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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Friday, March 24, 2023

Yellow Jeep Technology Convergence

Yellow Jeep Journey
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
9:33 pm

Recently, I blogged about my interest in leveraging five major converging technologies (Identity, Internet of Things, Mobile, Social and Cloud) to transform my Yellow Jeep into a rolling laboratory, enabling me to experiment with and demonstrate how these important trends can enrich our lives.

This diagram will provide a framework for exploring my ideas:


The three big areas of exploration:

Instrumenting the Yellow Jeep – What sensors, actuators and control systems can be installed in the Yellow Jeep to monitor the vehicle, provide real time and historical data about its journeys and provide appropriate interaction with the driver and passengers?

Cloud functionality – What functions should exist in the cloud to receive and store data from the Yellow Jeep, provide appropriate supervisory control mechanisms and data analytics, and support user interface applications?

User Interface – What can users see and do via mobile or web applications to trace, interact with and analyze the Yellow Jeep and those who travel with me?

In the next few days, I’ll blog about my ideas in each of these areas.  If any of you would like to share your ideas, please let me know!

Roll on Yellow Jeep Journey!


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#YellowJeepJourney: Identity, IoT, Mobile, Social and Cloud

Internet of Things, Yellow Jeep Journey
Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, March 1, 2014
9:48 pm

I recently launched a personal web site and blog, Yellow Jeep Journey,  to provide a personal canvas where I can document my efforts to reach an aggressive weight loss goal, and more importantly, share my experiences in finding personal freedom, light, power and joy along the way.

But the Yellow Jeep Journey and Discovering Identity blogs are now coming together in an exciting way.  I am exploring how to more effectively integrate my professional pursuits into my quest for personal improvement.  I will cross-post my ideas about this pursuit on both blogs. I hope to garner the insight and support of my professional colleagues and associates as I move forward on this exciting endeavor.

So, here we go …

If you were to take the journey of your lifetime in a Yellow Jeep, how would you customize the Jeep for the journey?  Tires? Lift? Engine? Lights?  Yep – an integral part of the Jeep Mystique is modifying your own vehicle to suite your individual taste.

However, crazy engineer that I am, I have been thinking deeply about equipping my Yellow Jeep in a different way.  Of course, the tires and lift will be there, but I can envision more.  Suppose I could make my Yellow Jeep into a rolling laboratory of sorts, to test, play with and demonstrate the convergence of some of the most important technology trends in the world today? 

I have been heavily involved for the last decade in Identity and Access Management technology.  It has been a great ride, but I want to explore how to apply that technology in new and different ways.  Our world is experiencing great growth and innovation in the areas of cloud computing, mobile technology, social media and the most exciting to me – the Internet of Things. What if my Yellow Jeep could go beyond the traditional Jeep configuration and be equipped with the latest computing equipment and electronics that leverage and even break new ground in these converging forces?


Over the next several weeks, I will use this blog to record and refine my thoughts about how to leverage these technology trends to make my Yellow Jeep a powerful and exciting example of how these trends can all be leveraged together to enrich and enlighten our lives like never before.

Hope you will come along for the ride!

Roll on Yellow Jeep Journey!

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KuppingerCole: Information Security Predictions and Recommendations 2014

Cloud Computing, Identity, Information Security, Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, December 19, 2013
2:53 pm


Kuppinger Cole just released an insightful Advisory Note: “Information Security Predictions and Recommendations 2014.”  The introduction stated:

Information Security is in constant flux. With the changing threat landscape, as well as a steary stream of new innovations, demand for Information Security solutions is both growing and re-focusing.

I like both the predictions and recommendations in this report.  Here are a few excerpts from my favorite recommendations:

Cloud IAM (Identity and Access Management)

Define an IAM strategy for dealing with all types of users, devices, and deployment models that integrates new Cloud IAM solutions and existing on-premise IAM seamlessly.

API Economy

Before entering this brave, new world of the API “Economy”, define your security concept first and invest in API Security solutions. Security can’t be an afterthought in this critical area.

IoEE (Internet of Everything and Everyone)

Before starting with IoEE, start with IoEE security. IoEE requires new security concepts, beyond traditional and limited approaches.

Ubiquitous Encryption

Encryption only helps when it is done consistently, without leaving severe gaps.

The whole paper is well worth reading.  Hopefully, this post whetted your appetite a little bit.

