Are You Really Beefing up Your Search Skills?

January 18, 2017

Everyone’s New Year’s resolution is usually to lose weight.  When January swings around again, that resolution went out the door with the spring-cleaning.  Exercise can be a challenge, but you can always exercise your search skills by reading Medium’s article, “Google Search Tricks To Become A Search Power User.”  Or at least the article promises to improve your search skills.

Let’s face it, searching on the Web might seem simple, but it requires a little more brainpower than dumping keywords into a search box.  Google makes searching easier and is even the Swiss army knife of answering basic questions.   The Medium article does go a step further by drawing old school search tips, such as the asterisk, quotes, parentheses, and others.  These explanations, however, need to be read more than once to understand how the tools work:

My favorite of all, single word followed by a ‘*’ will do wonders. But yeah this will not narrow your results; still it keeps a wider range of search results. You’ll need to fine tune to find exactly what you want. This way is useful in case when you don’t remember more than a word or two but you still you want to search fully of it.

Having used some of these tips myself, they actually make searching more complicated than taking a little extra time to read the search results.  I am surprised that they did not include the traditional Boolean operators that usually work, more or less.  Sometimes search tips cause more trouble than they are worth.

Whitney Grace, January 18, 2016

The Software Behind the Web Sites

January 17, 2017

Have you ever visited an awesome Web site or been curious how an organization manages their Web presence?  While we know the answer is some type of software, we usually are not given a specific name.  Venture Beat reports that it is possible to figure out the software in the article, “SimilarTech’s Profiler Tells You All Of The Technologies That Web Companies Are Using.”

SimilarTech is a tool designed to crawl the Internet to analyze what technologies, including software, Web site operators use.  SimiliarTech is also used to detect which online payment tools are the most popular.  It does not come as a surprise that PayPal is the most widely used, with PayPal Subscribe and Alipay in second and third places.

Tracking what technology and software companies utilize for the Web is a boon for salespeople, recruiters, and business development professionals who want a competitive edge as well as:

Overall, SimilarTech provides big data insights about technology adoption and usage analytics for the entire internet, providing access to data that simply wasn’t available before. The insights are used by marketing and sales professionals for website profiling, lead generation, competitive analysis, and business intelligence.

SimiliarTech can also locate contact information for personnel responsible for Web operations, in other words new potential clients.

This tool is kind of like the mailing houses of the past. Mailing houses have data about people, places, organizations, etc. and can generate contact information lists of specific clientele for companies.  SimiliarTech offers the contact information, but it does one better by finding the technologies people use for Web site operation.

Whitney Grace, January 17, 2016

Improve Your B2B Search with Klevu

January 6, 2017

Ecommerce sites rely on a strong search tool to bring potential customers to their online stores and to find specific products without a hassle.  B2B based companies have the same goal, but they need an entire different approach although they still rely on search.  If you run a B2B company, you might want to take a gander at Klevu and their solutions: “Search Requirements For A B2B Retailer.”

In the blog post, Klevu explains that B2B companies have multiple customer groups that allow different pricing, products, discounts, etc.  The customers see prices based on allocation from the store, but they cannot use a single price for every item.  Search is also affected by this outcome.  Klevu came out with the Klevu Magneto plugin to:

With the help of our partners and our in-house expertise, we came up with a solution that allows such group prices to automatically work with Klevu. The Klevu Magneto plugin fetches the group prices and, at the time of showing the search results, Klevu’s JavaScript determines the relevant price for rendering. We’ve also ensure that this works in Ajax / quick search as well, as this was an important requirement.

The Klevu Magneto plugin also has an SKU search option, maintaining the same landing page within search results, and instant faceted search.  Klevu researched the issues that its B2B customers had the most problems with and created solutions.  They are actively pursuing ways to resolve bothersome issues that pop up and this is just the start for them.

Whitney Grace, January 6, 2017

Linux Users Can Safely Test Alpha Stage Tor Browser

January 5, 2017

The Tor Project has released the Alpha version of Tor Browser exclusive to Linux that users can test and use in sandboxed mode.

As reported by Bleeping Computer in article titled First Version of Sandboxed Tor Browser Available:

Sandboxing is a security mechanism employed to separate running processes. In computer security, sandboxing an application means separating its process from the OS, so vulnerabilities in that app can’t be leveraged to extend access to the underlying operating system.

