Google: Cracks in the Facade of Smart

June 2, 2019

I find it amusing that a company with the smartest people in the world cannot fail gracefully. When the GOOG goes down hard. I discovered this chugging along from rural Kentucky to a rural location in South Carolina. Google did not deliver. Once I was able to fire up a connection which actually worked, I read “Google Outage Takes Down YouTube, Gmail, and Snapchat in Parts of US.” I learned:

Discord, Snapchat, and Vimeo users are also experiencing issues logging into the apps, and these all use Google Cloud on the backend. “We are experiencing high levels of network congestion in the eastern USA, affecting multiple services in Google Cloud, GSuite and YouTube,” says a Google spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. “Users may see slow performance or intermittent errors. We believe we have identified the root cause of the congestion and expect to return to normal service shortly.”

Now about those smart people. Are too many trying to abandon assignments which have zero future for the zippier work? Of course not. Google does not have Android fragmentation or other technical weaknesses. I would suggest that some work needs to be done on foundational services.

Stephen E Arnold, June 2, 2019

Apple and Google: Beacons Beckon and Inform

May 17, 2018

I read “Apple News Officially Lets Publishers Use Google’s DoubleClick to Serve Ads.” The main idea is that a couple of large companies are teaming up in a way that matters: Advertising or at least keeping some folks happy. I don’t have a dog in this fight, but the news, if accurate, reminded me that making money is a goal which makes bad experiences like appointing some individuals to a company’s Board of Directors go away.

The write up asserts:

The ad-targeting options break down into two categories: context-based targeting and audience-based targeting. Contextual ads can be aimed based on the article’s publisher, its content category within Apple News and the tags a publisher appends to the individual article as well as according to whether it appears on an iPhone or iPad. Audience-wise, the ads can be targeted by a person’s location (though only at the designated market area level), their gender and their age group.

What’s this mean? A partial answer can be excavated from the glorious prose of these public documents:

  • US7039599, Method and apparatus for automatic placement of advertising
  • US7085682, System and method for analyzing website activity
  • US7349827, System and method for reporting website activity based on inferred attribution methodology
  • US7844488, Method of delivery, targeting, and measuring advertising over networks.

These documents can be downloaded from the USPTO. Think of the link as a beacon which is a heck of a lot less effective than the inventions disclosed in these patents.

Stephen E Arnold, May 17, 2018

Ebay Is Sold Structured Data

January 19, 2016

PayPal and eBay split in 2015 and many people thought it was a poor mistake on eBay’s part.  However, eBay has recouped any potential loses by record profits and more than 159 million sellers.  Channel Advisor explains that one of the reasons eBay has grown so much is due to its incorporation of structured data and its importance for organic search in the article, “eBay Moves Towards Structured Data-And Why It Matters.”

As an avid eBay buyer and seller, I have been impressed with the new changes in eBay’s demand for structured data.  In the past, if you wanted to find anything on eBay you had to go directly to the Web site and dig through results.  Sometimes you could find results on Google or another search engine, but these were usually cached auctions.  Since the switchover, eBay listings are prominent within Google’s search results.  What is even better is how accurate they are!

EBay has turned to structured data as a way to compete with Amazon.  While this is beneficial in the long run, it forces sellers to refocus their strategies.  The article gives some great tips on how to improve your listings for the best organic search effectiveness.  What eBay is demanding now is item specifics so items are placed in the right categories and also helps buyers make more informed decisions.  Product identifiers are now very important and mandatory in many categories.  These include item specifics such as UPCs, ISBNs, MPNs, GTINs, and more.  The goal with all this extra information is to increase visibility in Google and eBay search results.

“In addition to the above benefits, adding identifiers will give you:

  • The ability to match your item with a product from the more robust eBay catalogue
  • More accurate pricing guidance when you list your items
  • Trending price alerts — when your listings are priced lower than the trending price

EBay suggests adding identifiers even if they’re not yet required for your category – doing so will earn you an early competitive edge.”

EBay used to be the one-stop shopping destination online, but Amazon has quickly stolen that title from them.  With more detailed listings and visibility in Google, eBay is sure to win back customers.


Whitney Grace, January 19, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph



Perceptive Software Builds Offices with Emphasis on Group Spaces

January 29, 2015

The article titled Johnson County’s Coolest Offices Are Places Where People Want to Work on The Kansas City Star praises Perceptive Software for its interest in architecture and search. Their new office building boasts wide-open spaces and flexible work areas. There are still cubicles, but the group spaces are more thoughtfully planned to be inviting and inspiring. The article states,

“We wanted the building to be a visual depiction of our fun, collaborative culture,” said Megan McClendon, spokeswoman for Perceptive Software, as she began a tour of the new 238,000-square-foot building in its central atrium. “We have flexible work options for employees to work at home or wherever, but employees are coming in to work more often. They don’t have to be here, but they do.”

