Interview: Hjálmar Gíslason, CEO of DataMarket.com

Here is an interview with Hjálmar Gíslason, CEO of Datamarket.com  . DataMarket is an active marketplace for structured data and statistics. Through powerful search and visual data exploration, DataMarket connects data seekers with data providers.

 

Ajay-  Describe your journey as an entrepreneur and techie in Iceland. What are the 10 things that surprised you most as a tech entrepreneur.

HG- DataMarket is my fourth tech start-up since at age 20 in 1996. The previous ones have been in gaming, mobile and web search. I come from a technical background but have been moving more and more to the business side over the years. I can still prototype, but I hope there isn’t a single line of my code in production!

Funny you should ask about the 10 things that have surprised me the most on this journey, as I gave a presentation – literally yesterday – titled: “9 things nobody told me about the start-up business”

They are:
* Do NOT generalize – especially not to begin with
* Prioritize – and find a work-flow that works for you
* Meet people – face to face
* You are a sales person – whether you like it or not
* Technology is not a product – it’s the entire experience
* Sell the current version – no matter how amazing the next one is
* Learn from mistakes – preferably others’
* Pick the right people – good people is not enough
* Tell a good story – but don’t make them up

I obviously elaborate on each of these points in the talk, but the points illustrate roughly some of the things I believe I’ve learned … so far 😉

9 things nobody told me about the start-up business

Ajay-

Both Amazon  and Google  have entered the public datasets space. Infochimps  has 14,000+ public datasets. The US has http://www.data.gov/

So clearly the space is both competitive and yet the demand for public data repositories is clearly under served still. 

How does DataMarket intend to address this market in a unique way to differentiate itself from others.

HG- DataMarket is about delivering business data to decision makers. We help data seekers find the data they need for planning and informed decision making, and data publishers reaching this audience. DataMarket.com is the meeting point, where data seekers can come to find the best available data, and data publishers can make their data available whether for free or for a fee. We’ve populated the site with a wealth of data from public sources such as the UN, Eurostat, World Bank, IMF and others, but there is also premium data that is only available to those that subscribe to and pay for the access. For example we resell the entire data offering from the EIU (Economist Intelligence Unit) (link: http://datamarket.com/data/list/?q=provider:eiu)

DataMarket.com allows all this data to be searched, visualized, compared and downloaded in a single place in a standard, unified manner.

We see many of these efforts not as competition, but as valuable potential sources of data for our offering, while others may be competing with parts of our proposition, such as easy access to the public data sets.

 

Ajay- What are your views on data confidentiality and access to data owned by Governments funded by tax payer money.

HG- My views are very simple: Any data that is gathered or created for taxpayers’ money should be open and free of charge unless higher priorities such as privacy or national security indicate otherwise.

Reflecting that, any data that is originally open and free of charge is still open and free of charge on DataMarket.com, just easier to find and work with.

Ajay-  How is the technology entrepreneurship and venture capital scene in Iceland. What things work and what things can be improved?

HG- The scene is quite vibrant, given the small community. Good teams with promising concepts have been able to get the funding they need to get started and test their footing internationally. When the rapid growth phase is reached outside funding may still be needed.

There are positive and negative things about any location. Among the good things about Iceland from the stand point of a technology start-up are highly skilled tech people and a relatively simple corporate environment. Among the bad things are a tiny local market, lack of skills in international sales and marketing and capital controls that were put in place after the crash of the Icelandic economy in 2008.

I’ve jokingly said that if a company is hot in the eyes of VCs it would get funding even if it was located in the jungles of Congo, while if they’re only lukewarm towards you, they will be looking for any excuse not to invest. Location can certainly be one of them, and in that case being close to the investor communities – physically – can be very important.

We’re opening up our sales and marketing offices in Boston as we speak. Not to be close to investors though, but to be close to our market and current customers.

Ajay- Describe your hobbies when you are not founding amazing tech startups.

HG- Most of my time is spent working – which happens to by my number one hobby.

It is still important to step away from it all every now and then to see things in perspective and come back with a clear mind.

I *love* traveling to exotic places. Me and my wife have done quite a lot of traveling in Africa and S-America: safari, scuba diving, skiing, enjoying nature. When at home I try to do some sports activities 3-4 times a week at least, and – recently – play with my now 8 month old son as much as I can.