As the browser that’s still under development is open to vulnerabilities, these loopholes can be used by competent parties to track down individuals. Sandboxing eliminates this possibility completely. The article further states that:

In recent years, Tor exploits have been deployed in order to identify and catch crooks hiding their identity using Tor. The Tor Project knows that these types of exploits can be used for other actions besides catching pedophiles and drug dealers. An exploit that unmasks Tor users can be very easily used to identify political dissidents or journalists investigating cases of corrupt politicians.

The Tor Project has been trying earnestly to close these loopholes and this seems to be one of their efforts to help netizens stay safe from prying eyes. But again, no system is full-proof. As soon as the new version is released, another exploit might follow suit.

Vishal Ingole, January 5, 2017

Falcon Searches Through Browser History

October 21, 2016

Have you ever visited a Web site and then lost the address or could not find a particular section on it?  You know that the page exists, but no matter how often you use an advanced search feature or scour through your browser history it cannot be found.  If you use Google Chrome as your main browser than there is a solution, says GHacks in the article, “Falcon: Full-Text history Search For Chrome.”

Falcon is a Google Chrome extension that adds full-text history search to a browser.  Chrome usually remembers Web sites and their extensions when you type them into the address bar.  The Falcon extension augments the default behavior to match text found on previously visited Web Sites.

Falcon is a search option within a search feature:

The main advantage of Falcon over Chrome’s default way of returning results is that it may provide you with better results.  If the title or URL of a page don’t contain the keyword you entered in the address bar, it won’t be displayed by Chrome as a suggestion even if the page is full of that keyword. With Falcon, that page may be returned as well in the suggestions.

The new Chrome extension acts as a delimiter to recorded Web history and improves a user’s search experience so they do not have to sift through results individually.

Whitney Grace, October 21, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

The Zen of More Tabs from Yandex

September 5, 2016

Serendipitous information discovery has been attempted through many apps, browsers and more. Attempting a solution, Russia’s giant in online search, Yandex, launched a new feature to their browser. A news release from PR Newswire appeared on 4 Traders entitled Yandex Adds AI-based Personal Recommendations to Browser tells us more. Fueling this feature is Yandex’s personalized content recommendation technology called Zen, which selects articles, videos, images and more for its infinite content stream. This is the first time personally targeted content will appear in new tabs for the user. The press release offers a description of the new feature,

The intelligent content discovery feed in Yandex Browser delivers personal recommendations based on the user’s location, browsing history, their viewing history and preferences in Zen, among hundreds of other factors. Zen uses natural language processing and computer vision to understand the verbal and visual content on the pages the user has viewed, liked or disliked, to offer them the content they are likely to like. To start exploring this new internet experience, all one needs to do is download Yandex Browser and give Zen some browsing history to work with. Alternatively, liking or disliking a few websites on Zen’s start up page will help it understand your preferences on the outset.

The world of online search and information discovery is ever-evolving. For a preview of the new Yandex feature, go to their demo. This service works on all platforms in 24 different countries and in 15 different languages. The design of this feature implies people want to actually read all of their recommended content. Whether that’s the case or not, whether Zen is accurate enough for the design to be effective, time will tell.

Megan Feil, September 5, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/DarkWeb meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233599645/

Is Google a New Science Fiction Sub-Genre?

August 5, 2016

Science fiction is a genre that inspires people to seek the impossible and make it a reality.  Many modern inventors, scientists, computer programmers, and even artists contribute their success and careers from inspiration they garnered from the genre.  Even search engine Google pulled inspiration from science fiction, but one must speculate how much of Google’s ventures are real or mere fiction?  Vanity Fair questions whether or not “Is Google’s BioTech Division The Next Theranos?”

Verily Life Sciences is GoogleX’s biotech division and the company has yet to produce any biotechnology that has revolutionized the medical field.  They bragged about a contact lens that would measure blood glucose levels and a wristband that could detect cancer.  Verily employees have shared their views about Verily’s projects, alluding that they are more in line to fanning the Google fanfare than producing real products.  Other experts are saying that Google is displaying a “Silicon Valley arrogance” along the lines of Theranos.

Theranos misled investors about its “state of the art” technology and is now under criminal investigation.   Verily is supposedly different than Theranos:

“Verily, however, is not positioning itself as a company with a salable product like Theranos. Verily ‘is not a products company,’ chief medical officer Jessica Mega argued Monday on Bloomberg TV. ‘But it’s a company really focused on trying to shift the needle when it comes to health and disease.’ That’s a distinction, luckily for Google, that could make all the difference.”