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#IoT: Sensors AND Actuators

Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, November 4, 2013
3:37 pm


Much has been said about the rapidly expanding influence of small, connected sensors in the Internet of Things.  In the book “Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy,” that I blogged about recently, “sensors” are named as one of five major forces in the “perfect storm,” the “Age of Context”.

While recognizing the importance of sensors, I also am intrigued by unique actuators, which actually do something useful in response to conditions sensed.  I learned of an interesting new application of actuators this morning in the article, “Save on utilities: just heat or cool yourself.

Wristify … a new thermoelectric bracelet out of MIT, monitors air and skin temperature, then sends tailored pulses of hot or cold waves to the wrist to help you maintain comfortable temps. 

This experimental device helps the body adjust to accommodate temperature changes by applying hot or cold temperatures to the body through a wrist band:

If I put something cold directly on your body at a constant temperature, the body acclimates and no longer perceives it as cold. … Think of what happens when you jump in a lake. At first, it’s bracingly cold, but after a while, you get used to it. By continually introducing that sudden jolt of cold, Shames discovered, you could essentially trick the body into feeling cold. Wristify basically makes you feel like you’re continually jumping into the lake — or submerging into a hot bath.

This seems like a great use of sensors teamed with actuators, transforming contextual knowledge (ambient temperature) into useful response (thermal comfort).

Will we soon see a wearable device to help us endure to or cold temperatures? I don’t know, but this could be really useful. Apple or Google, could you please build this into a smart watch?

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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


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!

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Biosensing Dilbert

Humor, Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, September 27, 2013
7:31 am

After all the hype I heard this week about the Internet of Things, perhaps this Dilbert strip from mid August puts things into perspective – a use case for Supervisory Control enabled by the Internet of Things.

Dilbert 130815

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#IoT Baby Steps at the Dixon Home

Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, August 16, 2013
9:11 pm

My last post addressed my baby steps with wearable IoT devices.  The IoT device in this post is a bit more stationary.

Last year, I installed an attic fan to help drive hot air out of my attic.  This is part of my ongoing effort to minimize energy costs due to the famous Arizona (dry) heat.  Controlled by a simple thermostat, the fan comes on automatically when the temperature in my attic exceeds about 90 degrees.

Two problems: 1) In the hot Arizona summer, it runs virtually all of the time, and 2) the fan is not very quiet, despite my attempts to muffle the noise, so it tends to disturb the quiet of the night.

So, I looked for a solution to allow me to turn the fan off remotely if I got tired of the rumbling noise in the middle of the night.  The makers of my new alarm system claimed to have a great solution that would allow me to control the fan via the same iPhone interface I use to arm, disarm and monitor the alarm system.  But alas, I was faced with a device purchase, installation fees and monthly enhancements to my alarm bill.

So … I decided to purchase a WeMo switch  which proved to be less expensive, with no monthly fees, and an absolute breeze to install.  Now I can easily turn the fan on or off from my iPhone from anywhere in our home WiFi network.  The fan is shown below, plugged into the WeMo device, which plugs into the standard electrical outlet.

The second photo shows the WeMo iPhone app.  Simply elegant.  It just works.  My next project is to learn how to work with the WeMo device remotely using IFTTT.




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IoT: A Market Landscape

Identity, Information Security, Internet of Things, Privacy
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, August 9, 2013
12:14 pm


Today I read an informative paper published by GigaOM Research entitled, “The Internet of Things: A Market Landscape.”  I find The Internet of Things to be the most interesting area of technology and business in my professional world today.  This paper did an excellent job of providing an overview of the IoT landscape and highlighting both opportunities and challenges.

A few things that I found intriguing:

IoT is not just new technology:

The internet of things is not a single technology trend. Rather, it is a way of thinking about how the physical world at large and the objects, devices, and structures within it are becoming increasingly interconnected.

The market is moving rapidly to mind-boggling scale:

  1. Some 31 billion internet-connected devices will exist by 2020, according to Intel.
  2. A family of four will move from having 10 connected devices in 2012 to 25 in 2017 to 50 in 2022.
  3. Mobile subscriptions will exceed the number of people in the world by early 2014.

Identity is first on the list of important characteristics:

For things to be manageable, they need to be identifiable either in terms of type or as a unique entity. … Identification by type or by instance is fundamental to the internet of things.

The power of IoT comes from connectivity, not just individual components:

The internet of things is an ultra-connected environment of capabilities and services, enabling interaction with and among physical objects and their virtual representations, based on supporting technologies such as sensors, controllers, or low-powered wireless as well as services available from the wider internet.

