Google in China: Countries Are Not Getting with the Program

December 29, 2014

Years ago, I pointed out that companies telling countries what to do might not be the path to a bright future in some circumstances. Countries have police, military, agencies, and rules. When an outsider suggests that the approach a country is taking is against the interests of a particular company, some of those in power have long memories.

I read “China’s Great Firewall Attacks Google Once Again, Blocks Any Form of Access to Gmail.” The headline is a bit misleading, probably in a quest to get lots of Google juice.

Firewalls do not attack. Firewalls are configured by people or other systems for a purpose. In this case, if the story is accurate, some human wants to prevent those within China’s datasphere from accessing Gmail. I am not sure this configuration is an “attack.” But with cyber warfare allegations flying around, some online publications just go with the semantic flow.

The write up asserts, one assumes correctly:

Gmail users in China are now finding that Google’s email service is totally inaccessible in the country. While Gmail’s website has been blocked in China since June, along with every other Google service, it had remained usable via IMAP/SMAP/POP in third-party email apps such as Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail. However, this newest crackdown seems to have shut that loophole, with Gmail’s IMAP, SMAP, and POP servers now fully blocked in China.

How does Google mend fences with China? One step forward on this long journey might be to take a look at what some companies are doing to tap into what seems to be a hefty market. Google is good at emulation, but in the case of China, criticism directed at Chinese authorities might be difficult to remove from the Chinese authorities’ index.

Google’s zippy approach to generating ad revenue generates lots of money. Money is often equated with influence in some countries. In China, there may be other more important factors in play.

For 2015, Google has some thinking to do if it wants to keep the China market in the Google tent or at least near the Google tent. On the other hand, too much dependence on China can lead to the YUM Brands problems. Once the money begins to flow, China’s consumer market can shift. Google has a need for ad revenue. What will Google do to pipe China cash into the Googleplex?

Good question, but it should have been asked a decade ago. In my experience, countries don’t change. I have a few examples at hand, but I won’t trot those out. Any TV news program provides ample illustrations of the disconnect between the way things are assumed to be and the way things are in nation states.

When I want to search information in China, you may need to seek alternatives to the Google.

Stephen E Arnold, December 29, 2014

Searchblox Announces New Visualization Method for Search Results

December 29, 2014

The brief article on Searchblox titled A Visualization Is Worth a Thousand Search Results relates the addition of visualization to the Elasticsearch-based system, Searchblox. Searchblox is an open source enterprise content search engine founded in 2003. Its customers range over 25 countries and include Harley Davidson, Capital One Investments, Kellog, and the US Department of Justice, to name just a few. The article discusses the latest advancement of visualization with a note on how to use the new plugin and how it works. The article states,

“Create a visualization from your search results using our new AngularJS database plugin and discover unique insights from your data. The AngularJS plugin integrated the raw/d3js javacsript library to create visualizations on the fly for your analysis, content marketing and infographic needs. After you setup your collections, simply install the plugin and configure the required filters and database columns to display.

Once the data grid is configured you can see the search results in a grid format.”

The article stipulates that the plugin is best suited for data from csv files and databases. The ability to see your results as a graphic rather than a list is certainly promising, especially for people who are visual learners. There are several nifty chart options available, for all of which the user is able to state the fields for their data.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 29, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Holiday Surprise: HP Gets a Chunk of Coal

December 21, 2014

I read “US Judge Rejects HP Settlement in Autonomy Shareholder Case.” According to the foundation that cranks out “real” journalism:

A federal judge on Friday rejected Hewlett-Packard Co’s (HPQ.N) proposed settlement of shareholder litigation involving the information technology company’s botched acquisition of Autonomy Plc.

HP wanted everything in the Toys R US store; that is, most of what it paid for Autonomy back. Then the grinch spoiled the holiday.

HP will have to find a way to find a way to convert its management expertise into big content processing bucks Cutting the company in half may not be a tactic that effectively deals with its purchasing price, the management street fair, and the jousts with a judge.

What’s next? More legal cartwheels. Fascinating and lucrative for the attorneys involved with the matter. For HP I see the company cementing its position in business school case studies.

Stephen E Arnold, December 21, 2014

New Azure Search Compared to Veteran Solr

December 19, 2014

Wondering how the new search function in Microsoft’s Azure stacks up against open-source search solution Solr? Sys-Con Media gives us a side-by-side comparison in, “Solr vs Azure Search.” It is worth noting that Azure Search is still in beta, so such a comparison might look different down the line. Writer Srinivasan Sundara Rajan sets the stage for his observations:

“The following are the some of the aspects in the usage of Solr in enterprises against that of Azure Search. As the open source vs commercial software is a religious debate, the intent is not aimed at the argument, as the most enterprises define their own IT Policies between the choice of Open Source vs commercial products and same sense will prevail here also, the below notes are meant for understanding the new Azure service in the light of an existing proven search platform.”

