July 15, 2014

GraphLab thinks its new software can democratize machine learning
Given the current state of affairs, though, I asked Guestrin whether it’s really possible for a software product to democratize machine learning the way he hopes Create can do. “That’s a yet-to-be-answered question, because nobody has yet done it,” he said. So far, he acknowledged, most machine learning research has focused on one-off systems and “my curve is better than your curve” demonstrations. He thinks GraphLab Create can reach 80 to 90 percent of use cases because the focus from the beginning was on usability and robustness. There are other commercial machine learning products on the market, including Skytree, but Guestrin said the big difference between them and GraphLab is in the barrier to actually using the product.

New Strategies and Features to Help Organizations Better Protect Against Pass-the-Hash Attacks
Given that organizations must continue to operate after a breach, it is critical for them to have a plan to minimize the impact of successful attacks on their ongoing operations. Adopting an approach that assumes a breach will occur, ensures that organizations have a holistic plan in place before an attack occurs. A planned approach enables defenders to close the seams that attackers are aiming to exploit. The guidance also underscores another important point - that technical features alone may not prevent lateral movement and privilege escalation.

Executive Beware: The SEC Now Wants To Police Unethical Corporate Conduct
Clearly corporate bribery, insider trading, and intentional manipulation of financial results are both unlawful and unethical, but what about lesser misconduct? If a permissible, but highly aggressive, accounting treatment is employed to enhance financial reporting results, is the result legal but unethical because of the underlying motivation? Moreover, even if the acts in question technically comply with the law, does the unethical behavior violate the spirit of the law and expose the individual or entity to the unwanted consequences of a government investigation or shareholder suit?

Analytically speaking, Dell delves into the Internet of Things
One of Dell's main thrusts in this area is to round out their analytics platform and offering with Statsoft's analytics software. The short-term plan is to build a data factory. With a data factory, Dell's products can bring in all of your data sources, including IoT, and develop actions around the analytics that you gather. Because as we all well know, data is just noise unless you can do something useful with it. Dell plans to help you do something relevant with your data by using its other products in conjunction with Statsoft's STATISTICA software. John confirmed that there's a lot of talk within Dell surrounding IoT, predictive analytics, and product integration. You can look forward to some announcements related to cloud services and predictive analytics later in 2014.

Oracle hopes to make SQL a lingua franca for big data
Oracle over time will add support for using Big Data SQL with other hardware systems it sells, according to Mendelson. The software is set for general availability within the next couple of months, with pricing to be announced at that time. Big Data SQL isn’t an attempt to replace the SQL engines already created for Hadoop, such as Hive and Impala, which Oracle will continue to ship with the Big Data Appliance, he said. “We’re really solving a wider problem.” One big challenge facing data scientists is simply the overhead of moving data among systems, he said.

Data – the Next Big Thing for Utilities
On average, meter readers, for example, once collected one reading per customer per month. Today, utilities have access to an almost overwhelming amount of data from both meters and other smart endpoints on their infrastructure, as well as external sources such as news and weather aggregators. To realize maximum value of all the data their communication system delivers, utilities need data analytics. The first thing utilities should understand when adopting data analytics is that the majority of these applications are communication vendor agnostic. However, a fixed-base communication network with dedicated spectrum and the ability to prioritize incoming data is more efficient and reliable.

Orchestrate cloud service makes using many databases easy
If we fast forward to today, there are many more types of database engines that support many different types of data. Building an application that accesses and updates data using many different data sources can be quite a challenge for a developer. Furthermore, as each of the sources evolves over time, that application must be updated or things don't work any more. Orchestrate hopes that by inserting their middleware into the mix of technology that developers are using, they can use the API to access different data sources rather than be forced to develop their own ETL code.

Cloud Protection: How to Avoid Emergency-Related Outages
In an age of advanced technology and many excellent preemptive tools and systems available, it’s hard to imagine an entire data center losing power. However, it was only two years ago when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast wiping out data centers between Virginia, New York, and New Jersey causing them to lose public power and go dark for days. For government agencies or large enterprise organizations that use internal data centers to house their applications, public multi-tenant clouds offer a lower-cost, easy to deploy disaster recovery/continuation of operations (DR/COOP) solution. The following steps can help these data centers plan and execute effectively with minimal to no disruption in the production environment.

DBAccess: a Thread-safe, Efficient Alternative to Core Data
DBAccess claims to provide three key benefits over Core Data: Thread-safety; High performance and support for query performance fine tuning; Event model that enables binding data objects to UI controls and keep them updated with changes made in the database. DBAccess can be used and distributed freely. Its latest version includes a few improvements such as support for ASYNC queries, better performance with large result sets, and reduction in memory usage in queries with many columns. DBAccess proposes a very simple usage model. A persistent object declaration is very similar to a Core Data's:

Three Questions To Help Cultivate Your Leadership Style
Fortunately, a wise senior manager took me aside and suggested I would be more effective over the long haul if I quit acting like a machine and started acting like a human who cared about people at least as much as he cared about results. He suggested that I was leaving, money, performance and the growth of people on the table, and he challenged me to think long and hard about the type of leader I wanted to be. I am grateful to this day for that leadership wake-up call. Over the months following the “machine” comment, he regularly challenged me with a number of provocative questions that ultimately shifted my focus from results at all costs to results through supporting and developing others. How will you answer these questions?

Quote for the day:

"Not all problems have a technological answer, but when they do, that is the more lasting solution" -- Andy Grove