Perceptive Search 10.3 Now Available

April 11, 2014

According to the marketing, the system from the 1980s formally known as ISYS Search is now up to date. Digital Journal shares, “Perceptive Software Launches Version 10.3 for Perceptive Enterprise and Workgroup Search.” New connector options and high-definition viewing are among the updated features for both the Enterprise and Workgroup platforms. The press release also tells us:

“Fidelity options for content rendering in Perceptive Search 10.3 allow administrators to set the appropriate level of fidelity for displaying search results. Options include several levels of standard text, standard XHTML and high-definition HTML5 that produce near-perfect paginated renditions.

“The addition of a document thumbnail preview provides Perceptive Enterprise Search 10.3 users additional confidence that they are selecting the right search results. With a glance at the first page of search results, users can often determine if the files meet the desired criteria. This instant visual confirmation of the search results further accelerates user productivity.”

That thumbnail view is a helpful touch. The search systems‘ updated connectors can access content in Google Drive, Microsoft SharePoint 2013, Microsoft Exchange 2013, and Symantec Enterprise Vault 10.

Founded as Genesis Software in 1988, Perceptive Software offers a range of process- and content-management solutions. Perceptive serves clients in a wide range of industries, and was acquired by Lexmark in 2010. The company is headquartered in Shawnee, Kansas and, according to their About page, is currently hiring.

Cynthia Murrell, April 11, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Hewlett Packard: Foreign Bribes and Search

April 10, 2014

I was disappointed with the news stories about Hewlett Packard’s recent hitch in its git-along. For example, I read “Hewlett Packard Agrees to $108 Million Fine for Foreign Bribes” and saw not one reference to information retrieval, search, and content processing technology. In my view, had HP used the Autonomy technology to process its internal information, IDOL and the Digital Reasoning Engine would have generated some outputs that pointed to anomalies like those the investigators found.

Apparently “findability” is more difficult than it appears even when the company in the spotlight owns one of the go-to search systems. I assumed that it would be trivial to run a few queries and produce documents and “big data” that would show that Hewlett Packard what was cooking in its subsidiaries or with non US deals.

Search apparently was not up to the task because allegations had to be “resolved by third parties.” Apparently it required attorneys and government folks to figure out that HP was taking some short cuts. Here’s a passage I noted:

“Hewlett-Packard subsidiaries created a slush fund for bribe payments, set up an intricate web of shell companies and bank accounts to launder money, employed two sets of books to track bribe recipients, and used anonymous email accounts and prepaid mobile telephones to arrange covert meetings to hand over bags of cash,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bruce Swartz in the Justice Department statement.

Business actions like those mentioned in the Silicon Beat write up make it clear that HP management may not know what is going on or may not be paying attention to existing information about company activities.

Is this an anomaly?

I can’t answer the question, but when investigators from various countries are able to find useful factoids, it raises one question:

What does HP’s much hyped information retrieval system do for company executives?


Was important management information not available to HP’s senior executives? If so, who filtered the digital content?

This $100 million fine comes on the heels of HP’s paying $57 million to settle a shareholder lawsuit about the “personal computer maker’s former management of defrauding shareholders by abandoning a business model it had long touted.” See

The persistent HP business model seems to be one that does not engender my confidence in the company.

I am not sure the IDOL search system is at fault. Does HP use Autonomy’s fraud detection components? Why not index content, run queries, and make decisions based on the heterogeneous types of information that Autonomy can process, usually with some effectiveness?

The jury’s still out on search at HP. Two big fines in a short period of time is unsettling to me because both are germane to the effective use of information retrieval technology.

Stephen E Arnold, April 10, 2014

Elasticsearch Appeals to Its Core Audience with New Move

April 9, 2014

The open source search wunderkind, Elasticsearch ( is in the news again. In the crowdsourcing spirit that has helped propel it to the top of many lists, it is sharing more insider information as we learned in the post, “Elasticsearch: The definitive Guide.” The book helps users of all stripes better understand the engine.

Our favorite part was how the guide is aimed at a particular audience:

“We expect you to have some programming background and, although not required, it would help to have used SQL and have some database experience. We explain concepts from first principles, helping novices to gain a sure footing in the complex world of search.”

There is no watering-down here to appeal to everyone. We like that attitude. The firm has never been one to pull punches regarding tough topics. Just recently they made more headlines by improving their ability to perform log analysis. Most search engines would avoid this topic and leave it for programmers, but Elasticsearch understands its audience and gives them tricky tools to play with. We love the things they are doing and eagerly await their next move on the search engine chess board.

