Web site architect at home, literally, with his cyber firm

Sept 26, 2004
Recorder Staff
You’d never know by looking at the blue-shingle house on Greenfield’s Orchard Street, with its crimson shutters, but this is a high-tech hub.
Richard Roth, who has lived and worked here for three years, calls himself a software developer and more recently an “architect” of World Wide Web sites, providing intricate “back-end solutions” for complicated addresses in cyberspaces.
With long brown hair tied neatly behind him, a long moustache, wide wire-rimmed glasses and a rapid-fire patter, Roth is a super-geek, wired, yet as relaxed as if he were home with the technology. He is.
“At any one time, we’re phasing in something new – or actually, 10 at a time,” he says, alluding to a core of co-workers in New Jersey, New York, around the Pioneer Valley and beyond who tweak cyber-solutions by e-mail, instant messages and phone.
From this unlikely perch in Greenfield, Roth has overseen On-the-Net, which helps troubleshoot and build onto existing Web sites with custom tools to fit needs that clients say they want “yesterday.”
Roth’s newly created TNR Global – of which On-the-Net is a component, also does domain registration, Web hosting, design and administration, database development and e-mail purging. Customers also include Crain’s Industrial Publications and First USA Bank’s Credit Card Division.
With six employees, who work mostly from their own homes around the Pioneer Valley, Roth’s virtual business and those it works with have helped develop and service a variety of complex Web sites. The linchpin is Thomas Publishing Co.’s searchable, digital directories to more than a half-million service companies.
Thomas, which has a massive database of manufacturers, distributors, dealers and services, has – with help from Roth and his partners – published a galaxy of continually updated Web sites, advertisements and mailing lists. Just keeping track moment to moment of pending changes in various stages requires a separate directory, and virtual “sticky messages” that steadily appear and proliferate on the computer monitor in Roth’s office.
It’s hard to imagine that this used to be someone’s upstairs bedroom.
“I will do only that for which I have passion,” reads one of many dotting the walls, amid crammed bookcases and cybertools.
“Thomas has billions of data records,” said Roth. “Any real heavy Web site has constant improvements, with interaction between various levels of customers feeding back to us.”
Every morning at 2 a.m., one of Roth’s two dozen Web servers automatically reaches into the Thomas computers and picks up new data. Using as many as 40 intricate checks, it repairs “broken” links to and from thousands of Web sites.
Pioneering in cyberspace
From the last decade’s seemingly ancient days dominated by online bulletin boards, Roth began “massaging” data for use on the emerging World Wide Web to help companies tackle new ways of doing business.
In 1996, he teamed up with New Jersey-based Creative Media Group to create online versions of the century-old printed Thomas directories. Thomas gathers the data, selling ads, subscriptions and other services – and then turns it over to the computer firms to juggle.
“A lot of what we do is try to figure out what they want and guess it far enough ahead of time to be one step ahead them,” Roth said. “Until someone sits down with a technology, they don’t know what they want.”
Roth seemingly got a jump start in technology before he was born.
His grandfather designed airplanes in the 1920s. His father designed automobiles in the 1940s. He has been programming computers since he was a high school student on Long Island, where he also did an early experiment in computer-aided instruction in the 1960s. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.
With an advanced systems engineering degree under his belt in 1972, he worked as a program designer on the West Coast in the 1970s, expanding his own expertise with mini-computers as they grew from technical toys to powerful personal computers today. Roth moved to Connecticut in 1977 and then to Northampton seven years ago, starting seven companies along the way. Among these was DataViz, which produced MacLink, a key translator between Macintosh and Windows formats.
Roth also found time to share his expertise in manuals and articles, and in courses at Hampshire College, Greenfield Community College and elsewhere. One guidebook is titled, “So You Want to Be an Internet Provider.”
“In 1968, when I was in high school, we did online dial-up,” he said. “Then I was doing dial-up in the ’70s, when I moved from San Francisco to L.A., and I was linked to the computers in L.A. This stuff is not new to me, but how you apply it is part of the challenge.”
Building on the growth of the Internet in 1994, Roth started On-the-Net, which troubleshoots for Web site developers and provides security and other services for about 3,000 sites.
Roth’s world of cyber-juggling – partly reflected by a dozen instant messages from virtual partners and employees that appear on his screen as he talks with a visitor for an hour or so – requires a Mission Impossible mentality:
“There are aspects of this technology that say, ‘You can’t do that,’ but a lot of us say, ‘Yes, you can.’ That has to do with the 80-20 rule. Maybe you can’t do 100 percent, but you can usually do a heck of a lot better than 20 percent,” Roth says. “If you carve out the right piece down to what they really need, you can do something that comes pretty close to taking it to the next step.”
On the Internet: http://www.tnrglobal.com

