March 5, 2014
Small businesses that employ desktop servers may want to check out MaxxCAT’s latest offering. Virtual-Strategy Magazine announces that “MaxxCAT Brings Search Appliance to Convenient Desktop Form Factor.” They say the idea came from a customer with a desktop server and no rack space; it is nice when companies respond to customer feedback. The press release elaborates:
“The new line of desktop search appliances features a case that is suited for customers needing high performance search but lacking rack space. It is particularly suited to businesses employing tower servers. The new desktop series retains the price and performance MaxxCAT is known for, starting at $2,995 for the 250GB SB-250d capable of handling 2,500 executed Queries Per Minute(QPM). For larger collections or greater performance requirements, the SB-350d is available for $3,995 and features a 500GB index storage size and is capable of handling 5,000 executed Queries Per Minute. Both appliances will come with MaxxCAT’s standard one year of email support and software updates as well as one-year hardware warranty.”
The company is wisely integrating that higher-capacity version, the SB-350d, into its existing education and non-profit programs. Based in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, MaxxCAT launched in 2007. Though its focus is on specialized, high-performance enterprise search appliances, the company also provides integration services and managed hosting. MaxxCAT also prides itself on providing quick and painless deployments—particularly important for small businesses with limited resources.
Cynthia Murrell, March 05, 2014
March 4, 2014
Did you ever think that predictive analytics would be used to determine the next singing sensation? I did not think so. “SAPVoice: How To Predict A Future Pop Star” from Forbes details how music labels are using data to find star power. The form of predictive analytics is called predictive business. Despite its immaterial aspects, music does contain many data points:
“Her record label, Universal Music Group taps thousands of data points generated daily for the artists it manages that reveal how particular customer segments are responding to them. Managers search a database of a million interview subjects, containing data on everything from where a consumer shops to the new music she prefers. With such tools at hand, YouTube won’t be the only way to find the next stars; scouts will also dig through the data.”
It is not just the music industry tapping into this new resource. Consumer goods, healthcare, technology, and manufacturing are using it to signal red flags and increase efficiency.
SAP steps in with its own predictive business model that focuses on predicting with accuracy, determining the best actions to take based on the data, and act fast on the data results. This approach has paid off for many companies.
Will the singing capitals of the world embrace SAP’s methodology? Don’t some disaffected recording moguls shoot handguns when disaffected? If the software does not deliver value, will there be gunplay at a Las Vegas intersection or maybe Wall Street if it does not pay off in the finance sector?
March 2, 2014
SearchBlox is “Moving From Simple Search To Faceted Search,” says a new press release. The article says that as the amount of data increased, it completed search and users needed a more complex and robust feature. Ecommerce Web sites are touted as popularizing faceted search that returned results based on information attributes or facets on content. Faceted search makes searching smarter and gives users better control of displayed search results.
There are many products that offer faceted search. SearchBlox’s offers some familiar and different features:
“Customers often pose the question around what types of facets are available for display within SearchBlox and what UI is best suited to offer the best facet selection for the end users. SearchBlox, out-of-the-box provides keywords, date, content type and content size facets for display but provides the framework to create a facet without any coding. You can edit our html plug-in within SearchBlox to add or remove facets or even set a different display name for a facet field. You can create term, date or number range faceting on the fly without touching a schema file or any backend. The facets can be specified on the query string and created on the fly to return the right number of values.”
Faceted search is already a common feature on most search engines and has been for over twenty years. Why has it taken so long for a company like SearchBlox to finally make it standard? As a side note, it is also available on Google’s uber expensive Google Search Appliance.
February 28, 2014
If you need to revamp how search engines find your Web site, the Site Search Today, blog of SLI Systems, reports that “The New Big Book Of Site Search Tips 2014 Has Launched!” The Big Book of Search Tips was written in 2012, while some findable methods have remained the same, others have changed like the face of the iPhone. The new version was written for ecommerce Web sites and includes new search tips, such as:
“Well, for one we found that mobile shopping has come so far in the last couple years – what used to account for 7% of total eCommerce sales in 2011 is now estimated to contribute to 16% of total eCommerce sales. This points to the growing comfort that people feel in making purchases on a mobile device. It’s becoming increasingly important to offer a user-friendly shopping experience.”
