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Google Plus, the Future of Google, Gets Harder to Find

June 3, 2015

Shocker. At age 70, I don’t pay much attention to social media. I did notice Google Plus and one of the goslings may have created an entry for me. I did notice Google Plus when the lovable outfit incentivized employees to use the service. Okay, really popular. Like Orkut and other social experiments, Google Plus seemed to be an add on to a service focused on algorithmic functions.

I read “Google Ditches the Google+ Link on Its Many Web Properties, Hides It in the App Menu.” I don’t think of the nine dots as hidden, but Google Plus is not displayed like the search box or the feeling lucky link.

Does Facebook makes its service one extra click away?

Stephen E Arnold, June 3, 2015

Russian High Tech Propaganda

June 1, 2015

The Soviet Union was known for its propaganda, and Russia under Vladimir Putin seems to have brought the art into the digital age. The Guardian gives us the inside scoop in, “Salutin’ Putin: Inside a Russian Troll House.” Journalists spoke to two writers who were formerly among the hundreds working at the nondescript headquarters of Russia’s “troll army” in St Petersburg. There, writers are tasked with lauding Putin and lambasting the evils of the West in posts and comment sections on a wide variety of websites. Though the organization cannot be directly tied to the Kremlin, it’s reported the entity does not pay any taxes and does not register its employees. It does, however, seem to have grown heartily in the two years since Russia went (back) into the Ukraine.

It is said that working conditions at the “troll house” involve 12-hour shifts, a dreary environment, strict rules, and low pay, though that sounds no different from conditions in many jobs around the world. Workers describe writing a certain number of “ordinary posts” about things like music, travel, or dating advice; writers are  responsible for coming up with those topics themselves. Interspersed with such bland content, however, they write pieces asserting political perspectives assigned to them each morning. Editors check carefully to make sure the stories are on point.

I’d recommend reading through the whole article, but this is the section that struck me most:

“‘I would go home at the end of the day and see all the same news items on the television news. It was obvious that the decisions were coming from somewhere,’ said Marat. Many people have accused Russian television of ramping up propaganda over the past 18 months in its coverage of Ukraine, so much so that the EU even put Dmitry Kiselev, an opinionated television host and director of a major news agency, on its sanctions list.

“After two months of working in the troll agency, Marat began to feel he was losing his sanity, and decided he had to leave. From the snatched conversations over coffee, he noted that the office was split roughly 50/50 between people who genuinely believed in what they were doing, and those who thought it was stupid but wanted the money. Occasionally, he would notice people changing on the job.

“‘Of course, if every day you are feeding on hate, it eats away at your soul. You start really believing in it. You have to be strong to stay clean when you spend your whole day submerged in dirt,’ he said.”

Sounds like some people I know who always have a certain U.S. news channel blasting away in the background. Writer Shaun Walker is unsure whether the site they found in St Petersburg is the only location for this activity, or whether there are other hubs throughout Russia. The effectiveness of such propaganda on Russian citizens, however, seems clear to Russian journalist Andrei Soshnikov (quoted in the article), especially with the older, less tech-savvy set. As disheartening as these revelations are, they should not be surprising.

Cynthia Murrell, June 1, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

 

SharePoint Is Back and Yammer Is Left Behind

May 28, 2015

Many old things become trend and new again, and even that holds true with software, at least in principle. The old functions of SharePoint are withstanding the test of time, and the trendy new buzzwords that Microsoft worked so hard to push these last few years (cloud, social, collaborative) are fading out. Of course, some of it has to do with perception, but it does seem that Microsoft is harkening back to what the tried and true longtime users want. Read more in the CMS Wire article, “SharePoint is Back, Yammer… Not So Much.”

The article sums up the last few years:

“But these last few years, Microsoft seemingly didn’t want to talk about SharePoint. It wanted to talk about Office 365, the cloud, collaboration, social, mobile devices and perpetual monthly licensing models. Yet no one appears to have told many of the big traditional SharePoint customers of these shifts. These people are still running SharePoint 2007, 2010 and 2013 happily in-house and have no plans to change that for many years.”

So it seems that with the returned focus to on-premises SharePoint, users are pleased in theory. However, it remains to be seen how satisfying SharePoint Server 2016 will be in reality. To stay tuned to the latest reviews and feedback, keep an eye on ArnoldIT.com and his dedicated SharePoint feed. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search with an interest in SharePoint. His reporting will shed a light on the realities of user experience once SharePoint Server 2016 becomes available.