Small touches can make a big difference in environment. Items like the V-shaped table for videoconferencing are the round table of corporate equality, enabling everyone to see and be seen. Having a dry cleaners in the building and a gym make errands and personal time more accessible and convenient, improving morale and even allowing for employees to spend more time at work. 700 people work in the new offices, and perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of their construction is the attempt to dismantle the “corner office with a view.” Instead, it is the group spaces that get the windows, while the private officers are in the middle. Clearly, this sort of innovation is exciting in the value it sets on employee spaces.

Chelsea Kerwin, January 29, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Globe Newspaper Has to Rethink IT Infrastructure

April 30, 2014

The article “Boston Globe Rebuilds Its IT Infrastructure After New Owner Takes Over” published in eWeek creates speculation about how flawed the newspaper’s tech was. The New York Times sold The Boston Globe in October 2013 and more than management changed. The New York Times centralized all of The Globe’s IT systems, but when it broke away so did the infrastructure. Wade Sendall, VP of IT at The Globe, must work with a limited budget and a staff of sixty to rebuild workflows.

Wendell and his team decided use the Mendix App Platform and it resolved many pressing problems. Not only were immediate issues resolved, but also Mendix provided solutions for others within the six to nine month deadline.

“ ‘In the past, applications were built by developers and they’d eventually leave, leaving a hodge-podge” of code and applications, said Sendall. ‘So what we’ve tried to do is put this platform in place to increase flexibility. It means easier changes, support and documentation for the future,” since it is all stored in the platform.’ “

Not a bad resolution to what could have been a catastrophe. It does beg the question, is The New York Times’ infrastructures in desperate need of revamping as well?

Whitney Grace, April 30, 2014
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Prediction for IBM January Announcement

January 8, 2014

Folks at the Register have been reading the signs and believe they know what big announcement IBM plans to make at its Infrastructure Matters virtual event on January 14th. “IBM Flashy January Announcement: Wanna Know What’s in It?” predicts the launch of data centers with all-flash memory. That would be one way to combat storage latency. What makes writer Chris Mellor so sure? Several clues led to the prediction.

First, Mellor points to an SEC filing in which Netlist is sewing Diablo and SMART Storage for allegedly using its DIMM tech. The filing revealed that IBM is planning to introduce ULLtraDIMM to the market in one of its X-Series servers in January. If the filing is accurate, that would add around a terabyte of flash alongside a server’s main memory, cutting access time in half.

Then there’s a blog post from Woody Hutsell, who found himself working in IBM’s FlashSystems division after Big Blue bought up his former employer, Texas Memory Systems. According to Hutsell’s post, IBM plans to introduce flash arrays to cover both high-end and efficiency markets; the post hints at a connection to the January announcement.

If those leads aren’t enough, a simple look at the speakers IBM has lined up convinced Mellor that his suspicions are correct. He writes:

“Looking at the three featured speakers at the event we see:

*Adalio Sanchez, General Manager, System x

*Alex Yost, VP, IBM PureFlex, System x and Bladecenter

*Michael Kuhn, Vice President and Business Line Executive, Flash Systems.

“With these three speakers highlighted, your Vulture thinks we are going to be told about IBM X-Series servers fitted with ULLtraDIMMs, other servers fitted with FlashSystem PCIe Flash Adapters, and a new line of Flash System arrays that will feature in-line deduplication and other data management functionality. They will be IBM’s response to Pure System’s arrays, EMC’s XtremIo, NetApp’s EF550 and coming FlashRay, and Violin Memory’s 6000 and 3000-series products.

“The Flash Adapters are IBM’s response to Fusion-io and the many other PCIe flash card vendors such as LSI, Micron and Violin.

“The ULLtraDIMM X-Series servers will be an industry-first and give IBM an edge over Cisco, Dell and HP in the server game.”

So, is IBM ready to move into the all-flash realm, or is our “Vulture” on the wrong trail? We will find out soon.

Cynthia Murrell, January 08, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Oracle Claims Irritate Competitors

October 13, 2013

Oracle’s CEO Larry Ellison has been talking trash about his company’s competitors, and they are not taking it lying down. Business Insider reports, “IBM and SAP Say You Shouldn’t Believe Larry Ellison’s Latest Claims About Oracle’s New Products.” The latest pair of Ellison assertions to cause a stir comes from a presentation the executive gave at Oracle’s recent conference. In that keynote speech, Ellison claims their new server is much faster and cheaper than the IBM alternative. Writer Julie Bort tells us:

“The problem is that Oracle has already been busted three times for advertising campaigns claiming that Oracle’s servers are faster, better, or cheaper than IBM’s. IBM has complained about these ads to the advertising industry’s self-regulation body, the National Advertising Division, and NAB has consistently sided with IBM and told Oracle to change the ads. When IBM asked NAB to look into the truth of a fourth campaign, NAB threw up its hands and asked The Federal Trade Commission to investigate Oracle’s ads for ‘possible law enforcement action,’ it said last month.”

