Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Leveraging infrastructure

At last week's (wonderfully mild-weathered) XML Summer School, Jeff Barr gave a great talk on Amazon's Web Services offerings. (Jeff is an 'evangelist', unlike most TV evangelists I'm familiar with Jeff did not call me a sinner and is not, AFAIK, under federal investigation for tax fraud).
Amazon Web Services provides developers with direct access to Amazon's robust technology platform. Build on Amazon's suite of web services to enable and enhance your applications.

Additionally, artfully placed in the room were pen's advertising BT's Web21C program (I'd suspect Paul Downey of dropping the pens except that the services are SOAP-based).
The Web21C SDK is a set of libraries that makes it simple for developers to consume Web Services exposed by BT

Hmmm, I see a trend here. Whatever you aren't fully using, rent out.

I have loads of lawn & garden equipment that I use only occasionally. What if I were to make this surplus infrastructure available to friends & neighbours through web service APIs?


Of course, once all the equipment had been lent out, then I could just sit back with a beer and rest.

Yeah, I'd love to cut the lawn Honey but, hey, the APIs ...





Sunday, July 29, 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Redirect protocol & Usability


1) User joins ticket queue at London's Victoria Coach Station
2) User directed to ticket booth #14
3) User requests service to Oxford
4) Ticket booth #14 requests payment
5) User presents credit card payment token
6) Unable to directly process token, ticket booth #14 redirects User to ticket booth #8
7) User presents credit card payment token to ticket booth #8
8) Ticket booth #8 processes credit card payment token, returns receipt token to User
9) Ticket booth #8 redirects User to ticket booth #14
10) User presents receipt token to ticket booth #14
11) Ticket booth #14 returns 'You can ride to Oxford' token to User
12) User exits, looking for nearest pub


I will be using the following multimedia mechanism (rather than the default impersonal 'X wants to be your friend/buddy/colleague/twit etc') to extend social invites.

GALLERY lyrics

I suppose I need something comparable should I actually ever receive such a invite. Cross that bridge when I come to it.

Friday, July 27, 2007


Any interested angel investors please call, we can have some drinks and see what develops.

At least initially I'm focussed on raising liquid capital.

Tags: ,

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cardspace Usability Nit

When Cardspace poses the question 'Do you want to send this card to XYZ.com?', it doesn't provide a 'No' button. To answer yes, you click on 'Send', to back-out you click on the blue arrow to the left of the question.

The blue arrow is consistent with the IE 7 interface, (it's the same as the back button) but is inconsistent with the 'Send'. More intuitive would, I think, be a corresponding 'No' button.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Don't Slip Up (ha!)

Banana for locking your PC.

I wish I had a web cam to try it out.

19 members and going strong

The Facebook group for 'ID Professionals wary of joining groups' is, perversely, continuing to add members.

I confess that when I originally conceived of the idea, I was thinking only of putting out a beta, paying for some nice reviews, and then positioning the group for acquisition by one of the larger anti-social groups. Pocket the proceeds and move on. Totally Group 2.0.

But the fact that people are joining makes me think that maybe this thing has legs and I need to revisit my strategy.

My marketing people are telling me that research into online social trends is clear - NOT joining groups is going to be the next big thing. Any technology that helps people not join social networks (or chat with friends, tell friends what they last ate, etc) can be huge.

And I already have a number of patents that might be relevant, e.g.
  • 'A Mechanism for Causing a Computing Device to Temporarily Cease Operations'
  • 'Unplugging of Wires in Order to Interrupt Digital Communications'



From Boing Boing, an Enigma machine is for sale on eBay.

The article refers to a previous, in which the author wrote

German soldiers issued an Enigma were to make no mistake about their orders if captured: Shoot it or throw it overboard.

Actually the Germans went on the assumption that the Allies had the machines (like modern cryptographers assuming the details of an algorythm being known), it was the day codes that were jealously guarded.

Also like asymmetric crypto used to encrypt the secret key used to actually encrypt a email message, the Enigma day code was used to encrypt a specific one-time code (the scrambler settings) used to encrypt the message.

Given that the Allies were able to consistently obtain the day codes, it seems strange that, as far as I know, the Allies never took advantage in order to send a fake message (I expect that, for the Germans, a properly encrypted message would have had better bona fides that otherwise). Presumably the risk of the Germans clueing in (and changing how Enigma was used) was deemed too great.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Kreepy Krawly

I picked up an automatic vacuuming system for the pool (the boy proving less than reliable for keeping the algae at bay when I'm away)

Most of the time, the thing works great, working on my behalf, it putters around and does its thing. But occasionally, it gets stuck (damn you stairs!) or up-ended and I need to get involved to get it back on track. Typically, this involves me giving a little nudge to get the device back on its merry schlurping way. Even with the hassle of these occasional interventions, the effort the device saves me is, on balance, worth it.

