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USAGov Wants More Followers on Snapchat

August 12, 2016

The article on GCN titled Tracking the Ephemeral: USAGov’s Plan for Snapchat portrays the somewhat desperate attempts of the government to reach out to millennials. Perhaps shocking to non-users of the self-immolating picture app, Snapchat claims over a hundred million active users each day, mostly comprised of 13 to 34 year olds. The General Service Administration of USAGov plans to use Snapchat to study the success of their outreach like how many followers they receive and how many views their content gets. The article mentions,

“And while the videos and multimedia that make up “Snapchat stories” disappear after just 24 hours, the USAGov team believes the engagement metrics will provide lasting value. Snapchat lets account owners see how many people are watching each story, if they watch the whole story and when and where they stop before it’s over — allowing USAGov to analyze what kind of content works best.”

If you are wondering how this plan is affected by the Federal Records Acts which stipulates documentation of content, GSA is way ahead of you with a strategy of downloading each story and saving it as a record. All in all the government is coming across as a somewhat clingy boyfriend trying to find out what is up with his ex by using her favorite social media outlet. Not a great look for the US government. But at least they aren’t using ChatRoulette.

 

Chelsea Kerwin, August 12, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233019199/

 

Need a Mentor? See Here

August 3, 2016

Does your business need a mentor? How about any students or budding entrepreneurs you know? Such a guide can be invaluable, especially to a small business, but Google and Bing may not be the best places to pose that query. Business magazine Inc. has rounded up “Ten Top Platforms for Finding a Mentor in 22016.” Writer John Boitnott introduces the list:

“Many startup founders have learned that by working with a mentor, they enjoy a collaboration through which they can learn and grow. They usually also gain access to a much more experienced entrepreneur’s extensive network, which can help as they seek funding or gather resources. For students, mentors can provide the insight they need as they make decisions about their future. One of the biggest problems entrepreneurs and students have, however, is finding a good mentor when their professional networks are limited. Fortunately, technology has come up with an answer. Here are nine great platforms helping to connect mentors and mentees in 2016.”

Boitnott  lists the following mentor-discovery resources: Music platform Envelop offers workshops for performers and listeners. Mogul focuses on helping female entrepreneurs via a 27/7 advice hotline. From within classrooms, iCouldBe connects high-school students to potential mentors. Also for high-school students, iMentor is specifically active in low-income communities. MentorNet works to support STEM students through a community of dedicated mentors, while the free, U.K.-based Horse’s Mouth supports a loosely-organized platform where participants share ideas. Also free, Find a Mentor matches potential protégés with adult mentors. SCORE supplies tools like workshops and document templates for small businesses. Cloud-based MentorCity serves entrepreneurs, students, and nonprofits, and it maintains a free online registry where mentors can match their skill sets to the needs of inquiring minds.

Who knew so much professional guidance was out there, made possible by today’s technology, and much of it for free?  For more information on each entry, see the full article.

 

 

Cynthia Murrell, August 3, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

 

Summize, an App with the Technology to Make Our Children Learn. But Is They?

August 2, 2016

The article on TheNextWeb titled Teenagers Have Built a Summary App that Could Help Students Ace Exams might be difficult to read over the sound of a million teachers weeping into their syllabi. It’s no shock that students hate to read, and there is even some cause for alarm over the sheer amount of reading that some graduate students are expected to complete. But for middle schoolers, high schoolers, and even undergrads in college, there is a growing concern about the average reading comprehension level. This new app can only make matters worse by removing a student’s incentive to absorb the material and decide for themselves what is important. The article describes the app,

“Available for iOSSummize is an intelligent summary generator that will automatically recap the contents of any textbook page (or news article) you take a photo of with your smartphone. The app also supports concept, keyword and bias analysis, which breaks down the summaries to make them more accessible. With this feature, users can easily isolate concepts and keywords from the rest of the text to focus precisely on the material that matters the most to them.”

There is nothing wrong with any of this if it is really about time management instead of supporting illiteracy and lazy study habits. This app is the result of the efforts of an 18-year-old Rami Ghanem using optical character recognition software. A product of the era of No Child Left Behind, not coincidentally, exposed to years of teaching to the test and forgetting the lesson, of rote memorization in favor of analysis and understanding. Yes, with Summize, little Jimmy might ace the test. But shouldn’t an education be more than talking point mcnuggets?

