Search Wars: The Open Source Front

January 13, 2019

Last year I pointed out that enterprise search and Web search were for me dead ends. There have been some howls from LinkedIn enterprise search members who want the good, old days to return.

Well, maybe enterprise search can cook up another run at off Broadway fame. To recap, if one wants search, one uses Lucene/Solr. Sure, there are options, but Google style wizards are needed to get these puppies to behave.

I learned that Toshi search aims to challenge Elasticsearch, Shay Banon’s personal Act II in the search tragedies which were packing them in in the early 2000s. Ah, how “fast” time gains its “autonomy.” Few “inquire” about the mechanisms of overpromising and then under-delivering. We could ask the oracle of “Delphis” I suppose. (Not the god, the super hyped search engine from innovators in Canada, one of the most free country in the world.

If you want to know more about Toshi, your first stop should be the Toshi github page at this link. Download the give it a whirl.

Is Elastic worried? Nope, incumbent leaders ignore challengers. Then the Harvard MBA wonks point out the flaws of this type of Henry James’s “a certain blindness.”

Stephen E Arnold, January 13, 2019

Intelligenx Features Threat Intelligence Services

December 28, 2018

We have once before noted a tendency for Intelligenx to mold itself to the marketplace. The directory search publisher that once declared its mission was “to change the way the world finds information” now bills itself as a threat intelligence firm, with a wide roster of security-related services and a selection of related white papers. Interesting pivot. The write-up on their home page emphasizes:

“Intelligenx enables you to regain control of information security with a variety of solutions that provide adaptable fast environments. We take you a step further on Security and one step ahead of the threats. Intelligenx aggregates all information security data across systems, employees and social markers to provide a single integrated view of your safety. Companies and Government agencies have been suffering from attacks by a variety of groups and technologies around the world. After 2 decades of providing talented teams and solutions to the market, it became evident that the industry needed a decentralized and secure solution to fill the gap. For that reason, Intelligenx set out to identify and alert our clients of threats using Analytics as our basic approach. We generate adaptive and self-evolving platforms using cutting-edge concepts, powered by a constantly growing interdisciplinary work team.”

This is indeed an interesting direction for the publishing industry. As for the Clay platform, Weissman suspects this timing may be an effort to make its parent company, New York Media, LLC, look tasty to potential buyers. The company is reported to have already fielded a few offers.

Perhaps it is just this sort of adaptability that has allowed the company to survive since its founding in 1996. Intelligenx is based in Herndon, Virginia.

Cynthia Murrell, December 28, 2018

Quote to Note: Palantir Flaw

December 24, 2018

I read “Koverse Co-Founders Tap NSA Expertise to Build a Platform to Solve Unsolvable Tech Challenges.” Koverse is a big data company, based in Seattle. The firm’s engineers use the Apache Accumulo data management system. (Accumulo shares some DNA with the Google Bigtable data management system which is old enough to vote.)

Koverse’s competition includes Silicon Valley’s Palantir Technologies, a company worth billions that was started by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. Matsuo downplayed Palantir’s hype. “They have gaping holes in their product that we are starting to exploit,” he said.

That is an interesting comment about Palantir Technologies, a company which has captured a number of commercial and government customers. With an initial public offering rumored, Palantir may find the observations a bit negative.

The company offers its Precision search engine. The write up points out that Koverse has “unparalleled” scalability and security.

For more information about the NSA infused Koverse, navigate to

Stephen E Arnold, December 24, 2018

Elastic App Search Engine: Support for 13 Languages

December 23, 2018

The scorched earth of the old empire of enterprise search will no longer support crops. But the open source combine Elastic (creator of open source Elasticsearch) has found fields to harvest.

I learned from Elastic’s user success management (no, I don’t know what that means) that Elastic’s App Search engine offers English, Spanish, German, and 10 other languages.

You can learn more at this link. The write up includes the phrase “App Searchery.” I guess the winner of the search wars is entitled to reverse engineer language to make its seeds its own.

Stephen E Arnold, December 23, 2018

Microsoft Cortana and Search: About Face, Go in Circles, At Ease

December 16, 2018

Tom’s Hardware reports that Microsoft may be divorcing the odd couple, Cortana and search. “Microsoft May Split Cortana From Search in Windows 10” reports the supposed move this way:

Some Insiders testing the new build observe that Search and Cortana actions, once intertwined to enable search with voice activation, are now separated on the taskbar. This is being interpreted as a signal away from Cortana as an integral part of Windows 10.

