet of thing, behavior analysis, medical and DNA research, and AI are included. So what is DGraph going to do with their fresh funds? Jain wants to focus on forging a talented team of engineers and developing the company’s core technology. He notes in the article that this sort of work is hardly the typical obstacle faced by a startup, but rather the focus of major tech companies like Google or Facebook.


Chelsea Kerwin, May 24, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

eBay Struggles with Cluttered, Unstructured Data, Deploys Artificial Intelligence Strategy

May 24, 2016

The article on Forbes titled eBay’s Next Move: Artificial Intelligence To Refine Product Searches predicts a strong future for eBay as the company moves further into machine learning. For roughly six years eBay has been working with Expertmaker, a Swedish AI and analytics company. Forbes believes that eBay may have recently purchased Expertmaker. The article explains the logic behind this logic,

“One of the key turnaround goals of eBay is to encourage sellers to define their products using structured data, making it easier for the marketplace to show relevant search results to buyers. The acquisition of Expertmaker should help the company in this initiative, given its expertise in artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data.”

The acquisition of Expertmaker should allow for a more comprehensive integration of eBay’s “noisy data.” Expertmaker’s AI strategy is based in genetics research, and has made great strides in extracting concealed value from data. For eBay, a company with hundreds of millions of listings clogging up the platform, Expertmaker’s approach might be the ticket to achieving a more streamlined, categorized search. If we take anything away from this, it is that eBay search currently does not work very well. At any rate, they are taking steps to improve their platform.

Chelsea Kerwin, May 24, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Google: The Math Club Struggles to Go Steady

May 23, 2016

I read “Google’s Go to Market Gap.” The write up points out that the Alphabet Google thing has a flaw. The disconnect between the vision and the reality was the theme of my monograph “Google: The Digital Gutenberg.” Alas, the report is out of print because the savvy publisher woke up one morning and realized that he was not savvy. Too bad.

The point I noted is:

…social networks and messaging services are not only closed but nearly impossible to compete with.

Google now finds itself on the outside looking in many promising markets. Amazon nuked Google’s on again, off again shopping service from the Google catalogs to today’s Google Shopping. Google is in the game of trying to shift from its PC based search and ad model by playing simultaneous games of:

  • Me too. Example: Google’s “answer” to the Echo
  • Buy, buy, buy. Examples: Google’s acquisitions which seem to fade or freeze like
  • Innovate, innovate, innovate. Example: The new 20 percent time effort to build intrapreneurship
  • Dilution. Example: Ads which have minimal relevance to a user’s query.

The write up states:

The problem is that as much as Google may be ahead, the company is also on the clock: every interaction with Siri, every signal sent to Facebook, every command answered by Alexa, is one that is not only not captured by Google but also one that is captured by its competitors. Yes, it is likely Apple, Facebook, and Amazon are all behind Google when it comes to machine learning and artificial intelligence — hugely so, in many cases — but it is not a fair fight. Google’s competitors, by virtue of owning the customer, need only be good enough, and they will get better. Google has a far higher bar to clear — it is asking users and in some cases their networks to not only change their behavior but willingly introduce more friction into their lives — and its technology will have to be special indeed to replicate the company’s original success as a business.

When I was in high school, most of the lads and lasses in George Carlin’s algorithmic love fest did not go to the prom. The Alphabet Google thing, as I have stated many times, is like my high school math club on steroids. Prom is coming? Take an algorithm to the party? Sure, but why not ask IBM Watson? No date yet I hear.

Stephen E Arnold, May 23, 2016

Artificial Intelligence Is a Thing

May 23, 2016

I thought the hyperbole about Big Data was the cherry on the ice cream sundae. I was wrong. Artificial intelligence (what I call smart software) is the champ of marketers. A good example is the write up “This KFC in China Now Uses Robots to Take Customers’ Orders.” [If this link begs for money or a registration, blame not me. Write Jeff Bezos, owner.]

I live in Kentucky where KFC is almost as beloved as bourbon, horse racing, and gambling. When I was in Arles, a person asked me where I was from. I said, “Kentucky.” The statements elicited a blank stare. I said, “Kentucky fried chicken.” Response: Big smile and “oui, oui.”

I learned in the write up:

A KFC restaurant in China is now using two robots to help take customers’ orders. KFC said it enlisted the robots in its concept store in Shanghai to bring a fun and high-tech element to the dining experience.

The Bezos newspaper suggests that the motivation is “fun” and “high tech” cachet. The reality is more mundane. KFC wants to get out of the human staff trap. Some of the outlets I have heard have turnover approaching 50 percent a month. There you go. Big costs for recruitment, training, and annoyed customers who depart because the order taker was fiddling with a smartphone or dealing with drive through customers. Robots mean fewer humans. Fewer humans mean big payoffs once the gizmos are amortized.

Artificial intelligence and robots. Absolutely.

I noted “The AI Business Landscape” from the cheerleaders at O’Reilly. As interest in digital change in the US government wanes, smart software can take up the slack. I learned:

We find that more than 600 companies have jumped into applying deep learning with real budgets. As you can see in the figure below, about 90 companies (level 3), have made strategic investments in deep learning for their businesses. Another 177 companies (level 2) are developing projects using deep learning with dedicated resources in staff. And more than 350 companies (level 1) are experimenting with deep learning in their labs.

Publishing and conference organizing meets the mid tier consulting world. By golly, with some many companies getting on the smart software bandwagon, the revolution is here. It is real. It is – well – the new big thing.

The “real” journalists working at the Daily Mail in England took a different angle of attack. I read “Artificial Intelligence Will Create a ‘Useless Class’ of Humans as Machines Take Over, Historian Warns.” Bummer.

What if you, gentle reader, are a member of the “useless class of humans”? Mortgage, children’s college expenses, vacation in Cuzco? Nope. Zero unless you find a way to become non-useless. I learned:

Rather than being violently wiped out by robotic beings, humankind may become eternally useless’ due to the increasing capabilities of AI…. As humans become functionally ‘useless’ in comparison, we may no longer have value in the eyes of political and economic systems. This could in turn result in humans losing their sense of purpose.

I assume one can ask Siri or run a Google search to seek find out the truth. The easy way may be to believe the hyperbole. Universal income will smooth out the wrinkles in the bedding.

Stephen E Arnold, May 23, 2016

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