Category Archives: AI

Power Automate, AI Builder Extract Info from Docs, and Redact

Out of the Box, AI Builder Extraction

I’m looking at some interesting new functionality from Microsoft Power Platform, Power Automate. You can ingest documents, the AI will parse the documents for predetermined fields, like fields in an invoice, and then you could insert this invoice data into a database.

Automatic Redaction of Information

Taking this a step further, I propose to leverage MSFT Power Automate to troll your Data Lake flat files to redact any information patterns with AI Builder such as SSN. As data objects are posted to the Azure Data Lake, Power Automate processes the files, updates a copy, and moves the original to a secure repository. This methodology could be used to protect Personal Identifiable Information (PII) and other security compliance regulatory mandates.

For more information, see Power Platform, AI Builder, Overview of the document processing model.

Microsoft’s Plethora of Portals

As I was looking through Microsoft’s catalog of applications, it occurred to me just how many of their platforms are information-centric and seemed to overlap in functionality. Where should I go when I want to get stuff done, find information or produce it? Since the early days of AOL and AltaVista, we’ve seen the awesome power of a “Jump Page” as the starting point for our information journey.

Microsoft, which one do I choose?

From one software vendor’s perspective, we’ve got many options. What’s the best option for me? Seems like there should be opportunities to gain synergies between available Microsoft platforms.

Bing.com

Searching for information on the internet? News, images, encyclopedias, Wikipedia, whatever you need, and more is on the web. Microsoft Bing helps you find what you need regardless if you’re using text or an image to search for like for like information. It also serves up “relevant” information on the jump page, news mixed with advertisements. There is also a feature enabling you to add carousel “boxes”. for example, containing latest MS Word files used, synergy from Office.com

Office.com

Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Visio, Power BI… If you’ve created content or want to create content using Microsoft applications, Office.com is the one-stop-shop for all your Office apps and the content created using these applications.

SharePoint

Another portal to a universe of information around a centric theme, such as collaboration/interaction with product/project team members, an Intranet, SharePoint site with one or multiple teams. At the most fundamental level is the capability to collaborate/interact with teams, potentially leveraging Microsoft collaboration tools. Just one of many of its capabilities “out of the box” is a document management solution and the use of version control.

SharePoint can also be used for any type of Internet/web platform, i.e., a public-facing portal platform. However, SharePoint, in fact, is a sharing tool in which the authors of the website can share video presentations, shared calendars of public events, and a plethora of customized lists.

Yammer

Engaging your people is more critical than ever. Yammer connects leaders, communicators, and employees to build communities, share knowledge, and engage everyone. I’m thinking synonymous with a bulletin board. The implementation of Yammer looks like Facebook for the Enterprise.

  • Use the Home feed to stay on top of what matters, tap into the knowledge of others, and build on existing work.
  • Search for experts, conversations, and files.
  • Join communities to stay informed, connect with your coworkers, and gather ideas.
  • Join in the conversation, react, reply to, and share posts.
  • @ mention someone to loop them in.
  • Attach a file, gif, photo, or video to enhance your post.
  • Praise someone in your network to celebrate a success, or just to say thanks.
  • Create a virtual event that your community can ask a question and participate live or watch the recording afterwards.
  • Use polls to crowd source feedback and get answers fast.
  • Stay connected outside the office with the Yammer mobile app.
  • Use Yammer in Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, or Outlook.

“Yammer helps you connect and engage across your organization so that you can discuss ideas, share updates, and network with others.”

Microsoft Teams

For any team, there is a wealth of information varying from the group or single Chats, Teams, Calls, Files, and practically integration for almost all Microsoft applications and beyond. The extensibility of MS Teams seems relatively boundless, such as integrations with Wikis, SharePoint document folders, etc. From what I can tell, many organizations just use Teams for the group, or individual Chat channels are barely grazing the surface of MS Teams’ capabilities.

Setup of MS Teams, Teams “landing” page is a great place to start constructing your “living space” within MS Teams. From there, you can carve out space for all things related to the team. For example, in the “Team ABC” Team channel, you can add N number of “tabs” relating to everything from an embedded Wiki to specific SharePoint folders for the team’s product specifications. A team could even create an embedded Azure DevOps [Kanban] Board to show progress and essentially “live in” your MS Team, team channel.

Another porta;l overlap, Microsoft Teams Communities, seems to equate to Yammer.

Delve

What is Delve – Microsoft 365?

