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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Saturday, May 18, 2024

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

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

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.  


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!


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!

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Packrat vs. De-junker

Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, December 5, 2013
2:16 am


Yesterday, I participated in an interesting discussion about the tension between a desire to keep data around for an extended period of time versus purging it quickly. On one hand, some people wanted to keep old email accounts active for an extended period of time, just in case an old email message might be needed. On the other hand, the IT folks wanted to quickly purge old information that might not be needed to meet specific legal requirements.

It reminded me of an experience early in my married life.  I had been out of college for a few years, but still kept a number of old text books in my office at work. Ever the packrat, I thought that surely these old books would be of some good use to me in the future. However, running out of space in my office, I brought a stack of the books home.   

I took the books out of my car and temporarily stacked them in the garage while I considered where to keep them.  After a few days, in keeping with her best de-junker instincts, my wife assumed I had planned to get rid of them, and donated the whole pile to a thrift store whose truck came through the neighborhood.

I was a bit miffed when I found out what happened, but my wife gently reminded me that I would probably never miss the books.  You know what?  She was absolutely right.  I never once missed the books, and life was a bit simpler because I didn’t have to store that unneeded stuff.

In the years since then, my packrat tendencies are nicely balanced by Claudia’s de-junking mentality.  She still has to remind me from time to time that I keep too much stuff around.  But she humors me by letting me maintain my little personal “museum” of old stuff. And every once in a while, I put some bit of that old hoarded stuff to good use.

The moral of this story?  I’m not sure.  But it was a nice memory.


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Left or Right Brained? Take the test.

Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, November 15, 2013
5:46 pm

I took the short Sommer + Sommer brain test and found that I use both sides of my brain almost equally.  That was a bit surprising to me.  I expected that I’d be more predominantly logical. 🙂


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Happy Birthday, Jeep!

Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, August 1, 2013
2:13 pm

The Jeep was born on August 1, 1941 – 72 years ago today.  In honor of that happy historical event, here is a little video, “Autobiography of a Jeep,” produced in 1943 by United Films for the United States Office of War Information.

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Butterfly Nebula: 3 Lightyear Wingspan

Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, June 7, 2013
10:09 am

The immense distances and intense beauty in the universe never cease to amaze me.  The following image of the Butterfly Nebula is today’s NASA photograph.

The bright clusters and nebulae of planet Earth’s night sky are often named for flowers or insects. Though its wingspan covers over 3 light-years, NGC 6302 is no exception. With an estimated surface temperature of about 250,000 degrees C, the dying central star of this particular planetary nebula has become exceptionally hot, shining brightly in ultraviolet light but hidden from direct view by a dense torus of dust.

This sharp and colorful close-up of the dying star’s nebula was recorded in 2009 by the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3, installed during the final shuttle servicing mission. Cutting across a bright cavity of ionized gas, the dust torus surrounding the central star is near the center of this view, almost edge-on to the line-of-sight. Molecular hydrogen has been detected in the hot star’s dusty cosmic shroud. NGC 6302 lies about 4,000 light-years away in the arachnologically correct constellation of the Scorpion (Scorpius).

Butterfly nebula

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#YellowJeep Progress: 26 Down 87 to Go

Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, June 3, 2013
6:16 pm


Back on April 3rd, when I launched my personal Yellow Jeep weightloss project, I weighed in at a humongous 313 pounds.  Last week, before I headed to Idaho to visit my parents, I had dropped 24 pounds, down to 289.  This morning, after returning home to my trusty scales, my weight had dropped another two pounds to 287.  It is working!

The extra motivation I felt after publicly launching the Yellow Jeep Project  Facebook page last Saturday helped me weather some rough spots and kept my attention focused on the goal.

Thanks to everyone who has shared good wishes and words of encouragement.  As of this afternoon, 80 people had liked the Yellow Jeep Facebook page.  118 people had liked or mentioned posts related to the topic.  The response has been wonderful!