The book is advertised to help decrease bound rates, optimize mobile visits, higher conversions, and making mobile search more powerful. It also has tips on improving social media integration, citing how Web sites like Pinterest and Facebook boosted holiday sales. There are hundreds of Web sites that deal with improving ecommerce Web sites, but a company going to the trouble of publishing a book makes it worthwhile to glance over.
February 27, 2014
I try not to think about Watson, the IBM super smart, game winning, billion dollar baby. I don’t bring it up in conversations, and I try not to think about how home brew code and open source search technology can outgun any other information access system on the planet. Please, spare me. Every search vendor with whom I come in contact pitches the same old mantra: Better, Faster, Smarter, Better Value.
I read “IBM Is Challenging Developers to Insert Watson into Mobile Apps.” Wow, quite a write up. The main point in my view is that mobile developers stand to make a pile of money when they integrate Watson into their mobile applications. I suppose IBM is indifferent to the core problem of mobile apps; to wit: Apps have recreated the wild and crazy world of the early days of computing. There is no easy way to locate an app. There is no way of knowing if the app is goodware or badware. There is no easy way to figure out how much user information is sucked from the app or what happens to that information if it is gobbled. How easy is it to find an app? Well, go looking for a ringtone. Let me know how that turns out for you.
IBM’s role in mobile computing is easy to sum up: IBM is not a factor in my mobile world. To change that, IBM is issuing a “developer challenge.” The article asserts:
Over the next three months, IBM will host its Watson Mobile Developer Challenge to find the best ideas for mobile apps that can take advantage of Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities. Three winners will join the IBM Ecosystem program and receive assistance from Big Blue to turn their ideas into commercial applications. But IBM stands to gain just as much from this as the winners do.
I anticipate that developers will make money in 2014 is several somewhat old fashioned ways:
- Developers sell their services to anyone without the expertise to build a mobile application. Companies with in house development teams will hired contractors because in many organizations, staff are unable to do or complete work due to incessant meetings, reorganization, or Dilbert-type issues
- Individual developers will code up a solution and hope to hit a home run. For the WhatsApp team, the method worked well. For most independent developers, the app is a way to either sell contract programming or get hired by a large firm in desperate need of developers because incessant meetings, reorganization, or Dilbert-type issues trigger a Parkinson’s Law response
- College students code an app in order to pass a course. Some professors may jump at the chance to turn a class loose on a coding challenge like Watson’s. Others may leave it in the hands of the student to find something to fill time between classes and hanging out with pals.
- Small development shops create apps that solve a problem and generate revenue from the established base of mobile customers for Android and Apple devices. Platforms with less traction like Windows Phone gizmos are likely to be attractive to a small percentage of small development shops if the app leads to more project work.
- A growing number of developers create an app in order to bilk money from users. I am not too enthused about this group, but it is possible that IBM’s challenge could attract some individuals who see a Watson app as a low friction way into a corporate environment.
- Some developers (maybe some are former IBM staff or contractors?) may code a Watson app because of loyalty, a way to establish contacts at IBM, or as a way to obtain first hand knowledge of what working with the Watson outfit requires.
I think that a challenge is likely to be somewhat disappointing for IBM. One of the three “winners” may get a brass ring, but the big question is, “Why doesn’t IBM’s existing developer program work for Watson?” The answer to this question, in my view, is quite important.
The fact that even the write up says:
So, yeah, IBM is smart to get on this movement early because Google, a whole lot of startups, and potentially other cloud providers such as Microsoft and Amazon Web Services also realize that the future is in advanced computing capabilities delivered as services. And although Watson got a lot of attention by winning Jeopardy! in 2011, it’s going to need a lot more — in the form of developers — to win at this game.
