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Rakuten Goes Into OverDrive

April 1, 2015

If you use a public library or attend school, you might be familiar with the OverDrive system.  It allows users to download and read ebooks on a tablet of their choice for a limited time, similar to the classic library borrowing policy.  According to Reuters in the article, “Update 2: Rakuten Buying eBook Firm OverDrive For $410 Million In US Push” explains how the Japanese online retailer Rakuten Inc. bought the company.

Rakuten has been buying many businesses in the “sharing economy,” including raising $530 million for Lyft.  OverDrive is a sharing company, because it shares books with people.  It is not the only reason why Rakuten bought the company:

“Another reason for the purchase is the firm’s reach in the U.S. market, [Takahito Aiki, head of Rakuten’s global eBook business] said.  Rakuten has been on a buying spree in recent years to reduce reliance on its home market in Japan. In October it bought U.S. discount store for about $1 billion.”

What does this mean for the textbook industry, though?  Will it hurt or help it?  When Amazon and other online textbook services launched with cheaper alternatives, the brick and mortar businesses felt the crunch. The cup may be either half full or half empty. Publishers may not be familiar with the sharing economy and may have an opportunity to learn first hand if this deal goes down.
Whitney Grace, April 1, 2015
Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Is Google Net Neutral?

March 31, 2015

When the FCC passed laws that protect net neutrality, the Internet rejoiced that its crazy antics would be safeguarded and content would not be as regulated when it comes to search retrieval and indexing. Big technology companies that make the bulk of the revenue from Internet related services and products are beginning to voice their opinions on the matter, including Google. Drew Crawford wrote on his blog Sealed Abstract a very heated post about Google’s stance in the entire net neutrality argument: “Google, Our Patron Saint Of The Closed Web.” The blog points out the Google is net neutral with the Droid open market and its employees’ blogs, but apparently Google is also out to destroy the free Web too.

Google plans to take control of all .dev domain addresses and possible others in an effort to have these extensions solely related to Google products and services. In short, if you want to use any domains with this ending, like a blog, you will be forced to use a Google service. It is reminiscent of when Google forced people to sign-up for Google Plus if users wanted to continue using YouTube.

“My point is that if you think Google is some kind of Patron Saint of the Open Web, shit son. Tim Cook on his best day could not conceive of a dastardly plan like this. This is a methodical, coordinated, long-running and well-planned attack on the open web that comes from the highest levels of Google leadership.”

The news is not surprising when you assemble the pieces, but it is disheartening that there do not seem to be any big companies on the little guy’s side. And I thought Google was committed to not being evil.

Whitney Grace, March 31, 2015

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Microsoft Changes Its Tune on SharePoint Server Update

March 30, 2015

In February, Microsoft announced an unpopular decision to push future SharePoint server product updates through Windows Update. The concern was that the service would automatically install “important” updates, which could pose a threat if no prior testing had been done. However, it appears that Microsoft has heard the frustration and repealed that decision. Redmond Magazine covers the latest in their article, “Microsoft Rescinds Windows Update Policy for SharePoint Server.”

The article quotes Microsoft’s Stefan Gossner:

“In response to a question in his post, Gossner clarified that ‘now the decision was made to only release security fixes through Windows Update.’ In other words, the new policy is now the same as the old one. Microsoft won’t push down product updates through its Windows Update service. The rollback decision may give IT pros some peace of mind as they regain a modicum of control over their production environments.”

Without forced pushed updates, IT pros have the time to test updates before launching them. For organizations that are affected by Microsoft’s policies and decisions, stay tuned to Stephen E. Arnold a lifelong leader in all things search. His Web site features a devoted SharePoint feed, where the latest tips, tricks, and news is shared. It is a simple way to keep an eye out for the good, bad, and the ugly of SharePoint.

Emily Rae Aldridge, March 30, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

SAS Text Miner Provides Valuable Predictive Analytics

March 25, 2015

If you are searching for predictive analytics software that provides in-depth text analysis with advanced linguistic capabilities, you may want to check out “SAS Text Miner.”  Predictive Analytics Today runs down the features and what SAS Text Miner and details how it works.

It is a user-friendly software with data visualization, flexible entity options, document theme discovery, and more.

“The text analytics software provides supervised, unsupervised, and semi-supervised methods to discover previously unknown patterns in document collections.  It structures data in a numeric representation so that it can be included in advanced analytics, such as predictive analysis, data mining, and forecasting.  This version also includes insightful reports describing the results from the rule generator node, providing clarity to model training and validation results.”

