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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management

Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. — Warren G. Bennis

Sunday, October 26, 2014

You’re Home at Last, my iPad, You’re Home at Last!

General, Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
8:16 am

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Last Wednesday, a dreaded First World Fear was realized.  During a tight connection between flights at the Dallas – Fort Worth airport, I left my iPad in the seat pocket on my first flight.  I didn’t realize what I had done until I reached into my briefcase for it on my next flight. My heart sank. I use the IPad for so many things. To lose it was a huge disruption in my day to day life, not to mention the cost and hassle of replacement

A call to the DFW lost and found department was not reassuring. I was instructed by the telephone robot to leave a message with contact information and lost item description, and wait.  I dutifully complied, but had real doubts about whether I’d ever see my iPad again.  A conversation with an American Airlines gate agent gave a little bit of hope.  She assured me that every lost item was investigated, and that I should be patient for the process to take its course.

My Monday morning, I had about given up hope.  But then – the phone call – my iPad had been found!  I had activated the “Find my iPhone” feature, which caused my phone number to be displayed when ever the device was turned on.  The lost and found agent called me, verified that the device was indeed mine and arranged for it to be returned to me by Fedex. Then things got interesting …

Soon after I received the happy phone call, I received an email, also informing me that the iPad had been found – another nice feature of Find my iPhone.  

Ipaddfw

Apparently, when a device is in the “lost” mode, it will continue to wake up periodically and attempt to send its location via email.  I have received 18 emails to that effect since the iPad was first found yesterday morning, each with a little map pinpointing its current location.

I really enjoyed tracking the iPad’s progress as it found its way back to me via my iPhone’s Find My iPhone app.  In the photos below, you can see my iPad’s circuitous journey around DFW yesterday, its flight to the Fedex hub and back to Phoenix overnight, and the fairly direct route to my home by 7:33 this morning!

Ipad1Ipad2Ipad3

So, in addition to getting my treasured iPad back, I received an object lesson in the value of mobile location services!  We live in wonderful times!

 

“Wink” at The Home Depot: Emerging #IoT Ecosystem?

Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, July 10, 2014
6:10 pm

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Today, I learned from a USA Today article that The Home Depot and Amazon.com have begun to offer home automation devices that work with the Wink app and home automation Wink Hub

Boosting your home’s IQ got easier Monday as The Home Depot began selling a collection of nearly 60 gadgets that can be controlled by mobile devices, including light bulbs, lawn sprinklers and water heaters.

I quickly found that homedepot.com offers more Wink devices on line that does Amazon.com - interesting that the orange bastion of brick and mortar DIY sales seems to be besting Amazon at its own game!

I jumped in my pickup and drove to the nearest Home Depot store - and there it was – a Wink end cap, stationed right between the aisles offering water heaters and replacement toilets. The display wasn’t pretty, but it was there.  I could have loaded up a cart full of water sprinkler controllers, video cameras, door locks, smoke alarms, LED lights, motion sensors and more – all controllable via Wink. Pretty impressive, actually.

HomeDepotWink

Two things are significant here:

  1. The Wink ecosystem for connecting many devices from multiple vendors seems to be emerging more quickly than systems promised by Apple and Google.
  2. The Home Depot is the epitome of American mainstream – making it available to the common folks, not just techno-geeks.  Heck, I was in the Home Depot store three times last Saturday alone to pick up stuff. That’s mainstream.

It is going to be really interesting to see how this stuff becomes part of “The Fabric of our Lives.”

 

The Zen of #IoT: The Fabric of our Lives

Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, July 10, 2014
5:10 pm

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Cotton

When I was a young engineering student at Brigham Young University, I had a physics professor who loved to promote what he called the “Zen of Physics.”  As I recall, he proposed that if we studied the right way and meditated the right way on the virtues of physics, we would reach a state of enlightenment about his beloved area of scientific thought.

As an engineering student more interested in practical application than theoretical science, I never did reach the level of enlightenment he hoped for, although I do remember some exciting concepts related to black holes and liquid nitrogen.

This last week, as I was pondering the merits of the Internet of Things, I had a Zen-like moment, an epiphany or moment of enlightenment of sorts, as I was mowing the lawn, of all things.

My thought at that moment?  The real value of the Internet of Things will become apparent when we find that this technology becomes woven seamlessly and invisibly into “The Fabric of our Lives.”

The Fabric of our Lives” is actually a trademark of the Cotton Industry, so I can’t claim originality, but I think the concept is interesting.  When we come to realize that technology fits us as naturally and comfortably as a favorite old cotton shirt, we tend to forget about the technology itself, but enjoy the benefits of what has slowly become an integral part of ordinary living – woven into the fabric of every day life.

