Entries Tagged as 'Microsoft'

Why Google Image Search Will Ruin Bing

Google released some new technology just recently, from voice search to its image search. I would imagine that the voice search is using NLP (natural language processing) since the way a person searches via speech is completely different than from typing in keywords. It’s basically the next evolution of synchronizing normal human behavior with technology. Almost a transhumanism push if you will.

The Google image Search though is what is interesting. When Google purchased Riya, I had thought that this was what was going to happen with the next evolution of image search. I mean, let’s be honest, that’s what’s interesting. If you gave the web, a person’s face, and it came back with possible hits of where that person might have been or what not based on facial recognition or identification, then this makes it completely like an “Eden of the East” search. Which is what I had thought Bing was going to be when it came out.

Let’s be honest. No one knew what Bing was going to be about at the opening except for those crazy commercials and everyone thought it was cool. At first. So did I. But once I figured out that it wasn’t anything new, and they put up a pretty picture but didn’t use their technologies from Photosynth or any of the cool image projects in Microsoft Labs, they ruined themselves. They had the algorithms to make Bing into something special and they’ve been playing catch up since.

While this is true, I still believe Microsoft could in fact become a substantial player if they started to think in this type of scenario. There are a lot of amazing products out there that they’re missing out on because they’re not thinking about applications on other mediums. And that’s where the battles are won.

Regardless, image search has been one upped by Google for now. The question remains, can they stay on top, or will other competition finally figure out what to do to take Google on.

Growing List of Hotmail Accounts Compromised Via Phishing

pirate Over the weekend, it seems that there was a compromise with Hotmail accounts. Five figures worth of accounts apparently. Now, the first thought would be that someone actually took action against Microsoft and busted through. But in this case, it was apparently ill-gotten from phishing scams. The password list was posted on Pastebin which is a place where developers share snippets of code to get more eyes on it. They have taken down the offending accounts and taken the necessary precautions.

Either way, Microsoft has identified this issue and has apparently locked down the compromised accounts. If you were compromised and are locked out, there is an email form that Microsoft Live has set up for you to reclaim your account. I took a look at it, and it asks for some serious private information.

All of this should teach you (the end user) something. Lesson here is that you don’t click on anything ever in emails or otherwise, when you can go directly to the site itself and look for it. One of the reasons I have always hated HTML emails since it stupefies the entire security aspect and makes it a more difficult problem since you go against human nature. Thus? You’ll never see me prefer text over HTML any day of the week. You can dump links there, but I can read them.

First Thoughts about Bing.com

bing I have to say that from a technical perspective, I’m pretty disappointed with Microsoft’s Bing.com. A lot of press came out when Microsoft released Bing, and to tell you the truth, the fact that it held even number two for a day was pretty amusing. Mainly because most people didn’t know what it was.

I for one, was actually curious when I saw the tv advertisements and it had a bunch of pretty high contrast pictures. Bing.com? What the heck is that? Decision engine? You realize later on that the entire decision engine thing is sort of a joke. I’m not sure which marketing person came up with that, but Caterina Fake’s Hunch, is way more of a decision engine than Bing ever was. But with all of the imagery, I had thought that Bing finally hit on something that people have been waiting for. Image search on the next level.

Let’s not forget that Google had acquired Riya years back and there was a significant amount of press about that cool image searching. Basically, the thought is that you can give an image and the engine would be able to detect where faces were and perhaps next steps were to detect similarities in facial recognition and say… search out all of my pictures on the web. Now, image processing at this level isn’t something that’s revolutionary but in an indexed web form, it is. According to my father, whom I would say is an expert at image processing, it’s not about whether or not it can be done as much as the processing that comes with it. It takes a lot of power to determine if images are related and if there are matches in facial structures. That’s what I had thought Microsoft had cracked with Bing since that definitely would propel it into another arena, especially with its research into Photosynth.

