Is Sketch Search the next Big Thing

December 5, 2016

There’s text search and image search, but soon, searching may be done via hand-drawn sketching. Digital Trends released a story, Forget keywords — this new system lets you search with rudimentary sketches, which covers an emerging technology. Two researchers at Queen Mary University of London’s (QMUL) School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science taught a deep learning neural network to recognize queries in the form of sketches and then return matches in the form of products. Sketch may have an advantage surpassing image search,

Both of those search modalities have problems,” he says. “Text-based search means that you have to try and describe the item you are looking for. This is especially difficult when you want to describe something at length, because retrieval becomes less accurate the more text you type. Photo-based search, on the other hand, lets you take a picture of an item and then find that particular product. It’s very direct, but it is also overly constrained, allowing you to find just one specific product instead of offering other similar items you may also be interested in.

This search technology is positioning itself to online retail commerce — and perhaps also only users with the ability to sketch? Yes, why read? Drawing pictures works really well for everyone. We think this might present monetization opportunities for Pinterest.

Megan Feil, December 5, 2016

Search Competition Is Fiercer Than Your Expect

December 5, 2016

In the United States, Google dominates the Internet search market.  Bing has gained some traction, but the results are still muddy.  In Russia, Yandex chases Google around in circles, but what about the enterprise search market?  The enterprise search market has more competition than one would think.  We recently received an email from Searchblox, a cognitive platform that developed to help organizations embed information in applications using artificial intelligence and deep learning models.  SearchBlox is also a player in the enterprise software market as well as text analytics and sentiment analysis tool.

Their email explained, “3 Reasons To Choose SearchBlox Cognitive Platform” and here they are:

1. EPISTEMOLOGY-BASED. Go beyond just question and answers. SearchBlox uses artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning models to learn and distill knowledge that is unique to your data. These models encapsulate knowledge far more accurately than any rules based model can create.

2. SMART OPERATION Building a model is half the challenge. Deploying a model to process big data can be even for challenging. SearchBlox is built on open source technologies like Elasticsearch and Apache Storm and is designed to use its custom models for processing high volumes of data.

3. SIMPLIFIED INTEGRATION SearchBlox is bundled with over 75 data connectors supporting over 40 file formats. This dramatically reduces the time required to get your data into SearchBlox. The REST API and the security capabilities allow external applications to easily embed the cognitive processing.

To us, this sounds like what enterprise search has been offering even before big data and artificial intelligence became buzzwords.  Not to mention, SearchBlox’s competitors have said the same thing.  What makes Searchblox different?  The company claims to be more inexpensive and they have won several accolades.  SearchBlox is made on open source technology, which allows it to lower the price.  Elasticsearch is the most popular open source search software, but what is funny is that Searchblox is like a repackaged version of said Elasticsearch.  Mind you are paying for a program that is already developed, but Searchblox is trying to compete with other outfits like Yippy.

Whitney Grace, December 5, 2016

Big Data on Crime

December 5, 2016

An analytics company that collects crime related data from local law enforcement agencies plans to help reduce crime rates by using Big Data.

CrimerReports.com, in its FAQs says:

The data on CrimeReports is sent on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis from more than 1000 participating agencies to the CrimeReports map. Each agency controls their data flow to CrimeReports, including how often they send data, which incidents are included.

Very little is known about the service provider. WhoIs Lookup indicates that though the domain was registered way back in 1999, it was updated few days back on November 25th 2016 and is valid till November 2, 2017.

CrimeReports is linked to a local law enforcement agency that selectively shares the data on crime with the analytics firm. After some number crunching, the service provider then sends the data to its subscribers via emails. According to the firm:

Although no formal, third-party study has been commissioned, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that public-facing crime mapping—by keeping citizens informed about crime in their area—helps them be more vigilant and implement crime prevention efforts in their homes, workplaces, and communities. In addition, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that public-facing crime mapping fosters more trust in local law enforcement by members of the community.

