[Log In] []

Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Stroll Down [Technology] Memory Lane

History, Technology
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
9:51 pm

This week, I am staying in the Santa Clara Marriott hotel for a few days while attending some corporate meetings.  As I drove to Santa Clara from the San Francisco Airport yesterday, I began to reminisce about times in my early career when I spent a lot of time in this part of the world.  

IMG 3042

I first stayed in this hotel in 1984, soon after the release of the first Macintosh computer.  For about two years, I worked closely with Apple Computer, first to recommend improvements to their manufacturing management system and then to manage the upgrade process. I can vividly remember the weekend I spent holed up in this hotel with a Mac computer (black and white screen of course) and a dot matrix printer, writing a proposal that Apple adopted to implement the Tandem-based manufacturing information system we had installed in the Fremont Macintosh factory, in their factories in Ireland and Singapore.

Now, so many years later, although some things seem just the same (think Moffett Field blimp hangars), much has changed.

  • The Santa Clara Marriott was the first hotel where I spent more than $100 a night for a hotel room. The price has risen to more than $300 per night on my employer’s discounted price schedule. (But my room does have a large flat screen TV and an NFC door lock that didn’t like my Marriott mobile app.)
  • Airline tickets back then were printed on paper and had to be picked up from the travel agency. No paperless tickets or boarding passes on my Apple watch.
  • I did not have an email address (or a blog or a website or facebook account – they hadn’t been invented yet).
  • It would be a full 8 years before I owned my first mobile phone.  
  • Before I took a trip, I had to leave specific instructions with my wife about what phone numbers she could use to reach me during the day or evening.  If I had to reach her during the day, it was most likely on a pay phone. And I actually used the hotel room phone in the evening!
  • Of course, I had no GPS.  I used printed maps from AAA and the rental car office to navigate.
  • I carried a cassette tape player in my suitcase so I could listen to music.
  • I actually took notes on paper, had a paper day planner and used a paper address book. I submitted travel expenses report — on paper!
  • I did have a first generation Compaq portable computer back home in Utah, but I usually never took it on trips with me, especially not to Apple! 
  • And the list could go on and on …

It just boggles my mind to think what changes will occur in the next 3+ decades!

Comments Off on A Stroll Down [Technology] Memory Lane . Permalink . Trackback URL
WordPress Tags: ,
 

First Round-the-World Telegram – 105 Years Ago!

Communications, History, Technology
Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, August 20, 2016
9:42 am

Oh, how far technology has come in the last century!  As related by History.com, on August 20, 1911 (105 years ago today) a dispatcher in the New York Times office sent the first telegram around the world via commercial service. 

The Times decided to send its 1911 telegram in order to determine how fast a commercial message could be sent around the world by telegraph cable. The message, reading simply “This message sent around the world,” left the dispatch room on the 17th floor of the Times building in New York at 7 p.m. on August 20. After it traveled more than 28,000 miles, being relayed by 16 different operators, through San Francisco, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Saigon, Singapore, Bombay, Malta, Lisbon and the Azores–among other locations–the reply was received by the same operator 16.5 minutes later. It was the fastest time achieved by a commercial cablegram since the opening of the Pacific cable in 1900 by the Commercial Cable Company.

Telegram

In these days of ubiquitous, near instantaneous global communications at our fingertips, it is a bit hard to fathom that a round-the-world message took over 16 minutes to reach its destination.  But in a time not too far removed from the Pony Express, 16 minutes was a real breakthrough.

As my Dad likes to say, “We stand on the broad shoulders of those who have gone before!”

Comments Off on First Round-the-World Telegram – 105 Years Ago! . Permalink . Trackback URL
WordPress Tags: ,
 

US Postal Service is 241 years old today!

History, Technology
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
9:30 pm

Franklinphone

As reported today by History.com,

On this day in 1775, the U.S. postal system is established by the Second Continental Congress, with Benjamin Franklin as its first postmaster general. 

Isn’t it ironic that we could easily imagine Benjamin Franklin as an enthusiastic early adopter of technology that is steadily rendering the traditional postal service obsolete?