Temple Israel Gets Cyberspace Makeover

May 19, 2008
By RICHIE DAVIS, Recorder Staff 
Photo by Peter MacDonald, The Recorder
You wouldn’t think a few years would do much to a religion now marking the year 5768. 
But in the world of the World Wide Web, sites have a way of looking dated really fast.
Tamar Schanfeld of TNR Global, a Greenfield-based Web development firm, cast her eye on synagogues when she was looking for markets for designing new sites. 
It was Greenfield’s Temple Israel that got the first makeover from the TNR’s new division, Shofar Sites.
Even sites that are a few years old and are maintained by volunteers can be pretty dull, said Schanfeld, and without much functionality.
Building on an Joomla framework — an ”open ended” content management system that can be added onto with a wide variety of features — Schanfeld said she worked with board members and staff at Temple Israel to build on the attractive features at the synagogue’s existing site. 
The existing site, with a wood-grain background reminiscent of the sanctuary, included a directory staff, officers, hours and phone numbers, plus a calendar, membership information and a rabbi’s page.
But Schanfeld said the pages seemed ”static” and required a lot of work to update the information.
TNR, which set up Shofar Sites to provide installation, support and customized applications for synagogues around the country, has launched a division within the past six to 10 months to help smaller companies and schools develop Web sites, said Natasha Goncharava, one of the founders of the 4-year-old technology company that employs a dozen people.
TNR primarily provides search and system administration for very large sites with a large volume of Web traffic, said Goncharava. The firm saw the need to work with schools, including private schools and colleges, to grow and diversify its clientele. It’s developed about 20 small-scale sites, she said.
Shofar Sites, which is negotiating with two more synagogues on Long Island, N.Y. and in Texas, offers three packages, ranging from converting a site’s existing site to a Joomla framework to a complete custom makeover, said Schanfeld. It also offers six templates to modify the appearance of an existing site and content in Hebrew and Russian.
The Greenfield temple’s site incorporates the week’s candle-lighting times and Torah portions, including a commentary on its meaning and a way to hear its portion being chanted. It also includes blogs, updated news feeds from the Jerusalem Post and a way to download songs performed by Rabbi Efraim Eisen.
”For me, personally, it’s an opportunity for my music to get out to the community in a way I’ve never really had before,” said Eisen, who called the new site ”wonderful. There are lots of different applications that are exciting to me. ”The possibilities are pretty huge,” he said. ”Even somebody who’s not particularly computer literate can make their own entries.”
Among the hopes for the future are podcasts of synagogue programs and an expansion of the teen program page to include blogs, podcasts and other content by teens themselves. 
Schanfeld, who is Jewish, said, TNR decided to pursue the synagogue niche because the Joomla platform seems well suited to small organizations whose Web sites are being handled by volunteers.
”This is a lower-cost option, and it’s so darn cool,” she said. With content that can be updated by anyone who knows how to do word processing, ”It’s a great way to build community and have people talk to each other, by creating a Web site that’s really interesting.”
On the Web: http://www.templeisraelgreenfield.org
You can reach Richie Davis at rdavis@recorder.com or (413) 772-0261 Ext. 269

