Alternatives To Google Products

September 15, 2019

Google remains a dominant feature in millions of lives, whether you use the search engine, email, free office suite, or any of the other Google physical or digital products. While some individuals have totally given themselves over to the Google cult, there remain stalwart dissenters such as the SGT Report have not: “The Complete List Of Alternatives To Google Products.”

The list for Google product alternatives was made because:

“With growing concerns over online privacy and securing personal data, more people than ever are considering alternatives to Google products. After all, Google’s business model essentially revolves around data collection and advertisements, both of which infringe on your privacy. More data means better (targeted) ads and more revenue. The company pulled in over $116 billion in ad revenue last year alone – and that number continues to grow. But the word is getting out. A growing number of people are seeking alternatives to Google products that respect their privacy and data.”

The main reason people use Google is as a search engine. There are a wide variety of alternatives and they note that these alternate search engines do filter their results from Google or Bing. Apparently there is only one search engine with its own crawler: Mojeek from the UK.

The list continues with more alternatives to Gmail, Chrome, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google Docs/Slides/Sheets, Google Photos, Google Translate, Google Maps, Google Analytics, and the Google Play Store. There are even alternatives to YouTube, but the majority of these are hit and miss with their content. The Google Play Store his rivalry by F-Droid, an installable catalog of free and open source software. The only problem is the applications are only for Android. Curses to Apple!

These alternatives are great, but they do have their weaknesses. Google has its evils, privacy issues among them are the worst. However, you have to admit it does make good products. Just stay away from the speakers and use Firefox.

Whitney Grace, September 15, 2019

A Plea for Bing: Use It

September 14, 2019

Microsoft wants more people to use Bing and Microsoft wants them to use it now! Microsoft is desperate for more Bing users that they their trademarked search engine into the new Windows 10 update. Read the story at Win Buzzer, “Microsoft Builds Bing Search into Windows 10 20H1 Lock Screen.”

The Bing implementation is touted as a new search featured imbedded in the Windows lock screen, The feature was released with the new Windows 10 20H1 Preview Build 18932, but it remains hidden and can only be accessed with a tool. One tool is the Mach2. The integration of Bing into the lock screen is good design. The idea is giving users the option to conduct an Internet search without having to unlock their entire PC. It is for those, “Oh yeah, I need to look that up” moments. It is not stated where results will appear. If they are on the lock screen, it is a genius move, but if the results are only available by unlocking the PC it is stupid.

Since Microsoft placed Bing on the Start menu, it gets as much as 50% of its traffic through that direct link as the official Bing Web site. This is funny:

“At the moment, we just can’t see how the Bing feature on the lock screen would be useful. Of course, Microsoft may have some wider lock screen plans that we don’t know about yet.Whether this is Microsoft making a play to compete further with Google is unclear, but it probably won’t work. Bing is the default search tool on Windows PCs, but users continue to actively choose Google Search over it. Adding Bing to the lock screen will likely not change that. However, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft handles this new feature in the coming months.”

Apparently the author Luke Jones never has to figure out the name of that actor in that one movie or the name of that place where he ate lunch three weeks ago next to the good bakery. Ah, Luke Jones may want to consult a librarian.

Whitney Grace, MLS, September 14, 2019

Elastic Stack Goes Into Cyber Security

September 11, 2019

The open source search company Elasticsearch has augmented its offerings with new security technology. ZDNet delves into Elasticsearch’s new endeavor in the article, “Elastic Takes the First Steps Toward Building Out Its SIEM Solution.” Elastic Stack is Elasticsearch’s open source analytics tool and it received a new update: Elastic NV. Elastic NV is a data model and UI for Security information and Event Management (SIEM).

Elasticsearch has a lot of competition, so the company decided that making its log, search, and analytics stack more utilitarian would expand its client base. The SIEM update is an appealing security solution:

“The SIEM features lay the foundations for a more fleshed-out solution going forward with the new Elastic Common Schema, an open source specification for field naming conventions and data types; think of the new common schema as a Rosetta Stone for the different types of logs, metrics, and other contextual data that is used for analyzing security events. Additionally, the 7.2 release adds a dedicated user interface for security events, featuring a timeline viewer to store evidence of an attack, pin and annotate relevant events, and provide query filtering capabilities.”

