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One Million Minutes of Unfindable Video

July 23, 2015

I read “AP Makes One Million Minutes of Historical Footage Available on YouTube.”  This struck me as an anomaly. The AP is an outfit which, as I recall, rattled sabers and showed knives to people who quote from their articles. Also, the AP is in a revenue hunt; that is, the good old days of newspapers are history. The company is, like many outfits sired in the stable of dead tree journalism, adapting. Need a real time news feed with search, the AP offers this via a tie up with a former Bell Labs’ person. I will wager $1.00 in pennies that you cannot name the vendor? Send your answers to benkent2020 at yahoo dot com.

The AP write up reports that lots of video has been digitized and placed on YouTube. There are links to videos which AP finds interesting. The word “find” brings up an interesting question: “How does one locate a video?” and “How does one locate a series of related videos?” and “How does one find a video with a specific segment of text in it?” and “How does one find a video with a specific image in it?”

The answer, gentle reader, is that one cannot. I know that AP is excited about this collection. I assume that Google is pleased that the collection is not on Facebook.

As a user, the approach to locating a video is somewhat unsatisfying. Prepare your patient self to guess keywords, click, and watch in serial fashion one million videos. Well, maybe a couple.

Without search, this collection, like Google’s Life Magazine images, is useful to folks with time on their hands and even more time on their hands. A dump is not useful to me. To you, gentle reader, and to the executives at AP, I am picking nits. The problem is that these nits are the size of the synthetic creatures in Jurassic World. Big nits. My hunch is that the ad revenue from these videos will be the size of regular, run of the mill nits. I hope  I am wrong. Don’t forget to submit the name of the AP’s real time, online news intelligence service. I will accept entries for 24 hours.

Stephen E Arnold, July 23, 2015

Google and Disappeared Streets

July 14, 2015

If you spend any time with Google Maps (civilian edition), you will find blurred areas, gaps, and weird distortions which cause me to ask, “Where did that building go?”

If you really spend a lot of time with Google Maps, you will be able to see my two dogs, Max and Tess, in a street view scene.


And zoomed in. Aren’t the doggies wonderful?


The article “The Curious Case of Google Street View’s Missing Streets” is not interested in seeing what the wonky Google autos capture. The write up pokes at me with this line:

Many towns and cities are littered with small gaps in the Street View imagery.

The write up explains that Google recognizes that gaps are a known issue. The article gets close to something quite interesting when it states:

In extreme cases, whole countries are affected. Privacy has been a particular issue in Germany, where many people objected to the roll-out of Street View. Google now has Street View images only for big cities in Germany, like Berlin and Frankfurt, and appears to have given up on the rest of the country completely. Zoom out over Europe in Street View mode and Germany is mostly a blank island in a sea of blue.

Want to do something fun the author of the write up did not bother to do? Locate a list of military facilities in the UK. Then try to locate those on a Google Map. Next try to locate those on a map (oops, Uber map)?

Notice anything unusual? Now relate your thoughts to the article’s list of causes.

If not, enjoy the snap of Max and Tess.

Stephen E Arnold, July 14, 2015

Bing Search: Pump Up the Music

June 22, 2015

My approach to online research is to look for information. I know that I have looked up Mozart in the past. Viewed in the aggregate, I look for high technology companies, people involved in high technology, and products what embody technology. Music videos are not what makes my intellectual engines sing along.

I read “Bing Wants to Become the Search Engine of Choice for Music Videos.” Good for Bing. There are many Web pages which exist to be indexed. There are search challenges to resolve. There is the problem of Microsoft index silos. Have you done a query in Bing and wished that there were relevant links to content in Microsoft’s academic index? Well, too bad.

According to the write up:

The update adds larger thumbnails to Bing’s video section, which now displays additional information about each clip, like channel, upload date and view count.  Users also have the option to watch a preview of each clip within their search results, and explore related queries more easily.

The new Microsoft is definitely innovating in search aimed at those who are hungry for music videos. What’s the next innovation? Video games? Online horoscopes? Nail polish colors?

Stephen E Arnold, June 22, 2015


SoundHound Voice Search

June 3, 2015

Annoyed with Cortana and Siri? SoundHound has an alternative for some folks. SoundHound’s recognition technology can pinpoint the name of a song . According to “SoundHound’s New Voice Search App Makes Siri and Cortana Look Slow.”