Game, yes, Jeopardy for developers. IBM may inadvertently be signaling that Watson is struggling. The goal is $10 billion for Watson. But what is the goal of a Watson developers? Maybe write a money maker for Android or iOS? Get hired at Apple or Google? Get venture funding and create a WhatsApp and sell out to a big company for lots of money?
Plug in your perception of the payoff. Does it include coding for Watson? My hunch is that IBM will have to do more than run a 12 week challenge to achieve traction for Watson as the killer mobile app enabler. Disagree? I don’t really care, but you can post your push back using the comments section of the blog. Just don’t spam me like one journalist who keeps telling me his write ups are “interesting.” I assure you, gentle reader, that only I determine what’s interesting to me.
A Watson challenge is definitely not interesting.
Stephen E. Arnold, February 27, 2014
February 26, 2014
Their name certainly fits their goal: “Skyscanner aims to be World’s Top Search Site,” announces the Scotsman. According to the piece, Skyscanner has just doubled its revenue and is adding 100 new employees to its already 500-strong workforce. They are nipping at the heels of the Priceline-owned Kayak and the China-focused Qunar. Will Expedia and Orbitz be next? Writer Terry Murden informs us:
“[Skyscanner] broadened from a flight comparison site into a general travel search engine by acquiring Barcelona-based hotel search company Fogg. This, together with Skyscanner’s car rental services, helped move it into the wider search engine sector.
“Secondary investment by US-based Sequoia Capital in October, which valued Skyscanner at $800 (£500m), gives the company access to a deeper pool of expertise. The firm has made a rapid entry into the Americas, including the Canadian, Latin American and US markets. Last year saw a 119 per cent year-on-year increase in unique monthly visitors in the region.
“Skyscanner opened a Miami hub for the Americas, established new offices in Glasgow and Barcelona and expanded in Edinburgh, Beijing and Singapore.”
The company attributes its most successful year so far to two things: its mobile push and market growth, especially in the Far East. CFO Shane Corstorphine is confident that the platform his company has built will support continued growth. Founded in 2003, Skyscanner is based in Edinburgh.
Cynthia Murrell, February 26, 2014
February 26, 2014
One of our favorite data outfits has been profiled at the British legal news site The Lawyer in, “The London Startup Giving Meaning to Big Data.” Our own Stephen E. Arnold did an extensive interview with the firm’s director Mats Bjore last November for his excellent Search Wizards Speak series. Though much more brief than his piece, the Lawyer write-up emphasizes one of this company’s key advantages—its commitment to connecting the dots between data sources. That focus has led clients to seek out Silobreaker for data-related security work. We’re told:
“Silobreaker did not specialise in cyber security from the start. Rather, cyber security came to it in the form of some of the largest US hardware and software companies looking to gain insight into threat intelligence data they had gathered.
“The company believes that because many organisations operate in siloed environments there is a disconnect between data sources – customer or financial information, social media data, market analyses and so on. Companies and governments need to inject some sense into their information by bringing all those sources together.
“[…]Co-founder and CEO Kristofer Månsson says, ‘Governments and companies need us to give the information they have some context. The services we provide – geopolitical analysis, monitoring of global events or situational awareness through social media, for example – are not part of a cyber security company’s traditional offering. But we’re still a cyber company by association because of what we do.’”
Besides Silobreaker’s skilled and effective data integration, we also like them for their constant innovation and their ability to see things from the end-user’s perspective. Even greater praise: The ArnoldIT team uses Silobreaker for our intelligence-related work. Launched in 2005, Silobreaker is headquartered in London. They serve clients in corporate, government, military, and financial services realms.
Cynthia Murrell, February 26, 2014
February 24, 2014
Yahoo may not be able to wriggle out of the Microsoft Bing search deal. Microsoft may not be m making much progress in catching Google, and Yahoo may want to swizzle a different spin on Web search. Microsoft’s voice enabled technology seems to be disappointing Ford. The US auto maker may be embracing BlackBerry’s QNX system. Yep, BlackBerry, a stellar outfit in my experience. Microsoft has some issues to resolve particularly if it loses a major account to the shareholder-pleasing Waterloo, Ontario company.
