Search Email: Not Yours. A Competitor’s.

December 2, 2016

I read “This Startup Helps You Deep Snoop Competitor Email Marketing.” I like that “deep snoop” thing. That works pretty well until one loses access to content to analyze. Just ask Geofeedia which is scrambling since it lost access to Twitter and other social media content.

The outfit Rival Explorer offers:

a tool designed to help users improve their email marketing strategy and product pricing and promotion through comprehensive monitoring of their competitor’s email newsletters. After creating a free account, users can browse through a database of marketing emails from over 50,000 brands. Rival Explorer offers access to a number of different email types, including newsletters, cart abandonment emails, welcome emails, and other transactional messages.

In terms of information access, the Rival Explorer customers:

can search by brand, subject, message body, date, day of week, industry, category, and custom tags and keywords. When users select a message, they’re able to view the sender email, subject line, and timestamp of the messages. In addition to those details, users can view the emails as they appear on tablets and smartphones, plus they also can toggle images to get a better idea of design and copy strategy.

You can get more information at this link. Public content and marketing information can be useful it seems.

Stephen E Arnold, December 2, 2016

Google Shifts Development Emphasis to Artificial Intelligence

December 2, 2016

The article on The American Genius titled Google’s Ambitious Plans to Change Every Device on the Planet explains the focus on A.I. innovation by Sundar Pichai, a Google CEO. If you think Google is behind when it comes to A.I., you haven’t been paying close enough attention. Google has dipped its feet in voice recognition and machine translation as well as language understanding, but the next step is Google Home. The article states,

This device seems to be a direct answer to Amazon’s Echo. Google Home isn’t the only product set to launch, however. They also plan to launch a messaging app called Allo. This is likely a direct response to WhatsApp, Kik, and other popular messaging platforms… Google may be hoping Allo is the answer for what this particular platform is lacking. Allo and Google Home will both be powered by a “Google assistant” (a bit like Siri), but in their eyes, more engaging.

So what will the future landscape of A.I. technology look like? Depends on who you believe. Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon can all point to an existing product, but Google can mention AlphaGo, the computer program developed by Google DeepMind, in response. Pichai recognizes that Google must be all about the long game when it comes to A.I., because so far, we have only scratched the surface. What role will Google play in the much-feared A.I. arms race? All we know right now is that more Google is good for Google.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 2, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Vk Tops List of Most Popular Websites in Russia

December 2, 2016

For anyone interested in Internet usage outside the U.S., VentureBeat supplies a run-down of the most-used websites in Russia in its piece, “Russia’s Top 10 Websites Include Facebook, Google, Instagram, and YouTube.” Reporter Adrien Henni writes:

Russia’s top 10 websites 2016 ranked by SimilarWeb tell us how Russians are spending their time online. Russia’s top 10 websites of 2016 consist of four social networking sites, three search engines, email, video entertainment, and classifieds.  As opposed to some other markets, domestic sites dominate Russia but international websites still play a major role in the RuNet ecosystem.  This blog walks through the top sites, defining the domestic sites and elaborating on some of the Russian uses of internationally well-known sites. … The ranking has not seen a large shift since last year.

Though the VentureBeat headline emphasizes U.S. sites, the top four entries are Russian. In fact, the most popular site is one we’ve been examining—the Russian answer to Facebook, Vkontakte, a.k.a. VK. The write-up describes the site:

Vkontakte (VK), Russia’s local social media site,  is at the top of the list, making it the most popular website in Russia. This is no surprise with the increasing popularity of social media, not only in Russia but all over the world. Beyond staying connected with friends and family, VK offers entertainment services as well. Users are able to create playlists of videos and music.

Henni does not mention the looser restrictions on things like hate speech, which is apparently one of VK’s major draws (at least for now.) Unsurprisingly, innovative search engine Yandex is second on the list, followed by social-media site Odnoklassniki (OK), and Mail.ru. Facebook barely made the list, on the heels of Google and Instagram. See the write-up for details on each site, and how Russians utilize it.

Cynthia Murrell, December 2, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Comprehensive Search System Atlas Recall Enters Open Beta

December 1, 2016

We learn about a new way to search nearly everything one has encountered digitally from TechCrunch’s article, “Atlas Recall, a Search Engine for Your Entire Digital Live, Gets an Open Beta and $20M in Backing.” The platform is the idea of Atlas Informatics CEO, and Napster co-founder, Jordan Ritter, a man after our own hearts. When given funding and his pick of projects, Ritter says, he “immediately” chose to improve the search experience.

The approach the Atlas team has devised may not be for everyone. It keeps track of everything users bring up on their computers and mobile devices (except things they specifically tell it not to.) It brings together data from disparate places like one’s Facebook, Outlook, Spotlight, and Spotify accounts and makes the data available from one cloud-based dashboard.

This does sound extremely convenient, and I don’t doubt the company’s claim that it can save workers hours every week. However, imagine how much damage a bad actor could do if, hypothetically, they were able to get in and search for, say, “account number” or “eyes only.” Make no mistake, security is a top priority for Atlas, and sensible privacy measures are in place. Besides, the company vows, they will not sell tailored (or any) advertising, and are very clear that each user owns their data. Furthermore, Atlas maintains they will have access to metadata, not the actual contents of users’ files.