I highlighted this passage:

Mohajer’s [SoundHound wizard] original vision is here in the form of Hound, a voice search app that can handle incredibly complex questions and spit out answers with uncanny speed. Right now, you have to ask those questions inside the Hound app, but the company hopes to get the technology everywhere — even your toaster…

The article continues:

Hound the app functions and feels almost exactly like Google’s Voice Search, but seems much faster at identifying words and delivering answers.

Will Google and Siri improve their systems? Worth watching and checking out the SoundHound system in real world conditions with loud background conversation and a person with less than BBC grade enunciation.

Stephen E Arnold, June 3, 2015

Russian High Tech Propaganda

June 1, 2015

The Soviet Union was known for its propaganda, and Russia under Vladimir Putin seems to have brought the art into the digital age. The Guardian gives us the inside scoop in, “Salutin’ Putin: Inside a Russian Troll House.” Journalists spoke to two writers who were formerly among the hundreds working at the nondescript headquarters of Russia’s “troll army” in St Petersburg. There, writers are tasked with lauding Putin and lambasting the evils of the West in posts and comment sections on a wide variety of websites. Though the organization cannot be directly tied to the Kremlin, it’s reported the entity does not pay any taxes and does not register its employees. It does, however, seem to have grown heartily in the two years since Russia went (back) into the Ukraine.

It is said that working conditions at the “troll house” involve 12-hour shifts, a dreary environment, strict rules, and low pay, though that sounds no different from conditions in many jobs around the world. Workers describe writing a certain number of “ordinary posts” about things like music, travel, or dating advice; writers are  responsible for coming up with those topics themselves. Interspersed with such bland content, however, they write pieces asserting political perspectives assigned to them each morning. Editors check carefully to make sure the stories are on point.

I’d recommend reading through the whole article, but this is the section that struck me most:

“‘I would go home at the end of the day and see all the same news items on the television news. It was obvious that the decisions were coming from somewhere,’ said Marat. Many people have accused Russian television of ramping up propaganda over the past 18 months in its coverage of Ukraine, so much so that the EU even put Dmitry Kiselev, an opinionated television host and director of a major news agency, on its sanctions list.

“After two months of working in the troll agency, Marat began to feel he was losing his sanity, and decided he had to leave. From the snatched conversations over coffee, he noted that the office was split roughly 50/50 between people who genuinely believed in what they were doing, and those who thought it was stupid but wanted the money. Occasionally, he would notice people changing on the job.

“‘Of course, if every day you are feeding on hate, it eats away at your soul. You start really believing in it. You have to be strong to stay clean when you spend your whole day submerged in dirt,’ he said.”

Sounds like some people I know who always have a certain U.S. news channel blasting away in the background. Writer Shaun Walker is unsure whether the site they found in St Petersburg is the only location for this activity, or whether there are other hubs throughout Russia. The effectiveness of such propaganda on Russian citizens, however, seems clear to Russian journalist Andrei Soshnikov (quoted in the article), especially with the older, less tech-savvy set. As disheartening as these revelations are, they should not be surprising.

Cynthia Murrell, June 1, 2015

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Need Free Images and Clipart

May 27, 2015

One of my two or three readers called my attention to this listing: “65+ Sites to Find Awe Inspiring Public Domain Images and Clip Art for Your Blog + Social Media Posts for Free.” The write up provides basic information about the image resources. Update your public domain images, gentle readers.

Stephen E Arnold, May 27, 2015

Image Search: Getting Better and Better

May 15, 2015

Image search means having software which can figure out from a digital photo that a cow is a cow. In more complex photos, the software identifies what it can. I recall one demonstration which recognized me as a 20 year old criminal. Close but no cigar.

I received an email from a former clandestine professional. The link provided informed me that Baidu was better at image recognition than the Google. The alleged error rate is 4.58 percent. I love the two decimal accuracy.

Not to be outdone, WolframAlpha is in the image recognition game as well.  Navigate to “Wolfram Alpha Image Identification Identifies Steven Wolfram as Podium.” The write up points out:

Speaking of which, a picture of Steven Wolfram returned the answer ‘podium’. So no recognition for the creator. Unfortunately, it couldn’t identify a map of France at all and just came back with a big question mark. Sorry, France.

You can try the system at this page.

I uploaded the image of the cover of my new CyberOSINT study. The system returned this result:


My book cover is a a piece of electronic equipment that mixes two or more input signals to give a single output signal.

I did not know that. I thought it was a book cover with a blue hand.

