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
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark
Web meet up on July 26, 2016.
Information is at this link: http://bit.ly/29tVKpx.
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
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.
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.
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
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
June 1, 2016
A few days ago, I stumbled upon a copy of a letter from the GAO concerning Palantir Technologies dated May 18, 2016. The letter became available to me a few days after the 18th, and the US holiday probably limited circulation of the document. The letter is from the US Government Accountability Office and signed by Susan A. Poling, general counsel. There are eight recipients, some from Palantir, some from the US Army, and two in the GAO.
Has the US Army put Palantir in an untenable spot? Is there a deus ex machina about to resolve the apparent checkmate?
The letter tells Palantir Technologies that its protest of the DCGS Increment 2 award to another contractor is denied. I don’t want to revisit the history or the details as I understand them of the DCGS project. (DCGS, pronounced “dsigs”, is a US government information fusion project associated with the US Army but seemingly applicable to other Department of Defense entities like the Air Force and the Navy.)
The passage in the letter I found interesting was:
While the market research revealed that commercial items were available to meet some of the DCGS-A2 requirements, the agency concluded that there was no commercial solution that could meet all the requirements of DCGS-A2. As the agency explained in its report, the DCGS-A2 contractor will need to do a great deal of development and integration work, which will include importing capabilities from DCGS-A1 and designing mature interfaces for them. Because the agency concluded that significant portions of the anticipated DCSG-A2 scope of work were not available as a commercial product, the agency determined that the DCGS-A2 development effort could not be procured as a commercial product under FAR part 12 procedures. The protester has failed to show that the agency’s determination in this regard was unreasonable.
The “importing” point is a big deal. I find it difficult to imagine that IBM i2 engineers will be eager to permit the Palantir Gotham system to work like one happy family. The importation and manipulation of i2 data in a third party system is more difficult than opening an RTF file in Word in my experience. My recollection is that the unfortunate i2-Palantir legal matter was, in part, related to figuring out how to deal with ANB files. (ANB is i2 shorthand for Analysts Notebook’s file format, a somewhat complex and closely-held construct.)
Net net: Palantir Technologies will not be the dog wagging the tail of IBM i2 and a number of other major US government integrators. The good news is that there will be quite a bit of work available for firms able to support the prime contractors and the vendors eligible and selected to provide for-fee products and services.
Was this a shoot-from-the-hip decision to deny Palantir’s objection to the award? No. I believe the FAR procurement guidelines and the content of the statement of work provided the framework for the decision. However, context is important as are past experiences and perceptions of vendors in the running for substantive US government programs.
May 25, 2016
Stephen E Arnold, May 25, 2016
May 12, 2016
If you have an MBA, you won’t be turning cartwheels to dive into this directory. If, on the other hand, you have a degree in medieval literature or a fondness for Cubism, this directory is your cup of tea.
Navigate to the directory of mathematical objects at http://www.lmfdb.org/. Choose your poison and scan the categories of objects or dive right into the particulars of an object. Here’s what you find when you navigate to elliptic curves:
You can plug in values or just look at the sample data. There are examples, and dataset download options.
Stephen E Arnold, May 12, 2016
May 11, 2016
Want to avoid the effort of convincing a commercial penetration tool vendor to license you their gizmos? Want to understand how some questionable computer exploits work?
Navigate to BlackArch Linux and check out the list of tools in the table called Tools.
In my forthcoming Dark Web Cookbook, we provide some basic info about how you can turn your free time into a learning experience. One suggestion: Buy a used computer and dabble with some prophylactic methods in mind. Better yet, perhaps you should just remain in a cloud of unknowing?
Stephen E Arnold, May 11, 2016