 

 

Chelsea Kerwin, August 2, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Big Data Is Just a Myth

August 1, 2016

Remember in the 1979 hit The Muppet Movie there was a running gag where Kermit the Frog kept saying, “It’s a myth.  A myth!”  Then a woman named Myth would appear out of nowhere and say, “Yes?”  It was a funny random gag, but while it is a myth that frogs give warts, most of the myths related to big data may or not be.  Data Science Central decided to explain some of the myths in, “Debunking The 68 Most Common Myths About Big Data-Part 2.”

Some of the prior myths debunked in the first part were that big data was the newest power word, an end all solution for companies, only meant for big companies, and that it was complicated and expensive.  In truth, anyone can benefit from big data with a decent implementation plan and with someone who knows how to take charge of it.

Big data, in fact, can be integrated with preexisting systems, although it takes time and knowledge to link the new and the old together (it is not as difficult as it seems).  Keeping on that same thought, users need to realize that there is not a one size fits all big data solution.  Big data is a solution that requires analytical, storage, and other software.  It cannot be purchased like other proprietary software and it needs to be individualized for each organization.

One myth that is has converted into truth is that big data relies on Hadoop storage.  It used to be Hadoop  managed a market of many, but bow it is an integral bit of software needed to get the big data job done.  One of the most prevalent myths is it only belongs in the IT department:

“Here’s the core of the issue.  Big Data gives companies the greatly enhanced ability to reap benefits from data-driven insights and to make better decisions.  These are strategic issues.

You know who is most likely to be clamoring for Big Data?  Not IT.  Most likely it’s sales, marketing, pricing, logistics, and production forecasting.  All areas that tend to reap outsize rewards from better forward views of the business.”

Big data is becoming more of an essential tool for organizations in every field as it tells them more about how they operate and their shortcomings.  Big data offers a very detailed examination of these issues; the biggest issue users need to deal with is how they will use it?

 

Whitney Grace, August 1, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Oracle v Google Copyright Trial in Progress

July 22, 2016

The battle between Google and Oracle over Android’s use of Java has gone to federal court, and the trial is expected to conclude in June. CBS San Francisco Bay Area reports, “Former Google CEO Testifies in Oracle-Google Copyright Trial.” The brief write-up reveals the very simple defense of Eric Schmidt, who was Google’s CEO while Android was being developed (and is now CEO of Google’s young parent company, Alphabet): “We believed our approach was appropriate and permitted,” he stated.

Java was developed back in the ‘90s by Sun Microsystems, which was bought by Oracle in 2010. Google freely admits using Java in the development of Android, but they assert it counts as fair use—the legal doctrine that allows limited use of copyrighted material if it is sufficiently transformed or repurposed. Oracle disagrees, though Schmidt maintains Sun Microsystems saw it his way back in the day. The article tells us:

“Schmidt told the jury that when Google was developing Android nine years ago, he didn’t believe the company needed a license from Sun for the APIs. “We believed our approach was appropriate and permitted,” he said.

“Under questioning from Google attorney Robert Van Nest, Schmidt said that in 2007, Sun’s chief executive officer Jonathan Schwartz knew Google was building Android with Java, never expressed disapproval and never said Google needed a license from Sun.

“In cross-examination by Oracle attorney Peter Bicks, Schmidt acknowledged that he had said in 2007 that Google was under pressure to compete with the Apple Inc.’s newly released iPhone.”

Yes it was, the kind of pressure that can erode objectivity. Did Google go beyond fair use in this case? The federal court will soon decide.

 

 

Cynthia Murrell, July 22, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark
Web meet up on July 26, 2016.
Information is at this link: http://bit.ly/29tVKpx.

 

Elasticsearch API Calls

July 17, 2016

Short honk: Are you a fan of Elasticsearch, the Lucene based open source system giving proprietary vendors of search systems a migraine? If you are, you will want to point your browser at “Elasticsearch-API Info.” The information is presented in a table which lists and annotates Elasticsearch’s APIs from bulk to update. Useful stuff.

Stephen E Arnold, July 17, 2016

VirtualWorks Purchases Natural Language Processing Firm

July 8, 2016

Another day, another merger. PR Newswire released a story, VirtualWorks and Language Tools Announce Merger, which covers Virtual Works’ purchase of Language Tools. In Language Tools, they will inherit computational linguistics and natural language processing technologies. Virtual Works is an enterprise search firm. Erik Baklid, Chief Executive Officer of VirtualWorks is quoted in the article,

“We are incredibly excited about what this combined merger means to the future of our business. The potential to analyze and make sense of the vast unstructured data that exists for enterprises, both internally and externally, cannot be understated. Our underlying technology offers a sophisticated solution to extract meaning from text in a systematic way without the shortcomings of machine learning. We are well positioned to bring to market applications that provide insight, never before possible, into the vast majority of data that is out there.”