To maintain data integrity, the data is collected only through official channels. The crime details are not comprehensive, rather they are redacted to protect victim and criminal’s privacy. As of now, CrimeReports get paid by law enforcement agencies. Certainly, this is something new and probably never tried.

Vishal Ingole, December 5, 2016

Search Email: Not Yours. A Competitor’s.

December 2, 2016

I read “This Startup Helps You Deep Snoop Competitor Email Marketing.” I like that “deep snoop” thing. That works pretty well until one loses access to content to analyze. Just ask Geofeedia which is scrambling since it lost access to Twitter and other social media content.

The outfit Rival Explorer offers:

a tool designed to help users improve their email marketing strategy and product pricing and promotion through comprehensive monitoring of their competitor’s email newsletters. After creating a free account, users can browse through a database of marketing emails from over 50,000 brands. Rival Explorer offers access to a number of different email types, including newsletters, cart abandonment emails, welcome emails, and other transactional messages.

In terms of information access, the Rival Explorer customers:

can search by brand, subject, message body, date, day of week, industry, category, and custom tags and keywords. When users select a message, they’re able to view the sender email, subject line, and timestamp of the messages. In addition to those details, users can view the emails as they appear on tablets and smartphones, plus they also can toggle images to get a better idea of design and copy strategy.

You can get more information at this link. Public content and marketing information can be useful it seems.

Stephen E Arnold, December 2, 2016

Google Shifts Development Emphasis to Artificial Intelligence

December 2, 2016

The article on The American Genius titled Google’s Ambitious Plans to Change Every Device on the Planet explains the focus on A.I. innovation by Sundar Pichai, a Google CEO. If you think Google is behind when it comes to A.I., you haven’t been paying close enough attention. Google has dipped its feet in voice recognition and machine translation as well as language understanding, but the next step is Google Home. The article states,

This device seems to be a direct answer to Amazon’s Echo. Google Home isn’t the only product set to launch, however. They also plan to launch a messaging app called Allo. This is likely a direct response to WhatsApp, Kik, and other popular messaging platforms… Google may be hoping Allo is the answer for what this particular platform is lacking. Allo and Google Home will both be powered by a “Google assistant” (a bit like Siri), but in their eyes, more engaging.

So what will the future landscape of A.I. technology look like? Depends on who you believe. Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon can all point to an existing product, but Google can mention AlphaGo, the computer program developed by Google DeepMind, in response. Pichai recognizes that Google must be all about the long game when it comes to A.I., because so far, we have only scratched the surface. What role will Google play in the much-feared A.I. arms race? All we know right now is that more Google is good for Google.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 2, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Vk Tops List of Most Popular Websites in Russia

December 2, 2016

For anyone interested in Internet usage outside the U.S., VentureBeat supplies a run-down of the most-used websites in Russia in its piece, “Russia’s Top 10 Websites Include Facebook, Google, Instagram, and YouTube.” Reporter Adrien Henni writes:

Russia’s top 10 websites 2016 ranked by SimilarWeb tell us how Russians are spending their time online. Russia’s top 10 websites of 2016 consist of four social networking sites, three search engines, email, video entertainment, and classifieds.  As opposed to some other markets, domestic sites dominate Russia but international websites still play a major role in the RuNet ecosystem.  This blog walks through the top sites, defining the domestic sites and elaborating on some of the Russian uses of internationally well-known sites. … The ranking has not seen a large shift since last year.

Though the VentureBeat headline emphasizes U.S. sites, the top four entries are Russian. In fact, the most popular site is one we’ve been examining—the Russian answer to Facebook, Vkontakte, a.k.a. VK. The write-up describes the site:

Vkontakte (VK), Russia’s local social media site,  is at the top of the list, making it the most popular website in Russia. This is no surprise with the increasing popularity of social media, not only in Russia but all over the world. Beyond staying connected with friends and family, VK offers entertainment services as well. Users are able to create playlists of videos and music.

Henni does not mention the looser restrictions on things like hate speech, which is apparently one of VK’s major draws (at least for now.) Unsurprisingly, innovative search engine Yandex is second on the list, followed by social-media site Odnoklassniki (OK), and Mail.ru. Facebook barely made the list, on the heels of Google and Instagram. See the write-up for details on each site, and how Russians utilize it.

