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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!

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Think Different!

Leadership
Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, May 19, 2012
11:00 am

Yesterday, after I posted about square pegs in round holes, my daughter sent me the classic “Think Different” quote embodied in this video:

Interestingly enough, the video talks of “round pegs in square holes,” not the other way around as the idiom was originally conceived. How apropos! Think different(ly)!

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Steve Jobs’ Creative (and Immensely Profitable) Genius

Leadership
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, August 26, 2011
3:49 pm

Yesterday, Silicon Valley Insider published a remarkable view of what shareholder value Apple delivered in the past fifteen years since Steve Jobs returned to Apple.

When Apple acquired NeXT, and Jobs, for $400 million in December, 1996, Apple’s market cap was $3 billion. Today it’s $347 billion, leaving it just $2 billion short of being the most valuable public company in the world, Exxon.

If we add to this legacy the fact that under Steve Jobs’ leadership, Pixar produced seven hit films from 1995 through 2006 (Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Cars) before being acquired by Disney for $7.4 billion, we have the most remarkable story of profitable, creative genius in the history of the world.

 

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Hey Steve! Why are you tracking me?

Information Security, Privacy, Telecom
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, April 22, 2011
4:05 pm

I first read the news about Apple’s secretive location tracking capability in the Kaspersky Labs Threat Post article, “Secret iPhone Feature Tracks Owners’ Whereabouts“:

Security researchers have discovered a hidden iPhone feature that secretly tracks and saves the meanderings of the phone – and presumably its owner.

The tracking feature was described in a presentation at the Where 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. According to the researchers, Pete Warden, founder of Data Science Toolkit and Alasdair Allan a researcher at Exeter University in the UK, the tracking feature records the phone’s movements, including what cell phone towers and Wifi hotspots it connects to, when and where. While that information isn’t shared with Apple, it is retained even when iPhone users update their hardware, suggesting that Apple had plans to use the data at a later time.

Was I surprised?  No.  Irritated?  Yes.  We have one more piece of evidence, that when power is concentrated in the hands of a few, abuses tend to occur.

After reading the O’Reilly Radar article, “Got an iPhone or 3G iPad? Apple is recording your moves“, I followed a link to an application to see for myself:

How can you look at your own data?

We have built an application that helps you look at your own data. It’s available at petewarden.github.com/iPhoneTracker along with the source code and deeper technical information.

The broad view clearly showed the four states in which I have used my month-old iPad:

But the real interesting view was of my supposed meanderings in Arizona:

I can easily explain three of the four major clumps of usage in the Phoenix metropolitan area – my home, the Phoenix airport, and a client site. But I have never taken my iPad to the fourth area of supposed heavy use.

All the outliers are even more problematic.  I used the iPad once in a mountainous area northeast of Phoenix, but all the other outliers?  My only explanation is that I must have forgotten to place the iPad in “Airplane Mode” on one or more more of my flights (heaven forbid!).  The iPad must have connected with dozens of cell towers as we flew over.

My message to Steve Jobs?  Please, just call. I’d gladly invite you over for dinner or take you to my favorite restaurant, where we could discuss the things that are important to me in my life.  But these shenanigans?  Really tawdry for a supposely high class company.

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