Comments Off on US Postal Service is 241 years old today! . Permalink . Trackback URL
 

My Awe in New Gismos

History, Technology
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
3:33 pm

Camera mini

It has been my privilege to experience astounding advances in electronics and computer technology during my lifetime.  I started poring over electronics magazines like Popular Electronics and mail order catalogs from Allied ElectronicsRadio ShackLafayette Radio Electronics, and Heathkit over 50 years ago.  I was amazed then with the neat things I saw and I am still amazed at new stuff I see in 2016!

I rarely click on the ads that appear on Facebook, but was intrigued today by this little ad. Just think of it!  A digital camera with lens, for ten bucks! And this wasn’t advertised in an obscure parts catalog – it was posted on Facebook!

I don’t know how well this gismo works. There are probably things that are even more impressive. But the convergence of digital electronics, optics, miniaturization and manufacturing techniques to produce something like this for so little money fills me with awe just like some new gismo I read about in my youth. Really cool!

Comments Off on My Awe in New Gismos . Permalink . Trackback URL
 

Chuck Yeager – Breaking the Sound Barrier

Aircraft, Technology
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
6:53 am

Question: Do you know how many transistors were in the radio Chuck Yeager used in the Glamorous Glennis X-1 rocket plane when he broke the sound barrier 68 years ago today, on October 14, 1947?

Answer: Zero.  His radio had to use vacuum tubes, because the first working transistor wasn’t demonstrated until November 1947, and the first transistor radio was not produced until 1954.

Yeager

Isn’t it amazing what was accomplished with technology that seems so rudimentary by today’s standards?

Comments Off on Chuck Yeager – Breaking the Sound Barrier . Permalink . Trackback URL
WordPress Tags: ,
 

What in the world is Digital Transformation?

Business, Technology
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, September 4, 2015
5:11 pm

Digital: “of, relating to, or using data in the form of numerical digits

Transformation: “change in form, appearance, nature, or character.”

BlindMenElephant 720

The more I read about and discuss the hot buzzword “Digital Transformation,” the more I think of the old “Blind Men and the Elephant” story.  Each blind man’s perception of reality was different, depending on which part of the elephant’s anatomy he examined. The meaning of Digital Transformation also seems to depend highly on who is thinking about the subject.

First, consider a few examples of how business leaders may think of Digital Transformation:

To the business leader who has the vision of leveraging a company’s vast data resources to open new revenue opportunities through selling access to that data to interested customers, Digital Transformation is all about rapidly delivering that digital asset (data) to customers in new, innovative ways.

To the leader who is primarily interested in customer acquisition and loyalty in a consumer goods market, Digital Transformation may include “store of the future” concepts and providing a omni-channel customer buying experience.

To the health care executive, Digital Transformation may include providing electronic health records for patients that span multiple care providers to provide a more seamless and effective experience for patients and more profitable revenue channels for the many enterprises involved.

I’m sure thou can think of many more business examples.

Now think about what you have heard technology vendors say about Digital Transformation:

“You must leverage the Cloud to enable Digital Transformation.”

“Exposing and consuming APIs are essential are essential to Digital Transformation.”

“Digital Transformation is removing or consolidating information system silos.”

“Digital Transformation is all about enabling multi-channel customer experience.”

“Digital Transformation is all about harnessing Big Data.”

There are lots of body parts to the Digital Transformation elephant. Each of the viewpoints above is somewhat correct, but is lacking in completeness.  Digital Transformation is a big subject.

Perhaps the overall business perspective might be described in these ways:

Digital business models have become essential for companies across a range of industries. … going digital is now a prerequisite for surviving and thriving. (McKinsey)

Competing successfully in the digital industrial economy is rapidly becoming a leading strategic imperative for businesses all around the world. (Gartner)

Digital Transformation involves dramatically changing the enterprise to embrace and leverage digital technology to compete in new, innovative and disruptive ways.

From the technology viewpoint, we must remember that technology must enable business, not just exist for the sheer beauty of new stuff. Many technologies are converging to enable Digital Transformation – Mobile, Social, Cloud, Big Data, Internet of Things, APIs – I have probably missed a few. Any or all of these technologies can be leveraged in a Digital Transformation, depending on what is needed to support the business. No single technology is sufficient.  