SAS Text Miner includes other features that draw on automatic Boolean rule generation to categorize documents and other rules can be exported into Boolean rules.  Data sets can be made from a directory on crawled from the Web.  The visual analysis feature highlights the relationships between discovered patterns and displays them using a concept link diagram.  SAS Text Miner has received high praise as a predictive analytics software and it might be the solution your company is looking for.

Whitney Grace, March 25, 2015
Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Amazon Web Services Lags Behind Google and Microsoft

December 5, 2014

Amazon Web Services is recognized as one of the leading hosts for cloud services, but compared to its competition it is not making as much profit. Enterprise Tech Systems Edition offers “A Rare Glimpse Into The Massive Scale Of AWS.” The article points out that other hosts such as Google, Microsoft, and IBM have bragged about their services and innovations, but Amazon is keeping things quiet.

Senior vice president of the Amazon cloud Andy Jassy believes that the public cloud will grow in demand and companies will stop hosting their own data. His belief is that the public cloud will outpace the locally hosted datacenters and.

Amazon already has more than enough data farms:

“…Each AWS region has at least two availability zones and at least one datacenter if not more, and then added that a typical datacenter has at least 50,000 servers and sometimes more than 80,000 servers. He added that the scale of economy for a datacenter ran out at about that upper level and that after a certain point, the incremental cost of that datacenter went up, not down, as more iron was added to it, and more importantly, at a certain number the “blast radius” of a datacenter failure was too great to allow that many workloads to be taken down by a catastrophic failure.”

It took Amazon a while to achieve this number, but the company has been working on it for years. The greater problem now is advertising and improving its search. Ever try to NOT out unpublished books from a Kindle search? Ever try to upload native content to Amazon enterprise search? It gets better and then it gets worse.

Whitney Grace, December 05, 2014
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Calculating How Much Amazon Costs

January 30, 2014

Amazon Web Services are a good way to store code and other data, but it can get a little pricey. Before you upload your stuff to the Amazon cloud, check out Heap’s article, “How We Estimated Our AWS Costs Before Shipping Any Code.” Heap is an iOS and Web analytics tool that captures every user interaction. The Heap team decided to build it, because there was not a product that offered ad-hoc analysis or analyzed an entire user’s activity. Before they started working on the project, the team needed to estimate their AWS costs to decide if the idea was a sustainable business model.

They needed to figure how much data was generated by a single user interaction, but then they had to find out where the data was stored and what to store it on. The calculations showed that for the business model to work a single visit would have to yield an average one-third of a cent to be worthwhile for clients.

CPU cores, compression, and reserve instances reduced costs, but there are some unexpected factors that inflated costs:

1. AWS Bundling. By design, no single instance type on AWS strictly dominates another. For example, if you decide to optimize for cost of memory, you may initially choose cr1.8xlarge instances (with 244GB of RAM). But you’ll soon find yourself outstripping its paltry storage (240 GB of SSD), in which case you’ll need to switch to hs1.8xlarge instances, which offer more disk space but at a less favorable cost/memory ratio. This makes it difficult to squeeze savings out of our AWS setup.

2. Data Redundancy. This is a necessary feature of any fault-tolerant, highly available cluster. Each live data point needs to be duplicated, which increases costs across the board by 2x.”

Heap’s formula is an easy and intuitive way to calculate pricing for Amazon Cloud Services. Can it be applied to other cloud services?

Whitney Grace, January 30, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Future Looks Bright for Amazon Web Services

December 11, 2013

It seems Amazon has sprinkled fairy dust on its inability to control costs. ReadWrite informs us, “Amazon Web Services Worth $50 Billion by 2015, and That May Be Too Low.” Writer Matt Asay notes that while other cloud services bring in higher revenue multiples than AWS, Amazon’s strength lies in its long-term strategies.

He writes:

“AWS would almost certainly get a more bubble-esque valuation multiple if it operated more profitably. But as Amazon has done in retail, it generally favors pricing that gives it slim profits but a fat market share. It is pricing for future domination, in other words. So far this approach has ensured rapidly growing revenues, as Macquarie Capital estimates suggest.”

See the article for a graph of those Macquarie estimates. Asay points out that many have rejected the idea that AWS could be wildly profitable, saying that no one would take the service seriously.

The article clarifies:

“That is, serious enterprises would never trust important workloads to Amazon’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering, leaving AWS to scrape nickels and dimes off the floor. And yet, if anything, AWS has surpassed expectations, and has demonstrated an ever-increasing relevance for serious enterprise workloads.”

Why? Asay chalks it up to the developers. He points to the growing trend toward cooperation between development and operations departments, which our truncation-loving culture has dubbed DevOps. Amazon is apparently very good at this synthesis, and affording more respect to developers is translating into profits.

Hmm. Perhaps the company can improve its lot even more by extending this respectful attitude to its warehouse workers. Just a suggestion.