Microsoft FAST ESP Overview

February 10, 2009
By Michael McIntosh, Senior Search Software Engineer
TNR Global
We use Microsoft FAST ESP to power a large industrial search engine listing over 1 million companies and over 3 million indexed documents and receiving millions of visitors every month. I have been working with ESP since 2003 (then known as FDS 3.2).
Microsoft FAST ESP is extremely flexible and can deal with indexing many document types (html, pdf, word, etc). It has a very robust crawler for web documents and you can use their intermediary FastXML format to load custom document formats into the system or use their Content APIs.
One of my favorite parts of the engine is its Document Processing Pipeline which lets you make use of dozens of out-of-the-box processing plugins as well as using a Python API to write your own custom document processing stages. An example of a custom stage we wrote was one that looks at a web site URL and tries to identify which company it belongs to so additional metadata can be attached to a web document.
It has a very robust programming/integration SDK in several popular languages (C++/C#/Java) for adding content and performing queries as well as fetching system status and managing cluster services.
ESP has a query language called FAST Query Language (FQL) that is very robust and allows you to do basic Boolean searches (AND, OR, NOT) as well as phrase and term proximity searches. In addition to that, it has something called “scope search” which can be used to search document metadata (XML) that has a format that can vary from document to document.
In terms of performance, it scales fairly linearly. If you benchmark it to determine how it performs on one machine, if you add another machine it generally can double performance. You can run the system on one machine (only recommended for development), or many (for production). It is fault-tolerant (it can still serve some results if one of your load-balanced indices goes offline) and it has full fail-over support (one or more critical machines could die or be taken offline for maintenance and the system will continue to function properly)
So, its very powerful. The documentation nowadays is pretty good. So, you ask, what are the downsides?
Well, if the data you need to make searchable has a format that changes frequently, that might be a pain. FAST ESP has something called an “Index Profile” which is basically a config file it uses to determine what document fields are important and should be used for indexing. Everything fed into ESP is a “document”, even if your loading database table rows into it. Each document has several fields, typical fields being: title, body, keywords, headers, documentvectors, processingtime, etc. You can specify as many of your own custom fields as you wish.
If your content maintains mostly the same format (like web documents) its not a big issue. But if you have to make big changes to which fields should be indexed and how they should be treated, you probably need to edit the Index Profile. Some changes to the index profile are “Hot Updates”, meaning you can make the change and not interrupt service. But, some of the bigger changes are “Cold Updates” which requires a full data refeed and indexing before the change takes effect. Depending on the size of your dataset and how many machines are in your cluster, this operation could take hours or days. Cold Updates are a pain to schedule unless you have plenty of cash for extra hardware that you can bring online while your production systems are performing a cold update and reloading the data. Having to do that on production clusters more than once or twice a year requires a fair amount of planning to get right with minimum or 0% downtime.  Learn more about some of the ways we help our customers get the most from their FAST installations.

Norwalk synagogue launches new website

May 28, 2009
Published in The Jewish Ledger
NORWALK — Congregation Beth El in Norwalk has launched a new website that keeps members abreast of synagogue activities…and a whole lot more.
In addition to up-to-date information on prayer services, events, learning opportunities, volunteer activities, etc., the site also provides the lower Fairfield County Jewish community a news feed from Israel and links of Jewish interest. The new site, combined with weekly e-mail announcements, have allowed the synagogue to discontinue its printed flyer mailings; all part of the “Greening of Beth El” initiative which includes the installation of energy efficient lighting and motion sensors in our building.
Rabbi Fish explained that “The website was built around five key pillars of Jewish life at Congregation Beth El; community, learning, prayer, social action and support of our synagogue,” says spiritual leader rabbi Joseph Ron Fish. “All the content is wrapped around these important pillars.”
The website provides a connection to Israel through a news feed from Haaretz.com, the online edition of Israel’s daily newspaper, as well as a link to the Jerusalem Post. Connections to regional, national and international information of Jewish interest are provided through links to the UJA Federation of Westport, Weston, Norwalk, Jewish Family Service, American Jewish World Service and Mazon, a Jewish response to hunger.
The website development project was led by recording secretary Bob Moskovitz of Westport, with the assistance of Shofar Sites, a division of TNR Global LLC of Greenfield, Mass. Shofar Sites works specifically with synagogues to create interactive websites.
On the Web: http://www.congbethel.org/