Here in Harrod’s Creek, we type to our computers. When we ride in our mule drawn wagon to go to the big city, we don’t talk to our mobile phone. We text and scan headlines.

Is it possible that Microsoft has realized that voice as the interface of the future may be going in different directions. Can Cortana say, “Alexa, what’s Microsoft doing?”

Stephen E Arnold, December 16, 2018

Internet-of-Things Search Engine Census Attracts Seed Funding

December 14, 2018

Last March, we told our readers about several search engines capable of finding Internet-connected devices. One of those, Censys, has now raised a considerable sum in seed funding, we learn from Venture Beat’s article, “Censys, a Search Engine for Internet-Connected Devices, Raises $2.6 million Led by GV and Greylock.” We’re told the search engine monitors “all the devices” that are connected to the Internet. Naturally, the company intends to wield this power for good, informing clients about their potential vulnerabilities. Reporter Anna Hansel writes:

“[Brian] Kelly, who was brought on as Censys’ CEO when it spun out in 2017, told VentureBeat that that the most popular use case for Censys is helping companies see which of their servers have an operating system vulnerability that hasn’t been patched yet. In a recent blog post, Censys detailed how IT staffers could use Censys to search for servers that were affected by a vulnerability in Oracle Database by doing a search for servers running the versions of Oracle that contained the vulnerability, and limit those results to just their devices by entering ranges of IP addresses belonging to the company….

We also noted:

“Censys still allows its 50,000 registered users to make a limited number of queries for free, and academics can apply for a research license to get unlimited access to Censys. For companies that want to make more than 250 queries a month, Censys has subscriptions available from $99 per month to $1,000 a month. Censys says it currently has more than 60 paid customers, including the Department of Homeland Security, NATO, FireEye, and Google.”

Not that is an impressive client roster to have right out the gate. For cost comparison, we’re told Censys’ main competition, Shodan, offers subscriptions from the freelancers’ rate of $59/month to $899/month for corporations, depending on usage. Censys’ technology is based on an open-source tool, developed in 2013 by two of the company’s now-executives, J. Alex Halderman and Zakir Durumeric, called ZMap. This software was able to scan and map every(!) IP address on the Internet in fewer than 45 minutes, a process that formerly took weeks. In 2015 at the University of Michigan, the pair of researchers developed Censys as a user-friendly portal for ZMap, and the commercial startup was launched in 2017. Censys is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Beyond Search assumes that some bad actors will find the system a useful complement to Shodan. Those insecure IoT devices are of interest to some in the bot business.

Cynthia Murrell, December 14, 2018

Mobile Search: Pervasiveness Arrives

December 13, 2018

If you want to order a pizza, there is an app for that. If you want to shop for clothing, there is an app for that. If you want to design an app, there is an app for that and if you want to search on your mobile device you have to use an app…until now. VentureBeat shares that there is a new way to search on mobile devices without having to open an app: “SwiftKey Now Lets You Search The Web From The Android Keyboard App.”

SwiftKey, a Microsoft owned company, invented a new way to search on mobile devices, specifically Android phones. The SwiftKey is a keyboard app that allows users to type quicker on touch screens and now they can search the Internet directly from the keyboard. SwiftKey also users predictive analytics to make suggestions and they can swipe over letters instead of having to individually touch them. It is powered by Bing search, not a surprise.

“The update seems to be mostly about enabling users to share content they find on the web without having to switch between multiple apps on their phone. For example, you can search for local restaurants inside SwiftKey and give friends recommendations by screenshotting, cropping, and sharing the results. Or let’s say a friend sends a message asking you to look into some flight options for an upcoming trip. Rather than switching from WhatsApp to Google or SkyScanner, you can simply bring up the little toolbar at the top of the keyboard, enter your flight criteria, and share what you find through WhatsApp without leaving the service.”

Another handy feature is if a user types in a URL into the search box and takes them directly to the Web site over a search results list.

The SwiftKey is competition for Google’s GBoard. It streamlines mobile search by taking out some of the clunky steps, but it is going to have issues before it is perfected.

