Google and the Cloud Take on Corporate Database Management

February 1, 2017

The article titled Google Cloud Platform Releases New Database Services, Fighting AWS and Azure for Corporate Customers on GeekWire suggests that Google’s corporate offerings have been weak in the area of database management. Compared to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, Google is only wading into the somewhat monotonous arena of corporate database needs. The article goes into detail on the offerings,

Cloud SQL, Second Generation, is a service offering instances of the popular MySQL database. It’s most comparable to AWS’s Aurora and SQL Azure, though there are some differences from SQL Azure, so Microsoft allows running a MySQL database on Azure. Google’s Cloud SQL supports MySQL 5.7, point-in-time recovery, automatic storage resizing and one-click failover replicas, the company said. Cloud Bigtable is a NoSQL database, the same one that powers Google’s own search, analytics, maps and Gmail.

The Cloud Bigtable database is made to handle major workloads of 100+ petabytes, and it comes equipped with resources such as Hadoop and Spark. It will be fun to see what happens as Google’s new service offering hits the ground running. How will Amazon and Microsoft react? Will price wars arise? If so, only good can come of it, at least for the corporate consumers.

Chelsea Kerwin, February 1, 2017

Rise of Fake News Should Have All of Us Questioning Our Realities

January 31, 2017

The article on NBC titled Five Tips on How to Spot Fake News Online reinforces the catastrophic effects of “fake news,” or news that flat-out delivers false and misleading information. It is important to separate “fake news” from ideologically-slanted news sources and the mess of other issues dragging any semblance of journalistic integrity through the mud, but the article focuses on a key point. The absolute best practice is to take in a variety of news sources. Of course, when it comes to honest-to-goodness “fake news,” we would all be better off never reading it in the first place. The article states,

A growing number of websites are espousing misinformation or flat-out lies, raising concerns that falsehoods are going viral over social media without any mechanism to separate fact from fiction. And there is a legitimate fear that some readers can’t tell the difference. A study released by Stanford University found that 82 percent of middle schoolers couldn’t spot authentic news sources from ads labeled as “sponsored content.” The disconnect between true and false has been a boon for companies trying to turn a quick profit.

So how do we separate fact from fiction? Checking the web address and avoiding .lo and .co.com addresses, researching the author, differentiating between blogging and journalism, and again, relying on a variety of sources such as print, TV, and digital. In a time when even the President-to-be, a man with the best intelligence in the world at his fingerprints, chooses to spread fake news (aka nonsense) via Twitter that he won the popular vote (he did not) we all need to step up and examine the information we consume and allow to shape our worldview.

Chelsea Kerwin, January 31, 2017

Bing Gets Nostalgic

January 25, 2017

In my entire life, I have never seen so many people who were happy to welcome in a New Year.  2016 will be remembered for violence, political uproar, and other stuff that people wish to forget.  Despite the negative associations with 2016, other stuff did happen and looking back might offer a bit of nostalgia for the news and search trends of the past year.  On MSFT runs down a list of what happened on Bing in 2016,“Check Out The Top Search Trends On Bing This Past Year.”

Rather than focusing on a list of just top searches, Bing’s top 2016 searches are divided into categories: video games, Olympians, viral moments, tech trends, and feel good stories.  More top searches are located over at Bing page.  However, on the top viral trends it is nice to see that cat videos have gone down in popularity:

Ryder Cup heckler

Villanova’s piccolo girl

Powerball

Aston Martin winner

Who’s the mom?

Evgenia Medvedeva

Harambe the gorilla

#DaysoftheWeek

Cats of the Internet

Pokemon Go

On a personal level, I am surprised that Harambe the gorilla outranked Pokemon Go.  Some of these trends I do not even remember making the Internet circuit and I was on YouTube and Reddit for all of 2016.  I have been around enough years to recognize that things come and go and 2016 might have come off as a bad year for many, in reality, it was another year.  It also did not forecast doomsday.  That was back in 2000, folks.  Get with the times!

Whitney Grace, January 25, 2017

Google Popular Times Now in Real Time

January 20, 2017

Just a quick honk about a little Google feature called Popular Times. LifeHacker points out an improvement to the tool in, “Google Will Now Show You How Busy a Business Is in Real Time.” To help users determine the most efficient time to shop or dine, the feature already provided a general assessment of businesses’ busiest times. Now, though, it bases that information on real-time metrics. Writer Thorin Klosowski specifies:

The real time data is rolling out starting today. You’ll see that it’s active if you see a ‘Live’ box next to the popular times when you search for a business. The data is based on location data and search terms, so it’s not perfect, but will at least give you a decent idea of whether or not you’ll easily find a place to sit at a bar or how packed a store might be. Alongside the real-time data comes some other info, including how long people stay at a location on average and hours by department, which is handy when a department like a pharmacy or deli close earlier the rest of a store.