Emily Rae Aldridge, May 28, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

 

Facebook Offers Ad Revenue for Streamlined News Experience

May 28, 2015

Facebook is offering an interesting carrot to certain publishers, like the New York Times and National Geographic, in the interest of streamlining the Facebook use-experience; CNet reports, “Facebook Aims to Host Full Stories, Will Let Publishers Keep Ad Revenue, Says Report.” Of course, the project has to have a hip yet obvious name: “Instant Articles” is reportedly the feature’s title. Writer Nate Ralph cites an article in the Wall Street Journal as he tells us:

“The move is aimed at improving the user experience on the world’s largest social network. Today, clicking on a news story on Facebook directs you to the news publication’s website, adding additional time as that site loads and — more importantly for Facebook — taking users away from the social network. With Instant Articles, all the content would load more or less immediately, keeping users engaged on Facebook’s site. The upside for publishers would be increased money from ads, the Journal said. With one of the versions of Instant Articles that’s being considered, publishers would keep all the revenue from associated ads that they sold. If Facebook sold the ads, however, the social network would keep 30 percent of the revenue.”

Apparently, some news publishers have been “wary” of becoming tightly integrated into Facebook, perhaps fearing a lack of control over their content and image. The write-up goes on to note that Facebook has been testing a feature that lets users prioritize updates from different sources. How many other ways to capture and hold our attention does the social media giant have up its sleeve?

Cynthia Murrell, May 28, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

 

Free Book from OpenText on Business in the Digital Age

May 27, 2015

This is interesting. OpenText advertises their free, downloadable book in a post titled, “Transform Your Business for a Digital-First World.” Our question is whether OpenText can transform their own business; it seems their financial results have been flat and generally drifting down of late. I suppose this is a do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do situation.

The book may be worth looking into, though, especially since it passes along words of wisdom from leaders within multiple organizations. The description states:

“Digital technology is changing the rules of business with the promise of increased opportunity and innovation. The very nature of business is more fluid, social, global, accelerated, risky, and competitive. By 2020, profitable organizations will use digital channels to discover new customers, enter new markets and tap new streams of revenue. Those that don’t make the shift could fall to the wayside. In Digital: Disrupt or Die, a multi-year blueprint for success in 2020, OpenText CEO Mark Barrenechea and Chairman of the Board Tom Jenkins explore the relationship between products, services and Enterprise Information Management (EIM).”

Launched in 1991, OpenText offers tools for enterprise information management, business process management, and customer experience management. Based in Waterloo, Ontario, the company maintains offices around the world.

Cynthia Murrell, May 27, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Hadoop Has Accessories

May 25, 2015

ZDNet’s article, “Why Hadoop Is Hard, And How To Make It Easier” alludes that Hadoop was going to disappear at some point.  We don’t know about you, but the open source big data platform has a huge support community and hundreds have adopted it, if not thousands of companies, have deployed Hadoop.  The article argues otherwise, citing that a recent Gartner survey found that only 26 percent of the corporate world is actively using it.

One of the biggest roadblocks for Hadoop is that it is designed for specialist to tinker with and it is not an enterprise tool.  That might change when Microsoft releases its new SQL Server 2016.  With the new server, Microsoft will add Polybase that bridges Hadoop to the server.  Microsoft is still the most popular OS for enterprise systems and when this upgrade becomes available Hadoop will be a more viable enterprise option.

What is the counterpoint?

“It’s also a counterpoint to the interpretation of Gartner’s survey that says Hadoop is somehow languishing. What’s languishing is the Enterprise’s willingness to invest in a new, premium skill set, and the low productivity involved in working with Hadoop through its motley crew of command-line shells and scripting languages. A good data engine should work behind the scenes and under the covers, not in the spotlight.”

So once more enterprise systems need to be updated, which is comparable to how Hadoop needs to be augmented with add-on features to make it more accessible, such as mature analytics tools, DBMS abstraction layers and Hadoop-as-a-Service cloud offerings.

Whitney Grace, May 25, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Attensity’s Semantic Annotation Tool “Understands” Emoticons

April 27, 2015

 

The article on PCWorld titled For Attensity’s BI Parsing Tool, Emoticons Are No Problem explains the recent attempts at fine-tuning the monitoring and relaying the conversations about a particular organization or enterprise. The amount of data that must be waded through is massive, and littered with non-traditional grammar, language and symbols. Luminoso is one company interested in aiding companies with their Compass tool, in addition to Attensity. The article says,

“Attensity’s Semantic Annotation natural-language processing tool… Rather than relying on traditional keyword-based approaches to assessing sentiment and deriving meaning… takes a more flexible natural-language approach. By combining and analyzing the linguistic structure of words and the relationship between a sentence’s subject, action and object, it’s designed to decipher and surface the sentiment and themes underlying many kinds of common language—even when there are variations in grammatical or linguistic expression, emoticons, synonyms and polysemies.”