Use Delve to manage your Microsoft 365 profile and to discover and organize the information that’s likely to be most interesting to you right now – across Microsoft 365.

Delve never changes any permissions, so you’ll only see documents that you already have access to. Other people will not see your private documents. Learn more about privacy.

Delve is a content curation platform for the person it’s most relevant to…you. It gives the appearance of a user experience similar to carousels of video streaming apps. There are “Popular Documents” carousels and other carousels that are based on the most recent access. Based on how files are saved based on who can access content is how the platform gives you a treasure trove of documents you never knew you had access to or existed. It actually paints a potential compliance nightmare if people select the default document access as “…anyone within my organization…”.

Outlook.com / Best of MSN

Another portal of information focused around you: your email, your calendar, your To-Dos, and your contacts/people. It’s not just your communication with anyone, e.g., your project team members; it’s organizing your life on a smaller scale, e.g., To-Dos. You can also access other shared calendars, such as a team release schedule or a PTO schedule.

The Best of MSN is information, i.e., news around your interests, a digest of information relevant to you, delivered in an email format. Other digests of information from other sources may be curated and sent if subscribed.

Mediums to Traverse Information: AR, VR…

The visual paradigms used to query and access information may drastically influence the user’s capacity to digest the relevant information. For example, in an Augmented Reality (AR) experience, querying, identifying information, and then applying it, serving up the content in a way most conducive to a user’s experience is vital.

Users can’t just “Google It” and serve up the results like magic. The next evolution of querying information and serving up content in a medium to maximize its usability is key and is most evident when using Augmented Reality (AR). If you’re building something, instructions may be overlayed by the physical elements/parts in front of the user. Even the context of the step number would allow the virtual images to overlay the parts.

Automated and Manual Content Curation is a MUST for all Portals

Categories, Tags, Images, and all other associations from object A to everything else, the Meta of Existence, are essential for proper information dissemination and digestion. If you can tag any object with metadata, you can teach an AI/search engine to identify it in a relevant query. Implementing an Induction Engine, a type of Artificial Intelligence that proposes rules based on historic patterns is a must to improve query accuracy over time.

Next level, “Information applications” – Improved Living with Alzheimer’s

Next Ecosystem: Google..?

Agile Advisor Plugin for Microsoft Teams

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Advisory Role in Microsoft Team Communications

Agile Advisor Plugin for #Microsoft Teams is able to observe team interactions, such as conference calls within Microsoft Teams. The Advisor can derive “dialog intents” and provide recommendations for improvement. A retrospective on communications, such as Scrum ceremonies

Voice Recognition During Teams Meetings

Technology that leverages voice recognition, such as Interactive voice response (IVR) solutions are fraught with failed recognition. IVRs are used to answer calls in just about every company, which prompts for either a phrase from the user on what they want and the ability to enter a numeric value correlating to the desired intent. Challenge #1.

Dialog and Intent Identification

Beyond trying to identify the user’s intent from a phrase or sentence, a dialog, a series of interactions between two or more team members is even more complex. Current AI models that identify intent from a sentence or phrase have a mixed variable of accuracy, which is why these models must be tuned over time. A collective of interactions, a dialog between two or more team members, has a much higher level of complexity to identify intents. Challenge #2. Once a dialog intent(s) has an “N”% level of accuracy, rules may be fired with any number of outcomes, such as unintrusive logging of Agile suggestions for best practices, and next steps: e.g. a retrospective of the scrum ceremony.

Dynamically Identify Roles in Teams Meetings

Who participates in Microsoft Teams meetings and team chats can be associated with Microsoft Teams’ member profiles, such as Scrum Master, and Product Owners.

Enhance the Adherence to Agile Principles

12 Principles Behind the Agile Manifesto, and opportunities for rules to be trigger based on conversations, the interactive dialogs.

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

Dialog Intent Rules for Agile Guidance

From the above agile principles, we can derive the following dialog intents and precise recommendations for improvement.

Barriers to Implementation

At the current level of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Digital Assistants, i.e. chatbots, even the “best in breed”, has “difficulty”, i.e. lower probability with intent recognition, with a single sentence or phrase. Multiply that by interpreting an interactive dialog with multiple sentences, multiple participants, and exchange of responses, feasibility is highly speculative.

And Still More Opportunity: Recognition of Facial Emotional Expressions 

Expressions of people may be able to be determined, and opportunities for suggestive posture can be advised. Even body posture folded arms as an example, can imply a guarded opinion, and not open to compromise.

