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
April 29, 2016
There is a new tool for organizations to more quickly detect whether their sensitive data has been hacked. The Atlantic discusses “The Spider that Crawls the Dark Web Looking for Stolen Data.” Until now, it was often many moons before an organization realized it had been hacked. Matchlight, from Terbium Labs, offers a more proactive approach. The service combs the corners of the Dark Web looking for the “fingerprints” of its clients’ information. Writer Kevah Waddell reveals how it is done:
“Once Matchlight has an index of what’s being traded on the Internet, it needs to compare it against its clients’ data. But instead of keeping a database of sensitive and private client information to compare against, Terbium uses cryptographic hashes to find stolen data.
“Hashes are functions that create an effectively unique fingerprint based on a file or a message. They’re particularly useful here because they only work in one direction: You can’t figure out what the original input was just by looking at a fingerprint. So clients can use hashing to create fingerprints of their sensitive data, and send them on to Terbium; Terbium then uses the same hash function on the data its web crawler comes across. If anything matches, the red flag goes up. Rogers says the program can find matches in a matter of minutes after a dataset is posted.”
What an organization does with this information is, of course, up to them; but whatever the response, now they can implement it much sooner than if they had not used Matchlight. Terbium CEO Danny Rogers reports that, each day, his company sends out several thousand alerts to their clients. Founded in 2013, Terbium Labs is based in Baltimore, Maryland. As of this writing, they are looking to hire a software engineer and an analyst, in case anyone here is interested.
Cynthia Murrell, April 29, 2016
April 6, 2016
As a kid friendly society, we cater to the younger generations by making “child friendly” versions of everything from books to meals. When the Internet made headway into our daily lives, kid friendly dashboards were launched to keep the young ones away from pedophiles and to guarantee they only saw age-appropriate content. The kid protocols sucked, for lack of better terms, because the people designing them were not the greatest at judging content.
With more tech-savvy, child wise Web developers running the show now, there are more kid friendly products with more intelligence behind their design. One of the main Internet functions that parents wish were available for their offspring is a safe search engine, but so far their answers have been ignored.
The Metro reports there is now a “New Search Engine Kiddle Is Like Google For Children-Here’s What It Does.” Kiddle’s purpose is to filter results that are safe for kids to read and also is written in simple language.
Kiddle is not affiliated with the search engine giant, however:
“Kiddle is not an official Google product, but the company uses a customized Google search to deliver child-friendly results. Kiddle uses Google colors but instead of the traditional white background has adopted an outer space theme, fit with a friendly robot. It will work in the same manner as Google but its search will be heavily filtered.”
The results will be filleted as such: the first three sites will be kid friendly, four through seven will be written in simple language, and the remaining will be from regular Google filtered through by the Kiddle search.
Kids need to understand how to evaluate content and use it wisely, but the Internet prevents them from making the same judgments other generations learned, as they got older. However, kids are also smarter than we think so a “kid friendly” search tool is usually dumbed down to the cradle. Kiddle appears to have the best of both worlds, at least it is better than parental controls.
April 5, 2016
What will Google do next? Google’s London AI powerhouse has set up a new healthcare division and acquired a medical app called Hark, an article from Business Insider, tells us the latest. DeepMind, Google’s artificial intelligence research group, launched a new division recently called DeepMind Health and acquired a healthcare app. The article describes DeepMind Health’s new app called Hark,
“Hark — acquired by DeepMind for an undisclosed sum — is a clinical task management smartphone app that was created by Imperial College London academics Professor Ara Darzi and Dr Dominic King. Lord Darzi, director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, said in a statement: “It is incredibly exciting to have DeepMind – the world’s most exciting technology company and a true UK success story – working directly with NHS staff. The types of clinician-led technology collaborations that Mustafa Suleyman and DeepMind Health are supporting show enormous promise for patient care.”
The healthcare industry is ripe for disruptive technology, especially technologies which solve information and communications challenges. As the article alludes to, many issues in healthcare stem from too little conveyed and too late. Collaborations between researchers, medical professionals and tech gurus appears to be a promising answer. Will Google’s Hark lead the way?
Megan Feil, April 5, 2016
March 31, 2016
Increased regulations in the financial field call for tools that can gather certain information faster and more thoroughly. Bobsguide points to a solution in, “RAVN Systems Releases RAVN ACE for Automated Data Extraction of ISDA Documents Using Artificial Intelligence.” For those who are unaware, ISDA stands for International Swaps and Derivatives Association, and a CSA is a Credit Support Annex. The press release informs us:
“RAVN’s ground-breaking technology, RAVN ACE, joins elements of Artificial Intelligence and information processing to deliver a platform that can read, interpret, extract and summarise content held within ISDA CSAs and other legal documents. It converts unstructured data into structured output, in a fraction of the time it takes a human – and with a higher degree of accuracy. RAVN ACE can extract the structure of the agreement, the clauses and sub-clauses, which can be very useful for subsequent re-negotiation purposes. It then further extracts the key definitions from the contract, including collateral data from tabular formats within the credit support annexes. All this data is made available for input to contract or collateral management and margining systems or can simply be provided as an Excel or XML output for analysis. AVN ACE also provides an in-context review and preview of the extracted terms to allow reviewing teams to further validate the data in the context of the original agreement.”
The write-up tells us the platform can identify high-credit-risk relationships and detail the work required to repaper those accounts (that is, to re-draft, re-sign, and re-process paperwork). It also notes that even organizations that have a handle on their contracts can benefit, because the platform can compare terms in actual documents with those in that have been manually abstracted.
Based in London, enterprise search firm RAVN tailors its solutions to the needs of each industry it serves. The company was founded in 2011.
Cynthia Murrell, March 31, 2016