Cynthia Murrell, December 11, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

HP Calls out AWS as Outdated

October 17, 2013

In an interesting twist, tech veteran Hewlett Packard calls out competitor Amazon for being too old-fashioned. Gigaom reports, “Beware of Amazon’s ‘Legacy’ Cloud, Says HP’s Cloud Guru.” We’d like to start with a curious observation—the proclamation contains nary a word about the advantages HP Autonomy offers over Amazon’s CloudSearch, still in beta. We’d think they would want to emphasize that advantage.

The focus of this PR push, though, is the rise of OpenStack, the growing open-source alternative to AWS. HP has contributed much to this project, apparently banking on the sale of related support and services. Writer Barb Darrow informs us:

“HP is hoping that the open-source fervor that propelled Linux to the top of the heap in enterprise and mobile operating systems will similarly motivate enterprise customers to take the OpenStack cloud plunge — with full HP services and support attached, of course.

“Given the sheer number of contributors to OpenStack — HP claims the fourth most contributions to the latest Havana release — it’s clear that the technology has piqued interest among developers and their employers. But since it launched four years ago, it’s still new in the game and businesses weighing a move into cloud need to know that moving legacy stuff to any cloud isn’t a day at the beach. HP, he said, will help assess those difficulties up front and, if needed, help with the move.”

Of course they will; that’s rather the point, isn’t it? Darrow notes that the popularity of OpenStack is fed by the shift toward the hybrid cloud. In this model, businesses can keep their most sensitive data on “private clouds” set up within a company’s own firewall. They can then share selected information in the public cloud for collaboration. The shift from one to the other, however, isn’t always as smooth as desired. This is where HP hopes to fill a niche it is helping to build.

Darrow refuses to dismiss the prospects of AWS. The platform has performed well since its launch eight years ago, rolling out new services at an impressive clip. Amazon must know potential clients are eyeing the hybrid cloud model. Should we expect a hybrid option from AWS soon?

Cynthia Murrell, October 17, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

AWS Architect Defends AWS Turf

October 10, 2013

Now that the concept of the cloud has caught on, the folks at Amazon Web Services are not taking competition lying down. The Register reports, “Oh Snap—AWS Daddy Disses It’s ‘Old Guard': You’re so 2000-and-Late.” To unpack that title: The “AWS Daddy” is Andy Jassy, the architect of AWS and a current Amazon VP. The “old guard,” though unnamed by Jassy, must refer to Oracle, HP, Dell, and Microsoft, all of which are now offering cloudy services. And that reference to a Black Eyed Peas lyric? It points to one of Jassy’s swipes at those companies—he insists that their current solutions are at a point AWS reached five years ago. Writer Gavin Clarke dishes:

“AWS and Amazon infrastructure senior vice president Jassy on Tuesday said he reckoned traditional on-premises tech companies were wrong to claim their private clouds offered the same benefits as AWS. Speaking at the AWS Enterprise Summit in London, Jassy did not name names, but referred obliquely to on-premises providers that charge large licenses [and] make fat margins. Running your own cloud does not give you the cost savings of having Amazon’s servers process and store your data and apps or give you access to a stream of new features, he argued.”

Perhaps, though Jassy does not seem to offer any data to support his assertions; see the article for more of his criticisms. I do agree that the pricey, large-license business model prevalent at these more established companies may be growing obsolete. Perhaps, though, their willingness to change by embracing cloud technology signals a more general disposition to adapt. After all, these companies have weathered market shifts before; let’s give them some credit now. Businesses considering their cloud options should do their own research into the choices, not simply accept Jassys’ avowal that his company’s solution is the only competent game in town.

Cynthia Murrell, October 10, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Infographics Take on New Analytic Importance

August 21, 2013

We are increasingly living in a big data and analytic society. But when discussing all this information, it’s hard to put a visual with it. Humans are, after all, very sight-oriented. However, that problem is quickly looking like a thing of the past after discovering a recent Make Use Of article, “Create Your Own Infographic about Your Facebook, Twitter and Youtube Use.”

According to the story:

What About Me is a free to use web service that lets you easily analyze how you have been using your Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts. You start by granting the site access to your accounts. Your usage is analyzed and the infographic is generated while you play with some distractingly interactive circles that are displayed.

The infographic that is finally generated shows your interests in terms of percentages, how you react with friends, plus a number of other interesting things about your social networking usage.

This really is the next logical step in infographics. We’ve been lured, as Wired astutely pointed out, by infographics as “link bait” for a long time. It’s time we turned that gaze inward to see what our social habits say about us. This will take off, we predict.

Patrick Roland, August 21, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Beyond Search

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