Reference article – Emotion recognition using facial expressions

Caution and Opportunities

This plugin output could be used for annual employee evaluations.

2020 posts that never were

Occasionally, when a thought gets bubbled up in my brain, I pop open Twitter, and tweet the thought. In some cases, the fleeting idea seems larger than a tweet, so I open up WordPress, and start a post. I may save it and come back to add content to the post. I’ll come back to the post, and say to myself, what was I thinking, and don’t pursue publishing post. Here’s the list of blog posts that I drafted this year, but decided for one reason or another, I wouldn’t post it.

LITTLE KNOWN FACTS ABOUT MICROSOFT BING

THE ANATOMY OF A TWILIO STUDIO PROGRAMMABLE VOICE WORKFLOW

LOW COST, PLATFORM AGNOSTIC, BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE, PROLIFIC REPORTING TOOL

RADICAL TRANSFORMATION OF K-12 EDUCATION SYLLABUS

AFTER THE PANDEMIC: GETTING PAST THE FEAR FROM SOCIAL DISTANCING

STOP WORDS: MODEL TRAINING

AI – BEST IN SHOW

BUY AND BUILD – DIGITAL TRANSFORMATIONS

Who’s Managing & Securing Your Information Assets?

What is meant by Information Architecture (IA)?

Information architecture (IA) focuses on organizing, structuring, and labeling content in an effective and sustainable way. The goal is to help users find information and complete tasks.

There must be a common consensus, an understanding of each data point collected, and the appropriate labeling and cataloging of the Information Asset. Information assets may have a score attributed to the asset and leveraged in a multitude of ways, such as guidelines for the purging of archives, sensitivity of the information, and the levels of trust.

For each data point collected, correlations/relationships can be added either manually, or through an Induction Engine (AI) leveraging a history of relationships. The definition of hierarchical relationships between data points, and link types (e.g. processor, successor, child, or generally related) further to bolster a larger lexicon.

What are Information Assets?

For example, your phone number is an information asset. Your phone number is provided to everyone you know and is a primary point of reference to contact you. Traditionally, the “phone companies” manage that resource for you. However, in this “new” day and age, we see companies like Google providing a phone number, and as a result providing features not generally available, such as Google Voice, with Call Forwarding, and obfuscation.

Common, Consumer, Information Assets Include:

  • Documents of ALL Types, e.g. text, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.
  • Domain Names and Email Addresses are Information Assets.
  • Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Other Social Media Platforms Assets, such as User Names, Post Text, Images, Video, and Profile details.
  • Skype, WhatsApp, and other VoIP Info Assets such as Phone Number, User Profile information
  • Windows Teams, Slack, and other Team Collaboration, Information Assets, such as the historical, ongoing posted information in the Team Chat, including the integration of 3rd party apps, such as Whiteboard collaborative drawings.
  • Passwords, Passwords, Passwords

Common, Corporate, Information Assets Include:

  • All of the Consumer, Information Assets PLUS
  • Documents of ALL Types, e.g. Solution Architecture docs, Database Models, HR Policies, Org Charts, Corp. Network Topography, etc.

Disaster Recovery for Information Assets

What happens when the technology managing information assets become “unavailable”? What is your impact assessment? Is there a centralized data/information catalog or repository that contains a partial or complete set of Information Assets?

Information Assets are also passwords, and we have a plethora of “secure” password managers, such as Norton Antivirus provides a mechanism to hold passwords in a virtual “safe”.

Insurance Policies for [digital] Information Assets

What is the cost of securing these Information Assets, verse the payment of recuperating the information assets, if even possible?

What about Hackers that “hold your data/information” hostage?

How to price out “Insurance” for your information, just like safeguarding any other personal articles insurance policies today? Are there “Personal Articles, Insurance Policies” that can currently add a rider to your existing policies? Need to price out “Information Assets”, and the recuperation values?

Norton Life Lock [Personal / Business]

Norton LifeLock reimburses funds stolen due to identity theft up to the limit of the plan total not exceeding $1 Million USD.

Notes Repositories

Notepads like Notepad++, Microsoft OneNote, and Google Keep are tools that allow their authors to quickly take notes and organize them. A wide array of Information Assets are contained within these applications, such as text, and photos with some data describing the information captured (i.e. metadata). Gathering and exporting this information to reference Information Assets could be a lengthy and laborious process without automation, rules for sorting, and tagging info.