Rajan’s chart describes usage of each platform in four areas: installation and setup, schema, loading, and searching. Naturally, each platform has its advantages and disadvantages; see the article for specifics. The write-up summarizes:

“Azure Search tries to match the features of Solr in most aspects, however Solr is a seasoned search engine and Azure Search is in its preview stage, so some small deficiencies may occur in the understanding and proper application of Azure Search. However there is one area where the Azure Search may be a real winner for enterprises, which is ‘Scalability & Availability’…. Azure Search, really makes scalability a much simpler thing.”

As Microsoft continues to develop Azure Search, will it surpass Solr in areas besides scalability? Stay tuned.

Cynthia Murrell, December 19, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

A DeepMind Could Improve Google Search

December 16, 2014

DeepMind was invented by London-based genius Demis Hassabis to teach computers how to master complex tasks. He later taught the machines to play classic videogames, which caught Google’s attention and they bought DeepMind for $650 million. Technology Review looks at how the new technology can improve Google in, “Demis Hassabis, Founder of DeepMind Technologies And Artificial-Intelligence Wunderkind At Google, Wants Machines To Think Like Us.”

The article acts as a brief biography of Hassabis, highlighting his intelligence program. Computers programmed with the software were told to play Atari games, but were not programmed with any of the rules. Through trial and error the computers mastered the games through reinforcement learning.

“Artificial intelligence researchers have been tinkering with reinforcement learning for decades. But until DeepMind’s Atari demo, no one had built a system capable of learning anything nearly as complex as how to play a computer game, says Hassabis. One reason it was possible was a trick borrowed from his favorite area of the brain. Part of the Atari-playing software’s learning process involved replaying its past experiences over and over to try and extract the most accurate hints on what it should do in the future.”

Now called Google DeepMind, the team of seventy-five people work in London to apply the technology to all of Google’s products. While learning how to apply AI to Google, Hassabis also dreams of new ways it can be used for bigger and better projects. Until then they’re still playing Atari games.

Mr. Hassabis, start applying DeepMind to search.

Whitney Grace, December 16, 2014
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Debing, Bada Gone: Facebook Search

December 13, 2014

I am not too keen on Facebook. I get odd ball friend requests to our automated Beyond Search account which baffles me. Who wants to be friends with a script.

Nevertheless, I read “Facebook Dumps Microsoft Web Search Results.” The Facebookers have to get control of information access to their content. Note I said “their”, not your content, gentle reader.

The write up, which is a foundation, asserts:

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has flagged search as one of the company’s key growth initiatives, noting in July that there were more than 1 billion search queries occurring on Facebook every day and hinting that the vast amount of information that users share within Facebook could eventually replace the need to search the Web for answers to certain questions.

Yep, the Googlers at Facebook know there is money in them thar search results.

Debing, bada, gone.

Stephen E Arnold, December 13, 2014

Big Deal for Dassault but Where Is Search?

December 12, 2014

After Dassault Systèms bought Exalead in 2010, we were eager to learn what they would do with one of our favorite search systems. We waited. And waited. Now, as Dassault pursues bigger and better deals around the world, search may have fallen by the wayside. In fact, the company seems to be focused on its 3D technology at the moment. Business Wire reveals, “Dassault Systèms Signs Research Agreement with the Food and Drug Administration for Its ‘Living Heart Project’.” If they must shove search aside, at least they’re working on something that should be good for medicine. The press release states that Dassault:

“… has reached a significant milestone in its project aimed at driving the creation and use of simulated 3D personalized hearts in the treatment and diagnosis of heart diseases and medical device development. Powered by Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE platform’s realistic simulation applications, The ‘Living Heart Project’ announced in May of this year, has rapidly moved its first realistic 3D heart simulator into beta test, validated the efficacy of a device and has surpassed 30 contributing member organizations.

“As a key step of this initiative, Dassault Systèmes has signed a five-year collaborative research agreement with the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which will initially target the development of testing paradigms for the insertion, placement and performance of pacemaker leads and other cardiovascular devices used to treat heart disease.”