News and Events

May 28 , 2009
ShofarSites, a division of TNR Global, which creates Joomla! based web sites for synagogues, created a new web site for Congregation Beth El of Norwalk, CT. Read about it in the Jewish Ledger.

February 10, 2009
Michael McIntosh, a Senior Search Software Engineer at TNR Global, provides an overview of the FAST ESP Enterprise Search Engine.

March 19, 2008
TNR Global’s new division, ShofarSites.com, is featured in the Greenfield Recorder. ShofarSites creates interactive web sites for Jewish organizations – Temple Israel Gets Cyberspace Makeover.

Sept 27, 2007
Natasha Goncharova, Managing Director of TNR Global, LLC, will be a panel participant at the Technology Trends in Industry session at the University of Massachusetts’s “Mind the Gap” Women & Technology Summit, on September 27, 2007. The event, organized by the Commonwealth Alliance for IT Education (CAITE), provides a venue for women to explore career options in technology fields.

July 22, 2007
Read about TNR Global in the business section of The Republican – Telecommuting links valley firm

July 3, 2007
Vnunet.com – IBM searches high and low with OmniFind.

July 2, 2007
IBM issues press release about OmniFind Enterprise Search partners, including TNR Global.

June 29, 2007
eWeek: IBM Ramps Up Enterprise Search Engine… article about IBM OmniFind Yahoo! Edition and partners including TNR Global.

June 18-21, 2007
TNR Global participates in the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston, MA. Topics at the conference include Enterprise Search and content management, portals, instant messaging, information security, blogs, RSS, social networking, wikis and more.

June 1, 2007
TNR Global develops an Enterprise Search component that integrates the search capability of IBM Yahoo! Omnifind with the Joomla Content Management System

May 29, 2007
TNR Global launches a new site with more extensive information about its Enterprise Search and System Design services.

May 14-15, 2007
TNR Global participates in the Enterprise Search Summit in New York City.

April 20, 2007
TNR Global partners with IBM for Enterprise Search Omnifind products, and signs Confidential Non-Disclosure Agreement.

March 5, 2007
Business West publishes an article about Greenfield’s Creative Cluster including TNR Global.

February 26, 2007
The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, awards TNR Global the contract for Web/Database Development of Internano, a Digital Library and Clearinghouse for the Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing. The implementation requires creating a custom module to integrate Lemur Search into a Joomla Open Source content management system.

February 7-9, 2007
TNR Global participates as a partner in the FAST Forward 07 Conference in San Diego, CA.

December 14, 2006
TNR Global signs an extension to the Statement of Work with Fast Search to participate in the upgrade from FDS to ESP and ESP integration with existing systems for Allegis Group, provider of staffing and recruiting solutions throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.

September 07, 2006
TNR Global signs a Statement of Work with Fast Search to participate in the upgrade from FDS to ESP for Autotrader.com, an online cars auction site.

August 16, 2006
TNR Global partners with FAST Search and signs Professional Service Subcontractor Agreement.

2004-2005 -2007
In Partnership with Creative Media Group (CMG), TNR Global implements and builds the most comprehensive industrial search engine in the market.

September 25, 2004
Greenfield Recorder publishes an article about Rich Roth, TNR Global’s CEO.

May 18, 2004
TNR Global, LLC was founded by Rich Roth and Natasha Goncharova, and formally registered with the State of Massachusetts.