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Customize Your News with Semantic Search

January 28, 2016

There are many apps available that can aggregate news stories that cater to your interests: Feedly, Google News, Pulp, and other RSS feeders.  While these apps have their strengths and weaknesses, one question you need to ask is: do they use semantic search?  If you want a news app designed specifically to bring you news stories using semantic search there is “Algo: Semantic Search Engine For Customizable News” and it can be purchased on iTunes.

SkyGrid developed Algo and Apple named it a “Best News App”.  It has earned a 4.5 star rating.  Algo was designed to keep users up-to-date on news, follow topics of interest, and your favorite publications to create your own personalized newspaper.

Algo is described as:

“The only true real-time news aggregator. Simple, fast, and reliable, Algo is the only place to follow all of your favorite topics and interests. Search for anything you want! From people to TV shows to companies to finance, follow your interests on Algo. Set notifications for each topic and be notified as information updates in real-time.”

Other Algo features are ability to share articles on any service, save favorite articles, notification settings, and up-to-date news in real time.  Algo’s reliance on semantic search is one of the reasons why it has gained such favor with Apple and iTunes users.

 

Whitney Grace, January 28, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Palantir: Revenue Distribution

January 27, 2016

I came across a write up in a Chinese blog about Palantir. You can find the original text at this link. I have no idea if the information are accurate, but I had not seen this breakdown before:

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The chart from “Touchweb” shows that in FY 2015 privately held Palantir derives 71 percent of its revenue from commercial clients.

The report then lists the lines of business which the company offers. Again this was information I had not previously seen:

Energy, disaster recovery, consumer goods, and card services

  • Retail, pharmaceuticals, media, and insurance
  • Audit, legal prosecution
  • Cyber security, banking
  • Healthcare research
  • Local law enforcement, finance
  • Counter terrorism, war fighting, special forces.

Because Palantir is privately held, there is not solid, audited data available to folks in Kentucky at this time.

Nevertheless, the important point is that the Palantir search and content processing platform has a hefty valuation, lots of venture financing, and what appears to be a diversified book of business.

Stephen E Arnold, January 27, 2016

Beware: Spyware Disguised as Search

January 27, 2016

Do you know how when you type an incorrect Web address into the search bar and you are redirected to a search page saying it could not find the address?  According to PCRisk one of these redirected pages could mean you serious harm, “Snjsearch.com Redirect.”  If you have ever heard of snjsearch.com, you should get off the page as quickly as possible.

Snjsearch masquerades as a legitimate Internet search engine with more relevant results than Google.  However, this is a false claim!  The Snjsearch.com developers include spyware within an installation packet to track browsing history and other sensitive information.

The biggest question you are probably asking is how snjsearch.com gets installed on your computer?

“This deceptive website is promoted as a ‘bundle’ with other software. The developers know that many users do not pay enough attention when downloading and installing software. Therefore, bundled applications (or in this case, modification of browser settings) are usually concealed within the ‘Custom/Advanced’ settings. Many users rush these processes and skip virtually all steps, leading to inadvertent installation of potentially unwanted programs. This exposes their systems to risk of further infection and compromises their privacy.”

The easiest way to avoid downloading snjsearch.com is to monitor all downloads, making sure that snjsearch.com is not included in an installation bundle.  Another preventive measure would be to know where you download an item.  Remember the saying, “don’t take candy from strangers”?  Well, do not take free downloads from strange Web sites.

If you believe you have snjsearch.com on your computer, the article contains steps to remove it.  If you are a curious person, do not experiment with snjsearch.com unless appropriate precautions are taken; namely, using a separate, non-work computing device not connected to an office or work related network.

 

Whitney Grace, January 27, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Unogs: A Third Party Netflix Search

January 26, 2016

My wife loves Netflix. She finds programs that strike me as a bit fanciful, but that’s okay. How do she, her friends, and millions of other people locate just the right video confection for snowmageddon weekend?

Not with the Netflix search and recommendation as far as I know. I dabbled with this service a couple of times and formed two opinions:

  • The folks have a lot of work to do in basic findability
  • The interface is not my cup of hot chocolate. (If you love that Netflix search system, have at it. I still read.)