Just one more way Google tries to make life a little easier for its users. That using it provides Google with even more free, valuable data is just a side effect, I’m sure.

Cynthia Murrell, January 20, 2017

Google May Erase Line Between History and Real Time

December 30, 2016

Do you remember where you were or what you searched the first time you used Google? This investors.com author does and shares the story about that, in addition to the story about what may be the last time he used Google. The article entitled Google Makes An ‘Historic’ Mistake reports on the demise of a search feature on mobile. Users may no longer search published dates in a custom range. It was accessed by clicking “Search tools” followed by “Any time”. The article provides Google’s explanation for the elimination of this feature,

On a product forum page where it made this announcement, Google says:

After much thought and consideration, Google has decided to retire the Search Custom Date Range Tool on mobile. Today we are starting to gradually unlaunch this feature for all users, as we believe we can create a better experience by focusing on more highly-utilized search features that work seamlessly across both mobile and desktop. Please note that this will still be available on desktop, and all other date restriction tools (e.g., “Past hour,” “Past 24 hours,” “Past week,” “Past month,” “Past year”) will remain on mobile.  

The author critiques Google, saying this move force users back to the dying desktop for this feature no longer prioritized on mobile. The point appears to be missed in this critique. The feature was not heavily utilized. With the influx of real-time data, who needs history — who needs time limits? Certainly not a Google mobile search user.

Megan Feil, December 30, 2016

EasyAsk Has a Sticky Search

September 29, 2016

When I first began reading the EasyAsk article, “Search Laboratory: Rock ‘n’ Roll Lab Rats” it has the typical story about search difficulties and the importance about an accurate, robust search engine.   They even include video featuring personified search engines and the troubles a user goes through to locate a simple item, although the video refers to Google Analytics.   The article pokes fun at EasyAsk employees and how they develop the Search Lab, where they work on improving search functions.

One of the experiments that Search Lab worked on is “sticky search.”  What is sticky search?  Do you throw a keyword reel covered in honey into the Web pool and see what returns?  Is it like the Google “I Feel Lucky” button.  None of these are correct.  The Search Lab conducted an experiment where the last search term was loaded into the search box when a user revisited.  The Search Lab tracked the results and discovered:

As you can see, the sticky search feature was used by close-to one third of the people searching from the homepage, but by a smaller proportion of people on other types of page. Again, this makes sense as you’re more likely to use the homepage as a starting point when your intention is to return to a previously viewed product.  We had helped 30% of people searching from our homepage get to where they wanted to go more quickly, but added inconvenience to the other two thirds (and 75% of searchers across the site as a whole) because to perform their searches, rather than just tapping the search box and beginning to type they now had to erase the old (sticky) search term too.

In other words, it was annoying.  Search Lab retracted the experiment, but it was a decent effort to try something new even if the results could have been predicted.  Keep experimenting with search options SearchLab, but keep the search box empty.

Whitney Grace, September 29, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

SEO Is a Dirty Web Trick

August 17, 2016

Search engine optimization is the bane of Web experts.  Why?  If you know how to use it you can increase your rankings in search engines and drive more traffic to your pages, but if you are a novice at SEO you are screwed.  Search Engine Land shares some bad SEO stories in “SEO Is As Dirty As Ever.”

SEO has a bad reputation in many people’s eyes, because it is viewed as a surreptitious way to increase traffic.  However, if used correctly SEO is not only a nifty trick, but is a good tool.  As with anything, however, it can go wrong.  One bad SEO practice is using outdated techniques like keyword stuffing, copying and pasting text, and hidden text.  Another common mistake is not having a noindex tag, blocking robots, JavaScript frameworks not being indexed.

Do not forget other shady techniques like the always famous shady sales, removing links, paid links, spam, link networks, removing links, building another Web site on a different domain, abusing review sites, and reusing content.  One thing to remember is that:

“It’s not just local or niche companies that are doing bad things; in fact, enterprise and large websites can get away with murder compared to smaller sites. This encourages some of the worst practices I’ve ever seen, and some of these companies do practically everything search engines tell them not to do.”

Ugh! The pot is identifying another pot and complaining about its color and cleanliness.

 

Whitney Grace, August 17, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233019199/

 

Attivio Does Data Dexterity

October 9, 2015

Enterprise search company Attivio has an interesting post in their Data Dexterity Blog titled “3 Questions for the CEO.” We tend to keep a close eye on industry leader Attivio, and for good reason. In this post, the company’s senior director of product marketing Jane Zupan posed a few questions to her CEO, Stephen Baker, about their role in the enterprise search market. Her first question has Baker explaining his vision for the field’s future, “search-based data discovery”; he states:

“With search-based data discovery, you would simply type a question in your natural language like you do when you perform a search in Google and get an answer. This type of search doesn’t require a visualization tool. So, for example, you could ask a question like ‘tell me what type of weather conditions which exist most of the time when I see a reduction in productivity in my oil wells.’ The answer that comes back, such as ‘snow,’ or ‘sleet,’ gives you insights into how weather patterns affect productivity. Right now, search can’t infer what a question means. They match the words in a query, or keywords, with words in a document. But [research firm] Gartner says that there is an increasing importance for an interface in BI tools that extend BI content creation, analysis and data discovery to non-skilled users. You don’t need to be familiar with the data or be a business analyst or data scientist. You can be anyone and simply ask a question in your words and have the search engine deliver the relevant set of documents.”