Patrick Roland, April 09, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Apple Takes Action to Improve Map Search

April 8, 2014

I don’t have an iPhone. I do have an ageing Mac notebook. It is reasonably reliable, and I have learned to save my high value content to another storage device. When I need to locate a document, I use more robust and less flakey information retrieval tools to retrieve my information.

I have had to help a couple of people look for information using an iPhone. One notable example was locating Cuba Libre restaurant in Washington, DC. A colleague and I were standing in front of Cuba Libre and we wanted to figure out whether to turn left or right to reach a destination. No luck. The restaurant was not findable.

In my opinion, not only was the Apple map search system inadequate, the system did not acknowledge the fungible existence of the restaurant in which I had eaten a pretty good sandwich.

When I read “Amazon A9s VP of Search Heads to Apple to Fix Up Maps Search,” it dawned on me that Apple seems to have taken action to fix at least one of its search systems. The other thought I had is that Apple, like many other big names, is likely to take a look at open source search technology.

I wonder if Hewlett Packard, IBM, and Oracle will be able to convince Apple to go with Autonomy or Watson or Endeca technology. Landing Apple would be a plus for these three enterprise search vendors.

A question: What happens if Apple embraces a hot open source search solution from an outfit like Elasticsearch or Searchdaimon?

The one striction associated with this alleged personnel shift is that I don’t think that Amazon’s search systems are helpful to me when I run a query. I struggle to NOT out books that are not yet available, and I have a very tough time locating some of Amazon’s lists. But in today’s findability swamp, Apple has to begin its long journey with a single step.

Is it the right one?

Interesting to think about I believe.

Stephen E Arnold, April 8, 2014

PageZephyr Search Application Saves InDesign User’s Search Headache

April 4, 2014

The article titled PageZephyr Search on Markzware offers a brief tutorial to PageZephyr Search, an OS X application that allows for the search and view of InDesign documents. The article’s audience is any InDesign user frustrated by the inability to search with a word or phrase from an InDesign document from years past. PageZephyr Search indexes all InDesign documents on the user’s PC to make them searchable. It can also highlight a selected word in a document, and copy a text to your clipboard to make it useable elsewhere. The article also offers this customer testimonial from book designer Matthew MacKay,

“PZ is a one trick pony-and that is a good thing, because it does one trick exceeding well. It saved me hours recently when I was trying to find a version of a three year old InDesign file. I am a book designer, and often receive chapters from other designers. When I need to find a file, I can fire up PZ, go make a coffee and come back and see the file ready for me to work on.”

McKay also points out that PageZephyr Search protects him from his own file naming system (or non-system, as it may be.) If you are interested in testing the service before purchasing it, the demo option might appeal to you. You can try the demo for 15 days and evaluate its usefulness before making a final purchase.

Chelsea Kerwin, April 04, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Open Source Search Gets Confusing

April 3, 2014

Elasticsearch is the favored open source search application and many startups have built their own products on top of the platform, increasing competition among the startups. InfoWorld lets us know that the competition is about to get stiffer in the article, “Logstash Steps Up As Splunk’s Latest Challenger.”

Splunk offers many big data solutions, including security, analytics, application management, and cloud services. The article explains that Logstash is part of a components stack also including Kibaba and Elasticsearch. It is used to log data and can be configured to a user’s needs. It is an Apache-licensed open source endeavor and has a lower cost margin (either free or a different pay for support plans). Elasticsearch has commercialized Logstash through its Marvel product.

It does not appear that Logstash is a direct competitor, but the article explains:

“So far, the biggest distinction between Splunk and its competition is how they’re productized. Splunk’s a proprietary item, but with the emphasis on it being a product and not simply a technology stack. The competition still largely consists of open source stacks rather than actual services, but it’s clear the gap between what Splunk offers at a cost and what others offer for free is closing.”

Another new service pressures Lucid Imagination and other search vendors to create a response, which also makes investors inpatient as Elasticsearch surges forward with bigger and better ideas. Search vendors are lost in the middle as they try to be competitive and earn a profit at the same time. Kudos to Elasticsearch and open source applications.

Whitney Grace, April 03, 2014
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

A Search Engine for Similar Web Sites

April 2, 2014

How many times have you searched Google or DuckDuckGo and wanted to find a Web site similar to one you had already found? Instead of sifting through the search results, a new startup in Berlin has come up with a new and useful concept. Called Similarsitecheck, the startup is a free search engine that that finds similar and related Web sites.