Whitney Grace, December 13, 2018

French Wash Out Google. Recruit Qwant

December 10, 2018

Last year, we took note when the privacy-centric search engine Qwant, a French and German company, declared its intention to take on Google for internet search dominance. Now, The Sun reports, “France Declares War on Google as Military Replaces Search Engine with ‘Untrackable’ Qwant.” Apparently, officials feel their nation’s very (digital) independence is at risk. Reporter Felix Allen writes:

“[Member of Parliament] Florian Bachelier said: ‘We have to set the example. Security and digital sovereignty are at stake here, which is anything but an issue only for geeks.’ He chairs the National Assembly’s cybersecurity and digital sovereignty taskforce, which was set up in April to protect firms from hackers and end France’s reliance on foreign tech giants. Officials and politicians are said to be very concerned with the dominance of US and Chinese firms and the concept of ‘digital sovereignty,’ including a country’s control over its citizens data, reports Wired. 2013 report warned France and the EU risked becoming ‘digital colonies’ in the wake of the Snowden revelations on NSA spying.”

French officials are alarmed by the tendency for U.S.-based tech companies to play fast and loose with users’ personal information. President Macron is working to put laws into place that will prevent breaches like the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal from impacting French citizens. Or, at least, penalize the responsible companies when they do.

Based in Paris, Qwant was founded on May Day, 2011. After two years of R&D, the search engine itself was launched in 2013. Keep in mind that Qwant’s roots reach back even farther in time to the Pertimm system.

Cynthia Murrell, December 10, 2018

Visual Search Gets Personal

December 7, 2018

The steps made in visual search are many and well-advertised, so it should come as no surprise we have news. What might be surprising, is that you could be part of this latest development by Google. We learned more in a troubling and fascinating story in recent Venture Beat story, “Google Makes Dataset of 50 Million Drawings Available on its Cloud.”

According to the story, Google’s cloud sourced AI drawing game, Quick Draw, is turning out to be less time-killer and more data collector:

Quick Draw has collected more than 1 billion drawings across 345 categories, 50 million of which Google open-sourced last year — complete with metadata, including prompts and geographical user locations. Today, it’s making them available through Google Cloud Platform (GCP) in the form of an API and an accompanying Polymer component.”

This is a really odd development for a tool that most people never realized would be made public and mined for data. However, when it comes to anything visual, one should not be surprised by Google’s ultimate goal. Currently, they are fine-tuning their visual search tools and we have a hunch this is part of the big picture. Search by talking, search by drawing—next up mental telepathy?

Patrick Roland, December 7, 2018

Academic Semantic Search Needs To Go Beyond Text Results

December 4, 2018

A little over a decade ago, search engines only returned Web sites in their results. That has since stopped and search engines now offer a variety of results, images, videos, news, services, products for sale, and (of course) the traditional links. Users expect accurate, relevant, and updated search results. When you step into the academic database world, however, search goes back to the basic text results. Semantic search offers so much more than Web links and citations. GeekWire shares that academia might finally be catching up with its commercial counterparts in the article, “AI2’s Semantic Scholar Spices Up Academic Search Engine With Blogs, Videos And More.”

The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) developed the Semantic Scholar AI-based search engine to search through academic research for the best and most relevant results. AI2 has indexed more than forty-million research papers and now their algorithms will index slide presentations, blogs, news articles, videos, social media, and more, adding them to Semantic Scholar.

Semantic Scholar hopes to bridge the gap between old-fashioned academic databases and the new information and media types not available in the traditional database.

“If a particular paper happens to spark a lot of news articles and blog posts, that doesn’t affect Semantic Scholar’s ranking of the paper’s scientific quality. But those extra resources could help researchers using Semantic Scholar get a better understanding of the paper’s scientific point. For example, a recently published study traced the impact that sugar and artificial sweeteners could have on strokes or dementia. The study hasn’t been out long enough to spark follow-up research, but Semantic Scholar serves up dozens of reports specifically about the findings. ‘We are crossing the chasm between academic papers and more popular media to facilitate a new and smarter way to do science,’ Oren Etzioni, AI2’s CEO, explained in a news release.”

Can Semantic Scholar make headway in the search market as incumbents like Ebsco and LexisNexis, among other, battle to keep newcomers at bay?

Whitney Grace, December 3, 2018

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