Bort does note that IBM has a habit of dragging regulators into its disagreements. Still, the fact that IBM is not the only company aggrieved by Oracle‘s claims may lead some credence to its position. In the same conference presentation in which he blasted IBM’s server, Ellison asserted that Oracle’s in-memory database feature “instantly makes the database work at least 100 times faster.” SAP, home of the comparable yet cheaper HANA database, takes issue with the claim. SAP’s Hasso Plattner replied that Oracle is:

“. . . still trying to make queries run faster but missed the chance to simplify the data management at the same time. SAP HANA has been delivering real-time performance to our customers in real world environments for years.”

I have to wonder whether the controversy helps or hurts Oracle. Either way, since the company maintains a hold on about half the database market share, I should think its CEO could afford to dial back the controversial claims, if only out of professional courtesy.

Cynthia Murrell, October 13, 2013

Watson Gets A Few More IQ Points

September 24, 2013

Watson impressed the world with a computer’s potential when IBM first introduced it in 2009. According to PC World, the powerful processor is about to get a few more IQ points: “IBM”S Watson Could Get Even Smarter With Power8 Chip.” Watson is currently running on the Power7 chip, but number 8 was discussed at a recent conference and is described as being two to three times faster. IBM’s Power line and Intel’s Xeon processor are used in most of the world’s supercomputing. Whenever IBM upgrades its product it uses Watson as a test dummy and the ultimate marketing tool.

Watson is already a powerful tool used in customer service applications, financial applications, and potentially smartphones. The new upgrade will make Watson and other computers that use the Power more than double their processing speed.

IBM has yet to release Power8, but it will soon:

“Recently, IBM announced its OpenPower initiative, where it will license the Power chips and co-develop an ecosystem around the Power architecture with companies like Google, Nvidia, and Mellanox. Up until now, IBM primarily used the Power design in its own servers. This new initiative makes it possible for cloud services and their technology providers to redesign the chips and circuit boards where computing is done, optimizing the interactions of microprocessors, memory, networking, data storage and other components, IBM executives said.”

More is just around the corner for Watson. I have made the joke before and I will continue to do so, I just hope it is not world domination.

Whitney Grace, September 24, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Approaching Infrastructure Challenges with Intelligence API

August 6, 2013

The rise of metadata is here, but will companies be able to harness its value? Concept Searching points to the answer that ROI has not been successful with this across the board. A recent article, “Solving the Inadequacies and Failures in Enterprise Search,” admonishes the laissez-faire approach that some companies have towards enterprise search. The author advocates, instead, towards a hands-on information governance approach.

What the author calls a “metadata infrastructure framework” should be created and should be comprised of automated intelligent metadata generation, auto-classification, and the use of goal and mission aligned taxonomies.

According to the article:

The need for organizations to access and fully exploit the use of their unstructured content won’t happen overnight. Organizations must incorporate an approach that addresses the lack of an intelligent metadata infrastructure, which is the fundamental problem. Intelligent search, a by-product of the infrastructure, must encourage, not hamper, the use and reuse of information and be rapidly extendable to address text mining, sentiment analysis, eDiscovery and litigation support. The additional components of auto-classification and taxonomies complete the core infrastructure to deploy intelligent metadata enabled solutions, including records management, data privacy, and migration.

We wholeheartedly agree that investing in infrastructure is a necessity — across many areas, not just search. However, when it comes to a search infrastructure, we would be remiss not to mention the importance of security. Fortunately there are solutions like Cogito Intelligence API that offer businesses focused on avoiding risks the confidence in using a solution already embedded with corporate security measures.

Megan Feil, August 6, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Beyond Search

Google Competes with Amazon and Apple on Infrastructure Spending

May 1, 2013

According to the article titled Google’s Infrastructure Spending Spree Continues; $1.2B in Q1 on GIGAOM, Google has almost doubled its spending from last year’s first quarter. It continues spending on property and equipment, and to maintain efficiency. Apple and Amazon have not released their earnings report as of yet, although in the previous quarter each company spent over 2 billion. The article explains,

Apples-to-apples comparisons can be tough, because everyone’s businesses are different and decisions to build or buy new gear can affect expenditures, as can massive new headquarters. But here goes: In its fiscal third quarter earnings announced on Thursday, Microsoft claims it spent $930 million. Facebook, Apple and Amazon have not yet released their latest earnings, although both Apple and Amazon spent more than $2 billion on “property and equipment” in the previous quarter. Facebook spent $198 million and another $89 million leasing property and equipment.”

Apple especially has drawn attention for its new headquarters, reportedly nearing 3 billion dollars over budget due to extravagances like 15 acres of trees and cast ceiling molds that will be lifted into place, according to this article, Apple’s Massive Jobs-designed Future Headquarters projects is $2B Over Budget. Microsoft’s spending sound meager in comparison at 930 million. Google’s huge investment in infrastructure makes us wonder, will the company with the biggest computer win the revenue wars?

Chelsea Kerwin, May 01, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

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