The article does not explain how exactly Attensity’s product works, only that it can somehow “understand” emoticons. This seems like an odd term though, and most likely actually refers to a process of looking it up from a list rather than actually being able to “read” it. At any rate, Attensity promises that their tool will save in hundreds of human work hours.

Chelsea Kerwin, April 27, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

Informed Millennials

April 15, 2015

With the fall of traditional newspapers and aging TV News audiences, just where are today’s 20- and young 30- somethings turning for news coverage?  Science 2.0  tells us “How Millennials Get News,” reporting on a recent survey from the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The joint effort comes from a collaboration arrangement the organizations call the Media Insight Project. Conducted at the beginning of 2015, the survey asked Millennials about their news-consumption habits. The article tells us:

“People ages 18-34 consume news and information in strikingly different ways than did previous generations, they keep up with ‘traditional’ news as well as stories that connect them to hobbies, culture, jobs, and entertainment, they just do it in ways that corporations can’t figure out how to monetize well….

“‘For many Millennials, news is part of their social flow, with most seeing it as an enjoyable or entertaining experience,’ said Trevor Tompson, director of the AP-NORC Center. ‘It is possible that consuming news at specific times of the day for defined periods will soon be a thing of the past given that news is now woven into many Millennials’ connected lives.’”

Soon? Even many of us Gen Xers and (a few intrepid Baby Boomers) now take our news in small doses at varying hours. The survey also found that most respondents look at the news at least once a day, and many several times per day. Also, contrary to warnings from worrywarts (yes, including me), personalized news feeds may not be creating a confirmation-bias crisis, after all. Most of these Millennials insist their social-media feeds are well balanced; the write-up explains:

“70 percent of Millennials say that their social media feeds are comprised of a diverse mix of viewpoints evenly mixed between those similar to and different from their own. An additional 16 percent say their feeds contain mostly viewpoints different from their own. And nearly three-quarters of those exposed to different views (73 percent) report they investigate others’ opinions at least some of the time–with a quarter saying they do it always or often.”

Well, that’s encouraging. Another finding might surprise some of us: Though a vast 90 percent of Millennials have smart phones, only half report being online most of all of the day. See the article for more, or navigate to the report itself; the study’s methodology is detailed at the end of the report.

Cynthia Murrell, April 15, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

The Ins and Outs of the Black Market Economy

March 24, 2015

The article titled The Cybercrime Economy: Welcome To The Black Market of The Internet on ZeroFox discusses the current state of the black market and the consequences of its success. The author delves into the economy of the black market, suggesting that it, too, is at the mercy of supply and demand. Some of the players in the structure of the black market include malware brokers, botnet “herders,” and monetization specialists. The article says,

“So what’s the big deal — how does this underground economy influence the economy we see day to day? The financial markets themselves are highly sensitive to the impact of cyber crime… Additionally, fluctuating bitcoin markets (which affects forex trades) and verticals that can be affected through social engineering (the Fin4 example) are both targets for exploitation on a mass scale….There is a good reason cyber security spending surpassed 70 billion in 2014: breaches are costly. Very costly.”

As for how to upset the economy of the black market, the article posits that “cutting off the head” will not work. Supply and demand keep the black market running, not some figurehead. Instead, the article suggests that the real blame lies on the monopolies that drive up prices and force consumers to look for illegal options.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 24, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

The Future of Google Is Google Plus Floundering

March 2, 2015

I read “Bradley Horowitz Is Now Running Google+.” (How easy is it to search for characters like “+”?) I recall that The Seattle Times issued “3 Years In, Future of Google+ Still Unclear.” Didn’t the “founder” of Vic Gundotra seek his future elsewhere in the spring of 2014? (What happened to that Orkut social service?)

Now there’s a new Googler in charge of the “+” service, Bradley Horowitz, replacing a Googler named David Besbris. Now I am not sure who is in charge of what, but it seems that more change is afoot. The write up uses the phrase “dismantled.”

No problem. I have been told that I am a member of Google Plus. I think it is part of a automatic sign up. That’s okay with me if Google Plus was a minus like me.

Several thoughts:

  1. Google has a long history of social aspirations. None of the Google services has matched Facebook’s traction. Facebook employs some Xooglers, however. So maybe it is a management issue?
  2. Google Plus does not look so much like the future of Google as one more illustration of Google’s management expertise.
  3. Google has been in business for 15 years and the Googley thing depends almost exclusively on selling ads. Other great ideas do not match selling ads for revenue impact. Is it time to ask the question, “Can Google find another revenue success?”

In short, the next Google seems to look a great deal like the current Google: Ads and semi successful ancillary services.

Stephen E Arnold, March 2, 2015

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