I read “Yahoo Launches $10 Million Research Effort to Invent a Smarter Siri.” I find the notion that a large company can invent voice search that is “better” than another voice search system interesting. Google has a voice search system, and there are a number of companies eager to make their voice search technology available to Yahoo. But Yahoo apparently has confidence in Carnegie Mellon University, the outfit that delivered Lycos, Vivisimo, and Claritech to information seekers in the past.
According to the Technology Review article:
Ron Brachman, head of Yahoo Labs, says that he expects the InMind project to experiment with apps that are capable of rudimentary conversation—for example, asking a person follow-up questions and making suggestions based on new information. “This is missing from Siri,” he says, adding that although Apple’s personal assistant is impressive, it doesn’t attempt to understand the context in which it is being asked a question: it doesn’t understand what the user is doing or might need at the moment.
With Web search shifting to mobile like iron filings following a magnet, users find typing less facile on a mobile device. Will Yahoo crack the code in five years with the help of the CMU professors and students?
Five years is a long time. Like Facebook and Google, Yahoo may find it more expedient to start buying voice recognition companies and licensing available technology. WhatsApp, a company that Facebook bought in February, promptly said, it would not change. I learned today that Facebook will be adding voice calls to WhatsApp. How long did that “will not change” statement endure? WhatsApp did not have five days.
Yahoo may not have five years.
Stephen E Arnold, February 24, 2014
February 24, 2014
Finally, there are easier ways to find out whether your great idea has already been patented by an earlier-rising birdie. GCN reveals two new tools in, “Patent Search Engines Aim to Open Innovations to the World.”
The Lens is an open search engine created specifically for hunting down patent information, created by Richard Jefferson of the Queensland University of Technology. The Lens crawls through about 100 million documents in 90 countries, and its creator hopes it will help level the innovation playing field. Interestingly, Jefferson traces his lineage directly to Thomas Jefferson, who started the U.S. patent system in the first place. Perhaps that is why Richard Jefferson seeks to rectify the “dire straits” he feels that system is now in: being gamed by companies “incredibly skilled in hiding the ball in intentionally opaque patents.” The article tells us:
“The Lens already hosts several tools for analysis and exploration of the patent literature, including graphical representations of search results to advanced bioinformatics tools. In 2014 developers will be working to create forms of the Lens that can allow all annotations, commentary and sharing to be behind firewalls for those who need it, without forsaking the open and inclusive cyberinfrastructure, the organization said on its website.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) itself seeks to address the need for streamlined patent search with its Global Patent Search Network. The article doesn’t say how many countries this engine reaches, but does mention that the PTO has worked with China’s government to make their patent documentation searchable; that cooperation is nothing to sneeze at. The article reveals:
“Users can search documents, including published documents and granted patents, recorded from 2008 to 2011. The records are available in in English machine translations, which PTO acknowledged could sometimes generate awkward wording, but ‘provided an excellent way to determine the gist of the information in a foreign patent.’”
So, next time you want to know whether your invention has already been invented, turn to these tailor-made search engines.
Cynthia Murrell, February 24, 2014
February 17, 2014
The article titled Twitter.com Gets New Search Filters for News, Videos, and People You Follow on TNW pronounces that Twitter has improved search (a little bit.) In sum, Twitter’s search will now allow its users to search in the categories of photos, videos, news, people you follow, and locations. This is certainly meant to make search easier on its users. When it comes to sorting through the millions of Tweets, it might come in handy to have more specific filters. The article explains,
“Twitter revealed the new features today with a tweet, but it’s not clear exactly when the filters began rolling out. Earlier filters let you specify whether you were searching for photos or people. The official iOS and Android Twitter apps got new search filters last November. Twitter’s Advanced Search feature still exists for those who need the extra search operator functions.”
The announcement tweet read, “We’re bringing new filters to search on ?http://twitter.com : by videos, news, people you follow, and more.” This small change might not be the most exciting innovation in search, but the article does express some interest in the new ability to weed out irrelevant tweets when searching for something read earlier in the day.
Chelsea Kerwin, February 17, 2014