About-

http://datamarket.com/p/about/team/

Management

Hjalmar GislasonHjálmar Gíslason, Founder and CEO: Hjalmar is a successful entrepreneur, founder of three startups in the gaming, mobile and web sectors since 1996. Prior to launching DataMarket, Hjalmar worked on new media and business development for companies in the Skipti Group (owners of Iceland Telecom) after their acquisition of his search startup – Spurl. Hjalmar offers a mix of business, strategy and technical expertise. DataMarket is based largely on his vision of the need for a global exchange for structured data.

hjalmar.gislason@datamarket.com

To know more, have a quick  look at  http://datamarket.com/

Understanding Indian Govt attitude to Iran and Iraq wars

This is a collection of links for a geo-strategic analysis, and the economics of wars and allies. The author neither condones nor condemns current global dynamics in the balance of power.

nations don’t have friends or enemies…nations only have interests

In 2003

The war in Iraq had a unique Indian angle right at the beginning. Some members of the US administration felt they needed more troops in Iraq, and they started negotiating with India. Those negotiations broke down because the Indians wanted to fight under the UN flag and on MONEY!!

India wanted-

  • More money per soldier deployed,
  • more share in post War Oil Contracts,
  • better diplomatic subtlety
Govt changed in India due to elections in2003 (Muslim voters are critical in any govt forming majority party), and the Iraq war ran its tragic course without any Indian explicit support.
In 26 Nov 2008, Islamic Terrorists killed US, Indian and Israeli citizens in terror strikes in Mumbai Sieze- thus proving that appeasing terrorist nations is just riding a tiger.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2003-06-13/india/27203305_1_stabilisation-force-indian-troops-pentagon-delegation

NEW DELHI: There will be a lot a Iraq on the menu over the weekend before the Pentagon team arrives here on Monday to talk India into sending troops to the war-torn nation.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2003-07-28/india/27176989_1_troops-issue-stabilisation-force-defence-policy-group

Jul 28, 2003, 01.28pm IST

NEW DELHI: Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Richard B Myers, who is arriving here on Monday evening on a two-day visit, will request India to reconsider its decision on sending troops to Iraq.

and

Jul 29, 2003, 07.00pm IST

NEW DELHI: Though Gen Myers flatly denied his visit had anything to do with persuading India to send troops to Iraq, it is evident that the US desperately wants Delhi to contribute a division-level force of over 15,000 combat soldiers.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2003-09-10/india/27176101_1_stabilisation-force-force-under-american-control-regional-dialogue

Sep 10, 2003, 05.34pm IST

NEW DELHI: Even as the US-drafted resolution on Iraq is being heatedly debated in many countries, American Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Christina Rocca held a series of meetings with External Affairs Ministry officials on Wednesday.

Though it was officially called “a regional dialogue”, the US request to contribute a division-level force of over 15,000 combat soldiers to the “stabilisation force” in Iraq is learnt to have figured in the discussions.

The penny wise -pound foolish attitude of then Def Secretary Rumsfield led to break down in negotiations.

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Sir Winston Churchill

In 2012

Indian govt again faces elections and we have 150 million Muslim voters just like other countries have influential lobbies.

and while Israelis are being targeted again in attacks in India-

India is still seeking money-

India has struck a defiant tone over new financial sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union to punish Iran for its nuclear programme, coming up with elaborate trade and barter arrangements to pay for oil supplies.

However, the president of the All India Rice Exporters’ Association, said Monday’s attack on the wife of an Israeli diplomat in the Indian capital will damage trade with Iran and may complicate efforts to resolve an impasse over Iranian defaults on payments for rice imports worth around $150 million.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Unfazed-by-US-sanctions-India-to-step-up-ties-with-Iran/articleshow/11887691.cms

India buys $ 5  billion worth of oil from Iran. Annually. Clearly it is a critical financial trading partner to Iran.

It has now gotten extra sops from Iran to continue trading-and is now waiting for a sweeter monetary offer from US and/or Israel to even consider thinking about going through the pain of unchanging the inertia of ties with Iran.

There are some aspects of political corruption as well, as Indian political establishment  is notoriously prone to corruption by lobbyists (apparently there   is a global war on lobbyists that needs to happen)

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Unfazed-by-US-sanctions-India-to-step-up-ties-with-Iran/articleshow/11887691.cms

 Feb 14, 2012, 05.54PM ISTUnfazed by US sanctions, India to step up ties with Iran
India is set to ramp up its energy and business ties with Iran. (AFP Photo)
NEW DELHI: Unfazed by US sanctions and Israel linking Tehran to the attack on an Israeli embassy car here, India is set to ramp up its energy and business ties with Iran, with a commerce ministry team heading to Tehran to explore fresh business opportunities. 

The team is expected to go to Tehran later this month to discuss steps to expand India’s trade with Iran, part of a larger strategy to pay for Iranian oil, said highly-placed sources. 

Despite the US and European Union sanctions on Iran, India recently sealed a payment mechanism under which Indian companies will pay for 45 percent of their crude oil imports from Iran in rupees. 

So diplomats with argue over money in Israel, Indian and US while terrorists will kill.