Hmmm, user-mediated operations guiding subsequent automatic transactions. Identity analogy anyone? (even acknowledging that the vacuum's automatic operations are random & mindless, I have accounts with providers that seem to have the same process model).

Some would deny automatic identity transactions any part in a privacy-protecting identity framework, if the user is not directly involved, i.e. right then & there, then they can't be sure that the pool is being cleaned in accordance with their 'pool vacuum preferences'.

Two comments:
  • Sometimes the pool needs to be cleaned at inconvenient times,
  • I've yet to work out a way to stop my drink from spilling while actively vacuuming
For myself, just as I was willing to let our previous pool man Miguel (my wife still talks about him) perform important duties on my behalf, I'm willing to let the Kreepy Krawly do the same (with the occasional correcting nudge).

Friday, July 13, 2007

Brand Abuse

I addition to its beer, Heineken kindly provides a document storage service for users.

Myself, I often temporarily store sensitive health & financial information with the bouncers of the many 'before hours' nightclubs I frequent so this makes perfect sense.

Funnily enough, the site's privacy policy makes no mention of 'My Documents'.

Dad is connected to the Internet

Visiting the parents, I had to resort to using my father's dial-up account. Created a connection and called it 'Dad'.

This pretty much sums it up.

Unlike its namesake, the connection didn't tell me the same jokes over and over and share insightful commentary on diverse topics such as "what's wrong with the world today".

Escape (The Pina Colada Song)

<drink>Pina Colada</drink>
<activity>making love at midnight</activity>
<activity>getting caught in the rain</activity>
<food>health food</food>


This is what a 4-hour drive with 3 kids listening to the Fabulous 70's on Sirius Radio will get you. Plus a headache.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sent from my Dell

I just received my first email message with 'Sent from my iPhone' as postscript.

I've always found it annoying when I saw the same for BlackBerrys. It always conjured up images of marketing types striding purposefuilly through airports. I've decided to up my annoyance level for iPhones.

Is there any conceivable reason why I should care about the specific device from which a message was sent?

The only justification I can think of (other than misplaced viral marketing) is that the sender wants to explain the brief & cursory messages that typing on such a device requires.

If this is the reason, would not 'Sent from a device with a crappy keyboard' achieve the same?

And wouldn't Apple want this reality downplayed rather than hilited?


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Divine IM

Yahweh22: YT?
Moses88: I am not here right now.
Yahweh22: Moses, I know you're there, I can SEE you.
Moses88: Sorry Boss, I was screening.
Yahweh22: Well don't, it's annoying.
Moses88: Sorry Boss, WU?
Yahweh22: I want to send you a file with a set of instructions for the people. Sort of a "Top 10 of Do's & Don'ts"
Moses88: Great idea Boss, they could use some guidance. I've been seeing some idol worshipping lately.
Yahweh22: OK, sending the file
Yahweh22 wants to send you the file '10-Instructions.pdf', Accept?

Moses88: Did you send it Boss, nothing came through.
Yahweh22: Damn, this never works. I'll try email.
Moses88: Worth a try but your messages are getting caught in my spam folder.
Yahweh22: What?
Moses88: I think it's the 'ever-lasting' in your signature that the viagra rule seems to catch on.
Yahweh22: Well how am I going to get you the instructions?
Moses88: Courier?
Yahweh22: Get real. You seen their prices?
Moses88: True.
Yahweh22: OK, got an idea. Listen up
Moses88: All ears :-)
Yahweh22: I'm going to etch the instructions in a block of stone.
Moses88: LOL! Good one Boss. :-)
Yahweh22: I wasn't joking.
Moses88: Stone? Like a rock?
Yahweh22: Yup, something hard. Granite if I can get a good price.
Moses88: So I'll be showing this big stone to all the people?
Yahweh22: Sure, what's the problem?
Moses88: No problem at all Boss, it's just that I've been having back problems lately and I'm a little worried about carrying this thing around.
Yahweh22: There, that feel better?
Mosees88: Thanks Boss, much. Uhh, I've also had a bad rash on my ...
Yahweh22: Don't push it Moses. I'll send you down the stone ASAP
Moses88: Where will I find it?
Yahweh22: Lets use the burning bush thing again.
Moses88: Will do Boss :-)
Yahweh22: One more for the list. “Thou shall not use 'smileys' indiscriminately.” L8r
Moses88: :-(

