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Hortonworks is making progress on its mission (via a project called Stinger) to speed up SQL-like queries in Hadoop using Apache Hive. New features in the latest version of Hortonworks’ Hadoop distribution have improved Hive performance tens of times in some instances, and the company is aiming for 100x improvements soon. Hortonworks has also added support for new types of SQL data. Competitor Cloudera opted to forgo Hive in favor of its own Impala technology for interactive queries.

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eBay has acquired Seattle-based price-prediction startup Decide.com, and the service will shut down on Sept. 30. The entire team will head over to eBay to help the e-commerce giant improve its experience through predictive modeling. The entire team except Co-founder and CTO Oren Etzioni, that is: the University of Washington computer science professor, Madrona Venture Group partner and former Farecast founder is heading up Paul Allen’s new Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

Oren Etzioni

Oren Etzioni

On The Web

This post from Slate is spot on, in my humble opinion. It might be overkill, but I can say the same about my own posting habits, and did last year. (I can’t say the same about my wife, though …) There are plenty of reasons to not want a digital profile you didn’t ask for, and advances in behavioral analysis and facial recognition are only making them worse.

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In Brief

SwiftKey, a London-based startup that sells a popular “smart” keyboard for Android devices, has closed a $17.5 million series B led by Index Ventures. The company plans to spend the money on research to “fuel further innovation in the fields of Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning,” among other things, according to a press release. That’s probably not a bad idea given Google’s vested interest keyboard dominance and focus on cutting-edge text analysis.

In Brief

Former VMware CTO Steve Herrod joined General Catalyst Partners in January, and his first investment as a venture capitalist is a big one — $25 million in cloud backup service Datto. DealBook has a good writeup of Datto’s story, but the other angle is what the deal says about Herrod’s investment strategy and about GCP’s push into enterprise software.

On The Web

A provocative — and thoroughly researched — post from IEEE Spectrum about the shortage of workers with science, technology, engineering and math skills. I’m not skeptical enough to think it’s all manufactured concern so employers can keep salaries low, but I’ve read enough about the push for more immigrant visas for tech workers to know there’s something there.

On The Web

I’d argue this is a prime example of when metadata is used correctly. If the other nearly 150,000 phone numbers were never investigated and the records were deleted once the feds found their guys, any invasion of privacy is only theoretical. There’s a big difference between this and GPS-tracking, or what the NSA is doing.

In Brief

Couchbase, a startup selling a NoSQL database of the same name, has raised a $25 million series D round. Adams Street Partners led the round and was joined by existing investors Accel Partners, Mayfield Fund, North Bridge Venture Partners and Ignition Partners. Couchbase doesn’t have the huge user base of MongoDB or the edginess of HBase, but it does have some big-name users (including Orbitz) and the company claims sales jumped 400 percent in the last year.

In Brief

Hadoop-based analytics startup Tresata last week open sourced a set of machine learning libraries built on Scalding and designed to run in Hadoop and make use of the Apache Mahout project. Tresata is calling the project Ganita, and has also written a couple of explanatory blog posts about it, including how to do k-means clustering. The barriers to doing good work on big data just keep getting lower.

On The Web

This is a good presentation about Facebook’s graph-processing engine, Giraph, from a big data event held at the company’s Menlo Park campus in early June. The PRISM story kind of took over the news cycle that week, but the event also produced some news (for big data geeks, at least): Facebook’s Presto engine for interactive queries of its 250-petabyte Hadoop data warehouse.

Researchers have a devised a method for identifying fake Twitter accounts that proved highly accurate across 27 popular black-market merchants. With Twitter’s cooperation, they spotted and deleted millions of accounts, using only data generated during the account-registration process. Read more »

In Brief

A database vendor called Objectivity has created a mobile app called GraphMyLife that aims to let consumers explore links between the people and content in their various social networks. I say “aims” because although the idea is pretty cool, the app is a bit laggy and confusing (at least on my phone). But cut Objectivity a break: it’s a specialized (and old) enterprise-tech company trying to humanize its graph database software.

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