Perhaps for those who already trust the cloud with much of their data, this arrangement is an acceptable risk. For those potential users, contributor Devin Coldewey describes Atlas Recall:

Not only does it keep track of all those items [which you have viewed] and their contents, but it knows the context surrounding them. It knows when you looked at them, what order you did so in, what other windows and apps you had open at the same time, where you were when you accessed it, who it was shared with before, and tons of other metadata.

The result is that a vague search, say ‘Seahawks game,’ will instantly produce all the data related to it, regardless of what silo it happens to be in, and presented with the most relevant stuff first. In that case maybe it would be the tickets you were emailed, then nearby, the plans you made over email with friends to get there, the Facebook invite you made, the articles you were reading about the team, your fantasy football page. Click on any of them and it takes you straight there. …

When you see it in action, it’s easy to imagine how quickly it could become essential. I happen to have a pretty poor memory, but even if I didn’t, who wants to scrub through four different web apps at work trying to find that one PDF? Wouldn’t it be nice to just type in a project name and have everything related to it — from you and from coworkers — pop up instantly, regardless of where it ‘lives’?

The main Atlas interface can be integrated with other search engines like Google and Spotlight, so users can see aggregated results when they use those, too. Interested readers may want to navigate to the article and view the embedded sales video, shorter than two minutes, which illustrates the platform. If you’re interested in the beta, you can sign up here (scroll down to “When can I start using Atlas?”). Founded in 2015, Atlas Informatics is based in Seattle. As of this writing, they are also hiring developers and engineers.

Cynthia Murrell, December 01, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Iran-Russia Ink Pact for Search Engine Services

November 28, 2016

Owing to geopolitical differences, countries like Iran are turning towards like-minded nations like Russia for technological developments. Russian Diplomat posted in Iran recently announced that home-grown search engine service provider Yandex will offer its services to the people of Iran.

Financial Tribune in a news report Yandex to Arrive Soon said that:

Last October, Russian and Iranian communications ministers Nikolay Nikiforov and Mahmoud Vaezi respectively signed a deal to expand bilateral technological collaborations. During the meeting, Russian Ambassador Vaezi said, We are familiar with the powerful Russian search engine Yandex. We agreed that Yandex would open an office in Iran. The system will be adapted for the Iranian people and will be in Persian.

Iran traditionally has been an extremist nation and at the center of numerous international controversies that indirectly bans American corporations from conducting business in this hostile territory. On the other hand, Russia which is seen as a foe to the US stands to gain from these sour relations.

As of now, .com and .com.tr domains owned by Yandex are banned in Iran, but with the MoU signed, that will change soon. There is another interesting point to be observed in this news piece:

Looking at Yandex.ir, an official reportedly working for IRIB purchased the website, according to a domain registration search.  DomainTools, a portal that lists the owners of websites, says Mohammad Taqi Mozouni registered the domain address back in July.

Technically, and internationally accepted, no individual or organization can own a domain name of a company with any extension (without necessary permissions) that has already carved out a niche for itself online. It is thus worth pondering what prompted a Russian search engine giant to let a foreign governmental agency acquire its domain name.

Vishal Ingole November 28, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

EasyAsk Guarantees Revenue Boost with Its eCommerce Search System

November 26, 2016

I read “How EasyAsk Will Help You Drive 23 to 121% Higher eCommerce Revenues: Guaranteed.” The headline is quite different from most search vendors’ announcements. Search vendors, in my experience, do not guarantee anything: Uptime, fees, performance. EasyAsk, a natural language search technology vendor, is guaranteeing more eCommerce revenues. Like most information available online, I assume that the facts are correct.

I highlighted this statement:

Within 90 days of the EasyAsk implementation, 95% of internal searches were returning the right results – nearly eliminating the dreaded no-results pages. The results have been outstanding;

  • Search conversion has increased by 54%
  • Revenue from search has seen a boost of over 71%
  • Transactions are up 81%

Unlike SOLR, EasyAsk offers powerful merchandising tools that are intuitive, easy-to-use and maintained by business users instead of programmers.

Now the “guarantee” part:

We [EasyAsk] will contractually guarantee that EasyAsk will drive at least 20% more revenue from search.

Here’s how:

  • We will take a baseline benchmark measuring revenue, conversion rate and average transactions on your existing search engine.
  • We will work with you to deploy and implement EasyAsk’s eCommerce suite to provide you with advanced Natural Language semantic search and merchandising.
  • Within 90 days of implementation, we will perform a new benchmark that measures revenue, conversion rate and average transactions and compare them with the original baseline. EasyAsk will contractually guarantee to drive at least 20% more revenue.

The write up explains that there is no risk to the eCommerce vendor who embraces EasyAsk.

There you go. A New Year’s gift which is six weeks early.