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An alternative seems to be available if the information in “This Site Lets You Search the Worldwide Netflix Library” is on the money. I learned one can use Unogs. Here’s some color:

The “unofficial Netflix online Global Search” (uNoGS) takes most of the guesswork out of the process: it lets you search by movie or actor, narrow the results by a few extra fields, and then spits out what movies are available in which countries. From there, users just need to use one of many cheap VPN services, fake the correct country, and let the back episodes of Doctor Who trickle in. The site is also a wealth of data on which countries have the best and worst libraries, and what VPNs give access to which countries. According to an interview with TorrentFreak, the site’s creator ‘Brian’ initially created the site solely for his own personal use, before putting it online last year.

Keep those brain cells in idle mode. Gobble the videos, gentle reader. Some of the large online outfits really covet people who find video consumption more fun that reading the works of James Clerk Maxwell.

Stephen E Arnold, January 27, 2016

Shodan: Web Cam Search Engine

January 26, 2016

When snowmageddon hit the DC area, I thought it would be amusing to check out some of the streets which once enchanted me. Alas. The webcams were not working particularly well.

I poked around and located a couple of functioning devices. Just as I figured. Quite a mess, but it is Washington, DC. A fine, well organized place.

Get ready for the next snowpocalype. Navigate to “Shodan Search Engine Provides Access to Hundreds of Unsecured Webcams.” The write up describes how the unsecured webcam search engine finds unsecured webcams. The system may prove interesting to those explore.

I learned:

The new feed consists of webcams that stream video, have an open port, and don’t require any authentication, which is how Shodan is able to snap screenshots in the first place. These webcams all employ the Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP)  on port 554, which is what makes them so easy to discover.

Shodan is at https://www.shodan.io/. I put tape over my computer’s video thingies. Just a thought for you to consider.

Stephen E Arnold, January 26, 2016

Search Unicorns? Nah, Think Search Sasquatches

January 24, 2016

The founder of Salesforce pointed out that some of the stampeding unicorns are going to die. See the frosty thoughts in “Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff Predicts ‘a Lot of Dead Unicorns’ and Cheap Startups to Buy.”

What goes up must come down, right? But the obviousness of the prognostication misses one aspect of the economic snowmageddon.

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There are many search sasquatches which have been struggling to survive in the Lucene/Solr landscape. These outfits share some characteristics:

  1. Histories of low or no profits and revenue challenges
  2. Fuzzy positioning about what their information access technology does
  3. Difficulties making clear why proprietary technology is better than open source search technology
  4. A dependence on venture funding to keep the lights on and the parking lots paved.

Who are some of the proprietary vendors living in the suburbs of unicorn land?

Examples which an intrepid sasquatch hunter might consider fair game are:

  • Attivio, a system based on inspirations from Fast Search & Transfer
  • BA Insight, a Microsoft centric information access system
  • Coveo, a search system once anchored in Microsoft technology
  • EasyAsk, proprietary natural language processing. The company has used crowd funding to raise some cash.
  • MarkLogic, once considered a unicorn, and now trying to find new revenue as the firm’s original market of publishing faces its own problems
  • Sinequa, one of the interesting French search vendors
  • X1, a search and discovery outfit with an interesting interface

There are others as well, but few North Americans know about Exabyte, Intrafind, SRCH2, and their ilk.

If Marc Benioff is correct, the information access ecosystem will suffer the type of implosion that occurs when Brazilians chop down the rain forest. Reforestation does occur, but it may deliver a radically different ecological environment. Consultants and installations of Lucene/Solr might be more friendly than the venture capital firms who want their money back.

What is the going rate for the pelt of a search sasquatch?

Stephen E Arnold, January 24, 2016

Which unicorns and search sasquatches will survive? Where is Darwin when one needs him?

Stephen E Arnold, January 24, 2016

Evidence Pay for Traffic Works

January 22, 2016

I read “Google Paid Apple $1 Billion to Be the Default Search on iOS.” If this is indeed accurate, there are some interesting notions one can derive from the number.