Against Stupidity- The Gods Themselves -Contend in Vain

Cyber Cold War

I try to write on cyber conflict without getting into the politics of why someone is hacking someone else. I always get beaten by someone in the comments thread when I write on politics.

But recent events have forced me to update my usual “how-to” cyber conflict to “why” cyber conflict. This is because of a terrorist attack in my hometown Delhi.

(updated-

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/14/world/middleeast/israeli-embassy-officials-attacked-in-india-and-georgia.html?_r=1&hp

Iran allegedly tried  (as per Israel) to assassinate the wife of Israeli Defence Attache in Delhi using a magnetic bomb, India as she went to school to pick up her kids, somebody else put a grenade in Israeli embassy car in Georgia which was found in time. 

Based on reports , initial work suggests the bomb was much more sophisticated than local terrorists, but the terrorists seemed to have some local recce work done.

India has 0 history of antisemitism but this is the second time Israelis have been targeted since 26/11 Mumbai attacks. India buys 12 % of oil annually from Iran (and refuses to join the oil embargo called by US and Europe)

Cyber Conflict is less painful than conflict, which is inevitable as long as mankind exists. Also the Western hemisphere needs a moon shot (cyber conflict could be the Sputnik like moment) and with declining and aging populations but better technology, Western Hemisphere govts need cyber conflict as they are running out of humans to fight their wars. Eastern govt. are even more obnoxious in using children for conflict propaganda, and corruption.

Last week CIA.gov website went down

This week Iranian govt is allegedly blocking https traffic on eve of Annual Revolution Day (what a coincidence!)

 

Some resources to help Internet users in Iran (or maybe this could be a dummy test for the big one – hacking the great firewall of China)

News from Hacker News-

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3575029

 

I’m writing this to report the serious troubles we have regarding accessing Internet in Iran at the moment. Since Thursday Iranian government has shutted down the https protocol which has caused almost all google services (gmail, and google.com itself) to become inaccessible. Almost all websites that reply on Google APIs (like wolfram alpha) won’t work. Accessing to any website that replies on https (just imaging how many websites use this protocol, from Arch Wiki to bank websites). Also accessing many proxies is also impossible. There are almost no official reports on this and with many websites and my email accounts restricted I can just confirm this based on my own and friends experience. I have just found one report here:

Iran Shut Down Gmail , Google , Yahoo and sites using “Https” Protocol

The reason for this horrible shutdown is that the Iranian regime celebrates 1979 Islamic revolution tomorrow.

I just wanted to let you guys know about this. If you have any solution regarding bypassing this restriction please help!

 

The boys at Tor think they can help-

but its not so elegant, as I prefer creating a  batch file rather than explain coding to newbies. 

this is still getting to better and easier interfaces

https://www.torproject.org/projects/obfsproxy-instructions.html.en

Obfsproxy Instructions

client torrc

Step 1: Install dependencies, obfsproxy, and Tor

 

You will need a C compiler (gcc), the autoconf and autotools build system, the git revision control system, pkg-config andlibtoollibevent-2 and its headers, and the development headers of OpenSSL.

On Debian testing or Ubuntu oneiric, you could do:
# apt-get install autoconf autotools-dev gcc git pkg-config libtool libevent-2.0-5 libevent-dev libevent-openssl-2.0-5 libssl-dev

If you’re on a more stable Linux, you can either try our experimental backport libevent2 debs or build libevent2 from source.

Clone obfsproxy from its git repository:
$ git clone https://git.torproject.org/obfsproxy.git
The above command should create and populate a directory named ‘obfsproxy’ in your current directory.

Compile obfsproxy:
$ cd obfsproxy
$ ./autogen.sh && ./configure && make

Optionally, as root install obfsproxy in your system:
# make install

If you prefer not to install obfsproxy as root, you can instead just modify the Transport lines in your torrc file (explained below) to point to your obfsproxy binary.

You will need Tor 0.2.3.11-alpha or later.


Step 2a: If you’re the client…

 

First, you need to learn the address of a bridge that supports obfsproxy. If you don’t know any, try asking a friend to set one up for you. Then the appropriate lines to your tor configuration file:

UseBridges 1
Bridge obfs2 128.31.0.34:1051
ClientTransportPlugin obfs2 exec /usr/local/bin/obfsproxy --managed

Don’t forget to replace 128.31.0.34:1051 with the IP address and port that the bridge’s obfsproxy is listening on.
 Congratulations! Your traffic should now be obfuscated by obfsproxy. You are done! You can now start using Tor.