The biggest challenges?  Security, monitoring and surveillance:

Computer security, say the experts, boils down to protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of both data and services. With the internet of things looking set to create all manner of data, from heart rate and baby monitors to building management systems, there is clearly going to be a great deal to protect. …

The internet of things enables the whole world to be monitored. …  the potential for the inappropriate use of such technologies — for example, to spy on partners or offspring — will grow. In the business context as well, the role of the internet of things offers a wealth of opportunity but also of abuse.

The bottom line?  The possibilities are vast, the challenges daunting, but IoT is happening.  It will be great to go along for the ride.

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Everything We Own, But Nobody We Know

Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, July 19, 2013
4:20 pm

Egg minder 2

Today I had a very thought provoking Twitter exchange.  It started when I read the article, “GE just invented the first ‘internet of things’ device you’ll actually want to own.” Rather than tweeting the title of that article, I chose to quote a phrase deep in the article:

“pretty soon just about everything we own will have some degree of self-awareness” http://t.co/ZtySg70wMf #IoT

Quite quickly, I received two responses, which were really from the same person. Paul Roberts, tweeting both from his personal account @paulfroberts and his professional account @securityledger, responded: 

@mgd “everything we own” but nobody we know, unfortunately! 😉

Could it be that as we instrument our lives more completely in order to connect more efficiently with THINGS, we lose touch with PEOPLE we know?

It is ironic that rather than having this discussion face to face with anyone I know, I am sequestered in my home office communicating virtually with folks in cyberspace.  Am I really IN TOUCH more, or progressively OUT OF TOUCH?

Somehow, I believe we can achieve balance in all of this – seeking to capture the good in IoT and virtual connections while not abandoning the real-world relationships we hold dear.


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IoT – Emerging and Receding Invisibly into the Fabric of Life

Identity, Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, April 1, 2013
9:08 pm


Last week, T.Rob Wyatt authored an intriguing post, “Futurist’s Groundhog Day.” I found it by following Phil Windley‘s tweeted recommendation:

Futurist’s Groundhog Day: http://t.co/pq75vMPZsS #vrm

It wasn’t long before Doc Searls tweeted,

The best #VRM post, ever: http://t.co/IiQrMR12Ox, by @tdotrob, honored here: http://t.co/xERNWkA6Sp

I agree that the post addressed the VRM concept very well, but I particularly liked T.Rob’s description about how technology, once broadly accepted, “disappeared into the fabric of life.”

First, a historical observation:

The first electric motors were envisioned to replace steam motors within the same architecture: one big motor, lots of belts and pulleys. But what actually happened was that electric motors disappeared into the fabric of life. There’s one on my wrist as I write this. There are roughly 30 within arm’s reach of my chair. Electric motors are invisible. We don’t think of them as motors, we think of them as a watch, hard drive, CD/DVD player, printer, sprinkler valve, drill, toy, fan, vacuum cleaner, etc.

Next, a prediction:

In the near future a “smart switch” will just be a switch. A “smart” anything will just become that thing and the old version will become a “dumb thing.” The instrumentation will no longer be a novelty but will recede invisibly into the fabric of life. When steam engines were replaced by electric motors, it was hard to imagine a time when motors would fit on your wrist. It’s just as difficult today to imagine why we’d want sensors and actuators in all our devices and objects but let’s table that and stipulate that it happens.

And further observation about when sensors become ubiquitous:

In the very near future your casual behavior and activities will be trackable with the precision and detail only possible today in the confines of a lab. Every device, object or surface will potentially be a sensor. The physical constraints assumed by the current legal framework and that balanced the power of individuals against corporate and government interest are disappearing. The digital representation of you that was once a rough tile mosaic is coming into focus for vendors and government as a hi-def, crystal image.

In my lifetime, it has been great to see so much technology emerge as novelty and then become commonplace. Think pocket calculators, microwave ovens and mobile phones.  Now, the Internet of Things, including ubiquitous sensors, is emerging.  We can expect IoT to grow, become commonplace and then “recede invisibly into the fabric of life.”

Hence, T.Rob’s challenge:

IoT is coming so embrace it.  It is inevitable and it is closer than you think.  If you start with 50 billion instrumented things (or trillions if you are ambitious) and work backward, what do we need to build to pave the road between here and there?

Exciting stuff.  Just think – every one of those billions of devices will have an identity (or identifier, depending on your point of view).  Sign me up for the journey.

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