Yes, many of us are looking forward to that day. Will Attivio be the first to deliver? The interview goes on to discuss the meaning of the company’s slogan, “the data dexterity company.” Part of the answer involves gaining access to “dark data” buried within organizations’ data silos.  Finally, Zupan asks what  “sets Attivio apart?” Baker’s answers: the ability to quickly access data from more sources; deriving structure from and analyzing unstructured data; and friendliness to “non-technical” users.

Launched in 2008, Attivio is headquartered in Newton, Massachusetts. Their team includes folks with an advantageous combination of backgrounds: in search, database, and business intelligence companies.

Cynthia Murrell, October 9, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

CounterTack Partners with ManTech Cyber Solutions for a More Comprehensive Platform

August 13, 2015

A new acquisition by CounterTack brings predictive capability to that company’s security offerings, we learn from “CounterTack Acquires ManTech Cyber Solutions” at eWeek. Specifically, it is a division of ManTech International, dubbed ManTech Cyber Solutions International (MCSI), that has been snapped up under undisclosed terms by the private security firm.

CounterTack president and CEO Neal Chreighton says the beauty of the deal lies in the lack of overlap between their tech and what MCSI brings to the table; while their existing products  can tell users what is happening or  has already happened, MCSI’s can tell them what to watch out for going forward. Writer Sean Michael Kerner elaborates:

“MCSI’s technology provides a lot of predictive capabilities around malware that can help enterprises determine how dangerous a malicious payload might be, Creighton said. Organizations often use the MCSI Responder Pro product after an attack has occurred to figure out what has happened. In contrast, the MCSI Active Defense product looks at issues in real time to make predictions, he said. A big area of concern for many security vendors is the risk of false positives for security alerts. With the Digital DNA technology, CounterTack will now have a predictive capability to be able to better determine the risk with a given malicious payload. The ability to understand the potential capabilities of a piece of malware will enable organizations to properly provide a risk score for a security event. With a risk score in place, organizations can then prioritize malware events to organize resources to handle remediation, he said.”

Incorporation of the open-source Hadoop means CounterTack can scale to fit any organization, and the products can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud. Cleighton notes his company’s primary competitor is security vendor CrowdStrike; we’ll be keeping an eye on both these promising  firms.

Based in Waltham, Massachusetts, CounterTack was founded in 2007. The company declares their Sentinel platform to be the only in-progress attack intelligence and response solution on the market (for now.) Founded way back in 1968, ManTech International develops and manages solutions for cyber security, C4ISR, systems engineering, and global logistics from their headquarters in Washington, DC. Both companies are currently hiring; click here for opportunities at CounterTack, and here for ManTech’s careers page.

Cynthia Murrell, August 13, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Digestible Content Tool For The Busy Person

July 7, 2015

RSS feeds and Web page readers curate content from select Web sites tailored to suit a users’ needs.  While all of the content is gathered in one spot and the headlines are available to read, sometimes the readers return hundreds of articles and users do not have the time to read all of them.  True, sometimes users can glen the facts from the headlines and the small blurb included with it, but sometimes it is not enough.

There are apps that gather and summarize a users’ content, but these are usually geared towards a specific industry or an enterprise system.   There is a content reader that was designed for the average user, while at the same time it can be programmed to serve the needs of many professionals.  The Context Organizer from Content Discovery Inc. is an application that summarizes Web pages and documents in order to pinpoint relevant information.    The Content Organizer works via five basic steps:

“1. Get to the point – Speed-up reading by condensing web pages, emails and documents into keywords and summaries presented in context.

  1. Make a Long Story Short – The Short Summary headlines most important sentences – instant information capsules.
  2. Accelerate Search – Search the web with relevant keywords. Summarize Google search results for rapid understanding.
  3. Take Notes – Quickly collect topics and sentences. Send them to WordPad or Word. Share notes – send them by e-mail.
  4. Visualize – View summaries in context as Mindjet MindManager maps.”

There are three different Context Organizer versions: one that specifically searches the Web, another that searches the Web and Microsoft Products, and the third is a combination of the prior versions plus it includes the Mindjet MindManager.  The prices range from $60-$120 with a free twenty-one day trial, which we suggest you start with.  Always start with free trial first, because you mind be throwing away money on an item you do not like.  With the amount of content available on the Web, any tool that helps organize and summarize it is worth investigating.

Whitney Grace, July 7, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

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