Unfortunately, like many others, it was a real disappointment. It seemed that Bing.com was just another search and it still didn’t pull as accurately as Google does. While there are some that are touting the greatness of Bing’s moves in search and the gradual growth of market share, I frankly don’t see it. If the results were better or they had focused on something like images, I would definitely consider a switch. Call me a cynic, but I really don’t understand how seeing a picture of the Sydney Opera House today is really going to help me search for anything… for example: web based accounting startups.

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SysInternals Live beta

sysInternalslive.jpg IntelliAdmin points out a great new thing from SysInternals, whom got bought Microsoft a while back.
It’s called SysInternals Live and all you have to do if you have Windows Vista, is go to a command line or windows explorer and type:
\\live.sysinternals.com
And that will open up a Windows share that gives you access to all of the latest SysInternals tools. If you don’t have Vista, but you still want access, you can always just go to http://live.sysinternals.com and that will give you access to those same files. One of the few Microsoft things that I highly recommend since SysInternals created tools for Windows that have been and will continue to be super-beneficial for system administrators.

WorldWide Telescope

worldwidetelescope.jpg In competition with Google Sky, this application allows you to take a look at the stars through multiple images of constellations and what not.
Pretty much think Virtual Earth, but for the sky and you basically have it figured out. It’s actually a pretty interface, and seems to work decently as long as you fulfill the Windows requirements. Bravo by Microsoft Research for this product. I’m not so sure if this product would make me cry though.
Despite Scoble push, I did find that not having any screenshots or even videos for those that are on non-Windows operating systems slightly disappointing. Outside of that, the interface itself is worthwhile as a tool to teach astronomy. Take a look if you find some time.

Vista not on most IT professionals minds?

I can’t really say that I’m surprised. But in a study conducted by King Research, 90% of IT professionals refuse to push Microsoft Vista due to stability, cost and other issues. What’s interesting about this is that Vista supposedly is much more stable than XP although I have yet to see this proven since XP has been around and been smoothed out.
Having seen some of the tests done with Vista personally, I can say that it’s even more of a resource hog than XP ever was and XP was bad when it came out. That along with MacOSX becoming more than a fad, and linux finally getting easier with easy to use distributions such as Ubuntu, Vista has a lot more competition on its hands.
Just take a look at what’s sold at Walmart. Linux computers?? Yeah. The high-end is dominated by Macs now. I have even moved to a Mac after years of Windows. It’s just part of the shift in ideals. Microsoft came out with a product that was just as, if not more, bloated. Users now have more choices. It’s the way of competition. Unfortunately, these studies don’t help at all with Microsoft’s case.

How to tell your senior management doesn’t care about your job

It’s interesting that I’ve never read this before ever, but yet anyone that has worked for a technology company can tell you… the senior management couldn’t care less about your job. Why? Have you ever noticed that when the going is good, they add hundreds of jobs, but when the going gets tough, they lay off hundreds or thousands? Why is this? Job cutting and restructuring is not a method for “saving money”. I can tell you from first hand experience that a company that restructures every two years is very inefficient.
So why is this? It’s because the senior management is trying to give analysts something to show for their lack of incompetency. Job cuts are the quickest way to effect your expenses, but also hurts you in the short and long term due to bad workforce moral, and shows that you take the easy way out.
But no one hold senior management accountable for the job loss. No one says, “hey… these guys didn’t use this as a last resort, they’re just cutting people’s lifelines to make the stock price look good for the next six months.” No one gives these guys a bad reputation or name. They just move on in five years to another senior management position in a totally different industry because we all know that managing companies is the same all around, right?
Wrong. These people should be held accountable. Take a look at what is arguably the top three technology firms today: Microsoft, Apple, and Google. Their job growth is pretty subdued because they control the intake of talent. Notice that Microsoft has for years, been using contractors as the temporary workforce in case things got tough. If they could handle more permanent jobs, they would eventually draw in those contractors. Everywhere else, it’s the same… a controlled method of job intake. It’s amazing how this little indicator can show you the difference between a great senior management team and the rest of the corporate management buffoons.
Strange isn’t it. Layoffs are a terrible thing. But it’s even worse when you read about CEOs getting millions in bonuses for cutting thousands of jobs and “saving” the company. How is that fair? So be forewarned: if your senior management has in the past cut jobs before… look out. It could happen to you.

