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Tombone Explains Smart Software Approaches

March 23, 2015

Baffled by smart software, machine learning, and related buzz words. “Deep Learning vs Machine Learning vs Pattern Recognition” does a good job differentiating each of these disciplines. The write up is approachable and lamentably does not include the math jargon that crops up in textbooks and learned journals. Here’s an example of the information available in the article. This passage comes very close to revealing the secret sauce for Autonomy’s DRE and IDOL “inventions”:

Sometime in the early 90s people started realizing that a more powerful way to build pattern recognition algorithms is to replace an expert (who probably knows way too much about pixels) with data (which can be mined from cheap laborers).  So you collect a bunch of face images and non-face images, choose an algorithm, and wait for the computations to finish.  This is the spirit of machine learning.  “Machine Learning” emphasizes that the computer program (or machine) must do some work after it is given data.  The Learning step is made explicit.  And believe me, waiting 1 day for your computations to finish scales better than inviting your academic colleagues to your home institution to design some classification rules by hand.

The article is worth a read. Attention, failed middle school teachers, mid tier consultants, and litigious search experts—the article may assist you when you convince clients you are an expert in smart software and great inventions like Watson, which IDC admires.

Stephen E Arnold, March 24, 2015

Watson Needs Some Intellectual Help

March 13, 2015

IBM touts its Watson supercomputer as an end all solution for natural language processing, information dissemination, cooking, research, and whatever they else they can program into the machine. Reuters, however, found out that IBM made a recent purchase, “IBM Buys AlchemyAPI To Boost Watson Computing Unit.”

IBM wants Watson to be more human like as it sifts through mounds of data to help users. AlchemyAPI offers IBM ready access to 40,000 developers that have built tools using the former’s technology. The extra developers would offer IBM new developmental insight into how to improve Watson for mainstream use.

How will it be used?

“The software, which learns as it goes, enables users to group together disparate information on a certain topic or event, find related articles or information sources, and helps advertisers target online ads better. With the addition of AlchemyAPI’s technology, Gold said IBM sees opportunities for Watson in many fields such as healthcare, law and insurance, or wherever there are large volumes of unstructured data to be analyzed.”

It seems Watson cannot do everything on its own and needs a little help from other technology. It is hard to imagine that Watson needs the extra boost, consider IBM hypes the supercomputer up as able to handle information by the truckload.

Whitney Grace, March 13, 2015
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

OpenText Innovation Tour

March 4, 2015

The post on the CEO Blog on Opentext titled Innovation Tour 2015 Kicks Off announces the 15 city tour from a company acquiring technology, not developing it. The company seems unperturbed by this disparity, and touts their excitement to “simplify, transform and accelerate” operations in 2020. The tour will visit four continents and aims to reach out to the companies partners and customers along the way. The blog past written by CEO Mark Barrenechea says,

“Some of the exciting innovations I plan to share on the tour include the very topical cloud and analytics. Since the cloud offers huge benefits to customers, we’ve enhanced our cloud offerings with the addition of subscription pricing and we’ve launched OpenText CORE—an on-demand SaaS solution for cloud-based document sharing and collaboration. We’ve also invested in a predictive analytics platform for all our EIM solutions…Analytics is a powerful addition to our portfolio.”

The tour promises exhibitions, keynote speakers and roundtable discussions. The only question for interested parties may be, can they overhype this tour? Apparently not, with this year’s focus being the Digital First-World and the revolutionary changes that OpenText suspects will take place this decade. It seems that if you miss your chance to participate in the innovation tour, you will never catch up to the companies that do.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 04, 2015

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Google Loon Looms

March 3, 2015

Which is grabbing more traffic: Facebook or stories about Google Loon? We know that Google has found social media a slippery fish. To address the lack of grippiness on innovation, Google is pumping up the Loon balloon.

Navigate to “Google Thinks Its Internet Balloons Will Be a $10 Billion Business.” The story reports:

…The company’s “floating cell towers in the sky” are capable of staying aloft up to six months and Google envisions its efforts eventually turning into a business that could make tens of billions of revenue dollars a year…

Where have I seen $10 estimates before. Oh, I remember. IBM Watson was going to be a $10 billion a year business. HP one upped Big Blue by assuming that it could pay $11 billion for Autonomy and make that an even more fantastic amount of billions operation. I suppose I could toss in Palantier, but why confuse people?