Cynthia Murrell, December 2, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Comprehensive Search System Atlas Recall Enters Open Beta

December 1, 2016

We learn about a new way to search nearly everything one has encountered digitally from TechCrunch’s article, “Atlas Recall, a Search Engine for Your Entire Digital Live, Gets an Open Beta and $20M in Backing.” The platform is the idea of Atlas Informatics CEO, and Napster co-founder, Jordan Ritter, a man after our own hearts. When given funding and his pick of projects, Ritter says, he “immediately” chose to improve the search experience.

The approach the Atlas team has devised may not be for everyone. It keeps track of everything users bring up on their computers and mobile devices (except things they specifically tell it not to.) It brings together data from disparate places like one’s Facebook, Outlook, Spotlight, and Spotify accounts and makes the data available from one cloud-based dashboard.

This does sound extremely convenient, and I don’t doubt the company’s claim that it can save workers hours every week. However, imagine how much damage a bad actor could do if, hypothetically, they were able to get in and search for, say, “account number” or “eyes only.” Make no mistake, security is a top priority for Atlas, and sensible privacy measures are in place. Besides, the company vows, they will not sell tailored (or any) advertising, and are very clear that each user owns their data. Furthermore, Atlas maintains they will have access to metadata, not the actual contents of users’ files.

Perhaps for those who already trust the cloud with much of their data, this arrangement is an acceptable risk. For those potential users, contributor Devin Coldewey describes Atlas Recall:

Not only does it keep track of all those items [which you have viewed] and their contents, but it knows the context surrounding them. It knows when you looked at them, what order you did so in, what other windows and apps you had open at the same time, where you were when you accessed it, who it was shared with before, and tons of other metadata.

The result is that a vague search, say ‘Seahawks game,’ will instantly produce all the data related to it, regardless of what silo it happens to be in, and presented with the most relevant stuff first. In that case maybe it would be the tickets you were emailed, then nearby, the plans you made over email with friends to get there, the Facebook invite you made, the articles you were reading about the team, your fantasy football page. Click on any of them and it takes you straight there. …

When you see it in action, it’s easy to imagine how quickly it could become essential. I happen to have a pretty poor memory, but even if I didn’t, who wants to scrub through four different web apps at work trying to find that one PDF? Wouldn’t it be nice to just type in a project name and have everything related to it — from you and from coworkers — pop up instantly, regardless of where it ‘lives’?

The main Atlas interface can be integrated with other search engines like Google and Spotlight, so users can see aggregated results when they use those, too. Interested readers may want to navigate to the article and view the embedded sales video, shorter than two minutes, which illustrates the platform. If you’re interested in the beta, you can sign up here (scroll down to “When can I start using Atlas?”). Founded in 2015, Atlas Informatics is based in Seattle. As of this writing, they are also hiring developers and engineers.

Cynthia Murrell, December 01, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Iran-Russia Ink Pact for Search Engine Services

November 28, 2016

Owing to geopolitical differences, countries like Iran are turning towards like-minded nations like Russia for technological developments. Russian Diplomat posted in Iran recently announced that home-grown search engine service provider Yandex will offer its services to the people of Iran.

Financial Tribune in a news report Yandex to Arrive Soon said that:

Last October, Russian and Iranian communications ministers Nikolay Nikiforov and Mahmoud Vaezi respectively signed a deal to expand bilateral technological collaborations. During the meeting, Russian Ambassador Vaezi said, We are familiar with the powerful Russian search engine Yandex. We agreed that Yandex would open an office in Iran. The system will be adapted for the Iranian people and will be in Persian.

Iran traditionally has been an extremist nation and at the center of numerous international controversies that indirectly bans American corporations from conducting business in this hostile territory. On the other hand, Russia which is seen as a foe to the US stands to gain from these sour relations.