So now … onward and upward!  I am really going to do it this time!

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The Yellow Jeep Project

Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, June 1, 2013
1:41 pm

On April 3, 2013, I weighed in at 313 pounds – way beyond where I should be. I set a goal to reach 200 pounds within one year. When I reach that goal, I will buy a yellow jeep to reward my success.

Yellow Jeep

I am down below 290 now, but still have a long ways to go. If you would care to help motivate me towards my goal, please like my Yellow Jeep Project Facebook page and post pictures of yellow jeeps on that page. I’ll post my progress every week to let you know how I am doing.

Thanks for your help! I’d love to take you on a ride in my new jeep.


SolarImpulse – Inspiration in Flight

Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, May 23, 2013
6:58 am

Last Friday afternoon, at the invitation of Doug Brunke of GrowthNation, I was privileged to attend a private showing of the SolarImpulse airplane during its stop in Phoenix along its Across America tour.


What a delightful experience!  More than just a fun scientific excursion, to me this was a celebration of innovation, dedication and profound enthusiasm for conquering the impossible.  Bertrand Piccard, co-founder and chairman of SolarImpulse has stated:

Adventure is not necessarily a spectacular deed, but rather an “extra-ordinary” one, meaning something that pushes us outside our normal way of thinking and behaving. Something that forces us to leave the protective shell of our certainties, within which we act and react automatically. Adventure is a state of mind in the face of the unknown, a way of conceiving our existence as an experimental field, in which we have to develop our inner resources, climb our personal  path of evolution and assimilate the ethical and moral values that we need to accompany our voyage.

The solar powered airplane, with a wingspan of 208 feet, uses 2,000 square feet of solar panels to power its flight and charge its batteries, so it can fly both during the day and at night.  It completed a 26 hour day and night flight in 2010.  A second generation aircraft, currently under construction, is scheduled to attempt an around the world flight in 2015.

Besides viewing the airplane and talking to engineers who were preparing for the next leg or its journey to Dallas, Texas, we were addressed by Dr. Piccard and the second pilot, André Borschberg, “an engineer and graduate in management science, a fighter pilot and a professional airplane and helicopter pilot, is the co-founder and CEO.” I found their messages challenging and enlightening.  I applaud their innovation and tenacity.

Several photos I took during the tour have been uploaded to SmugMug if you would care to take a look.

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Proximity Changes Perception

Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
7:59 am

As I reviewed news stories about the tragic Oklahoma tornado, I couldn’t help but notice the stark contrast between a photo taken from far away and one taken up close and personal.  The first photo is from NASA: “The image was captured on May 20, 2013, at 19:40 UTC (2:40 p.m. CDT) as the tornado began its deadly swath.”


The second is from a CBS News account on the day the storm hit: “A child is pulled from the rubble of the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., and passed along to rescuers Monday, May 20, 2013.”


My thoughts and prayers go out to the people who are struggling to cope with the aftermath of this huge disaster.  How wonderful to hear stories of the many, many people who are giving personal, selfless service to help the good people of Oklahoma.

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Digital Arizona Broadband Test

General, Technology
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
9:16 am


This morning, I responded to an invitation from the Arizona Telecommunications and Information Council to participate in “The Official State of Arizona Internet Speed Test.”

The Digital Arizona Program:

… created an Internet Speed Test and Survey on the Digital Arizona web portal to measure the upload and download (connection) speeds at tens of thousands of locations (i.e. homes, offices, etc.) around the State. The combination of data from large quantities of speed tests along with answers from the related survey questions will be analyzed by the Digital Arizona team to determine potential areas and/or communities that may be poorly served. … This will assist us with our goal of facilitating access to better high-speed Internet service for ALL Arizonans, especially those residing in the rural areas of the State.

Here are my results:



Not bad service!  But, of course, I live in the city of Mesa, AZ, not in a rural area.  We’ll see what service we get during our family reunion in Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ, later in the summer.

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