The “play” is that Google will form partnerships with telecommunication companies. Isn’t Google setting up its own high speed and wireless service? I don’t know much about telcos but I did pick up some info when I worked on AT&T and Bell Labs’ projects years ago. Telcos don’t like to stray too far from the shadow of the Bell Heads who came before. Outside the US, the telcos may not be exactly what they seem.

I find the notion of balloons interesting; however, I am skeptical that the various pieces will snap into place like a Darth Vadar Lego construction. Didn’t Google invest in doing stuff from satellites? Well, I suppose one should hedge one’s bets.

Stephen E Arnold, March 3, 2015

Celebrating Claude Shannon

February 27, 2015

A certain website dedicated to knowledge and discussion, Edge, poses a question each year in the hope of provoking a thoughtful conversation. This year’s question, for example, is “What do you think about machines that think?” Very timely. However, I’m here to recall a nugget from 2012, when journalism professor and author of The Wikipedia Revolution Andrew Lih penned an answer to that year’s question, “What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?”

Lih’s response is titled “Information Is the Resolution of Uncertainty.” I suggest you read the whole post—it isn’t that long. It traces the beginning of the information age to 1948, when under-sung mathematician, engineer, and cryptographer Claude Shannon coined that definition: “Information is the resolution of uncertainty.” Shannon’s perspective was informed by his experiences during World War II, when then-new technologies vastly complicated issues of protecting, and eavesdropping upon, critical information. Lih writes:

“As long as something can be relayed that resolves uncertainty, that is the fundamental nature of information. While this sounds surprisingly obvious, it was an important point, given how many different languages people speak and how one utterance could be meaningful to one person, and unintelligible to another. Until Shannon’s theory was formulated, it was not known how to compensate for these types of ‘psychological factors’ appropriately. Shannon built on the work of fellow researchers Ralph Hartley and Harry Nyquist to reveal that coding and symbols were the key to resolving whether two sides of a communication had a common understanding of the uncertainty being resolved.

“Shannon then considered: what was the simplest resolution of uncertainty? To him, it was the flip of the coin—heads or tails, yes or no—as an event with only two outcomes. Shannon concluded that any type of information, then, could be encoded as a series of fundamental yes or no answers. Today, we know these answers as bits of digital information—ones and zeroes—that represent everything from email text, digital photos, compact disc music or high definition video.”

It does sound simple, but this binary approach to information was a unique and startling perspective. Lih traces the development of every digital invention that shapes our modern world to this extensive thought experiment. Claude Shannon went on to influence his students as a professor at MIT, many of whom later built such things as digital modems (and later wireless communications), computer graphics, data compression, and artificial intelligence. Lih laments that Shannon does not get the credit he deserves, and would like him to be widely remembered as the father of the information age.

Cynthia Murrell, February 27, 2015

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

IBM and the Functioning Assumption

February 26, 2015

I read “Could IBM Really Function with Tens of thousands Fewer Staff?” I think this is an interesting headline. It contains an assumption that IBM is indeed functioning with its present staffing levels.

The write up moves blithely forward offering up:

According to a recent report from India, IBM reduced its India-based workforce from about 165,000 in 2011 to 113,000 in 2014. The report quoted sources close to IBM’s plans who said this number will fall to 100,000 in 2015. The introduction of modern technologies that make services less labor-intensive is reducing the need for staff in lower-cost locations. At the same time, IBM, like much of the industry, is trying to move away from linear business models based on the provision of full-time equivalents. And talk of IBM cutting swathes of staff is nothing new. In 2010 a senior HR executive at the company told Computer Weekly’s then sister publication, Personnel Today, that IBM was looking into the possibility of cutting its workforce by almost 300,000. He said the strategy would involve making people redundant and rehiring them on a project-by-project basis. It would have reduced IBM’s 399,000 workforce to 100,000 by 2017.

Bloomberg reported:

IBM’s global employee count fell for the second year in a row, the first two year decline since 1993-1994. Even before the 2015 firings, IBM reported 379,592 employees at year end 2014, down 12% year on year (3.9% excluding divestitures). But there are allegedly 15,000 job openings, IBM claims.

Lots of figures. Lots of people. But let me go back to the word “functioning.” IBM, like HP, has been around a long time. The company’s notion of agility is to market wild and crazy ideas with zest. I see Watson as an example of the new IBM. Open source technology and home brew code. The search system is presented as a “basket brand” into which many different and discrete products and services have been gathered.