As of now, .com and .com.tr domains owned by Yandex are banned in Iran, but with the MoU signed, that will change soon. There is another interesting point to be observed in this news piece:

Looking at Yandex.ir, an official reportedly working for IRIB purchased the website, according to a domain registration search.  DomainTools, a portal that lists the owners of websites, says Mohammad Taqi Mozouni registered the domain address back in July.

Technically, and internationally accepted, no individual or organization can own a domain name of a company with any extension (without necessary permissions) that has already carved out a niche for itself online. It is thus worth pondering what prompted a Russian search engine giant to let a foreign governmental agency acquire its domain name.

Vishal Ingole November 28, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

EasyAsk Guarantees Revenue Boost with Its eCommerce Search System

November 26, 2016

I read “How EasyAsk Will Help You Drive 23 to 121% Higher eCommerce Revenues: Guaranteed.” The headline is quite different from most search vendors’ announcements. Search vendors, in my experience, do not guarantee anything: Uptime, fees, performance. EasyAsk, a natural language search technology vendor, is guaranteeing more eCommerce revenues. Like most information available online, I assume that the facts are correct.

I highlighted this statement:

Within 90 days of the EasyAsk implementation, 95% of internal searches were returning the right results – nearly eliminating the dreaded no-results pages. The results have been outstanding;

  • Search conversion has increased by 54%
  • Revenue from search has seen a boost of over 71%
  • Transactions are up 81%

Unlike SOLR, EasyAsk offers powerful merchandising tools that are intuitive, easy-to-use and maintained by business users instead of programmers.

Now the “guarantee” part:

We [EasyAsk] will contractually guarantee that EasyAsk will drive at least 20% more revenue from search.

Here’s how:

  • We will take a baseline benchmark measuring revenue, conversion rate and average transactions on your existing search engine.
  • We will work with you to deploy and implement EasyAsk’s eCommerce suite to provide you with advanced Natural Language semantic search and merchandising.
  • Within 90 days of implementation, we will perform a new benchmark that measures revenue, conversion rate and average transactions and compare them with the original baseline. EasyAsk will contractually guarantee to drive at least 20% more revenue.

The write up explains that there is no risk to the eCommerce vendor who embraces EasyAsk.

There you go. A New Year’s gift which is six weeks early.

Stephen E Arnold, November 26, 2016

Need Data Integration? Think of Cisco. Well, Okay

November 25, 2016

Data integration is more difficult than some of the text analytics’ wizards state. Software sucks in disparate data and “real time” analytics systems present actionable results to marketers, sales professionals, and chief strategy officers. Well, that’s not exactly accurate.

Industrial strength data integration demands a company which has bought a company which acquired a technology which performs data integration. Cisco offers a system that appears to combine the functions of Kapow with the capabilities of Palantir Technologies’ Gotham and tosses in the self service business information which Microsoft touts.

Cisco acquired Composite Information in 2013. Cisco now offers the Composite system as the Cisco Information Server. Here’s what the block diagram of the federating behemoth looks like. You can get a PDF version at this link.

image

The system is easy to use. “The graphical development and management environments are easy to learn and intuitive to use,” says the Cisco Teradata information sheet. For some tips about the easy to use system check out the Data Virtualization Cisco Information Server blog. A tutorial, although dated is, at this link. Note that the block diagram between 2011 and the one presented above has not significantly changed. I assume there is not much work required to ingest and make sense of the Twitter stream or other social media content.
The blog has one post and was last updated in 2011. But there is a YouTube video at this link.

The system includes a remarkable range of features; for example:

  • Modeling which means import and transform what Cisco calls “introspect”, create a model and figure out how to make it run at an acceptable level of performance, and expose the data to other services. (Does this sound like iPhrase’s and Teratext’s method? It does to me.)
  • Search
  • Transformation
  • Version control and governance
  • Data quality control and assurance
  • Outputs
  • Security
  • Administrative controls.

The time required to create this system is, according to Cisco Teradata, is “over 300 man years.”

The licensee can plug the system into an IBM DB2 running on a z/OS8 “handheld”. You will need a large hand by the way. No small hands need apply.

Stephen E Arnold, November 25, 2016

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