There is also a distinction between fantasy and a reality and counting your chickens before they hatch.  Google should be investing in experimentation medical technology that could improve treatment and save lives, but they should not promise anything until they have significant research and even a prototype as proof.  Google should discuss their ventures, but not brag about them as if they were a sure thing.

 

Whitney Grace, August 5, 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.

 

Scholarship Evolving with the Web

July 21, 2016

Is big data good only for the hard sciences, or does it have something to offer the humanities? Writer Marcus A Banks thinks it does, as he states in, “Challenging the Print Paradigm: Web-Powered Scholarship is Set to Advance the Creation and Distribution of Research” at the Impact Blog (a project of the London School of Economics and Political Science). Banks suggests that data analysis can lead to a better understanding of, for example, how the perception of certain historical events have evolved over time. He goes on to explain what the literary community has to gain by moving forward:

“Despite my confidence in data mining I worry that our containers for scholarly works — ‘papers,’ ‘monographs’ — are anachronistic. When scholarship could only be expressed in print, on paper, these vessels made perfect sense. Today we have PDFs, which are surely a more efficient distribution mechanism than mailing print volumes to be placed onto library shelves. Nonetheless, PDFs reinforce the idea that scholarship must be portioned into discrete units, when the truth is that the best scholarship is sprawling, unbounded and mutable. The Web is flexible enough to facilitate this, in a way that print could never do. A print piece is necessarily reductive, while Web-oriented scholarship can be as capacious as required.

“To date, though, we still think in terms of print antecedents. This is not surprising, given that the Web is the merest of infants in historical terms. So we find that most advocacy surrounding open access publishing has been about increasing access to the PDFs of research articles. I am in complete support of this cause, especially when these articles report upon publicly or philanthropically funded research. Nonetheless, this feels narrow, quite modest. Text mining across a large swath of PDFs would yield useful insights, for sure. But this is not ‘data mining’ in the maximal sense of analyzing every aspect of a scholarly endeavor, even those that cannot easily be captured in print.”

Banks does note that a cautious approach to such fundamental change is warranted, citing the development of the data paper in 2011 as an example.  He also mentions Scholarly HTML, a project that hopes to evolve into a formal W3C standard, and the Content Mine, a project aiming to glean 100 million facts from published research papers. The sky is the limit, Banks indicates, when it comes to Web-powered scholarship.

 

Cynthia Murrell, July 21, 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.

 

Dark Web Drug Merchant Shiny Flakes Fesses Up

July 14, 2016

Authorities know a bit more about how criminals buy and sell drugs on the dark web, thanks to the cooperation of a captured dealer. DarknetPages’ article, “Dark Web and Clearnet Drug Vendor ‘Shiny Flakes’ Confessed his Crimes,” reveals that the 20-year-old Shiny Flakes, aka Maximilian S., was found with a bevy of illegal drugs, cash, and packaging equipment in his German home. Somehow, the police eventually convinced him to divulge his methods. We learn:

“[Maximilian] actually tried to make money on the internet legally in 2013 by copying fee-based pornographic websites. The thing is that the competition was pretty strong and because of that, he abandoned his idea soon after. So instead of spending the 2 thousand EUR he had at the time on porn, he thought it would be a better idea to spend it on drugs. So he went on to purchase 30 g of cocaine and shrooms from a popular German darknet market dealer and then sold them for a higher price on the dark web….

“Shiny Flakes was really worried about the quality of the drugs he was selling and that is why he always kept an eye on forum posts and read everything that his buyers posted about them. In fact, he took things beyond the opinions on the dark web and actually sent the drugs for testing. The tests conducted were both legally and illegally, with the legal tests taking place at Spain’s Energy Control or at Switzerland’s Safer Party. However, it seems that Maximilian also got in touch with the University of Munich where his products were tested by researchers who were paid in cocaine.”

Sounds efficient. Not only was Mr. Flakes conscientious about product quality, he was also apparently a hard worker, putting in up to 16 hours a day on his business. If only he had stayed on the right side of the law when that porn thing didn’t work out. To give him credit, Flakes had every reason to think he would not be caught; he was careful to follow best practices for staying anonymous on the dark web. Perhaps it was his booming success, and subsequent hiring of associates, that led to Shiny Flakes’ downfall. Whatever the case, authorities are sure to follow up on this information.

 

Cynthia Murrell, July 14, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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