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
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.
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 www.att.com, we were given alternative phone and Internet companies, including local att.com providers. When we searched for www.ArnoldIT.com, 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.
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 www.xenky.com/vendor-profiles.
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
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.
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
March 25, 2014
In a routine update process, one of the goslings came across Ami, a company that offered Ami Enterprise Intelligence 6.0. A quick review of the company’s Web site at www.amisw.com suggested that the company’s last update took place in 2013.
The flagship product in at Version 6.0. The company says:
Enterprise intelligence 6 is a platform for economic intelligence. Designed by AMI, [the system] includes separate modules for the acquisition, analysis and dissemination of information from external sources or internal company content. AMI Enterprise Intelligence is recognized by the community of business intelligence professionals as one of the platforms that ensures the most comprehensive and most innovative business intelligence.
In April 2013, just about one year ago, the company suggests that it participated in the International II SDV Conference. However, the link to the news item returns a 404 error.
Links to the company’s technology on its Web site are working as of March 25, 2014. The company lists four US patents for its core technology. The AMI patent portfolio consists of:
- GMIL (Grammatical Markers Independent of Language) (# B-3851)
- Enhancing online support (# B-3561)
- Language Interface Natural (# B-3563)
- Language interface for E-Commerce (# B-3562)
The list on the Ami Web site does not contain hyperlinks, however. The Crunchbase profile for the company and products has not been completed. See, for example, http://bit.ly/1jB16dC.
The company appears to be participating in Documation, March 26 in Paris at CNIT Paris la Défense. See http://bit.ly/1lj1eCV. The company appears to be participating in Documation, March 26 in Paris at CNIT Paris la Défense. See http://bit.ly/1lj1eCV. The company asserts that it has more than 150 customers.
The company, like Lextek, maintains a low profile, although it reports that it has offices in the United Kingdom and Paris.
Stephen E Arnold, March 25, 2014
March 25, 2014
A lot of organizations will hire an outside company to customize and implement their SharePoint infrastructure. Others are big enough to have staff onsite devoted to building and maintaining SharePoint. However, either way there are many individuals who have a vested interest in creating customized SharePoint components. Search Content Management covers one “how-to” in their article, “Building a SharePoint 2013 Search-Based Application.”
The article describes its objective:
“While this article doesn’t have the space to cover all aspects of how to build a Microsoft SharePoint 2013 search-based application, we will provide an overview. The key components are list and library structures to store content; metadata and metadata sources, including the Managed Metadata Service; search to crawl the content; user interface elements to surface the content and display templates to render the content with the required formatting.”
Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime follower of all things search, including SharePoint, on his Web site ArnoldIT.com. He focuses on the reality of the situation – how users can get the most out of search solutions. For SharePoint, he often finds that customization is key; so building unique components like this could be the difference between a frustrating deployment and a well-used and well-loved solution.
Emily Rae Aldridge, March 25, 2014
March 24, 2014
GitHub, an open sourcey operation, is in the news again. Navigate to “AWS Urges Developers to Scrub GitHub of Secret Keys.” ITNews reports that some math club members—sorry, open source folks—have “inadvertently exposed their log-in credentials.”
The write up points out that a search of GitHub “for AWS keys returns almost 10,000 results.” The article notes:
GitHub is a community site where developers post their code and allow collaboration from other interested devs. The problem is developers aren’t taking enough care to ensure their credentials are properly protected.
With the management issues at GitHub, perhaps open source evidences some of the fissures in the open source approach to life, business practices, and, of course, search?
Stephen E Arnold, March 24, 2014
March 24, 2014
Most people think about the Amazon Kindle, iBooks, and other popular mobile book reading platforms when they hear eBooks. In the Middle East there is fierce competition to dominate eBook sales in the region. Wamda posted the article, “Egyptian eBooks Search Engine Al Kutub Ready To Face The Competition” that gives a rundown about a new player.
Al Kutub is a new book search engine and within twelve days has seen over 10,000 people subscribe. The creator Mohammed Nemat Allah designed Al Kutub to be the largest regional database of digital and audio books. Allah does not host any of the content, instead Al Kutub searches through online sources.
Allah only hosts the books’ bibliographic citation and directs the user toward legitimate book sellers, so he does not have to fear legal action:
“The thirty something Nemat Allah seems to believe in spreading knowledge and is confident of his legal stance, according to statements from his counselor. Whoever objects to the presence of any content, the statements say, should remove it from the source where it was originally posted.”
Al Kutub offers four different subscriptions that offer different services and incentives. There is also an internal social network. The eBook application market is booming! The common belief is that people do not read in this digital age, they just do not read paper.