The write up states:

$1 billion. That’s how much Google paid Apple in 2014 to be the default search app on the iPhone, according to court transcripts obtained by Bloomberg. As you might imagine, neither company is too happy about their business deal being made public, and as the publication notes, the court transcript “vanished without a trace” late yesterday. But whether that was because the court in the ongoing litigation between Google and Oracle eventually bowed to the whims of Cupertino and Mountain View’s requests for redaction isn’t clear.

My thought is that search engine optimization is pretty much a waste of time. If SEO worked, the dear Alphabet Google thing would just use wonky tricks and move on. If a Web or mobile site wants traffic, pay for it. Buy Adwords. Simple.

But no.

The Google is paying for exposure to Apple fans and getting traffic. The traffic leads to goodies like ad revenue and data.

Does anyone care? Nah. Search means Google, and if one can’t find it on Google, the information does not exist as I understand the matter.

Stephen E Arnold, January 21, 2016

Microsoft Cortana Update Draws Users to Bing

January 22, 2016

The article titled Microsoft Updates Windows 10 Cortana With New Search Tools for Better Results on IB Times heralds the first good news for Bing in ages. The updates Microsoft implemented provide tremendous search power to users and focused search through a selection of filters. Previously, Cortana would search in every direction, but the filters enable a more targeted search for, say, applications instead of web results. The article explains,

“It’s a small change, but one that shows Microsoft’s dedication to making the assistant as useful as possible. Cortana is powered by Bing, so any improvements to the Windows 10 assistant will encourage more consumers to use Microsoft’s search engine. Microsoft made a big bet when it chose to deeply integrate Bing into Windows 10, and there is signs that it’s paying off. After the June 2015 Windows 10 launch, Bing attained profitability for the first time in October 2015.”

That positive note for Bing is deeply hedged on the company’s ability to improve mobile search, which has continued to grow as a major search platform while desktop search actually peaked, according to research. Microsoft launched Cortana on Android and iOS, but it is yet to be seen whether this was sufficient action to keep up the Bing momentum.

Chelsea Kerwin, January 22, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

Yandex Faces the Reality of the Android Phone Trojan Horse

January 20, 2016

I noticed this statement in “Russia’s Google Could Be Poised for a Huge 2016”:

…Just two years ago Yandex had twice the search market share as Google, the company only owns 57%  of the Russian search market today. Google, on the other hand, has increased its share from 25% to nearly 35%. But this is where the story gets interesting. Yandex contends that the reason Google has increased its market share is because Android phones — which account for 80% of the smartphone market in Russia, according to Yandex — are preloaded with the Google search app, while the same isn’t the case for Yandex’s app.

The Yandex system is pretty good. If you are looking for information in Russian, the system is excellent.

What Yandex lasts is a Trojan horse like Android to carry the search clicks to the mother ship.

Will litigation in Russia thwart the Alphabet Google thing? Nope.

Stephen E Arnold, January 20, 2016

Will 2016 Be the Year of the French Search Revolution?

January 19, 2016

I think about French search and content processing systems once a year. Okay, maybe less frequently. I check out what’s new with Antidot, KBCrawl, Exalead Dassault, Sinequa, CustomerMatrix (né Polyspot), and Pertimm Qwant plus a handful of other outfits.

Most of these firms are unknown to those who kibitz in Sillycon Valley. Each of the companies has a revolutionary technology, world class technology, and galactic confidence in their zeros and ones.

The concern I have for French information access companies in 2016 is a story in USA Today, the McPaper which is often a source of amusement for me.

The article is “French President Declares Economic Emergency.” Here’s the passage I noted:

French President Francois Holland pledged Monday to redefine France’s business model and declared what he called “a state of economic and social emergency,” unveiling a 2-billion-euro ($2.2 billion) plan to revive hiring and catch up with a fast-moving world economy.

Will a couple of billion filter down to impact the economic fortunes of the French search and retrieval vendors? That’s a good question.

But the answer is, “Non.”

Some of the systems are quite interesting. Most of the firms struggle to generate substantial organic revenue in the US. Once a search vendor announces that it will expand its US operations, the follow through is often modest.

France cranks out some good engineers. But 2016 is going to be as or more challenging for the French search engine vendors as any other year in recent memory.

Stephen E Arnold, January 19, 2016

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