While appealing the Elastic SIEM offerings are still skeletal, but Elastic acquired Endgame-a company that designs endpoint security solutions. Elastic will probably include it in a future SIEM update.

Search is also more powerful in Elastic NV. Search used to be limited to the Elastic cloud, but it can now be used on-site end systems. Elastic is extending its services also to make a scalable search-based solution to provide insights into detecting potential threats.

Will other enterprise search vendors follow Elastic?

Whitney Grace, September 11, 2019

Yale Image Search: Innovation and Practicality

September 5, 2019

Yale University, according to Open Culture, has made available 170,000 photographs which document the Depression. Well, not just the Depression. The review conducted by DarkCyber revealed photos into the 1940s.

What sets this image collection apart is its interface. Unlike the near impossible presentations of other august institutions, Yale has hit upon:

  • A map based approach
  • A “search by photographer”
  • Useful basic photo information.

There’s even a functional, clear search component with old fashioned fields. (Google, why not check it out? Not all good ideas originate near Standford.)


Kudos to Yale. DarkCyber hopes that other online image archives learn from what Yale has rolled out. A little “me too” from Internet Archive, the American Memory project, and assorted museums would be welcomed here in Harrod’s Creek. (One river shore photo looked a great deal like Tibby the Dog’s favorite playground.)

Stephen E Arnold, September 5, 2019

Business Intelligence: Enterprise Search, Data Lakes, and the Squeal of a Baby Unicorn

August 29, 2019

A baby unicorn became a semi reality this week. We learned this in “ThoughtSpot Hits $1.95 Billion Valuation With $248 Million Fundraise.”

Forbes, the capitalist tool and home for sponsored content, reported:

ThoughtSpot, the business intelligence startup that offers data analytics searches as simple to use as Google, hit unicorn status on Wednesday with a $248 million funding round led by Lightspeed Ventures. The E Series round raised total funding to $554 million with a valuation of $1.95 billion.

Now watch what happens. Business intelligence becomes enterprise search:

“Though the user experience is inspired by Google, the fundamental search problem we are solving is very different than what Google has to solve,” Singh tells Forbes. “On the surface, all search engines look the same, like search bars, but Google is searching Web documents of unstructured texts.

So what makes ThoughtSpot special?

We’re searching numbers that sit in data lakes and complex cloud databases, we had to build a search engine that understands data lakes.”

And the ultimate venture funder’s Holy Grail:

there’s potential for ThoughtSpot to be the “next Google” for enterprise search.

Net net: The old promises of enterprise search are back. The problems persist. The knowledge that people cannot find answers to questions exists. Closing the “unknowing” gap may be difficult.

With few enterprise search experts thinking about the lessons of Autonomy, Convera, Delphes, Endeca, Entopia, Fast Search & Transfer, STAIRS, and Vivisimo — the past may be poised to rewind and play an old “Mission Impossible”. For free profiles of some of the notable “enterprise search” services, navigate to Let’s watch reruns until a “new” consultant’s report, a Magic Quadrant, or a Wave flows in.

Stephen E Arnold, August 29, 2019

Elasticsearch and AWS

August 29, 2019

Elasticsearch is expanding its offerings once again. Yahoo Finance reports, “Elastic Launches Elasticsearch Service on AWS in London Region.” With this release, the U.K. joins nine other regions in which Elasticsearch is supported on AWS. The press release informs us:

The Elasticsearch Service on Elastic Cloud is the only official hosted and managed Elasticsearch and Kibana service, created and supported by Elastic. With the Elasticsearch Service, you can spin up a fully loaded deployment in the AWS London region, activating powerful features such as security, monitoring, APM and machine learning (among others) that are only available from Elastic. Experience refreshingly headache-free, zero-downtime upgrades to the latest versions of our software. For minor version upgrades, it’s just a click of a button and you’ve upgraded to the latest security patches and bug fixes. Zero-downtime upgrades are possible across major versions as well, starting at 6.8+, using rolling upgrades. … The London region, similar to Elastic’s other regions, offers all of the Elasticsearch Service features. Learn more about Elasticsearch Service subscriptions on our website.”