Similarsitecheck works by:

“In order to find similar websites for a given domain Similarsitecheck analyzes the entire content as well as external links for the webpage. During the analysis we collect the most important keywords and phrases for a webpage. To actually calculate the alternative websites we search for the found keywords and phrases in our database, compare the sites and get a similarity score for the domains.”

After doing a practice search with, we were given alternative phone and Internet companies, including local providers. When we searched for, the results were cluttered with Web sites that were similar in theme, but not legitimate. The algorithm needs more tweaking, but the idea is sound.

Whitney Grace, April 02, 2014
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

New Age Management and Search Vendors

March 30, 2014

I once saw a cartoon with the caption “Ready, Fire, Aim.” The artist showed the person with a handgun pointing the barrel at his head. I am not too keen on the Ready, Fire, Aim approach to walking my dog. When it comes to figuring out what to do for money, I eschew the Ready, Fire, Aim as well.

Not for some whizzy Silicon Valley type management theorists and practitioners. Navigate to “Tom Erickson of Acquia, on the Philosophy of Ready, Fire, Aim.” If the real journalists take the story down, you can find it in the dead tree edition of the New York Times, page 2 of the Sunday Business Section for March 30, 2014.

I like spontaneity, but I don’t want Max and Tess to chase after a poodle. My boxers like to play rugby. Poodles like to knit, do yoga, and bite socks. So, no Ready, Fire, Aim when I have to take my senior advisors for their daily constitutionals. With regard to money, I take the alleged Ben Franklin aphorism, A penny saved is a penny earned seriously. Ben, as you may know, went with the Ready, Fire, Aim approach to interpersonal relations and was sent home from France if I recall my history teacher’s anecdote correctly.

The New York Times, an outfit that has faced some management challenges, has in its files some data about one of its Ready, Fire, Aim ideas: The New York Times Online. If I recall that system, it was a flop. Coming on the heels of killing the exclusive with LexisNexis, not only did the gray lady real journalists blow off seven figures of easy money, the NYT floundered through multiple online systems. Will the real journalists get their money back on that Ready, Fire, Aim decision and its financial consequences? I don’t think the jury is in, but in my view, some accounting magic may be needed since that decision 30 years ago.

What’s Ready, Fire, Aim management?

According to the write up, nicely presented by the real journalists. I noted this sentence alleged spoken by Mr. Erickson of Acquia, a outfit that “Acquia gives organizations unparalleled FREEDOM [sic] to unify content, community and commerce.” In short, Acquia is a services firm based on open source technology. How much hotter a market sector is there?

Now Mr. Erickson’s statement, attributed to his farther:

“We need to be on the forefront of what’s next.”

For those who believe in the power of technology and innovation, this is an important lesson. “Forefront” and “what’s next.” The problem, of course, is that figuring out what’s next is tough. Money doesn’t do it. Brains in masses don’t do it. I am not sure what produces innovation. Elasticsearch, an open source search vendor built on the ashes of Compass, has sort of just happened.

The next component of Ready, Aim, Fire struck me as tucked into this statement allegedly made by Mr. Erickson:

“I learned that I could sell.”

Okay, the ability to solve a person’s problems, be spontaneously helpful, and function like a fraternity or sorority president are part of Ready, Fire, Aim. (Well, maybe selling and Ready, Fire, Aim are not exactly management, but let’s move forward, shall we?)

Ready, Fire, Aim and selling combine in this way:

People would try to tell me, “We need to do things differently here.” I’d say, “No, this is how you stay on message, on target.”

The formula worked in Australia, France, Japan, and obviously in the US of A.

With these tantalizing knowledge tchotchkes, the threads are stitched together into one seamless insight:

One thing I preach a lot about is the importance of “ready, fire, aim.” There are people in the world who are ready-aim-fire types. If I sense from an interview that they are a ready-aim-fire person, I’ll tell them: “I don’t think this is the right place for you.

Mr. Erickson does not want colleagues who are interested in a job “where precision matters and the ability to get the right answer will be valued.”

Let’s think about this searing notion. Mr. Erickson (hypothetically) has a medical problem. Does he seek out health care with a track record of performance, maybe based on excellent training, evidence based medicine, and in touch with modern devices? Or, does Mr. Erickson seek out a health care professional who does the “Ready, Aim, Fire” thing? My hunch is that the decision will lean toward a professional or system where precision and the ability to get the “right answer” are important. Guessing, hunches, and random medications—probably not in the cards I would suggest.

What’s this have to do with search and content processing?