When I had my little epiphany last Saturday, I had forgotten my post from April 1, 2013, entitled, “IoT – Emerging and Receding Invisibly into the Fabric of Life.”  What my Zen moment added is the idea that real value to us as humans is realized not when the first flashy headlines appear, but when the technology recedes quietly into the everyday fabric of our lives.

When I think of technology that has emerged since my childhood and then proceeded to become commonplace, I am amazed: microwave ovens, digital cameras, color television, satellite communications, cable/satellite TV, personal computers, the Internet, social media, smart phones and much more.  Each one of these progressed from being novelties or the stuff of techno-geeks to becoming mainstream threads in the everyday fabric of life.

So it will be with IoT. We talk a lot about it now.  We techno-geeks revel in the audacious beautify of it all.  Just about every publication in the world has something to say about it.  But as first a handful, and then many, of the devices and concepts become commonly accepted, they too will become invisible, but highly valuable threads woven ubiquitously into “The Fabric of our Lives.”

 

#IoT: iHouse, House+ or SmartHome? Something else?

Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
3:18 pm

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Recently, there has been a flurry of articles about IoT and home automation, spurred by Apple’s announcement of HomeKit and Google’s announcement that Nest is buying DropCam. Yesterday, I read an interesting article about how WSJ Tech Columnist Christopher Mims visited SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson to “see how he’s turned his home into one of the “smartest” homes in America.”

Smarthome

I applaud this focus on an area of technology that could indeed be of direct benefit to my family and me. But it also raises questions:

As an Mac, iPhone and iPad user, will I be able to extend the useful Apple platform in to a virtual iHouse?

Will Google/Nest/DropCam morph into a useful House+ platform?  Will it interoperate with my Apple stuff or will I have to switch?

Will another more independent company such as SmartThings really make possible a SmartHome?

How much of this will be really useful and easy to use, rather than be a series of geeky science fair projects?  

It was interesting to read Christopher Mims comments about how SmartThings home automation does lots of cool stuff, but not necessarily in an easier way.  Maybe using an iPhone to control everything isn’t really easier than using fashioned light switches or manually adjusting old thermostats.

What I hope emerges are systems that deliver real value to me while being drop-dead simple to use.  Here are a few things I really look forward to:

  1. Coordination of all four AC/Heating zones and ten ceiling fans in my house for optimum comfort and electricity savings, rather than just individual controls provided by Nest and others.
  2. Coordinated control of all ten irrigation circuits for our yard (both sprinkler and drip irrigation) based on weather reports, humidity sensors and soil moisture sensors to optimize water savings and plant health.
  3. Integration of home alarm, garage door and car ignition controls into a single device, preferably my phone, to minimize my frustration and size of my key chain.

The state of the industry right now seems a little bit like the computer industry in the IMSAI computer kit era, when hobbyists could buy lots of components and patch together (sort of) working computers.  Hopefully, the recent IoT announcements will bring real progress beyond the hobbyist phase.

 

MyFitnessPal – #IoT Ecosystem

Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, May 30, 2014
8:35 am

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Myfitnesspal

One of the key enablers to substantial growth in the Internet of Things marketplace will be the progressive emergence of integrated ecosystems of devices and software systems that interact in meaningful ways.  I currently use the FitBit One device to track the steps I take each day and record the food I eat in the MyFitnessPal iPhone app.

As I was browsing the MyFitnessPal website recently, I noticed a growing number of partner applications that interact with MyFitnessPal in some way.  Upon further inspection this morning, I counted 51 apps that interact with MyFitness Pal.  The website lists four devices that are integrated for weight management:

  1. Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale
  2. Withings Wi-Fi Scale
  3. iHealth Wireless Scales
  4. Wahoo Balance Scale

Seven devices are listed for activity monitoring

  1. BodyMedia FIT
  2. Fitbit Tracker
  3. Striiv Play Smart Pedometer
  4. Fitbug Air Tracker
  5. Jawbone UP
  6. Lumo Back Posture Sensor
  7. Withings Pulse

I am currently very impressed with the useful integration between the FitBit tracker and the MyFitnessPal app that I use daily.  If the other apps and devices are as well integrated, this fairly simple, but growing ecosystem has great potential.

 

 

Project Morpheus: Safe Landing

Space Travel
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, May 30, 2014
8:01 am

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I love this photo that dropped into my email box this morning.  According to the NASA News Services:

NASA demonstrated that it can land an unmanned spacecraft on a rugged planetary surface in the pitch dark in a May 28, 2014 free-flight test of the Morpheus prototype lander and Autonomous Landing Hazard Avoidance Technology, or ALHAT. 

Morpheus

Further explanation from NASA:

Project Morpheus tests NASA’s ALHAT and an engine that runs on liquid oxygen and methane, which are green propellants. These new capabilities could be used in future efforts to deliver cargo to planetary surfaces. The landing facility provides the lander with the kind of field necessary for realistic testing, complete with rocks, craters and hazards to avoid. Morpheus’ ALHAT payload allows it to navigate to clear landing sites amidst rocks, craters and other hazards during its descent.