Stephen E Arnold, November 26, 2016

Need Data Integration? Think of Cisco. Well, Okay

November 25, 2016

Data integration is more difficult than some of the text analytics’ wizards state. Software sucks in disparate data and “real time” analytics systems present actionable results to marketers, sales professionals, and chief strategy officers. Well, that’s not exactly accurate.

Industrial strength data integration demands a company which has bought a company which acquired a technology which performs data integration. Cisco offers a system that appears to combine the functions of Kapow with the capabilities of Palantir Technologies’ Gotham and tosses in the self service business information which Microsoft touts.

Cisco acquired Composite Information in 2013. Cisco now offers the Composite system as the Cisco Information Server. Here’s what the block diagram of the federating behemoth looks like. You can get a PDF version at this link.

image

The system is easy to use. “The graphical development and management environments are easy to learn and intuitive to use,” says the Cisco Teradata information sheet. For some tips about the easy to use system check out the Data Virtualization Cisco Information Server blog. A tutorial, although dated is, at this link. Note that the block diagram between 2011 and the one presented above has not significantly changed. I assume there is not much work required to ingest and make sense of the Twitter stream or other social media content.
The blog has one post and was last updated in 2011. But there is a YouTube video at this link.

The system includes a remarkable range of features; for example:

  • Modeling which means import and transform what Cisco calls “introspect”, create a model and figure out how to make it run at an acceptable level of performance, and expose the data to other services. (Does this sound like iPhrase’s and Teratext’s method? It does to me.)
  • Search
  • Transformation
  • Version control and governance
  • Data quality control and assurance
  • Outputs
  • Security
  • Administrative controls.

The time required to create this system is, according to Cisco Teradata, is “over 300 man years.”

The licensee can plug the system into an IBM DB2 running on a z/OS8 “handheld”. You will need a large hand by the way. No small hands need apply.

Stephen E Arnold, November 25, 2016

The Noble Quest Behind Semantic Search

November 25, 2016

A brief write-up at the ontotext blog, “The Knowledge Discovery Quest,” presents a noble vision of the search field. Philologist and blogger Teodora Petkova observed that semantic search is the key to bringing together data from different sources and exploring connections. She elaborates:

On a more practical note, semantic search is about efficient enterprise content usage. As one of the biggest losses of knowledge happens due to inefficient management and retrieval of information. The ability to search for meaning not for keywords brings us a step closer to efficient information management.

If semantic search had a separate icon from the one traditional search has it would have been a microscope. Why? Because semantic search is looking at content as if through the magnifying lens of a microscope. The technology helps us explore large amounts of systems and the connections between them. Sharpening our ability to join the dots, semantic search enhances the way we look for clues and compare correlations on our knowledge discovery quest.

At the bottom of the post is a slideshow on this “knowledge discovery quest.” Sure, it also serves to illustrate how ontotext could help, but we can’t blame them for drumming up business through their own blog. We actually appreciate the company’s approach to semantic search, and we’d be curious to see how they manage the intricacies of content conversion and normalization. Founded in 2000, ontotext is based in Bulgaria.

Cynthia Murrell, November 25, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Keeping Current with Elastic.co

November 24, 2016

Short honk. If you want to keep up with Elastic and Elasticsearch, the company’s “This Week in Elasticsearch and Apache Lucene” may be of interest. The weekly posting includes information about commits, releases, and training. Unlike the slightly crazed, revenue challenged open source search vendors, Elastic.co provides factual information about the plumbing for the search and retrieval system. We found the “Ongoing Changes” section useful and interesting. The idea is that one can keep track of certain features, methods, and issues by scanning a list. The short description of an issue, for instance, includes a link to additional information. Highly recommended for those hooked on Elastic.co’s free and open source solution or the for fee products and services the company offers.

Stephen E Arnold, November 24, 2016

Do Not Forget to Show Your Work

November 24, 2016

Showing work is messy, necessary step to prove how one arrived at a solution.  Most of the time it is never reviewed, but with big data people wonder how computer algorithms arrive at their conclusions.  Engadget explains that computers are being forced to prove their results in, “MIT Makes Neural Networks Show Their Work.”

Understanding neural networks is extremely difficult, but MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has developed a way to map the complex systems.  CSAIL figured the task out by splitting networks in two smaller modules.  One for extracting text segments and scoring according to their length and accordance and the second module predicts the segment’s subject and attempts to classify them.  The mapping modules sounds almost as complex as the actual neural networks.  To alleviate the stress and add a giggle to their research, CSAIL had the modules analyze beer reviews:

For their test, the team used online reviews from a beer rating website and had their network attempt to rank beers on a 5-star scale based on the brew’s aroma, palate, and appearance, using the site’s written reviews. After training the system, the CSAIL team found that their neural network rated beers based on aroma and appearance the same way that humans did 95 and 96 percent of the time, respectively. On the more subjective field of “palate,” the network agreed with people 80 percent of the time.

One set of data is as good as another to test CSAIL’s network mapping tool.  CSAIL hopes to fine tune the machine learning project and use it in breast cancer research to analyze pathologist data.

Whitney Grace, November 24, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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