For old fashioned tunnel creation under Seas of English Channel-

http://dag.wieers.com/howto/ssh-http-tunneling/

Tunneling SSH over HTTP(S)
This document explains how to set up an Apache server and SSH client to allow tunneling SSH over HTTP(S). This can be useful on restricted networks that either firewall everything except HTTP traffic (tcp/80,tcp/443) or require users to use a local (HTTP) proxy.
A lot of people asked why doing it like this if you can just make sshd listen on port 443. Well, that might work if your environment is not hardened like I have seen at several companies, but this setup has a few advantages.

  • You can proxy to anywhere (see the Proxy directive in Apache) based on names
  • You can proxy to any port you like (see the AllowCONNECT directive in Apache)
  • It works even when there is a layer-7 protocol firewall
  • If you enable proxytunnel ssl support, it is indistinguishable from real SSL traffic
  • You can come up with nice hostnames like ‘downloads.yourdomain.com’ and ‘pictures.yourdomain.com’ and for normal users these will look like normal websites when visited.
  • There are many possibilities for doing authentication further along the path
  • You can do proxy-bouncing to the n-th degree to mask where you’re coming from or going to (however this requires more changes to proxytunnel, currently I only added support for one remote proxy)
  • You do not have to dedicate an IP-address for sshd, you can still run an HTTPS site

Related-

http://opensourceandhackystuff.blogspot.in/2012/02/captive-portal-security-part-1.html

and some crypto for young people

http://users.telenet.be/d.rijmenants/en/onetimepad.htm

 

Me- What am I doing about it? I am just writing poems on hacking at http://poemsforkush.com

My Digital Trail

Someone I know recently mentioned that I have an extensive Digital Trail. I do.

I have 7863 connections at http://www.linkedin.com/in/ajayohri, 31 likes at https://www.facebook.com/ajayohri and 19 likes at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ajay-Ohri/157086547679568, 409 friends (and 13 subscribers) at https://www.facebook.com/byebyebyer .On twitter I have 499 followers at http://twitter.com/0_h_r_1 and 344 followers at http://twitter.com/rforbusiness , and even on Google Plus some 617 people circling me at https://plus.google.com/116302364907696741272 (besides 6 other pages on G+)

Even my Youtube channel at http://www.youtube.com/decisionstats is more popular than I am in non-digital life. my non existant video blog at http://videosforkush.blogspot.com/ and my poetry blog at http://poemsforkush.wordpress.com/, and my comments on other social media, and my blurbs on my tumblr http://kushohri.tumblr.com/, and you get a lot of my psych profile.

Why do I do leave so much trail digitally?

For one reason- I was a bit of introvert always and technology set me free, the opportunity to think and yet be relaxed in anonymous chatter.

For the second reason- I am divorced and my wife got my 4 yr old son’s custody. Even though I talk to him once a day for a couple of minutes, somehow I hope when he grows, he reads my digital trail , maybe even these words, on the kind of man I was and the phases and seasons of life I went through.

 

That is all.

 

 

Movie Review – Sahib Biwi aur Gangster (The Lord, The Wife and the Gangster)

This is the latest Bollywood smash, it is a inspired version of Sahib < Biwi < and Ghulam

It features a feudal lord, doing what gentlemen borne as gentlemen do, his bored schizophreniac wife, and the driver/gangster

There are lots of twists and turns, and it may be Bollywood’s steamiest romantic comedy/drama.

The songs are nice, the acting is superb by the cast of Randeep Hooda (D, Once upon a time in Mumbai), Mahi Gill and Jimmy Shergill.

Power packed and nice- but see it without your kids/family or you may end up blushing! Probably the closest to a noir sex comedy that I have seen in 3 decades of Bollywood watching!

 

Statistical Analysis with R- by John M Quick

I was asked to be a techie reviewe for John M Quick’s new R book “Statistical Analysis with R” from Packt Publishing some months ago-(very much to my surprise I confess)-

I agreed- and technical reviewer work does take time- its like being a mid wife and there is whole team trying to get the book to birth.

Statistical Analysis with R- is a Beginner’s Guide so has nice screenshots, simple case studies, and quizzes to check recall of student/ reader. I remember struggling with the official “beginner’s guide to R” so this one is different in that it presents a story of a Chinese Army and how to use R to plan resources to fight the battle. It’s recommended especially for undergraduate courses- R need not be an elitist language- and given my experience with Asian programming acumen – I am sure it is a matter of time before high schools in India teach basic R in final years ( I learnt quite a shit load of quantum physics as compulsory topics in Indian high schools- but I guess we didnt have Jersey Shore things to do)

Congrats to author Mr John M Quick- he is doing his educational Phd from ASU- and I am sure both he and his approach to making education simple informative and fun will go places.

Only bad thing- The Name Statistical Analysis with R has atleast three other books , but I guess Google will catch up to it.

This book is here-https://www.packtpub.com/statistical-analysis-with-r-beginners-guide/book