Stephen E Arnold, May 15, 2015

Visual Browsing: A New, Next, Big Thing. Maybe.

April 29, 2015

The visual browsing bandwagon is rolling along. The sponsored content Guardian in the UK published “Visual Browsing: There’s a Critical Gap between How We See and How We Search.” The write up, which seems to be supported by SAP, states:

What we need is a visual browser for the world around us – a way of pointing at things which inspire thoughts and questions, giving us a rich, engaging means to find out what we don’t know, and those things we didn’t know how to search for using mere words.

Right, words. The challenge according to Blippar, the outfit connected with this visual search, essay points out:

Visual browsing sits at the heart of discovery in the internet of everything. It has the potential to bring the world to life around us, adding a story to every thing we see and the ability to sate our curiosity in every moment. Visual browsing is the most ‘native’ search engine there is, being based on context alone, driven by visual cues, location, time of day and the interests of the user, and not biased or limited by the understanding or vocabulary of the user.This will give us the ability to satisfy our curiosity more of the time – to visually search for the answers to the questions that intrigue us every day; to truly take search into the realm of ‘discovery’. We’re the most curious of species on the planet – it’s what’s got us to where we are today. The next generation of search must reflect this.

Blippar allows a person to take a picture using a mobile phone and then having the picture generate results.


If you want to see examples of visual browsing, point your browser to This is the French Web search system owned in part by Axil Springer. For an example of a browser that itself incorporates visual browsing, download a copy of Vivaldi.

A picture, according to my somewhat addled great grandmother who wrote poetry with curse words as a metaphorical trope, is worth a thousand words. Here’s Qwant’s results for the query semantic search:


Visual browsing is one component of a next generation information access system, just not a main component. Clutter is not useful when certain types of information is required under difficult conditions such as a flash crash or someone is lobbing ordinance in your direction.

I am trying to figure out the SAP and Blippar connection. Will my mobile phone snap of the SAP logo help? I think not.

Stephen E Arnold, April 29, 2016

Informed Millennials

April 15, 2015

With the fall of traditional newspapers and aging TV News audiences, just where are today’s 20- and young 30- somethings turning for news coverage?  Science 2.0  tells us “How Millennials Get News,” reporting on a recent survey from the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The joint effort comes from a collaboration arrangement the organizations call the Media Insight Project. Conducted at the beginning of 2015, the survey asked Millennials about their news-consumption habits. The article tells us:

“People ages 18-34 consume news and information in strikingly different ways than did previous generations, they keep up with ‘traditional’ news as well as stories that connect them to hobbies, culture, jobs, and entertainment, they just do it in ways that corporations can’t figure out how to monetize well….

“‘For many Millennials, news is part of their social flow, with most seeing it as an enjoyable or entertaining experience,’ said Trevor Tompson, director of the AP-NORC Center. ‘It is possible that consuming news at specific times of the day for defined periods will soon be a thing of the past given that news is now woven into many Millennials’ connected lives.’”

Soon? Even many of us Gen Xers and (a few intrepid Baby Boomers) now take our news in small doses at varying hours. The survey also found that most respondents look at the news at least once a day, and many several times per day. Also, contrary to warnings from worrywarts (yes, including me), personalized news feeds may not be creating a confirmation-bias crisis, after all. Most of these Millennials insist their social-media feeds are well balanced; the write-up explains:

“70 percent of Millennials say that their social media feeds are comprised of a diverse mix of viewpoints evenly mixed between those similar to and different from their own. An additional 16 percent say their feeds contain mostly viewpoints different from their own. And nearly three-quarters of those exposed to different views (73 percent) report they investigate others’ opinions at least some of the time–with a quarter saying they do it always or often.”

Well, that’s encouraging. Another finding might surprise some of us: Though a vast 90 percent of Millennials have smart phones, only half report being online most of all of the day. See the article for more, or navigate to the report itself; the study’s methodology is detailed at the end of the report.

Cynthia Murrell, April 15, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Search and Identify a YouTube or Vimeo Tune

April 12, 2015

Need to identify a song used in a YouTube video? “Name That tune on Any YouTube Video with” explains that now you can perform this search and retrieval task. Navigate to Paste a YouTube, Vimeo, or Dailymotion link into the search box and Moo1. That’s the service’s name for search, not mine. There is a video explaining how the service works and a Freshman Comp 101 write up that explains how. I use Samba Pump, for which I paid a fee. reported:


Stephen E Arnold, April 12, 2015

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