We must remember that huge changes must be made in IT to enable dramatic changes in business. Gartner’s Peter Sondergaard recommends:

Digital startups sit inside your organization, in your marketing department, in HR, in logistics and in sales. As IT leaders, you must design, resource and deploy for a world that’s digital first. In this new model, every business unit is a technology startup. Now is your opportunity to create that team. Partner with the digital startups inside your organization and prove that you can move fast too. Embrace the outside change. 

Taking both business views and IT views into consideration, I rather like this definition of Digital Transformation from the Agile Elephant, a UK based consultancy:

Digital transformation is the process of shifting your organisation from a legacy approach to new ways of working and thinking using digital, social, mobile and emerging technologies.  It involves a change in leadership, different thinking, the encouragement of innovation and new business models, incorporating digitisation of assets and an increased use of technology to improve the experience of your organisation’s employees, customers, suppliers, partners and stakeholders.

This made me remember a statement made by Tom Peters in his book, Thriving on Chaos, which I first read in 1989:

Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change. That is, excellent firms of tomorrow will cherish impermanence and thrive on chaos!

A word of warning, however. Several years ago, when “Business Process Re-engineering” was a popular buzzword, a friend of mine was really excited when he was first assigned to a re-engineering team in his company.  He was not so happy a while later when he hold me his position in the company was re-engineered. He had been laid off!

We must be agile ourselves to survive and thrive!

 

Comments Off on What in the world is Digital Transformation? . Permalink . Trackback URL
WordPress Tags:
 

We Passed!

Technology
Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, May 7, 2015
3:10 pm

In order to register for an interesting online service this afternoon, I had to perform an Internet speed test.  It was nice to know that we (my computer, my internet connection and I) passed quite handily!

A lot of water has passed beneath the proverbial bridge since 300 baud acoustic coupler modems!

Internetspeed

Comments Off on We Passed! . Permalink . Trackback URL
WordPress Tags:
 

Great Book – Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy

Identity, Privacy, Technology
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
10:24 pm

Ageofcontext

This evening, I finished reading a fascinating book, “Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy,” by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel.

Scoble and Israel propose that we are in the midst of a perfect storm:

Our perfect storm is composed not of three forces, but five, and they are technological rather than meteorological: mobile devices, social media, big data, sensors and location-based services. … they’re already causing disruption and making waves. As discrete entities, each force is already part of your life. Together, they have created the conditions for an unstoppable perfect storm of epic proportion: the Age of Context.

I have long been fascinated with the concept of context. I first mentioned context as an important factor in Identity Management in July, 2005,  as I blogged about the Catalyst Conference.  During my years with Sun Microsystems, we often spoke about “context-aware, blended services” being delivered via mobile devices.  For example, in September, 2008, one of my blog posts entitled, “Sensor-triggered Personalized Services,” stated, in part:

Project Destination, an initiative I lead for Sun, is all about providing the infrastructure to deliver highly personalized, context-aware, blended services to online users across the “screens of your life.” When you couple sensor technologies with Identity, personalization and service orchestration techniques, you can get some powerful results.

It is great to see the progression and refinement of that concept.  I sense we are barely scratching the surface of possibilities in this arena.  Lot of fun ahead!

Comments Off on Great Book – Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy . Permalink . Trackback URL
WordPress Tags: , ,
 

Convergence: Phones and Cameras

Technology
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, July 19, 2013
8:51 am

Little did I realize when I was growing up and falling in love with photography and electronics that camera and telephone technologies would converge. Now my kids have grown up taking that convergence for granted. Poor Ziggy is trapped in the past with my parents and others who still resist the inevitable.

Ziggy 130718

Comments Off on Convergence: Phones and Cameras . Permalink . Trackback URL
 

Digital Arizona Broadband Test

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

DigitalArizona

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:

DigitalArizona2

 

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.

Comments Off on Digital Arizona Broadband Test . Permalink . Trackback URL
 
Copyright © 2005-2016, Mark G. Dixon. All Rights Reserved.
Powered by WordPress.