This is another case of a company positioning themselves as a leader in enterprise search. Are they anything special? Well, the news release mentions several core technologies will be bolstered due to the merger: text analytics, data management, and discovery techniques. We will have to wait and see what their future holds in regards to the enterprise search and business intelligence sector they seek to be a leader in.

Megan Feil, July 8, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

Supercomputers Have Individual Personalities

July 1, 2016

Supercomputers like Watson are more than a novelty.  They were built to be another tool for humans, rather than replacing humans all together or so reads some comments from Watson’s chief technology officer Rob High.  High was a keynote speaker at the Nvidia GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, California.  The Inquirer shares the details in “Nvidia GTC: Why IBM Watson Dances Gangam Style And Sings Like Taylor Swift.”

At the conference, High said that he did not want his computer to take over his thinking, instead he wanted the computer to do his research for him.  Research and keeping up with the latest trends in any industry consumes A LOT of time and a supercomputer could potentially eliminate some of the hassle.  This requires that supercomputers become more human:

“This leads on to the fact that the way we interact with computers needs to change. High believes that cognitive computers need four skills – to learn, to express themselves with human-style interaction, to provide expertise, and to continue to evolve – all at scale.  People who claim not to be tech savvy, he explained, tend to be intimidated by the way we currently interact with computers, pushing the need for a further ‘humanising’ of the process.”

In order to humanize robots, what is taking place is them learning how to be human.  A few robots have been programmed with Watson as their main processor and they can interact with humans.  By interacting with humans, the robots pick up on human spoken language as well as body language and vocal tone.  It allows them to learn how to not be human, but rather the best “artificial servant it can be”.

Robots and supercomputers are tools that can ease a person’s job, but the fact still remains that in some industries they can also replace human labor.

 

Whitney Grace, July 1, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Google Results Now Include Animal Noise Audio

June 27, 2016

Ever wonder about the difference in the noise a bowhead whale makes versus a humpback whale? This is yet another query Google can answer. Tech Insider informed us that Google Search has a secret feature that shouts animal noises at you. This feature allows users to listen to 20 different animal sounds, but according to the article, it is not a well-known service yet. Available on mobile devices as well, this feature appears with a simply query of “what noise does an elephant make?” The post tells us,

“Ever wondered what noise a cow makes? Or a sheep? Or an elephant? No, of course you haven’t because you’re a normal adult with some grasp of reality. You know what noise a sheep makes. But let’s assume for a minute that you don’t. Well, not to worry: Google has got your back. That’s because as well as being a calculator, a tool for researching coworkers, and a portal for all the world’s information, Google has another, little-known feature … It’s capable of making animal noises. Lots of them.”

I don’t know if we would call 20 animal noises “a lot” considering the entirety of the animal kingdom, but it’s definitely a good start. As the article alludes to, the usefulness of this feature is questionable for adults, but perhaps it could be educational for kids or of some novelty interest to animal lovers of all ages. Search is always searching to deliver more.

 

Megan Feil, June 27, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Turn to Unsplash for Uncommon Free Photos

June 7, 2016

Stock photos can be so, well, stock. However, Killer Startups points to a solution in, “Today’s Killer Startup: Unsplash.” Reviewer Emma McGowan already enjoyed the site for its beautiful free photos, with new ones posted every day. She especially loves that their pictures do not resemble your typical stock photos. The site’s latest updates make it even more useful. She writes:

“The new version has expanded to include lovely, searchable collections. The themes range from conceptual (‘Pure Color’) to very specific (‘Coffee Shops’). All of the photos are free to use on whatever project you want. I can personally guarantee that all of your work will look so much better than if you went with the usual crappy free options.

“Now if you want to scroll through beautiful images a la old-school Unsplash, you can totally still do that too. The main page is still populated with a seemingly never ending roll of photos, and there’s also a ‘new’ tab where you can check out the latest and greatest additions to the collection. However, I really can’t get enough of the Collections, both as a way to browse beautiful artwork and to more easily locate images for blog posts.”

So, if you have a need for free images, avoid the problems found in your average stock photography, which can range from simple insipidness to reinforcing stereotypes and misconceptions. Go for something different at Unsplash. Based in Montreal, the site launched in 2013. As of this writing, they happen to be hiring (and will consider remote workers).

 

Cynthia Murrell, June 7, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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