AI Induction and Rules Engines

Dynamically labeling Information Assets as they are “discovered”, an auto curation process. For example, the Microsoft Outlook rules engine has a robust library of canned AI rules for sorting, forwarding, formatting as emails arrive in your inbox, as well as a host of other rules “triggers”. An Induction engine is a predictive instrument that “observes” behavior over time, and then creates/suggests new rules on the basis of the history of user behavior. For example, if MS Outlook had an AI Induction engine, and observed a user ‘almost’ always moving an email with the same subject to folder N, the AI Induction engine could create the rule to anticipate the user’s behavior.

Data Lakes or Sea of Information Assets

  • Structured, Semi-Structured, and Unstructured data.
  • Labeling/tagging Information Assets in a consistent fashion.
  • Retrieval of data, and cross-referenced data types

19 Best Data Catalog Tools and Software for 2020

Extract –

Tool: Alation Data Catalog

Description: Alation is a complete repository for enterprise data, providing a single point of reference for business glossaries, data dictionaries, and Wiki articles. The product profiles data and monitors usage to ensure that users have accurate insight into data accuracy. Alation also provides insight into how users are creating and sharing information from raw data. Customers tout the product for its expansive partner ecosystem, and Alation has focused on increasing data literacy when metadata is distributed across business and IT.

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Roblox, Massive Tween Gaming Platform, Goes Public

Popular tween gaming platform Roblox filed to go public on Thursday. The company declined an interview, citing a quiet period.

Source: Roblox, massive tween gaming platform, goes public – CNN

My son and I, OneWildRide,  are hooked on the Roblox game Theme Park Tycoon 2   I’m fixated on building out my park.  For beginners, there are the “out of the box” rides you can buy, and the amount of items you can use to accessorize your park is staggering.    Not only can you add “canned” rides, such as the Gravatron, but the theme park builder can add all different types of roller coasters, water rides, park transportation, etc.

Users of the Theme Park Tycoon 2 are Graded by:

  • number of active users in your park
  • the amount of money you make based on park admission, pay per ride, and concession stands
  • People can “like” your park, and provide feedback at the entrance

Commoditizing Roblox Games

I will shamefully admit that I purchased Roblox Bucks, with real dollars, that can be used on a plethora of items to build my Theme Park.  For example, the Theme Park has a height limit for how high you can build your roller coasters, so naturally, the builder/user has the ability to purchase to lift the height requirements.  You can also purchase additional “packs” that provide the builder enhancements to their rides, such as running the ride in reverse or looping the ride three times instead of the default single loop.  There’s also the conversion of USD to Roblox $$ because builders need to buy the components to build water rides or roller coasters.  You can even purchase concession stands (e.g. Popcorn Vendors).  The builder of the amusement park must also buy/build restrooms and spread out trash cans throughout the park.  There is also the concept of day and night, so make sure to buy/place lamps across the park.

Pay to Play – AI Bots = Theme Park $$

These “auto” bots/characters paying to play in your park may leave if they are dissatisfied, such as no bathrooms.  Also, without trash cans, there will be visible trash on the ground that must be painfully cleaned up, pile by pile, or left there to pile up.  On the flip side, these AI amusement goers will pay:

  • Park Entrance Fees
  • Pay Per Ride
  • Pay to use the loo
  • Pay for Concession Stands, such as Soft Drinks, Popcorn, and Pizza
  • Pay for Theme Park Memorabilia, such as Santa Hats, Tis the Season!

The Theme Park Builder sets the prices for EVERYTHING.  The AI Bots have “thoughts”, such as “This ride is really cheap.” to help you gauge your ride pricing, or “I’m Hungry”, to imply you should buy/place concession stands throughout your park.

Minecraft Anyone?!

I should say someone should have seen this coming, several someones.  You build this Theme Park at the “block” level, very similar to Minecraft, however, it seems, as far as I can tell, the graphics of Roblox seem somewhat superior to Minecraft, although this is a very debatable topic.  Minecraft has lots of 3rd party “mods” or customizations/modifications to the game.  Minecraft has had a lot of time to cultivate its userbase as well as a marketplace for users to buy these modifications.  Roblox as an application/gaming platform seems intriguing in light of the IPO.  I wonder what the highest-grossing games are on the Roblox platform.

Availability

Roblox Theme Park Tycoon 2 is available on Xbox, iPad / iPhone, and Windows to name the environments we use, jumping from device to device wherever is convenient.