The challenge remains. The company has to generate sustainable revenue that yields a profit. So far that seems to be very difficult. I struggle with the “functional” assumption. Perhaps Watson has the answer?

Stephen E Arnold, February 26, 2015

Big Data: Gartner Writes about Gartner Predictions

February 15, 2015

I want to make sure that you are sitting down. Take a deep breath. Okay, now you are ready to enter the twilight zone of predictions generated by a mid tier consulting firm. You can read the modern Michel de Nostradamus’ prophecies in “Gartner Predicts Three Big Data Trends for Business Intelligence.”


The heir to Nostradamus may don a more stylish type of garb when making predictions.

Here we go.

Prophecy I. Big Data will goose reinvention of business processes and products. I, for one, am looking forward to a new type of air travel. My recollection is that it has been unchanged for decades.

Prophecy II. Data brokers will thrive. Okay, intermediaries. Sounds good in except that disintermediation seems to be the trend if the research for CyberOSINT is on the beam.

Prophecy III. I am not sure what this means. Here’s the sentence which caused my personal Yugo’s wheels to spin.”By 2017, more than 20% of customer facing analytic deployments will provide product tracking information leveraging IoT [the Internet of Things].”

Here in Harrod’s Creek, we don’t think too much about prophesies. The future is a slippery fish. For Gartner, their “experts” wear Glacier Glove Ice Bay Fishing Gloves. I wonder if this prophecy was left on the floor of the fish prep room:

Volcanic fire from the center of the earth
will cause trembling around the new city:
Two great rocks will make war for a long time.
Then Arethusa will redden a new river. Source.

Stephen E Arnold, February 15, 2015

Short Honk: Impressive WiFi Signal Analysis

February 15, 2015

Navigate to this Imgur link. There are visualizations of a WiFi signal. Fascinating. I had no idea that the best signals were found on tops of wave “clouds.”


Excellent idea and work.

Stephen E Arnold, February 15, 2015

Ross Delivers a Digital Lawyer

February 11, 2015

Text mining and predictive analytics are hailed as the best technological advances to hit law practices since paralegals. What is the next big thing for legal firms? Powered By Ross might have the answer to “The Future Of Legal Research.” Powered By ROSS is a spartan Web site that is following the current designs used by many Internet businesses. It begs to wonder if the product is legitimize, especially with very little contact information. Reading the product’s description, though, is another story.

ROSS is an artificial intelligence attorney that improves research. It can understand natural language questions and respond with citations and suggested reading. How can ROSS do this? Read more of the description below:

“ROSS is built upon Watson, IBM’s cognitive computer. Almost all of the legal information that you rely on is unstructured data—it is in the form of text, and not neatly situated in the rows and columns of a database. Watson is able to mine facts and conclusions from over a billion of these text documents a second. Meanwhile, existing solutions rely on search technologies that simply find keywords.”

It was only a mater of time before Watson was used for legal research. It still remains suspicious, however, that ROSS has not been talked about more, even by IBM. IBM is looking for all the positive publicity it can get to increase sales. ROSS pushes it a little hard with a JFK quote about the future. While ROSS might be real, it is light years from the systems described in cyber osint at

Whitney Grace, February 11, 2015
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Bridging the Gap between Policy and Technology

February 10, 2015

To many organizations, SharePoint installations can be more of a challenge than an asset. To help negotiate some of the most common challenges, webinars and other trainings can be valuable. Sys-Con Media covers a new training opportunity in their article, “Free 5 Feb Workshop Explores Using Sharepoint to Bridge the Gap Between Policy and Technology.”

The article begins:

“As technology executives, we’re often challenged with managing policy requirements and keeping up with technology to support them, while working with limited budgets and a shallow pool of qualified staff.  DataPoint Solutions is hosting a free workshop to address these challenges in the form of four briefings, outlining how processes can be automated and streamlined by leveraging SharePoint and mission-critical systems to help capture organizational knowledge, automate processes, and ensure compliance with policies.”

Stephen E. Arnold also offers another resource for finding SharePoint training opportunities on his Web service, His SharePoint feed in particular is helpful for managers and end users alike. SharePoint will always be a large installation with lots to manage, but good training and a plan can go a long way toward easing a lot of the common struggles.

Emily Rae Aldridge, February 10, 2015

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