$60 Office 2007 Ultimate Edition for Students Ends 4/30

Microsoft Are you in currently college? Have a valid working collegiate e-mail? These are needed to purchase Office 2007 Ultimate Edition for $59.95. Microsoft has released a press release and is trying to promote the Office suite to students. This price beats out the usual Academic Edition, so definitely go and get this if you are able to do so.
The offer ends April 30, 2008. Interestingly enough, they’re probably targeting college students due to the fact that there’s been not only great open source contenders, but Google’s online office suite really isn’t that shabby to perform the same functionality. On top of that, college students are probably the number one source of piracy. The Ultimate Edition does include OneNote which apparently is one of the best note taking applications for tablet PCs which are finally starting to pick up a little as far as market share as the hardware to develop them gets to be a bit less expensive.

The information that Vista collects that you didn’t know about

microsoft_vista.gif Of the 47 or so processes, there are about half that actually phone home and report on your actions to Microsoft. Didn’t know that? Me neither. Here’s the key point. While each individual piece doesn’t collect any particularly useful information, combined, it could really get ugly.
Microsoft states in its EULA that it won’t be used to identify you but you know that anyone with an IP address can be identified right? And every bit of information outside of that just makes it easier for people to track it down to the right person.
The funny thing about this is that you voluntarily give out your information with each part that can’t be gleaned from hardware. E-mail, addresses, file name extensions, metadata for games, and a whole plethora of other data that you didn’t think anything of when you opted in on them.
Understandably, there is a bit of FUD here since much of this type of data is also collected by other types of software outside of Vista. But the real news is that it really should teach people to read those EULAs carefully. You never know what you’re getting yourself into these days.

Is Microsoft biting off more than it can chew? Perhaps.

Microsoft has just thrown the gauntlet at the open source community. In the latest Fortune article, Microsoft has come out to say that the linux kernel violates 42 patents and in general the open source community violates a total of 235 Microsoft patents.
Here’s my thought on it. I’m really not sure where Microsoft is going with this since they have been known to fund the whole SCO fiasco, in which SCO is taking a tremendous beating. They’re looking to do this royalty thing that they slipped in there after the partnership with Novell, in which Novell was booed by many open source followers. From a historical standpoint, linux was a reverse engineered process of Unix itself. So is Microsoft making the claim that Unix (which predates Windows) is also violating Microsoft patents? This would get into prior art. What’s even more interesting is that a lot of features in Microsoft Vista correspond to many unix type feature sets.
Linux is also being supported by some big corporate names such as Red Hat, and IBM. With the degree that the world is using linux, it’s pretty interesting that Microsoft waited until now to spring the loaded dice on the world. There definitely will be a lot of corporate battling from these business giants.
I also would be curious on where they stand on BSD. Since much of BSD and linux GUI both use X-windows and the office suites are all the same. Yet, if BSD comes under attack, then it’ll also bring in one of their biggest hardware competitors currently: Apple. This is due to the fact that Darwin that Apple bases their MacOSX on, is based on top of BSD.
Microsoft is stepping into a minefield and it might not be wise to start throwing out royalty rights as governments around the world are turning to open source. If they are perceived to be to be like the RIAA and suing end users for royalties because of linux use, then they’ll be a lot more than just the “Evil Empire”.

If push comes to shove, would Microsoft sue its customers for royalties, the way the record industry has?
“That’s not a bridge we’ve crossed,” says CEO Ballmer, “and not a bridge I want to cross today on the phone with you.” Top of page

Personally, this decision in my opinion is one where Microsoft really should let the sleeping giant be. It wouldn’t help their public relations or their image, and it could be the beginning of the end if they begin something they cannot finish. If the SCO suits are anything as a predictor, then Microsoft needs to tread very lightly here. It sounds like the above decisions were made by legal only, instead of considering overall consequences. While they haven’t stepped out in a all out frontal assault, the MS recon squads are out looking for any kinks. And that couldn’t be good for either side.