Multiplayer Environment

My son constantly wants me to go over to his Theme Park, and go on rides he has just built.  It’s really a lot of fun to go to other builders’ parks.  There is a basic transit system to move between amusement parks.  You can get LOTS of ideas by looking at other builders’ parks, some of these parks put the “real world” amusement parks to shame.  So far, I’ve seen six (6) people playing concurrently, where you can see who has the most Roblox Bucks, and who’s park has the most visitors currently.  Naturally, if you’re not the big kahuna, you’ll want to stroll by the other builders’ parks.  If you are in close proximity, if you time it right, you can log in to the same server, and play with friends.  Doesn’t always seem to work quite right when people jump on and off the game.  There is probably a feature I’m not using to guarantee the same server with friends, maybe the “Premium” version of Roblox?

Build Your Own Roblox Games?  Monetary Incentives?

Wow, I really didn’t contemplate it that much.  I didn’t even think about the possible monetary returns from building one’s own Roblox game.  Not sure what the requirements would be to be a developer, how easy or hard it would be to build Roblox games, i.e. is there a coding language to use, a proprietary language, or just a simple graphical tool to build games.  No clue if there is a “developer/partner” annual cost, which is what I paid when developing applications for the iPhone / iPad.  Also, playing on the iPad / iPhone Roblox platform hosting the Theme Park game, would Apple get a percentage of “In-App” purchases for Roblox dollars?  We purchased Roblox bucks from the PC, and XBOX, so it didn’t occur to me there would be margin paid to the platform on which it runs.

Disclosure – I am not a “Premium” Roblox member or a “game” builder.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) for Structured Data Sources

When people think of Data Loss Prevention, we usually think of Endpoint protection, such as Symantec Endpoint Security solution, preventing the upload of data to web sites, or downloaded to a USB device. The data being “illegally” transferred typically conforms to a particular pattern such as Personal Identifiable Information (PII), i.e. Social Security numbers.

Using a client for local monitoring of the endpoint, the agent detects the transfer of information as a last line of defense for external distribution. EndPoint solutions could monitor suspicious activity and/or proactively cancel the data transfer in progress.

Moving closer to the source of the data loss, monitoring databases filled with Personal Identifying Information (PII) has its advantages and disadvantages. One may argue there is no data loss until the employee attempts to export the data outside the corporate network, and the data is in-flight. In addition, extracted PII data may be “properly utilized” within the corporate network for analysis.

There is a database solution that provides similar “endpoint” monitoring and protection, e.g. identifying PII data extraction, with real-time query cancellation upon detection, leveraging “out of the box” data patterns, Teleran Technologies. Teleran supports relational databases such as Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server, both on-prem, and cloud solutions.

Updates in Data Management Policies

Identifying the data loss points of origination provides opportunities to update the gaps in data management policy and the implementation of additional controls over data. Data classification is done dynamically based on common data mask structures. Users may build additional rules to cover custom structures. So, for example, a business analyst executes a query against a database that appears to fit predefined data masks, such as SSN, the query may be canceled before it’s even executed, and/or this “suspicious” activity can be flagged for the Chief Information Officer and/or Chief Security Officer (CSO)

Bar none, I’ve seen only one firm that defends a company’s data assets closer to the probable leak of information, the database, Teleran Technologies, See what they have to offer your organization for data protection and compliance.

Prevalent Remote Work Changes Endpoint Strategy

Endpoints in our corporate environments of prevalent remote working may highlight the need that relying on endpoints may be too late to enforce data protection. We may need to bring potential data loss detection into the inner sanctum of the corporate networks and need prevention closer to the source of data being extracted. How are “semi-trusted” third parties such as staff augmentation from offshore dealt?

Endpoint DLP – Available Breach Tactics

Endpoint DLP may capture and contain attempts to extract PII data, for example, parsing text files for SSNs, or other data masks. However, there are ways around the transfer detection, making it lofty to identify, such as screen captures of data, converting from text into images. Some Endpoint providers boast about their Optical Character Recognition (OCR), however, turning on this feature may produce many false positives, too many to sift through in monitoring, and unmanageable to control. The best DLP defense is to monitor and control closer to the data source, and perhaps, flag data requests from employees, e.g. after SELECT statement entered, UI Pops up a “Reason for Request?” if PII extraction is identified in real-time, with auditable events that can flow into Splunk.