Not surprisingly, the service is available to those in London via the AWS Marketplace. Also, Elasticsearch’s lightweight data shipper Fuctionbeat comes as an AWS Lambda; this means it can receive AWS Services events like Amazon CloudWatch logs, Amazon SQS, and Amazon Kinesis. AWS customers can also leverage their virtual private cloud with a dedicated environment via Elasticsearch Service Private subscription. Finally, Elasticsearch has carefully ensured it complies with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation principles.

Cynthia Murrell, August 29, 2019

LucidWorks: Another $100 Million

August 14, 2019

LucidWorks is an open source “search” play built on Solr. The company is fighting a battle with Elastic. Both companies are likely to face increased pressure from newcomers like Algolia and from the relentless Amazon AWS search system.

According to Crunchbase:

AI-powered search venture Lucidworks has raised $100 million from Francisco Partners and TPG Sixth Street Partners, the company announced today (first reported by Fortune’s Term Sheet).

What’s interesting is that Crunchbase did some math and stated:

The funding amounts to nearly as much (a combined $109 million) as the twelve-year-old company has raised since it was founded in 2007, according to Crunchbase data. Its last raise took place in May 2018 – a $50 million Series E led by Top Tier Capital Partners. So this round is precisely double its last raise.

A free profile of the LucidWorks system is available at

How different is today’s Lucid from the system available seven or eight years ago? The publicity and marketing collateral generated by the company suggests that artificial intelligence is the core of the “new” LucidWorks.

The question is, “What type of financial payoff is necessary to deliver an upside for those investors who have provided money to the company?”

With investors expecting a dump truck of money, LucidWorks will have to:

  • Grow its revenue well beyond “search successes” like Endeca to warrant a big buy out. But Endeca hit a wall at about $100 million in revenue before Oracle bought out the company for an alleged $1 billion. Where is Endeca now?
  • Go an an acquisition spree to increase revenues and groom itself for an Autonomy type deal. Autonomy’s $700 million in revenue fetched $11 billion when the well managed Hewlett Packard snapped up the company.
  • Revolutionize something, sign up partners, resellers, and licensees, and push for an initial public offering.

The odds are that LucidWorks, which was founded in 2007, has been laboring to achieve success for 12 years. That effort has now required $209 million.

Unlike Palantir, which is essentially a search and retrieval system, LucidWorks lacks the stealth, sparkle, and cachet of its Palo Alto neighbor. Search and retrieval remains a market niche with has a reputation for generating pivots, repositionings, and massive financial shocks. Will LucidWorks follow the Convera trajectory which carried Allen & Co. into a storm?

LucidWorks has to distinguish itself as more than a cash burning machine, and that is getting more difficult, not easier, carrying the color flag which says, “Artificial intelligence.” The AI parade is choked with similar banners. Maybe AI is the secret sauce that will jump start search vendors struggling for revenue and “smart money” investors?

Stephen E Arnold, August 14, 2019

Digital Shadows Raises $10 Million For New Security Platform

August 13, 2019

Digital Shadows is a well-known provider of solutions that identify and mitigate corporate digital risks. In other words, they protect companies from digital threats. VentureBeat shares that Digital Shadows received a fresh cash infusion for their newest security platform: “Digital Shadows Raises $10 Million For Its Business Risk Intelligence Platform.” The National Australia Bank led a series C funding venture for Digital Shadows and scored $10 million for them.

The funding capital will be invested in Digital Shadows’s newest risk intelligence platform as well as allow the company to expand its support team in the Asia Pacific to provide 24/7 threat coverage. Digital Shadows plans to expand its client base from hundreds to thousands of organizations.

Digital Shadows CEO Alastair Paterson said:

“‘Demand for digital risk protection continues to flourish with significant growth in the Asia Pacific market. It’s clear that partnership with a regional specialist in NAB Ventures is exactly what is needed to drive further growth in this massive market and to expand the delivery of our SearchLight service to customers around the world,’ said Paterson, a former Detica principal consultant who partnered with chief innovation officer James Chappell in 2011 to found Digital Shadows. ‘We’re very pleased that our existing investors feel the same and have joined us on this next stage of our journey.’”

Digital Shadows’ leading product is their SearchLight server that works by having their clients register their data: email headers, keywords, employees, document-marking systems, and intellectual property. SearchLight then monitors over 100 million web data sources in over twenty-seven languages for copies. When the copies are spotted, SearchLight alerts its clients with remediation suggestions.