In my view, Mr. Erickson’s management philosophy is likely to work sometimes. But what works for more companies is rather less loose and spontaneous. Products and services are offered. Contracts are signed. Stuff happens and the customer pays the bills. Government regulations are followed (at least one hopes). People get paid. These are routine management functions. Many venture funded companies are not particularly skilled in these administrative swamps.

In my experience, the work of whizzy open source and proprietary search and content processing companies is raising money, generating revenue via agility, and exiting with a profit for the founders. The disconnect between the objective of the customer and the goals of the employees is often visible for those who take the time to look for signs of a discontinuity. Chaos produces visible activity. Chaos does not lead to consistent results. Even Google hired an adult and has tried to become more businesslike.

My view is that Ready, Fire, Aim may result in feeding the lucky Kentucky hunter a dead squirrel for lunch. But for most activities from walking the dog to figuring out how to earn a living, Ready, Aim, Fire is a cartoon-like caricature of quite complex and subtle activities. Too much rigidity is as unproductive as too much looseness.

Remember that gun pointed at the cartoon figure? Is that your idea of a thoughtful, insightful, and responsible behavior? The woes of companies that take the Ready, Aim, Fire approach to business is the trail of failures documented in the profile at

For me, sales skill does not equal innovation. Ready, Aim, Fire does not equate to management expertise. For the New York Times and the funding entities pumping tens of millions into duplicative search and content processing vendors, where is that gun pointed? A company that has lost money for five, 10, or more years is likely to lose money next year? Ready, Aim, Fire is humorous except to those who want their money back, customers who want a problem solved, and employees who want to work in a stable organization.

Success is tough to plan, but should one manage using the methods of a drive by shooter?

Stephen E Arnold, March 30, 2014

Search Quality Slips Away

March 30, 2014

One way that people try to get to the top of Google’s search results is by making random Web pages with links and key terms. It combines SEO with linkage. Instead of having to rely on writing code yourself, a programmer and hacker named Dam discovered a little trick on Github to take out all the hard work. He describes how he uses an infinite recursion Web site in his post, “Trolling The Search Engines.”
Dam created his blog Web site in October 2013 and used MDamien/infinity to create random, but consistent pages. He got an unexpected and pleasing result:

“A while after, I got an unexpected result: Google indexed more than 148k page for the site. Wow! And now you can do fun things like taking two random words from the site and it appears at the top! slenderising aneurismatic for example.”

He says that he wrote the blog post to document this historical event before March 18. That date has passed without any explanation as to why you can only manipulate Bing and Google until that date. Maybe Microsoft and Google caught onto the trick. If that is the reason, we do not doubt that someone will create another infinite recursion Web site code. What is saddening, however, is that this pollutes search results and quality information is lost.

Whitney Grace, March 30, 2014
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

The Observatory of Economic Complexity

March 26, 2014

The future of search may just be here, in the form of a specialized search engine courtesy of MIT (quelle surprise!) The Observatory of Economic Complexity (ECI) is the result of a 2010 Master Thesis in Media Arts and Sciences by one Alexander Simoes, and enjoys the continuing support of the MIT Media Lab‘s consortia for undirected research. A history of the project’s contributions is available on Github. Some technical details from the project’s FAQ page:

“Where does the data come from?

“The observatory provides access to bilateral trade data for roughly 200 countries, 50 years and 1000 different products of the SITC4 revision 2 classification. For historical SITC classification data, we use data from The Center for International Data from Robert Feenstra. For up to date HS classification data, we use data provided by UN COMTRADE.

“Can I download this data?

“Sure! You can download the latest dump of the entire data (in MySQL format) here. Or if you are looking for data on a particular country or product, you can click the CSV download button on the right-hand side of all explore pages.”

The rest of the FAQ page lets users know how they can help the project improve by contributing translations, correcting errors, and reporting bugs. Besides the search functionality, there’s a Rankings page listing countries by their current ECI values. The site also offers profiles of different countries’ economic activity. As of this writing, though, I can’t seem to pull up a profile of a specific country, but rather click through a series of what seem like randomly presented entries. An interesting way to kill a few minutes of time, but not so good for finding specific information. If that’s a bug, I hope it’s fixed soon. If it’s a feature… I hope it’s fixed soon.

One more thing to note about this project—it has the potential to inform global policy in ways that make life better around the world. Their book “The Atlas of Economic Complexity: Mapping Paths to Prosperity” makes the case, and is free to download. Said a World Bank chief economist in 2011, “The ECI can play a very important role. It can help identify the role for developing countries.” We do hope the Observatory will live up to its potential.

Cynthia Murrell, March 26, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

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