Dassault’s deal with the FDA is a five-year collaborative research agreement. The team is working closely with a long list of cardiologists, medical device companies, and academic researchers. We applaud programs that promise better medical outcomes, especially for a condition as widespread as heart disease.

Still, we can’t help being a bit disappointed that search seems to be an afterthought, if that, for Dassault. Exalead’s CloudView is a search platform we felt was on the right track. Exalead was launched in 2000 and is based in Paris. Dassault Systèms is located in Vélizy-Villacoublay, France. The company has a history of snapping up other businesses, having acquired 11 companies since its founding in 1981.

Cynthia Murrell, December 12, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

MEGA HOPEX Platform Integrated with dtSearch

December 11, 2014

The article titled dtSearch Engine Help MEGA Customers Gain Instant Access to Vital Information on BWW explores the integration of the dtsearch engine into MEGA’s HOPEX platform. The platform is touted for its ability to unify complex enterprise and offer comprehensive information. The demands on MEGA’s repository only grew as businesses need additional documents in order to meet GRC requirements. MEGA called on dtSearch to aid in their ability to manage search across the ever-increasing volume of information. The article explains how the two programs will work together,

“As the volume of these ‘attached’ documents grew, MEGA asked dtSearch to provide its powerful search engine to help customers instantly explore this large quantity of unstructured textual information. The dtSearch Engine will provide users with a ranked list of hits based on their search terms, helping them find information faster. This is an especially important capability as businesses engage in transformation programs to improve performance and profitability, and connect with customers in new ways.”

The president of dtSearch Corp, David Thede, is quoted in the article praising the abilities of HOPEX in synthesizing the complex difficulties presented by the modern standards for enterprise architecture. dtSearch Engine is also recognized for its support of a range of databases and its ability to search instantly across terabytes of data.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 11, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Baymard Institute Announces E-Commerce Search Issues, EasyAsk Standing Nearby with Solution

December 10, 2014

The article on Digital Journal titled Baymard Institute Study Finds Major Problems with Search on Leading E-Commerce Sites considers the study’s findings that “essential e-commerce search capabilities” are missing from many sites, creating an obstacle in their potential for online sales. Poor test results included low tolerance for misspellings, a lack of support for search based on certain produce features, and a lack of support for thematic searches. Reportedly the study broke down search into twelve categories and EasyAsk, the site search “solution” provider jumped into the ring with a white paper on how to improve search and raise sales. The article explains,

“[The] white paper, Improving E-Commerce Search to Meet the Needs of the Modern Shopper, identifies specific solutions for the problems identified in the Baymard Institute Study. [It] also shows examples of how EasyAsk customers such as The North Face, Oya Costumes, InkJet Superstore, and Travers Tools have delivered an engaging search experience as identified in the Baymard Institute report. “The inadequacies of traditional, outdated keyword search engines are prominently displayed in the Baymard Institute Benchmark Study,” said Craig Bassin, CEO of EasyAsk.”

The immediacy of their response and their collaboration in letting organizations freely download part of the study might raise some eyebrows. The article does not go into detail on who exactly sponsored the study, either.
Chelsea Kerwin, December 10, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Two Companies Offering Unified Search

December 9, 2014

I am confused. What exactly differentiates some of the vendors offering “unified” search? Another question is, “Are these many functions explicitly designed to deliver outputs that reflect real time content analytics on collected text, images, and videos?

I noted this Sinequa diagram on Twitter (


A day ago I was preparing a short report for a client and came across this diagram for the Attivio active intelligence engine which delivers unified access:


The similarities are quite interesting. What came first, keyword search or the repositioning of search as an application that performs is like a giant Microsoft Office solution?

How do these two companies compare to a next generation information access system (NGIAs)? I see three differences:

  1. An NGIA system makes search a utility, not a core function or a principal plank in the platform
  2. The outputs of an NGIA system are designed to make or to trigger a tactical or strategic decision; for example, the output of an NGIA system goes into a system controlling a manufacturing robot
  3. The purpose of the NGIA system is to deliver a solution that pivots on predictive analytics.

I conclude, therefore, that neither Sinequa nor Attivio are NGIA systems at this time. The companies could engineer their search oriented approach toward an NGIA approach. Attivio has new management to help facilitate this important shift. Sinequa, according to a mid tier consulting firm, is one of the Big Dogs in information processing.

It will be interesting to see how search-centric vendors adapt to the next generation information access market. In my forthcoming monograph on this topic, I explore the substantive differences between search-centric “we do it all” systems and the forward looking NGIA system vendors.

Stephen E Arnold, December 9, 2014

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