 

Thank You, Valiant Soldiers, for Preserving our Freedom!

Yellow Jeep Journey
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, May 26, 2014
12:37 pm

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May I raise my voice with countless others on this Memorial Day to pay tribute to valiant soldiers who fought and often died to preserve the freedoms we enjoy.

Roosevelt

I found this photo on a blog post that referenced an article by a British war correspondent embedded with the American army. He reported on the GI battle uniforms, vehicles, equipment and supplies.  His comment on the American Jeeps:

The jeeps … were unmatched, and the Germans loved to capture them for their own use.”

It appears that this photo is of President Roosevelt visiting the US troops. Quite the presidential limousine, don’t you think?

Again, thank you, thank you soldiers, for your valiant service, for a job well done.

Roll on Yellow Jeep Journey!

 

#IoT for Employee Management

Identity, Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, May 12, 2014
4:27 pm

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Ready to monitor, track and analyze employee behavior using the latest IoT technology?  Just ask Dilbert (aka Employee 3452378).

Dilbert 140511

 

Value of #IoT in Public Sector

Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, May 12, 2014
2:50 pm

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SmartCity

The future of the Internet of Things will depend on how much real value can be realized from highly connected systems.  I enjoyed reading the Information Week article “Internet of Things: 8 Cost-Cutting Ideas for Government,” which reported on a Cisco study, “Internet of Everything: A $4.6 Trillion Public-Sector Opportunity:”

The virtual connection of data from people, processes, and things — the Internet of Things, or as Cisco calls it, the Internet of Everything (IOE) — promises a world of new economic opportunities. Now a new study has put a value on that opportunity and concludes that the public sector could see as much as $4.6 trillion in IOE-related savings and revenues worldwide over the next decade.

Eight areas with the most potential value are listed below, with potential 10-Year Value shown in parentheses:

  1. Smart Parking ($41billion)
  2. Water Management ($39 billion)
  3. Gas Monitoring ($69 billion)
  4. Chronic Disease Management ($146 billion)
  5. Road Pricing ($18 billion)
  6. Telework ($125 billion)
  7. Connected Learning ($258 billion)
  8. Connected Militarized Defense (1.5 trillion)

Those are big numbers!

The estimate is separate from $14.4 trillion in additional value Cisco predicts the private sector will derive from new efficiencies and services resulting from data linkages over the Internet.

“If you look back a decade from today at the impact of the Internet of Everything, I predict you will see it will be five to 10 times more impactful than the whole Internet has been today,” said Cisco CEO John Chambers

Whether or not Cisco is completely correct in its analysis is somewhat beside the point.  There are huge opportunities for innovation and application ahead of us.

 

 

 

 

#YJJ Architecture: Vehicle Telematics

Internet of Things, Yellow Jeep Journey, YJJ Architecture
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, April 28, 2014
2:26 pm

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Having explored very high level architectures for both the vehicle and cloud  I will begin to review on this blog some currently available (or soon to be available) products that may fit somewhat into the structure I have outlined.  I don’t expect an exact fit, but this will help me to narrow my choices about what technologies I should test first.

Fuse01

The first is a forthcoming product from Kynetx  named Fuse   Kynetx claims that “Fuse combines a sensor, a mobile app and the Cloud to create a new experience around owning and using a car.” The system includes three basic parts:

  1. A device that plugs into the OBD II port on your car, has a GPS and cellular connection, and constantly stream data from your car.
  2. A mobile app for interacting with the data.
  3. A personal cloud platform, under the car owner’s control, where the data is stored and processed.

Phil Windley, founder and CEO of Kynetx and well-known author and innovator, posted an interesting article on his blog yesterday: “Fuse is a Telemetrics Platform for Your Car: Trips on Your Calendar.”

I particularly like three things about the Fuse approach:

  1. The ODB II monitoring device has both cellular and GPS connections, allowing it to monitor the vehicle while the driver is not in it.  Other devices I have seen require the driver’s smartphone to provide connectivity beyond the vehicle.
  2. The Personal Cloud Platform from Kynetx is an innovative approach to providing a repository and programmable functionality in a highly personalized, privacy-protected manner.  While this approach is quite different than the enterprise-centric architecture proposed by Oracle, it may be better suited for my Yellow Jeep Journey objectives.
  3. Fuse will have a published event-driven API to access and manipulate functionality.

I don’t know if it will allow other inputs from the vehicle that are not available through the ODB II port interface.  Sensors like GPS, accelerometers, magnetometers, etc., may require a separate interface.

I pre-ordered a couple of the Fuse devices during its Kickstarter campaign a couple of months ago.  I anxiously await delivery, which should be in about 2 months.

 
 
 
 
 
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