Digital Shadows is in a profitable market. Digital security needs reputable and intelligent companies to protect their data, because the bad actors are getting smarter.

Whitney Grace, August 13, 2019

Embedded Search: A Baidu from ByteDance?

August 7, 2019

“Regular” search used to require four steps: [1] Navigate to or another Web search engine; [2] Enter query and review results; [3] Maybe enter another bunch of words and review results; [4] Snag some info. Done. Close enough for horse shoes.

“Modern” search presents an answer: Use phone and see information the system determines that which you want even if you don’t know you want that information. Pizza? Beer? KFC? React.

Is there a third way?

ByteDance thinks there is. According to India’s Economic Times:

ByteDance, an innovative Beijing startup that created the hit video app TikTok, is moving into search in a threat to the ad business that has fuelled Baidu’s profit. ByteDance, known for aggressively recruiting top tech talent, is turning its attention to one of the most lucrative businesses online. “From 0 to 1, we are building a general search engine for a more ideal user experience…”

What is the information retrieval method? DarkCyber noted this explanation:

ByteDance’s search will be embedded within its own apps, beginning with its Jinri Toutiao news service. That will allow users to quickly search for related news, information or products — and ByteDance will be able to profit from search and display advertising.

How is this different from “modern” search?

DarkCyber is not sure. What’s clear is that ByteDance knows how to attract users. Remember. This is the company with the TikTok video service. Users may not know or care about regular search. None of the Web search services do.

Users want convenience, quick jolts of data which the users perceive as “relevant”, and ease of use.

Will ByteDance become the service of choice when an aspiring scientist seeks information about a specific technical topic.

No, but search is convenient, experiential, and easy. The future of search?

There is no search. But there is a Baidu.

Stephen E Arnold, August 7, 2019

Alphabet Google: Alleged Election Manipulation Goal

August 5, 2019

In the best tradition of 2019 news reporting, an opinion has become “real news.” I read “Google Wants Trump to Lose in 2020: Former Engineer for Tech Giant Says: That’s Their Agenda.” DarkCyber prefers watching Twitch’s live stream of the Hong Kong protests to the “experts” who appear on Fox News.

However, Fox issued an actual “real news” story with old school words. The write up reports the actual non real fake words of Kevin Cernekee, a former Google engineer, who allegedly departed Google in 2018. The reason? Rumors about misuse of equipment was one possible reason, which strikes DarkCyber as unsubstantiated.

We noted this statement in the write up:

“They have very biased people running every level of the company,” Cernekee continued. “They have quite a bit of control over the political process. That’s something we should really worry about.”

The “they” appears to refer to individuals who work at Alphabet Google, although the floating in space pronouns create some ambiguity.

Here’s another sound bite, but in text on Web site form:

“They really want Trump to lose in 2020. That’s their agenda. They have very biased people running every level of the company.”

If you want more, please, navigate to the “real news” story.

A few observations:

  1. A single source, particularly a person who no longer works at Google and who may have an interesting historical interaction with the firm, may or may not be delivering actual factual information. A second or third source would be helpful.
  2. The likelihood of a Google conspiracy to alter an election exists, of course. But Google relies on smart software. The allegations in the write up suggest that actual factual humanoids interact with the smart software to fiddle search results. DarkCyber thinks some data, sample searches, and supporting testimony would be useful. Sure, the other sources might be biased, but more than one voice plus some data would be helpful.
  3. Why is this former Google engineer now actualized? Is it a book deal? A desire for revenge? A way to get hired by a company who wants someone with a sharp edge to write code? Context and motive would be interesting to DarkCyber.

To sum up: Without more than one person’s headline making statement, DarkCyber asks, “Is Google sufficiently organized to fiddle search results in a consistent sustained manner over time?”

Example: Google killed its Hangouts service and just added a new feature to the marginalized service.

Example: Google continues to push the amusing Loon balloon as more adventurous innovators are moving to satellites.

DarkCyber asks, “Is Google capable of a manipulation on this scale?”

We need more than one de-hired Xoogler’s statements.

Stephen E Arnold, August 5, 2019

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