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Punch Line

Friend 1: Hey, got a funny one. A guy goes into a bar ...
Friend 2: What's his name?
Friend 1: Why, what's it matter?
Friend 2: It matters alot, how we are identified can be critical, it could ...
Friend 1: OK, OK, lets call him 'Joe'.
Friend 2: 'Joe'? really? Well OK ...
Friend 1: You don't like 'Joe'?
Friend 2: No, no, 'Joe' is fine, It's just, well, you know, pretty common ...
Friend 1: Why is that bad?
Friend 2: Well, I guess I'm just worried about this 'Joe' getting confused with some other 'Joe' and being able to put drinks on his bar tab or something but, no, that's silly, lets move on ...
Friend 1: You sure? I mean, I want you to be happy, we could call him 'Eugene' or something?
Friend 2: 'Eugene'? Dear God no, that's too unique! Different bars that he might go to would be able to work out that he was going to both places, and work out his drinking patterns and stuff. No, lets stick with 'Joe'.
Friend 1: OK, great, so, a guy named 'Joe' goes into a bar and ..
Friend 2: Has be been there before?
Friend 1: Where, the bar? No, he hasn't been there before.
Friend 2: Probably best.
Friend 1: OK, so Joe says to the bartender ... Wait, what do you mean 'probably best?
Friend 2: Well, if Joe has never been there before then the bartender won't be able to ...
Friend 1: You know, I think you're missing the point. It's supposed to be a joke. What the bartender knows about Joe doesn't really matter.
Friend 2: (under his breath) I bet it matters to Joe.
Friend 2: (loudly) You're right, sorry, keep going.
Friend 1: Right, so Joe is in the bar and ...
Friend 2: He went in on his own right?
Friend 1: Yes, of course he went in on his own!
Friend 2: Good, so he wasn't dragged in without his consent or anything.
Friend 1: (through gritted teeth) No, he is absolutely there of his own freakin' consent. Is that clear? Can I go on now?
Friend 2: nods his head contritely
Friend 1: So Joe says to the bartender 'Give me a beer' and he throws a credit card on the bar ...
Friend 2: Credit card? Joe didn't have any cash? .... Hey, where are you going? I want to hear the end .....

Live Earth

Watching Live Earth - love the irony of performers drinking bottled water while advocating environmentally responsible consumerism.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Two hundred dollar bid, now three ....

From dark reading, an article on a marketplace for security vulnerabilities.

WabiSabiLabi describes itself
Our scope is to provide an institutional market place in which security researchers can offer to place their work to the market through a platform designed to maximize their reward.

Could there be a 'privacy in identity standards' category? If nothing else it might serve to move the interminable linkability thread off the ID Gang list.

The philosophy of recognizing imperfection in security is described as
... three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.

Sounds like my home improvement projects (as I tell my wife, it's not that the closet isn't finished without doors, I always planned it to be 'open').

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Ford would be proud

An un-named source in Redmond sent me this never before seen picture of the first ever infocards assembly line.

In the front you can see a worker inserting secret keys obtained from the bins below (the punch-card calculating machines on which those keys were generated are in another room). Other workers further down the line can be seen inserting attributes before securing the top of the cards with wrenches.

My source tells me that another line is planned.


More US jobs lost to a 3rd world country

Soon it will be 'Cardspace eh'.

And Tim Horton's coffee preference will be one of the built-in attribute types.

Medium Decaf Regular if you're wondering.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Family IT department

As an experiment in parental control, I installed Glubble on the family PC's Firefox. It's an extension that enforces whitelists of approved sites for my kids.

I am now being bombarded with emails like the following in which my kids request that I (as the admin) grant them access to specific sites.

Navsafe - New access request from Bommer

Greetings mudman

Bommer has sent you a new access request.

You may login to your Glubble account and see the details of the request there.

Best regards,
The Glubble Team

As yet, I've received no requests for access to this blog - obvious glitch.


Found the problem

Reattached a discombobulator wire that had come loose and everything now works fine. Interesting to actually see where the cards are stored.

Pic from cnet.


Julian's post on systems by which users can provide the 'what & where' of their current situation makes me think we'll eventually see the other three 'w's of W5.
  • Who - I'm already sick of the inevitable happy faces
  • When - perhaps relevant for seniors, i.e. 'I'm not dead yet'
  • Why - for the philosophers. But does the answer change?

SAML SSO in China

I know that there is SAML in the mix of this Chinese identity implementation because they conveniently don't translate the acronym


TRS works with Chinese Government agencies, universities, and other IT shops.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Grey Screen of Death

Can't use Cardspace at either SignOn.com or Fabrikam Friends (is there an end of life plan for 'fabrikam'? please?).

Cardspace wakes up, screen greys out, and stays that way.

Worked just last week at SignOn.com.

IE 7, WinFX on XP.